Wham! - Behind the Music

The new Netflix documentary Wham! explores every aspect of the pop music duo of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. Whenever I think of the 80s, I think of the quirky, unconventional styles which a lot of people had, I think of the really cool movies that were released, and how can I not think of the great music that was available to us at the time? When of think of music from the 80s, I think of bands such as Hall and Oats, Tears for Fears and of course Wham! I recently stumbled upon the Wham! documentary which is now available on Netflix, and I could not resist taking the time to watch it. I wanted to reflect on the documentary in terms of the impact Wham!’s music had on the world. Secondly, I want to outline George Michael’s personal growth and development throughout his life as well as his career as a musician, and finally how his friend Andrew Ridgely was a positive influence in his life. I feel that trust and friendship are very important themes within this documentary.

The film begins by looking back on how George Michael and Andrew Ridgely met for the first time when they were in their later years of elementary school. As kids, Andrew Ridgely was very outgoing and George Michael was socially awkward and shy. Over the years they developed a taste for music, Elton John in particular was a very notable musician for them. In their late teen, Andrew and George liked to go out and party. Amazingly enough, it was their partying which eventually led them to form their singing duo which we now know as Wham! Like many famous musicians, the duo struggled financially initially and were turned down repeatedly by various record companies. However they did eventually land a record deal with Innervision Records, and they made it to #1 on the music charts with "Wake Me Up, Before You Go Go."

Just like other musicians in the past, Wham!’s particular style was at times seen as provocative to older generations. This is because when they were performing, they would wear tight shirts and short shorts and also because their genre of pop music was very energetic and upbeat. Wham!’s style of music and performance was more appealing to a younger audience, especially women. Eventually, Wham's upbeat style of music would enable them to earn recognition from other famous musicians such as Elton John, which was a dream come true for the band. On numerous occasions, they were asked to help make the world a better place through their music within Live Aid concerts. To this day when people look back at Wham!’s performance at the Live Aid concerts, they think of the enormous crowds the band attracted and the positive influence their music had in their lives.

Although George Michael was socially awkward as a kid, he became more outgoing as he got older through his friendship with Andrew Ridgely. George's father strongly objected to his desire to become a musician, but Andrew encouraged George to go against his father's wishes. George knew that he was gay when he was in his early twenties, but was not ready to go public with his sexual orientation, Andrew agreed to keep George's sexual orientation a secret. Andrew still loved and respected George despite his sexuality. At the beginning of Wham's career, most of the attention and focus was on Andrew Ridgely. Still, as time went on, and George Michael became more comfortable in his own skin, George started to fill most of the spotlight and would eventually go solo. Andrew had no objection to George obtaining more fame and recognition than him but was instead very proud of how far his friend had come over the years.

George Michael and Andrew Ridgely had an unbreakable bond between them. I feel that friendship and trust are very important themes within this film because, sadly, in the world we live in today, a lot of people have friends who mock them, bring them down, and turn their backs on them. Through the Wham! documentary, Andrew Ridgely was a great example of what a friend should be. He helped George find the courage to say no to his father, Andrew’s belief in George led him to grow and develop both as a musician and as a person. He proved George trustworthy by agreeing to keep his sexual orientation a secret. I would strongly recommend this film for the interesting history that Wham! has, and as a reminder of what a friend should be.


Danny Aubry is the host of At The Movies alongside Remi Caron and is heard every Tuesday morning from 8-9 AM only on CJLO 1690 AM. Tune in for discussions about movies, soundtracks, and iconic film scores. At The Movies also covers film festivals that are located in Montreal.