Synopsis of Pop Music

"Wake me up before you go go,
Don't leave me hanging on like a yo-yo..."

1985 was 'The Year of Wham!' In this twelve-month period, this English duo scored three straight #1 hits in the U.S. and sold millions of albums all over the world with their mixture of up-to-date dance music rhythms and classic pop melodies. The two stars also dominated magazine covers and television screens with their camera-friendly combination of good looks and colorful style. Though their style was cutting-edge, the hysteria they inspired was old-fashioned.

Wham! grew out of the childhood friendship of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. Both were fans of London’s dance-club culture and set their sights on pop stardom. They took the name ‘Wham!’ from a Roy Liechtenstein pop-art painting and released their first single, “Young Guns (Go For It!),” in 1982. This confection of dance beats and pop hooks set the tone for the Wham! style and became a U.K. hit. Two years later, they scored their first American success with the #1 hit “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” a bouncy soul-pop tune with girl-group backup vocals and a sound that fell halfway between disco and Motown.

The video for “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” featuring the handsome duo cavorting in colorful sportswear, became a hit on MTV. Soon, teen magazines were crammed with full color pinups of Michael and Ridgeley. In early 1985, Wham scored their second #1 hit with “Careless Whisper,” a ballad of romantic betrayal that had a lush production and a passionate vocal from Michael. Wham! went to #1 for the third consecutive time with “Everything She Wants,” a synth-driven tune that contrasted heartbroken lyrics with bouncy rhythms.

By the end of 1985, Wham! was an international sensation. They had sold five million copies of Make It Big in the U.S. alone and also landed a fourth hit with the soulful “Freedom.” However, the pressure of their success had become too great and Michael and Ridgeley decided to disband the next year. In the meantime, they stayed quiet as they continued to score hits with the danceable “I’m Your Man” and the moody “A Different Corner” in early 1986. The pop-music world was given a serious shock in April of 1986 when Wham! explained they had achieved all they had wanted and would soon be breaking up.

Wham! ended their career with a final concert before 72,000 frenzied fans at England’s Wembley Stadium. They scored a few post-breakup hits with the Top-10 “Edge Of Heaven” single and a final album, Music From The Edge of Heaven. Michael and Ridgeley remained friends and both went on to pursue solo careers. Since this time, Michael has eclipsed his fame as half of Wham! with such solo smashes as “Faith,” “I Want Your Sex,” and “Jesus To A Child.” However, he and Ridgeley will always be remembered fondly by pop fans for the style and fun they brought to 80’s pop music as Wham!

Artist Release History

1983 - Fantastic!
1984 - Make It Big
1986 - Music from the Edge of Heaven
1997 - The Best of Wham!: If You Were There...

Pop Sub Categories


Essential Music Albums

Make It Big (Columbia)

Band Members

George Michael vocals
Andrew Ridgeley vocals

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