The song never cracked number one in US or UK, but Wham!’s anthem has been played, covered, and worshiped around the world over three decades, continually reappearing on charts.

More than two million copies have been sold in the UK and US, and another 600,000 in Japan. “Last Christmas” has reportedly been covered by almost 500 artists, including Coldplay, Kim Wilde, Jimmy Eat World, Kylie Minogue, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Taylor Swift (whose own version cracked the top 40 on US country charts in 2007). In 2013, it was Spotify’s most streamed song in the UK on Christmas Day and it was third in Australia this year.

Not everyone regards “Last Christmas” as a masterpiece. Critics have likened listening to the”wallowing mess of a song” to allowing “fairly unpleasant-tasting syrup cover you drip by drip down the top of your head.” And indeed, the song does pluck at the same angsty heart strings that a million other chart-toppers have twanged.

But Michael was never sloppy. His peerless writing, producing, and performing of crisp, perfectly composed pop songs earned him more than 100 million record sales and two Grammy awards—and it can still be heard today in “Last Christmas.”

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