Culture Club – Karma Chameleon

First Hit #1: February 4, 1984

Boy George is one of those people that can an inspire an intense hatred for his music, but I’ve never been able to figure out why. Most of that hatred is centered around a previous hit – Do You Really Want to Hurt Me, which hit #2 – but the man and his Culture Club can inspire people to get angry for no obvious reason. Since we’re focused on the number ones, let’s look at Karma Chameleon. It’s actually pretty fun, musically, lots of nifty little harmonica bits and a great beat that admittedly does have a “kids show about a swamp” vibe to it. The lyrics are a bit less bright and cheery, but it wouldn’t work without a cheery arrangement, given that the song is about a man who is subverting his personality to please everyone. It’s not ambiguously bright, but it’s a fun little pop song and I really enjoy it whenever it pops up.

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One Response to Culture Club – Karma Chameleon

  1. RBerman says:

    The ire over “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” fanned by the movie “The Wedding Singer,” stems mainly from the fact that there’s no chorus, just a verse melody that keeps coming back around, with the song title appearing far too frequently in the lyrics. Its journey to #2 was probably fueled mainly by his daring drag look, moreso than by the calypso-inspired music of that song.

    “Karma Chamelon” has both a better arrangement (though “kids’ show chase montage soundtrack” is not a bad description) and a more interesting lyric. The title hook doesn’t make any sense, but at least it’s an interesting combination of words, neither of which appears in pop songs frequently. Culture Club is at root a Motown tribute band, with the harmonica in this song an homage to Little Stevie Wonder, but later tracks (e.g. “Time” and “Church of the Poison Mind”) would show affinity for Smokey Robinson, and most especially Diana Ross.

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