Parachute (Pants) Back to 1982: Kissing to be Clever

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I was actually looking forward to hearing Culture Club’s Kissing to be Clever after hearing Boy George’s latest, 2013’s This is What I Do. They were certainly never my favourite group, though they were never on my do-not-play list either, so the disappointment I felt when I heard the album may seem contradictory. Kissing to be Clever is disappointing because of how it stacks up against This is What I Do.  The latter could be a pretty decent Elton John album while Kissing to be Clever sounds like it’s very much of its time, 1982.

It is a dance album for the most part, fusing several influences into bright-eyed, bouncing pop. “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” still stands out as something of a wonder for the time in the same way Nena’s "99 Luftballons" is; both are pop songs that definitely reflect their era and yet remain pretty good to hear now as well. That’s not always possible with mainstream pop. That is a fault of most of the rest of the songs on Kissing to be Clever; they sound dated.

Songs like “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya,” “Mystery Boy,” and “I’m Afraid of Me” are 100% parachute pants—they don’t translate very well to 2014.  Still, there is no question that Boy George’s This is What I Do shows he is progressing and putting out work that, while it may not be as popular as the releases of his Culture Club days, has a good chance of being listened to over the coming years.


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