Andrew Ridgeley lived at home with his parents even after Wham! made it big, which isn't as lame as it sounds: they were on the road all the time, so it was easier than maintaining his own empty household (he and George Michael used a room in the house to make their demos). One day, Ridgeley needed a wake-up call, so he left a note for him mum on his door. He wrote, "Wake me up up," and realizing he duplicated a word, finished the sentence with "before you go go."
George Michael got a kick out of it and decided to use it as a song title. Michael put together a song called "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go," and it became Wham's first American hit.
A "go-go" is a dance club, and dancing is the theme of this song, which tells the story of a guy who is head over heels for his girl, and bummed when he finds out she went dancing while he slept. He asks that in the future, she wake him up before she goes.
This isn't the first "go-go" hit; Smokey Robinson's group The Miracles scored in 1965 with "Going To A Go-Go
." Dobie Gray had a minor hit that same year with "See You At The Go-Go," and Lee Dorsey charted in 1967 with "Go-Go Girl," which was written by Allen Toussaint. Around the time of this song's release, the all-girl American group The go-go's were big.
George Michael (born Georgios Panayiotou) and Andrew Ridgeley met at Bushey Heath Comprehensive School in Hertfordshire when both were in their early teens. They became friends and after leaving school they made a demo of "Wham! Rap" at Andrew Ridgeley's parents' house, which was picked up by the record label Innervision and released without success. Their next release "Young Guns (Go For It)" was more successful rising to #3 in the UK. Their first single was reworked and became their second Top 10 hit. After two more Top 10 releases, problems developed between the duo and their label. Wham! signed with former Marc Bolan manager Simon Napier-Bell, who fought to get them released from Innervision. When they finally freed themselves they signed with Epic with whom this was their first release.
The song opens with four repetitions of the word "Jitterbug," with finger snaps in between. The jitterbug was a popular dance in the 1930s; combined with the finger snaps and lyrics that harken back to a more innocent time, it helps give the song a retro feel. Another throwback: the line "You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day," which refers to the singer-actress who was popular in the '40s and '50s.
This was the first track Wham! recorded for the Make It Big album. It was done at Sarm West Studios in London. According to Chris Porter, who engineered the session, they didn't work from a demo recording as was standard protocol. George Michael had the song in his head and it was recorded with a live band.
Many TV shows and movies have used this song. Grant Lee Phillips performed it in the 2002 Gilmore Girls episode Dead Uncles and Vegetables. His rendition is quirky but reverent, unlike Seth Green's performance (as Chris Griffin) in the 2005 Family Guy episode "Jungle Love," where he murders the song.
Other TV shows to use it include:
The Fall Guy ("Spring Break" - 1985)
3rd Rock from the Sun ("The Dicks They Are A-Changin'" - 1996)
The X Factor ("Episode #6.24" - 2009, "Episode #7.2" - 2010)
Psych ("Who Ya Gonna Call?" - 2006)
Glee ("Guilty Pleasures" - 2013)
American Dad! ("The Unincludeds" - 2016)
Among the movies to use the song:
The Wedding Singer (1998)
Charlie's Angels (2000)
Zoolander 2 (2016)
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
Happy Feet 2 (2011)
Sausage Party (2016)