The song George Michael called “one of the most incredible moments of my life”

The best songs in the world are often lightning in a bottle. Compared to other artists who struggle to make a song based around the most complex chords they can think of, the anthems that are played around the world are almost hiding in plain sight half the time, waiting for the right person to capture that sort of emotion and turn it into something beautiful. George Michael may have been a witness to many classics throughout his career, but he knew that he hit something extraordinary when he made ‘Careless Whisper’.

That’s not to say that Michael is in love with the actual song. When talking about his relationship with the track, Michael admitted that he fell out of love with the track after a while, saying that he has no idea why everyone else has a different affinity to the song that he does. Once he put down the basic track, he knew he had something.

If people were to see what Wham were coming out with when Michael made ‘Careless Whisper’, it would be easy to see that they weren’t taking themselves terribly seriously. Michael was still trying to make pop songs in the vein of his heroes, but all it took was one breakup for him to create one of the biggest pop hits of his career.

Even though he had come up with the melody first, Andrew Ridgely gave him the chords to put it in the right place, which makes the song feel like a scornful ballad. But one big thing was missing, and if you’ve ever been heartbroken in your life, you know that the saxophone solo is practically the entire hook of the song.

After laying down a guide vocal and a basic track, Michael said that hearing the saxophone in context almost left him speechless, saying in the book Bare, “One of the most incredible moments of my life was hearing ‘Careless Whisper’ demoed properly, with a band, a sax and everything. It was ironic that we signed the contract with Mark [Dean] that day, the day I finally believed we had number-one material. That same day we signed it all away”.

They had the beginnings of a classic, but it turns out that the original was too good to pass up. After demoing the song again in the US, Michael said that the saxophone didn’t have the same emotion as it did on the original, electing to bring in the same player for the final track that we know and love.

Although Wham may have been one thing when they began, ‘Careless Whisper’ was when everything changed. They had songs that adopted the same aesthetics as pop, soul, and funk, but this showed the kind of talent Michael was truly capable of, which became a double-edged sword once the record was released under the title ‘Wham featuring George Michael’.

The band may have hung around for a few more years, but it’s about time we call it like it is. ‘Careless Whisper’ is just a George Michael solo song that happens to have the word Wham plastered on the front.

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