The story of how George Micheal wrote the magical holiday hit Last Christmas

George Michael – the iconic vocalist and frontman for the 1980s duo Wham! – will forever be linked to the festive season thanks to his 1984 smash hit, Last Christmas. Every year the song hits the charts again and again over the festive period, including last year when it finally reached number one on the UK charts. Michael, who sadly passed away on Christmas Day 2016, wrote and produced the song himself, and originally Band Aid’s charity single, Do They Know It’s Christmas?, kept it off the top of the charts.

It spent five weeks at number two in its inaugural year of release, and when it finally reached number one, it briefly set a record for the longest time elapsed between a song’s release and reaching the top of the charts.

The singer formed Wham! in 1981 with his school friend Andrew Ridgeley, and soon saw their group become one of the biggest acts in the world, selling more than 30 million records worldwide until they broke up in 1986.

Following the singer’s death, Ridgely reflected this week on how Last Christmas came to be during an interview with Smooth Radio, describing the exact moment Michael wrote the song.

He said: “We had had a bite to eat and were sitting together relaxing with the TV in the background when, almost unnoticed, George disappeared upstairs for an hour or so.

“When he came back down, such was his excitement, it was as if he had discovered gold which, in a sense, he had.”

The pair entered Michael’s old room where they had “spent childish hours recording pastiches of radio shows and jingles…the room where he kept a keyboard and something to record his sparks of inspiration on.”

There, Michael played Ridgely in the introduction to Last Christmas and “the seductive, melancholy melody of the chorus”.

He said: “It was a wonderful moment. George had performed musical alchemy, distilling the essence of Christmas into music. Adding a lyric that told the story of love betrayed was a masterstroke and, as he did so often, he played hearts.”

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To show your support for ending the Ethiopian famine, Wham! he opted to donate all of his Last Christmas royalties to the appeal.

Known for its eighties synthpop style and beautifully crafted lyrics, the song is regularly voted among the best Christmas songs ever created, including in 2020, when it was ranked the best song of that decade in the 2020 Christmas Countdown. from Channel 5. Britain’s Favorite Eighties Songs.

Until 2015, it was the most played Christmas song of the 21st century in Britain until it was surpassed by The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York.

Michael himself spoke about Last Christmas’s chart battle with Band Aid, a track on which he appeared alongside some of the music world’s most successful stars, in an interview for the 1986 Smash Hits Yearbook. .

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He described the period as “a very strange time in some ways”, and that while he didn’t have “any bad feelings” about Band Aid, he always felt that Last Christmas was “a number one”.

Michael continued: “As Christmas approached, there were no novelty records or anything, and I was like, ‘I can’t believe it. There’s no real competition.’ People were saying it was going to be the Flying Pickets, and I knew there was a chance that Culture Club might have released ‘Mistake Number Three’, but other than that, it seemed like we had a clear run to the top.

“Nothing seemed to be able to keep us from number one!

“And then I heard about the Band Aid record and I wanted to get involved. At the time, it didn’t seem like a big deal. I think most of the people who showed up that day were pretty shocked when they saw all the cameras and everything – I was.”

He added: “I thought it was like some people got together to make this record and it wasn’t until I got there that I realized what was really going on.”

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