Sunday, 7 November 2010

Shut up and sing?

Ever since the golden age of disco, female singers have been intermittently churning out gay-friendly anthems to encourage and support their sparkliest fans. The songs themselves haven't always been explicitly pro-gay, but they tend to have a message that can be easily applied to the trials and tribulations of post-closet life.

These days, however, the divas are getting much more active when it comes to voicing their support for the gay community, beyond the occasional PA in a clothing-optional nightspot. Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Ke$ha have all become outspoken advocates of homosexuality, consigning Gloria Gaynor and Diana Ross to the bargain bin of homo-activism.

Despite still being months away from an official release, Gaga's 'Born This Way' is already being talked up by no less than Elton John as the ultimate gay rights anthem. So far, all anyone's heard is a short acappella snippet that Gaga performed whilst accepting her MTV Music Video Award. But that was enough to inspire a bunch of DJs to turn the sample into a stomping anthem that's been doing the rounds in every club from Christopher Street to the Castro.

Katy Perry's new single Firework is also being talked up as the official soundtrack of the 'It Gets Better' movement. Having pledged her support for the anti-bullying YouTube campaign, Katy managed to tear herself away from her epic nuptials long enough to tweet that "Everyone has the spark to be a firework.”

The video for the song features two boys snogging each other's faces off as a series of spectacular pyrotechnics burst from Katy's dynamic d├ęcolletage. This is starting to become something of a trend for the new Mrs Brand, since the film clip for her previous single 'California Girls' featured cans of whipped cream exploding from her bikini top. At this rate, by the time her third album is released, she'll have lactated the entire periodic table.

But the real surprise is Ke$ha - a girl with less depth than her own calendar. She's managed to cobble together a timely answer to the outbreak of suicides in the form of a new song called 'We R Who We R'. Presumably she was in such a rush to record it that she didn't have time to sort out the punctuation.
It turns out that when she's not brushing her teeth with bourbon and clambering out a skip, Ke$ha spends her time thinking about people “who haven’t felt accepted because of their sexuality.” 
Her new song is a rallying cry (autotuned, natch) for "people [to be] themselves unapologetically". Although it sounds like a rehashed megamix of all her other singles, Ke$ha believes that she's struck solid glitter this time - "I never could have imagined how much impact my music could have on people. I realized that through pop music, I have the opportunity to stand up for something I believe in.” Even if standing is something that she has trouble doing unaided. 
No doubt the critics will carp that it's all a cynical exercise in selling records and aligning themselves with all the right social issues. And at the end of the day, what difference can a bunch of pampered pop-stars really make? A lot, according to activist and sex columnist Dan Savage. He told the New York Times: “These songs are countering a hateful message that a peer, family member, politician or a bully might be saying. I get frustrated with gay politicos who discount or undermine the importance of pop stars. They’re a huge part of this fight.”
OK, it might be cause for concern that vapid pop tarts like Katy Perry and Ke$ha are the only hope for the world's disaffected gay teens. But given the amount of support they can expect to receive from this niche audience once they find the nerve to throw open the closet door, it's the least they can do.

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