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Wham! ★★★★



Director: Chris Smith

Cast: George Michael, Andrew Ridgely

Released: 5th July 2023 (Netflix)

Wham!’s debut album, Fantastic, remarkably turns 40 in 2023, and to coincide with the anniversary, there is a new documentary feature for Netflix with fresh contributions from Andrew Ridgley and archival footage and audio of George Michael. The film recounts the duo’s meteoric rise from a Ska band with schoolmates to one of the biggest acts of the 1980s, together from 1981 and 1986 and selling over 30 million records in just four years.

Having almost all the footage and audio of Ridgley and Michael affectionately referred to as Yog, gives a personal perspective to the group’s formation, initial struggles and the huge success that followed their breakout single Young Guns (Go For It). The film offers some fresh insights into the group’s influences, the likes of The Human League and the cultural and musical landscape of the early 80s and how fun and free-flowing their sound was compared to other acts.

The film charts the evolution of Careless Whisper throughout, which would eventually be a Michael solo release. While we don’t dive into his later superstardom and success, there is a sense of friction and Michael wanting to pursue a solo career.

It’s clear that there was a real sense of camaraderie between the two who met at 11 and 12, and hearing some of their stories, there is still a fondness and warmth. Perhaps the most fun is the slightly differing accounts of certain stories which reach the same destination in slightly different routes.

Some of the stories, like their involvement in Band-Aid and its chart battle with Last Christmas, will be well known, and their trip to China to become one of the first Western Pop acts to play there, but their origins and success in the UK club circuit may be less known.

Ultimately this is a love letter to Wham!’s music and reminds us of the scale of their success and number of chart hits in such a short span of time and, ultimately, the quality of the music and George and Andrew’s lyrics.

Wham! will, of course, please fans of the duo and George Michael but will also offer plenty for casual viewers wanting to learn more about one of Britain’s biggest musical exports of the 1980s; full of heart and charm and plenty of humour, it’s an enjoyable way to pass 90 minutes and sure to go down well with their fanbase.

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