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8EEZ Playlist: Culture Club

80s Trendsetting, Gender-bending Group

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Hello, hello. Pip, pip cheerio, Tea time, two lumps!

Okay, yes, I am purposely sounding British for a reason. My first 'list entry (with assist from my virtual BFF Oates) from the 80s British invasion is a four-man band from London, UK, who formed in 1981. The gimmick? A white guy, black guy, Jewish guy and...George?

Actually, real name, George O' Dowd (a Londoner himself), was known primarily as the lead singer who crossed (or rather, cross-dressed) barriers to achieve something no other artist ever did. To be the first androgynous front man for a music group. At a time still when homophobia in pop music was utterly rampant in the Reagan-era along with the AIDS pandemic tearing through the now-renamed LGBTQ community, George (moniker, Boy added) became a visible face in the community whether it was a conscious decision on his part. You could say, he paved the way for RuPaul.

But, apart from the gender-bending portion of the act, there was still the music. A deft blend of pop/R&B/new wave/romantic/reggae, etc., etc. Boy George had a voice that put him in the category of blue-eyed soul; a silky, velvety instrument that was all at once, playful, sweet, boyish and even vulnerable.

Their hit machine began in 1982 with their debut album Kissing To Be Clever with their reggae/ska classic "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" which peaked at Number 2 on the Hot 100. Hits followed with their follow-up album Colour By Numbers in 1983, which got them their first Number 1 smash in "Karma Chameleon". It stopped after 1986 when their last album From Luxury to Heartache was released, which gave them their last hit "Move Away."

Boy George would sadly fight addiction demons in public, as well as openly profess his gay sexuality, but even as a solo artist and music game changer, he still remains one of the most fascinating and loved music artists from the 1980s

And now....for the 'lists. Buddy Oates, first.

Cherry's Picks:

5. "Church Of The Poison Mind" (1983)

One of many dancy new wave songs by this group, but with a tinge of gospel as their main hook. Helps if the word church is in the title.

4. "It's a Miracle" (1984)

Closest to a disco record they recorded, despite it no longer being in vogue anymore. Best known for its kooky Monopoly music video with Boy George looking quite gorgeous on camera.

3. "Karma Chameleon" (1984)

Their signature song and only Number 1 here in the states. Melodically juicy with Boy George's vocal performance ever so joyful and child-like. Reportedly about his relationship with drummer Jon Moss.

2. "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" (1983)

Their debut single with that reggae/new wave sound and rather bizarre anachronistic music video with George dancing around an array of situations — oh, and a jury filled with people in "blackface." Hmmmm...well, it WAS the 1980s.

1. "Miss Me Blind" (1984)

Another unsanctioned disco/dance single with a snappy hook, a Nile Rodger/Chic-like vibe and...the video showing George and company having a "geisha" old time!

Cherry's Pick

My Picks:

5. "Victims" (1983)

A cut off the Colour By Numbers album that showed George's more tender side. A mellow, soul vibe that makes one wonder if it had been released as a single, would it have bolted up to the top of the charts.

4. "Time (Clock Of The Heart)" (1983)

Their other big hit after "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" which was a harmonius, disco-ey mid-tempo ballad that proved that the "Club" still had staying power. Fun, studio-based music video with plenty of "clock" motifs. Long before Coldplay tackled it themselves.

3. "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" (1983)

One of my absolute faves. A Latin-flavored new wave gem that was their shortest cut; two minutes and 37 seconds to be exact but could keep my toes tapping and me humming for hours. Oh...and gymnastics!

2. "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" (1983)

I share the sentiment with Oates, so much so, that it matches the same position as mine. Hmmm...I've always said we're psychic twins! Hehe!

Lastly...

1. "Karma Chameleon" (1984)

"Red, Gold, and Green"; George has often claimed these are his favorite colors. He uses them to great benefit in his New Orleans-themed music video in the bayou. I'm going to go with the harmonies and the harmonica that keep this song in the subconscious long after its release. A fun, folksey confection from the boy...er, Man!

Tally-ho for now. Next up, a man/woman UK duo who gave us some really sweet dreams.

My Pick

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8EEZ Playlist: Culture Club
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