March 7, 2015

Was disco the least gay genre, on the creation side?

Rappers and boy band members are the most likely types in pop music to be gay, usually closeted.

It sounds like an odd kinship: rappers try to project a persona of machismo, thug life, etc., while boy banders try to project a sensitive, non-threatening image. Rap targets more urban, lower-class, and less-white audiences, boy bands target suburban middle-class whites. Rap is a staple at night clubs, boy bands never are.

What gives?

The strongest similarity between the two genres is the reliance on vocals rather than instrumentation. Boy banders sing, and rappers merely talk, but it's still all about vocals. Nobody plays an instrument, and they don't bother hiring session musicians either.

This seems to be another symptom of gay Peter Pan syndrome.

Playing an instrument requires a certain level of maturity -- not only the time necessary to practice and master it well enough to make a living from playing it, but from having the mindset of wanting to practice in order to improve. Small children are more trapped in the present, and are more apt to say "forget this, I hate this" and melt down if they aren't immediate experts.

Small children must be bossed around by parents into practicing an instrument. By the time they're adolescents, they pick up their own internal motivation to keep at it, assuming they're musically inclined to begin with.

Trapped in the "eww girls are yucky" stage of development, gays never develop that level of motivation to master an instrument (other than the skin flute). If they join a musical group, it will almost always be as a singer -- that comes naturally to children, and doesn't have to be learned and practiced just to get the basics down. Practicing singing is to refine native talent.

This leads to one of the great ironies of pop music history: the near absence of homos in disco. Disco instrumentation was the most diverse and complex in popular music since the Big Band era, so if you didn't play an instrument, you were out.

I checked Wikipedia's list of gay musicians with those whose entry mentions "disco" somewhere, and only two matched -- The Village People (obviously), and Sylvester. No surprise that they were more campy novelty acts than a serious band like Chic or KC and the Sunshine Band.

Like disco, heavy metal is oriented more toward mastery of instruments than vocals, and is also relatively fag-free, other than Rob Halford from Judas Priest, but then he's a singer. The only gay instrumentalist I could uncover is Roddy Bottum (real name), the keyboardist from Faith No More (more alterna-metal than heyday metal).

Hard rock only had Freddie Mercury from Queen, again a singer. Rock music in any of its forms has almost no homos in it.

Synth-pop and dance pop have lots of gay singers, although they're paired with hetero instrumentalists. New wave was more instrumental than vocal, and wasn't nearly as gay as synth-pop.

The mainstream view is that the descendants of disco were the synth-pop groups, but just like the name says, it was more like pop music with synthesizers. Disco's true inheritors were the new wavers, with Nile Rodgers from Chic passing the baton to John Taylor from Duran Duran. As in disco bands, it was common for there to be black and white members in a new wave band, but not so much in synth-pop groups.

Disco gets a bum rap, in no small part because of its popularity with gay audiences -- at least back then, not so much these days since gays are too slave-to-fashion to conserve what is good from the past. Whit Stillman tried to portray how normal and mainstream the New York disco crowd was, although I don't think he convinced anyone who was already committed to the view of disco as only for gays and gals.

The other source of its bad reputation is people only remembering "Y.M.C.A." and therefore thinking that half or more of the disco groups must have been gay. This little investigation shows how off-base that is, and provides a good reason why -- gays don't play instruments, and disco was one of the most heavily instrumental genres then or now.

38 comments:

  1. I think you're wrong about rap: it is marketed to white mainstream suburban kids, who are biggest consumers. Like rock N' Roll and Jazz, music marketers determined that presenting a music form to non-ghetto kids as "edgy" and "dangerous" sells it, since teenagers and kids have the desire to subvert their parents but in a safe way---through a song they listen to---much like a girl wants to date a "safe" bad boy---one who's "badass" but yet will never hurt her (see: any teen movie where the girl "saves" the bad boy).

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    1. Only 20%-27% of rap fans are white. That's just a politically correct myth.
      Around 40% are black.
      http://brandongaille.com/25-good-hip-hop-demographics/

      As for rappers and boy bands being gay, empirical evidence please?

