Saturday, September 24, 1983

Culture Club “Karma Chameleon” hit #1 in the UK

Karma Chameleon

Culture Club

Writer(s): George O'Dowd, Jon Moss, Roy Hay, Mikey Craig, Phil Pickett (see lyrics here)


First Charted: September 17, 1983


Peak: 13 US, 13 CB, 13 RR, 3 AC, 67 RB, 1 CO, 16 UK, 13 CN, 15 AU, 9 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.62 UK, 5.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 644.41 video, 366.73 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Culture Club broke through in 1982 with “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?,” “a sweetly sensitive lite-reggae bounce that became a global smash.” SG While they “came from London’s punk and new wave scenes,” SG they “didn’t sound like other new wave groups.” SG They sounded more like Lionel Richie than Human League. SG “They made tender crushed-velvet white soul” SG “occasionally sprinkled with soft reggae or post-disco dance-pop accents. Boy George sang as much like Smokey Robinson as he could…shooting for that same soft precision and that same sense of strength through vulnerability.” SG

Teens throughout the UK “were emulating George’s outrageous and oft-changing style which usually involved long white gowns and mult-colored plaits.” KL However, “Culture Club weren’t simply a novelty; they were a pop juggernaut.” SG “Their ability to dominate in a time of rampant homophobia is pretty amazing, and it speaks to Boy George’s singular charisma.” SG He was “a purring androgyne flirt who used the brand-new vehicle of MTV to present a persona that was defiant in its femininity.” SG

He was born George Alan O’Dowd “into a working-class Irish Catholic family in Kent…George’s father was abusive, and he also had to deal with growing up gay in a profoundly unfriendly environment. But he found escape in the New Romantic world of the early ’80s, dancing at clubs like London’s Blitz.” SG It was there when “former Sex Pistols svengali Malcolm McLaren saw George and invited him to sing with Bow Wow Wow, the band McLaren was managing at the time.” SG George didn’t stay long, opting instead to start his own band. He enlisted the band’s bassist, Mikey Craig, and they also recruited guitarist and former hairdresser Roy Hay along with drummer Jon Moss, who’d worked with the Stranglers, the Damned, and Adam & the Ants.

“Karma Chameleon” was the lead single from the group’s sophomore album, Colour by Numbers. It was the group’s fifth consecutive top-10 in the United States. It became the biggest selling single of 1983 in the UK FB and the first single by a group to sell a million copies in Canada. KL George said the song is about “the fear of standing up for one thing. It’s about trying to suck up to everybody…If you aren’t true, if you don’t act like you feel, then you get karma.” FB “Like a lot of Culture Club songs, [it] is a disguised lament about the tempestuous relationship between Boy George and his bandmate Jon Moss” SG at a time when George was still in the closet and keeping the relationship a secret.


Resources:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Culture Club
  • FB Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 583.
  • KL Jon Kutner/Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Pages 293-4.
  • SG Stereogum (8/7/2020). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia


Related Links:


First posted 11/13/2022.

Thursday, September 22, 1983

Pat Benatar Live from Earth

First posted 9/20/2020.

Live from Earth

Pat Benatar


Released: September 22, 1983


Peak: 13 US, 60 UK, 25 CN, 2 AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.1 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Fire and Ice (live) (Tom Kelly, Scott St. Clair Sheets, Benatar) [3:46] (7/6/81, 17 US, 2 AR, 4 CN, 30 AU)
  2. Looking for a Stranger (live) (Franne Golde, Peter McIan) [3:28] (4/23/83, 39 US, 4 AR)
  3. I Want Out (live) (Neil Giraldo, Billy Steinberg) [4:05]
  4. We Live for Love (live) (Giraldo) [3:39] (2/25/80, 27 US, 8 CN, 28 AU)
  5. Hell Is for Children (live) (Giraldo, Benatar, Roger Capps) [6:06]
  6. Hit Me with Your Best Shot (live) (Eddie Schwartz) [3:07] (9/15/80, 9 US, 10 CN, 33 AU, gold single)
  7. Promises in the Dark (live) (Giraldo, Benatar) [5:14] (9/25/81, 38 US, 16 AR, 31 CN)
  8. Heartbreaker (live) (Geoff Gill, Clint Wade) [4:21] (10/26/79, 23 US, 16 CN, 95 AU)
  9. Love Is a Battlefield (studio recording) (Mike Chapman, Holly Knight) [5:23] (9/13/83, 5 US, 1 AR, 17 UK, 2 CN, 6 AU)
  10. Lipstick Lies (studio recording) (Giraldo, Myron Grombacher) [3:51]

Chart data is for original studio recordings.


Total Running Time: 43:02

Rating:

3.323 out of 5.00 (average of 4 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

This was Benatar’s first live album after four studio albums. It was her fifth consecutive platinum-seller, but didn’t attain the same chart heights as the previous three albums, which had all reached the top 5.

The album featured live versions of six of the nine songs she’d taken to the top 40 in the last six years. That meant most of her big hits, such as Heartbreaker, Hit Me with Your Best Shot, and Fire and Ice are present, but there are a few obvious omissions. Top-20 hit “Treat Me Right” from 1980’s Crimes of Passion is absent, but fan-favorite Hell Is for Children from that album is here.

