Pop music missing GAY MEGASTAR
Freedia, Le1f and Zebra Katz have gotten notice with flamboyant esthetics (many incorporate drag or subversive performance art into their act) and unapologetically gay rhymes.
Freedia, who has been around since the 1990s and helped put sweaty, twerk-centric New Orleans bounce music on the map, has a reality show on Fuse tracing his growing fame.
Blanco is winning over critics with his venomous rhymes channeled through a drag character who switches from streettough male to ultra-feminine. And since breaking out with party anthem Wut in 2012, New York rapper-producer Le1f scored a deal with Terrible Records and made his TV debut on the most mainstream of platforms — The Late Show With David Letterman.
Their success, and rising female voices such as Banks and Angel Haze openly discussing their sexuality, continues to challenge hip hop’s unacceptable yet shamefully tolerated misogynist and homophobic ways. Other genres are shifting, too.
Last year, Steve Grand went from an unknown singer-songwriter and underwear model to viral celebrity in just a week after his video, All-American Boy, a tale of sweet, unrequited love for another man, amassed more than 1.2 million views on YouTube in 10 days. The country tune quickly gained traction for its groundbreaking potential in a genre that has been particularly shy about gay acts. Internet virility (and his striking looks) worked in his favour, and the US$81,000 budget he set on Kickstarter to fund his debut album was matched four times over.
American Idol, which has been around for a dozen years, only recently had its first openly gay contestant when M.K. Nobilette competed last season.
Nobilette wasn’t the first gay competitor on the singing competition, but in previous years the show didn’t have contestants discussing their sexual orientation on camera despite delving, profoundly, into their personal lives.
The show’s most famous gay contestants, Adam Lambert (who never hid his sexuality) and Clay Aiken, “came out” after appearing on the show, although the media speculated on their orientation and the voters’ readiness for an openly gay winner during their seasons. Now Smith seems poised to make another kind of splash. Since exploding on U.K. radio with hit collaborations Latch and La La La, all eyes have been on the baby-faced singer, 22, with stunning vocals and a knack for gorgeous, emotional balladry. His single Stay With Me has cracked the Top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and his highly anticipated debut, In the Lonely Hour, entered the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart this week at No. 2.
In the Lonely Hour bursts with painstaking honesty and rawness that pack more emotional wallop than anything currently on radio. The album is dedicated to Smith’s unrequited love for another man.
“Set my midnight sorrow free, I will give you all of me / Just leave your lover, leave him for me,” he yearns on Leave Your Lover.
Predictably, the song’s lyrics and music video have ignited rampant media speculation. Like Ocean, he kept his response low-key, saying recently the album is “about a guy, and that’s what I wanted people to know — I want to be clear that that’s what it’s about.”
Maybe one day these moments won’t feel so groundbreaking.
— Los Angeles Times