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  2. As for gays not being musicians, I think that's true for the vast majority who are stunted, but there is a tradition of much more talented and accomplished musicians---concert pianists---being quietly gay. These tend to be, however, the quiet, make-no-waves types of gays who see the parades as gauche. Many of them, however, also seem to have a particular teacher who sodomized them young or some other clear sexual abuse story.

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  3. Consider this...3/7/15, 4:41 AM

    One nexus of the Boy Band and Rap scenes that you are neglecting is the phenomenon of promoters building the acts to specification as if they were casting a film. The faggotry begins there.

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  4. "Disco gets a bum rap, in no small part because of its popularity with gay audiences"

    Heh - a "bum" rap!

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  5. "One nexus of the Boy Band and Rap scenes that you are neglecting is the phenomenon of promoters building the acts to specification as if they were casting a film. The faggotry begins there."

    Yeah, the genres which don't have artists who generally write their own material and play instruments are going to have more backscratching.

    Race and gender are also important; black artists are much more likely to be a cog in the sleazy machine and so are women. Creative white guys are the most likely to fight for total control over their music while gays, women, and especially blacks are content to have svengali promoters, producers, teams of songwriters, and synth/computer programmers do the heavy lifting of making product.

    The current emphasis on diversity, superficial charm, and looks (which is far far worse than it was in the 80's, don't let fossil Boomers and self loathing Gen X-ers tell you otherwise) has really enabled this stuff.

    There was a lot of homely but talented hetero white guys who were big stars in the 70's/80's. Van Halen, Rush, ACDC, Foreigner etc. But why let the facts get in the way of specious bashing of "corporate" rock, disco, and MTV in order to sell the obnoxious myth that pop culture peaked in the 60's/early 70's. Funny those were the formative years of the early Boomers who still don't want to admit that the Boomer music of the late 70's/80's which was consumed by Gen X-ers/Late Boomers was better.

    There's also positive spinning of the 90's to make the 80's look bad. Those grunge bands and singer/songwriters were such an improvement. um, nice try, but you're conveniently overlooking the thug clown rappers, fey boy bands, dullard Nu Metal acts, and lukewarm R&B of the period. Even with grunge and the singer/songwiters, the music was more simple and less exciting than 80's stuff. And people forgot how to actually sing in the 90's to boot.

    Were there any contrived boy bands who made it big in the 80's? Duran Duran wrote their own material and played instruments, Depeche Mode were largely a group of friends who did it all on their own, etc. Kajagoogoo was contrived (Duran Duran wrote their big hit) but they vanished quickly.

    The "Pretty boys" of the 80's who took a lot of abuse tended to actually be hair metal front men. These hair bands universally played instruments and wrote their own songs, though, so really Jon Bon Jovi, Kip Winger, David Coverdale and so on were quite masculine and self made compared to typical boy bands. I think there's been a growing respect for these guys after all of the shit that's been a part of the post 1992 zeitgeist.

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  6. One point in favour of this:

    Gays are (I think) leaders in house music, IRC, which is largely non-vocal dance music but made purely with synths and drum machines, which need some knowledge, creativity and dedication but don't really have that same practiced physical skill element. DJing and producting is a pretty solo act of creation, so any social ineptitude gays have wouldn't go in there.

    I wonder about how common gays are in symphonic orchestral music and jazz - I listened to a good talk on the history of notation on TED by very obviously gay piano player, but I have no idea how prevalent they are there overall. Perhaps gays like spending a lot of time learning / practicing high class associated stuff? Maybe some difference between small and large groups - I'd expect to find gays avoiding any situation which means joining a small to medium sized group of straight males, where they'd be obvious enough to stick out and get wailed on for fucking up the group harmony and polluting the group space, or whatever.

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  7. I remember seeing an insider's look into which ethnic groups are over-represented in which part of an orchestra, but I don't recall seeing one about where the gays go.

    Piano makes sense since you get to be the drama queen center of attention. Still, that would make you wonder why they never got into performing virtuoso guitar solos in a rock band.

