Alright, man. I know Karma Chameleon isn’t the most masculine song on my countdown.
Variety is the spice of life, my friend.
This song came out when I was 12 years old and at the time it felt like the world’s coolest nursery rhyme.
In a 2003 book titled The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Boy George explained what Karma Chameleon was actually about. “The song is about the terrible fear of alienation that people have, the fear of standing up for one thing,” he said. “It’s about trying to suck up to everybody. Basically, if you aren’t true, if you don’t act like you feel, then you get Karma-justice, that’s nature’s way of paying you back.”
At the time Boy George was having a secret relationship with the group’s drummer, Jon Moss and many of the lyrics were cryptically written for him.
I don’t care if Boy George was lusting over Madonna or Lionel Richie, what really counts is this song’s ability to turn any party up, regardless if it’s 1983 or 2017.
When I was a teenager enjoying this was sort of a guilty pleasure. Let’s face it— back in the 80’s they were a group no one claimed to like, yet everyone was buying their albums. For me that was mostly true. I wasn’t a fan of most their music, but this was definitely my favorite Culture Club song.
Back then I wouldn’t admit it. Today, I’m unapologetic about it.
Chart Success: Karma Chameleon reached number-one on the Billboard Hot 100. It also was number-one in 14 other countries. It spent 22 weeks total on the charts and finished 1984 ranked 10th on the year-end Billboard Hot 100. It was the top selling track in the UK in 1983.
Great Lyrics: Didn’t know at the time, but these were some pretty clever lyrics that conveyed what we now know is the meaning of the song.
“Every day is like survival
You’re my lover, not my rival
Every day is like survival
You’re my lover, not my rival
I’m a man without conviction
I’m a man who doesn’t know
How to sale a contradiction?
You come and go, you come and go”
Fun Facts: This was Culture Club’s lone number-one hit. They came close with singles that peaked at number-two, twice with Do You Really Want To Hurt Me & Time (Clock of my Heart). They ended up having six hits in the Top 10 (Miss Me Blind, I’ll Tumble 4 Ya and Church of the Poison Mind).
100. Hall & Oates – I Can’t Go For That (No Can D0)
99. Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgetting
97. The Police – Every Little Thing She Does Does Is Magic
96. Madonna – Papa Don’t Preach
94. Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time
93. Kenny Loggins – Danger Zone
92. Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes
89. Journey – Don’t Stop Believing
87. Debbie Gibson – Foolish Beat
86. Glen Mederios – Nothing’s Going To Change My Love For You
85. John Cougar – Jack and Diane
81. Billy Squier – Everybody Wants You
79. Shelia E. – The Glamorous Life
77. Whitney Houston – Greatest Love Of All
76. Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson – Say Say Say
75. Flock of Seagulls – I Ran (So Far Away)
74. Twisted Sister – We’re Not Gonna Take It
73. Musical Youth – Pass The Dutchie
72. The Police – Every Breathe You Take
71. Survivor – The Search Is Over
70. REO Speedwagon – Keep On Loving You
68. Bobby Brown – Don’t Be Cruel
67. Kenny Loggins – Meet Me Halfway
66. Irene Cara – Flashdance…What A Feeling
65. Tina Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It
64. Phil Collins – One More Night
63. Europe – The Final Countdown
62. Patrick Swazye – She’s Like The Wind
61. Matthew Wilder – Break My Stride
60. Men Without Hats – Safety Dance
59. Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
58. Huey Lewis & The News – Power Of Love
55. Styx – Too Much Time On My Hands
53. Olivia Newton John – Physical
49. Marvin Gaye- Sexual Healing
48. Huey Lewis & The News – Do You Believe In Love
44. New Edition – Mr. Telephone Man
43. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA
42. Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World
41. Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody
39. Bruce Springsteen -Dancing In The Dark