Wham!’s Christmas Conundrums

Libby Cudmore

Is Michael is doomed to walk the earth, a well-coiffed ghost of Christmas past, gripping the foil-wrapped box containing this precious gift, forever seeking someone who will finally put his oft-regifted heart to rest?

As everyone knows, pop Christmas songs start getting played earlier and earlier every year. Christmas in July is no longer unheard of. But some Christmas mysteries also stubbornly hang around after the holiday, even on into April. While everyone else spent December fretting over whether or not Baby Jesus will forgive them for shanking the guy in front of them to get his place in the Wii line, I found myself, and find myself still, pondering an issue that has lingered in the collective unconscious since 1984—the question, of course, of what exactly happened to George Michael’s heart last Christmas.

Consider the lyrics to Wham!’s holiday carol:

Last Christmas I gave you my heart

But the very next day you gave it away

This year, to save me from tears

I’ll give it to someone special.

The first question that springs to mind is who did Michael’s beloved give it to? Did he/she give it back? Regift it? I can only imagine how that exchange went. “Hi, sorry this is late, but Merry Christmas, here’s the still-beating heart of yesterday’s boyfriend!” That’s not to say I haven’t brutally ripped a few hearts out of ex’s chests, but generally, I let them keep their organs and instead make off with a few DVDs. And certainly I would never turn around and give one of those to a new man.

But a more serious problem lurks in the chorus’s last line. Didn’t Michael regard the original beneficiary of his heart giving as special? He must have -- generally people don’t just give their hearts away to random acquaintances. Their virginity and their phone numbers and collections of decorative bath soaps in nauseating scents like Pomegranate Pine or Calendula and Chive, maybe, but never, never their hearts.

Is Michael is doomed to walk the earth, a well-coiffed ghost of Christmas past, gripping the foil-wrapped box containing this precious gift, forever seeking someone who will finally put his oft-regifted heart to rest?

When giving any sort of gift, there are certain considerations to be taken, especially when regifting. A heart is a pretty intense Christmas gift, especially for a first Christmas together—a Flock of Seagulls CD, for example, or a small kitchen appliance, such as an immersion blender or a martini shaker, might make for a better choice. George Michael had no one to blame but himself, and chances are, the second recipient of his heart will be just as weirded out as the one whose name was originally on the gift tag.

So “this year,” older and wiser, as George Michael is off to give his heart to “someone special”, what is to save him from the same mistake again? Perhaps he plans to give up with the whole romance thing -- maybe he is using the word special as a euphemism for retarded, and intends to spend the time he would have wasted on dating volunteering at a home for the mentally disabled instead. Perhaps he’ll meet Morrissey there, who, when fronting the Smiths, boasted in “Frankly Mr. Shankly” that he “sometimes feels more fulfilled / making Christmas cards with the mentally ill.” If Morrissey plays his cards right, he might unwrap George Michael’s heart on Christmas morning.

Libby Cudmore’s work has appeared in Hardboiled, Crime and Suspense, the Subway Chronicles and True Confessions. She is currently working on her MFA in popular fiction with the Stonecoast Program at the University of Southern Maine.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.