    You're right about DJ's being more gay. There were quite a few of them in the Wiki list of gay musicians. They just take someone else's stuff, speed it up, slow it down, mash-up two existing songs, sample a bunch of motifs, and expect worship from the club-goers as though they were an alchemical genius making gold out of musical lead.

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  8. Interesting how the 70s and the '20s both developed dance-oriented cultures.

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  9. @agnostic

    "Piano makes sense since you get to be the drama queen center of attention. Still, that would make you wonder why they never got into performing virtuoso guitar solos in a rock band."

    ---he gays involved in piano were abused while learning; largely they were momma's boys, effeminate but straight at the beginning, forced into it by momma, but some piano teacher later abused them, knowing momma wouldn't stop it. They keep playing later to please mother.

    Pedophiles and other gays have long used "music lessons" of children as a cover for their filth. The more overbearing the stage mother, the more they can get away with abusing the child---so long as the child becomes talented and famous, which reflects on the mother.

    In contrast, guys who pick up the guitar do it later and on their own initiative (i.e their teens) for one purpose: do it get laid from chicks.

    It's largely an issue of who is pushing the instrument: parents or the kid themselves. If the parents, the kid's a fairy; if the latter, he's straight.

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  10. In England 'musical' was a euphemism for gay. So I've heard.

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  11. Steve Johnson3/9/15, 12:07 PM

    What isn't a euphemism for gay in England?

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  12. "Piano makes sense since you get to be the drama queen center of attention. Still, that would make you wonder why they never got into performing virtuoso guitar solos in a rock band."

    Gays just aren't cool. They don't show much interest in or even sincere admiration for the stuff we associate with charismatic guys.

    Again, I think it comes down to the Peter Pan thing. So unable to advance beyond silly, low empathy toddlerhood they resort to making fun of macho culture in a desperate futile attempt to hide their inadequacy and immaturity.

    Gays and effete straights love to make fun of the conservative, cock rock friendly 80's. Regrettably it seems like 70's births seem to have tagged along with the early Boomers in trashing the 80's for being ridiculous and shallow.

    Using the formative years idea (14-24), this makes sense. If your formative years occurred in the 60's/early 70's (early Boomers) or the 90's (late X-ers) you might not quite "get" the 80's like late Boomers and early Gen X. In fact, the rise of "alternative" (read: PC and faggy) culture around '91-'96 made 80's bashing hip so you'd expect late X-ers to be the most poisoned by this stuff. Early Boomers hate the period since so many later Boomers produced so much great stuff in the 80's that it (temporarily in some cases) put some of the graying early Boomer artists out of the spotlight.

    My 1960 born parents rarely say anything too hard about the 80's; Both of my parents were into all of the exciting culture of the early-mid 80's (who wasn't at the time?). It's not like they say, "god, Hall & Oates, the Human League, what were we thinking?"

    The 80's of course were the last period where being cool and tough were more popular than affecting the stance of a bitter whiner (the 90's) or a glibly autistic hedonist (Post 2001).

    The derision directed at "excessive" 80's artists is often off the mark. Sure, the Bon Jovi's of the word bragged about getting money and chicks, but they knew where to draw the line. It was just about fun, entertainment. The artists had a certain healthy and professional commitment to give some excitement to a well adjusted public that wanted unpretentious and convivial art.

    The fun had to end, I guess.

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  13. One other thing about the Piano: It's one of the most quiet and therefore non-threatening instruments. On the other hand, the electric guitar is the most powerful one of all. Being such dorks, they're turned off by such open and aggressive power. If more gays were like Halford (e.g. be a part of an ass kicking rock band) gays wouldn't have such a bad rep.

    There's a reason gays constantly whine about how harsh the world is, particularly male authority figures. Gays hate reminders of how stunted they are and would rather play the misunderstood victim than admit that there's good reasons a healthy society detests them.

    I guess it's obvious too that it's much easier to give careful and audible vocal performances over Piano whereas vocals get tougher competition from a loud guitar. Turn that down, PLEASSSE, it's distracting to me and to the audience that MUST hear my beautiful voice!

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  14. "you might not quite "get" the 80's like late Boomers and early Gen X. "

    A lot of younger people just don't know what the 80's were actually like. The media portrays the decade as goofy and nerdy, maybe to denigrate it.

