Friday, 1 May 2009

1984 Wham!: Wake Me Up Before You Go Go

If there's one thing George Michael can never be accused of, it's being original. Having already pastiched rap ('Wham Rap') and Kid Creole's Latin big band swing ('Club Tropicana'), in 'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go' he presented a sound based on the heavy beat/fast tempo rhythm beloved of the Northern Soul scene. In fact, by opening with a clipped bassline before shifting gear into a keyboard led groove with rolling drum fills, you could be forgiven for mistaking it for The Jam's 'A Town Called Malice' from 1982, albeit a version put through a boil wash and spin-dry cycle to wash out all the grime.

And it's ironic that, after releasing four singles of social commentary dressed up in the finest pop clothes, 'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go''s grittier template has absolutely nothing to say for itself beyond 'get up and dance'. Because from the opening chants of 'Jitterbug', 'Wake Me Up' is designed solely to put a smile on your face, which it does with some whipsmart lyrics:

"You take the grey skies out of my way

You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day
Turned a bright spark into a flame
My beats per minute never been the same"

and a bright, swinging chorus of sunshine that only a moron couldn't love. Yes it's vacuous, and no it's not deep, but you could say the same about so many classic pop songs from 'Baby Love' to 'Hit Me One More Time', all of which share the criteria of being constructed with care from parts built to last.

In truth, you wouldn't have needed Ms Ross or Ms Spears to make those songs into hits, both are memorable with a hardwired lifespan that will forever take them outside the era they were released. And although the sight of a young George Michael in his baggy 'Choose Life' T shirt in the video is undoubtedly an iconic eighties image, in truth, 'Wake Me Up' would have been a hit regardless of who was at the helm.

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