Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas I

I have noticed in recent years that the radio stations where I live at least have largely dropped this song, and indeed most of the 80s contributions to the holiday canon. A few years back I noticed when I heard this song around December 21st that it was the first time I had heard it the whole season, and I made a point of looking out for it during subsequent Christmases. The next year it made its appearance early, around the 10th, but last year I went right down to the wire again, not appearing until the 22nd or 23rd, and this year, as of 9:46pm on the 23rd, I have yet to hear it on commercial radio, Rite Aid radio (I spend a lot of time at Rite Aid), other stores. I haven't been to a party in years but they probably aren't playing this at the parties I would be most likely to be invited to either. Yet for some of us d'un certain age, this is as much a part of the fabric of the season as White Christmas and Dick Clark on New Year's Eve. Granted, the scenario in the video of being stuck in a cabin in the mountains with a bunch of 80s yuppies couples, two of which include George Michael and Ridgeley, his erstwhile Wham! bandmate, approaches very close to my worst nightmare not involving prison or homelessness or starvation. In fact, I actually hate it. I don't even really like the song that much, to be honest, but I find I am unable to fully engage with the spirit of the season until I hear it in a public setting, where it must set loose several vital associations with Christmases past that enable me to move forward.

Along with several other Wham! songs--"Careless Whisper", "Everything She Wants"--which describe romantic strife in much more detail than is ordinary in popular music songs, I was at the age of 14 greatly impressed by the sophisticated adult relationships I imagined George Michael and Ridgeley must have. They argue, they cry, they are way beyond expressing any kindness for the other person, she's having his baby even though she doesn't seem to like him and he is openly indifferent about the matter as well. This was heavy stuff to me, who primarily related to the traditional trifecta of boy-meets-girl-boy-asks-girl-out-girl-likes-boy-they-get-married-and-live-happily-ever-after, boys-sees-hot-girl-boy-wants-hot-girl-boy-gets-hot-girl-hot-girl-starts-to-annoy-boy-so-he-shows-her-the-door, and the one I was most partial to, boy-sees-girl-boy-wants-girl-boy-cannot-get-girl-boy-is-wretched. So Wham! seemed to be operating on a totally foreign level. Which ultimately of course they were.

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