Pedant note: I know ‘Careless Whisper’ and ‘A Different Corner’ were released as George Michael solo tracks, but they both ended up on Wham! albums during the band’s original career, so in my head they 100% count. This ranking is purely personal, other perspectives welcome! And yes, George Michael’s career was much more than Wham!, but right now that’s the bit I’m thinking about.
Wham! only had 24 songs in their career, and the standard was impressively high. But it’s fun to try and sort through them. Go Yog!
24. Piano Outro
This brief instrumental fragment (heard at the end of Fantastic and If You Were There: The Best Of Wham!) doesn’t really count as a song, so it has to take last place.
23. Where Did Your Heart Go?
22. Love Machine
21. If You Were There
All excellent songs, and cover versions remained a crucial part of George’s career throughout, but back in the day, it was the songs George Michael wrote himself (with a very occasional assist from Andrew Ridgeley) that made Wham! stand out. It still annoys me all these years later that ‘Where Did Your Heart Go?’ was actually released as a single.
20. Nothing Looks The Same In The Light
19. Like A Baby
18. Blue (Armed With Love)
Wham! were never seen as a ballads band, and many of the slower songs that they released did tend to be a bit ponderous, as these three examples show. The “solo” ballads from the same era are noticeably better.
17. Come On!
Boppy and catchy but just lacks a distinctive edge compared to the singles of the time.
16. Last Christmas
An acknowledged seasonal classic, and I’ve always loved the cover art. If anything this has been dulled by overexposure and constant inferior covers.
15. A Ray Of Sunshine
14. Credit Card Baby
13. The Edge Of Heaven
Fast and funky is a default setting where Wham! can always deliver the goods.
12. Club Tropicana
My favourite bit of this track is the vocals at the end. Coo-ool . . .
11. Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do?)
There are many, many mixes of this song. The 86 remix is fun and sweary.
10. Everything She Wants
Both examples of what George at the time considered “mature” writing, and similarly themed around a grasping, acquisitive partner. ‘Battlestations’ is a relatively obscure track (a new recording for The Final but never released as a single), with fun answering-machine sound effects and tasty spoken sections.
8. Bad Boys
George Michael hated this track and occasionally had it excluded from compilations, but it’s a fun romp and I’ve been quoting the line “I’m big enough to break down the door” for years.
This mid-tempo ballad strikes me as fertile territory for a cover, replete with echoing pianos. Conveys an end-of-term feel really effectively.
6. Young Guns (Go For It!)
“Hey shut up chick, that’s a friend of mine.”
5. I’m Your Man
Any song that was designed to persuade Brooke Shields to give up her virginity obviously gets extra points.
4. A Different Corner
The first UK number one written, produced, sung and with every single instrument played by a single person (Prince did it first in the US with ‘When Doves Cry’, trivia fans). Looking back, this set the template for much of George’s subsequent solo career.
3. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go
For most people the definitive Wham! track. 1980s pop never got any more fun than this.
2. Careless Whisper
Following up ‘Wake Me Up’ with this was a master stroke. “Guilty feet ain’t got no rhythm” is perhaps the most amazing six words in a number one hit ever.
The definitive Wham! song: a Motown feel, amazing vocals, and a lyric about infidelity. If they’d ever finished the video this would have been an even more massive hit.
Wham!’s Make It Big was the first album I was properly obsessed with, from the minute I purchased it in my local Kmart (price: $11.84). I knew every word, every note, every beat, every song writing credit, every nuance. I timed exactly how long each song ran and designed an insert to go inside the tape cover.
I’m obsessed enough that not only do I own every Wham! album and every George Michael album on CD (and I wrote an extremely detailed guide to which Wham! tracks hadn’t yet made it to CD), I even have Andrew Ridgeley’s solo album on CD, and all the accompanying singles.
George’s career had so many stages: boyband pop prodigy, brooding solo star, fighting with his record company, unexpectedly outed, latter-day poster child for pop stardom on your own terms. You know what’s sad about that? You so rarely got the impression he was happy. Ever-introspective, every interview seemed to show him regretting what had happened previously. He bought so much pleasure to others, I hope he found some peace for himself.
In 1986, history class 9H1 at Armidale High School had to make a video with a bushranger theme, so we chose Alexander Pearce, the Tasmanian cannibal. But why focus on cannibals when you can also stage a Dynasty-style fight between two whores called Linda Lovelips and Camel Tits? For the first time in 30 years, here’s the trailer for this epic video project, which we gave the ludicrous title of The Hunger Of The Desperate and graced with some terrible acting, editing and special effects. I might put the full version up at some stage . . .
