Careless Whisper

Careless Whisper
"Careless Whisper"
Single by George Michael
from the album Make It Big
B-side "Careless Whisper" (Instrumental version)
Released 24 July 1984 (1984-07-24) (UK)
1 February 1985 (1985-02-01) (U.S.)
Format 12" maxi
7" single
Recorded 1984
Genre Pop, R&B
Length 5:04 (Single version)
6:30 (Album version)
Label Columbia
Writer(s) George Michael
Andrew Ridgeley
Producer George Michael
Certification Platinum (RIAA, BPI)
Wham! singles (USA) chronology
"Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"
"Careless Whisper"
Alternative covers
USA 7-Inch single cover
Audio sample
file info · help

"Careless Whisper" is a 1984 single by George Michael (credited to Wham! featuring George Michael in the US), released by Epic Records in the UK, Japan, and other countries; and by Columbia Records in North America. The song was George Michael's first solo single although he was still performing in Wham! at the time (the song is included on Wham!'s album Make It Big). The song features a prominent saxophone riff, and has been covered by a number of artists since its first release. It was released as a single and became a huge commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic. It reached number one in nearly 25 countries, selling about six million copies worldwide.



Unlike all the Wham! singles (except "Wham Rap!" and "Club Tropicana"), it was co-written by Andrew Ridgeley, the other member of the duo. The two had written it together as unknowns three years earlier, when Michael was working as a cinema usher in Watford, England. In a June 2006 interview on London radio station Magic 105.4, Michael said that he wrote it "in his head" during work and that he recalls coming up with the saxophone riff whilst boarding a number 32 bus on the way home.[citation needed]

The song went through at least two rounds of production. The first was during a trip Michael made to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where he went to work with the legendary producer Jerry Wexler at the venerable Muscle Shoals Studio. Michael was unhappy with the version that was originally produced and decided to re-record and produce the song himself, this time coming up with the version that was finally released. The version Wexler produced did, however, see the light of day, but only later on, as a (4:41) B-side "Special Version" on 12", released in the UK.

The officially released single, a mid-tempo ballad with a saxophone solo by Steve Gregory, was issued in August 1984, entering the UK singles chart at number twelve. Within two weeks, it was at number one, ending a nine-week run at the top for "Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. It stayed at number one for three weeks, going on to become the fifth best-selling single of 1984 in the United Kingdom; it was outsold only by the two Frankie Goes to Hollywood tracks "Two Tribes" and "Relax," Stevie Wonder with "I Just Called to Say I Love You" and Band Aid with "Do They Know It's Christmas." The song also topped the charts in 17 other countries, including the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States in February 1985 under the credit "Wham! featuring George Michael". Spending three weeks at the top in America, the song was later named Billboard's number-one song of 1985.

In a 2006 poll for a programme Britain's Favourite Break-up Songs, "Careless Whisper" was voted sixth.[citation needed]

Music video

The music video shows the guilt felt by a man over an affair, and his acknowledgement that his partner was always going to find out. It was taped on location in Miami during June 1984 and features such locales as Coconut Grove and Watson Island. The final part of the video shows Michael leaning out of a balcony at the last floor of Miami's Grove Towers.[1] However, it does not give credit to the young women (among others Lisa Stahl[2][3]) who also starred in the video.

Live performances

"Careless Whisper" was generally the closing act for concerts on the 25 Live tour, and less often in the Faith Tour concerts, usually performed live in many concerts tours like the Cover to Cover Tour and the Rock In Rio Tour. George Michael would often perform "Careless Whisper" with an extended version of the ending, which is apparently his preferred version.[citation needed]

Cover versions


  • In 1984, Japanese singer Hideki Saijo did a cover version in Japanese called "抱きしめてジルバ" (Dakishimete Jitterbug).
  • In 1985, Hong Kong pop diva Anita Mui covered the song in Cantonese under the title "夢幻的擁抱" (literally The Hug of Dreams).
  • In 1999, American rock band The Black Parade covered this song on their album, The Frontier Of No Return.
  • Instrumental group Pieces of a Dream offered their version from the band's 1986 album "Joyride."[4]
  • A hi-NRG/eurodance cover of the song by Sarah Washington was released through Almighty Records in 1993.
  • A cover version of "Careless Whisper" by Tamia appears on her debut self-titled album, Tamia. A second recording by Tamia appeared on the soundtrack album to the 1998 movie A Night at the Roxbury.
  • Israeli singer David D'Or covered the song in a January 2005 clubby, English electronic house vinyl 12" single on the 3 Lanka and Hed Arzi labels, produced and mixed by DJ Amiad, with remixes by Future Funk and Michi Lange. [4][5] The track attracted international interest.[5]
  • A version by Willy Mason appears on the 2007 compilation album, The Saturday Sessions: The Dermot O'Leary Show.
  • Gossip covered the song in 2007 for the album Radio 1 Established 1967, a collection of covers recorded for the 40th year anniversary of BBC Radio 1.
  • Quebec City acoustic cover band The Lost Fingers recorded a cover of the song for their 2008 album Lost In The 80s.
  • Irish singer Edward J. Valentine released a version that reached number 47 for 1 week in the Irish music charts in 2008. Mike Mulvihill of "The Power Hour" hailed it as "a song that defines this generation" and that this cover was "unrivalled." [5]
  • American crunkcore band 3OH!3 covered this song with Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low and Juliet Simms of Automatic Loveletter.
  • Seether covered the song in 2009 on a redone version of the 2007 record Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces. It was released as a single on 9 February 2009. Their version has reached #63 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the top five on Mainstream and Modern Rock charts and the combined Rock Songs chart. In his review for Billboard, Bram Teitelman said, "the song is a mostly faithful take on the original, with guitars subbing for the saxophone intro before greeting a Staind-meets-Nickelback grunge dynamic. Younger rock fans who don't know George Michael from Boy George will love the song".[6]
  • In Mexico, Pedro Fernández also has a Spanish cover version called "Absurda Confidencia."
  • Italian hardstyle DJ Technoboy covered the melody in his single "Vita".
  • Adapted by Vincenzo Thoma in Italian "Io non ballerò" in 2011 on the album Romantico.

