Careless Whisper

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"Careless Whisper"
Careless Whisper UK single.jpg
Single by George Michael
from the album Make It Big
Released 24 July 1984 (1984-07-24)
Format
Recorded 1984
Genre Pop[1]
Length
  • 6:30 (album version)
  • 5:04 (single version)
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) George Michael
Wham! singles chronology
"Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"
(1984)
"Careless Whisper"
(1984)
"Freedom"
(1984)
"Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"
(1984)
"Careless Whisper"
(1984)
"Freedom"
(1984)
George Michael singles chronology
"Careless Whisper"
(1984) Careless Whisper1984
"A Different Corner"
(1986) A Different Corner1986
Music video
"Careless Whisper" on YouTube

"Careless Whisper" is a song by English singer-songwriter George Michael (sometimes credited to "Wham! featuring George Michael" in Japan, Canada and the United States). It was released on 24 July 1984, by Epic Records in the United Kingdom, Japan and other countries, and by Columbia Records in North America. The song was George Michael's first solo single, although he was still performing in Wham! at the time (the song is included on Wham!'s album Make It Big).

The song features a prominent saxophone riff, and has been covered by a number of artists since its first release. It was released as a single and became a huge commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic and on both sides of the Pacific. It reached number one in nearly 25 countries, selling about six million copies worldwide – two million of them in the United States.[2]

Background

Unlike most of the other Wham! singles (except "Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)" and "Club Tropicana"), it was co-written by band mate Andrew Ridgeley. The two had written it together as developing artists three years earlier in Watford, England.[3]

Composition and writing

I was on my way to DJ at the Bel Air when I wrote "Careless Whisper". I have always written on buses, trains and in cars. It always happens on journeys. With "Careless Whisper" I remember EXACTLY where it first came to me, where I came up with the sax line. I can remember very vaguely where I was when I wrote things after Wham! got off the ground--but with "Careless Whisper" I remember exactly the time and place. I know it sounds really weird and a kind of romantic thing to say--but I remember exactly where it happened, where I was sitting on the bus, how I continued and everything. I remember I was handing the money over to the guy on the bus and I got this line, the sax line: der-der-der-der, der-der-der-der. Then he moved away and I continued writing it in my head. I wrote it totally in my head. I worked on it for about three months in my head...[4]

Michael and Ridgeley both wrote the song when they were 17, taking inspiration from stories from Michael’s early romantic overtures.[5] Michael explained in his autobiography, Bare, that much of the song's content is based on events from his childhood.

"When I was twelve, thirteen, I used to have to chaperone my sister, who was two years older, to an ice rink at Queensway in London," he detailed. "There was a girl there with long blond hair whose name was Jane. I was a fat boy in glasses and I had a big crush on her -though I didn't stand a chance. My sister used to go and do what she wanted when we got to the skating rink and I would spend the afternoon swooning over this girl Jane."[5]

"A few years later, when I was sixteen, I had my first relationship with a girl called Helen," Michael continued. "It had just started to cool off a bit when I discovered that the blonde girl from Queeensway had moved in just around the corner from my school. She had moved in right next to where I used to stand and wait for my next-door neighbor, who used to give me a lift home from school. And one day I saw her walk down the path next to me and I thought - now where did SHE come from? She didn't know it was me. It was a few years later and I looked a lot different. Then we played a school disco with The Executive and she saw me singing and decided she fancied me. By this time she was that much older and a big buxom thing - and eventually I started seeing her. She invited me in one day when I was waiting for my lift and I was...in heaven."[5]

Michael observed that after he stopped wearing glasses, he began getting invited to parties. "And the girl who didn't even see me when I was twelve invited me in," he noted. "So I went out with her for a couple of months but I didn't stop seeing Helen. I thought I was being smart - I had gone from being a total loser to being a two-timer. And I remember my sisters used to give me a hard time because they found out and they really liked the first girl. The whole idea of "Careless Whisper" was the first girl finding out about the second - which she never did. But I started another relationship with a girl called Alexis without finishing the one with Jane. It all got a bit complicated. Jane found out about her and got rid of me...The whole time I thought I was being cool, being this two-timer, but there really wasn't that much emotion involved. I did feel guilty about the first girl - and I have seen her since - and the idea of the song was about her. "Careless Whisper" was us dancing, because we danced a lot, and the idea was - we are dancing...but she knows...and it's finished."[5]

Production

The song went through at least two rounds of production. The first was during a trip Michael made to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where he went to work with producer Jerry Wexler at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Michael was unhappy with the version that was originally produced and decided to re-record and produce the song himself, this time coming up with the version that was finally released. The version Wexler produced, was released later in the year, as a (4:41) B-side "Special Version" on 12" in the UK and Japan.

