17 December 2010

Wham!: Last Christmas

So Lyrics, Weakly has been silent for a long time—and I can tell you precisely where the blame lies: Kurtis Blow’s favorite sport. Yes, one of my children decided to play basketball this past fall, and it basically sucked away all the time i would have spent bringing joy to you, the reader of this blog.

But this leads to a problem—how are songs going to receive the mockery they so surely deserve? This is a problem, particularly during this time of year, when we get subjected to the same horrible, horrible Christmas songs over and over (and over) again. Well, i hear your pain—and so i’m back, at least until my daughter decides she wants to play lacrosse or something equally time-intensive, and i’m back with a Christmas song that really defies all logic.

The song? “Last Christmas” by Wham! (and many others, most recently Taylor Swift—but Wham! gets all the credit for being first).

(You really need to click on the link to the video and watch it all the way through, by the way. I mean, there’s the 80stastic hair everybody in it has, but i also like to imagine it as a movie, providing dialogue. The dinner scene’s the most fun for that. In other news, i probably need to develop different hobbies.)

Yes, 1984 may not have brought us into a dystopia of thought crimes and memory holes, and it was actually a pretty good year for music, but it still brought us songs like this one.

(I find it somewhat amusing, by the way, that the album this song came from was titled Music from the Edge of Heaven. I suspect that that’s actually correct—it was found there as it was about to be pushed off of that edge so that it would fall into hell, where it more properly belonged. But no, George Michael had to rescue it and bring it to earth, where it gets to torture our ears every. single. year.)

So let’s get on to the lyrics, shall we?

Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away

See, we’ve got an issue with logic already.

Fine, Mr. Michael, you gave her (we’ll go with her, given the video) your heart. Taken literally that’d be disgusting and a bit extreme, though certainly not without precedent. (It’d also be a bit counterproductive, since you’d be dead within a minute of giving the gift, maybe longer if you laid down first. But i digress)

But we know you don’t mean it literally (though, after listening to this song every other hour for the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we might wish you did). You mean it figuratively—you mean that you told her you were in love with her.

Fine. And on Christmas, too. How cute.

But then, on Boxing Day, she gave it away. (Which, given the origins of the holiday, makes sense, at least as long as she gave it away to a commoner.)

But, tell me, how exactly did she give your heart—that is, your expression of love—away? I mean, if i were to say to you something completely random, like, oh, say, “Wang Chung didn’t last nearly as long as Wham!, but their stuff has actually aged better”.

At this point, Mr. Michael, i have given you a metaphorical bit of my mind. However, it’s not actually possible for you to give a bit of my mind, even that particular bit of my mind, to someone else. You could give them a bit of your mind, certainly, and that bit of your mind might have the same content as mine (which would be refreshingly honest of your mind, by the way), but it wouldn’t be mine. My mind isn’t for you to give away.

Same with hearts.

So anyway, we’ve got an impossible situation, but fine, we’ll roll with it—we’ll take your word for it and pretend that it’s possible. So then—now that you’ve gotten into this, how are you going to deal with it?

This year to save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special

Um, doesn’t this just kind of prove my earlier point? If she actually was somehow able to give away your heart after you’d given it to her, you wouldn’t have it to give away to someone else. Since you have it, that means that she didn’t actually give it away—well, unless she gave it back to you. If that’s the case, though, then you should be happy that your circulatory system is whole again, and you should really stop complaining.

Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away (you gave it away)
This year to save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special (special)

Yes, he sang it again.

You know how most pop songs, you might have the chorus three times, maybe with an extra one at the end with some vamping thrown in? This chorus gets repeated six times (with occasional minor variations in the backing vocals)—and it gets repeated more times in the extended mix, if i understand correctly.

There's an extended mix of this song? Why yes, yes there is. It goes by the name of the “Pudding Mix”. I never knew Bill Cosby sang with Wham!, but then again, i don’t know a lot of things about the band, like whether the exclamation point at the end is actually a sound we should all be saying, like with the band !!! or when Xhosa clicks are phonetically transcribed.

