Sep 07

The Freaky Trigger Top 100 Tracks Of All Time: No. 53: Wham! – Wham Rap

FT/15 comments • 6,413 views

hmmm, where shall i put this shuttlecock...They rly don’t make ’em like this any more. Boy bands singing about unemployment? Mentions of governmental departments in choruses? Comedy rapping? OK, there’s still comedy rapping.

My “best of wham!”, which features the 12″ mix of wham rap (all 6:46 of it!), credits the song to michael and ridgeley, I’d kind of always assumed it was written for them, otherwise why is the george michael “character” so very far from the different corner/careless whisper big girls blouse GM we grew to love (and which was clearly much more commercially successful)? In terms of early 80s english rap singles, it’s probably the best though (not that there was a lot of competition). It does kind of capture the Chic groove that eg rappers delight has, and is arguably no more lyrically niave, why shouldn’t essex boys do rap? I think it works because they’re singing about what they know, what three million people knew at the time (although I doubt whether dole money stretched to buying singles, which might explain why this was their lowest charting proper single). Interesting that the lyrics on the 12″ version include the wonderful line “i choose to cruise”, but this is excised from the single version, Tom Watkins’ idea not to raise suspicions perhaps?


  1. 1
    Mark M on 13 Sep 2007 #

    Am going to assume that the (at least two) factual errors here are cunning traps…

  2. 2
    Lena on 13 Sep 2007 #

    Are they dressed up as badminton players in the photo? WHY?

  3. 3
    Marcello Carlin on 14 Sep 2007 #

    That looks as though it comes from the “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” period, i.e. when they SOLD OUT to THE MAN (though I recall in that video they had Katherine Hamnett “CHOOSE LIFE” baggy T-shirts to balance out the badminton cocks).

    “Wham! Rap” also owes a lot, both musically and philosophically, to Heaven 17’s “Penthouse And Pavement.” Pretty incredible though to get a virulently pro-dole/pro-slacker and anti-Thatcher record into the top ten, whatever the peak position (since at the time such records tended to be accompanied by mohican spikes and huge arrowed letters “A” scrawled afront hasty monochrome sleeves). It first came out in May ’82 at the height of New Pop and the NME loved it in a ripped jeans/new toughness sort of way but it didn’t chart until the label gave it another go after their first proper hit “Young Guns (Go For It)” in which George in his leather studs chides Andrew for getting married to a GIRL when he could he hanging out with HIM and people were SHOCKED when it all came out????!!??!?

  4. 4
    Tom on 14 Sep 2007 #

    Yes this was on the “Thatcher” CD of political pop we gave away at the election night Club Poptimism – I think it’s an amazing record, much much better than the Adrian Mole “Do you weep Mrs Thatcher do you weep” approach that I get the impression a lot of more alternative voices took.

    re Young Guns, I often hum “if youre happy with a nappy then you’re in for fun” while changing Lytton’s.

    As I’ll talk about when Popular gets there, I HATED and FEARED Wham at the time – v wrong of me.

  5. 5
    Pete on 14 Sep 2007 #

    Yog was relatively local to me as a kid so I was secretly rather proud of Wham! My sister was spot on demographic age for them and went nuts for them, which meant I could tape the albums easily. Young Guns and Wham Rap are a terrific double whammy (ahem) of singles, and I remember think how audacious Wake Me Up felt when it came out. If you compared them to the pop big guns at the time (Duran and Spandau) they made a really good dumb pop record and were all about having fun.

    Wham Rap was not a favourite at the time, but has grown massively since then as it is still terrifically fun and, as Marcello says, is anti-Thatcher without needing to be po-faced Red Wedgers. There has always been a political element to Michael’s music, which Steve seems to find surprising. I think of that troublemaker aspect (however poorly garbed) as his only saving grace.

  6. 6
    CarsmileSteve on 14 Sep 2007 #

    lena, according to smash hits (and, i believe, confirmed by the band many years later) in one of their early photo shoots featured them wearing V tight 80s shorts. down the front of said shorts they had apparently stuffed shuttlecocks and i think the photo above is them playing with said rumour. it is, as marcello says, from a later period than this song, but i couldn’t resist it when i found it :)

  7. 7
    CarsmileSteve on 14 Sep 2007 #

    OK, you got me on the essex boys bit mark. also by “chic groove” i meant chic-y-sounding, not actually done by chic, honest ;)

  8. 8
    Tom on 14 Sep 2007 #

    Isn’t the version on The Final a re-recording rather than a 12″ mix from the time?

  9. 9
    Marcello Carlin on 14 Sep 2007 #

    No, it’s the original 12″. “Wham Rap ’86” only appears on the Edge Of Heaven double E.P.

  10. 10
    Pete on 14 Sep 2007 #

    Yes Steve, George grew up three miles from my gaff and I’m not an ESSEX BOY!

  11. 11
    CarsmileSteve on 14 Sep 2007 #

    hehe, my best of wham isn’t The Final, it’s “if you were there” (i totally didn’t pay $30 for it though!), and there’s all sorts of weird versions on there…

  12. 12
    Mark M on 14 Sep 2007 #

    Also, just to tidy up, fat Tom Watkins (of PSB/Bros infamy) wasn’t manager of Wham! – their notorious gay* overseer was ’60 veteran self-mythologiser Simon Napier-Bell, but he didn’t come into the story until some time after Wham Rap.

    *Napier-Bell claims he wanted to sue a newspaper that described him as straight, but his lawyer told him he had slept with too many women to win the case. Probably as untrue as everything else in N-P’s autobiographies.

  13. 13
    Mark M on 14 Sep 2007 #

    Whoops, N-B’s.

  14. 14
    admin on 10 Aug 2009 #

    AHEM: “As I’ll talk about when Popular gets there, I HATED and FEARED Wham at the time”

  15. 15
    Tom on 10 Aug 2009 #

    Hate covered in the Nena entry basically, as for the fear – patience grasshopper.

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