Looking for a Stranger, first on Get Nervous, was her most recent top-40 hit prior to this collection. However, she neglected to include that album’s other two top-20 hits “Shadows of the Night” and “Little Too Late,” opting instead for the album cut I Want Out.

The album is rounded out by two new studio recordings. Love Is a Battlefield became Benatar’s biggest hit, reaching #5 on the pop charts and #1 on the album rock chart. The video depicted her as a girl on the streets who ends nonsensically dancing with her new street fans a la Michael Jackson’s zombie party in “Thriller.” It was pretty silly, but it was a popular video at the time.

Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, September 17, 1983

Genesis “Mama” charted

Mama

Genesis

Writer(s): Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford (see lyrics here)


Released: August 22, 1983


First Charted: September 17, 1983


Peak: 73 US, 60 CB, 5 AR, 4 UK, 43 CN, 45 AU, 7 DF (Click for codes to charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.25 UK, 0.75 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 17.9 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The evolution of the band Genesis is one of rock history’s most intriguing stories. They formed as a progressive-rock group in 1967 with singer Peter Gabriel at the forefront. They reached a commercial and artistic peak with 1974’s The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, a cornerstone of progressive rock which reached the top 10 in the UK and achieved gold status in the U.S. Then Gabriel left. Instead of recruiting a new lead singer, the band promoted drummer Phil Collins into the role.

In 1978, they entered new territory with And Then There Were Three, their first platinum album in the U.S. It gave the band their first top-40 hit with “Follow You Follow Me.” The next two albums, Duke (#11, 1980) and Abacab (#7, 1981), gave the band the core of its classic-rock staples with “Turn It on Again,” “Misunderstanding,” “Abacab,” “No Reply at All,” and “Man on the Corner.” The latter album was the group’s first of four consecutive top-ten, multi-platinum albums.

The group’s self-titled 1983 album gave Genesis yet another first when “That’s All” became their first top-10 hit. There would be more to come – 1986’s Invisible Touch churned out five top-5 hits. However, the Genesis album found the group in an interesting middle ground. They now had one foot in the pop world with “That’s All” but they also maintained their presence in album rock with seven songs reaching that chart, including three top-10s.

The first of these was “Mama,” the album’s lead single. The song only reached #73 in the United States, but in the UK its #4 peak made it the most successful song in the band’s career. The song was marked by its “harsh drum machine introduction composed by Mike Rutherford, which leads into minimalist synthesizer lines in a minor tonality and finally Phil Collins’ reverb-laden voice.” WK

Some interpreted that song as being about abortion, with the narrator being the voice of a fetus pleading with the pregnant woman not to abort. SF However, Collins based the song on David Niven’s book The Moon’s a Balloon in which a young man falls for a prostitute who is not interested in him. In the song, Collins gives the man an Oedipal complex, meaning he is fixated on referring to the sex worker as “Mama.” SF


Resources:


Related Links:


First posted 12/29/2022.

Saturday, September 3, 1983

Eurythmics hit #1 with “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This”

Sweet Dreams Are Made of This

Eurythmics

Writer(s): Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart (see lyrics here)


Released: January 21, 1983


First Charted: February 12, 1983


Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 3 RR, 36 AC, 16 AR, 1 CO, 2 UK, 12 CN, 6 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.0 UK, 3.14 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 570.6 video, 958.78 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were in the British pop group the Tourists in the latter half of the ‘70s, reaching #4 in the UK with a cover of “I Only Want to Be with You.” After two albums the group dissolved – as did the romantic relationship between Lennox and Stewart. A new working partnership was established, however, when the pair decided to continue working together as the Eurythmics.

The new wave duo released an album in 1981 that went nowhere. After Stewart experienced a collapsed lung and Lennox had a nervous breakdown, FB she doubted if their dreams would ever happen. That pessimism, balanced with Stewart’s messages to “hold your head up, movin’ on,” fueled the lyrics for “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This.” WK She thinks the song has become a mantra that’s an overview of human existence and open to interpretation: “whatever it is that makes you tick, that is what it is.” SF

The “wondrous oddity of this decidedly minimalist, downright skeletal pop song” AMG is that it simultaneously “sounds both warmly inviting and off-puttingly chilly.” AMG The song reflects the duo’s growing interest in synthesizers. Stewart produced the song’s beat and riff on one and Lennox started playing on another to create the dueling synths at the beginning of the song. WK

The record company wasn’t sold on the song because it had no chorus and released three singles in the UK from the Sweet Dreams Are Made of This album before finally taking a shot with the title cut. That might not have happened if the song hadn’t generated a strong response in Cleveland when a radio DJ played it. WK It was released in January 1983 in the UK and reached #2 two months later. In the U.S., it wasn’t released until May and hit #1 in September.

Another part of the song’s success was due to its video, which is “widely considered a classic clip from the early-MTV era.” WK The video paired surreal imagery such as Stewart playing keyboards next to a cow in a field with Lennox’s androgynous look marked by “striking cheekbones and ice-blue eyes emphasized by her close-cropped traffic-cone orange hair and tailored black suit.” AMG “Sweet Dreams” arguably became the duo’s signature song. WK


Resources:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Eurythmics
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Stewart Mason
  • FB Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 575.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia


First posted 2/1/2021; last updated 11/6/2022.