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Global Comment Advent Calendar 22: “Last Christmas” by Wham!

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By Kate Lillie

Originally published on Global Comment

And welcome to the 1980s! Unlike most of the other big Christmas hits, I have never met anyone who doesn’t like this song – it seems to be universally accepted as a Christmas classic. In fact, one radio DJ in Austria liked the song so much he recently barricaded himself in the studio and broadcast it on repeat an incredible 24 times in a row – now that’s an endorsement.

Released in 1984, Last Christmas was up against stiff competition for the Christmas number one spot, with Band Aid released in the same year (which George Michael participated in) and Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s The Power Of Love also tipped for big things. In the end Wham! hit the number two spot and Band Aid got the number one; to this day, Last Christmas is the highest-selling single never to reach number one in the UK.

But where Wham! wins every time is with the video. Set in a random ski resort, George and bandmate Andrew are off for a jolly Christmas in the mountains with their friends but – and here’s a twist! – Andrew is now dating George’s ex! How very mature of them all to have been able to move on from, er, last Christmas. Or have they…? When George and Andrew arrive at the resort, perfectly hairsprayed hair intact despite the winter conditions, she looks very excited to see them, demonstrated via some very enthusiastic waving. But who is she excited to see? Is it Andrew? Or does she still have feelings for George?

There is some great 1980s fashion on display from the very beginning of the video, from the full-length checked coat to the giant white-framed sunglasses of George’s new squeeze, and of course the hair and make-up is as you would expect for a Wham! video. If only Duran Duran had produced a Christmas single, then we would have a double helping of 80s deliciousness to work with here… but we have plenty to be getting on with.

George’s ex can’t help but look a bit pensive at seeing him with his new girlfriend, the first of many meaningful glances this video features – and there are a lot. Up at the chalet, it’s snowing (of course) and Christmassy. George and his ex accidentally bump into each other while decorating the tree with huge fronds of 80s tinsel and exchange another meaningful glance (I feel like there should be a little counter on the screen for these that dings every time one is exchanged). We’re then treated to the obligatory frolicking-in-the-snow scene, where the group have a giant snowball fight, before we see everyone eating dinner together that evening. As the camera pans around the table, capturing the fun and laughter (and more meaningful glances, ding-ding-ding) it seems that George is wearing a wedding ring! When did this happen? And why is it not further explained? Then we zoom in on Andrew and a rather fetching brooch he’s wearing, which the camera spends an inordinate amount of time on. Why might this be? We find out soon enough, in a flashback scene to the previous Christmas, when we see George chasing his ex through the snow and giving her THAT VERY BROOCH. So – not only has she broken his heart, she’s given his heartfelt gift to her new boyfriend, who’s also his bandmate! Well well well. And all this before regifting was even a concept. The next day as they’re leaving, everyone looks happy enough but the lyrics suggest otherwise.

Speaking of which, let’s just look at the lyrics, shall we? It definitely doesn’t sound like George is over her, and her “soul of ice” (you might say that’s a bit harsh, depending on your views on recycling) – the line where he says “if you kissed me now, I know you’d fool me again” basically just makes me feel sorry for the supposed real love he’s now found – is it actually real love George? Or are you just using your new love to get over your ex with a soul of ice? Because if so, that’s not very nice. Still, great song.

Enjoy one of the all-time greatest Christmas songs here:

Written by Story of Song

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