Written By: Mandi Lauren Nowitz
It was the early eighties and a very pretty “person” showed up on the music channels. No one was quite sure the gender but soon, the mystery was solved and Boy George became an icon, not just for his colorful clothing, fedoras and perfectly drawn make-up but for his incredible music. Boy George (born George O’Dowd) went on to dominate MTV/radio with his four-piece band Culture Club, a name that evolved from the diversity within the band (androgyny, religion, color, etc). Their debut album titled “Kissing to Be Clever,” was released in 1982 and was a line from their smash-hit single “Karma Chameleon” off of their second album, “Colour By Numbers.” “Karma Chameleon” is by far the most recognizable CC song as it hit number one in both the US and their native UK.
Though their music was aimed to be poppy and fun, there was deep heartache behind several of their songs written by George as he used music to document his affair with “straight” drummer, Jon Moss. This came to light on VH1’s “Behind the Music” and in George’s 1995 memoir entitled “Take It Like A Man” as he never really admitted that he was gay, dodging the question or giving colorful answers. It was via the documentary and book that the truth came out; many of the band’s hits were solely about the tumultuous affair with Moss as the drummer was seemingly exclusive to women. The band broke up in 1986 but left us with timeless hits, some that have gone to the “B-side,” so to speak. Along with that, George has had a somewhat successful solo career and is extremely relevant in the reality TV world as he is a friend on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and contestant on the new season of “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
Being a lifer aka a lifelong Boy George and Culture Club fan, there was an arsenal of songs to choose from but here are the top 5 songs, both as a band and solo, in this music lovers opinion. Hopefully, you will find a hidden gem that you otherwise skipped or a newfound love for an amazing representation of how to turn inner pain and sexuality struggles into sheer gold!
5) Move Away (From Luxury to Heartache-1986): “I never wanted to be a hero. I never wanted to be a man. I hurt you darling. I made you cry. I hurt you darling. Don’t ask me why.” This pretty much sums up Boy George’s love issues and is pretty relatable to all that are going through personal struggles. It should have been an anthem but it never got the love that some of the other songs got.
4) The Crying Game (The Crying Game Soundtrack-1992): this was one of Boy George’s most brilliant and poignant solo attempts and reached #15 in the US and the power is in the lyrics- “One day soon I’m gonna tell the moon about the crying game. And if he knows maybe he’ll explain. Why there are heartaches, why there are tears. And what to do to stop feeling blue. When love disappears.” WOW.
3) Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? (Kissing to Be Clever-1982): If this song was not included, I feel like I would be shamed in the Church of the Poison Mind (Colour By Numbers, 1983). It is amazing and powerful but whenever I hear it, I cannot help but think of the late Alexis Arquette covering it in “The Wedding Singer.”
2) Miss Me Blind (Colour By Numbers-1983): I LOVE THIS SONG! I LIVE FOR IT! Peaking at #5 in the US, this is one of the best songs Culture Club ever released and should have reached #1 status. Watch the video and fall in love for yourself.
1) Karma Chameleon (Colour By Numbers-1983): As if there was any question. “Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dreams: red, gold and green.”
There you have it; a ranking of the best CC and BG songs. The music is timeless and George is still out there, doing his thing for the LGBTQ community so if you get the chance, go see him. Go see him now. Drop what you are doing and go see him!