Saturday, May 19, 2018

"Freedom" by Wham!

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2408
Date:  07/27/1985
Debut:  43
Peak:  3
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  The duo's second album, Make It Big, was certainly a big hit reaching #1 for three weeks and spawning three #1 singles. They were hoping to make it four in a row with this follow-up, but it stopped just shy reaching the #3 mark. It also got to #4 at AC. It would be the last single to be issued from the album. All the hits combined help the album sell over ten million copies worldwide. Six million of those were from the US alone.

ReduxReview:  I found this slice of Motown-ish pop a bit annoying with it's sing-a-long chorus that sounded like a children's song. Yet, the hooks in the thing, including the stompin' "doodoo-doot-do-do-do" bridge, were super strong and it was hard to completely ignore the tune. It's almost a shame the song didn't hit #1. If it had, Wham! would have been the first artist to register four #1's from one album (of course depending on if you counted "Careless Whisper" as a George Michael solo song as they did in Europe). No worries though. George Michael would be one of three artists in 1987 to have four #1's from one album (the other two were Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, who ended up with five #1's).

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  As part of their world tour in 1985, Wham! went to China for ten days and performed two concerts. That may not seem like a big deal now, but back then it was a very significant event. Wham! was the first Western pop/rock act to perform in China. The country had been going through a bit of a cultural revolution and music became a part of that. It was also a time of reconstruction for the country whose reputation around the world in regards to government control and treatment of its people was not good. China began to open up more to the world to help boost their world standing, generate tourism, and to show the Chinese people in a more positive light. As part of that, big music acts from Western countries began to try and convince the Chinese government to let them play in the country. The Rolling Stones and Queen were trying to get there, but in the end the seemingly more innocent and pop-friendly sounds of Wham! were selected. Much of the population of China were not familiar with Western music as it really hadn't been allowed in the country, so the crowd of 15,000 people that attended Wham's first concert were both mystified and intrigued. They were also fairly subdued as attendees were highly discouraged from dancing or singing along. A film crew followed Wham! along the way and later a documentary of the journey was released. If folks expected the doors to fly open for Western artists to play in China after this, they were sorely mistaken. Over the next decades, few artists would be give permission to perform there. The Rolling Stones finally made it over in 2006, but even then Chinese officials banned them from doing certain songs in their catalog due to the lyrics.


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