The thing that gets me about Christmas songs and movies is their reliance on CHRISTMAS overshadowing any failure in the story. Some supposed holiday songs don’t even mention the holidays at all – Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland, My Favorite Things (which was never played during the holidays as a child, so I’m always suspicious when it’s played during the holidays – but I can cover that song later), and Baby, It’s Cold Outside (hate hate hate rage hate. Again, for another time.)
One song that always makes me kinda sad is not the actual mournful songs, like Blue Christmas, or Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, but the one that sounds hopeful but has an underlying current of self deception and misery. I give you, “Last Christmas” by Wham! (written by George Michael.)
Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
the very next day, you gave it away
Clearly, the singer had his heart broken by a terrible, terrible man. (What, you forgot George Michael’s gay? I know they had girlfriends in the video; they were beards. Let’s move beyond thinking that every song reflects your hetero view of the world, OK?) A man who enjoyed the romance of the season, toyed with the narrator, and then dumped him. We’ve all been there. It sucks.
This year, to save me from tears, I’ll give it to someone special
The narrator – let’s call him George – is determined to move on. This year will be better than the last, bright eyes, open to possibility! Only…
Once bitten and twice shy
I keep my distance
But you still catch my eye
Tell me baby
Do you recognize me?
He’s dwelling on the past, like to the point of me wanting to say, “Hey dude, you need to perhaps get some therapy if you can’t move on from this guy. Let’s hit some singles bars or something. Have a rebound, eat some ice cream, get good and drunk. Let’s burn his Christmas present to you! Catharsis!”
The whole song is like that. While he claims to be finding someone new to love, the message is targeted toward the past and the ex, the mean guy who broke his heart. There’s no, “This Christmas You’ll Help Me Forget Him, Baby.” Or “All I Want For Christmas is a One Night Stand,” or “Rebound Christmas.” Which are still sad but at least would be more honest with himself.
Hm. I bet I could write a book called Rebound Christmas about a woman who got dumped and just wants to find someone fun to be with, no strings, and OMG THEN THEY WILL FALL IN LOVE UNDER THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS. There may be mall elves involved. Because everything is better with mall elves. Hah. I’ll make a mint like those other vapid novels!
Uh, never mind. Moving on.
Now I know what a fool I’ve been
But if you kissed me now
I know you’d fool me again
Now it’s getting obsessive. He’s not moving on. He’s not even considering moving on. He’s standing under the mistletoe, tears glistening in his eyes, saying, “I’m totally over you,” with a slight quaver in his voice, hoping Mr. Heartbreaker will feel the MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS and take him into his arms for a big Christmas kiss. There may be glitter involved.
Now I’ve found a real love you’ll never fool me again
Riiiiight, George. And he lives in Canada and he’s six-foot four with broad shoulders and green bedroom eyes, right? And he was going to be at this Christmas party but he got called in at the last minute to do emergency brain surgery because he’s a brain surgeon slash rugby player slash model. He SO wanted to meet everybody.
This is the only line in the song where he says he’s actually in love with someone. Who I’m sure, if he exists, is totally thrilled with the fact that his boyfriend just wrote an entire “nyah nyah” song to the guy he’s clearly not over. This new, “real love” boyfriend will probably dump him after the party…
Wait a minute. Wham! just blew my mind…
AND THEN NEW BOYFRIEND WILL BECOME NEXT CHRISTMAS’ “LAST CHRISTMAS!” George Michael is stuck in a downward spiral of being dumped on Christmas, finding someone new, obsessing over the old guy, and getting dumped on Christmas again. Like elephants, it’s Last Christmas” all the way down! What was once a kind of sad Christmas song now becomes a terrifying dark look into an obsessive’s soul.
Well played, Wham!. You have more depth than I thought.