British singer Boy George combined a strong, soulful singing voice with a provocative sense of fashion, both of which were first brought to the attention of English and American audiences in the group Culture Club, for whom he served as lead singer from 1982 to 1986. The group wrote and played impeccable pop music, and Boy George’s androgynous persona — heavy makeup and outrageous costumes — gave the group a distinct video image in the dawn of MTV. That very distinctiveness, however, made the group date quickly, and at the same time Boy George encountered highly publicized personal difficulties. He re-emerged as a solo singer in 1987 with Sold, which contained a U.K. number one cover of Bread’s “Everything I Own,” but was unable to duplicate this success in the U.S. Boy George enjoyed four British singles’ chart entries in 1987 and another three in 1988. His second album, Tense Nervous Headache (1988), was not picked up for release in the U.S.; his third, Boyfriend (1989), was a Europe-only release, though Virgin Records cobbled the second and third albums together to present a second U.S. album, High Hat (1989). In 1991 came The Martyr Mantras, another patchwork album largely made up of previously non-LP dance singles. In the U.K., it was credited to a new group, Jesus Loves You, and released on Boy George’s own More Protein record label, though Virgin in the U.S. billed it as a Boy George album. By 1992, Boy George had faded at home, and in the U.S. his solo career had never taken off. Then he was brought in to sing a version of the ’60s chestnut “The Crying Game” in a production by the Pet Shop Boys, as the title song for a movie that became the sleeper hit of the winter of 1992-1993, resulting in his first substantial U.S. hit as a solo artist. Cheapness and Beauty followed in 1995, and four years later Boy George resurfaced with the rarities collection Unrecoupable One Man Bandit. Throughout the ’90s, he delved back into the club scene that birthed his early romanticism, and made a name for himself as DJ in demand. It became more than a hobby toward the end of the millennium, and Boy George garnered attention in the U.K. and U.S. club circuits; such musical creativity was captured on Essential Mix, released in fall 2000.”
After graduating from high school, Usher released his sophomore album, My Way, in 1997. In an attempt to display his maturity and songwriting abilities, Usher co-wrote six of the nine songs and enlisted the help of producers Jermaine Dupri, Babyface, and, again, Combs. The album’s first single, “You Make Me Wanna,” reestablished Usher as one of R&B’s hottest artists, and also made him a crossover sensation; it topped the R&B charts for 11 weeks, hit number two pop, and eventually went double platinum. Both of the follow-up singles, “Nice & Slow” and “My Way,” also went platinum; the former stayed at number one on the R&B charts for eight weeks and became his first number one pop single. In the meantime, Usher launched an acting career, appearing in the 1998 horror spoof The Faculty and the 1999 urban high-school drama Light It Up.
To tide fans over, he issued a concert recording titled simply Live in 1999. Usher returned with his third proper album, All About U, toward the end of 2000. His third album, 8701 (2001), moved him from a teen pop star to a sultry R&B singer. In early 2004, Arista released the single “Yeah!” Produced by Lil Jon and guesting Ludacris, the addictive, lightly crunk cut fast became a club and radio favorite. By the time the Usher full-length Confessions dropped later that March, “Yeah!” had hit the top of the Billboard charts. The album itself was Usher’s most mature work to date and won the Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album in 2004, while “Yeah!” took home the best rapped/sung collaboration award. He starred in the 2005 flop In the Mix and went back to music with 2008’s Here I Stand, an album that was ultimately declared a flop, even though it topped the Billboard 200 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. Raymond v Raymond, inspired in part by the end of his marriage, was released in 2010 as three of its songs were climbing the charts. Its buzz single, “Papers,” had already topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart. An EP titled Versus followed later in the year.