The song has been covered by many other artists, including 2Play (2005), Bananarama (2001) on Exotica album, Brian McKnight (2007), Kenny G featuring McKnight (2004) from At Last...The Duets Album, Boston Pops Orchestra composed by John Williams, Columbia Ballroom Orchestra (1994), Dave Koz featuring R&B artist Montell Jordan taking the vocal lead (1999) on the album The Dance, David & the High Spirit (2003), Del (2004), Delight (2001),[7] DJ Irene (2003), Farhad Besharati (2006), George Michael (1998), Gloria Gaynor, Harlemm Lee (2003), Hit Crew (2006), James Douglas[disambiguation needed ] (2003), Julio Iglesias (2006), Jordan Knight (2006), Katelyn Tarver (2006), Kenny G (2004), Kymeria (2005), Paul Mauriat, Richard Clayderman for his 1988 album 'A little night music', Roger Williams, Roxy Pain (2007), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (1998), Sarah Washington, The Sax Brothers (2003), Simion Luca (1998), Skip Martin (2006), Slinkee Minx (2004) [side A on "Closer" single], The Shadows (1987) on Simply Shadows, Barry Manilow (2008) Tereza Kerndlová and 3Oh!3 Ft : Juliet Simms of Automatic Loveletter & Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low, The Supervillains (2011) and sampled by the Paper Route Gangstaz.

Live cover performances

Appearances in other media

  • In the episode "The Great Eekscape" of Eek! The Cat, Bill Clinton played a sample of the song with his saxophone when Sharky went to the White House.
  • The song is featured on the video games Karaoke Revolution Volume 3 and Singstar.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation, which is known for naming its episodes after songs from the 1980s, has an episode named after this song. In it, a character is beginning to question his heterosexuality.
  • In an episode of Jesse, Jesse comments on Diego's dancing with "I guess guilty feet really ain't got no rhythm", referring to a line from this song.
  • The song was used as the theme to 1997 TV series The Broker's Man, starring Kevin Whately.
  • The song was featured in the 2000 Miss Universe Evening Gown Competition.
  • In the seventh season of Friends, Chandler's ex-girlfriend Janice has invited herself to the wedding of Chandler and Monica, unaware that she is an unwanted guest. Janice asks the couple what song they would like her to sing at the wedding, "Lady in Red" or "Careless Whisper".
  • In the Philippines, this song gained notoriety after a scandal showing celebrities Dr. Hayden Kho and Katrina Halili singing this song and dancing scantily clad, was uploaded to YouTube.
  • Tatum O'Neal and Nick Kosovich danced a rumba to it in Season 2 of Dancing with the Stars.
  • In the episode "Everybody Hates Homecoming" from the show Everybody Hates Chris, a boy holds a boombox over his head with the song playing to prove his love for Chris's little sister Tonya, a nod to a similar scene in the 1989 film Say Anything.
  • Comedians Hamish and Andy used the song on October 4, 2010, in a competition to see who could sing the softest, using a decibel-meter to measure the volume. Hamish won.
  • Saxophonist Sergio Flores, widely known as Sexy Sax Man, plays the famous riff at public locations such as malls, stores and events. Many of Flores' escapades resulting him being escorted with force by security guards.
  • Tamia's cover of the song is featured in the film A Night at the Roxbury (1998).
  • In Iran, the Anime series Akage no anne's intro song were replaced by the instrumental version of this song and it has made it to be known as Song of Anne in Iran.

