"Careless Whisper" is a 1984 single by George Michael (credited to "Wham!" in Canada and the US), released by Epic Records in the UK, Japan, and other countries; and by Columbia Records in North America. The song was George Michael's first solo single although he was still performing in Wham! at the time (the song is included on Wham!'s album Make It Big). The song features a prominent saxophone riff, and has been covered by a number of artists since its first release. It was released as a single and became a huge commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic. It reached number one in nearly 25 countries, selling about six million copies worldwide.
Unlike all the other Wham! singles (except "Wham Rap!" and "Club Tropicana"), it was co-written by Andrew Ridgeley, the other member of the duo. The two had written it together as unknowns three years earlier, when Michael was working as a cinemausher in Watford, England. In a June 2006 interview on London radio station Magic 105.4, Michael said that he wrote it "in his head" during work and that he recalls coming up with the saxophone riff whilst boarding a number 32 bus on the way home.
The song went through at least two rounds of production. The first was during a trip Michael made to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where he went to work with producer Jerry Wexler at Muscle Shoals Studio. Michael was unhappy with the version that was originally produced and decided to re-record and produce the song himself, this time coming up with the version that was finally released. The version Wexler produced did, however, see the light of day, but only later on, as a (4:41) B-side "Special Version" on 12", released in the UK.
The record label Innvervision were going to put out the Jerry Wexler version of Careless Whisper after the Club Fantastic Megamix as far back as 1983. Dick Leahy stated in George Michael's autobiography  that while he couldn't stop the release of the Club Fantastic Megamix, he could stop the release of this single on the basis that as a publisher they "have the right to grant the first license of the recording of a tune of which he controls the copyright". He couldn't do anything about the Club Fantastic Megamix because it was already released material. He said: "We knew how big that song could be so it was necessary to upset a few people to stop it."
The officially released single, a mid-tempo ballad with a saxophone solo by Steve Gregory, was issued in August 1984, entering the UK singles chart at number 12. Within two weeks, it was at number one, ending a nine-week run at the top for "Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. It stayed at number one for three weeks, going on to become the fifth best-selling single of 1984 in the United Kingdom; it 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 with "Do They Know It's Christmas." The song also topped the charts in 25 other countries, including the BillboardHot 100 in the United States in February 1985 under the credit "Wham! featuring George Michael". Spending three weeks at the top in America, the song was later named Billboard's number-one song of 1985.
Michael has been critical of the song saying it "was not an integral part of my emotional development"  which he found sad because of the song meaning so much to so many people. He went on to say:
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 music video shows the guilt felt by a man over an affair, and his acknowledgement that his partner was always going to find out. It was taped on location in Miami during June 1984 and features such locales as Coconut Grove and Watson Island. The final part of the video shows Michael leaning out of a balcony at the last floor of Miami's Grove Towers.
A cover version of "Careless Whisper" by Tamia appears on her debut self-titled album, Tamia. A second recording by Tamia appeared on the soundtrack album to the 1998 movie A Night at the Roxbury.
Israeli singer David D'Or covered the song in a January 2005 clubby, English electronichouse vinyl 12" single on the 3 Lanka and Hed Arzi labels, produced and mixed by DJ Amiad, with remixes by Future Funk and Michi Lange. The track attracted international interest.
Irish singer Edward J. Valentine released a version that reached number 47 for 1 week in the Irish music charts in 2008. Mike Mulvihill of "The Power Hour" hailed it as "a song that defines this generation" and that this cover was "unrivalled." 
Seether covered the song in 2009 for the reissue of their 2007 record Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces. It was released as a single on 9 February 2009. Their version has reached #63 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the top five on Mainstream and Modern Rock charts and the combined Rock Songs chart. In his review for Billboard, Bram Teitelman said, "the song is a mostly faithful take on the original, with guitars subbing for the saxophone intro before greeting a Staind-meets-Nickelback grunge dynamic. Younger rock fans who don't know George Michael from Boy George will love the song".
In Mexico, Pedro Fernández also has a Spanish cover version called "Absurda Confidencia."
Italian hardstyle DJ Technoboy covered the melody in his single "Vita".
Adapted by Vincenzo Thoma in Italian "Io non ballerò" in 2011 on the album Romantico.
Tupac Shakur performed a version of this song in his own style.
As part of the Djent Goes Pop release, Akeldama covered this song.
Barenaked Ladies performed a cover of the song between approximately 2000 and 2009. The band recorded and released many of their concerts from 2004-2009, and their cover of "Careless Whisper" has been included in at least one of those recordings, their 31 January 2008 concert aboard "Ships & Dip III", the band's musical cruise. The song was also featured as the opening song in their 23 July 2000 webcast concert from Anaheim, California.
In an acoustic concert in Shanghai (13 March 2008), Incubus covered the song. Brandon Boyd sang a portion of the song, accompanied by temporary bassist Mike Einziger (Mike played bass for several songs, not all). Ben Kenney was absent from the show, as he was recuperating from an upset stomach.
Degrassi: The Next Generation, which is known for naming its episodes after songs from the 1980s, has an episode named after this song. In it, a character is beginning to question his heterosexuality.
In an episode of Jesse, Jesse comments on Diego's dancing with "I guess guilty feet really ain't got no rhythm", referring to a line from this song.
The song was used as the theme to 1997 TV series The Broker's Man, starring Kevin Whately.
The song was featured in the 2000 Miss Universe Evening Gown Competition.
In the seventh season of Friends, Chandler's ex-girlfriend Janice has invited herself to the wedding of Chandler and Monica, unaware that she is an unwanted guest. Janice asks the couple what song they would like her to sing at the wedding, "Lady in Red" or "Careless Whisper".
In the Philippines, this song gained notoriety after a scandal showing celebrities Dr. Hayden Kho and Katrina Halili singing this song and dancing scantily clad, was uploaded to YouTube.
In the episode "Everybody Hates Homecoming" from the show Everybody Hates Chris, James holds a boombox over his head with the song playing to prove his love for Chris's little sister Tonya, a nod to a similar scene in the 1989 film Say Anything.
In 1993, every candidate auditioning for a part in Boyzone was made to sing Careless Whisper.
Comedians Hamish and Andy used the song on 4 October 2010, in a competition to see who could sing the softest, using a decibel-meter to measure the volume. Hamish won.