Freddie Mercury or Boy George: Who is the fairest of them all?

Two Divas: Freddie Mercury and Boy George. Two videos and the question: who is the fairest of them all?

For the final one on one of the year, I chose two videos that made an impact on me when I was a child. Both videos were topping the charts in 1984 (I was 7 years old) and they are among the first music videos I remember. I adore both groups and songs and especially both front men so I thought it would be nice to end the year deconstructing them.

“I WANT TO BREAK FREE” – QUEEN

The song is my favorite song by the group (although Under Pressure comes really close) but the lyrics “I want to break free from your lies you´re so self satisfied I don´t need you” are just extraordinary. Officially I want to tell all of you that I hope next year I get to go to a Halloween party because I am SOOOO dressing up like Freddie! Anyway, this blog has helped me discover two things about myself: 1. I really notice what people wear and 2. I need to stop watching “Fashion Police”.  You would think since I am into music I would like to write about something related to it, but no people, all I want to talk about is fashion!

This is an image of the 4 members in the video

I want to break free - Queen

  • John Deacon: Contrary to popular belief that the song was written by Freddy Mercury as a yearning to come out of the closet, the song was actually written by John Deacon (the bassist of the  group). He was the youngest member of the band and also the last one to join. Often described as the “quiet” one, the song is clearly a cry for independence. In the video he is wearing dressed in a black cloak, gloves, grey wig and a hat.
  • Bryan May: Great guitarist. He is wearing pink shirt, socks and bunny slippers. The extra touch is given by the hair rollers.
  • Roger Taylor: The “schoolgirl”: blonde wig, white blouse, grey miniskirt, colored tie and a straw hat behind his back.
  • Freddie Mercury: He wears a black wig, pink earrings, pink blouse with a sizable false breast under it, black leather miniskirt, knee-high and high heels. He was supposed to be Bet Lynch (therefore a blonde) but he decided on a dark haired wig. That is knowing your complexion! I think Freddy´s mustache (and earrings) need a close up:

Freddy- I want...

For the second part of the video, Freddie shaved his iconic mustache to portray “Nijinsky” as a faun in “Afternoon of a Faun”. He looks fantastic! 

Freddy Free

The video is a parody of the British Soap opera ” Coronation Street”. The show aired on Dec 9th 1960 and on  September 17th it became the world´s longest running TV soap opera. The video was directed by one of the most important musical videos directors of the eighties, David Mallet. Queen wanted to show their fun side and at the same time support the women´s liberation movement. The second part of the video (which takes place in a “coal mine”  was choreographed by Wayne Eagling. Eagling was a friend or Mercury´s and held previously collaborated in  the “Bohemian Rhapsody” video. Wayne, who was at the time leader of the Royal Ballet used the dancers and choreographed the whole thing without his superiors knowing about it (which got him in trouble when this was discovered). 

CULTURE CLUB – KARMA CHAMELEON

The video is lucky to be in a “One on one” with Queen´s, but as I mentioned at the beginning, they were both on heavy rotation in 1984 and I also remember my parents trying to explain to me that the lead singer was a man and I didn’t not understand why he was dressed as a woman, so in my mind, these two videos go together. The video is set in Mississippi in 1870 and it involves a jewel thief that also intends to con a group of confederate soldiers in a poker game and who is made to walk the plank into the river (the boat they are navigating the river in is called “The Chameleon”.

  •  Boy George: Back then I use think Boy George was gorgeous. Now I think he is creepy ( http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/jan/16/boy-george-sentenced-handcuffing-male-escort). That doesn’t mean that I don´t think he is great. I still love his voice and I think “Time” and “Miss Me Blind” are fabulous and his interpretation of “The Crying Game” is unique and shows his talent. In the video George is wearing pink lipstick, yellow and blue eye shadow, a hat, decorated braids, and a tie with tassels. I think he is a man who knows how to sell a contradiction.

Boy George

  • The extras: The music video was directed by Peter Sinclair. Set in Mississippi in 1870, we see soldiers (even though the war American Civil war ended in 1865) and we see black and white people going on a boat ride together (I only wish would have been like that).   We see the soldiers and the women wearing red, gold and green.

soldiers karma ch

 Karma Chameleon is a hit song by Culture Club. The single spent 3 weeks on Billboard´s 100 No.1 in early 1984. It was a huge success worldwide. Culture Club´s Culture Club lead singer Boy George said “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.”

