Wham!:Last Christmas

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"Last Christmas"
Last Christmaswham.jpg
Standard artwork (UK vinyl single pictured)
Single by Wham!
from the album Music From The Edge Of Heaven (1986)
Released December 3,1984
Format
Recorded 1984
Genre
Length
  • 4:27
  • 6:45 (Pudding mix)
Label
Writer(s) George Michael
Producer(s) George Michael
Wham! singles chronology

"Freedom"
(1985)
"Last Christmas"
(1984)
"Everything She Wants"
(1985)

Peaked @ #42 on January 14, 20017

Written and produced by George Michael, this song actually has very little to do with Christmas - it's about a failed relationship. Only the phase "Last Christmas," when the relationship comes to a head, refers to the festive season. Despite this, it has become an annual Christmas standard, especially in the UK. This was released as a charity record with its proceeds going to famine relief in Ethiopia. Apart from "Do They Know It's Christmas," which prevented this from reaching #1, it is the biggest selling Christmas song in the UK. (George Michael features on both songs). Numerous artists have covered this song including Ashley Tisdale, Coldplay, Kim Wilde, Jimmy Eat World, The xx, Kylie Minogue, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Taylor Swift, who reached #28 on the US Country chart with her version. In 2009 a version by the cast of Fox-TV's Glee finally took the song into the Hot 100 when their rendition debuted at #63. The song didn't chart on the US Hot 100 after its initial release in 1984, as it was only available as a promotional, not commercially available, 7-inch single. Two chart facts:

"Last Christmas" is the biggest selling single in UK chart history not to reach #1.

In Japan it has sold over 600,000 copies, making it the best-selling single that did not reach that country's Top 10. The song's music video sees George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley accompanying girlfriends to see friends at their home in a ski resort. The duo's backing singers Pepsi and Shirlie also star in the clip along with Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp, the boyfriend and future husband of Shirlie Holliman. The songwriters of Barry Manilow's hit single "Can't Smile Without You" sued George Michael for plagiarism in the mid-'80s, claiming that this song lifted its melody from their tune. The case was settled out of court with Michael giving his first year's royalties to Band Aid. The song's music video was the last time that George Michael was filmed without a beard. Antenne Carinthia presenter Joe Kohlhofer started his 8 a.m. show on December 18, 2015 by telling his Austrian listeners that he felt people in the area were not in the Christmas spirit. He then proceeded to play "Last Christmas" on loop for almost two hours as a "Christmas protest."

Kohlhofer blockaded the studio door with a wooden chair, locking out his co-host Patricia Jordan and the station producers. The Austrian DJ eventually stopped playing the Wham! tune only after his 4-year-old daughter was put on the line. She told her father that she didn't like the song. Wham!'s festive song finally charted following the unexpected death of George Michael on Christmas Day 2016, when it debuted on Billboard's Hot 100 on the listing dated January 7, 2016.

Music video

The video to "Last Christmas" shows Wham! members George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley accompanying girlfriends to see friends at an unspecified ski resort: the cable-car that can be seen in two shots is from Saas-Fe], https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switzerland [Switzerland]. It becomes clear early on that the character of Ridgeley's girlfriend (played by model Kathy Hill) was previously in a relationship with Michael, and that the song is aimed at her. She can easily be spotted throughout the video by the fact that she's usually wearing red, but everyone else is wearing more muted colors.

There is a brief flashback to "Last Christmas" showing Michael's character presenting her with a jewelled brooch. In the present time, Ridgeley is wearing the brooch, suggesting that the girl gave the same gift (perhaps by regifting it) to her new love after she and Michael parted ways. Interestingly, when the girl wears the brooch from Michael's character, it is "right side up" and when Ridgeley's character wears it, he wears it "upside down". On numerous occasions, Michael presents a thoughtful expression, suggesting his conflicting emotions.

Her seeming indifference to Ridgeley's open displays of affection makes the viewer wonder if Ridgeley's heart is the next to be broken. However, at the end of the video, everyone leaves properly "paired off" so perhaps it is suggested that Michael has worked out his confusion and now realizes he is after all with the right girl.

The video also featured the duo's erstwhile backing singers Pepsi and Shirlie and Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp, the boyfriend and future husband of Shirlie Holliman. The video also marks the last filmed appearance of a clean-shaven Michael, as he sported a beard in the video for "Everything She Wants", which he kept until his death in 2016.

As of September 2017, the music video has received 260 million views on YouTube.

Versions and mixes

The full original mix and vocal of "Last Christmas" has never been released in its entirety. In 1984 it was just two edits of the song that were released: one (the shorter of the two) on the regular 7" format and the other (the longer of the two, though missing a verse) on the original Japanese 12" and promotional Spanish 7". A remixed version with partly re-recorded and additional vocals was used for the regular 12" format and entitled the "Pudding Mix". When the single was re-released in 1985, an edited version of the Pudding Mix was used for the regular 7" and this version has been used on all subsequent re-releases. It is the 1985 7" version (the edit of the 1984 12" Pudding Mix) that is now the most common to find on "various artists" compilation albums (as well as George Michael's Twenty Five hits compilation) and the most widely known version. The full Pudding Mix has been featured on several compilations (including the Wham! hits compilation albums The Final and If You Were There (The Best of Wham). The edits of the original 1984 recording are less widely available, although the longer version was used in early 1985 on the second regular 12" format of the "Last Christmas/Everything She Wants" double "A" sided single (once the latter started becoming the focus of promotion, following the end of the Christmas season) and has occasionally been used on "various artists" compilation albums. The shorter edit (as used on the original 7") has not been released since and therefore has never appeared on the compact disc format.

Other cover versions

Lyrics

Oh, oh-oh, ooh-oh
Ah-ah

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away (You gave it away)
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special (Special)

Once bitten and twice shy
I keep my distance, but you still catch my eye
Tell me baby, do you recognize me?
Well, it's been a year, it doesn't surprise me

Happy Christmas
I wrapped it up and sent it
With a note saying "I love you", I meant it
Now I know what a fool I've been
But if you kissed me now, I know you'd fool me again

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away (You gave it away)
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special (Special)

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special (Special)

Oh oh
Oh oh baby

A crowded room, friends with tired eyes
I'm hiding from you and your soul of ice
My god, I thought you were someone to rely on
Me? I guess I was a shoulder to cry on

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart
A man under cover, but you tore me apart
Ooh ooh, now I've found a real love
You'll never fool me again

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away (You gave it away)
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special (Special)

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away (You gave meaway)
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special (Special)

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart (I gave you mine)
A man under cover, but you tore him apart
Maybe next year, I'll give it to someone
I'll give it to someone special

Special
So long


Weekly charts

Chart (2017) Peak
position
January 7, 20017 50
January 14, 20017 42