The Story and Meaning Behind “Everything She Wants” by Wham! and How It Served as a Springboard for George Michael’s Solo Career

Make It Big was the album that just kept on giving for Wham!, as singles just kept popping out and soaring to the upper regions of the charts. Ironically, the album’s success also doomed the duo’s longevity, as it made clear that George Michael was ready to go out on his own. “Everything She Wants,” the last of the hit singles to emerge from the 1984 album, certainly pushed that process along.

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What is the song about? How did George Michael put it all together? And why did it signal the end of his partnership with Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley? Read on and find out everything there is to know about “Everything She Wants.”

Michael Goes for “Everything”

While he was a member of Wham!, George Michael wrote many of the songs all by himself. Andrew Ridgeley received a writing credit here and there, most notably on the worldwide hit ballad “Careless Whisper.” As for the instrumental backing, Michael and Ridgeley often made contributions and then were assisted by studio pros.

But Michael was a famously fast learner. Even though he barely had any musical experience when Wham! began in the early ’80s, he quickly became a studio expert, able to put together complex, dynamic tracks on his own. And that’s exactly what he did with “Everything She Wants.”

Working with a Linn drum machine and a synthesizer, he composed and recorded the music all on his own. He then wrote the lyrics and laid down all the vocals as well. When he was finished, there was nothing that anybody needed to add as embellishment. (He also did the same kind of DIY thing on “Last Christmas,” the huge holiday hit that was also credited to Wham!)

A Lyrical Departure

In terms of the lyrics, Michael explained to Dick Clark what he had in mind (as reported in the book The Billboard Book of Number One Hits):

“It’s a lyric about a man who is six or eight months into a marriage which obviously isn’t going well. He’s faced with the ‘happy’ news of an arriving baby. So he’s in that situation where he can’t back out. [The song] talks about the situation [in which] many men find themselves, working really hard to support a family … and see it as a kind of trap. It’s a situation I’ve seen. It’s not the kind of thing I usually write about. Our lyrics are usually a lot closer to the kind of pop lightweight lyric we enjoy, but it’s a departure, and I think it worked.”

“Departure” proved to be a fitting word. With examples like “Everything She Wants” as evidence, Michael knew he could step out from under the Wham! umbrella and do his own thing. In the fall of 1985, he announced to Ridgeley and management he was going out on his own. Wham! would officially say farewell in June 1986 with a concert at Wembley Stadium in London.

What is the Meaning of “Everything She Wants”?

Michael was definitely on point in noting how “Everything She Wants” stands out from the rest of the singles on Make It Big in a lyrical sense. There’s no sugarcoating on the situation, and that’s true right from the start when the narrator explains he’s been warned about the girl in the song: Somebody told me / “Boy, everything she wants, is everything she sees.”

I don’t know what the hell you want from me, Michael bellows in the guise of the narrator, who can’t seem to give her what she needs. He puts her on blast for her selfishness: They told me marriage was a give and take / Well, you’ve shown me you can take, you’ve got some giving to do. He then comes to the stark realization that signals a bad end to this scenario: My God, I don’t even think that I love you.

On “Everything She Wants,” Michael isn’t afraid to embody a somewhat prickly, warts-and-all persona. (After all, the protagonist isn’t exactly supportive to this girl once he finds out about the baby.) That only lends the song a searing honesty that carries it a long way. In fact, it indirectly helped to carry George Michael right out of Wham!

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Photo by Rogers/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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