Thursday, June 9, 2011

MTV and The Second British Invasion Groups: Culture Club

The 1980s were an era of colorful, quirky music qroups. Early in the decade, MTV went on the air, initiating the era of music videos, and exposing American culture to the quirky musical subculture called New Wave. New Wave dated to the late 1970s, with the emergence, in the wake of punk, of arty, quirky musical acts like the Talking Heads, Devo, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, and Blondie. But its comibation with the new media of MTV in the early '80s exposed it on a large scale to the American public, and turned it from a oddball subculture, into mainstream culture. And America ate it up.

A large number of the groups given exposure by MTV came from Britain, and thus, in 1982-83, was initiated what was called the Second British Invasion... the first being the 1964-65 invasion of British musical groups like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, Hermans Hermits, and the like. The Second British invasion of 1982-83 was similarly a cultural and musical invasion and included the likes of very popular multi-hit acts like Duran Duran, the Police, Culture Club, Eurythmics, and the Human League and lesser lights such as ska revivalist Madness, catchy celtic tinged popsters Dexys Midnight Runners, and synth virtuoso Thomas Dolby.

Culture club was one of the more memorable groups to come out of this invasion. Emerging out of the Bowie-inspired theatrical New Romantic subculture, Culture Club was an easily recgnizable presence during the early '80s, due in large part to their gender bending lead signer, Boy George.

The very first big hit for Culure Club in the U.S. was 1982's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me," which really hit big the following year. I still remember vividly watching this video, and just being amazed at this andogynous character singing this remarkably catchy tune. This was also around the time I started getting into music videos, itself still a new medium, and it was also when I really started getting into music in a big way. It was my early teens, and my sense of being an adolescent was growing strong. This new, shiny quirky catchy music just captured my imagination.

Culture Club would have many more hits in the '80s, all this catchy soulful pop punctuated by Boy George's rather rather appealing smooth voice. Among them, "Karma Chamelion," below, which is another wondeful example of the music video medium, and the optimistic catchy popishness of the New Romantic/New Wave era.


  1. 1982, when Boy George, George Michael, and Elton John were straight

  2. Culture Club still remains one of my favorite 80s bands. The first video of theirs that I saw was Karma Chameleon and I remember thinking that Boy George was scary looking. Today, of course, his appearance pales in comparison to Lady Gaga (who I love.)

  3. I was such a fan of Boy George and Culture Club. I remember being so upset when negative press came out about him :(

  4. One of the first 45s that I ever got was Do You Really Want to Hurt Me. It's funny that my Mom once actually said that's a nice song about Karma Chameleon - I think that she thought that it was a girl singing it though. I never really watched MTV in the 80's but saw videos on VH1 in the 90's.