39 Years Later, Wham! Tops UK Christmas Chart

George Michael wanted a holiday No. 1, Andrew Ridgeley says
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2023 6:00 AM CST
Updated Dec 23, 2023 5:45 PM CST
UPDATE Dec 23, 2023 5:45 PM CST

The avoidance game that's all the rage apparently is not hurting the popularity of "Last Christmas," released by Wham! 39 years ago. For the first time, the song is top of the Christmas chart in the UK, the BBC reports. Andrew Ridgeley said the other half of Wham! always wanted a Christmas No. 1. George Michael "felt any great songwriter should be able to write a Christmas hit to order," Ridgeley said, adding, "he'd be absolutely over the moon." In its first holiday season, the song was shut out of the top spot by Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Michael and Ridgely considered that a huge disappointment. But Ridgely added, per the Guardian, that "over recent years, it seems it's become part of the fabric of Christmas for a lot of people."

Dec 17, 2023 6:00 AM CST

Don't be scared to read ahead if you're playing Whamageddon this year—there's no rule against reading about it, only against listening to the song at its center. The annual competition, in which players are knocked out over the course of the holiday season if they accidentally hear and recognize "Last Christmas," the 1984 classic by Wham!, kicked off on Dec. 1 and will continue through the final hours of Dec. 24, reports NBC News. That doesn't mean you have to avoid every cover of the song; only hearing the original by the UK pop duo will boot you from the game.

The contest that has competitors staying away from shopping malls, holiday gatherings, and other occasions where they might inadvertently hear George Michael crooning about Yuletide heartbreak was said to have started about 20 years in Denmark among a group of friends, and it's only blown up since in the internet age. "I don't think a game like this could exist without social media," Thomas Mertz, who manages the site that runs the game, tells NBC. Last year, the site had more than 500,000 people take part.

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There's sometimes controversy that accompanies gameplay. The BBC reports on a DJ coming under fire for his sneaky move to blast "Last Christmas" during a UK soccer match, potentially eliminating thousands from the competition. "I gave it a spin, thinking it would be quite funny to wipe out 7,000 people who couldn't avoid it, but clearly it isn't funny," Matt Facer sheepishly tells the broadcaster, offering his apologies. He adds: "I never knew people took it so seriously." (More Christmas song stories.)

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