The music video for George Michael‘s iconic 1984 hit “Careless Whisper” has finally surpassed 1,000,000,000 views, thanks to the help of loyal fans, new fans, and easy listeners around the globe who can’t get enough of the jazzy performance and sultry vocals.
Picture it: It’s the summer of 1985. You’re at summer camp with your friends, listening to the radio. WHAM! is one of the biggest pop duo groups on the face of the planet… and then, it happens. The sounds of a smooth saxophone cascades its way into your heart and mind, imploring you to listen. Nothing else sounds quite like this on the radio, but who is it? Like a heavenly beacon of vocal caress, it’s none other than George Michael, serenading you into falling in love as he breaks your heart.
As one of his most iconic songs, ‘Careless Whisper’ was released as a single by George Michael on July 24, 1984, entering the UK Singles Chart at number 12 by August 1984. Within two weeks, it was at #1, where it stayed for three weeks, going on to become the fifth best-selling single of 1984 in the United Kingdom. It was his first solo-hit since he debuted as a member of WHAM!, where he and Andrew Ridgeley dominated pop music stations around the globe.
The official music video shows the guilt felt by a man (George) over an affair with a woman who lures him away (Madeline Andrews-Hodge), and his acknowledgement that his partner (Lisa Stahl) discovers the truth.
The video was directed by Duncan Gibbins, who previously directed “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” and was filmed on location in Miami, FL, in February 1984. It features such locales as Coconut Grove and Watson Island, iconic locations in Miami also seen in popular American television shows, such as Miami Vice or Golden Girls, during the same era. The final part of the video shows Michael leaning out of a top floor balcony of Miami’s Grove Towers.
In the book, I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, video producer Jon Roseman stated that production of the video was, “a f****** disaster.” According to Michael’s co-star Lisa Stahl, “They lost footage of our kissing scene so we had to re-shoot it, which I didn’t complain about … Then George decided he didn’t like his hair so he flew his sister over from England to cut it and we had to re-shoot more scenes.”
The video uses the shorter single version instead of the full album version of the song. A first original version of the video was edited with the Jerry Wexler 1983 version, and featured Andrew as a cameo, handing over a letter to a dark-haired George. This version had a more detailed storyline, but was then re-edited later.
“Careless Whisper” ended a nine-week run at the top for “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and 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 by February 1985, under the credit “Wham! featuring George Michael”. Spending three weeks at the top in the USA, the song was later named Billboard’s #1 song of 1985.
Despite its success and popularity, George Michael was never fond of the song. In his co-authored autobiography Bare, released in 1991, he said the song, “was not an integral part of my emotional development … 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.”
The original music video was officially uploaded to the George Michael YouTube channel on October 24, 2009.
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