Many movies rely on songs to set the mood, and there are some that are relied upon a lot – what we like to call ‘Soundtrack Staples’. It’s time to get our ‘Jitterbug!” on, as we look at Wham!’s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.
It all started with a hastily scribbled note that Andrew Ridgeley – who was still living at home despite Wham!’s burgeoning success – left for his mum. He inadvertently wrote “Wake me up up,” so upon adding “Before you go” he decided that another “go” was in order. George found the note and was inspired.
The result was the smash hit that we know today, one of the most ’80s songs of all time, even if it did hark back to the pop of the 1950s and ’60s and even before. This included the opening, four times repeated “Jitterbug!” with finger clicks, the jitterbug being a dance that dates back to the 1930s. Still, at least it had the true sound of the ’80s in a drum machine, but apparently only as the drummer was late to the session, and they grew to love the scratch track that they’d constructed so kept it even after he showed up. The moral of the story if you’re a session muso? Be on time!
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go went to number one all over the place. The UK, the USA, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and, of course, Australia. It only just missed the top spot in Germany, New Zealand and Switzerland, where it hit number two.
It was the first track recorded for the pair’s Make It Big album, which was a prophetic title as Wham! went supernova with this song. They also started a questionable ’80s fashion trend (were there any ’80s fashion trends that weren’t questionable?) with the Katharine Hamnett-designed “Choose Life” T-shirts that they wore in the video.
Speaking of that video, here it is, with a bunch of movie appearances over the years underneath…
The Big Picture (1989)
Apparently Wham!’s finest pops up in a scene in this Christopher Guest Hollywood-skewing dramedy that stars Kevin Bacon and Jennifer Jason Leigh…
Charlie’s Angels (2000)
A flashback to Drew Barrymore’s driving lessons added some Wham! fun to this McG action blockbuster.
Our favourite Wake Me Up moment from any movie ever, this one is, of course, a total gas…
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2007)
A special cover from a special man, Cal Naughton Jr…
El pasado (2007)
Apparently translating to “Last”, this Brazilian tale of a couple who split after 12 years, and how each of them deal with it, stars Gael García Bernal, – and Wham!’s song makes a cameo (but not in the trailer).
The perfect car singalong song – even if you are a Frenchman in a romcom. Dig the cheesy voiceover on this trailer…
Kath & Kimderella (2012)
The foxy morons hit the world! This trailer has a tasty spot of Koiles rather than Wham!, which just shows what a great hunk of spunk soundtrack this little number had going on.
Zoolander 2 (2016)
MMMmmm, frozen cioccolata gelato!
Sausage Party (2016)
Even sentient food can’t resist the urge…
The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)
You’re darned right “Whoa!”. When Robin gets groovin’, he knows who to call. Even if it doesn’t feature in this clip:
OK, so the Wake Me Up scene isn’t in this clip from Minions people Illumination’s ode to song, but there should at least be something here to raise a smile or two…
The Emoji Movie (2017)
Ending the animated quadrilogy on a low note… At least Wham! get royalties for their song being in this product placement festival, yeah?
Last Christmas (2019)
While Wake Me Up doesn’t appear in the trailer for this festive-themed romcom starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding (but it’s in the movie), there’s plenty of George Michael goodness to go around…