Friday, June 25, 2010
Even as the emerging phenomenon known as Wham! was poised to burn itself out in a flash of hairspray and teenaged caprice, it was becoming obvious that at least one of the members of the duo was in possession of the kind of talent which could potentially lead to something greater than even the sum of its very hunky parts. Longevity in the music business, though, is a very elusive thing indeed; it requires luck and very little else, as too many massive talents toiling away in obscurity can tell you.
Co-written jointly by George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley before they made it big with their 1984 album Make It Big, Careless Whisper exposed two essential elements which basically doomed Wham! to the dustbin even as it was peaking: the first of these was the incredible showmanship of George Michael, and the other was his dab hand behind the scenes, at the mixing board...
Now, no offense to George Michael - whose birthday it is today - but I've always found Ridgeley to be far and away the prettier of the two; in the video for Everything She Wants, for instance, Ridgeley's ease on camera and general yumminess allowed me to forego the purchase of porn for at least two years, despite the fact that I was 14 at the time. I believe, though, that it was George Michael's all around skills which allowed him access into the stratosphere of stardom while Ridgeley remains the ultimate 80s trivia footnote. After all, Michael first recorded Careless Whisper with legendary producer Jerry Wexler; unhappy with the result, George re-recorded the song, slapped an unforgettable saxophone riff onto the front of it, and the end result was strong enough to knock pop juggernaut Two Tribes by Frankie Goes to Hollywood off the top of the UK chart after an incredible nine week run.
So while Careless Whisper may have within it the single cheesiest lyric in pop music - 'I'm never gonna dance again / guilty feet have got no rhythm...' - it was responsible for launching the career of one of the world's foremost male vocalists*...
*And probably played a significant part in the conception of countless babies besides!
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