Karma Chameleon (4:06)

Cover of The Best Of Culture Club

From The Best Of Culture Club and 301 other releases

“Karma Chameleon” is a song from British band Culture Club. The song spent three weeks at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1984 (see 1984 in music), becoming the group’s biggest hit and only US number one. The song hit number one in sixteen countries worldwide. In their home country, the single became Culture Club’s second song to top the UK singles chart, staying there for six weeks in September and October 1983 and becoming the biggest selling single of 1983. The single came from their 1983 Colour by Numbers album.

The B-side of “Karma Chameleon” is “That’s the Way (I’m Only Trying to Help You)” (in an alternate and shorter version). In an interview, Boy George explained: “The song is about the terrible fear of alienation that people have, the fear of standing up for one thing. 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.”

The prominent harmonica part was played by Judd Lander, who had been a member of Merseybeat group The Hideaways in the 1960s. He had also played the harmonica part on “Church of the Poison Mind”, and would later play on the Spice Girls 1996 hit “Say You’ll Be There”.

The song was originally to be called “Cameo Chameleon”. The band were recorded in interviews in late 1983 stating this was to be the title of their next single.

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