Monday, January 11, 2021

"Live My Life" by Boy George

Song#:  3372
Date:  12/26/1987
Debut:  80
Peak:  40
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Following Culture Club's 1986 album From Luxury to Heartache, the band basically disintegrated. Lead singer and songwriter Boy George then decided to pursue a solo career. Staying with Virgin Records, George recorded and released his debut solo album Sold in 1987. The LP performed well in his UK homeland and other territories, but failed to do much of anything in the US (#145). Much of the blame for that was placed on George unable to promote the album in the US due to travel restrictions stemming from a drug arrest in '86. Undeterred, George moved forward with his solo career, which included an opportunity to contribute a song to a film soundtrack. George would record "Life My Life," a tune written by Allee Willis and Danny Sembello, for the John Cryer comedy-drama Hiding Out. It was more or less considered the film's theme song and was therefore issued out as a single. It was able to get on the Pop chart and eventually just barely crack the Pop Top 40. The song actually did better at Dance (#14) and R&B (#21). Although the song did fairly well, it didn't do much for the soundtrack album, which stalled at a low #145. It was a minor entry, but Boy George was finally able to get a solo song on the US Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  It was such a shame that Boy George's debut album Sold got ignored in the US. It was a good LP and I think if the single "Everything I Own" (see below) had been promoted better, it could have been a hit. Then that might have helped out this single, which also should have done better. At the time, I think many folks in the US were over the whole Culture Club/Boy George phenomenon. George was more the butt of jokes rather than being taken seriously as an artist and that was a shame. While this song didn't fully get him over the hump into being accepted on radio again, it did at least make a few waves and got him in the Top 40. I think this was an underrated song. It was well-written by Willis and Sembello, the production was solid, and George sounded perfect on it. Had it been done by a more popular artist, I think the song might have had a good chance at being a hit. But since it was Boy George, I think some people, and perhaps even radio stations, wouldn't give it a shot. Ah well. At least George did finally get a US hit in '92 (see below). George's solo recordings would be spotty, but I've always like Sold, this single, his other US hit (again, see below), and his 1995 rock-oriented album Cheapness and Beauty, which like his first LP was unjustly ignored.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Boy George's first solo single from his debut disc Sold was a cover tune instead of an original. George did a reggae-styled version of "Everything I Own," originally a 1972 #5 hit by the US band Bread. George's version would go on to hit #1 in the UK while making the Top 10 in several other countries. While George's reggae approach to the song seemed a bit unusual, he wasn't the first artist to frame the tune in that manner. In 1974, Jamaican vocalist Ken Boothe covered the song for his album of the same name. His reggae arrangement on the ballad turned heads and the song went to #1 in Jamaica. It then got released in the UK and also went to #1. Boy George most likely based his version on Boothe's hit.  2) After the success of Sold, George recorded a follow-up titled Tense Nervous Headache. George was reportedly not happy with the final production and indeed the LP tanked. Since a US release was wanted, George took the opportunity to fix some of the tracks and replace others to create an updated disc titled High Hat. Released in 1989, its first single, "Don't Take My Mind on a Trip," became an unexpected hit at R&B getting to #5. It also got to #26 Dance. However, it failed to chart at Pop. The album would peak at #34 R&B/#126 Pop. George would continue to record as a solo artist and grab a significant hit (discussed next) in the US. He would also get back together with Culture Club and record with them again. 3) George's biggest US hit came in 1992 when he teamed up with Pet Shop Boys to record the title track theme to the hit movie The Crying Game. The single would do well getting to #15 Pop/#14 AC. The soundtrack album would get to #60. The song was not written for the film, but was indeed a remake of a tune originally recorded by Dave Berry in 1964. His version reached #5 in the UK. Country superstar Brenda Lee recorded a version in 1967 that got to #87 on the US Pop chart.


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