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  15. "The fun had to end, I guess."

    not necessarily. I'm still not convinced that cocooning is a natural cycle, more like a sickness or disease, possibly related to overpopulation.

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  16. Yeah, as much as I enjoyed the '80s revival of the last decade, it had the unfortunate side-effect of cementing its image in the public imagination as a bunch of children bouncing around in their room to Wham! while wearing neon clothes.

    Funny, I don't remember anyone in a John Hughes movie wearing loud neon clothing (maybe Annie Potts in Pretty in Pink? or maybe not). That was the late '80s and early '90s.

    The Eighties zeitgeist was profoundly ambivalent about the future, technology, social change, etc., and sought a secure grounding in the past. The iconic homes in '80s teen movies are from the early 20th C, not the space age Midcentury Modern with its agoraphobic open floor plans. They all have traditional looking decoration (wallpaper, hardwood, natural colors).

    None of the teenagers are wearing loud wacky clothing a la Saved by the Bell (again, that was the very late '80s and early '90s).

    People did sport a lot of jewelry (including guys, to a lesser extent), wore big hair, and had geometric motifs on their clothing. But it was unassuming and unpretentious, not attention-whoring.

    That's one of the paradoxical elements of the Eighties that led most folks astray -- someone wearing hair that big must necessarily be an attention whore, who wouldn't notice piles of necklaces and bracelets, and so on? But when everybody was doing it, it didn't stand out, and nobody thought anything of it. It was just a fun-going thing, not a narcissistic thing.

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  17. At least it's not as unfortunate as what's happening with the so-called '90s revival, which is almost entirely about the culture of small children (remembered and revived by the Millennials, not the late X-ers who were teenagers back then).

    The '80s revival had about maybe half or less composed of kids' culture -- He-Man, Nintendo, Transformer toys, etc. But half or more was teenage and adult culture -- Dallas, Breakfast Club, Duran Duran.

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  18. The increasing wackiness of the 1st Bush era (1988-1992, the I'm Too Sexy Era)kinda gives the rather misleading perception that the 80's collapsed under their own weight.

    In fact, the very late 80's/early 90's are a not so cool little brother to the awesome early to mid 80's. I've been looking at the Billboard charts and believe me, by about 1988 the talented artists of the era had largely run out of things to say by that point. Hence the increasing presence of left-for-dead early Boomers, later Boomer acts throwing in the towel by not releasing as much material or just splitting up (later Boomers not being as privileged or selfish as earlier artists). The Bob Dylans of the world could count on a fawning press and brain dead early Boomers buying their stuff decades after they ran out of ideas.

    Let's not forget either that it was around 1988 that we saw the beginning of the modern avalanche of often black, goofy ass non melodic, repetitive acts (esp. the cocky rappers) that amused a public that was getting more infected by the anti social malaise that would explode by 1993.

    If you wanna feel like smashing your screen about a portend of shitty things to come, go watch Tone Loc's Wild Thing video from 1988. Even as a novelty, It's utterly devoid of charm, good humor, or even a basic grasp of how to write and perform an engaging song. I do think 1988 was when we were aiming for the jump over the shark.

    By the way, that Tone Loc wasn't a blink-and-you'll-miss-him thing like earlier 80's novelty hits were; his song/album stayed on the charts for a shamefully long amount of time.

    As for John Hughes; I think he just had good taste and common sense. His characters could be quirky but he didn't want to shove it in peoples' faces. One smart wardrobe thing he did for the Breakfast Club was to have Andy and Bender shed clothes as the movie goes on to reveal brighter shades of blue and red. If they'd been wearing loud colors at the beginning it would've struck viewers as being contrived. You don't really notice it, most people anyway. I didn't until I read about it.

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  19. "I've been looking at the Billboard charts and believe me, by about 1988 the talented artists of the era had largely run out of things to say by that point."

    '80s music as a whole peaked in '83-'84, although there was another organic local peak in '87-'88.

