Lately, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has been in the news a lot, especially with Monday’s Supreme Court non-decision leading to marriage equality in five more states. So, what does this have to do with music you may ask? A lot, actually. While LGBT themes in music have been around for a while, the increased amount of attention they’ve been getting has led to more and more songs with LGBT themes. With his newly released song, “Queen,” gay artist Perfume Genius created another LGBT anthem to add to the list.
Perfume Genius is the name of a project by singer-songwriter Mike Hadreas. In 2010, Hadreas became active on the music scene, releasing his debut album “Learning” to critical acclaim. (Heck, the album even got above a 5 on Pitchfork.) He released his second album, “Put Your Back N 2 It,” in 2012, which spawned the semi-popular single “Hood.” However, Hadreas’ third album, “Too Bright,” is what put him under the radar of alternative music. The album has more depth of sound than his previous two, and the songs deal with different lyrical ideas. One of those songs is the album’s first single, “Queen.”
At first listen, “Queen” may not sound like it has much to do with the LGBT community. The distorted guitars and other electronic sounds in the background are the track’s most prominent features, with the actual vocals and lyrics being pushed to the back burner. If you listen closely to Hadreas’ muffled vocals, though, the song’s message becomes pretty clear.
The lyrics make it pretty clear that Hadreas meant for this song to be a satire. The initial refrain of “Don’t you know your queen?” is basically Hadreas telling the LGBT community to embrace their queer identity, changing queer to queen to make the song more empowering. After the refrain, Hadreas begins to use many negative adjectives like “whipped” and “riddled with disease.” This references the conservative view that LGBT people have something wrong with them, or that being LGBT is a disease. The song’s chorus, perhaps the most noticeable lyric, is another direct attack at the opposition to LGBT rights. In the simple lines, “No family is safe/When I sashay,” Hadreas pokes fun at both the idea that LGBT rights will corrupt traditional family values and that all LGBT people are overtly flamboyant by jokingly warning all families of his exuberant walking.
Through “Queen,” Hadreas has definitely empowered the LGBT community and made another anthem. I’m definitely looking forward to more LGBT-positive music in the future, not only from Perfume Genius but from many other artists as well.
P.S. If you liked “Queen,” my other recommendations from Perfume Genius would probably be “Grid,” “Normal Song” and “Gay Angels.” But even this is just a snapshot of his talent, and you probably should just listen to all three of his albums in full. Trust me, you won’t regret it.