January 8, 2011

Queer Issue: Looking for Queer Orientated Music? Good Luck.

I was never a big music fan when I was a younger teenager. That changed the summer before I entered 11th grade, when I heard Three Doors Down's "Kryptonite" playing on the radio. Something about it's funky guitar riffs caught my attention. Later that summer, when my dad and I were preparing for the long drive to visit Clarkson University, which I was planning to apply to, I bought their album, "The Better Life". After all, I was facing many hours in which my other options were listening to the radio or whatever my Dad's generation called "music". What would any other teenager have done?

However, "The Better Life" was my gateway album, leading me down a path towards harder stuff. Soon I was buying albums by Creed, P.O.D., Metallica, Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Pink, Sum 41, The Red Hot Chili Peppers amongst a lot of other bands. Of course, my tastes were not fully formed initially and I also bought "what was I thinking" items, such as an early Avril Lavign album.

Later my tastes did mature a little bit and I learned to appreciate a wide variety of musical genres and styles, including songs that my Dad's generation called "music". For instance, I think The Beatles "The White Album" is definitely one of the greatest albums of all time and Jimi Hendrix's version of "All Along the Watchtower" by Bob Dylan is one of my favorite songs.

Now recently, I decided to watch Logo's "Top 10 Countdown" featuring "Gay, Lesbian, Bi, and Trans videos". I'll have to admit to being a little bit surprised by their choices. Out of the 9 videos I was able to watch (I tuned in after #10 had finished) only 2 featured any obvious queer subjects or themes. Now granted I was not watching the videos that closely, nor do I know what Logo was considering "Gay, Lesbian, Bi, or Trans" but the almost complete lack of queer content shocked me a little bit.

Awhile back, my boyfriend made the claim to me that the music industry is the most hetero-normative mass media today. Having to go through music videos on Logo with a fine tooth comb in order to find Queer themes, certainly would lend credence to his claim.

Not to get too off topic, but in comparison, of TV shows airing today, "Modern Family", "Shit My Dad Says", "Glee" all feature positive and/or sympathetic characters. Now those are just what I can name off the top of my head. Then there's the TV channel Logo, which produces it's own shows, such as "RuPaul's Drag Race". There are also older shows that are no longer on the air waves, such as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "The Shield" which also prominently featured gay characters.

If I really wanted to, I could also easily name books and movies that also feature prominent LGBTQA characters. The point I'm getting at is that there is definitely a discrepancy here between the music industry and other popular forms of mass media.

I'm not sure why the music industry is so far behind the curve here. Do individual songs represent too much of a risk, that musicians and producers shy away from anything that might alienate even a small portion of their audience?

In any case, I don't want to get too negative here, so I thought I'd highlight a few music videos that I enjoyed that feature prominent Queer Content.

First, the one queer music video that I noticed on Logo that I really liked, Farrad's Misunderstood:

(Actually after re-watching that I almost want to take that back, I thought when I first saw it that Farrad was acting in a more non-gender conformist manor, until I realized that most of what he does is simply weird, with the only thing non-gender conformist behavior is wearing purple lipstick and an otherwise ambiguously effeminate style.)

Then there's Lady Gaga's "Alejandro":

And one of my favorite songs that came out this year, Jimmy Eat World's "My Best Theory":

So if anyone out there knows of any songs/videos with obvious queer content/themes, I'd appreciate it if you let me know, preferably by leaving a comment here with a link.

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