Betweeen Queen´s four members and Boy George and the extras (sorry, I didn’t even notice the rest of Culture Club), I think the one that looks best is Freddie. Freddiey, who besides being one of the greatest voices that ever lived, was a visionary, a free spirit, a cat lover and basically talent embodied… Freddie who died on my birthday and who I always listen to that day. Freddie: you are and will always be the fairest of them all.

 

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7 thoughts on “Freddie Mercury or Boy George: Who is the fairest of them all?

    1. jajajaja querida!!!!!!!!!!
      Si, es que salía divina no???
      En serio yo chiquita no entendía si era hombre o mujer! jajaja…
      GRACIAS por el comment!!!!

  1. So, this connects us in so many levels, I was 7 in 84 just like you, and I also didnt understand why this dude looked like a girl, or why people was telling me that girl was actually a dude, anyway, I never figured it out until I was older. To be honest by that year I haven’t heard bout Queen (what a shame),

    And I also felt at some point I needed to stop watching Fashion Police, or Runway Project, ha! Anyway, happy new year!

    1. jajajajaja
      Yes!!!!!!!
      I didn’t know who Queen was either! but I was 7…:)
      Yes, we have a lot in common! Thanks for your comment!

  2. Fan of Boy George ,culture club ,queen and Freddie Mercury .However , Freddie Mercury was a beast .
    HISTORY POINT OF VIEW:
    During 1980 – 1981 ,FM was considered the best rock vocalist .The game album was a hit all over the world (also in US).’Greatest Hits 1′ album was released , and ,at that time,it was considered the most selled album in the world (and it stills by far in UK nowadays ) .Some singles stayed during several weeks number 1 in all over the world (and US) ,.Another one bites the dust won a grammy hawards .Queen toured South America , with audience record estimated to 250000.And queen was a 70s queen rock band with a very big number of hits like We are the Champions, Don’t stop me now, Killer Queen,Bohemian rhapsody, We will rock you ,Somebody to love,Fat bottomed girls, tie your mother down , and with several albums hits.So it was a twisted situation , in 99% of cases, a singer or a band reaches is top at the begining and decays after …
    But , sinze 1982 it was the New weave era , and few were the rock bands who had a single or album in the top 100.in that year , Queen released “Hot Space” a disco rock thing.Excepting that the Hot space tour was a huge succes, this album was considered a flop .Add plus that that Freddie was “cultivating” his castro-clone gay style (short hair , mustache , leather) who deteriorates his image a lot .However according to Michael Jackson, Album Thriller was insipired by Hot Space.
    In 1983 Queen decided to take a break , Culture Club was famous at that time with 2 huge albums hits released (kissing to be clever and colour by numbers).with some catchy and beautiful songs as “karma chameleon”, “do you really wan’t to hurt me “…During 1982 and 1983 Culture Club was famous all over the world receiving many notorius awards .
    Sadly, sinze late 1984 , except the fact that Boy George stills famous in the PRESS context , Culture Club starting decaying with an album who was considered a dissapointment, not really a flop (personally i think that as hot Space , its a jewel ):Waking Up with the House on Fire
    Add the fact that Boy George was on a very bad mood (breaking up with his John Moss, the drummer of Culture Club, so thats influenced directly on the band + drugs ).
    During that 1984, Queen released The Works Album who was a hit in all over the world, except US.From the other hand , they released also some singles who reached number 1 in all over the world (except US) :”I want to Break Free” and “Radio Gaga” .I want to break Free was banned from MTV and US stations , considering the videoclip as a potential corruption way of the US youth .From the other hand, at that time it was the pop era , and having Queen on the charts it was like a miracle for the rock world , despite the fact that the press, the musical critics were caricaturing Queend and Freddie Mercury (gay prat , drug addict , bad image etc).That same year , due to the Sun city case , Queen was banned from rock events,musical collaborations ( FM didn’t participate to the hit single “do they know its Christmas?”On the other hand Boy George sung a part of this song ).
    In 1985 it was Live Aid , Boy George didn’t participate to the event , and at the begining , Queen decided to not participate until “the last minute”.(so the 72000 crowd who bought tickets, didn’t know that Queen would participate ).During Live Aid Queen “stole the show ” and specially , FM rocked the world with improvisations , dances , interaction with public ,nailing songs … Its considered the best rock performance of the history .
    During 1986 , Boy George was on drug truble , the press was saying that due to his heroine addiction , he has only weeks to live, Culture Club splitted , Boy George performed live under drugs booowed by the fans …
    In that year, Queen released “A kind of Magic”album(many songs used on the highlander movie) who was a very huge hit all around the world(except US) with hit singles as a One vision, it’s a kind of Magic , who wants to live forever .On the other Queen did her last Tour , The Magic Tour , where the majority of the concerts where did on big stadiums .
    1987:Boy George starts recovering from his drug addiction and he stills famous and recognised all over the world . George pursued a solo career, having several European hits and a couple of US Top 40 hits, though .Same year Freddie Mercury released an album with the soprano Monserrat Caballe, the song Barcelona was hit and was choosen as the anthem for the olympic Games of 1992.
    In 1989 Queen released the Miracle Album (that time without touring due to Freddie Mercury aids conditon).Despite that fact , the album was a hit(also in the US rock mainstream) with several singles hit as Invisible Man , Breakthru , I want it all,Scandal .Same year Culture club reformed and made a number of songs who were not released .Due to the diferences between members, the band splitted again.
    In 1991 , Few months before FM death , Queen released “innuendo”.The album was a hit in all over the world (restoring her reputation in US).Several singles were n1 that year as the show must go on, innuendo , headlong(in US), hitman(US mainstream rock),These are the days of our lives .
    During early 90s(92-) Boy George returned completely to the charts , this time without Culture Club and in the Disco scene with many fucking catchy disco songs hits .In 1993 A remixed version of FM song “living on my own” in the disco way reached number 1 in several countries .

