Music / Culture Club

Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon,
You come and go, you come and go.
Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dream,
Red gold and green, red gold and green.
"Karma Chameleon"

Culture Club was a British New Wave band with an eclectic sound influenced by Soul, Reggae and Glam Rock.

As part of the same New Romantic fashion movement that propelled bands like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet to fame in The '80s, the group had a series of hugely successful hit singles on both sides of the Atlantic before splitting up in the middle of the decade. The band consisted of Mikey Craig on bass, Jon Moss on drums and Roy Hay on guitar and keyboards. The most famous member of the group was the androgynous, flamboyant lead singer Boy George, a charismatic front man with a distinctive soulful voice. The name comes from the multicultural backgrounds of the members, as well as the diverse influences on their musical style.

Their first album Kissing To Be Clever brought them hits in both Britain and America, including "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?", "Time (Clock Of The Heart)" and "I'll Tumble 4 Ya", and established them as one of the most popular and talked about pop groups of the early 1980s. Their peak came with their sophomore long-player Colour By Numbers, which sold four million copies in America, launched the international number-one hit "Karma Chameleon" and secured the band the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

While further successes followed, Culture Club weren't able to top what they achieved with Colour By Numbers. At the same time, tensions were running high within the band; in particular, George and Jon, (who had been involved in a clandestine romantic relationship) started to grow distant from one another and could become physically violent towards each other. By the time George was arrested for possession of heroin in the mid-1980s, the band was essentially finished. Boy George would go on to become a solo artist, with his best-known work being a cover of the song "The Crying Game" for the motion picture of the same name.

After being portrayed in a 2010 Boy George biopic on The BBC (Worried About the Boy), the band members' various health problems stymied new projects until 2016, when the four reunited for a world tour.


  • Kissing To Be Clever - 1982
  • Colour By Numbers - 1983
  • Waking Up With The House On Fire - 1984
  • From Luxury To Heartache - 1986
  • Don't Mind If I Do - 1999

Do you really want to trope me?

  • Album Title Drop: "Miss Me Blind", off Colour By Numbers, references the previous album.
    But you know I'm never really sure if you're just kissing to be clever
  • B-Side: "Mystery Boy" and "Colour By Numbers" for the band, "Use Me" for Boy George's solo work.
  • Call-Back: A slightly rephrased one in "Move Away", referencing "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me."
    I hurt you, darling; I made you cry. I hurt you, darling; don't ask me why.
  • Camp Gay: Take a wild guess.
  • Costume Porn: In the Karma Chameleon video, not necessarily period, but definitely beautiful.
  • Cover Version: "Everything I Own" by Bread on Boy George's solo album Sold, and "The Crying Game" by Dave Berry.
    • Averted with the band's version of "Hello Goodbye", as it is not a cover of The Beatles song by that name.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Time won't give me time..."
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: In the early days, some mistook Boy George for a girl. He took this misconception in good humour (a lot of the time he seemed to be playing it up to bother the rock critics, who shied away from addressing his androgynous image) and accepted a Grammy with the words:
    Thanks America. You've got style, you've got taste, and you know a good drag queen when you see one.
    • It even inspired a Country Music novelty hit, "Where's the Dress?" by Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley (which opened with a note-for-note re-creation of the intro to "Karma Chameleon").
  • Fiery Redhead: For the Waking Up With The House On Fire album (and the "War Song" video), Boy George sported a mane of frizzy bright red hair.
  • Karma Houdini: The topic of the song "Karma Chameleon" (although the chameleon gets his comeuppance in the video).
  • Kimono Fanservice: Found in the video for "Miss Me Blind".
  • Letters 2 Numbers: "I'll Tumble 4 Ya".
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Mannequin".
  • New Wave: While they're usually put under the pretty broad category of New Wave, Culture Club's albums had songs influenced by reggae, soul, glam rock, soft rock, power ballads and Motown.
  • Shirtless Scene: Mikey Craig, almost often enough to make him Mr. Fanservice.
  • The Something Song: "The War Song" from Waking Up With The House On Fire. Also "The Medal Song" from the same album.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Before Culture Club, George occasionally performed with the Malcolm McLaren group Bow Wow Wow until he was kicked out for overshadowing the lead singer.
  • Stage Names: Boy George, a.k.a. George O'Dowd.
  • Title-Only Chorus: "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" (though they replace "ya" with "you" every fourth repetition).
    • "Mistake No. 3" almost qualifies, were it not for "and make" preceding the Title Drop. Same goes for (in the) "Church of the Poison Mind".
  • Title Track: Interestingly, "Colour By Numbers" was a B-side that was never released on the album of the same name until recently on the CD remaster.
  • Visual Kei: All over the "Miss Me Blind" video.