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How to play Whamageddon as participants share ‘distress’ at hearing ‘Last Christmas’ and losing game

For many people, hearing Wham!’s “Last Christmas” in December is the mark of the festive season, evoking feelings of joy, nostalgia and general merriment. For others, the response is the opposite: a simple expletive, or cry of “I’ve just lost Whamageddon!”

First emerging on internet forums in 2010, Whamageddon kicks off every year on 1 December and ends one minute before midnight on 24 December.

It’s a game with a singular aim: seeing how far you can get into December before you hear George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley’s 1984 hit. Once you hear it, you’ve lost, and must declare that you’re out on social media.

Sounds tame? For players of the game, Whamageddon is anything but. It can cause anger, distress and resentment, particularly towards people or places that may cause the game to be lost early in December. Music streaming services, with their pre-made Christmas playlists, have made the likelihood of the song being heard all the more real.

On social media, users have already began sharing their “distress”. “Whamageddon failed already FFS,” one Twitter/X user wrote on 2 December, while another lamented that they were “caught on Instagram” by the song. “Lost Whamageddon at 9.45 on the 4th :(,” tweeted The Chase star Mark “The Beast” Labbett, just four days in.

For players, this is a game to be taken seriously. “Happy Whamageddon season!” one Twitter user joked. “If you see me out in public between now and Christmas, assume I am not wearing my hearing aids and wave accordingly.”

The rules of Whamageddon are simple. It might sound simple, but you’re out as soon as you hear the song. If Wham is blasting during your weekly supermarket shop, but you don’t clock it, then congrats: you’ve lived to wham another day.

While you can try and catch friends out by sending them links to “Last Christmas”, Rickroll-style, the official Whamageddon website insists that the game is one of survival, and this goes against its spirit.

For players, there’s no fun in hearing the song and then keeping going. After all, Whamageddon is a game you can play alone as well as with friends. The only person you have to compete against, really, is yourself.

As one Twitter/X user put it: “What I like about Whamageddon is that it’s an honour system nobody abuses. If ‘Last Christmas’ hits and nobody’s around to see you hear it, it did still make a sound and you must submit yourself to ridicule by your peers immediately.’

The other crucial element of the game is that only the original version of the song can catch you up. Covers and remixes? You’re all good. This is particularly useful in 2023, when a certain sped-up version is underscoring an awful lot of influencer’s Christmas content on TikTok content. Hear that version, and you’re all good.

Ridgeley (left) and Michael on stage in 1986 (PA)
Ridgeley (left) and Michael on stage in 1986 (PA)

Whamageddon is a bit of Christmas fun, but some people aren’t so keen on it. Some have suggested that people should be allowed to enjoy one of the biggest Christmas songs of all time and honour George Michael, who died on Christmas Day in 2016.

“Couldn’t care less about Whamageddon,” one commenter wrote. “I’m always happy to be reminded of George Michael.”

To wham or not to wham, that is the question? Whamageddon is a fun game to play, but once it’s done, there’s no need to hold back. Blast “Last Christmas” to your heart’s content – just be aware that your friends might never forgive you if you make them lose…