Tuesday, January 02, 2018

COLUMN: Whamageddon


Some of you are probably used to coming to this page every Monday for a light-hearted dose of cats, laughter, and warm fuzzies. That won't be happening today. Not when there are wrongs to be righted. When one signs up to be a pretend journalist, one has to carry some pretend responsibilities.

We must temporarily put frivolity aside. There is an evil that needs to be addressed. A scourge has plagued our fragile earth for far too many years, and it's high time someone did something about it.

I speak, of course, about the song "Last Christmas" by 80's popsters Wham! (For our much older or much younger readers, I'm not trying to yell at you -- the band adds the exclamation mark on their own. It's not Wham. It's Wham!

How on Earth did a song as insipid and uninspired as "Last Christmas" become a holiday classic? I bet even Wham! would have doubled over laughing back in 1984 if you'd have told them their song would become a yuletide staple for decades to come. I didn't get the appeal in '84, and I sure don't get it now.

I'm not the only one. There are many great timewasters on the internet, but none as crucial to holiday survival as Whamageddon. The objective is simple: Ride out the holidays as long as possible without hearing "Last Christmas." If you make it (which you won't,) you win (you won't.) When "Last Christmas" eventually sneaks up on you, you confess via social media with the hashtag #whamageddon and your face will appear on the memorial Whamhalla webpage as a victim of the "Last Christmas" menace.

I thought I was gonna make it this year, I really did. I avoided the radio, shopping malls, and even any overly-bubbly people who looked like they could be George Michael fans. No Wham! would come to me this holiday season, I was sure of it. Then I went to a trivia night with a Name That Tune category and wham, there it was. #Whamageddon.

But being forced to listen to "Last Christmas" opened a new door for me. I've always hated the song, sure. But until now, I'd never really paid attention to how DUMB the lyrics are. Trust me, now we can all hate "Last Christmas" in new and exciting ways. Let's dive in, shall we? The song starts right on the chorus, which is fine, because it's all that matters:

"Last Christmas I gave you my heart,
But the very next day, you gave it away."

Right away, this is clearly a Yuletide tragedy, which should immediately disqualify it from holiday playlists. Christmas songs should be merry, joyful, and not mention failed relationships. As we should all agree, the only acceptable tragic Christmas song is that sole cautionary tale about reindeers murdering a hapless grandmother.

In 1984, George Michael was one of the biggest pop stars on the planet. He was clearly worth millions -- but all he gave his signifigant other was his lousy heart? It's no wonder his beloved walked away the next day. Let's be realists here: If all Mariah Carey got for Christmas was you, there'd be hell to pay. I'm just sayin'.

This person walked away from him THE VERY NEXT DAY? On December 26th? That's kinda cold. "Thanks for the presents and the ham and the cookies and, umm, your HEART and all, but I'm out. See ya!" For someone who just got a free heart, that's pretty heartless.

"The very next day, you gave it away." Following the rules of English grammar, "it" would still be referring to George's heart. So this person took George's heart and gave it away. To WHOM, exactly? A stranger? A store return? You can't give away someone else's heart. Does this mean George is now contractually obligated to love whomever his heart was transferred to? This makes no sense at all -- but then the mystery deepens:

"This year, to save me from tears,
I'll give it to someone special."

Somehow, between last Christmas and this Christmas, George got his heart back. Was it returned to him? Did he have to go buy it back from the third party owner? These are the questions that keep me up at night, people.

I thought the music video might yield some clues, but no. It tells the story of a Wham! Christmas, wherein George and Andrew and an assortment of background Whammers all gather together at a ski lodge, decorate a tree, and then there's an odd 20-second clip of everyone sitting around like they're bummed to be spending Christmas in the Alps with pop icons. In the beginning, George is walking with a brunette, but by the end, she's arm-in-arm with Andrew, so maybe she gave George's heart to Andrew? (Which, admittedly, could explain some things.) It makes as little sense as the song and I think was just Wham! taking a ski vacation on their record company's dime.

Every year, dozens of Christmas records get released. MAYBE one song per decade becomes a timeless classic. Perhaps "Last Christmas" was simply the best the 80s had to offer. I suppose I should be thankful we never got "Have A Devo Christmas" or heard A Flock of Seagulls try to cover "O Tannembaun."

Oh, who am I kidding? I would have LOVED "Have a Devo Christmas." Have a great holiday, and remember: Keep your heart to yourself or someone might just give it to me, and I'm not sellin'.

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