Last Christmas

Album: Music From The Edge Of Heaven (1984)
Charted: 1 7
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  • 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 it from reaching #1, "Last Christmas" is the biggest selling Christmas song in the UK. George Michael features on both songs.
  • The song originated one Sunday in 1984 when George Michael and Andrew Ridgely were visiting Michael's parents. Ridgely recalled to The Mail On Sunday in 2017:

    "We'd had a bite to eat and were sitting together relaxing with the television on 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.

    We went to his old room, the room in which we had spent hours as kids recording pastiches of radio shows and jingles, the room where he kept a keyboard and something on which to record his sparks of inspiration, and he played me the introduction and the beguiling, wistful chorus melody to 'Last Christmas.' It was a moment of wonder.

    George had performed musical alchemy, distilling the essence of Christmas into music. Adding a lyric which told the tale of betrayed love was a masterstroke and, as he did so often, he touched hearts."
  • 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:

    Until "Last Christmas" finally reached #1 in January 2021, it had been the UK's best-selling single to never reach the top of the singles chart.

    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.

    "Last Christmas" reached the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time two years later, when it rose from #43 to #34 on the chart dated December 15, 2018.
  • In 2019, a movie called Last Christmas was released, starring Emilia Clarke as a Christmas curmudgeon who finds the spirit. The film, which is loosely and somewhat literally based on the song, features "Last Christmas" along with other tracks from George Michael and Wham!

    The soundtrack, which went to #1 in the UK, is comprised entirely of songs by either Michael or Wham!, including a previously unreleased song called "This Is How (We Want You To Get High)."
  • "Last Christmas" reached #1 on the UK singles chart for the first time on January 3, 2021, 36 years after its original 1984 release. In doing so the festive favorite broke the record for the longest time taken for a single to peak at the top of the UK Singles Chart after its first release.

    Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)" set a new the record when it climbed to the top spot in June 2022, 37 years after its release.

Comments: 9

  • Mitchell from Liverpool, UkAfter over 36 years, Last Christmas has finally reached #1 in the UK Singles Chart, on New Year’s Day 2021. This makes it the longest time a song has taken to reach number one there, a record previously held by Tony Christie’s “(Is This The Way To) Amarillo”. The record previously held by Last Christmas (biggest selling single not to top the charts) passes on to Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger”. Writing on Twitter, former Wham! member Andrew Ridgeley called it a “fitting tribute to George’s songwriting genius”.
  • Andrea from Australia Christmas just isn't Christmas without "Wham's" "Last Christmas ". I loved this beautiful yet sad unrequited love. I always get the chills and tears well up watching this poor man seeing a woman he is in love with; sharing a relationship with someone who is not him. He sits back whilst his heart is breaking.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhRIP to George Michael who passed away on Christmas morning at the age of 53.
    This song about a break-up resonates with many because it occurs at the inopportune time during the Christmas holiday. A break-up is bad enough, but the singer is saying, wow, just when I thought everything was going my way, and at a beautiful time of year, you dumped me; basically saying his lover is heartless to be so thoughtless. A lot of people have had a similar experience. George Michael's voice is easy to listen to, the song has a breeziness to it even tho it is about lost love and I think that is another reason people like it, sad but not depressing. The singer is hopeful to find someone new to love.
  • Mason from HereI'll comment!!
    Horrible song.
    Fake, plastic, sickeningly repetitious.
    Only mention of the season is the word 'Christmas.'
    Who hasn't given their heart away only for it to be given away the next day? Get over it.
    But it seems to keep the slavering public happy - hearing it 35 times a day on the radio.
    Well- I guess Trans-Siberian Orchestra or Taylor Swift will be up next.
    Thanks, IHeartRadio.
  • Mike from Santa Barbara, CaEvery major artist makes at least one Christmas release. This one is pretty ordinary.
  • Martin from London, United KingdomDarren from Hull is correct. Last Christmas was NOT the first song to sell a million copies without reaching #1. Though Last Christmas IS the biggest selling single to not top the charts.
  • Darren from Hull, EnglandActually, Edward is wrong with his fact about this being the first ever song to sell a million copies in the UK without reaching number 1. That accolade goes to Stranger On The Shore by Acker Bilk which was in the charts for 55 weeks and only peaked at #2
  • Mike from Chicago, IlThis song is the best! It makes me a little sad to hear. I gave a girl my heart one Christmas and she gave it away the very next day just like this song.
  • Carrie from Roanoke, VaThis is such a great song. I can't believe no one else has commented on it. George Michael's voice is absolutely beautiful here, resonant and evocative. No one has ever sung a heartbreak song with more emotion. Just as the trivia says, the holiday season is only incidental to the storyline. The only significant part is that the break up occurred at Christmas time. Well, the bells do give it a holiday sound, but I don't care. I listen to it year round. During the holidays I can't go into a mall without hearing it. Not that I am complaining. It's a great standard. And I'd comfort George Michael any time of the year!
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