Wham! 80s Songs and Albums
By Mark Nobes and Hannah Johnson
In the vibrant and colourful landscape of 1980s music, few acts could rival the energy, charisma, and infectious melodies of the pop duo Wham! Comprising of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, Wham! skyrocketed to fame and became synonymous with the effervescent spirit of the decade through their 80s songs, albums and fashion clothing.
Wham! had two UK No.2 hits; "Bad Boys" in May 1983 and "Last Christmas" in December 1984. Their other well-known hit was the camptastic "Club Tropicana", which reached No.4 in July 1983.
Overall, Wham! released three studio albums which were Fantastic (UK No.1, 1983), Make It Big (UK No.1, 1984) and The Final (UK No.2, 1986).
Their music videos, often filled with vibrant visuals and energetic dance sequences, helped define the music video era.
Wham! formed in 1981, when childhood friends George Michael (then known as Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou) and Andrew Ridgeley decided to pursue their passion for music. They first met at Bushey Meads School in Hertfordshire.
Their musical journey began in London's vibrant club scene, where they briefly performed in a ska band called The Executive, which they formed with three old school friends. However, the band soon split-up, and when George and Andrew went on to form Wham!, they truly caught the attention of the music industry, more particularly Innervision Records, who signed them up.
Debut Single and FIRST TOP OF THE POPS PERFORMANCE
In 1983,Dee C. Lee left Wham! to work with The Style Council, with Pepsi DeMacque taking her place.
List of Singles
1982 Young Guns (Go For It) #8
1983 Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do) (reissue) #2
1983 Bad Boys #2
1983 Club Tropicana #4
1983 Club Fantastic Megamix #15
1984 Wake Me Up Before You Go Go #1
1984 Careless Whisper #1
1984 Freedom #1
1984 Everything She Wants / Last Christmas #2
1985 I'm Your Man #1
1986 The Edge Of Heaven #1
Chart positions shown are for the official UK singles chart
Following on from this success, "Wham Rap!" was re-released in the summer of1983, and this time managed to reach No.8 in the UK, No.9 in Australia and No.13 in the Irish singles chart. The infectious blend of pop, funk, and social commentary, combined with the song's cheeky lyrics and catchy hooks, resonated with audiences, earning them an even bigger fan base.
Fantastic (Debut Album)
On 1st July 1983, Wham! released their much anticipaed debut studio album Fantastic. Reaching No.1 on the UK Albums Chart, the album and included the hits "Young Guns", "Wham Rap!" and "Bad Boys". The single "Club Tropicana" was released shortlly after the album, entering the UK singles chart at No.27 on 22nd July, and peaking at No.4 on 14th August 1983.
With just 8 tracks and a running time of 36:42, it's a relatively short album. Nonetheless, it's a testament to the duo's talent, ambition, and flair for crafting irresistible pop tunes. From the moment the needle touched the vinyl, listeners were swept away by the sheer vitality of Wham!'s music.
That said, the album does include a cover, which is the 1975 Motown single "Love Machine", originally by The Miracles. "Nothing Looks the Same in the Light" is the stand-out track on here, and features a lush production that wouldn't be out of place on the finest Bee Gees album.
George Michael penned five of the tracks on here, and co-wrote the hits "Club Tropicana" and "Wham Rap!" with Andrew Ridgeley.
Make It Big!
Released on 23rd October 1984, the second album release from Wham! certainly lived up to its title, and went on to become the band's most successful studio album achieving 6x Platinum in both the U.S. and Canada and 4x Platinum in the UK.
1. "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" (reached #1 in the UK and US)
2. "Everything She Wants" (released as a double-A side with Last Christmas)
4. "Like A Baby"
5. "Freedom" (the final #1 single for the band in the UK)
6. "If You Were There"
7. "Credit Card Baby"
8. "Careless Whisper" (later released as a solo single by George Michael)
New wave pop soul with a Motown vibe is the best way I can describe Make It Big. It's more lightweight than any ofGeorge's solo work, but such fun to listen to, and an almost perfect 80s pop album.
Once again, as with their debut, there are only 8 tracks, although this was not uncommon back then, and they are plenty of 80s bands I could name that released 8 track albums. Liverpool by Frankie Goes To Hollywood is one such album. That said, three tracks are over 5 minutes long and "Careless Whisper" runs for 6:30, and what a classic that one is!
Released in the late summer of 1984, the single "Freedom" was a #1 in the UK, Ireland and Norway during 1984 and was taken from the second album, Make It Big which was released a couple of months later during October 1984. It was the band's second out of four number one hit singles in the UK and their seventh Top 20 hit of the 80s.
Careless Whisper (1984 Japanese 3-track 12 inch single)
"EVERYTHING SHE WANTS" (1984)
Wham's farewell album The Final was released in 1986, and reached No.2 in the UK album charts. The final single taken from the album was "The Edge Of Heaven" which was a UK No.1.
Music From The Edge Of Heaven (U.S. No.10, 1985), was a severely pared-down version of The Final, with alternate tracks, and was released in the U.S.
The Final was essentially a greatest hits album but with a number of remix and 12 inch versions.
"THE EDGE OF HEAVEN" (The final sIngle)
The video clip features George Michael and Andrew Ridgley's final performance as Wham! on the British music show Top Of The Pops.
By the time The Edge Of Heaven was released Wham had already announced they were going to split-up, and George Michael was keen to develop a more sophisticated, adult sound.
The song was the 80s band's fourth and final number one and was lifted from The Final album. In America the song reached #10, making it their last Top 40 hit in the Billboard Hot 100.
WHAM Freedom (1984 UK 7 inch vinyl single)
George Michael's Solo Career
Despite their immense success, Wham! disbanded in 1986 after the release of their farewell album. George Michael embarked on a highly successful solo career, while Andrew Ridgeley pursued other interests. Michael's solo work, including albums like "Faith" and "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1," further solidified his reputation as a musical genius and enduring pop icon.
Michael's 1987 debut solo album, Faith was a massive success and has now sold over 20 million copies worldwide.
George sadly passed away on 25 December 2016 (aged 53).
WHAM! Freedom (1984 UK 12" inch vinyl single featuring the Long Version & Instrumental picture sleeve)
George on the cover of the American version of Smash Hits, Star Hits, in March 1988.