35 versions of Wham! hit ‘Last Christmas’ ranked, from Taylor Swift to Crazy Frog

Ariana Grande, Rachel Berry, George Michael, Crazy Frog, Taylor Swift against a pink and green background.

Ah, “Last Christmas”. At this point, the festive favourite by Wham! is more than just a song that gets pulled out the attic with the tinsel every year. 

Written in George Michael’s childhood bedroom and recorded in August 1984, the track remains part of the very fabric of the holiday season nearly 40 years on from its release. It took 36 years for it to reach number one in 2018, two years after Michael’s death, and this year, it has bagged the top spot once again.

Not only has it sold millions of copies, the song has also been covered by a plethora of artists (six versions were released in 2020 alone). It appears that covering “Last Christmas” is the first lesson in the Open University course for pop stars hoping to obtain an endless festive revenue stream.

As it stands, there are more than 50 official covers of it uploaded to Spotify. The plan was to rank every single cover version, but that would be ridiculous. So, instead we ranked almost every cover version of Wham!’s “Last Christmas”, from harrowing to, well, the original.

If making this list has taught me anything, it’s that recording artists should be banned from covering “Last Christmas” indefinitely. There are truly not many good things to say.

Oh, and I hope I never hear this song again.

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35. Kidz Bop Kids (2012)

There’s something slightly terrifying about this version, like a group of possessed carol singers that keep on performing outside your house even after you’ve told them to go away. When this group of children whispered “Merry Christmas” into my ears, I was sure I was going to die.

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34. Ludwig Ahgren (2020)

Ludwig Ahgren is a successful live streamer, YouTuber, podcaster, comedian, esports commentator and competitor. He is not, however, a successful “Last Christmas” singer.

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33. The Wiggles (2023)

The most recent version is unsurprisingly one of the most evil. Taken from their 61st (!!) studio album “The Sound of Christmas”, Australian kids band The Wiggles’ cover of “Last Christmas” is surrounded by other tracks including “Wiggly, Wiggly Christmas!” and “Dorothy’s Special Christmas Cake” – the latter of which sounds like it should stream on OnlyFans.

Look, I know this is a band for children but all I can say is that I’m glad George Michael wasn’t here to see this one released.

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32. Run The World featuring Jam Jr. (2020)

This band of teenagers formed in 2020 and immediately released a “Last Christmas” cover, which remains their most listened to song to date. They are yet to release anything since. Our cash cow queens!

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31. Jess and Gabriel (2019)

Very bored by this twee, aggressively heterosexual version from YouTube couple and musical duo Jess and Gabriel Conte. I just know it will been used in a Great American Family festive film starring Candace Cameron Bure.

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30. Backstreet Boys (2022)

Me after an afternoon spent messing around on GarageBand:

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29. She & Him (2021)

I was not aware that Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward’s indie pop duo She & Him were still going, but apparently so: their mellow cover came out in 2021. It’s a lot slower than the original, and could probably send you to sleep, so I wouldn’t recommend listening while speeding along the icy road home for Christmas.

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28. Glee Cast (2009)

This cover is only three minutes and 36 seconds long, but it’s still the longest song of all time. I listened to it four times for this ranking, yet I feel I’ve been listening to it since late October.

A duet between Glee leads Rachel Berry (Lea Michelle) and Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith), this version of “Last Christmas” is – and I know this is the point – far too Pauline Quirke acting academy. The incessant bum bum bum bum bums will stay with me for months.

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27. Pentatonix featuring Hikakin & Seikin (2022)

The superior Glee cast version.

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26. Eurovision’s Nicole (2006)

Nicole is best known for winning the Eurovision Song Contest for Germany in 1982, which I suppose gives her licence to cover “Last Christmas”. This is a pretty so-so cookie cutter version and I shall likely never hear it again.

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25. Whigfield (1995)

Nineties Danish singer Whigfield, of “Saturday Night” fame, was the first singer to create a cover of “Last Christmas” and for that she is either a courageous mother or patient zero in this plague. I’m undecided. It came with a music video and everything.

This is a pretty standard cover, besides the xylophone breakdown three minutes in.

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24. Crazy Frog (2006)

The fact George Michael was still alive when this version came out is deeply upsetting. Insanely, this is the highest-charting version in the UK other than Wham!’s original. It peaked at number 16. 