    Everyone associates '80s music with synthesizers, but synth-pop and new wave were more or less spent by the late '80s. The piano actually made a comeback over the synth in the "new jack swing" songs like "Good Vibrations" by Marky Mark.

    "The Promise" by When In Rome was the last real synth-pop song, popular in '88-'89. Also from that time, "Buffalo Stance" by Neneh Cherry has a wistful synth riff in the chorus that sounds like it could have come from New Order. Although the rest of the song is generic early rap.

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  20. "The media portrays the decade as goofy and nerdy, maybe to denigrate it."

    People were more earnest and upbeat, which clashes with the post 1992 detached and cynical vibe.

    Also, in the 90's and earlier 2000's you had Gen X-ers /early Millennials affecting a tuff guy stance that made the just be yourself 70's/80's seem dorky. Ironically, as testosterone and crime levels fell after the 80's people got wimpier.

    By about 2004 most people (not trashy late Gen X-ers/early Millennials though) had an OD on the nu metal era so it's not quite as annoying as it used to be. Too bad the posturing you get now is glib libertinism.

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  21. Other late 80's omens:

    - Growing self awareness

    - More (and more successful) sequels

    - More reliance on bombastic high concept non sense

    These kinds of trends would eventually culminate in the nadir of mid-late 90's self aware, derivative, sloppy gimmick movies (and music to some extent too). Like Last Action Hero (1993) which was a bit too early in the cycle to be popular; most people were just confused and bored by the movie. Arnold evidently though it was clever and funny to have a kid stuck in a "typical" Hollywood movie where the kid comments constantly on things. Naturally, when Arnold's character travels to real life he's totally lost. What's a turn off is that Arnold's best 80's movies weren't as silly and dull as the fictional movie in a movie. Also Arnold is, duh, a witty and successful guy in real life contrary to what the '93 movie mocks.

    By 1996's Scream (a big hit) people were vacuous and callous to the point that they no longer cared about believable characters and situations. Hey, why bother with a "boring" straightforward story when you can be all ironic and haughty by having the "witty" (more like smug) characters talk about how stupid a genre is.

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  22. "'80s music as a whole peaked in '83-'84, although there was another organic local peak in '87-'88."

    Reading the Post 1987 charts is like a long heavyweight fight where you're overmatched. The early rounds aren't too tough but eventually the blows start to take their toll. By the later rounds you're getting dazed, leaving you vulnerable to a few big punches that end the fight in a KO.

    Also, what do you mean by "local"? As in areas besides L.A.? In terms of Seattle, I know some people don't care for metal but Seattle had some good non grunge bands. Queensryche, Metal Church, Sanctuary among others who released good stuff from 1988-1991. Those bands had fairly melodic singers too. I guess Alice In Chains is arguably metal as well.

    Another note about Last Action Hero; I heard a podcast (the Projection Booth) about it and the oldest commenter (an early Gen X-er) seemed to get enraged by anyone who liked the movie. The later X-er's and Millenials seemed to think the movie was funny and smart. I think having this smug crap get imprinted on late X-ers and Millennials must've thrown a monkey wrench into their aesthetic tastes.

    I rarely hear Boomers or to a lesser extent, early Gen X-ers, get that excited about 90's culture of any kind. Let alone the smarmy and soulless self aware garbage.

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  23. Local peak, as opposed to an absolute peak. The heyday of new wave and synthpop was '83-'84, then there was a lull for a few years. Not bad, just a drop from the dizzying high of '84. Songs from that lull aren't as distinct as a genre, compared to new wave.

    During the lull, people were searching for something new. By '87-'88, it congealed into another really distinct atmosphere. The simplest way to describe it is the sense of urgency -- it felt like the world could end tomorrow, and that we ought to help each other prepare for that possibility, or cope with its inevitability, rather than dread in isolation.

    "Livin' on a Prayer" and "Heaven" during the heyday of power ballads. "Like a Prayer" and "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" on the pop side. "Need You Tonight" for dance music. Socially urgent issues as in "Luka" and "Toy Soldiers"... and of course "Teenage Suicide (Don't Do It)".

