Credited by his real name George O’Dowd, Boy George co-wrote some of his group Culture Club’s biggest hits at the height of the band’s fame in the 1980s, including “Karma Chameleon,” “Time (Clock of the Heart),” and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” and throughout their six albums, including 2018 release Life.
Videos by American Songwriter
In 2015, George received an Ivor Novello Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors for Outstanding Services to British Music for his contributions in songwriting.
Though George’s songwriting is centered around Culture Club and his own extensive solo catalog spanning 12 of his own albums—from his 1987 debut Sold and the single “Everything I Own” through Cool Karaoke, Vol. 1 in 2021—the chameleon has also written a handful of outside songs over the years, including several for the soundtrack of one “futuristic” ’80s film and more compositions for his award-winning London stage musical Taboo in the early 2000s.
Here are four songs Boy George wrote for other artists.
1. “Electric Dreams,” P.P. Arnold (1984)
Written by Boy George and Phil Pickett
P.P. Arnold (Patricia Ann Cole) was originally an Ikette with Ike & Tina Turner Revue in 1965 and found some early success with singles “The First Cut Is the Deepest” and “Angel of the Morning” by the late ’60s. Still releasing her own solo music into the 1980s, Arnold was asked to contribute the title track for the 1984 film Electric Dreams. Arnold’s “Electric Dreams” was written by George and Phil Pickett, who also co-wrote Culture Club’s 1983 mega-hit “Karma Chameleon.”
The soundtrack also features two songs written and performed by Jeff Lynne as well as three by Italian composer Giorgio Moroder, including the synthesized dreamy hit “Together in Electric Dreams,” co-written and performed by Phil Oakley. George also co-wrote two additional tracks on the soundtrack, “The Dream” and “Love Is Love,” which were both performed by Culture Club.
2. “Pretty Lies,” Dianne Pilkington (2002)
Written by Boy George and Kevan Frost
Boy George composed several songs for his early ’00s London musical Taboo—which he also starred in as a club regular—including “Pretty Lies” which was co-written with Kevan Frost and first performed by actress Dianne Pilkington, who played Kim.
The show followed the story of one of the most legendary clubs, Taboo, in its heyday, 1985-’87, and also centered on George’s pre-fame life. Directed by Christopher Renshaw with choreography by Les Child, the original London cast also included Luke Evans, Euan Morton, and Matt Lucas and was later turned into a Broadway production in the U.S.
3. “Stranger in This World,” Eaun Morton (2002)
Written by Boy George, Richie Stephens, and John Themis
Scottish actor Euan Morton first recorded “Stranger in This World” for Taboo, and in 2004, he received a Tony nomination for his performance as Boy George in the musical.
I’m turning my back on this life for as long as I can
Someone make me star ’cause I sure as hell can’t be a man
I’m too fragile and clever you know
And this universe just leaves me cold
I’m just hanging around here, I’m longing for someone to hold
You always knew didn’t you Mother
You always knew as mothers always do
You always knew didn’t you Mother
I was a stranger in this world
4. “Petrified,” Paul Baker (2002)
Written by Boy George, John Themis, and Richie Stevens
British actor Paul Baker won the Oliver Award for his role in Taboo and recorded the Boy-George-penned “Petrified” for the show. Boy George has also performed the song live.
When you′re alone, at night, do you run and hide?
Are you strong, inside, are you full of pride?
Or just petrified Hate the way you look at me
But I can see the terror in your eyes Your eyes
You pull the trigger Your smile is sweet
But I don’t care if we never meet That’s fine It′s all right
Photo by Erika Goldring/FilmMagic