Wednesday, July 13, 2016

"Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  1717
Date:  12/03/1983
Debut:  52
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  Culture Club's "Church of the Poison Mind," the first single from their second LP Colour By Numbers, had just hit the Pop Top 10 when this second single debuted on the chart near the halfway point. It didn't take long for the single to get into the Top 10 and then to #1 for three weeks. The tune would crossover and hit #3 at AC and #67 at R&B. It would be the band's biggest hit and only #1. In the UK, the song would do even better spending six weeks at #1 to become the year's best selling single there. It would be a sensation worldwide and end up hitting #1 in over thirty different countries. It would be Culture Club's peak moment with the song becoming an 80s classic and their signature piece.

ReduxReview:  Looking back, I'm still amazed at how well this song did. I mean, it's a good song with a terrific warm-chorded, sing-a-long chorus, but it was certainly a surprise to me that it was so well embraced worldwide. The hugely popular video certainly helped and it put Boy George-mania in full swing. I still don't think a lot of people really understood, or even accepted, the whole Boy George thing, yet it seemed to not matter much because they loved the song. I remember people called Boy George some pretty awful names, but yet there they were in their cars singin' "Karma Chameleon." It was all very strange. In the end, Culture Club certainly left its mark in this world and left us with a handful of 80s classics like this one. I still prefer "Church of the Poison Mind," but I gotta give props to a hit that was more than just a song. It had a lot of cultural significance at the time and opened the eyes of a lot of people.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  When does a person know that they created a pop culture moment? When they are parodied, of course! That is what happened to Boy George after "Karma Chameleon" became a major hit. A couple good ol' boys of country music, Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley, took on a satirical song based around Boy George. Titled "Where's the Dress?," the singers first talk about Boy George and how they didn't understand the whole boy-dressed as girl thing, but then realize he is making tons of money. So they think about following in Boy George's footsteps in order to get famous and make money. The song would be the first single from the pair's third album together, The Good Ol Boys Alive and Well. It would end up hitting #7 on the country chart. A comical video of the song would end up winning video of the year from the American Video Association. However, the opening part of the song got them in a bit of trouble. It was basically the exact same opening as "Karma Chameleon" and the use of that song without permission didn't sit well with Boy George. He ended up suing for copyright infringement. A settlement followed.


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