Culture Club – Victims
In November 1983, the fame of Culture Club was probably at its highest level: the success of their album Colour by Numbers was unstoppable, supported by songs like Church of the Poison Mind and of course Karma Chameleon. Boy George was one of the icons of the moment, not only for his unmistakable style, but also obviously for the interpretations he was able to give to the Culture Club songs. Well, we hadn’t seen anything yet. In fact, on November 28th, Victims was released, destined to become forever one of the most beautiful and intense songs in the history of the group.
The song, one of the classic 80’s party slow songs, is absolutely autobiographical. We didn’t know it then, but Boy George was in the middle of his relationship with Jon Moss, an intense but definitely turbulent relationship. Although the two had decided to keep the relationship hidden, it became the inspiration for many Culture Club songs. It had already happened at the time of the previous album, Kissing to Be Clever, in which the beautiful Do You Really Want to Hurt Me was inspired by Jon Moss. It also happened in Karma Chameleon, where Boy George asked Jon to be his lover and not his rival. This whole song is inspired by this relationship that, with highs and many lows, went on for years until 1986, and is probably the sweetest and most intimate hit of the entire career of Culture Club.
The video is very particular, and was directed by the legendary Godley and Creme, producers, directors and then also interpreters throughout the 80s. Up to that moment, they had directed very important videos for the 80s, such as Girls on Film by Duran Duran, Asia’s Heat of the Moment, Visage’s unforgettable Fade to Grey, and Every Breath You Take by The Police. In this video Boy George takes us through a series of doors that lead to ever-changing environments characterized by colors and people, a setting that reminds me of video game stages: when you finished a level, you moved on to the next one, maybe similar in operation, but perhaps completely different in colors and characters.
From door to door we arrive at the final setting, complete with an entire orchestra and a choir of angels. An unforgettable video, however, which required over twelve hours of filming. After all, it had taken three days just to put together the set! The video also features Helen Terry, who a sort of Culture Club’s female voice, even if she wasn’t explicitly part of the group, a bit like Robin Clark for Simple Minds. In fact, Helen Terry had acted as backup singer in Church of the Poison Mind and many other songs of the Culture Club.
As we said, Victims quickly became one of the unforgettable songs for Culture Club. Hard to believe that the producers were not completely convinced of the song: they thought it was a bit sad, and for this reason they had decided to release it as a single only in the UK , Ireland, Germany and Australia, and had commented that they found it too depressing to be launched in the United States.
However, history decided otherwise, and after all when there is great music and great performers like Boy George and Culture Club, nothing can stop the success of a beautiful song!
Culture Club on Wikipedia