Do You Really Want to Hurt Me

"Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" is a song written and recorded by the British new wave band Culture Club. Released as a single in September 1982 from the group's platinum-selling debut album Kissing to Be Clever, it was the band's first UK No. 1 hit. In the United States, the single was released in November 1982 and also became a huge hit, reaching No. 2 for three weeks.


"Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" was the third single released in Europe by Culture Club and their debut release in the United States and Canada. The song was picked up by BBC Radio 2 and became a UK No. 1 single for three weeks in October 1982. It entered the American Pop chart the week ending 4 December 1982, hit No. 1 in Cash Box magazine, and held at No. 2 for three weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in March and April 1983 (kept from the No. 1 spot by the massive success of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean"). The single achieved sales of 900,000 US copies and also hit No. 1 in Canada. It was also number one in Australia.

This was Culture Club's first success, after their first two releases, "White Boy" and "I'm Afraid of Me" charted in the UK at No. 114 and No. 100 respectively. According to Boy George, it was their last chance to get an album deal.

The song rose rapidly in the UK charts after the group's first appearance on Top of the Pops, which resulted in George's androgynous style of dress and sexual ambiguity making newspaper headlines. The group were only asked to appear on Top of the Pops the night before the show, after Shakin' Stevens pulled out.

In a retrospective review, Allmusic journalist Jose F. Promis described "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" as "a simple masterpiece, resonating with an ache that harked back to the classic torch songs of yesteryear."

In 2007, Boy George said that the song was "not just about Culture Club's drummer Jon Moss, my boyfriend at the time. It was about all the guys I dated at that time in my life."

The B-side was a dub version featuring Pappa Weasel in many countries and "You Know I'm Not Crazy" on the US release. On the 12" version of the record, the track "Love Is Cold (You Were Never No Good)" was also included.


The song was remixed by DJs Quivver and Kinky Roland in 1998 for a Culture Club compilation called Greatest Moments and the single "I Just Wanna Be Loved". It was also remixed and presented on Culture Club's 2002 box set along with the original demo version.

Re-released as a reggaeton remix in France, it was again a top 20 hit in the summer of 2005.

Music video

The video for the song, directed by Julien Temple, featured lead singer Boy George on trial in a courtroom, with flashbacks to the Gargoyle Club, Soho in 1936 and the Dolphin Square Health Club, Pimlico in 1957. The jury was in blackface making jazz hands gestures. One band member, Mikey Craig, was not in the video, and was replaced by his brother Greg.

Boy George wears a shirt with the Hebrew writing "Tarbut Agudda" (תַּרְבּוּת אֲגֻדָּה), a literal translation of the individual words "culture" and "association" in a grammatically incorrect order.

Track listings

; 7-inch A. "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" – 4:22
B. "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" (Dub Version) – 3:38
(Released at least in UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain, Sweden)
A. "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" – 4:23
B. "You Know I'm Not Crazy" – 3:35
(Released in USA, Mexico)

; 12-inch A1. "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" – 4:22
A2. "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" (Dub Version) – 3:38
B1. "Love Is Cold" (non-album track) – 4:23
(Released at least in UK, Canada (different cover), USA, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands (different cover), Spain)

; CD single (1992 re-issue) # "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" – 4:22 # "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" (Dub Version) – 3:38 # "Bow Down Mister" (Sitari Bizarri Mix) – 6:24 (Released in Germany in 1992, to promote the compilation album Spin Dazzle)

; CD single (2005 remix) # "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" (DJ LBR 2005 remix) – 3:59 # "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" – 4:25 (Released as a remix version in France, to promote the compilation album Culture Club 2005 – Singles & Remixes, with new video)

Chart history and certifications

Weekly charts

Year-end charts

Sales and certifications

Violent Femmes version

In 1991, the Violent Femmes covered this song on their fifth studio album Why Do Birds Sing?. The new version consisted of almost all new lyrics, retaining only the first verse and chorus; the music itself was slightly modified as well. Unlike the original, this version is very rock-heavy and therefore stands out clearly from the original.

Track listings

12-inch Maxi # Do You Really Want To Hurt Me # Dance, Motherfucker Dance # To The Kill (Live) CD-Maxi # Do You Really Want To Hurt Me (7"Edit) # Do You Really Want To Hurt Me # Dance, Motherfucker Dance # To The Kill (Live)

Blue Lagoon version

The song was covered in 2005 by German band Blue Lagoon on its album Club Lagoon and became a hit in Europe.

Track listings

CD single # "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" (radio edit) – 3:29 # "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" (extended version) – 4:59


Other cover versions

  • In 1987, the reggae group the Heptones - on their album Changing Times.
  • In 1997, singer-songwriter Diana King - for Think Like a Girl, her second album.
  • In 2003, singer-songwriter Melanie Safka - on her album Moments from My Life.
  • In 2006, singer-songwriter Thomas Anders - for the Songs Forever album.
  • In 2007 Kate Ceberano - on the album Nine Lime Avenue.
  • In 2008, Karen Souza - for the album Jazz and the 80s.
  • In 2010, Amanda Lear - a dance version for her 2010 album Brief Encounters Reloaded.
  • In 2014, singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata - on the multi-artist compilation album Here Comes The Reign Again: The Second British Invasion.