Careless Whisper

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"Careless Whisper"
Single by George Michael
from the album Make It Big
Released 24 July 1984 (1984-07-24)
Format 12" maxi, 7" single
Recorded 1984
Genre Pop, blue-eyed soul, smooth jazz
Length
  • 6:30 (album version)
  • 5:04 (single version)
Label Columbia
Writer(s) George Michael, Andrew Ridgeley
Producer(s) George Michael
Wham! singles chronology
  • "Careless Whisper"
  • (1984)
Audio sample
file info · help
"Careless Whisper"
Single by Seether
Released 2009
Format CD single
Recorded 2006–2007
Genre Alternative metal
Label Wind-up
Writer(s) George Michael, Andrew Ridgeley
Producer(s) Howard Benson

"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.

Background[edit]

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 cinema usher 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.[1]

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 [2] 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".[2] 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."[2]

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 Billboard Hot 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" [3] 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.[3]

Music video[edit]

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.[4]

Cover versions[edit]

The song has been covered by many other artists, including 2Play (2005), Bananarama (2001) on Exotica album, Brian McKnight (2007)[citation needed], Kenny G featuring McKnight (2004) from At Last...The Duets Album, and Seether (2009) from Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces. Mexican singer Pedro Fernandez made a spanish version of the song.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley

7": Epic / A 4603 (UK)
No. Title Length
1. "Careless Whisper" (Radio Edit) 5:04
2. "Careless Whisper" (Instrumental) 5:02
12": Epic / TA4603 (UK)
No. Title Length
1. "Careless Whisper" (Extended Mix) 6:31
2. "Careless Whisper" (Instrumental) 5:02
12": Columbia / 44-05170 (US)
No. Title Length
1. "Careless Whisper" (Extended Mix) 6:20
2. "Careless Whisper" (Instrumental) 4:52
12" Maxi: Epic / QTA 4603 (UK) - Special Edition
No. Title Length
1. "Careless Whisper" (Extended Mix) 6:31
2. "Careless Whisper" (Jerry Wexler Special Version) 5:34
3. "Careless Whisper" (Condensed Instrumental Version) 4:52
  • Note: The Extended Mix is identical to the album version from Make It Big.

Credits and personnel[edit]

  • Saxophone – Steve Gregory
  • Bass – Deon Estus
  • Drums – Trevor Morrell
  • Electric piano – Anne Dudley
  • Guitar – Hugh Burns
  • Keyboards – Chris Cameron, Andy Richards
  • Percussion – Danny Cummings
  • Photography – Tony McGee
  • Producer/Arranger – George Michael
  • Composer – Andrew Ridgeley, George Michael

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[23] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[24] Silver 585,000[25]
Japan (RIAJ) 204,000[26]
Netherlands (NVPI)[27] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[28] Platinum 1,450,000[29]
United States (RIAA)[30] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The complete guide to the music of George Michael & Wham! L Ellis… - 1998 - Music Sales Group
  2. ^ a b c Bare by George Michael and Tony Parsons, Penguin Books, 1991. Page 112 ISBN 0-14-013235-X
  3. ^ a b Bare by George Michael and Tony Parsons, Penguin Books, 1991. Page 166 ISBN 0-14-013235-X
  4. ^ Grove Towers from Google's streetview
  5. ^ "Joyride overview". Allmusic.com. 
  6. ^ "Edward Valentine - Careless Whisper - Music Charts". Acharts.us. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  7. ^ Steffen Hung. "Forum - 1984 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  8. ^ "Careless Whisper", Austrian Singles Chart Austriancharts.at (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  9. ^ "De Nederlandse Top 40, week 36, 1984". Retrieved 27 Feb 2008. 
  10. ^ "Careless Whisper", French SNEP Singles Chart Lescharts.com (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  11. ^ German Singles Chart Charts-surfer.de (Retrieved 30 July 2008)
  12. ^ Irish Singles Chart Irishcharts.ie (Retrieved 17 April 2008)
  13. ^ Hit parade Italia (Retrieved 31 May 2008)
  14. ^ Japanese Oricon Year-end Singles Chart of 1985 (Retrieved 1 August 2008)
  15. ^ List of number-one singles on the Japanese Oricon International Chart (1968-2000)
  16. ^ "Careless Whisper", Norwegian Singles Chart Norwegiancharts.com (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  17. ^ "Careless Whisper", South African Chart [1] (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  18. ^ "Careless Whisper", Swedish Singles Chart Swedishcharts.com (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  19. ^ "Careless Whisper", Swiss Singles Chart Hitparade.ch (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  20. ^ "Careless Whisper", UK Singles Chart BBC.co.uk (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  21. ^ Lwin, Nanda. Top 40 Hits: The Essential Chart Guide (2000). Mississsauga, Ont.: Music Data Canada
  22. ^ a b Billboard Allmusic.com (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  23. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Wham – Careless Whisper". Music Canada. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  24. ^ "French single certifications – George Michael – Careless Whisper" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select GEORGE MICHAEL and click OK
  25. ^ "Les Singles en Argent :" (in French). Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  26. ^ "List of best-selling international singles in Japan". JP&KIYO. 2002. 
  27. ^ "Dutch single certifications – George Michael – Careless Whisper" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  28. ^ "British single certifications – George Michael – Careless Whisper". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Careless Whisper in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Click Go
  29. ^ Ami Sedghi (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  30. ^ "American single certifications – Wham – Careless Whisper". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 27 June 2012.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]