I never realized I was that big a Wham fan until now, as a second of their songs (kind of theirs) have landed inside the Top 20 of my countdown.
Oh well, shit happens.
If you want to be technical, Careless Whisper actually in United States was credited as “Wham featuring George Michael”, but we’re not trying to be technical. Sure, Michael sings exclusively (his Wham! bandmate, Andrew Ridgely would leave the stage when they would sing this on tour) but I don’t care—it’s still Wham’s song to me.
I loved Careless Whisper, even though I was just 13 when it was released and had no girlfriend to cheat on with an older woman (as the video depicts).
Michael confirmed the song he co-wrote (with Ridgely) had no personal truth for him either at that time (he was only 17 when he wrote it) and that the lyrics were s fictitious. Via Songfacts.com, Michael said in a 2009 interview with The Big Issue “I’m still a bit puzzled why it’s made such an impression on people… Is it because so many people have cheated on their partners? Is that why they connect with it? I have no idea, but it’s ironic that this song – which has come to define me in some way – should have been written right at the beginning of my career when I was still so young. I was only 17 and didn’t really know much about anything – and certainly nothing much about relationships.”
Careless Whisper is everything a slushy pop song from this decade was supposed to be — an unforgettable chorus forever on loop in your brain, mixed in with hauntingly sexy saxophone riffs. Seriously, I can’t overstate how cool the sax theme is literally from the first note…. and for a cheesy pop tune Wham’s lyrics are unexpectedly solid.
Truthfully, even though Careless Whisper is a song about a dude who fucks up by cheating, as I got older I used it as my general failed-relationship depression theme tune. If I had a dollar for every night I spent as a teen disheartened over a girl while playing this on repeat accompanied by my less-than-stellar vocals, I’d have had enough money to buy myself something nice.
Perhaps this ritual lasted well beyond my teens—I refuse to confirm or deny.
Semi-joking aside, this was a monster sized successful “sad” song of the 80s—one of the very best and deep personal favorite of mine.
Chart Success: There’s few songs of the decade that enjoyed more commercial success than Careless Whisper. It rose all the way to number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for three weeks before getting knocked off by REO Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling.” It stayed on the charts for 22 weeks and finished 1985 as the number-one song on the Billboard Hot 100.
Great Lyrics: Clear your throat and sing along loudly as we reach the song’s climatic point… You know you want to.
“Tonight the music seems so loud
I wish that we could lose this crowd
Maybe it’s better this way
We’d hurt each other with the things we’d want to say
We could have been so good together
We could have lived this dance forever
But no one’s gonna dance with me
Fun Facts: The hard rock group Seether did a cover version of Careless Whisper, one I do not like at all. They said an interview with Songfacts that “Basically, it’s a love song written by a gay man, and they wanted us to do a Valentine’s Day song for iTunes, and we said, ‘Well, let’s pick a gay love song. But we love the song. It’s one of those guilty pleasures that you have. The last thing that we wanted to do was a serious love song, and it doesn’t get more cheeseball than that. We decided to take the opposite approach.”
100. Hall & Oates – I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)
99. Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgetting
97. The Police – Every Little Thing She Does Does Is Magic
96. Madonna – Papa Don’t Preach
94. Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time
93. Kenny Loggins – Danger Zone
92. Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes
89. Journey – Don’t Stop Believing
87. Debbie Gibson – Foolish Beat
86. Glen Mederios – Nothing’s Going To Change My Love For You
85. John Cougar – Jack and Diane
81. Billy Squier – Everybody Wants You
79. Shelia E. – The Glamorous Life
77. Whitney Houston – Greatest Love Of All
76. Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson – Say Say Say
75. Flock of Seagulls – I Ran (So Far Away)
74. Twisted Sister – We’re Not Gonna Take It
73. Musical Youth – Pass The Dutchie
72. The Police – Every Breathe You Take
71. Survivor – The Search Is Over
70. REO Speedwagon – Keep On Loving You
68. Bobby Brown – Don’t Be Cruel
67. Kenny Loggins – Meet Me Halfway
66. Irene Cara – Flashdance…What A Feeling
65. Tina Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It
64. Phil Collins – One More Night
63. Europe – The Final Countdown
62. Patrick Swazye – She’s Like The Wind
61. Matthew Wilder – Break My Stride
60. Men Without Hats – Safety Dance
59. Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
58. Huey Lewis & The News – Power Of Love
55. Styx – Too Much Time On My Hands
53. Olivia Newton John – Physical
49. Marvin Gaye- Sexual Healing
48. Huey Lewis & The News – Do You Believe In Love
44. New Edition – Mr. Telephone Man
43. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA
42. Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World
41. Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody
39. Bruce Springsteen – Dancing In The Dark
38. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
37. Christopher Cross – Sailing
34. Foreigner – I Want To Know What Love Is
33. Pat Benatar – Love Is A Battlefield
32. USA For Africa- We Are The World
30. Kenny Loggins – I’m Free (Heaven Helps The Man)
29. Dexys Midnite Runners – Come On Eileen
28. J. Geils Band – Centerfold
27. Hall & Oates – Private Eyes
24. Men At Work – Who Can It Be Now
23. Eddie Murphy – Party All The Time
22. Jermaine Stewart – We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off
21. Don Henley – Dirty Laundry
20. Scorpions – Still Loving You
19. Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
18. Billy Vera – At This Moment
17. Phil Collins/Philip Bailey – Easy Lover
16. Tommy Tutone – 867-5309/Jenny