On this day in music history: December 3, 1984…

On this day in music history: December 3, 1984 – “Last Christmas” by Wham! is released. Written and produced by George Michael, it is the seventh UK single release for the pop music duo from Bushey, Hertsfordshire, UK. In Fall of 1984, George Michael announces that Wham! are to release a new single for Christmas. Having already had an incredible year with three consecutive UK number ones including “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go”, “Careless Whisper” and “Freedom”, the pop duo set their sights on hitting the top again, in the coveted number one spot during the holidays. For the occasion, Michael pens the mid tempo “Last Christmas”. In spite of its melancholy lyric, the track and George’s excellent vocal make it another sure fire hit. It is also supported by a music video directed by Andy Morahan. The clip’s narrative depicts Michael’s girlfriend (played by model Kathy Hill) leaving him and taking up with Andrew Ridgeley, who is seen wearing the brooch that George had given her. At the time, the British press play up the rivalry between Wham! and Frankie Goes To Hollywood who is also competition with “The Power Of Love”. However, both are bested by Band Aid’s unstoppable “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, holding the top spot for five weeks. “Last Christmas” is issued as a double A-side with “Everything She Wants”, peaking at number two. The initial pressing is packaged in a picture sleeve featuring George dressed like Santa Claus, and Andrew as Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. The holiday themed art is discontinued and is replaced by a second sleeve (also used for the US release of “Everything She Wants”) on December 27, 1984. Wham! donate their royalties to the Band Aid Trust. It sells over 1.8 million copies, setting a record for the largest selling UK single to not top the chart. It is not issued in the US, to avoid direct competition with the just released “Careless Whisper”, though Columbia Records releases it as a promo only 7" to US radio stations in 1986. It is reissued in 1985 with a new picture sleeve and with the live version of “Blue (Armed With Love)” recorded in China on the B-side. It charts again, peaking at number six on the UK singles chart. It is issued a third time in 1986, also with a new sleeve, and with “Where Did Your Heart Go” on the B-side. The extended version, subtitled the “Pudding Mix” also appears on “The Final” and “Music From The Edge Of Heaven” in 1986. “Last Christmas” becomes a perennial holiday favorite, re-charting nine more times between 2007 and 2015. It is also covered several times, with versions by Jimmy Eat World, Taylor Swift, Whigfield, Billie Piper, Crazy Frog, Alcazar, Carly Rae Jepsen, Ashley Tisdale, and Ariana Grande. Wham’s original is issued in the US as a 12" single on Black Friday Record Store Day on November 28, 2014, pressed on red and green colored vinyl limited to 3,000 copies, using the first issue UK cover artwork, including a previously unreleased instrumental mix.