Wait – I’ve just listened again. It’s like five per cent camp. 

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23. Fifth Harmony’s Ally Brooke (2018)

Go girl, give us nothing! Considering Ally Brooke is one of five women behind “Work From Home”, we know she can deliver pop star oomph. Yet Brooke has never sounded more bored than on this lifeless cover. One point for being (I think) the only former girl band member to ever cover “Last Christmas”, though. I’d love to hear Mutya Buena give it a go.

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22. Hilary Duff (2003)

Massive props to Hilary Duff for leading the way as one of the first audacious pop girlies to cover “Last Christmas” (after only Billie Piper). I’m going to be honest though, it’s a struggle to get through this one. I love our homophobia-fighting Disney queen, but this is not a song suited to her voice. That said, George Michael probably couldn’t have sung “Sparks” either, so swings and roundabouts.

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21. Matt Cornett, from High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (2020)

If I attended the East High School Christmas talent show and Matt Cornett performed this, I’d tap my toe and give him a little clap at the end. Not sure I’d tell him to record it for streaming services, though.

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20. Leslie Odom Jr. (2020)

Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. is one award away from becoming an EGOT winner, he did not need to release a middling cover of “Last Christmas”. Take the Grammy away! Appreciate his voice, though.

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19. Lucy Dacus (2019)

Lucy Dacus gave us one of this year’s very best albums with boygenius’ The Record, so she’s got nothing to prove with her “Last Christmas” cover. Which is lucky really, as the jury is still out on this one. It’s a rip-roaring rock version, and I love that for her, but I can’t imagine a scenario where I’d pop it on while wrapping presents. I know it would go off on the Top of the Pops Christmas special though.

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18. Jimmy Eat World (2001)

I like that Jimmy Eat World tried to make it their own, I guess, but it just comes across as a bit pretentious really. The guitar-laden rock version seems to strip the original of all its magic. However, I once heard someone say that “Last Christmas” isn’t really a Christmas song at all, and Jimmy Eat World managed to take it the furthest away from the festive spirit.

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17. Alanis Morrisette (2023)

I love Alanis Morrisette’s voice so much that I was actually looking forward to popping this on. I was expecting a gritty, vengeful version laden with fury, but sadly this is not that. It feels a bit understated for Morrisette’s standard, but it’s fine enough.

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16. Manic Street Preachers (2003)

Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers weren’t high on my list of artists I expected to have covered “Last Christmas”, but here we are. It’s a pretty standard, acoustic live version of the song – no bells, no whistles, just James Dean Bradfield and a guitar. Not a bad job.

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15. Joe McElderry (2011)

The X Factor winner Joe McElderry is the only artist on the list to have actually collaborated with George Michael (unless there’s a buried George Michael featuring Hilary Duff song on a floppy disk somewhere) and for that, he gets credit.

It feels like he’s got some sort of silent approval from our George, who sang his song “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” with McElderry during the 2009 X Factor finale, eventually bagging him the win.

McElderry has a nice voice, and this is a pleasant cover. The end.

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14. Remi Wolf (2022)

Very “in the elevator at Liberty” coded, but sweet enough. It’s a unique take, Wolf’s voice is always gorgeous, and it’s nice to see “Last Christmas” covered by another queer artist.

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13. Cascada (2007)

The noughties wouldn’t be the crimped hair, dresses-over-jeans era that it is without German eurodance act Cascada, but we’re not sure they needed to release a Christmas album really. Their version of “Last Christmas” sounds like David Guetta featuring the cast of Love Actually, and while it’s not one we’ll put on over Christmas dinner, it’s a bit of fun.

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12. The cast of The Only Way is Essex (2011)

Definitely the only George Michael song in existence that opens with Gemma Collins declaring she’s “bursting with excitement”. This version belongs in an early 2010s time capsule alongside Vine, Paul’s Boutique, and that Rihanna t-shirt from River Island. Whether it belongs on your Christmas playlist, however, is debatable.

I’ll give it to some of the cast members though: Jessica Wright in particular can really hold a note. Plus I can’t deny that Sam Faiers declaring she wants a Christmas vajazzle in the middle of the song is anything other than camp. I just want to know whether our George heard this version.

