Queering Pop Music: In Which Justin Bieber Plays Games With My Heart

9 Jan

When I first heard the pop single “One Less Lonely Girl,” I thought it was an answer to my musical prayers. A love song for a woman, by a woman! On Kiss 95.7, no less, right between Akon and the Black-Eyed Peas. Queer music had hit the mainstream and oh, happy day.

Of course, after the song ended, the D.J. announced that the singer was one Justin Bieber. My heart sank, and further Googling confirmed my fears. Despite his short, shaggy haircut and rosy cheeks, Bieber is not (to my dismay) a progressive lesbian pop sensation. He’s a fifteen-year-old Canadian boy who uses his pre-pubescent vocal pipes to charm the ladies and deceive gay people everywhere. Yeah, oops.

My run-in with Justin Bieber only served to underscore my frustration that there are virtually no same-sex love songs. To be sure, there are queer musicians. But the songs they sing don’t fill the void I’m talking about. I suppose we are to assume that the person invited to Come to Melissa Etheridge’s Window was, in fact, female, but Melissa never specifies. Songs by queer artists tend to use heterosexual pronouns or no pronouns at all.

Jameson equated it, very wisely, I think, to the “It’s cool if you’re gay, just don’t make out in front of me” phenomenon. It’s okay for Clay Aiken to be gay, but can you imagine the public’s reaction if he came out with a ballad openly addressed to another man? Even less-visible public figures have shied away from producing openly queer music. While he and I both listen to our fair share of underground (and pretty queer) music, Rufus Wainwright was the only singer either of us could name who kind of writes the kind of songs we’re describing.

I understand and absolutely respect the political struggle that queer musicians have undergone, but being gay is more than that political identity. At the end of the day, it’s about who you love, and I think we’re all ready for a good gay love song. Where are queer songs about wanting, about romance, and about the beautiful men and women that make us so crazy? I want ballads, and I want bad, dirty pop songs, and I want sweet and catchy and sexy music that celebrates gay love. Same-sex pronouns and all.

Til then, I’ll keep changing pronouns in Taylor Swift songs* and identifying with male hip-hop protagonists as we lament, together, Damn, all these beautiful girls.



*More on that later.


2 Responses to “Queering Pop Music: In Which Justin Bieber Plays Games With My Heart”

  1. Jameson January 10, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    Seriously, lesbian or pre-pubescent teenage boy, you decide:

  2. nyublogt January 10, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    Friend, I could not agree more:


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