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A Tribute to George Michael – 10 Best Covers of Last Christmas

Last Christmas we lost a legend. Yesterday, award-winning songwriter and performer George Michael died at the age of 53. Though his time as a solo act garnered his immense success, George wasn’t afforded a stable career after publicly coming out of the closet though his legacy will be remembered in his legendary songs.

From Faith to Freedom or even the ever-sampled Careless Whisper Michael’s earworms are as unforgettable as they are undeniably well-crafted. Beyond his solo fame and iconic duet’s with other legendary artists such as Don’t Let the Sun Go Down with Elton John and If I Told Youem> with Whitney Houston, Michael’s catalog goes beyond his own success in the form of Wham!, the band that launched his career. Of Wham!’s hits there is one standout that has been covered by every artist imaginable, each bringing their own specific unique spin on Last Christmas. These are the 10 best cover’s of Wham!’s Last Christmas:

Carly Rae Jepsen [2015]

Freshoff the critical success of the commercial failure that was 2015’s E•MO•TION, Carly brought her own emotions to Wham!’s Last Christmas that made it a perfect Christmas B side before releasing her follow-up EP, SIDE B this past summer.

What makes this good: Ms.Jepsen taps into the raw emotional fluster of a coming of age tale straight from the 80s and melts it right atop a pop song. Though it stays mostly true to the original, she somehow removes the grain and saccharine while bringing it to HD without overthinking what makes the song great.

The Braxtons [2015]

From one icon to another, the Braxton’s cover of Wham!’s Last Christmas is just as much a re-imagination as it is a truly passionate delivery of vocals and harmonies in a way only a Braxton can. Why this is good: Capitalizing on what made her famous, Toni Braxton’s vocals shine in this, at sometimes, overwhelming cover. Of all of the covers in this list, the production not only respectfully modernizes the synth-pop original but it completely takes it out of its genre by turning into a future R&B song with all of the trappings of a trap inspired year. https://youtu.be/r3v1h-dKnwg Olly Murs [2014 & 2016] British-crooner Olly Murs has never really been able to make a huge impact on American Radio despite his international success or unique and emotive vocals.

What makes this great: Olly performs two different renditions of Last Christmas. In his live studio version, he performs with a full band and really takes his time emoting in a slight slower arrangement. In the live performance for VEVO Presents, he amps up the crowd with a faster rendition that is completely stripped down and uses the crowd to his advantage.

Ariana Grande [2013]

Before Ariana Grande ditched her high-pony for high-heels, the “new Mariah” tried her hand at reinterpreting Wham!’s love-lost anthem with a woman-scorned narrative. The production is a bubbly as the ageless superstar’s persona.

What makes this good: This rendition of the Wham! classic does a lot right, mainly in the vocal department. We could probably all do without the rewritten lyrics and the “heys,” but if you’re looking for a happy rendition to play at your next Christmas party, this might be the one to get the people dancing.

The xx [2012]

Stopping by BBC’s Radio One, The xx performed a melancholic version of Last Christmas that was stripped all the way down to a “simple” live rig which consisted of a two guitars, drum machine, and a synth (or 2).

What makes this good: The stripped down, and almost lethargic rendition of Last Christmas is so pulled back that it’s strictly about the lyrics rather than a “cool“ factor.

Carole King [2011]

What’s better than an iconic vocalist performing a song you wrote? A legendary, academy award-winning singer-songwriter covering your song.

What makes this great: Carole King brings “Carole King” to every aspect of this cover of Last Christmas. Unlike most of the other covers of the song, Ms. King does nothing to make this song current, retro or anything other than what she does. The vocal performance is flawless and brings a level of authenticity that few other versions have.

Glee Cast [2010]

Of all of the times Glee made cringe-inducing covers to popular music, this was Ryan Murphy’s runaway hit at its finest. The cover saw the two leads, real-life couple Cory Monteith and Lea Michele giving a stellar vocal and emotional performance before the untimely death of the former.

What makes this good: Within a storyline ripe with unrequited love, this song was really the only choice to pit the SAG and Grammy award-winning actors against each other.

Taylor Swift [2007]

Before the “squad,” or any of her heartbreak/Grammy-inducing boyfriends, Taylor Swift took a cue out of George Michael’s playbook and gave Last Christmas a pop-country makeover.

What makes this good: If ever there was a song that was more on-brand for Taylor Swift, no one has yet found it.

Jimmy Eat World [2004]

The year was 2004, the O.C. was in full swing, and as one of the pioneering shows of the 2000’s putting a heavy emphasis on the music that was implemented into its plot lines it had music crafted specifically for that purpose and this is one of those things.

What makes this good: It’s not so much that this is a good cover as it is a “fun” and unexpected cover. Also, who doesn’t love The Middle? Ironically, they still perform this song at Christmas shows, nostalgia is a powerful thing.

Human Nature [1997]

Often crediting as *NSync, the only boyband to prominently cover Last Christmas and use it as a single was Human Nature, an doo-wop/harmony pop group, that is still very much together.

Why this is good: What is more indicative of the late 90s than male groups singing acapella in harmony.

BONUS – XV [2015]

We wouldn’t be an audio an engineering website without showing off some gear, would we? Here is producer XV showing off his Launchpad skills with this sick rendition of Last Christmas that he produced using FL Studio. https://youtu.be/YNKBJ6bIc0Q When it comes down to it, these are all great choices but nothing really beats the Pudding Mix of the original. Wham! [1984]