Saturday, March 5, 2016

"Bad Boys" by Wham! U.K.

Song#:  1571
Date:  08/20/1983
Debut:  90
Peak:  60
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Pop, Dance

Pop Bits:  This British duo of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley met in school and started their musical career with a ska band called The Executive. When the band split, Michael and Ridgeley set out on their own and while still teenagers, they got signed to Innervision Records. Their first single, "Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)" initially tanked, but their next one, "Young Guns (Go for It!)," caught on and hit #3 on the UK chart. "Wham Rap!" was then reissued and it reached #8. "Bad Boys" would follow into the Top 10 to #2 while a fourth single, "Club Tropicana," would go to #4. The four Top 10's sent their debut album Fantastic to #1. Unfortunately, the duo's leather-clad rebellious image and catchy dance tunes that carried some lite social statements were lost on the US audience. The best they could manage was this single which couldn't even break into the top half of the Pop chart (#28 Dance). Better days were ahead, but at this point US record buyers had very little interest in the duo.

ReduxReview:  At one point in college I shared a house with four girls (I'm sure they sensed I was no threat...). One of them, Jackie, dug music and would somehow hear songs or artists that I missed. I remember one time just after "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" came out and I was playing it. She liked it and asked who it was and I said Wham! She then said, "oh, the 'Club Tropicana' guys." I was totally confused. As far as I knew, "Wake" was their first single. She was all like "no, no - they did 'Club Tropicana' and a couple of other songs." I didn't really believe her and back in the day there was no fancy thing like the internet to look up this crap. Of course, I found out quickly that she was right. She loved "Club Tropicana," but the song was ignored in the US and the only real taste of Wham! we got was this middling chart single. It's actually not a bad intro to the duo. The tune is catchy and fun, but when compared to their later work (George Michael's, really), their immaturity shows through. And their "bad boy" persona was kind of ridiculous. They quickly shed that image and refined their sound for their massive-selling next LP.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Before Wham!'s music could cross the pond, they had to solve an issue. At the time there was already a band called Wham in the US. That Nashville funk/disco band recorded one album in 1978 that failed to get much attention. However, they retained rights to their name in the US. Therefore, a name change was in order for Michael and Ridgeley. Of course, they went with the easiest thing that several bands had already done before, the ol' - just add "UK" to the end. Boom! New name! The record company issued "Bad Boys" under the new moniker while stickers were added to the front of Fantastic to cover up the original name. Later in 1984, the duo bought the rights to the name from the US band and for their next album, they were able to release it under their true Wham! name.


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