Over 200 British Pubs Will Refuse to Play Wham!'s 'Last Christmas' This Month
In the unlikely event that the song comes on, drinkers at Fuller's can expect a beer on the house.
Composite Image: Screenshot via YouTube users Whamtv // Emojipedia
For some people, the Venn diagram of "most overplayed Christmas song" and "songs you never need to hear again" is uncomfortably close to a single circle. And while yes, we could just be patient and acknowledge that in a few weeks this too shall pass, I, for one, would be much more into the Christmas spirit were it not tied to a constant loop of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Apparently, for other people, that sentiment is targeted at Wham!’s bouncy 80s bop "Last Christmas." Earlier this week, the UK-based pub chain Fuller’s announced a ban of Wham!’s holiday hit in 231 of its locations, as reported by the Drinks Business. The ban will be in place until midnight on the 25th.
It's not that they necessarily hate the synthy holiday tune—rather, the ban is designed to aid participants of a decentralized online game called Whamageddon. The premise of the game is simple: Try to go as long as you can without hearing "Last Christmas."
Hearing the song puts a player out of the running and earns them one a spot in the halls of "Whamhalla" and the graveyard of the "Wham'd." Because it would be extremely easy to get Wham’d if all versions of “Last Christmas” counted, covers and remixes are fair game—if they happen to be playing Hilary Duff's 2002 take on the classic at your local Trader Joe's, feel free to bop along and live to play another day. The game can technically be played anywhere in the world, though it appears to be the most popular in the UK and Denmark.
"The incarnation we’ve put online on Whamageddon.com has been going on for a little more than ten years by now," wrote Thomas Mertz—who created the game along with two other friends—in an email to MUNCHIES. He added, "It was a matter of realising some ten odd years ago exactly how much airtime the song was getting. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a good song. Buuuuut … too much of anything is too much. So we started 'running the gauntlet.'"
Though Mertz says that Whamaggedon is "not affiliated with anyone," he wrote that the UK station Absolute Radio have been "some cheeky buggers this year." Both this year and last, the station has done their part to make Whamageddon possible (by not featuring the song), which is why Fuller's is participating. Jonathon Swaine, managing director of Fuller’s, told the Drinks Business, "We’re big fans of Absolute and we want to get behind this. We have removed 'Last Christmas' from all our playlists."
Despite participation by Fuller's and Absolute Radio, the challenge will likely still be pretty difficult: According to past week’s Billboard Hot 100, "Last Christmas" remains among the top ten most popular holiday songs. It’s currently number seven, bested only by crooner classics and, of course, Mariah Carey. (It's also a constant contender for covers: Google pulls up about 63,100,000 results, plus another 3 million remixes.)
The banning of the song takes away some of the appeal of the game, according to Mertz. "Some establishments here and there have said they would remove it. Most places we’ve encouraged them to keep it in. It’s not much of a survival game if the threat is removed," he wrote. "But I guess, as with all these viral things, a couple of enterprising SoMe managers saw an opportunity to ride a wave."
According to one Twitter user, a successful Whamageddon will involve some sneaky tricks, like only going to bars with live bands, muting all television commercials, and skipping soap operas entirely.
Elsewhere in the UK, the supermarket chain Tesco tweeted that they’d considered taking part in Whamageddon, but opted out. Instead, they implied that their stores will be Wham!-filled, adding that Tesco might be for “those who like to play on hard mode.”
While players won't win anything beyond bragging rights and glory, according to Mertz, Swaine told the Drinks Business that they're committed to doing their part to keep you holiday season Wham!-free. And that's a guarantee you can take to the tap—any revelers who get Wham'd in a Fuller's location will receive a beer on the house.