New dance music both flirts with and proudly flaunts sexualities
By Gregg Shapiro
Datarock Datarock (Nettwerk), the domestically released debut disc by Norwegian electro-rock act Datarock, is a tease. The songs flirt with an array of sexualities while never actually committing to any. In fact, Datarock (which performs in Houston on September 19 at Warehouse Live) even goes so far as to proclaim that it prefers bicycles to bodies in opener “Bulldozer,” which includes the chorus lyric “BMX is better than sex.”
And yet, the very nature of the songs, which are clearly destined for places where dancing (vertical or horizontal) is encouraged, simply ooze sex. “I Used to Dance with My Daddy” is a sexy, strutting dance track whose title suggests all sorts of forbidden thoughts and whose lyrics perhaps imply something about phone sex. The subtly thumping “Computer Camp Love,” with its references to “Summer Nights” from Grease, is indeed pure camp, especially when the genitalia of the girl in the song comes into question. By this point, the dance beats are coming fast and furious on “Fa-Fa-Fa” and “Princess,” a song about someone who has “got the ass of a prince” as well as “a prince of an ass.” In “Ugly Primadonna,” a song with an unavoidable beat, lead singer Fredrik sings of a “secret love for him” in spite of the fact that he is a beast.
Even more suggestive, “Sex Me Up” is also a spot-on dance track, which echoes the Talking Heads at their most rhythmic, and finds Fredrik on his hands and knees, boasting about S&M proclivities and being neither butch nor femme. And that’s dance diva Annie doing a duet with Datarock on the deliriously disco closing track, “I Will Always Remember You.”
Like Datarock, Patrick Wolf takes his new wave influences seriously. And also like Datarock, there is an ambiguity to Wolf’s sexual identity. On the CD booklet cover for his album The Magic Position (Polydor/Low Altitude), he projects a flaming androgyny. On the bouncy “Bluebells,” Wolf even sings to the person who caught him when he “fell off the wagon/once more” that “you were/my husband/my wife.” Pumping and orchestrated album opener “Overture,” which invites listeners to “open wide/open up now,” sounds like it could be a distant cousin to a Rufus Wainwright number. The title track sounds like disco crossbred with Motown and is the album’s most joyful selection. “Accident & Emergency” has a clanging industrial dance energy that is impossible to ignore, and “Get Lost” comes off like a long-lost The The track. Wolf also has a flair for the dramatic, and who better than Marianne Faithfull to help him realize it on the sumptuous “Magpie.”
Geared toward the Disney-oriented Gay Days held last June in Orlando, but not limited to just the Magic Kingdom experience, DJ Randy Bettis must surely hope that Gay Days, Vol. 4 (Centaur), his house, techno, electro concoction, will be the soundtrack for Pride month brunches, bashes, and observances for years to come. Whether you are dancing to it with your buddies or girlfriends or determinedly talking over it, the dozen continuously mixed tracks provide the beats for whatever fuels you. The inclusion of openly queer duo Jason & DeMarco (Scotty K’s Surfside Club Mix of “This Is Love”) definitely ups the ante, and longtime GLBT supporters such as Billie Myers (“Just Sex”) and Suzanne Palmer (featured on The Absolute’s “There Will Come a Day”) effectively increases the Pride credibility. Also of note: Peyton’s cover of Christopher Cross’ “Ride Like the Wind,” which brings the tune galloping onto the dance floor where it has always belonged, and the inclusion of a disco chestnut such as “If You Could Read My Mind” by Viola Wills.
Performer, personality, and podcaster Jonny McGovern is a gay jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. On The Big Gay Sketch Show on Logo, he proves time and again how funny he isn’t. Musically, McGovern lucked into the kind of debut single that becomes a part of the popular culture, as was the case with “Soccer Practice” from his 2003 Dirty Gay Hits. With “Soccer Practice,” McGovern exhibited his flair for the funny and the fey, conveyed in both the song and the accompanying music video.
Through his Gay Pimp persona, McGovern has found a way to set the exploit of gay club-goers and their friends to music on his latest disc, Gays Gone Wild (Gay/Nerd Music). Disc opener “Girl, I F**ked Yo’ Boyfriend,” with its “he slipped and fell on my dick” chorus, is the closest thing here to recapturing the essence of “Soccer Practice.” McGovern even gets self-referential on “Somethin’ for the Fellas (That Like the Fellas),” referring to the title track Dirty Gay Stuff title track. “Orange Juice” has a vaguely Prince-ly feel to it, and “Electroboy” openly flirts with new wave revival. Ultimately, there are other performers out there, such as Johnny Dangerous and Cazwell, who combine butts, smut, beats, pumping hips, and hip-hop with better results.
Gregg Shapiro is a past recipient of the annual OutMusic award that recognizes contributions by non-musicians in furthering the work of GLBT performers.