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Last Christmas

How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb
Nina Hernandez, 10:47am, Tue. Dec. 24, 2013

If you throw a temper tantrum in the grocery store this holiday season, blame Wham!

“Last Christmas,” George Michael’s breathy betrayal of the human race, has been in heavy rotation on the holiday grocery store playlist since before I was born. Everyone knows shopping during the holidays is improved by cheesy Eighties synth-pop with sleigh bells.

Oh dear God, the sleigh bells.

“Last Christmas” remains a kick in the kidneys to anyone stuck in a endless quick-check-out line for a single can of cranberry sauce. As Batman’s butler Alfred would say, some men just want to watch the world burn.

Soundtrack to children unwrapping sweaters from Kohl’s on Christmas morning? “The store ran out of Playstations, Timmy – sorry!” One of the three Christmas Carol ghosts wearing George Michael sunglasses will haunt turkey-induced food comas with the Taylor Swift cover.

If this song hasn’t made you cry yet, try the Glee version. I knew what kind of damage Glee could do to a good song, but I had no idea what magic they’d work on one of the worst songs ever. The show finally popped a cap in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” too, a questionable but catchy ditty allegedly plagiarized from the late great Marvin Gaye.

For so long I derided the dance-pop Christmas anthem, but eventually “Last Christmas” snuck past my defenses. Once I got past the cheese (and the sleigh bells), I fell in love with the deep relationship described so bravely in this song.

Last Christmas,
I gave you heart.
But the very next day,
You gave it away.

How could you, anonymous friend to George Michael!?

Believe it or not, this song has genuinely inspired joy in my life over the years, if only because my mom and I erupt into laughter in HEB every time we hear it together. As I grew into a teenager, it became a point of hilarity.

“Listen, ma, it’s your favorite song!”

Cranking it up to as loud as our much-abused car speakers can handle, we’ll sing along at the top of our lungs, belting out the chorus in the middle of the verse.

You can say a lot of things about “Last Christmas,” but it’s become a staple of my holiday season by sheer repetition. I can’t imagine winter without it.

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