80s Pop Singer Jimmy Somerville Surprises German Street Musician as the Busker Sings Somerville’s Hit

The 80s saw a number of hits by mostly UK synth-pop and new wave bands with prominent gay members (whether their fans knew it or not) like Culture Club, Soft Cell, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Wham!. One of the most impressively talented singers on this burgeoning 80s dance scene was Scottish musician Jimmy Somerville who defined the tremulous falsetto disco sound of bands like Bronski Beat and the Communards. Somerville’s first hit, 1984’s “Smalltown Boy,” was something of an early “It Gets Better” message coupled with a hard-edged dance-pop sound and a very autobiographical video (below). The song, writes Allmusic, dealt openly with Somerville’s sexuality, “a recurring theme [in his work] that met with surprisingly little commercial resistance.”

Today, Somerville lives in Berlin with his dog, and he’s still got that tremendous set of pipes. A Berlin street musician found this out recently while busking “Smalltown Boy” on an acoustic guitar, and bystanders happened to catch it on video (at top). As the young street performer hits the chorus, up walks Somerville to casually join in. The singer starts over and they finish the song in harmony. The more cynical corners of the internet swear the whole thing’s staged, perhaps for a Somerville comeback, but I like to think it’s genuine serendipity, especially at the end as the German busker suddenly has a flash of recognition: “it’s you?” he asks. “It’s me,” says Somerville, “it’s a hit.”

via Gawker

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness


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