    I'm just listing a few that come to mind, but you get the idea. The peak in '83-'84 was totally carefree. The next coherent phase in the late '80s was marked by more anxiety and urgency, though still optimistic that we can pull through if we just let our guard down, trust one another, and work together.

    When the end of the world failed to arrive, or when people just got too sick of the rising crime rates, they decided that trust and togetherness weren't enough, so you might as well go it alone. That started off in an accusatory mode during the early '90s, and then subsided into a more complacent atomization by the late '90s.

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  24. "Reading the Post 1987 charts is like a long heavyweight fight where you're overmatched."

    To make this a little more upbeat, I'll take a stab at a list of "hidden gems" from the Billboard Year-End charts after '87. Not any good song, since we know there's still plenty of good music. But lesser known or forgotten songs that remind us that the late '80s weren't so horrible compared to the absolute peak in '83-'84.

    Check 'em out if you've never heard them, or rediscover them if you have, and the late '80s won't feel like such a bummer.

    Starting with 1988:

    "Shattered Dreams" by Johnny Hates Jazz (the final new wave hit)
    "Foolish Beat" by Debbie Gibson
    "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" by Pet Shop Boys
    "What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)" by Information Society
    "Sign Your Name" by Terrence Trent D'Arby (way more rad than "Wishing Well")

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  25. "1989

    "Waiting For a Star To Fall" by Boy Meets Girl
    "Listen To Your Heart" by Roxette
    "Toy Soldiers" by Martika
    "Eternal Flame" and "In Your Room" by the Bangles
    "Buffalo Stance" by Neneh Cherry
    "Rock On" by Michael Damian
    "So Alive" by Love and Rockets
    "Sowing the Seeds of Love" by Tears for Fears
    "Lovesong" by the Cure
    "Stand" by REM
    "The Promise" by When In Rome

    This list is longer than the one for '88 only because the great songs of '88 are more well known. These ones from '89 got lost through the cracks of the Milli Vanilli / NKOTB moment at the time, and aren't as well remembered today.

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  26. 1990

    "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips (hard to believe the #1 of the whole year counts as a hidden gem today)
    "Don't Wanna Fall In Love" by Jane Child
    "Janie's Got a Gun" by Aerosmith (hidden because most would place it earlier in the '80s)
    "Enjoy the Silence" by Depeche Mode (ditto)
    "Love Shack" by the B-52's (ditto)
    "Free Fallin' " by Tom Petty (hidden since most would place it later in the '90s)

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  27. 1991

    "Unbelievable" by EMF
    "It Ain't Over 'til It's Over" by Lenny Kravitz
    "Impulsive" by Wilson Phillips
    "I Touch Myself" by the Divinyls
    "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega, remixed by DNA
    "Something To Believe In" by Poison

    I'll stop there, since '92 is a little too far outside the late '80s / early '90s zeitgeist.

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  28. No Richard Marx? In all seriousness, I do like some songs from '89-'91 quite a bit. Even the Bryan Adams/Marx style soft rock. Many of the songs you listed are ones I've got on compilations and even a few albums. I'd like to get the 1st Info. Society album which might be one of the very last synth heavy records worth owning, along with Depeche Mode's Violator which I do have.

    Selectively blocking out the droning, non melodic, goofy stuff of the period does make it possible to enjoy the era.

    One thing I noticed about the '92 album charts is that, contrary to the "Nirvana changed everything overnight" alternative propaganda, true blue metal bands like Guns 'N Roses, Def Leppard, and Metallica were still selling tons of records. Although I'd admit that those bands were better earlier, especially Def Leppard who made their best album Pyromania in 1983. Relatively straightforward and energetic grunge hard rock like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden had big records in the 1st half of the 90's. The full dorking out process wouldn't be complete until 1996, when guys started buzzing their hair off and acting grossed out by guitar solos.

    The continuing 90's popularity of the 80's metal bands/inspired alternative also probably says more about how aloof Gen X dominated angst bands largely failed to capture the hearts of the listening public.

    Going off the '92 charts, popular, superficially alternative groups branded as Gen X were often comprised partially or totally of late Boomers. Like Pearl Jam, The Cure, Red Hot Chili Peppers etc. And the younger non alternative groups that the media/snobs had lost interest in by '92 like Metallica, Def Leppard, GNR were totally late Boomer.

