Why should the straights get all the good music?

The title's a twist on the old Christian quandry -- why should those breeding devils get good tunes, while we're left with lame? There is a certain amount of music, made by both queers and straights, that suffers from bad influences. I can understand making it through the 80s without hearing the Minutemen or Big Black, but to make music that ignores the existance of Nirvana seems perverse. Yet there are people who make music that sounds like Erasure if Andy Bell was tone-deaf and Vince Clarke played a Casio.

And there are people who are slogging away making unreconstructed, unironic takes on musical genres that are already being re-appropriated by postmodernists like Momus and Kiki and Herb. It's mind-boggling.

When asked to make a list of my favorite music, it's inevitably largely populated by straight males. Wouldn't it be lovely if there were queers who were making music as good?

Take, for instance, the Flaming Lips. Their music features psych production tricks, sounds twisted in unbelievable ways and lyrics that manage to be silly and deep simultaneously. Where is the queer equivalent? It's just not out there. Or is it, but I just haven't heard it?

Where is the queer Squarepusher? So many queer electronic musicians are content to make rote house music. Sure, there are exceptions, like found-sound re-forgers Matmos, and odd-meter junglist Evolve Now.

Where is a queer version of the symphonic pop of The Divine Comedy? Plenty of queers I know like to listen to Scott Walker, but why isn't anyone emulating him? I guess there just isn't the budget to hire orchestras. The only historical precedent I can find is late-70s British musician Robert Campbell, whose unknown album "Living in the Shadow of a Downtown Movie Show," is lush, Bowie-esque at times and ripe for re-release.

At this point, I'm not really interested in flat-out rock music, since it's a path that's been too-often tread. I'm more interested in melody and harmony that moves beyound three-chord, lyrics that are intelligent, pop sounds that bring chills. Where's the queer Brian Wilson?

Many examples of queer music that I'm sent are one-person studio projects. While there are certainly examples out there of lone genius, there are two things many one-person bands could do that would improve their music: get a collaborator or three, and perform in public. If you're doing music with other people, they'll be able to tell you when you've got a stupid lyric or a dumb idea, and you'll have a synergy between your musical inputs. And performing live gives you instant feedback on what audiences like and don't like, and will hopefully keep you from making a CD that nobody wants to hear and that will only take up space in your apartment.

Not to say that there aren't some worthy queers out there. The Magnetic Fields, and Science park, to name two, manage to combine tuneful songwriting, clever lyrics, and innovative self-production. But to the rest of you aspiring queer musicians, check your record collection and make sure you're not just emulating artistic dead-ends.


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