"Smalltown Boy" brought one hit wonder status to the British synthpop group Bronski Beat. It was released in June of 1984. It would also appear on the band's debut album The Age of Consent, released in December 1984.
The song is a popular gay anthem and was a huge commercial success, reaching number 3 in the band's native UK. As well, it was a number one hit in the Netherlands and Italy, and hit the top 10 in Australia, Canada, France, and Switzerland. The track reached number 48 in the U.S. pop chart and was a #1 U.S dance hit.
The song addresses key issues in 1980s LGBT culture. It addresses family rejection for being homosexual and homophobia in British society. It also deals with loneliness and bullying through societal and familial rejection.
The narrative music video features band member Jimmy Somerville as the boy who has experienced the issues described in the lyrics. In the beginning of the clip, he is seen on a train, contemplating his childhood and the events that have caused him to leave his parents' home: at a local swimming pool, his friends (played by band members Larry Steinbachek and Steve Bronski) dare him to chat up a man that he fancies, for which he is later attacked in an alley by a gang of homophobes, and a "bobby" brings him back to his home. It is implied that the boy's parents learn of his homosexuality for the first time through this incident and are shocked but only the father seems unsupportive. The boy then catches a train to London, on which he is reunited with his friends. The video ends with "friends" Steinbachek and Bronski joining him.