Wrapping up Pride Month with the sixth and final installment of my Queer Music playlist series. Compare this playlist to the first one in the series and look at how far we’ve come in terms of representation and living openly. Coming up with 30 songs was challenging for the fifties/sixties program; limiting the tens program to 30 songs is tough. Much respect to all of the artists under the LGBTQ+ umbrella who didn’t make the cut. Keep on doing what you’re doing, and thank you.
Stating the obvious here: not only were their more openly queer and trans artists making their music heard as we entered a new century, the subject matter of songs related to LGBTQ+ people expanded as well. It’s pretty rad to compare this playlist to the 1950s/1960s one I made to kick off this Pride Month celebration.
What makes compiling lists of queer music by decades more challenging as we move forward in time is that the number of songs from which to choose keeps increasing greatly. For today’s playlist, I started with a list of several hundred songs by out LGBTQ+ acts or with LGBTQ+ subject matter, from which I whittled it down to the 30 tunes below. I second guess myself a lot. Should three of the first four songs be by straight-identifying acts? Should I include a lightweight novelty number over something by Maria McKee? (I decided yes, though I love Maria.) I didn’t necessarily choose my favorites. Instead I went for songs/acts that were on some level trailblazers. Here they be:
I know a woman who was dating a guy when it came out that he wasn’t familiar with The Kinks. Now she’s living as a lesbian, married to a woman who is a fan of the band. Such is he power of The Kinks. Get to know their music and you can get anyone you want, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. (This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Why would it have?)
I wasn’t a fan of The Beach Boys when I was a kid. It seemed that all of their songs were about either surfing, cars or girls, three things in which I had no interest. I’ve grown to appreciate them more over the years. Here are 30 highlights from their career:
Celebrating Sir Paul McCartney’s career in 30 songs is an impossible task. (I initially wrote that it’s a fool’s errand, but that was the first time I typed that expression and it felt weird.) Anyhoosle, this playlist isn’t perfect, though the songs on it are quite spectacular. I do have issues with the opening of “I Saw her Standing There,” however. Putting aside that she was just 17, the “you know what I mean” line that proceeds that rubs me the wrong way. After that, it’s smooth sailing.
Nineteen ninety-four was not one of rock and pop music’s pivotal years. I didn’t realize how lackluster it was until compiling this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist. I always begin such lists with a look at the pop charts of the year being spotlighted. What a sad state of affairs they were in 1994! I found around 15 good songs that peaked in the top 40 that year, and included all of them in this list (except for Ƭ̵̬̊’s “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” which is not on Spotify). A few great songs came close to making the Top 40, such as Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” (peaked at #41) and The Breeders’ “Cannonball (peaked at #44). More great (mostly “alternative”) tracks would have made the Billboard Hot 100’s top 40 if not for Billboard‘s archaic rule that in order for a song to be eligible for the Hot 100, it needs to be commercially released as a single. Record companies stopped releasing many singles in the late 80s so as to force consumers into buying more profitable full-length albums. What that means is the Hot 100, which was supposed to represent the 100 most popular songs in the US, did not represent the 100 most popular songs in the US. And what mad the top 40 in 1994 was a lot of wussy drek. And Kurt Cobain died in 1994. Not a good year for music. Here are its gems: