“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” is a song by the British duo Wham!, first released as a single in the UK on 14 May 1984. It became their first American and UK number-one hit. It was written and produced by George Michael, one half of the duo. In 2015, the song was voted by the British public as the nation’s 13th favourite 1980s number one in a poll for ITV.
Michael’s inspiration for the song was a scribbled note left by his Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley for Andrew’s parents, originally intended to read “wake me up before you go” but with “up” accidentally written twice, so Ridgeley wrote “go” twice on purpose. Released in May 1984, it heralded the beginning of a softer, sunnier image for Wham!, who had spent the previous year as a moodier, more politically themed duo, with songs about unemployment, young marriage, and battles of will between parents and their children. With the release of “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, they re-emerged with wider smiles, more colourful clothing, and a more positive disposition in interviews.
In 1984, George Michael had this to say on the development of the song:
“I just wanted to make a really energetic pop record that had all the best elements of Fifties and Sixties records, combined with our attitude and our approach, which is obviously more uptempo and a lot younger than some of those records. It’s one of those tracks that gets rid of a lot of your own personal influences; it reminds me of so many different records that I couldn’t actually nail them down. I’d done a demo at home that just had a bass line and a vocal on it. Usually, I write the record in my head; I know what all the parts are going to be and I sing them to all our musicians. And it was great. … We actually did it as a rehearsal. We used a Linn drum because the drummer was late, and it was such a good track that we kept it.”
The song entered the UK Singles Chart at number four — after much hype from the duo claiming they would go straight in at number one, which was a rare occurrence then — and climbed to the top spot seven days later, staying there for two weeks. The song also went to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, holding the top spot for three weeks.
The UK sleeve was designed by Peter Saville, with photography by Trevor Key.
The song is featured in the films Rock Odyssey, The Big Picture, Charlie’s Angels, Zoolander, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Tween Academy: Class of 2012, Happy Feet Two, Kath & Kimderella, Walking on Sunshine, Zoolander 2, and Sausage Party.