Last Christmas Chords – An Essential Guide

Need more songs for your Christmas songbook? We’ve got you covered! Check out these Last Christmas chords!

In this free lesson you will learn…

  • How to play this timeless Christmas classic in multiple keys
  • How to play the version by Wham!
  • Tips for making your chord shapes easier
  • How to approach playing the B Minor chord in this tune

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Give Some Last Christmas Chords To Someone Special This Year!

The holidays are the time of year when everybody gets together and sings songs that are about five hundred years old.

Christmas carols are such an important part of the season, bringing warmth where it’s cold and getting people, even strangers, together in our communities to celebrate.

Every once in a while, a newer Christmas song finds its way into the canon of lovely holiday music, combining the comfort of tradition with the sparkle of novelty.

Today, we give you Wham!’s Last Christmas chords and lyrics to add to your growing holiday guitar repertoire.

Last-Christmas-Chords

Last Christmas is a song of heartbreak and hope more than a song that’s actually about Christmas, but it reflects the bittersweet feeling of another year coming to a close and the optimism about the year to come.

  • It’s a great seasonal song, and even though it’s now 35 years old, musicians of all ages are still asking to learn the Last Christmas chords and melody.
  • We’ll get into that today so that you can learn this awesome pop song in time for this Christmas! Or next Christmas! We musicians have to start on this stuff early, you know!

Let’s get into some background on how this song developed such staying power.

Last-Christmas-Chords

Last Christmas Chords: The Songwriters

Last Christmas was written by George Michael and Andrew Ridgely, the power duo formerly known as Wham!

Michael and Ridgely met as teenagers while attending the Bushey Heath school outside London. They were first in a ska band, The Executive, before forming Wham! In 1981.

Michael started writing Last Christmas while he and Ridgeley were visiting Michael’s mother. They recorded it in the summer of 1984.

They were aiming for the Christmas Number 1 spot on the UK charts; unfortunately, they only made it to Number 2.

Blame Bob Geldof! Geldof and Midge Ure wrote “Do They Know It’s Christmas.”

  • In retrospect, it was a terrible title, but a good-hearted effort to bring awareness and support to the people of Ethiopia in the midst of a 1984 famine.
  • Michael sang on “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” and that song became the Christmas Number 1 in 1984.

Last-Christmas-Chords

Last Christmas has outlasted Geldof’s song; it’s been covered by Jimmy Eat World, the Puppini Sisters, Gwen Stefani, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, and now you!

  • Wham! went their separate ways in 1986, with Michael forging a career aimed at more adult than teen fans.
  • Michael sadly passed away on Christmas Day, 2016, leaving us five solo studio albums. Last Christmas was released as a single and on the album Music at the Edge of Heaven.

Last-Christmas-Chords

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Last Christmas Chords: Ice Cream Changes

Ice cream changes? Well, that sounds Christmasy, but what in the world are ice cream changes and why are we talking about them?

Glad you asked! It has nothing to do with expecting chocolate and getting strawberry. It has to do with the Last Christmas chords.

“Ice cream changes” refers to a specific chord progression exemplified in songs like “Heart and Soul”, the song everyone knows how to play on the piano.

It’s also called the “doo-wop” progression or the “‘50s progression.”

Last-Christmas-Chords

To find the ice cream changes in the guitar-friendly keys of C, A, G, E, and D, pick your key. That’s the I chord, the home base chord where the song “lands.”

  • The vi chord is what you get when you count up the musical alphabet, using the chord of the key you’ve chosen as I. It’s not quite that simple, but it’s a start!
  • For example, in the key of G, G would be the I chord. Counting up the musical alphabet with G in the I position, the vi is E minor.

How do we know it’s minor?

  • This chord numbering system is standard, and it uses lower case Roman numerals for minor chords, and upper case for major chords.
  • Similar counting in the key of G makes A minor the ii chord and D the V chord, so the ice cream changes in G are G, Em, Am, D.

Last-Christmas-Chords

Last Christmas Chords: Song Structure

In the recording, the Last Christmas chords are in the key of D major.

  • According to the principle of ice cream changes, Last Christmas goes I-vi-ii-V.
  • In the key of D major, that means D major, then B minor, then E minor, then A major.
  • Each chord gets two measures – two sets of four counts – before changing to the next.

If you’re new to the guitar, congratulations! Last Christmas is a great and timely way to get yourself introduced to the ice cream changes, which you’ll be using for the rest of your musical career.

Let’s look at these four chords to get you up and running.

Last Christmas Chords in D Major

First, D major. If you are an absolute beginner guitarist, there’s a mini-version of D that you can use beautifully in this song. It’s technically a Dsus2, but you can call it D. It looks like this:

Dsus2 (xx0230)

The full version of the D major chord isn’t much more difficult:

D (xx0232)

You can use either one of these chords interchangeably whenever a D is called for, at the top of the chord cycle.

As a matter of fact, the melody you sing over the D chord begins on the open E string, so the Dsus2 is a perfect fit for this song.

During these two measures of D, however you decide to play it, you’ll be spending most of your time mentally preparing to get to the next chord, because it’s a whopper.

Last-Christmas-Chords

Sorry to inform you, but the B minor chord just isn’t the friendliest in the bunch.

It can feel like you’re moving to a completely different part of the guitar, and learning how to get in and out of the B minor takes a while.

Be patient, keep trying to hit this chord.

Meanwhile, here is the easiest version of B minor you can use.

 Bm (xxx432)

Ordinarily, we’d never say this because it’s not the optimal way to build guitar chords, but try getting your first finger on the E string second fret, and then place your other fingers in a diagonal. It’s the quickest way to get used to it.

For the brave and/or experienced, here’s a bigger version of the B minor chord.

Bm (xx4432)

Last-Christmas-Chords

Fortunately, the last two chords are pretty easy. The E minor chord uses just two fingers!

Em (022000)

The final chord is A. If you’re exhausted from trying to play the B minor chord, there’s a great beginner version of A.

This one is technically A7, but you can use it as a stepping stone to the A major chord while you’re working on the full A.

A7 (x02020)

When you’re ready, and maybe that’s now, try the full A major chord.

A (x02220)

You can either put your first, second, or third fingers all in a row, or if they don’t seem to fit, put your first finger on the D string, second finger on the B string, and third finger on the G string, making a tiny triangle.

After two measures of whichever version of A major you like, you start the whole process over again. That’s the entire song!

How-to-play-last-Christmas-on-Guitar

Pro-Tip: When you’re learning a song that has a cycling progression like the Last Christmas chords, you can try out the song by singing along while hitting the chord only once.

This helps you to sync up the chord changes with the vocals and makes it easier to add in the rhythm later.

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