    The real period of X-er dominance was the 2000's, a uniformly, gut wrenchingly awful decade for music. I've heard you guys stick up for the short post 9/11 period, but I can't block the "let the bodies hit the floor" garbage from my brain.

    Franky, the excuse that early 60's figures dominated the art (but certainly not political or economic) trends of the mid 80's-90's is no reason to lump them in with true Gen X-er's born after 1964. Evidently Strauss and Howe gave that as a reason for using 1961 as the 1st Gen X year.

    But to me, the very fact that people born from 1965-1980 have so failed to produce enduring and charismatic artists ought to be used as a persuasive reason why the early 60's cohort is very divergent from definite X-ers. Yeah, we all thought that the ass kicking artists born in the early 60's were cool, but that doesn't mean they have the same values and temperament. Hell, the phlegmatic and distrustful nature of Gen X-ers makes them bad entertainers, since after all, you've got to be open and boisterous to really engage with an audience.

    In case anyone cares about Millennial artists, I do think that Millennials are a bit more interested in being entertainers, but they fail (and fail more than Gen X-ers) because they're so immature and they don't read people well. X-ers can read people but they typically aren't interested in putting on a show for them.

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  29. You're reducing Gen X music to "aloof and angsty" alternative music, a common confusion.

    Granted, aloof and angry at the world is no way to leave a good impression, or motivate you to come up with a catchy riff and melody.

    But Gen X-ers were also behind Britpop, a deliberately upbeat and melodic antidote to early '90s grunge, meant to engage the audience and get them worked up. Oasis and Supergrass may not have been as great as an '80s rock band, but it was only a few steps down given how early into the decline it was.

    In 2015, there's no more rock music because Millennials can't be bothered to learn to play an instrument. The only rock band that reliably pulls in an audience nowadays is Maroon 5, all of whom are were born in the late '70s.

    X-ers also made the most catchy and upbeat electronic music of the '90s -- Ace of Base. They weren't as great as ABBA, but they weren't uninterested in pleasing an audience, afraid of putting themselves out there, etc. And they weren't posers, a very rare thing in techno music.

    Nowadays, electronic music is still being made by Gen X Scandinavians, although it sounds worse than its ancestor of 20 year ago. Once more Millennials can't be bothered to learn how to play keyboards.

    As for singer-songwriter-infused pop, Alanis Morissette was no Kate Bush, but she made way catchier music than Ellie Goulding or Taylor Swift. Most of her hits were not angsty or bratty at all, but about staying mellow and rolling with the punches. She wasn't a shrinking mumbler, nor was she an annoying diva bitch.

    That's just the showing that Gen X made in the '90s. Remember that some of them were big in the '80s as well -- Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, NKOTB, New Edition, and other teen singers.

    Whatever someone thinks of teeny-bopper hits from the '80s, they can't say they were aloof, angsty, etc. And it was a lot catchier and engaging than what the Millennials put out as teens -- Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and the like.

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  30. Gen X performers do want to put on a show for an audience and be accepted. They're the Breakfast Club generation -- opening up, pleasing others, and forming a bond is the most important thing for them.

    What kept them from reaching the heights of the late Boomers was their self-awareness and introspection. It doesn't neuter your ability to open up and give to the audience, but it does make you somewhat self-conscious -- only somewhat, though.

    The Millennials don't want to open up and give to an audience at all. In fact they want the exact opposite -- to get showered with free hugs just for showing up on stage. They are too awkward to let their guard down even a bit, and are too haughty to find it worth pleasing others in the first place.

    "I'm gonna do my thing here, and if you guys don't recognize how epic my skills are, then I literally feel sorry for you having such bad taste."

    Millennials do want their self-esteem to be validated, but they don't want to do anything to deserve it. The world should tell them "You're amazing, just the way you are."

