Exploring George Michael’s Careless Whisper

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George Michael - singing live

The pop star and esteemed singer-songwriter George Michael sadly passed away on Christmas Day. As a tribute to his song-writing talent and philanthropic work we have taken one of his most famous tracks as inspiration for language learners. Careless Whisper contains many interesting phrases that are useful to English language students, so let’s consider this classic song and use George’s clever and evocative lyrics to help EFL learners get to grips with some new vocabulary and expressions.

 

George Michael was a prolific songwriter who sold 100 million records worldwide. From his early days in Wham! to his long solo career which spanned 30 years, his legacy includes five smash hit solo albums, including: Faith, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, Older, Ladies and Gentlemen, Songs from the Last Century and Patience. New material is set to be released in 2017, including a television documentary.

Since his death, George Michael’s many philanthropic endeavors have also come to light, including his voluntary work with the homeless and the millions of pounds he anonymously donated to charity. George was obviously a very kind and generous person, so we are sure he would love the idea of language learners benefiting from his music and lyrics.

George Michael - Careless Whisper

Careless Whisper

Careless Whisper is a great song to use for language study as it deals with a common theme and contains many interesting phrases.

This is a song about a person who has cheated on their partner and feels guilty, has told their partner about the affair and is now heart-broken that they are breaking up.

George Michael manages to tell this sad story succinctly with wonderful lyrics filled with idiomatic expressions and interesting language for EFL learners.

 

George was only a teenager when he wrote the song and in later years commented that he did not feel particularly strongly about it, as it was written so long ago, before he really knew much about love and relationships.

However, Careless Whisper touched the hearts of millions with its tale of human failing and regret, along with its smooth-as-silk vocals and beautiful music – including one of the most famous saxophone solos ever written! It is no wonder this track remains a firm favourite with many fans.

Here are the full lyrics and video to Careless Whisper:

Lyrics to Careless Whisper

I feel so unsure
As I take your hand and lead you to the dance floor
As the music dies, something in your eyes
Calls to mind the silver screen
And all its sad good-byes

I’m never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it’s easy to pretend
I know you’re not a fool
Should’ve known better than to cheat a friend
And waste the chance that I’ve been given
So I’m never gonna dance again
The way I danced with you

Time can never mend
The careless whispers of a good friend
To the heart and mind
Ignorance is kind
There’s no comfort in the truth
Pain is all you’ll find

 

I’m never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it’s easy to pretend
I know you’re not a fool
I should’ve known better than to cheat a friend
And waste the chance that I’ve been given
So I’m never gonna dance again
The way I danced with you

Never without your love

Tonight the music seems so loud
I wish that we could lose this crowd
Maybe it’s better this way
We’d hurt each other with the things we’d want to say
We could have been so good together
We could have lived this dance forever
But now who’s gonna dance with me?
Please stay

And I’m never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it’s easy to pretend
I know you’re not a fool
Should’ve known better than to cheat a friend
And waste the chance that I’ve been given
So I’m never gonna dance again
The way I danced with you

Now that you’re gone
(Now that you’re gone) What I did is so wrong, so wrong
That you had to leave me alone

Careless Whisper vocabulary and idioms

There are many interesting words and phrases in Careless Whisper. We have gathered together some of the most useful vocabulary and idioms below to help EFL learners understand the song and improve their vocabulary with George’s lyrics:

As the music dies – as the music fade away / disappears

calls to mind (idiom) – reminds

silver screen‘ (idiom) – cinema

gonna (verb, slang) – going to

chance (noun) – opportunity

guilty (adjective) – not innocent

‘got no rhythm’ – here this means ‘can’t dance’ (the guilt has taken away the feet’s ability to dance)

pretend (verb) – act in a way that is not genuine / fake

fool (noun) – idiot, person who is easily deceived

to hurt (verb) – do damage / give pain

 

to cheat (verb) – to deceive

to waste (verb) – throw away a good opportunity

to mend – repair

careless (adjective) – without thought or care

whispers (noun) – softly spoken words

careless whispers‘ – unguarded talk / something said without thinking

ignorance (noun) – lack of knowledge

to wish (verb) – hope, a dream situation

crowd (noun) – lots of people

you’ll (verb, contraction) – you will

though (conjunction) – although

the way – (in ) the manner (of doing something)

wrong (adjective) – bad, not right

had to – forced to (there was no other option)

George Michael

Hidden meanings

Throughout Careless Whisper, the clever phrases in the lyrics can be read in a number of ways. The ‘dance’ that is referred to in the song could be read as the relationship. So ‘guilty feet have got no rhythm’ means the person cannot be in the relationship anymore (they cannot ‘dance’ anymore) because they have cheated on their partner (their feet are ‘guilty’).

How do you hear the lyrics of Careless Whisper? Do you think George meant anything different by the words?

Do you find any of the phrases in the song difficult or confusing?

Are you a fan of George Michael? Which of his other songs do you think are particularly good for practising the English language?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

Which is your favourite George Michael song?

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