On June 28, 1969, what was supposed to be a routine raid on a gay bar by the New York City police turned violent when patrons at the Stonewall Inn fought back, thus setting off the gay liberation movement. That pivotal moment was recognized one year later with a gathering in New York’s Greenwich Village, where the Stonewall Inn is located, and Gay Pride marches in Los Angeles and Chicago. The following year, Gay Pride marches sprang up in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin and Stockholm. The Pride movement grew with each passing year, and it continues to expand to this day.
Tunes du Jour celebrates 50 years of Pride with today’s playlist. Be seen. Be heard. Be proud. Celebrate. Love.
The B-52’s 1980 single “Private Idaho” made Pitchfork’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs from Punk to Present,” present being 2006. In his capsule review, Nitsuh Abebe wrote “Those who dismiss the B-52’s as silly or kitschy should live in fear of the frenzied last half-minute, which sounds like it’s out to track those people down, lock them up in cages, and make them go-go dance until they cry for mercy.”
Every Friday, Tunes du Jour tries to make you dance to welcome in the weekend. This week’s dance playlist kicks off with The B-52’s’ “Private Idaho,” featuring the vocals of Fred Schneider, who turns 65 today. (By the way, the B-52’s first performed in Idaho in 2011.)
In 1981, Pete Shelley reached #14 on the US Dance chart with “Homosapien,” a keyboard-centric single that sounded much different than his work as the lead singer of punk band The Buzzcocks.
“Homosapien” did not get much airplay in Shelley’s native England, as the BBC took exception to the lyric “Homo superior in my interior.” Shelley said the song was not intended as a “gay song;” rather, it’s about homosapiens falling in love with other homosapiens. That may be so, but the opening line is “I’m the shy boy, you’re the coy boy / And you know we’re homosapien, too,” so there is more than a little homo in this sapien.
Shelley lives as the homosapien of his song, eschewing labels because “there doesn’t seem to be a word for ‘having relationships with people,’” regardless of gender, which is where Shelley sees himself.
It’s Friday and I need to dance! It’s also Pete Shelley’s birthday (he’s 60), so we’ll kick off our dance party with “Homosapien.”
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My friend and fellow improviser Josh asked me to compile a playlist consisting of my thirty favorite new wave songs. This proved challenging, for what is new wave? As a genre there is no clear definition of the term. For some it’s any musical act from England that emerged between 1977 and 1985. For some it includes any band that wasn’t punk that played at CBGBs. For some new wave was defined by the way the synths or guitars were played. For others it was a look.
I decided to not get too caught up on a precise definition; otherwise, I’d make myself crazy. For example, initially I was hesitant to include songs by Cheap Trick, Cyndi Lauper, Kid Creole and the Coconuts and even Pet Shop Boys (the latter because the song I chose was a poppy number that hit in 1988), but then I decided a case could be made for each to be considered new wave.
I limited myself to one song per artist. The limitation imposed by using Spotify to create the playlist proved to not be so bad – only one song I would put in my top thirty is not on the service, that being Yoko Ono’s “Kiss Kiss Kiss.” I see some people writing Spotify thank you notes already.
Herewith are my thirty favorite new wave songs. Did I leave out any of your all-time favorites? Tell me in the Comments.