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  31. I wasn't enraged by anyone who likes The Last Action Hero, just my co-host who insisted it was a "masterpiece" and couldn't see my point of view. :)

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  32. I have to admit, this is the first time I've seen an argument about gay people not being successful in the arts. Kudos for originality. These statements:

    "gays never develop that level of motivation to master an instrument"
    "gays don't play instruments"


    are almost a non-sequiturs, especially given your song examples in the comments, with many of them written and performed (not just vocally) by gay people. As some have pointed out in the comments, there are plenty of master pianists (insert puerile joke) who were either closeted or out as gay. Of course, you have to qualify that fact with something about piano players being the center of attention, but then that only applies to soloists (on any instrument). I'm sure you're aware that some of the best popular music of the 20th century was written by gay people. Cole Porter is the obvious example, but there are plenty others, all of them quite proficient musicians. How about Elton John, a stupidly great songwriter and musician? Or half of the B-52s. Or George Michael? Or hell, Michael Jackson, for all his considerable faults. As for 80s music, a very obvious example is Culture Club, with Boy George co-writing most of the songs in a band with a gay drummer. If you appreciate 80s pop music, and it seems this crowd does, you most likely appreciate Culture Club.





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  33. Nobody said that gays aren't successful in music, but that their distribution is unusually biased away from instruments -- whether composition or performance -- and almost exclusively toward vocals -- whether writing lyrics or singing.

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  34. Nobody said that gays aren't successful in music, but that their distribution is unusually biased away from instruments -- whether composition or performance -- and almost exclusively toward vocals -- whether writing lyrics or singing.

    In rock music, maybe. Certain genres attract certain types of people, of course, so representation fluctuates between them. Rock music is mostly a straight phenomenon, where the presentation is mostly limited to the music itself, with theatrics seen as an add-on, not really necessary, and sometimes denigrated aspect of the overall package. I'll agree that gay people on average seem to prefer more theatrical genres like pop music, where the actual music is merely an aspect, equal to but no greater than, the overall production, which includes dancing, stage sets, etc. But then we get into the whole "authenticity" thing, where less theatrical genres are presented as somehow more authentic. Which is, of course, total bullshit. And so talent and interest in the singing and dancing aspects of a musical production are seen as less than talent in playing an instrument, and genres such as pop that highlight those aspects are seen as not as authentic or worthwhile as rock music. Never mind the rock acts that use theatricality.

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  35. Hard to think of a more theatrical genre than '80s rock -- yet hardly any queers.

    Disco was equally theatrical, dance-y, and worshiped by gay audiences -- yet hardly any queers.

    So theatricality is at best a second-order factor in determining how gay the makers of some musical genre are. The main one is how instrumental vs. vocal it is.

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  36. "You're right about DJ's being more gay. There were quite a few of them in the Wiki list of gay musicians. They just take someone else's stuff, speed it up, slow it down, mash-up two existing songs, sample a bunch of motifs, and expect worship from the club-goers as though they were an alchemical genius making gold out of musical lead."

    This describes a really popular subset of Millennial music. So many "artists" rip samples from older music and have rapping or beats from the Scandinavians you mentioned basically just playing over it. Look at groups like Super Mash Bros (right in the name, "Mashups") and White Panda. Immensely popular. Granted they take some skill no authentic expression. Then Millennials turn around and laugh their asses off at some idiot comedian doing a bit where he demonstrates on a piano that lots of pop songs are based on the exact same chord progression.

    You also mentioned Millennials basically being unwilling to learn an instrument. I think they almost see it as too earnest. Another vestige of lame times gone by. The only people my age that I've seen pursue a sort of rock career have chosen angsty brooding punk as their genre which is all that's left when you refuse to learn anything but power chords on a guitar.

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  37. AgentOrange4/28/16, 1:39 PM

    "In 2015, there's no more rock music because Millennials can't be bothered to learn to play an instrument. The only rock band that reliably pulls in an audience nowadays is Maroon 5, all of whom are were born in the late '70s"

    Zac Brown Band is a country, bluegrass, rock fusion kind of group and is relatively popular. They're highly proficient instrumentalists and solid composers. Some slow ballads, some high speed upbeat jams, some reggae sounds at times. Much more dynamic than Maroon 5 but not quite as well known.

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