18 years ago, I collaborated with four colleagues to write a ridiculous online serial novel, Eye Of The Tigress. This year, I decided it would be interesting to collate the chapters and make it available as a Kindle ebook on Amazon.
This turns out to be a fairly straightforward process, except for one detail. My original plan had been to make the ebook free; after all, I wasn’t the only author. I’d seen plenty of free Kindle titles around, so that seemed straightforward. But it wasn’t until I had actually uploaded the formatted text that I discovered Amazon won’t let you initially set the price of your book as free. The minimum is US$0.99. If your title ends up free on rival stores, then it may end up being free on Amazon as a result of price matching, but you can’t make that decision easily yourself.
I wasn’t keen to set up a bunch more accounts with other publishing platforms just to achieve that, so in the end I went with the minimum price. In the (highly unlikely) event that anyone does actually buy a copy, I will donate all the proceeds to Medecins Sans Frontieres. If you’re tempted, here’s the link on Amazon. And special thanks to my brother Alex Kidman for proofing and editing.
Anyone observing my Twitter feed recently will have noticed that I haven’t tweeted about the NaNoWriMo challenge, where you try and write an entire novel of 50,000 words or more, since the middle of the month, when I hit the halfway mark. So what’s happened?
The short version: I’m no longer trying to finish writing the novel this month, but unlike some of my previous abandoned attempts, I do intend to finish the novel.
The longer version: by the time I reached the halfway mark, it had became evident that there were two factors that meant that this wasn’t necessarily going to work as a #NaNoWriMo novel.
(1) I’m really happy with the voice and tone I’ve developed for the narrator, but it’s slow work to write. Reaching the 1700 words I need each day and maintaining that tone has been a challenge. Even though this year I knew most of my plot in advance, any advantage from that has been more than offset by the speed with which I can actually write it. It’s not a matter of writer’s block; it just takes much longer than my usual writing speed.
(2) It has become evident from what I’ve written that this is not a story that’s going to be contained within 50,000 words. Based on where it’s at right now, I suspect it will need to be 80,000 words at least. That’s actually a more typical length for a novel, but there’s no way I would be able to hit that target in November, especially at the speed I’ve actually been writing.
I’m a purist: I don’t think you’ve done NaNoWriMo properly unless you actually complete the whole draft. In my mind, you can’t just have 50,000 words of an incomplete work and say you’ve finished the challenge. So it simply doesn’t make sense for me to treat this book as a NaNoWriMo project. It’s now just a project I’m continuing to work on.
When I’ve succeeded at NaNoWriMo, I’ve usually posted the first chapter or the blurb online (see my efforts from 2015, 2011 and 2010). I can’t do that here now, but I will when, eventually, I finish it. Not going to set myself a deadline for that just yet.
Florence Henderson, forever famous as Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch, has died at the age of 82. She did a tour of Australia four years ago to promote tomato paste (I kid you not), a sprightly 78-year-old offering cooking tips, and I shot the above video at the Sydney media briefing.
In the real world, any score above 300 is a good result in Yahtzee. But what’s the absolute maximum you can score? By my calculation, it’s 1,575.
Here’s the sequence of gameplay that generates that score. Remember that you score an additional 100 points for every Yahtzee (five numbers the same), and you can use that Yahtzee as a wild card for any other category (including ones where a Yahtzee wouldn’t technically be a result that fits, such as a straight).
|1||5 x 6||Yahtzee||50||Any Yahtzee would do|
|2||5 x 1||1||105||100 bonus points for each additional Yahtzee|
|3||5 x 2||2||110|
|4||5 x 3||3||115|
|5||5 x 4||4||120|
|6||5 x 5||5||160||Includes 35 bonus points for >63 at top|
|7||5 x 6||6||130|
|8||5 x 6||3 of a kind||130||Maximum points with all sixes|
|9||5 x 6||4 of a kind||130||Maximum points with all sixes|
|10||5 x 6||Full house||125||Any Yahtzee would do|
|11||5 x 6||Small straight||130||Any Yahtzee would do|
|12||5 x 6||Large straight||140||Any Yahtzee would do|
|13||5 x 6||Chance||130||Maximum points with all sixes|
What’s the probability of this happening? The chance of getting any one specific result in Yahtzee on a single throw is 1 in 7776. The chance of that happening 13 times in a row is 1 in 3.80042E+50, as Excel would put it. In other words, don’t hang round waiting.