Rising country/pop star and Oregon native Emme Lentino collaborated with George Michael’s backup singers for a brand new reimagining of “Last Christmas,” the catchy holiday WHAM! hit that’s so popular it’s become a viral challenge: Whameggedon.
Participants have to try to avoid hearing the tune (original version only, thankfully) and if they do, they must post they’re out of the game on social media.
For Lentino, recording “Last Christmas” just made sense. It’s one of her all-time favorite songs, she said, and she can’t help but sing it when she hears it.
So when her opportunity arose, she flew to London to record the track with a few of the legendary singer’s backup vocalists, including longtime performer and close friend of Michael’s, Shirley Lewis.
“There was a lot of joy in the studio,” Lentino said. “It was a wonderful and magical moment to record together.”
“You put your country magic on it,” Lewis interjected.
Speaking with the group, their bond is undeniable. Michaels and his backup vocalists and band operated much like a family, and they welcomed Lentino with open arms, the New Zealand-based singer said.
Jay Henry, another of Michael’s vocalists, said he’s happy to carry on his friend’s legacy and remind the world of the late artist’s amazing talent. “It’s always good to have that memory of him again, and it’s so timely,” he said. Lentino’s reverence of the song and artist affirmed his blessing, Henry said.
“It was the right time for it to come out,” Lewis agreed. “It was great to see the celebration of George’s life.”
The English performer passed away Dec. 25, 2016. The Christmas holiday and the singer’s birthday in June are special days for his friends.
“That spirit of giving and kindness that he always had, I hope to carry that forward as well,” Lentino added.
Lewis hopes the revamped holiday hit will introduce Michaels to a new audience. “George will be remembered for his music and his kindness,” she said.
Check out Lentino’s version of “Last Christmas” — without losing the Whamegeddon challenge — by listening on Spotify and Amazon Music, or you can find the music video on YouTube.