Track listings

  • 7" single
  1. "Careless Whisper" — 5:04
  2. "Careless Whisper" (instrumental) — 5:02
  • 12" maxi
  1. "Careless Whisper" (album version) — 6:30
  2. "Careless Whisper" (special version) — 5:34
  3. "Careless Whisper" (instrumental) — 4:52


  • Saxophone – Andy Hamilton
  • Bass – Deon Estus
  • Drums – Trevor Morrell
  • Electric piano – Anne Dudley
  • Guitar – Hugh Burns
  • Keyboards – Chris Cameron
  • Percussion – Danny Cummings
  • Photography – Tony McGee
  • Producer/Arranger – George Michael
  • Composer – Andrew Ridgeley, George Michael

Charts and sales

Peak positions

Chart (1984) Peak
Australian Singles Chart[8] 1
Austrian Singles Chart[9] 2
Dutch Top 40 Singles Chart[10] 1
French SNEP Singles Chart[11] 3
Germany Singles Chart[12] 3
Irish Singles Chart[13] 1
Italian Singles Chart[14] 1
Japanese Oricon Singles Chart[15] 4
Japanese Oricon International Chart[16] 1
Norwegian Singles Chart[17] 2
South African Singles Chart[18] 1
Swedish Singles Chart[19] 2
Swiss Singles Chart[20] 1
UK Singles Chart[21] 1
Chart (1985) Peak
Canadian Singles Chart[22] 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 1
US Billboard Hot 100[23] 1
US Hot Black Singles 8
US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks[23] 1


Country Certification Date Sales certified Shipments/sales
Canada[24] Platinum 1 June 1985 100,000
France[25] Silver 1985 200,000 585,000[26]
Netherlands[27] Platinum 1984 60,000
UK[28] Platinum 1 September 1984 1,000,000
Japan 204,000[29]
U.S.[30] Platinum 5 May 1992 1,000,000

Chart sucessions

Order of precedence
Preceded by
"Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood
UK number-one single
18 August 1984 – 1 September 1984
Succeeded by
"I Just Called to Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder
Irish Singles Chart number-one single
18 August 1984 – 1 September 1984
Preceded by
"Smalltown Boy" by Bronski Beat
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
8 September 1984 – 6 October 1984
Preceded by
"What's Love Got to Do with It" by Tina Turner
Australian Kent Music Report number one single
17 September 1984 – 8 October 1984
Preceded by
"Such a Shame" by Talk Talk
Swiss number-one single
30 September 1984 – 21 October 1984
Succeeded by
"I Just Called to Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder
Preceded by
"Like a Virgin" by Madonna
Canadian RPM number-one single
26 January 1985 – 2 February 1985
Succeeded by
"Easy Lover" by Philip Bailey with Phil Collins
Preceded by
"You're the Inspiration" by Chicago
Billboard Adult Contemporary (chart) number-one single
9 February 1985 – 9 March 1985
Succeeded by
"Too Late for Goodbyes" by Julian Lennon
Preceded by
"I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
16 February 1985 – 2 March 1985
Succeeded by
"Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon
Preceded by
"When Doves Cry" by Prince
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single of the year
Succeeded by
"That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne and Friends

See also


  1. ^ Grove Towers from Google's streetview
  3. ^ Lisa Stahl
  4. ^ "Joyride overview". 
  5. ^ a b Barrett, Christopher (14 February 2004). "Global Pulse: Prolific Coral Goes Budget-price". Billboard. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  6. ^ Bram Teitelman, Single Reviews - "Careless Whisper",, 21 March 2009
  7. ^ Delight website
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ "Careless Whisper", Austrian Singles Chart (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  10. ^ "De Nederlandse Top 40, week 36, 1984". Retrieved 27 Feb. 2008. 
  11. ^ "Careless Whisper", French SNEP Singles Chart (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  12. ^ German Singles Chart (Retrieved 30 July 2008)
  13. ^ Irish Singles Chart (Retrieved 17 April 2008)
  14. ^ Hit parade Italia (Retrieved 31 May 2008)
  15. ^ Japanese Oricon Year-end Singles Chart of 1985 (Retrieved 1 August 2008)
  16. ^ List of number-one singles on the Japanese Oricon International Chart (1968-2000)
  17. ^ "Careless Whisper", Norwegian Singles Chart (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  18. ^ "Careless Whisper", South African Chart [2] (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  19. ^ "Careless Whisper", Swedish Singles Chart (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  20. ^ "Careless Whisper", Swiss Singles Chart (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  21. ^ "Careless Whisper", UK Singles Chart (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  22. ^ Canadian Singles Chart
  23. ^ a b Billboard (Retrieved 11 December 2007)
  24. ^ Canada certifications (Retrieved 28 July 2008)
  25. ^ French certifications (Retrieved 28 July 2008)
  26. ^ Best selling singles of all time in France (Retrieved 1 August 2008)
  27. ^ Dutch certifications (Retrieved 9 December 2008)
  28. ^ UK certifications (Retrieved 21 September 2008)
  29. ^ List of best-selling international singles in Japan [3] (Retrieved 1 August 2008)
  30. ^ U.S. certifications (Retrieved 28 July 2008)

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