The Three Greatest Cover Versions of “Last Christmas” Ever
For over two decades, there has been a ferocious contest of wits and skill engaged by aspiring and established musicians alike: to execute the most perfect cover version of Wham!’s 1984 masterpiece, “Last Christmas.” Written by George Michael and originally half of a double A-side single alongside “Everything She Wants,” the track delicately treads upon the hallowed grounds of both the love song and the holiday song, the triple lutz of the songwriting world. While no imitation could ever be as sacrosanct as the soulful vision originally choreographed by Wham!, here is the definitive list of runners up (with credit given to Last Christmas for allowing me discover two of the versions):
#1: Pas/Cal “Last Christmas” | As anyone who has seen Pas/Cal perform can attest, they are not only one of the most impressive live acts around but are also incredibly gifted musicians and arrangers. It isn’t surprising that their rendition of “Last Christmas” feels like three or four different songs, folded together in addictive fashion. There is the elegant piano introduction with lulling vocal harmonies, the mad dash to find an appropriately hard-driving beat, the all-hands-on-deck approach of the first verses, and the requisite bouncy handclap rejoinders.
#2: Mon)tag “Last Christmas” | I will own up to not knowing much about Mon)tag apart from the fact that (A) they are German and (B) they execute a magnificently grand version of “Last Christmas.” It takes a little while to get going, and when it does it is still pretty gay–but what could be more appropriate? Something about the earnestness of the vocals (in a foreign language, no less) makes me confident that Herr Michael would approve. Letztes Weihnachten!
#3: Erlend Øye “Last Christmas” | Erlend Øye is the person I love most in the world whose surname I don’t know how to pronounce. I’m sure that when I do, it will be like finding out that Jens Lekman sounds like “yens.” Until such a time as I am schooled in the Norse tongues, however, I will simply enjoy the Kings of Convenience/Whitest Boy Alive’s contribution to the “Last Christmas” cannon, a tender, bare bones acoustic ditty.