Song: “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club
Reached #1: February 4, 1984 (their first, 3 weeks)
Pop music has had a long history of culturally (and by “culturally”, I mean “sexually”) different performers.
Let’s face it, any bobbysoxer who thought Liberace would look at her was willfully deluding herself… skip ahead to the ‘70s, where Elton John created the wardrobe that Cee Lo Green would later raid, and David Bowie showed more odd personalities than Sybil… but all of them still were accepted, nay, embraced by pop music fans.
You can’t say that about “Boy” George O’Dowd, who somehow became polarizing in the early ’80s. I think the difference was that people thought Liberace, Elton, and Bowie were playing characters – while it was obvious Boy George was no character at all.
The really strange part is that whatever controversy he might have generated didn’t hurt sales – the Colour By Numbers album spawned multiple hits, and they had a pretty good run for a few years. What did wind up derailing Culture Club was that Boy George dived deeply into recreational drugs and wrecked his career (and the band, which didn’t recover for almost 25 years and a late ‘00s reunion tour).
Wrestling promoter Eric Bischoff has said many times that “controversy creates cash”. Boy George proved him right, I suppose…
Tomorrow, we stay in the ‘80s for a far more mainstream band.
Other songs that reached #1 on February 4:
1978 – “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees (their fifth, 4 weeks)
1989 – “When I’m With You” by Sheriff (their first, 1 week)
2006 – “Check On It” by Beyoncé feat. Slim Thug (her third, 5 weeks)