Wham! hoped ‘Last Christmas’ would top this chart. It took 39 years.

Wham! hoped ‘Last Christmas’ would top this chart. It took 39 years.

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George Michael wanted to be remembered as one of pop’s best songwriters, but Wham!’s late singer did not intend “Last Christmas” to be the song most people — for better or for worse — associate him with, former manager Simon Napier-Bell said this week.

“He was always slightly upset by the fact [that] he naggingly knew it was the best thing he ever wrote,” Napier-Bell told the Telegraph. “George, above all, really wanted to be remembered as a great songwriter. And I think at the bottom of his mind … it was rather annoying that the song he got so perfect was a Christmas song.”

The iconic hit made it to the top of Christmas No. 1, the British holiday list and one of the most unpredictable charts of the year, 39 years after its release. This week, according to Official Charts, the song was played 13.3 million times on streaming platforms, CDs and vinyl.

Andrew Ridgeley, the other half of Wham!, who once deemed the 1984 song the “essence of Christmas,” told People magazine that Michael just achieved what he always wanted.

“[George] said that he wrote ‘Last Christmas’ with the intention of writing a Christmas No. 1,” he told Official Charts. “It’s mission accomplished! George would be beside himself [that] after all of these years, [we’ve] finally obtained [it].”

When Michael, who wrote the song, first played it to Ridgeley, his bandmate knew it would be an absolute “knockout,” Ridgeley recalled to People. So when the song didn’t top the Christmas No. 1 chart in 1984, the year of its release, both were deeply disappointed, Ridgeley told Official Charts. That year, Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” beat them.

“In our opinion, it was nailed-on,” Ridgeley said. “Had it not been for Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ it probably would’ve been No. 1. Thwarted for many years subsequent to that — the perennial bridesmaid — over recent years it seems it’s become part of the fabric of Christmas for a lot of people.”

Wham! rose to fame between 1982 and 1986 with songs including “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” “Edge of Heaven,” “Everything She Wants,” “Careless Whisper” and “Freedom.” Michael was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2023.

But in four years together Wham! never achieved one of its main goals: to top Christmas No. 1 with “Last Christmas.”

Ridgeley referred to Michael as “Yog,” and also called him his best friend in his memoir “Wham! George Michael & Me.” Sometimes it takes nearly 40 years for you and your best friend to witness and celebrate one of your dreams.

“Christmas No. 1 has been a long-held ambition for Yog and I,” Ridgeley told Official Charts. “And for the fans, too. It’ll mean a lot to Wham!’s legacy — it’s the crowning glory. ‘Last Christmas’ was conceived as a Christmas No. 1. Lofty ambitions, but Yog set lofty ambitions for himself as a songwriter. Our fans will have a real sense of achievement and pride in the fact it’s become Christmas No. 1.”

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