Wham! was an English pop duo, consisting of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley.
Michael and Ridgeley met in secondary school, where they founded and played in a ska band with a couple of their fellow schoolmates. The two founded Wham! in 1981.
They signed on with Innervision Records, and released their debut single "Wham Rap!", which (initially, at least) fell flat on the charts. Their second single, Young Guns (Go for It), however, was significantly more successful, and helped the group establish itself with a teenage audience. In 1983, they released their debut album, Fantastic.
After Innervision went out of business, the duo switched to Epic Records. Over the next couple of years, they released a number of hit singles, including "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", "Careless Whisper" (which, though credited to Wham! and written by Ridgeley, only starred Michael), and "Last Christmas/Everything She Wants". Their second album, Make it Big, dropped in 1984, and topped the charts. Through 1985, the duo embarked on a world tour, including a much-publicized 10-day visit to China (they were the first western pop group to visit the country).
By this point, however, Michael wanted to move on to more adult-oriented music. And so, on June 26, 1986, the duo played their final concert at Wembley Stadium, bidding farewell to their fans.
Michael would go on to find success as a solo artist, before sadly dying in 2016 at age 53. Ridgeley, on the other hand, tried his hand at car racing, before releasing a solo album, Son of Albert, in 1990. The album flopped, and he faded from the public eye. That was, until nearly 30 years later in 2019, when he announced that he was working on a book titled Wham! George & Me, to be released on October 3 of that year. It is a personal memoir detailing not only his life-long friendship with George Michael, but also, from his perspective, his time in Wham! from the day he met George up until the group's final concert in 1986.
- Fantastic (1983)
- Make It Big (1984)
- Music from the Edge of Heaven (1986)
- The Final (1986)
- 12" Singles (1988)
- The Best of Wham!: If You Were There... (1997)
Tropes in Wham's songs:
- Canon Discontinuity: In 1983, Innervision had already put out four out of eight songs as singles from Fantastic, and couldn't decide on a fifth, so they mixed three songs together to become the Club Fantastic Megamix, which was released as a 12" and 7". This was put out without consulting the band members, who disliked the mix and don't count it as part of their discography.
- Christmas Songs: "Last Christmas".
- Cover Version: They did three, one per album - Love Machine (The Miracles cover on Fantastic), If You Were There (Isley Brothers cover on Make It Big), and Where Did Your Heart Go? (Was Not Was cover on Music from the Edge of Heaven) respectively. There is also a brief, backstage singalong to Del Shannon's Runaway on the Foreign Skies: Live In China VHS, which is listed as a separate track despite not being one. In the case of the Love Machine cover, it was a last minute replacement for Careless Whisper, which the band were convinced to save for their next album due to it being seen as too mature for their image at the time (Careless Whisper had appeared on the demo tape that got them signed). The cover of If You Were There lent its name to a Wham compilation and featured on it, and is one of George Michael's favorite Wham recordings. Where Did Your Heart Go has the distinction of being the last Wham single.
- Expository Theme Tune: Wham Rap! explains the band's philosophy of having a good time, explaining that working is for losers.
- Gold Digger: "Everything She Wants" by Wham!, with George Michael singing as a husband who married a woman with an insatiable appetite for all the things she can get out of him.
- Greatest Hits Album: The Final, and the more widely available (but less thorough) The Best Of Wham!
- Precision F-Strike: The original 'Unsocial' mix of "Wham Rap" is full of the stuff:'You don't take no shit from the benefit', 'Cut the radio bullshit, this is how it be', 'Well i don't give a shit man can't you see'. Wham Rap '86 also includes the first of these lines. The Unsocial Mix has been mostly covered up by the Social Mix US Remix, which was the one included on Fantastic and The Final, and hasn't appeared on CD. Both variations of the song have "Come on everybody, don't need this crap" and "Give a wham give a bam but don't give a damn". Wham! styled themselves as rebellious young men who didn't want to work, thus the use of the lyrics. Pretty obvious that George really likes the words 'shit' and 'bullshit'.
- To a milder degree, "I don't know what the hell you want from me" from "Everything She Wants".
- Shout-Out: To Doris Day in "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go".
- Your Cheating Heart: Two Wham! songs deal with cheating in various ways "Last Christmas" features a protagonist who's just broken up with his partner because his partner cheated on him, but "this year to save" the protagonist "from tears" on Christmas, he'll give his heart "to someone special". Then there's "Careless Whisper", a song where the protagonist is the cheater and is feeling extremely guilty about having done so. ("Guilty feet have got no rhythm", "Should've known better than to cheat a friend/The wasted chance that I've been given", etc.)