"The War Song" was the lead single from Culture Club's third Platinum-certified 1984 album Waking Up with the House on Fire. The song became the group's seventh top-five hit on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at number two. In the U.S. the single peaked at #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and hit the top ten in many countries including Canada (#7), Ireland (#1), Italy (#3) and Australia (#2). While very popular at the time, it was not appreciated by some music critics for some weakness in the lyrics and less original arrangements.
The song was assisted by a popular MTV music video, which features hundreds of children as skeletons. Boy George is shown with his new flame-red hair. He also employs four wigs in black, white, yellow and blue. It was directed by Russell Mulcahy and cost more than £100,000 to make.
In many countries, the single was released with a B-Side consisting of a native-language version (Spanish, French, Japanese or German) of the song. It was available in two different extended versions, a first in Culture Club discography. Its 7" picture disc was shelved, and the only remaining copies are very rare. It is the picture disc that sells with the highest price in record stores and on eBay, usually between US$250 and 1000.
The following singles from its parent album ("The Medal Song" in Europe, "Mistake No.3" in Americas) were not as popular. It was Culture Club's last UK top 5 hit before 1998's "I Just Wanna Be Loved".
Boy George once joked about the song: "It ruined my career", mentioning often that he is not proud of this song. It has also been excluded from some music compilations of the band. The song has never been performed live by Culture Club since 1985 and has never been performed live by Boy George as a solo artist. It was parodied on the satirical British TV seriesSpitting Image as "War Is Naughty", a reference to the main phrase of the original song's chorus: "War, war is stupid".
- Released at least in UK, USA, Australia, Spain
A. The War Song B. La Cancion De Guerra
- Released in France and Canada
A. The War Song B. La Chanson De Guerre
- Released at least in UK, Australia, Spain, USA
A1. The War Song (Ultimate Dance Mix) B1. The War Song (Shriek Mix) B2. La Cancion De Guerra