[29 October 2009]
The phrase “no homo” (signifying that the user isn’t gay) is used often in music now, especially in heavily auto-tuned rap cameos appearing in otherwise generic pop songs, but it still makes me laugh every time I hear it. Most of the time, the words are used after either the most innocuous of statements (“the light turned green, no homo”) or after the most unabashedly gay statements (“I enjoy having lots of sex with men, no homo”). Either way, the phrase makes no sense.
Cam’ron, Lil’ Wayne, and Kanye can protest all they want, but in my experience, most men don’t worry whether something they say might be misconstrued as sounding gay. And if a man actually said something “gay” inadvertently, most of them would laugh it off and promptly forget about it within two minutes. It’s just not something your average guy, regardless of orientation, worries about.
Let’s be brutally honest, shall we? When someone says “no homo”, it usually translates as “Omigod, did that sound gay? ‘Cause I’m not gay! I have never placed ads on craigslist looking for hot man-to-man loving, those magazines hidden underneath my sweaters in the bottom dresser drawer actually belong to my sister, and I have a girlfriend in Canada that I have major sexual intercourse with all the time!”
My suggestion? If you’re worried something you’re about to say (or rap on a record that will be heard by millions and last forever) could be taken as homosexual in nature, find a different way to say it that doesn’t require you to explain your sexual orientation in a suspiciously defensive manner. And if you ever decide to peek out from behind the door and take baby steps into the open, here are a few one-hit wonders that are, in fact, homo and aren’t obsessed with staying in that narrow closet you prefer.
Although the original version by Gloria Jones failed to chart, Soft Cell’s cover of “Tainted Love” became a number one hit in the United Kingdom and a Top Ten sensation in the US. The song spent ten months on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982, and twenty years later the group was named the second best one hit wonder of all time by VH1 (a dubious accomplishment considering Los Del Rio, the group that brought us the “Macarena”, took the number one position).
Although Soft Cell never had another Hot 100 hit in America, Marc Almond, the openly gay lead singer, had a minor hit as a solo artist with “Tears Run Rings”, which peaked at #67.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood
In Britain, “Relax” was the first of three number one hits for Frankie Goes to Hollywood and was extremely controversial. The original video was banned by the BBC because it took place in a gay S&M bar and featured full-frontal nudity. The song itself was also banned (after an incredible three months of being played) because a disc jockey decided “Relax” was “overtly sexual”.
In the United States, “Relax” spent less than two months on the Hot 100, peaking at #67. The follow-up single, “Two Tribes” did somewhat better, making it to #43. But then a remix of “Relax” was released that became a top ten hit almost a year after the original version had stalled. Frankie Goes to Hollywood never became more than a one hit wonder in America, but the t-shirt inspired by the song (“Frankie Say Relax”) has popped up everywhere from Friends to Mark Millar’s Chosen miniseries.
It’s not surprising that k.d. lang didn’t do well in the United States as a country singer (although she had a number one country hit in Canada with “Full Moon Full of Love”). While every other genre embraces a wealth of different styles, Nashville insists that all country singers fit a specific, extremely limited form of country-pop. This doesn’t mean that a lot of great songs aren’t recorded by a lot of great singers, but recordings that do not (or will not) fit into a particular mold fight, with few exceptions, an extremely difficult battle for airplay.
After abandoning country music, lang had her biggest success with “Constant Craving”, a Top 40 hit on the Hot 100 that went on to win her a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for 1992. This is a recording of her singing live in Sydney, proving she has one of the most powerful voices in any genre.
Right Said Fred
It’s amazing which songs become hits and which ones don’t. On December 21, 1991, Eddie Money’s “I’ll Get By”, Guns N’ Roses cover of “Live and Let Die”, and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away” (a song that’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) all debuted on the Hot 100. Eddie Money peaked at #21, Guns N’ Roses only reached #33, and the Peppers never made it past #73.
“I’m Too Sexy”, which also first appeared on the chart that week, became a smash hit, however, staying at #1 for three weeks. Who would have known a novelty song making fun of models would become a sensation? In case you’re wondering, Fred Fairbrass, the guitarist, is straight. But his brother, Richard, is bisexual and makes no apologies for it. I guess you could say he’s too sexy for just one gender, LOL.