Let’s face it, no 1980’s party, playlist, or mixtape would be complete without a few classic cuts from the infamous pop duo Wham! Whether you’re jitterbugging to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” or doing your best Kenny G impersonation of the sax on “Careless Whisper”, the chances that you haven’t run into their music one way or another are slim to none. The title of their 1984 album, Make It Big says it all. The members of Wham! were out to set the world on fire and they did indeed “make it big” in the their native UK and here in United States as well.
Wham! was comprised of members George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. The two met at an England school and briefly performed in a short-lived ska band called The Executive. When The Executive split up, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley branched out on their own and eventually formed Wham! For a short time, they performed under the name of Wham! UK because of a naming conflict with an existing U.S. band. They signed a deal with Innervision Records and then later with CBS. Fronted by a then younger, very handsome George Michael, Wham! had both the looks and vocals for the makings of a very successful pop band.
George Michael took on the roles of composer, producer, singer, and occasional instrumentalist, while Andrew Ridgeley mostly sang back-up and acted as the group’s image specialist and spokesman. In 1983, Wham! released their debut album Fantastic. This album spawned the hits “Bad Boys”, “Club Tropicana,” and “Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do).” Can you imagine Wham! rapping? Well, believe it because it happened!
Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do) – 1982
The Fantastic album initially got Wham!’s foot in the door and guaranteed them a slot at super stardom, but their 1984 release Make It Big turned out to be the group’s most successful album and arguably their best. Who can forget when they pranced around in the “Choose Life” shirts in “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” or those statuesque facial close-ups in the video for my personal favorite track “Everything She Wants”? I’ll also let you in on a dirty secret: I despise Christmas music. I know, I know! Call me a grinch! However, Wham!’s classic holiday song “Last Christmas” is the only Christmas song I thoroughly enjoy. Also, even though I always feel like I’m in the middle of a cheesy 1980’s romantic film when I hear the song, “Careless Whisper” must always be performed in my loudest singing voice whenever it is played. If you get a couple of drinks in me, I might even be bold enough to sing it at karaoke.
Wham! was big! They had built a fan base that consisted of mostly teenage girls and boys, but George Michael desired to create music targeted to a more sophisticated audience. Sadly, after their 1986 album Music from the Edge of Heaven was released, the duo split. George Michael went on to become a very successful and controversial solo artist and Andrew Ridgeley tried his hand at a solo career, but found little success. It’s almost an undeniable fact that all the best groups and duos eventually break up, but luckily we still have Wham!’s music to sing and dance to. Unless of course, you have “guilty feet.” They’ve got no rhythm. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)
Image Layout: Katrina
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