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The tragic news of George Michael, who died from heart failure at the age of 53, put a dark cloud over Christmas Day.

A spokesperson for Michael confirmed the former Wham! member had passed away Sunday. Though news would’ve been just as painful any other day of the year, fans quickly realized the timing of his death was a heartbreaking coincidence. One of Wham!’s most popular songs was the holiday staple “Last Christmas,” which was written and produced by Michael.

The infectious synth pop song, which continues to be one of the most popular Christmas tunes to date, has been covered by countless artists since its 1984 release. Acts ranging from Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift to the xx and Jimmy Eat World have put their own spin the holiday classic, but none truly lived up to the original. 

Like with so many other holiday songs, it was easy to take “Last Christmas” for granted. These tunes get played non-stop throughout the month of December, and can easily become annoying earworms. However, “Last Christmas” isn’t your typical holiday anthem. At its core, it’s a beautiful song about a romantic heartbreak, and has nothing to do with Santa, reindeer, or the religious aspects of the holiday. Because of this, many have questioned if it can even qualify as a Christmas song. But those skeptics have it all wrong.

“Last Christmas” is terrific and timeless piece that takes an honest look at what the holiday is truly about: love. And Wham! wasn’t singing about the fairytale type of love; they were singing about the very real emotion that can often lead to disappointment, heartache, and regret. It’s easy to write “Last Christmas” off as another cheesy pop song, but when you really delve into it, you’ll realize its a story with an incredibly poignant universal message. 

In celebration of Michael’s life and illustrious career, we invite you to play “Last Christmas” sometime during the remaining hours of the holiday. You’ll never hear it the same way again.

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