Whamageddon is upon us. The viral trend has caused people to avoid Wham’s 1986 song “Last Christmas” every holiday season for about 18 years. It’s a simple game that has contestants all over the world hoping they can make it to December 25 without hearing the Christmas break-up jingle.
What is Whamageddon?
The game – which can be played by anyone, anywhere – starts on December 1st. All you have to do is avoid hearing “Last Christmas” by Wham until December 25th. If you make it, you win.
The #Whamageddon hashtag has more than 12 million uses on TikTok, with people sharing videos of themselves “dying” — or hearing the song and being sent to “Whamhalla,” or the end. Others, however, rejoice that they lived another day without the melody touching their eardrums.
The creators of the game, a group of friends from Denmark, have gone so far as to make one official website to teach others the rules. The one saving grace: Covers don’t count. You can hear the versions of Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Megan Trainor and still stay in the game.
Who Created Whamageddon?
Four friends named Thomas Mertz, Rasmus Leth Bjerre, Oliver Nøglebæk and Søren Gelineck came up with the concept about 18 years ago, Mertz told CBS News.
“We kind of realized that this song was being played constantly, over and over again. It was just in really heavy rotation,” Mertz said. “And instead of being annoyed by it, we decided to make a game out of it and have a little fun.”
In 2016, Mertz created a Facebook page to see if others would be interested in the annual game, and it “took off,” he said.
Mertz said he’s made it to Dec. 25 without hearing “Last Christmas” three times — and the most anyone has ever claimed to have done it is five.
While the four made up Whamageddon, Mertz said the idea isn’t unique to their group of friends. “For years we got emails from a group of Americans, I think in Berkeley, who play what they would call ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ game,” Mertz said. “And they would get mad at us every year and send like a terse email saying we copied them, assuming we knew about them.”
Mertz said “The Little Drummer Boy” song “isn’t really a thing in Denmark.” “The idea itself – avoid listening to a song – is not very deep or original. So claiming originality is something we’re wary of.”
So why does the game fascinate so many to participate? “It’s not easy by any means, by any means, but that’s the fun of it,” he said. “It has to be a little bit complicated, it has to be a little dangerous. It shouldn’t be too easy, I think.”
“What it’s really about is having the story and this experience to share with friends and family,” he said. “That’s what we see on our Facebook page. Once they get hit, they share the story of where they were, what they were doing, how it happened. And I think that’s a really nice thing to see.”
He said the trend’s attention on social media is “crazy” to watch. “It’s absolutely crazy to me,” he said. “I just hope it means people are having fun and enjoying themselves.”
The attention has inspired the group to sell Whamageddon merchandise and create social media pages, and it even inspired a pub chain in Great Britain to remove the song from its rotation in 2018 so as not to spoil the loans’ winning streak.
On December 2 this year, when a DJ played the song at a soccer match in the UK, he knocked potentially 7,000 contestants out of Whamageddon on day two of the competition.
“I never knew people took it so seriously,” DJ Matty told BBC News. “I gave it a go and thought it would be pretty fun to wipe out 7,000 people who couldn’t avoid it, but obviously it’s not fun.”
He said he received insults on Twitter after the loss. “So I’m officially apologizing to anyone whose Christmas I’ve ruined,” he said.
The same thing happened at a soccer game at Emirates Stadium this year, Mertz said. “It was almost 60,000 people who were exposed to the song,” he said. “We have different news reports so we get notified if something is posted [about the trend].”