Sunday, March 7, 2010

iTunes' Gay Pride Songs


iTunes has various collections of songs for sale that fit certain genres. One of these genres is gay pride. They have “Gay Pride Month”, “Gay Pride: Boys” and its sequel, and “Gay Pride: Girls” and its sequel. These all have different descriptions, with “Gay Pride Month” recommending various singers and promising a rocking Pride Month, “Gay Pride: Boys” talking about progress and suggesting a couple songs while suggesting items in the playlist would be good for a “pride party (or gay wedding!)”, “Gay Pride: Boys 2” highlighting various songs and promising “sultry sirens”, “Gay Pride: Girls” appealing to feminist values by essentially urging users to support female singers challenging a male-dominated world, and “Gay Pride: Girls 2” being more of the same as well as highlighting various songs. I think it’s interesting how they all take different focuses. I also find myself questioning if all the songs are really that relevant to the playlists they’re placed in.
Let’s look at “Gay Pride: Boys”. I’ll just view the first page. The first song on the list is LoveGame by Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga herself is relevant to the gay community being bisexual, but is the song relevant? I mean, it describes wanting to ride a “disco stick”, a clear phallic metaphor, so gay guys can at least relate to the sentiment. The problem is that it’s sung by a woman, and includes the lyric “The story of us. It always starts the same / With a boy and a girl and a [grunt] and a game”. That’s… not gay.
The next song is If U Seek Amy by Britney Spears. While this one is actually gay, I’m not sure why it’s in “Gay Pride: Boys”. Britney Spears is a woman singing about how “all of the boys and all of the girls want to ‘If U Seek Amy’ [F-U-C-K me]”. Shouldn’t that be in “Gay Pride: Girls”?
The next song is Feedback by Janet. Janet Jackson is certainly a gay icon, but is the song relevant? It’s about a teen girl saying she’s sexy and wants to have sex. She doesn’t say with whom, and there is some mention of her addressing girls (albeit in a way that implies they’re jealous), so one could imagine that she might be talking about wanting to have sex with girls. It’s a bit of a stretch, but one could say that the song has lesbian themes. Again, why isn’t it in “Gay Pride: Girls”?
Looking at the other songs, we have a few that are explicitly gay and belong, as well as some that seem unrelated but have general themes of being an outsider, and others that are lesbian-related and should be in the other playlist.
So, now let’s look at “Gay Pride: Girls”. One might imagine, from looking at “Gay Pride: Boys”, that it’s just overflowing with relevant songs that they need to stick some in the boys’. At first glance, that would seem to be true.
The first song is I Kissed a Girl by Katy Perry. It may be in question whether or not its content is bisexual in nature or just drunk straight girl experimentation, but it clearly has a lesbian theme. Okay.
The next song is All the Things She Said by T.A.T.U., which at least describes lesbian characters. The singers themselves may be fake lesbians, but the song itself describes a fictional scenario about lesbians. I’m willing to accept that as belonging.
Next song: Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper. This one can be construed as relating to lesbians, but it’s about a straight girl who wants to have fun with her boyfriend. Cyndi Lauper has performed at gay pride events, but it seems like Apple should value the song’s relevance over the artist’s.
Now, there’re plenty of songs here that are lesbian related, more so than “Gay Pride: Boys” has relevant songs. There’re also some I can’t figure out why are there, like Bitch by Meredith Brooks. The song sounds like a woman with BPD singing about her various moods to a boyfriend. There’s the lyric “you have to be a stronger man”. As far as I know, she hasn’t done anything for the gay community. It’s like Apple just consolidated lesbian and feminist stuff and called it “Gay Pride: Girls”. They’re not the same thing, though.
Looking at “Gay Pride: Boys 2”, we have a lot of songs written by women, many of them related to the gay community, about lusting after men. There are only a few truly gay songs. There’s also Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper. WTF? Yeah, I’m sure that would make great song for a boys’ gay wedding… Granted, the playlist description has changed from saying its songs would be good for a gay wedding and instead for showing pride with general attitude. Still, why have a girls’ song in the boys’ section?
“Gay Pride: Girls 2” has a mix of both lesbian-related songs and generic songs that could be interpreted as having lesbian or just gay themes. While the playlist description specifies that these artists are gay or gay-affirming, it keeps a definite feminist theme. While lesbians and feminists are definitely related, one does not equal the other. It seems wrong for a gay pride playlist to have heterosexual songs just because the artists are women challenging a patriarchal world.
Finally, “Gay Pride Month” seems to have a mix of songs from the various “Gay Pride” lists. There’s Lady Gaga, Elton John, Pet Shop Boys, T.A.T.U., and Indigo Girls to name a few. The selections look good, a lot of them gay-related, and it’s like the best of all the others were chosen to represent gay pride as a whole.
iTunes is remarkably gay-friendly by having this thing in the first place, which is commendable. It’s just that the playlists are worth criticizing. The lesbian playlists seem to be lesbian- and feminist- themed instead of just sticking to the title, and the gay boys’ songs are more just related in general. I don’t know if this says something about the availability of gay songs or what, but I would say that the playlists are definitely flawed and need more gay songs.

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