Aussie singer Sheldon Riley poured his heart out on stage of The Voice Australia with his emotive take on Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me”, leaving the judges in awe. Appearing for his audition on the seventh season, Riley turned the chairs of all four judges with his stunning vocals on the new wave hit.
Judges Boy George and Delta Goodrem were the first to say yes to the 19-year-old singer, to an emotional reaction from Riley. Kelly Rowland and Joe Jonas followed in quick succession, leaving the young performer holding back tears in response to a standing ovation. The performance, which you can see below, has been viewed 1.3 million times
“Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” was originally released by Boy George’s band Culture Club in 1982, so getting the thumbs up from the original artist was no doubt a huge moment for Riley. The young singer unsurprisingly later chose George to be his coach for the show.
George had plenty of praise for the performance, saying “That song is so personal to me, it’s my own personal love story, and it’s almost impossible to imagine anyone else singing it. You just added so much sadness to it.” George and Riley appeared onstage later in the season to sing a duet of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”, which you can watch below.
George also said he loved Riley’s extravagant purple feather outfit. The Sydney teen then said that “this doesn’t normally get accepted so thank you.” Delta Goodrem reassured him with “honey, you’re in the right home here.” George echoed this sentiment, advising “never, ever look for acceptance. Take me as I am, that should be your motto.”
Riley, who is currently based in Melbourne, was born on 14 March 1999 and is now 24. He progressed until the final of the seventh season of The Voice and eventually placed third. It’s not the only time he made a splash on television, having returned to The Voice Australia the following year, where he was eventually eliminated in the semi-final.
He has also made appearances on The X Factor Australia in 2016, going up until the first week of the live shows as well as later competing in America’s Got Talent in 2020, where he progressed to the third quarter final in the competition.
Not content with televised appearances, Riley has also built up a solo career and released a steady stream of singles since 2018. Most recently he released the classical influenced single “Insane” earlier this year, which he wrote himself.
His appearances on The Voice Australia remain some of his most popular performances with fans though. “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” was penned by George and the other four members of Culture Club. The song was the third single from the English band’s 1982 debut album Kissing to Be Clever and became their first UK #1 hit, as well as peaking at #2 in the US. If you would like to see more from Sheldon Riley, you can subscribe to his YouTube channel or follow him on Instagram.