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Tunesday: Songs for straight people only

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APRIL 04, 2017


Ha! Tricked you. Buckle up, buddy, because this is a super gay playlist. It’s not always so clear what makes a song queer instead of straight. Perhaps the artist must be queer. Perhaps it’s in the instrumentation. Maybe it’s just all in the listeners’ perception. Whatever the culprit, queer people need music. There’s a deluge of queer artists and songs pouring in all the time. Stealth is no longer the only option for putting out music. Nowadays, all the gay energy that was already in the industry can be focused in on making explicitly gay songs. Here are a few hella gay songs from the last few months and years. Three cheers for the gay agenda!

“Chanel” — Frank Ocean

Modern legend Frank Ocean’s newest ready-for-radio single is one of his gayest songs to date. “Chanel” celebrates the dualities of the bisexual experience. The layers of double entendre, allusion and metaphor in the single line “I see both sides like Chanel” could stand alone, but every lyric is just as heavily laden with his musings on queerness. For a lesser artist, “Chanel” would be an album lead single, but Ocean doesn’t care too much about radio plays. “Chanel” sits pretty as a Blonde afterthought and a heavy-hitting single on its own.

“Wobbly” — Ezra Furman

Convention be damned. For Ezra Furman, the penchant toward definition in both the straight and queer world can go to hell. With a sense of genuine fun not often found in pop punk music today, “Wobbly” celebrates the evasive maneuvers queer people pull in their lives to escape out the back door whenever questions get asked. Horns blurt out arhythmically as Furman’s vocals wiggle around the absurd instrumentation. The whole thing is almost comical, especially as the Chicken Little-esque horn solo blares out at the song’s end, but the fervor in Furman’s voice grounds the track in a skewed, queered reality.

“Sticky Drama (A. G. Cook remix)” — Oneohtrix Point Never

Whether or not either of the two producers that touched this project are queer isn’t entirely clear, but with “Sticky Drama” as it stands, that question seems almost secondary. Where Oneohtrix Point Never’s original mix was about the joy and pleasure of the first ejaculation in a person’s life, PC music collective founder and producer A. G. Cook’s remix subverts this pleasure into an experience quite horrifying, perhaps even dysphoric. Like melted plastic, Cook’s rework builds big to Oneohtrix Point Never’s formerly obfuscated chorus, now a clear, fearful centerpiece, queered by Cook’s hand.

“American Boyfriend” — Kevin Abstract

Kevin Abstract has his sinister past splattered out behind him, so who can blame him for the classic soft rock urges in his music? There’s the sense in “American Boyfriend” and in the album it’s named after that Kevin Abstract wants nothing more than to turn his indie Americana into a real life, with the white picket fence and the beautiful suburban husband with the polo sweater hanging tied around his shoulders. “My parents wanna kill me,” he whispers numbly in a moment of quiet. “Let ‘em kill me. I’ll finally be on TV.” Glenn Frey couldn’t shred a better lightweight soft-rock guitar solo if he tried.

“Slip Away” — Perfume Genius

With three albums behind him and a fourth on its way, Mike Hadreas still sounds like he needs a hug. With new lead single “Slip Away” off of No Shape, Perfume Genius evokes in brevity and in songwriting the songstresses of yore that he adores. He sings of the unique self-definition of queer romantic relationships. Form and shape, and that which is formless or shapeless, become metaphors for Hadreas’ experience of love. No other has molded their relationship in quite the same way, and no other could possibly confine or shape his love for him. This, Hadreas claims, is the key joy of loving while gay. And come on, the harpsichord is the gayest instrument ever.

“You’d Be So Nice” — Xiu Xiu

What’s gayer than experimental noise artists Xiu Xiu? An entire Xiu Xiu album of Nina Simone covers, obviously. Most of “You’d Be So Nice,” one of the prettiest covers off of Nina, takes a majority of its time in building its sputtering brass horn intro over overwhelming drums. The horns coalesce into a police siren-like wail, and then they devolve into madness as Jamie Stewart’s desperate voice begins to plead for his lover late into the track. In Xiu Xiu’s hands, Simone’s desperation takes on shades of fear and longing found only in the forbidden queer heart.

Justin Knight is the assistant arts & entertainment editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Tweet him at @jknightlion.

APRIL 05, 2017

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