Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Culture Club Were So Wimpy?

Culture Club were one of those bands, like Duran Duran, that people always mentioned when they started waxing nostalgic about '80s music, but I never heard any of their songs until long after the '80s. I was reading an article in the '90s where the author said something like, "Well, if you've forgotten about the '80s, let me just say these words: "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?' " And I didn't understand what the hell he was talking about. Hey, I didn't want to hurt anybody.

Funny, then, that I still knew who Boy George was, even though I couldn't have hummed you a single one of his songs, and I knew that he was some really weird-looking guy. I did know that much. I think Boy George was trying to out-do Annie Lennox in the freak show department. Whether or not he succeeded I will leave up to you.

But in my sweeping effort to re-acquaint myself with '80s New Wave, I downloaded a Culture Club greatest hits album. What struck me most about their music was that it was kind of ... wimpy. I don't need all my music to rock, but I didn't expect their sound to be so, I don't know ... gentle. It was like this strange reggae/Philly soul/Caribbean hybrid. I'm surprised it achieved the popularity it did. I like ballads as much as the next guy, but Culture Club were like a band that could only make ballads. Culture Club are like all the weird dub tracks on Sandinista!, without any songs like "The Magnificent Seven" or "Police On My Back." Even their "uptempo" songs sound like ballads.

But the weird thing is, Culture Club were not only popular - they were kind of hip. Was it because Boy George looked like Oscar Wilde on LSD? From my end, their music, although not bland, does not seem terribly ... exciting. Culture Club is not what I would have been desperately waiting to hear my whole life.

Whatever. It was the '80s. I give up.


Herr Zrbo said...

How could you never have heard these songs before?!? Aargh! I didn't realize how much your love of 60s/70s rock blinded you to extremely well known 80s songs until now.

At this rate your next post will be something like "Have you guys heard of this Madonna chick?"

Little Earl said...

Well, while I wouldn't want to keep you from rolling around in that gelatinous vat of smug superiority, I'm quite sure you haven't heard every '80s song I've posted about either. Come on, did you really know "Love Is A Stranger" or "The Chauffer"?

The truth is, I DID hear most of the big hits of the '80s during my childhood (although, yes, not all), and if anything, I was hoping you were going to give me some credit for knowing the ones I do. But no, you preferred to cling, desperately, to the notion that while I may know more about good '60s/'70s music, you may know more about shitty '80s music. Well go ahead and cling to your crumbs.

Besides, there are shitty '80s songs I remember that you don't. Can anyone say "Alibis"?

Herr Zrbo said...

Hey, I'm just teasing, not trying to be smug, I just thought everyone (our age) knew Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? pretty well. And why describe 80s music as shitty when we're both sitting here talking about how we dig it? Who's the smug one now, Mr. Smug? (teasing!)

I had never heard The Chauffer (or seen the.. interesting video for it), though I was familiar with Love is a Stranger. Regarding Boy George, for some reason my mom has always liked him, not the music so much, just the guy. Though now that he's some sort of cocaine fueled kidnapper I'm not sure what she thinks.

Little Earl said...

Funny enough, in the category of "surprising but not really that surprising," Boy George is actually good friends with Belinda Carlisle.

Make sure to draw a distinction between '80s songs I don't remember hearing as a child (but heard later) and '80s songs I didn't actually hear until about a year ago. For example, I know I'd heard "Karma Chameleon" at some point before I actively listened to Culture Club last year, but I could not have said with confidence that I'd heard "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me." Just because I don't remember hearing it at the time doesn't mean I've "never heard it before."

Whatever my parents listened to is pretty much what I heard in the '80s. The songs I don't remember are probably songs they didn't like and they just changed the radio station. That might explain why I don't remember hearing a single Prince song.

Private Citizen said...

I know this is a very late comment but do you realize that the picture is not the Culture Club. It is Johnny Burt, Douglas Booth, Mathew Horn, and Dean Fagan. They are the cast of the film "Worried about George" in their roles as the Culture Club.