    Conclusion :We cannot denny the impact of Culture Club in the Music history .In opposition to the majority of New weave groups who dissapeared after the 90s , Boy George stills well known and present on the musical vocabulary.However Queen and Freddie Mercury was far better on that way than Culture Club .Culture Club was reaching the top from 1982 to 1986 and Queen was doing it from 1974 to 1991 until to FM death , resisting to all musical periods : Punk rock , who killed all the glam rock bands , disco (late 70s),new weave , and pop and having numbers 1 during that period and also after FM death.
    In therms of vocals: the Boy george of the 80’s had a distingtive voice , a truly warm colourfull rich voice of a baritone variying in he 3th octave .In the 90’s we have a very beautiful light voice who fits so perfectly with the disco music .Nowadays , he developed a soul-jazz , deep , mature voice who i enjoy listening a lot (last songs released).
    However , i couldn’t describe FM voice because it will be a sacrilege. I will only use what opera divas , musical analizers , and singer said about it .

    Although Mercury’s speaking voice naturally fell in the baritone range, he delivered most songs in the tenor range.[31] His known vocal range extended from bass low F (F2) to soprano high F (F6).[32] He could belt up to tenor high F (F5).[32] Biographer David Bret described his voice as “escalating within a few bars from a deep, throaty rock-growl to tender, vibrant tenor, then on to a high-pitched, perfect coloratura, pure and crystalline in the upper reaches.”[33] Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé, with whom Mercury recorded an album, expressed her opinion that “the difference between Freddie and almost all the other rock stars was that he was selling the voice”.[34] She adds,

    His technique was astonishing. No problem of tempo, he sang with an incisive sense of rhythm, his vocal placement was very good and he was able to glide effortlessly from a register to another. He also had a great musicality. His phrasing was subtle, delicate and sweet or energetic and slamming. He was able to find the right colouring or expressive nuance for each word.[32]

    The Who lead singer Roger Daltrey called Mercury “the best virtuoso rock ‘n’ roll singer of all time. He could sing anything in any style. He could change his style from line to line and, God, that’s an art. And he was brilliant at it.”[35] A research team undertook a study in 2016 to understand the appeal behind Mercury’s voice.[36] Led by Professor Christian Herbst, the team noted his notably faster vibrato and use of subharmonics, particularly in comparison to opera singers. The research team studied vocal samples from 23 commercially available Queen recordings, his solo work, and a series of interviews of the late artist. They also used an endoscopic video camera to study a rock singer brought in to imitate Mercury’s singing voice.[37][38]”
    He was choosen has best vocalist of all time several times
    IN THERMS OF SONG WRITING :

