The Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 2016 was an exclamation point for Justin Beiber, as "Love Yourself" and "Sorry" would be the number one and number two tunes respectively. The Canadian pop star's reputation might have cost his chances of winning a Grammy Award unless he would have a change of image in the immediate future. Then again, there might be no need for the approval of the recording executives if Beiber could have songwriters (and record producers) like Diplo. Beiber had to share top honors with Adele, as "25" was the top album of the year. "Hello", the lead single from that album, could have been the top single of the year if it weren't released during the final quarter of 2015. Another Grammy sweep would confirm Adele's top status in the music industry, but some observers see Beyonce's "Lemonade" winning the Album of the Year honors next month.
Let's go down memory lane: What are the top singles of 1985? "Careless Whisper" by Wham! The tandem of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley had a banner year, as "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", "Everything She Wants" and "Freedom also made it to the Year-End Hot 100 singles. They were one of the top acts of the 1980s, their infectious music would jive with the carefree attitude that became a fashion statement during that decade. Popular culture had seen a renewed appreciation of the 1980s, and it was no surprise that the music of Wham! would be in the forefront. "Careless Whisper" had been played on radio stations through the years, as Michael's soulful voice would haunt and tantalize listeners at the same time.
"Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", which finished at #3, saw a playful side of the duo that the public would love. Perhaps Madonna and Prince were the only artists who could match this act for originality and impact. It wasn't surprising that George Michael ventured into a solo career, and he would have greater success. (It happened to Lionel Richie.) "Faith" was Michael's debut solo album, which turned out to be a monster hit after its release on October 30, 1987. The Londoner revealed a more serious side, if not a sexually-charged image that clicks with listeners. The guitar strumming in "Faith" proved to be a hit, so listeners and critics expected it to the top singles of 1988.
Four of the six singles made it to the summit of the Billboard 100 chart, where Michael's talents were in full force. "One More Try", which spent three weeks at the top, had Michael going for the high notes. "Kissing a Fool" showed Michael giving jazz music a try while "Monkey" was a hark back to his "Wham!" days. It would be interesting to note that "Faith" didn't have the same level of success in the UK. Perhaps hometown listeners preferred the hard-edged sounds of rock music and Great Britain happened to be in the forefront. "Faith" sealed Michael's legacy in music, but there would be one more thing.
"Last Christmas" may not be one of the biggest hits by Wham!, but it would appear in the Billboard Holiday Charts year after year. Several artists recorded their version of this wistful tune, and this might be Michael's most enduring hit. There were better songs, but he wouldn't mind.