Queer Music of the 1990s

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:

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Throwback Thursday: 1988

Nineteen eighty eight was, on the US pop music chart, one of those in-between years. The “New Wave” British invasion had greatly subsided and England wasn’t as much of a presence on the charts as it was a few years earlier. Rap was increasing in popularity and hitting the top 40 more frequently, though it was still a far cry from the dominant position it holds today. Of the hip hop song’s on today’s playlist, only two made it onto the Billboard Hot 100 – LL Cool J’s “Goin’ Back to Cali,” which peaked at #31, despite selling a million copies, and Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock’s “It Takes Two,” which peaked at #36, despite selling two million copies. Alternative music lived up to its genre name as an alternative to the music on the pop chart, so if you wanted to hear Sonic Youth or The Dead Milkmen or The Primitives, you had to tune into college radio or the stations on the left side of your FM dial. Those artists, alongside U2, R.E.M. and INXS, could be found on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart, which premiered in September of 1988. New Jack Swing tracks from artists such as Keith Sweat remained popular on Black radio and crossed over, while Black artists such as Tracy Chapman and Living Colour failed to make much of an impression on Black radio. So-called Hair Metal was a presence on the pop chart; grunge would help fix that in a few years. Configuration-wise, CDs outsold vinyl LPs for the first time in 1988, though cassettes outsold both.

Here are thirty of 1988’s finest:

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Prince: Compositions

Around ten years ago, while I was working at Warner Music, we were trying to think of catalogue projects that may engage Prince. One of my suggestions was a two-disc set in which one disc consisted of Prince songs recorded by others and the second disc was Prince’s demo versions of songs made famous by others.

Two weeks ago Warner released on Tidal Prince’s Originals, demo versions of songs Prince wrote that were recorded by other acts. (It hits others streaming services tomorrow, with CD and vinyl releases coming as well.) I’m not saying Warner took my idea without giving me credit; I’d be surprised if I were the only person who thought of it.

Today’s Tunes du Jour playlist is the concept of the other disc of my proposed set – songs Prince wrote or co-wrote performed by other acts. It’s not exactly what I envisioned that disc to be, as many (MANY!!) of the songs I would choose are not available on Spotify. There’s all the Paisley Park material that reverted to Prince (Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, Mazarati, Jill Jones, The Family, Ingrid Chavez, etc.), as well as commercially-released covers that for whatever reason are missing, by artists such as Foo Fighters, Robyn, Jesus and Mary Chain, Mavis Staples, Eels, and Living Colour.

Even with those limitations, not a bad list. Enjoy!

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Glenn’s Ten – 8/12/14

Demi Lovato’s “Really Don’t Care” moves from #4 to #1 in Glenn’s Ten this week. There are three new entries – “New Dorp, New York” performed by SBTRKT featuring Ezra Koenig, “Chandelier” by Sia and “Dark Sunglasses” by Chrissie Hynde. This is SBTRK’s first appearance in Glenn’s Ten, while guest vocalist Koenig has been in the countdown a handful of times with his band, Vampire Weekend. Sia has been in Glenn’s Ten previously as a co-writer of Britney Spear’s “Perfume;” this is her first time in the ten as an artist. Chrissie Hynde showed up in Glenn’s Ten many times with her band Pretenders and with UB40 on a cover of Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe.”

Glenn’s Ten for this week is:
1. “Really Don’t Care” – Demi Lovato featuring Cher Lloyd
2. “Do You” – Spoon
3. “New Dorp, New York” – SBTRKT featuring Ezra Koenig
4. “All the Rage Back Home” – Interpol
5. “Chandelier” – Sia
6. “Nothing More than Everything to Me” – Christopher Owens
7. “You Are Your Mother’s Child” – Bright Eyes
8. “Dark Sunglasses” – Chrissie Hynde
9. “Left Hand Free” – Alt-J
10. “Heart is a Drum” – Beck

Rounding out today’s playlist are ten tunes that were #1 on this date in Glenn’s Ten history, in reverse chronological order.

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LGBT Pride And Black Music Month

June is LGBT Pride Month. June is Black Music Month. June is Audiobook Month. June is busting out all over.

For eleven months out of the year I stay in the closet and listen to Mantovani while reading actual books, but in June I am Marvin with a capital Gay.

Tunes du Jour will celebrate LGBT Pride and Black Music all month long (you’re on your own for Audiobooks). Here is a sampler to kick off the celebrations.

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