Wham! had been a dominant force in the UK Singles Chart in 1984 and news that they were planning a Christmas single meant that a battle for the coveted Christmas number one spot in the UK seemed set to be between Wham! and the year's other big act, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, who had achieved a third number one in early December with "The Power of Love". The Band Aid project helmed by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, however, produced the number one single "Do They Know It's Christmas?". Wham!'s offering peaked at number two for much of the period, although George's involvement in Band Aid meant that Wham! still had an input. Wham! subsequently topped the monies raised by Band Aid by donating all of their "Last Christmas/Everything She Wants" royalties to the Ethiopian famine appeal.
In subsequent years, the song managed to reach the middle echelons of the UK singles chart on a regular basis:
1985: No. 2 (13 weeks) (backed with "Everything She Wants")
1986: No. 6 (7 weeks)
1987: No. 45 (4 weeks)
2007: No. 14 (5 weeks)
2008: No. 26 (5 weeks)
2009: No. 34 (4 weeks)
2010: No. 57 (4 weeks)
2011: No. 26 (4 weeks)
2012: No. 34 (4 weeks)
2013: No. 36 (4 weeks)
2014: No. 28 (3 weeks)
2015: No. 18 (5 weeks)
"Last Christmas" has sold 1.77 million copies as of October 2015 and is the biggest selling single in UK chart history not to reach number one.
Chart and sales performances (Rest of the world)
The song gradually sold in Japan and became the best-selling single that did not reach that country's top-10 chart, selling more than 600,000 copies and peaking on the chart at number twelve in 1992.
In 2009, the song re-entered the Spanish Lista de Canciones (singles chart) at number nine.
In 2013 it was the most streamed single on Christmas Day (in the UK) according to Spotify.
In Germany, the song is the most successful Christmas single of all time, having spent 106 weeks on the German Singles Chart and attained a peak position of number four. It has charted every year since 1997. In January 2008, the song fell from number four to sixty-four there, also making it the biggest fall out of the top ten on the singles chart.
In the Netherlands, the song never reached number one, peaking at number 2 in January, 1985 behind Band Aid. In the Dutch Singles Top 100 (one of three charts in the Netherlands that claims to be the "official" chart, but it's the only one that is not broadcast and remains unpublished except on its own official web page), the song has now entered on 16 different occasions, including every year since 2006. Its highest position after 1984 was number 5 during the 2007 Christmas season.
In the Dutch Mega Top 50, which was first published in 1993, the song re-appeared in 1997, 2000, 2007, 2008 and 2013.
The video to "Last Christmas" shows Wham! members George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley accompanying girlfriends to see friends at an unspecified ski resort—although the cable-car that can be seen in two shots is from Saas-Fee, Switzerland. It becomes clear early on that the character of Ridgeley's girlfriend (played by model Kathy Hill) was previously in a relationship with Michael, and that the song is aimed at her. She can easily be spotted throughout the video by the fact that she's usually wearing red, while everyone else is wearing more muted colors.
There is a brief flashback to "Last Christmas" showing Michael's character presenting her with a jewelled brooch. In the present time, Ridgeley is wearing the brooch, suggesting that the girl gave the same gift (perhaps re-gifting it!) to her new love after she and Michael parted ways. It is also interesting to note that when the girl wore the brooch from Michael's character it was "right-side up" and when Ridgeley's character wears it, he wears it "upside down". On numerous occasions Michael presents a thoughtful expression, suggesting his conflicting emotions.
Her seeming indifference to Ridgeley's open displays of affection makes the viewer wonder if Ridgeley's heart is the next to be broken. However, at the end of the video everyone leaves properly "paired off," so perhaps it's being suggested that Michael has worked out his confusion and now realizes he is after all with the right girl.
In the UK the following single planned after "Close to You" was "Big Time"; however, it was suggested that Whigfield should record a version of "Last Christmas" to go with the release of "Big Time", as a double A-side single. The single was also released as a double A-side single in Germany with "Close to You". In other countries "Last Christmas" was released on its own with various remixes. The single reached #21 in the UK, which was Whigfield's final release on Systematic Records. It also features on various Special Edition versions of her debut album Whigfield and also on Whigfield II. The EP was released 10 November 1995 in Australia. A UK single was released on 3 December 1995.
Billie Piper originally recorded a cover of the song as a B-Side of her single "She Wants You". It was released as CD single in limited areas of Europe, and did not chart in any country. The single was also released as a promotional Vinyl Single in the UK, limited to 500 copies and therefore could not chart there.
"Last Christmas" was covered in 2006 by Crazy Frog and released as a Christmas single. In Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and France, "Last Christmas" was released 12 months before in other countries.
"Last Christmas" was recorded in 2007 by Cascada. It was released on iTunes in November 2007. The single had only a digital release but 6 days later it was released on the single "What Hurts the Most" which was the first single from their second album.
In the UK, despite it being a B-side track, the song is regularly played throughout music channels during the festive season. The two official music videos got more than 50 million views on YouTube.
The song was covered by Alcazar as the sixth single to be released from their third studio album Disco Defenders. The single was only released digitally in Germany. It was included as a bonus track on the Swedish special edition version of Disco Defenders, released on 18 November 2009.
British solo singer Joe McElderry covered the song in 2011. This version was released as a single on 19 December 2011, an EP was also released digitally in Ireland on 4 November 2011, and in the UK on 7 November 2011. Joe McElderry's version is taken from his third studio album, Classic Christmas, released 28 November 2011. 7th Heaven Remix & Production have done a remix for the song.
A short music video was made using footage which was filmed for the Classic Christmas's album advert, it features McElderry outside in the snow, collecting logs and taking them to a large house preparing for a Christmas party, a similar video was made for McElderry's version of "O Come All Ye Faithful". The advert and both videos were directed by Steve Lucker.
Grande's cover draws primarily from pop music and contemporary R&B and also includes newly-written lyrics in place of some of the originals. These lyrics reinterpret the song as a "woman done wrong" breakup song. The verses have been described as "bouncier" than the original melody.
Bianca Gracie of Idolator described the song as "quintessential Carly" for highlighting Jepsen's unique vocals and synth production and wrote that her cover will "charm your... socks off." Nolan Feeney of Time echoed those sentiments, noting that "Last Christmas" is "the kind of brokenhearted yet warm and sweet song [Jepsen] excels at." Jackson McHenry of Vulture applauded Jepsen for her straightforward approach to the song and avoiding the "vocal gymnastics" that bog down some Christmas covers.
A more critical review came from music blog Popcrush, who deemed the cover overproduced. "The slick production is a disservice to both Carly’s vocals and the original’s emotional heft," writes Samanth Vincenty.
Jepsen performed the song live at the annual NBC television special Christmas in Rockefeller Centre, which aired December 2, 2015. She also performed the song on the episode of The Late Late Show with James Corden airing December 16, 2015.
Richard Cheese covered this on his Christmas album, Silent Nightclub. The song begins but is quickly halted by Cheese, who states he's changed his mind on performing the cover because "that song sucks".
Richard Poon (from his 2011 Christmas album, Christmas with Richard Poon)