July 23, 2014

Gay-themed music groups found highest success in the homophobic 1980s

An earlier post about how the all-female band was undone by '90s feminism got me thinking along the same lines with queers in pop music. Seems like every other synthpop group in the '80s had a gay singer, not necessarily one who was out at the time -- well before the movie Philadelphia, sassy gay TV characters, pride parades, and Heathers-esque hysteria about gay teen suicide. Back then, the popular view of homos was sexual deviants, child molesters, and spreaders of AIDS. (How much the culture has forgotten, so quickly.)

Wikipedia has a category page for LGBT-themed musical groups. What counts as gay-"themed"? The talk page says that they must have at least one gay member who was out at their peak of popularity, and was portrayed that way to the audience. This would leave out Queen but include the Village People. I'm going with this list because we can't infer that the audience was either tolerant of or willing to give a pass to a group with some gay members, unless they were out.

Still, I'm going to exclude three major groups whose homo members were not obviously out, in the audience's mind -- Soft Cell, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Right Said Fred. (Willing to be corrected on that, though.) Including them would only strengthen the overall pattern below, so if anything the analysis understates how successful the gay groups were in the '80s.

First an overview of the groups who charted in the top 40 to 50 on the American or UK charts. If I couldn't tell whether the gay members were out or not at their peak, there's a question mark before their name.

1970s
Disco-Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes
Tom Robinson Band
Village People

1980s
Bronski Beat
Culture Club
Man 2 Man

1990s
? 2wo Third3
Army of Lovers
? Indigo Girls
Kitchens of Distinction
Placebo

2000s
Placebo
Scissor Sisters

2010s
Scissor Sisters
Gossip
Tegan and Sara

Now let's look at the number of songs in each period. I'm using the UK charts now since most of these groups were big only or primarily in Britain. The following songs cracked the top 20. (Year, group name, song name, highest chart ranking.)

74 Disco-Tex... "Get Dancin'" (8)
75 Disco-Tex... "I Wanna Dance Wit' Choo..." (6)
77 Tom Robinson Band "2-4-6-8 Motorway" (5)
78 Tom Robinson Band "Glad to Be Gay" (18)
78 Village People "Y.M.C.A." (1)
79 Village People "In the Navy" (2)
79 Village People "Go West" (15)

82 Culture Club "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" (1)
82 Culture Club "Time (Clock of the Heart)" (3)
82 Culture Club "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" (9 US)
83 Culture Club "Church of the Poison Mind" (2)
83 Culture Club "Karma Chameleon" (1)
83 Culture Club "Victims" (3)
84 Bronski Beat "Smalltown Boy" (3)
84 Bronski Beat "Why?" (6)
84 Bronski Beat "It Ain't Necessarily So" (16)
84 Culture Club "Miss Me Blind" (5 US)
84 Culture Club "It's a Miracle" (4)
84 Culture Club "The War Song" (2)
85 Bronski Beat "I Feel Love (Medley)" (3)
86 Bronski Beat "C'Mon! C'Mon!" (20)
86 Culture Club "Move Away" (7)
87 Man 2 Man "Male Stripper" (4)

95 2wo Third3 "I Want the World" (20)
97 Placebo "Nancy Boy" (4)
97 Placebo "Bruise Pristine" (14)
98 Culture Club "I Just Wanna Be Loved" (4)
98 Placebo "Pure Morning" (4)
98 Placebo "You Don't Care About Us" (5)
99 Placebo "Every You Every Me" (11)

00 Placebo "Taste in Men" (16)
00 Placebo "Slave to the Wage" (19)
03 Placebo "The Bitter End" (12)
03 Scissor Sisters "Laura" (12)
04 Placebo "Twenty Years" (18)
04 Scissor Sisters "Comfortably Numb" (10)
04 Scissor Sisters "Take Your Mama" (17)
04 Scissor Sisters "Mary" (14)
05 Scissor Sisters "Filthy/Gorgeous" (5)
06 Gossip "Standing in the Way of Control" (7)
06 Placebo "Because I Want You" (13)
06 Scissor Sisters "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" (1)
06 Scissor Sisters "Land of a Thousand Words" (18)

10 Scissor Sisters "Fire with Fire" (11)
12 Scissor Sisters "Only the Horses" (12)
14 Tegan and Sara "Everything Is Awesome" (17)

There are 7 hits from the '70s, 16 from the '80s, 7 from the '90s, 13 from the 2000s, and 3 so far from the 2010s. Not only does the '80s lead, it features the only all-gay band, Bronski Beat. The peak is more like the early-to-mid '80s, not the mid-to-late '80s as we saw with all-female bands.

Now let's apply an even more selective filter -- songs that made the top 10 on the Billboard charts here in faggot-hatin' Amurrica. More or less, disco plus dance-y synthpop from the early MTV days.

74 Disco-Tex... "Get Dancin'" (10)
78 Village People "Y.M.C.A." (2)
79 Village People "In the Navy" (3)

82 Culture Club "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" (2)
82 Culture Club "Time (Clock of the Heart)" (2)
82 Culture Club "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" (9)
83 Culture Club "Church of the Poison Mind" (10)
83 Culture Club "Karma Chameleon" (1)
84 Culture Club "Miss Me Blind" (5)

Ideologues must find it hard to believe that a band fronted by a flaming transvestite homosexual garnered six top 10 hits during the administration of a president who TURNED HIS BACK ON AIDS. And worse than that, the society-wide pat on the head of the homo "community" was not reflected in pop music tastes of the '90s and after.

Back in the '80s, even flamers like Boy George had to appeal to normal audiences who weren't brainwashed by "just like us" propaganda. What a revelation -- people prefer listening to a singer who's a fag than a fag who's a singer.

Bonus exercise for the reader: spot all the gay Peter Pan-isms on display by singer Jimmy Somerville in the music video for "Don't Leave Me This Way" by the Communards (he was also the singer for Bronski Beat).

9 comments:

  1. You should include the Communards (a brit number one and another top five),
    Pet Shop Boys (not openly out until 1994, but...) and Erasure

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erasure_discography

    And maybe the Smiths? (everyone I knew in the mid-80's assumed morrisey was gay).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Curtis12:40 AM

    Steve Sailer, when commenting on the scandal about the racist NBA owner, pointed out that Magic Johnson, after being diagnosed with AIDS, received applause on the Arsenio Hall show after saying "I'm not gay".

    ReplyDelete
  3. http://www.xojane.com/family/debra-harrell-left-child-at-park

    tldr:

    Single mother has 9 year-old child who has never been outside their property without adult supervision, nor has he ever been home alone. Because dangers. Because USA does not coddle single mothers enough.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I recall watching a Belgian program on gay pop music in '84 featuring Queen's 'I want to break free'. The program was a political ad trying to appeal to young classical liberals.

    Also the 1980 Orchestral maneuvers in the dark song 'Enola Gay' was semi-unintentionally misheard as 'gay alone'.

    ReplyDelete
  5. George Michael (post-Wham)

    4Non Blondes (?)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Pet Shop Boys (?)

    Melissa Etheridge, KD Lang (1990s)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Frankie Goes To Hollywood........FTW!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Your logic has no impact where it's needed - people insist on seeing themselves as victims. The best examples are "racism" and Motown/NBA. I once saw Smokey Robinson's financials for the year 1969 in a San Francisco courtroom - $440,000.

    ReplyDelete
  9. What music video did I just watch? I want to crawl in a corner and go into the fetal position.

    ReplyDelete

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