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11. Kelly Clarkson (2021)

I feel like I’m wrapped in red silk and sauntering about a candlelit hotel lobby listening to Kelly Clarkson’s luscious jazz version. It was obviously well-liked, considering the Clarkson album it comes from, When Christmas Comes Around, was Grammy-nominated. That said, I feel like they’d play it at the Tory Christmas party.

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10. Gwen Stefani (2017)

Gwen Stefani has an upper hand here, because her vocals are so distinct that naturally, she makes it her own. This sultry cover is all violins, hi-hats and doo-wop, adding an additional layer of yearning that is only matched by the original. Stefani has not only understood the lyrics, but she’s felt them too. This version is nowhere near as replayable as Wham!’s, but it’s a solid job.

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9. Meghan Trainor (2020)

I don’t … hate it? This is how “Last Christmas” would sound if it had been produced by Jack Antonoff for Taylor Swift’s 1989 album. Kinda dreamy, very faux ‘80s synth-heavy, different enough from the original to warrant creating, but not so far that it tries to be something else entirely. I respect it.

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8. Taylor Swift (2008)

I’d say this is one of Taylor Swift’s worst songs, which says a lot about the other covers on this list. However, it’s definitely one of few cover versions to give “Last Christmas” a complete revamp, and the only version on here to open with the twang of a banjo.

It’s decidedly country, sung with Swift’s sweet Pennsylvanian drawl that trademarked her early releases, and that alone makes “Last Christmas” (Taylor’s Version) a standout in this very crowded Christmas market. It’s the best cover song on her forgotten 2008 Christmas EP The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection, though the two original songs on there trump it.

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7. Allie X (2018)

Is this the first entry from an alt-pop girlie? I think it is! This is what people who live in Berkeley, California play on Christmas morning. Could be a Drag Race lip-sync.

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6. Ashley Tisdale (2006)

Very pleased to hear Ashley Tisdale giving it a bit of welly in this pop-rock version. She’s fuming: so raging, in fact, she’s not whispering “Happy Christmas” like most of the other versions, she’s just gonna say it deadpan, voice bubbling with sarcasm. It’s so early Disney Channel coded in the very best way, and could – if George Michael had never existed – be passed off as an original Christmas song. Pretty good.

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5. Ariana Grande (2013)

“Santa Tell Me” star Ariana Grande knows how to make a modern Christmas hit, and it shows on her cover of “Last Christmas”. She’s even added in her own lyrics: “I hate that I remember, I wish I could forget, what you did last December, you left my heart a mess.”

Our mezzo-soprano queen delivers it with her trademark vocal stamp, and there’s even a key change thrown in for good measure. It’s tastefully done, as Grande manages to honour the original while wrapping it in her own musical brand. That electric guitar strum does my head in though.

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4. Tinashe (2020)

Underrated R&B queen Tinashe has been blessed with a voice so luscious that she could sing the back of a shampoo bottle and I’d be entertained. She gets big points here for giving us a cover version that actually tries to be different from the original; it’s sensual and soupy, and is actually worth the trip to the recording studio. Points deducted because it was released in 2020, and I feel like covering “Last Christmas” after George Michael’s death is just a bit rude really.

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3. Billie Piper (1998)

Recorded and released when Billie Piper was just 16, her version of “Last Christmas” is surprisingly sweet. In her hands, the song hums with all the naivety and vulnerability that comes with puppy love, and almost sounds like it was destined to be performed by someone of her age. It’s not too much of a far cry from the original, but Piper adds a subtle, unabashed sadness that sets it aside.

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2. Carly Rae Jepsen (2015)

Love this! There is an alternate universe out there where George Michael is covering Carly Rae Jepsen’s festive hit “Last Christmas”. Could be number one for three years if the general public had taste.

No but seriously, Carly Rae Jepsen is one of maybe four artists on this list who truly make their own version of this song – it works immaculately with her sugary-sweet voice and slots right in with her discography of heart-on-your-sleeve, clean pop classics. She knew exactly what she was doing too, releasing it just months after her critically-acclaimed, cult classic album Emotion hit the shelves. Marketing icon.

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1. Wham! (1984)

Obviously.

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