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The Many Versions of Last Christmas
A Modern Christmas Classic
Christmas music is just about as old as the holiday itself. While some songs are spiritual and reflect the true meaning of Christmas like Silent Night, others have become pop standards such as White Christmas, and then there are songs that are reflective of the holiday season while also reflecting modern times.
In the 1980s, one song that fell in the last category was "Last Christmas" by 80s outfit Wham! For those of you who do not know, Wham! is the ultimate exercise in 80s pop culture- combining romance, kitsch, humor, and silliness. Comprised of Andrew Widgeley and George Michael, they had a series of hits before disbanding in 1985.
in 1984, at the height of their popularity, they collaborated with other British artists to form Band Aid the UK equivalent of USA for Africa, the group responsible for giving us "We are the World." While Band Aid collaborated on the now popular, "Do they Know Its Christmas," individual artists and groups featured did their own songs.
Wham! decided to write and release their own original song Released on December 20, 1984- "Last Christmas" raced up the charts and became a fast seller. Ironically, it only reached number one in Ireland.
From the days of Aquanet and day-glow until the present- many artists have put their own twist on this Christmas staple.
Now before you insert some joke about how could Swifty cover a song that she can't use to make us guess who it's about- think about it- she really could have written this song herself. And while I think she probably has a Christmas Heartbreak song of her own, I think that's a few years down the road.
Taylor's version of Last Christmas was released in 2007- only a year after she burst on to the public scene. She was only seventeen about to turn eighteen at the time but the way she sings this song makes you think otherwise.
In lieu of the poppy rhythms, Taylor uses a more country approach to the song to make you remember she's a country artist.
It's not the worst cover of the song, however, I think those who get the most enjoyment out of it are true blue Taylor Swift fans.
In 2009, Glee took over the pop culture universe with their blend of music, comedy, drama, and pop culture savvy. So it made total sense for them to cover one of the most popular Christmas songs in recent memory.
The song was recorded by the cast during the first season and included on the show's Christmas album but it was not used on the show until season 2.
The leads on the song are fictional and real-life couple Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) and Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith). At the time on the show, Michel and Monteith were not involved but Finn and Rachel were but as with them it was complicated.
Fortunately, the delivery of the song is not as complicated. As much as I love the original version, I was Gleeked out at the time and purchased this version. While I broke up with the show, I still am very much in love with this cover.
Until someone invents a time machine for transit back to the 90s, the only way we can relive the last decade of the 20th century is through pop culture. Very few groups represent the era quite like Savage Garden.
Released in the 1990s, the song is unique in how lead singer Darren Hayes interpolates the song with another classic by Wham!- "Careless Whisper" at the end.
Darren Hayes's silky vocals and the unique arrangement make the song stand out. It sounds like Savage Garden with a slight twist. It's definitely worth a purchase for any true 90s devotee who also enjoys Christmas music.
The Cheetah Girls
For those of you who don't know, The Cheetah Girls is the reason why Sabrina Bryan is on Dancing with the Stars. She was part of the made for Disney group alongside Adrienne Bailon and Kiely Williams, both formally of the girl group 3LW. Together, they created the biggest sensation to hit the Disney Channel until they were dethroned by High School Musical.
As with any manufactured pop group, they recorded a Christmas album. Aptly named, Cheetah-licious Christmas, they covered many Christmas classics like This Christmas as well as attempting some original material like the title track. That's right, I said title track. It was the first official release for the girls as a group but was later revealed by Adrienne Bailon not to be their first album.
Last Christmas is one of the tracks they sing. If you are in middle school or grew up on the Cheetah Girls, you'll probably enjoy it. As for the rest of us, I say stick to another version of the song.
Digital Versions of "Last Christmas"
As I said, there are many versions. Here are some covers of the tune by well-known artists. Whatever version you listen to, just be sure no one's singing this song about you at the next karaoke gathering!
Florence and the Machine