    Boy George was and still be a good songwritter however FM was on other lvl.
    Mercury wrote 10 of the 17 songs on Queen’s Greatest Hits album: “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Seven Seas of Rhye”, “Killer Queen”, “Somebody to Love”, “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy”, “We Are the Champions”, “Bicycle Race”, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Play the Game”.[39]

    The most notable aspect of his songwriting involved the wide range of genres that he used, which included, among other styles, rockabilly, progressive rock, heavy metal, gospel ,Opera and disco. As he explained in a 1986 interview, “I hate doing the same thing again and again and again. I like to see what’s happening now in music, film and theatre and incorporate all of those things.”Compared to many popular songwriters, Mercury also tended to write musically complex material. For example, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is acyclic in structure and comprises dozens of chords. He also wrote six songs from Queen II which deal with multiple key changes and complex material. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, on the other hand, contains only a few chords. Despite the fact that Mercury often wrote very intricate harmonies, he also claimed that he could barely read music. He wrote most of his songs on the piano and used a wide variety of different key signatures.
    IN THERMS OF SHOWMANSHIP:
    Mercury was noted for his live performances, which were often delivered to stadium audiences around the world. He displayed a highly theatrical style that often evoked a great deal of participation from the crowd. A writer for The Spectator described him as “a performer out to tease, shock and ultimately charm his audience with various extravagant versions of himself.”[44] David Bowie, who performed at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and recorded the song “Under Pressure” with Queen, praised Mercury’s performance style, saying: “Of all the more theatrical rock performers, Freddie took it further than the rest… he took it over the edge. And of course, I always admired a man who wears tights. I only saw him in concert once and as they say, he was definitely a man who could hold an audience in the palm of his hand.”[45] Queen guitarist Brian May wrote that Mercury could make “the last person at the back of the furthest stand in a stadium feel that he was connected”.[46]

    One of Mercury’s most notable performances with Queen took place at Live Aid in 1985. Queen’s performance at the event has since been voted by a group of music executives as the greatest live performance in the history of rock music. The results were aired on a television program called “The World’s Greatest Gigs”.[47][48] Mercury’s powerful, sustained note during the a cappella section came to be known as “The Note Heard Round the World”.[49] In reviewing Live Aid in 2005, one critic wrote, “Those who compile lists of Great Rock Frontmen and award the top spots to Mick Jagger, Robert Plant, etc all are guilty of a terrible oversight. Freddie, as evidenced by his Dionysian Live Aid performance, was easily the most godlike of them all.”[50]

    Over the course of his career, Mercury performed an estimated 700 concerts in countries around the world with Queen. A notable aspect of Queen concerts was the large scale involved.[40] He once explained, “We’re the Cecil B. DeMille of rock and roll, always wanting to do things bigger and better.”[40] The band was the first ever to play in South American stadiums, breaking worldwide records for concert attendance in the Morumbi Stadium in São Paulo in 1981.[51] In 1986, Queen also played behind the Iron Curtain when they performed to a crowd of 80,000 in Budapest, in what was one of the biggest rock concerts ever held in Eastern Europe.[52] Mercury’s final live performance with Queen took place on 9 August 1986 at Knebworth Park in England and drew an attendance estimated as high as 160,000.[53] With the British national anthem “God Save the Queen” playing at the end of the concert, Mercury’s final act on stage saw him draped in a robe, holding a golden crown aloft, bidding farewell to the crowd.
    Boy george has a stage presence , but due to the early split of the band and the few appeareances ,he didn’t developed his showmanship at the top . Im sure that he could have been a good showmanship.
    MUSICIANSHIP
    The two are excellent musicians.However FM had more ressources due to his hability of playing piano .He had that 70s thing , when singers must play an musical instrument .
    EXTRAVAGANZA :
    Boy George revolutionned the fashion in the 80s , he was a truly model for the youth .
    Freddie Mercury was not fashionable but he was in another lvl .
    LEGACY
    Cutlture club is knowing a remergency , (new Album in 2014 i think ) Recents Tours …
    Queen /Freddie Mercury are in the sub concient of the musical culture of people .
    For me ,Freddie Mercury is the best in all the points of views
    That doesn’t mean that Boy George is bad or crap or a fashion thing .In fact in 1984 FM defends Boy George against a periodist who was saying that boy george comes and go repliying that :Boy George will still here for a long while .You can know if someone will still or not , and Boy George will still.
    In fact BG still touring and rocking it and im glad that i could continue to go to his concerts !

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