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Review of ‘Wham!’: From Success to Breakup – The Gentleman Report – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

Review of ‘Wham!’: From Success to Breakup – The Gentleman Report


The recently premiered documentary named “Wham!” narrates the tale of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, the duo responsible for the legendary music of Wham!. During a period when I was experiencing nostalgia and searching for something uplifting, this film provided the perfect remedy. Wham! produced heartfelt music that deeply resonated with audiences. What enhances the appeal of this documentary is its avoidance of delving into the intricate issues surrounding white artists appropriating Black culture. Instead, it presents a fantastical realm where such questions cease to exist. And I thoroughly relished it. Additionally, it is worth noting that Wham! never courted controversy.

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, both caucasian individuals from England, were born in the early 1960s to parents of Greek Cypriot (George) and Egyptian (Andrew) descent. Growing up amidst the ascendancy of Motown and witnessing the transition from disco to new wave and rap, they amalgamated various musical influences (including Barry Manilow, Freddie Mercury, and Billy Joel) to forge a distinctive genre that was rivalled only by Hall and Oates. Each of their approximately twenty songs, such as “Everything She Wants,” “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” and “I’m Your Man,” encapsulates the essence of diverse genres. Remarkably, the film portrays their journey without any anxieties pertaining to race.

This documentary refrains from delving into journalism, criticism, or music history. Instead, it employs an assortment of photographs, archival interviews, performance footage, outtakes, and music videos. Essentially, the film adapts Ridgeley’s mother’s meticulously compiled scrapbooks, which beautifully chronicle the duo’s ascent from 1981 until their amicable split in 1986. The narrative concludes prior to the release of George Michael’s immensely successful album “Faith” in 1987 and long before his untimely demise in 2016 at the age of 53. Significantly, it does not mention Ridgeley’s overlooked and out-of-print solo album from 1990, titled “Son of Albert.”

Interestingly, the documentary abstains from featuring any talking heads. Instead, the voices of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley guide the storyline through their reflections and memories. The majority of Michael’s voice recordings are extracted from a BBC Radio interview. They recount their initial encounter as schoolmates in the mid-1970s and the subsequent impact they had on 1980s culture. Furthermore, you get to hear Ridgeley affectionately refer to Michael by his nickname, “Yog,” as they navigate through various styles ranging from leather bars to Richard Simmons.

The recently released documentary titled “Wham!” tells the story of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, the duo behind the iconic music of Wham!. At a time when I was feeling nostalgic and in need of something uplifting, this film served as the perfect elixir. Wham! created soulful music that resonated with audiences. What makes this documentary even more appealing is that it avoids diving into the complex issues surrounding white artists appropriating Black culture. Instead, it presents a fantasy where those questions simply don’t exist. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. Besides, Wham! was never controversial.

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, both white boys from England, were born in the early 1960s to parents of Greek Cypriot (George) and Egyptian (Andrew) heritage. Growing up during the rise of Motown and witnessing the transition from disco to new wave and rap, they blended various musical influences (including Barry Manilow, Freddie Mercury, and Billy Joel) to create a unique genre that was only rivaled by Hall and Oates. In each of their approximately twenty songs, such as “Everything She Wants,” “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” and “I’m Your Man,” you can hear the influence of various genres, but the film portrays their journey without any anxieties around race.

This documentary doesn’t delve into journalism, criticism, or music history. Instead, it uses a collection of pictures, archival interviews, performance footage, outtakes, and music videos. The film essentially adapts Ridgeley’s mother’s scrapbooks, which beautifully capture the duo’s rise in 1981 until their amicable breakup in 1986. It concludes before the release of George Michael’s hugely successful album “Faith” in 1987 and long before his untimely death in 2016 at the age of 53. Notably, it also doesn’t mention Ridgeley’s solo album from 1990, “Son of Albert,” which remains largely overlooked and out-of-print.

Interestingly, the documentary doesn’t feature any talking heads. Instead, the voices of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley guide the narrative through reflections and memories. Most of Michael’s voice recordings are taken from a BBC Radio interview. They recount their meeting as schoolmates in the mid-1970s and their subsequent impact on 1980s culture. Furthermore, you get to hear Ridgeley affectionately refer to Michael by his nickname, “Yog,” as they navigate through different looks ranging from leather bars to Richard Simmons.

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