Once bitten and twice shy

I am not posting a link to Great White’s cover of “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” here. You should all be in awe of my self-restraint.

I keep my distance but you still catch my eye

Or, in other words, Mr. Michael is now stalking her.

Tell me baby, do you recognize me?

Well, if you’re wearing a good enough disguise, then no, she won’t.

Well, it’s been a year, it doesn’t surprise me

Okay, this is just a bizarre line. I mean, i can’t figure out what it’s supposed to mean. Is it supposed to mean that it’s been a year and so it doesn’t surprise you that she doesn’t recognize you, or does it mean that it’s been a year and so you expect that she recognizes you, what with the anniversary of the day she gave away your heart and all? Either way, i’m managing not to care.

(Happy Christmas)

In the song, this line is whispered almost menacingly. I worry a bit about your mental stability, Mr. Michael.

I wrapped it up and sent it
With a note saying “I love you”, I meant it

Aha! (Or, as we might say if we were talking about a much better 80s hair-band song, a–ha!) All is clear now.

When he talks about giving her his heart, he actually means he gave her a present! (According to the video, it was apparently actually a particularly hideous jeweled brooch.) She seems to have not liked the present, and so she then proceeded to regift it to someone with poor enough taste to want it.

Now I know what a fool I’ve been
But if you kissed me now I know you'd fool me again

So if she’d just kiss you, you’d provide her with more tacky jewelry? Sounds fair to me.

(More seriously, lose the desperation, Mr. Michael. It’s not helping your cause.)

Then we get two more repetitions of the chorus, leading us to the bridge.

Oh, oh my baby

Exciting bridge.

Crowded room, friends with tired eyes
I’m hiding from you and your soul of ice

I’m trying to picture this—a big living room, people hanging around after a long evening of drinks and gossip, Mr. Michael crouching down behind the couch…

Maybe they’re tired because they’ve all spent too much time on the edge of nervousness, waiting for your inevitable snap. Or maybe you’ve already snapped, and you’re keeping everyone around to hide you from this woman with a soul of ice, who, because of that soul of ice, um, doesn’t…really want…to, um…find you.

Yeah, Mr. Michael? I think we’ve found a problem with your logic. I mean, i know this will shock you, but if she doesn’t care about you, then you have absolutely no need to hide from her.

She’s just not that into you.

My god, I thought you were someone to rely on

I’m resisting the urge to take this line and go on a riff about how it’s a statement on the existence of a loving yet distant god in relation to the problem of evil. Not because i think it wouldn’t amuse me, but because this song is starting to bore me, and i still have more than a verse to go.

Me, I guess I was a shoulder to cry on

So you caught her on the rebound and expected it to work out long-term? Dude, even a simple Google search would give you better advice.

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart

Honestly, i have no idea what this means. All i can come up with is images involving fire from zombie movies, and you can thank me now for not inking to any of them.

But whatever it means, it must be important, because Mr. Michael later repeats the whole verse it begins at the end of the song.

A man undercover but you tore him (me) apart

No, Mr. Michael, we’re on to you now—we know that it wasn’t really your heart, it was jewelry. Yeah, we know that means you’re out some cash, but don’t make it out to be some sort of medieval torture.

Ooh hoo, now I’ve found a real love
You’ll never fool me again

Well, unless your old love kisses you—then you’ll be a fool again, and presumably just as unfaithful to your current fling as your previous fling was to you. Yeah, way to promote “real” love, Mr. Michael.

And then we get two more repetitions of the chorus, plus one more repetition of the verse immediately above. I’ll be merciful and omit them, leaving you with the feeling that love is simply a game in which people tread on each other’s feelings with no worry for how the other might feel.

No, that won’t do, we need something more upbeat—Christmas is coming! Therefore, in honor of the phrase “a man undercover” in that last verse, as my Christmas present to you i give you what has to be one of the five best television theme songs ever, complete with Ted Koppel hair and mid-60s dancing white kids in the background.

(p.s. This was post number 50 for this blog. Here’s to hoping i have the time to post number 51 next week!)