Wham!

Wham!

“Wake me up before you go go,
Don’t leave me hanging on like a yo-yo…”

A lot was happening in the music industry in 1985. Whitney Houston released her first album, Madonna embarked on her first tour, and an enormous collection of artists got together to record a little single called We Are The World. And then there was Wham! Consisting of two boyhood friends, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, they proceeded to dominate the radio and television airwaves, winning the hearts of millions of teenage girls along the way. Yes, in 1985, the pop music market belonged to Wham!

Three years earlier, the duo picked their name from a pop art painting by Roy Liechtenstein and set out to take the pop music world by storm. They recorded their first single, titled “Young Guns (Go For It!)” which made it to #3 on the UK charts and showcased their ability to merge classic pop melodies with modern dance rhythms. But it was two years later, when the world really took notice with the release of their first #1 hit, an upbeat, bouncy track called “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” from the Make It Big album.

And make it big, they did. When the video followed, showing off the good looks of the stylish and dashing duo, it was an instant success. Soon, Michael and Ridgeley’s mugs were plastered on every teen magazine in the country (and more than a few bedroom walls).

Following the success of their previous single, the band released a dark romantic ballad called “Careless Whisper” and found themselves in the top slot on the charts once again. Their next single, called “Freedom” didn’t quite make it to #1 in America, but still charted at a respectable #3. They would soon be perched back at the top slot again with their next single, a synth-heavy soulful dance tune called “Everything She Wants.” With three #1 songs, Make It Big would achieve stratospheric sales numbers, eventually being certified six-times-platinum.

And yet, at the height of their popularity, the duo started feeling the strains and pressures of success and reverted back to the safety of the recording studio. Their next album, Music From the Edge of Heaven, produced another trio of Top-10 hits, including “I’m Your Man,” “A Different Corner” and “The Edge of Heaven.” It also unfortunately marked the end, as Wham! made a startling announcement to their shocked fans – they were calling it quits. They went out in style, selling out Wembley Stadium in London for a final performance in front of over 70,000 screaming fans.

Both members pursued solo careers but only one managed to take flight. Ridgeley first release did dismal numbers and he was soon off pursuing race car driving and environmental causes. George Michael, on the other hand, continued his dominance of the charts as a solo artist. His first album, Faith, would go on to sell 20 million copies and produce 6 Top-5 singles and, in fact, all four of his solo albums have gone to #1 on the British charts.

And every once in a while, George still pulls out a Wham! tune or two for delighted fans at his concerts, taking them back to a simpler time when they would dance to the music of their favorite dreamy duo. Unfortunately, when asked about a potential reunion, the answer remains the same. Wham!, it would seem, belongs to the ages.

If you were a fan of Wham! back in the day, maybe even had a few posters on your wall, we’d love to hear your recollections of this popular 80s band in our comments section below.

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#1 on 2014-Aug-22 Fri  08:17+-25200

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