Be still our beating hearts. When The Mirror announced yesterday (20 June) that permatanned giants of the 80s Wham! were reforming for a “one-off pop extravanganza”, we broke out the shuttlecocks (and stuffed them down our shorts) in celebration. George Michael’s party-pooping “people’ have now denied the story but it doesn’t make a reunion any less necessary.
You see, this would be more than just a comeback – it would potentially be the best thing to happen to pop this year. This is a summer for pop revivals, of course, what with the Hit Factory where-are-they-now? hoopla in Hyde Park exhuming the acts that tried to fill the Wham!-shaped void in the late 80s, but nothing could rival the return of Bushey’s finest. They showed just how neatly superior songwriting and plastic pop could mesh.
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley (well, mainly George, let’s face it) called time on a short but glittering career in June 1986, killing Wham! at the height of their powers and bowing out with the No.1 ‘Edge Of Heaven’ EP, a peerless greatest hits and a farewell blast through the classics at Wembley Stadium. A story that perfect should be preserved in aspic, but George has missed that elusive chemistry over the years; too much woe-is-me, not enough whoa-check-out-those-matching-t-shirts.
Andrew brought the fun, the cheekbones, the unconvincing broken-nose stories. He even co-wrote George’s debut solo smash ‘Careless Whisper’ – or accepted George’s generous pension fund credit, if you prefer to believe that version. Post-Wham!, old Yog strived to establish himself as a serious artist, consigning to history that dazzling white smile and the glorious Princess Di bouffant, and he was jolly successful too, but something was lost, something the cheeky cop-baiting of ‘Outside’ or the misjudged political satire of ‘Shoot The Dog’ couldn’t quite replace. Now he spends his time piling into Snappy Snaps or unleashing glum New Order covers (and a few droll tweets). He needs a surf-bum saviour.
A revitalised George Michael – even on the strength of one gig – is just what pop requires. It’s an antidote to the chart-ruling robotics of Pitbull, David Guetta and Calvin Harris, or the New Boring of Adele, Ed Sheeran and all the others that fade into the wallpaper. Pop that makes you wake up in the morning with the bassline, a ray of sunshine. Just think of the songs – ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’, ‘Freedom’, ‘I’m Your Man’, ‘Young Guns (Go For It)’ – each of them reveling in the absurdity of being young, rich and talented and shagging anything that moves.
OK, it seems the story is a load of tabloid-concocted codswallop. But George is – officially – getting nostalgic, releasing new single ‘White Light’ on 29 June, 30 years to the day since Wham! arrived with searing social comment piece ‘Wham Rap!’. Maybe Andrew will be making a guest appearance on the track? You’d know that air guitar anywhere.