Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Sound of Queer Music 2015, Vol. 2

Volume two in a five-part, end-of-year series celebrating artists and bands that fucked with the heteronormative cultural bias in 2015.

Bloc Party. This English indie band re-emerged in 2015 with a new rhythm section supporting vocalist Kele Okereke. The release of a pair of singles from a forthcoming album suggests that their creative engine is just fine.
Bloc Party, left to right:  Justin Harris, Louise Bartle, Kele Okereke & Russell Lissack 
Song & Video: "The Love Within." A perfect electronic funk-pop hymn. And the video is pretty irresistible -- just the band and few other folks hanging out at the mall, dancing up a storm.



MIKA. I often think of this Lebanese-born British singer as the pop offspring of Elton John and Freddie Mercury -- he's got a hearty theatrical inclination, a knack for writing freewheeling pop, and an impressive vocal range. In 2015, MIKA released his fourth album, No Place in Heaven, a satisfying marriage of mature themes with playful pop.

MIKA (born Michael Holbrook Penniman, Jr.)
Song & Video: "Good Guys." This is an example of what MIKA does really well: blend not-so-mainstream lyrics -- like Where have all the gay guys gone? -- with a repurposed Oscar Wilde quote and an arrangement that includes a children's choir. Damn. Then he lets the Paris-based duo known as I COULD NEVER BE A DANCER choreograph the video to sublime effect.



Vanessa Carlton. In 2002, at the age of 21, Vanessa Carlton released "A Thousand Miles" to widespread worldwide success. It's catchy and charming and bursting with youthful exuberance. People expecting more of the same on subsequent albums were surely surprised to find that Carlton's songwriting took a more confessional tone with personal introspection way beyond the sweetly yearning lyrics of that big hit single. In 2010, Carlton came out as bisexual while performing at the Nashville Pride festival.

Vanessa Carlton
Song & Video: "Operator." Carlton told Billboard that the song is about an older woman convincing a younger man to leave his family to be with her. "Also, the song happens to be about a woman and a boy, but it could easily be the story of two women or two men." So lyrically, it's a thousand miles away from "A Thousand Miles," And her maturation as an artist is a beautiful thing to behold. The moody video skips Carlton's backstory for a different idea. The director "basically reversed the age-old story of kids running away and instead had the parents run away."



Volume one in this series is here.

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