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This is 'Whamageddon' — the game where you avoid a certain Christmas song


Now for Whamageddon. It's a game that's played from December 1 through December 24 in some parts of the world, but especially in Britain.


You play by not listening to a certain Christmas song by the '80s pop duo Wham!


LEA MICHELE: (Singing) Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. But the very next day...

SUMMERS: Now, you may notice this is not the voice of lead singer George Michael. And that's because the way it works is once you recognize the original song, game over. You're done. But remixes and covers - they're just fine.

THOMAS MERTZ: The very moment you have that oh, no feeling in your brain, that's the moment you're out.

SHAPIRO: That's Thomas Mertz from Copenhagen. He and a few friends created the game almost two decades ago. Mertz says back then, you pretty much couldn't go anywhere without hearing that song.

MERTZ: We were thinking, like, it's frustrating, and it's getting to the point of being annoying. But rather than becoming upset about it, we turned it into a game.


ARIANA GRANDE: (Singing) This year, to save me from tears, I'll give it to someone special.

SUMMERS: It's all for fun. There are no prizes. And if you get whammed, you just drop out.

SHAPIRO: But people still take it really seriously. A DJ had to apologize after playing "Last Christmas" during a soccer match earlier this month.


JIMMY EAT WORLD: (Singing) A face on a lover with a fire in his heart.

SUMMERS: Don't worry listeners, we're not going to wham you, but instead we'll leave you with this version of the song...


JIMMY EAT WORLD: (Singing) Now I've found you'll never fool me again. A face on a lover with a fire in his heart. A man under cover, but you tore me apart. Now I found... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Alejandra Marquez Janse is a producer for NPR's evening news program All Things Considered. She was part of a team that traveled to Uvalde, Texas, months after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary to cover its impact on the community. She also helped script and produce NPR's first bilingual special coverage of the State of the Union – broadcast in Spanish and English.
Kathryn Fox