The record label Innervision were going to put out the Jerry Wexler version of "Careless Whisper" after the Club Fantastic Megamix as far back as 1983. Dick Leahy said that while he could not stop the release of the Club Fantastic Megamix, he could stop the release of this single on the basis that as a publisher they "have the right to grant the first license of the recording of a tune of which he controls the copyright". He was unable to do anything about the Club Fantastic Megamix because it was already released material. He said: "We knew how big that song could be so it was necessary to upset a few people to stop it."[6]

The officially released single, a mid-tempo sentimental ballad with a saxophone solo by Steve Gregory, was issued in August 1984, entering the UK Singles Chart at number 12. Within two weeks, it was at number one, ending a nine-week run at the top for "Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. It stayed at number one for three weeks, going on to become the fifth best-selling single of 1984 in the United Kingdom; it was outsold only by the two Frankie Goes to Hollywood tracks "Two Tribes" and "Relax," Stevie Wonder with "I Just Called to Say I Love You," and Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" The song also topped the charts in 25 other countries, including the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States in February 1985 under the credit "Wham! featuring George Michael." Spending three weeks at the top in America, the song was later named Billboard's number-one song of 1985.

On the subject of his personal opinion of the song, Michael said in 1991 that it "was not an integral part of my emotional development"[7] which he found sad because of the song meaning so much to so many people. He went on to say: "It disappoints me that you can write a lyric very flippantly—and not a particularly good lyric—and it can mean so much to so many people. That's disillusioning for a writer."[8]

Music video

The official music video (which uses the shorter single version) shows the guilt felt by a man (portrayed by Michael) over an affair, and his acknowledgement that his partner (Lisa Stahl) is going to find out. It was filmed on location in Miami, Florida, in 1984 and features such locales as Coconut Grove and Watson Island. The final part of the video shows Michael leaning out of a balcony at the last floor of Miami's Grove Towers.[9][10] The Wexler production of the song has a rarer music video using some of the same footage as the official release, as well as a brief appearance by Andrew Ridgeley playing a taxi driver.[citation needed]

Track listing

All tracks written by George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley.

7": Epic / A 4603 (UK)
No. Title Length
1. "Careless Whisper" (Single Edit) 5:04
2. "Careless Whisper" (Instrumental) 5:02
12": Epic / TA4603 (UK)
No. Title Length
1. "Careless Whisper" (Extended Mix) 6:31
2. "Careless Whisper" (Instrumental) 5:02
12": Columbia / 44-05170 (US)
No. Title Length
1. "Careless Whisper" (Extended Mix) 6:20
2. "Careless Whisper" (Instrumental) 4:52
12": Columbia Promotional / AS-1980 (US)
No. Title Length
1. "Careless Whisper" 4:50
2. "Careless Whisper" 4:50
12" maxi: Epic / QTA 4603 (UK) – Special Edition
No. Title Length
1. "Careless Whisper" (Extended Mix) 6:31
2. "Careless Whisper" (Jerry Wexler Special Version) 5:34
3. "Careless Whisper" (Condensed Instrumental Version) 4:52
  • Note: The Extended Mix is identical to the album version from Make It Big.

Credits and personnel

Charts

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[38] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[39] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[40] Silver 585,000[41]
Italy (FIMI)[42] Gold 25,000*
Japan (RIAJ) 204,000[43]
Netherlands (NVPI)[44] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[45] Platinum 1,500,000[46]
United States (RIAA)[47] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Cover versions

"Careless Whisper" has been covered by many other artists. A selection of those are presented here in chronological order:

In other media

Kamasi Washington & El Debarge Paid Tribute to George Michael At The 2017 BET Awards By Performing Careless Whisper".[54]

See also

References

  1. ^ Greenwald, Ted (1992). Rock and Roll: The Music, Musicians, and the Mania. Mallard Press. p. 31. 
  2. ^ "George Michael: 50 years in numbers". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. 25 June 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2016. 
  3. ^ The Complete Guide to the Music of George Michael & Wham! L Ellis… - 1998 - Music Sales Group
  4. ^ Michael, George (1991). Bare. Penguin. pp. 56–57. 
  5. ^ a b c d Michael, George (1991). Bare. Penguin. pp. 128–129. 
  6. ^ Michael, George (1991). Bare. Penguin. p. 166. 
  7. ^ Michael, George (1991). Bare. Penguin. p. 166. 
  8. ^ Michael, George (1991). Bare. Penguin. p. 166. 
  9. ^ "Google Maps". 
  10. ^ georgemichaelVEVO (2009-10-25), George Michael - Careless Whisper (Official Video), retrieved 2017-06-06 
  11. ^ "Australian Top 50 Chart Week Ending 23rd September, 1984". ARIA. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  12. ^ "Careless Whisper", Austrian Singles Chart Austriancharts.at Archived 4 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine. (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  13. ^ "De Nederlandse Top 40, week 36, 1984". Retrieved 27 February 2008. [permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Careless Whisper", French SNEP Singles Chart Lescharts.com (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  15. ^ German Singles Chart Charts-surfer.de Archived 17 June 2009 at WebCite (Retrieved 30 July 2008)
  16. ^ Irish Singles Chart Irishcharts.ie Archived 3 June 2009 at WebCite (Retrieved 17 April 2008)
  17. ^ Hit parade Italia (Retrieved 31 May 2008)
  18. ^ Japanese Oricon Year-end Singles Chart of 1985 Archived 22 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine. (Retrieved 1 August 2008)
  19. ^ List of number-one singles on the Japanese Oricon International Chart (1968-2000) Archived 21 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  21. ^ "Careless Whisper", Norwegian Singles Chart Norwegiancharts.com Archived 13 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine. (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  22. ^ "Careless Whisper", South African Chart [1] (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  23. ^ "Careless Whisper", Swedish Singles Chart Swedishcharts.com (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  24. ^ "Careless Whisper", Swiss Singles Chart Hitparade.ch Archived 22 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine. (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  25. ^ "Careless Whisper", UK Singles Chart BBC.co.uk (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  26. ^ Lwin, Nanda. Top 40 Hits: The Essential Chart Guide (2000). Mississauga, Ont.: Music Data Canada
  27. ^ a b Billboard Allmusic.com (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  28. ^ "Le Top de la semaine : Top Singles Téléchargés - SNEP (Week 52, 2016)" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 8 January 2017. 
  29. ^ http://zene.slagerlistak.hu/single-track-top-40-lista/2016/52
  30. ^ "Chart Track: Week 52, 2016". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  31. ^ "Media Forest weekly chart (year 2016 week 52)". Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  32. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 53, 2016" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  33. ^ "Portuguesecharts.com – George Michael – Careless Whisper". AFP Top 100 Singles. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  34. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2016. 
  35. ^ "The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Retrieved 27 December 2016. 
  36. ^ "Top 100 1984 - UK Music Charts". Retrieved 27 December 2016. 
  37. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1985/Top 100 Songs of 1985". Retrieved 27 December 2016. 
  38. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2016 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  39. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Wham – Careless Whisper". Music Canada. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  40. ^ "French single certifications – George Michael – Careless Whisper" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select GEORGE MICHAEL and click OK
  41. ^ "Les Singles en Argent :" (in French). Infodisc.fr. Archived from the original on 24 February 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  42. ^ "Italian single certifications – George Michael – Careless Whisper" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  43. ^ "List of best-selling international singles in Japan". JP&KIYO. 2002. 
  44. ^ "Dutch single certifications – George Michael – Careless Whisper" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  45. ^ "British single certifications – George Michael – Careless Whisper". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Careless Whisper in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  46. ^ "George Michael on the charts". Music Week. Intent Media. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  47. ^ "American single certifications – Wham – Careless Whisper". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 27 June 2012.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  48. ^ "Joyride overview". Allmusic.com. 
  49. ^ "Pan Pipes - Careless Whisper". allmusic.com. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  50. ^ "Del - Go All Night". allmusic.com. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 
  51. ^ "Edward Valentine - Careless Whisper - Music Charts". Acharts.us. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  52. ^ "Release “Music and Lyrics” by Various Artists". MusicBrainz. Retrieved 11 July 2017. 
  53. ^ "One 'Deadpool' Soundtrack Song Stands Out By Perfectly Capturing The Spirit Of The Character". Bustle. Retrieved 2 May 2017. 
  54. ^ "Watch Kamasi Washington & El DeBarge Cover George Michael At The BET Awards". Stereogum. Retrieved 11 July 2017. 

External links

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