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June 13, 2006

iTunes Goes Gay

Did you know that June is Gay Pride Month?

I didn't!

Honestly, I'm a bit surprised. Wouldn't May have been a better month to celebrate Gay Pride? Not only does May rhyme with gay, but the month is often referred to as "merry", which is a synonym of gay. It's not important, though. For me, every month is Gay Pride Month! Also, I consider every month to be Black History Month, Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month and Legume Appreciation Month. Lentils are just too delicious not to appreciate all year long!

However, I wouldn't have even known there was a Gay Awareness Month if it wasn't for the iTunes Music Store. When I fired up iTunes today, I noticed that the iTMS is featuring a Gay Pride playlist in celebration of the holiday. Rock on! Though I am not an actual gay, I have always considered myself an aficionado of gay music. I'm the only heterosexual I know who owns Erasure's Greatest Hits, plus a handful of Pet Shop Boys CDs.


Indeed! For this reason, I consider myself fully qualified to evaluate the quality of this Gay Pride playlist. To facilitate this review, I'm bringing back an old friend: Pink Joey in a Cowboy Hat.


You may remember this colorful character from my Brokeback Mountain review. Also, you may have seen him down at the gay rodeo, where he sells bootleg Cher DVDs in the parking lot.

Anyway, for any of you who are new to iTunes Essentials playlists, here's how they work. Each playlist consists of 75 songs, broken down into three 25 song groups: The Basics, Next Steps and Deep Cuts. In this case, The Basics are intended for newbie gays and for those who are just a little gay-curious. This is a playlist for listeners who have only just begun to dangle their toes in the Waters of Gayness. As such, it contains few surprises. The Weather Girls "It's Raining Men" is an obvious classic, as is The Village People's "Y.M.C.A." Rounding out the playlist are remixed tracks by Cher and Bette Midler, alongside the obligatory Brokeback Mountain Theme disco mix. This playlist is sufficiently gay, I suppose... but there are too many filler tracks. Madonna's "Hung Up" and Rihanna's current hit single "SOS" are danceable pop songs, but they do they really inspire feelings of Gay Proudness? Tracks by Kelly Clarkson and The Pussycat Dolls seem like afterthoughts, and the inclusion of Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy" is equally offensive to gay and straight listeners. Even so, The Basics section of this playlist is serviceable. I'll give it three Pink Joeys in a Cowboy Hat.


For listeners who have already embraced The Basics of Gay Pride listening, iTunes offers Next Steps. This is a playlist for those who are no longer content to merely dangle their toes in the Waters of Gayness -- they're ready to jump right in! The signature track of this playlist is "Dear Mr. President", a collaboration between P!nk and the Indigo Girls. When a butch R&B pop star gets together with two even butcher alterna-folkies, the result is positively Pride-tastic! Furthermore, as a heterosexual male, the mental image of a three-way make-out session between P!nk and the Indigo Girls may actually be enough to turn me gay. At least temporarily, like that one time at Boy Scout Camp. The rest of the Next Steps playlist is a diverse mix of classic disco ("I Feel Love", Donna Summer), europop (Erasure/Pet Shop Boys) and -- of course -- Madonna. I'll award this playlist five and a half Pink Joeys.


Finally, iTMS presents Deep Cuts. As a card carrying music geek AND keen supporter of Gay Pride, I expect this playlist to take it TO THE NEXT LEVEL (of gayness). Upon first glance, it looks solid. Liza (with a Z) Minnelli finally makes an appearance, as does Judy (with a D) Garland. The inclusion of Bette Midler, Queen, and RuPaul not only promotes Gay Pride, but also serves to confirm lazy stereotypes of modern homosexual music preferences. And I'm all about lazy stereotypes! However, I expect more from a playlist called Deep Cuts. Ultimately, this playlist cuts no deeper than your average adolescent goth chick. First of all, what's up with the lame mid-90s dancepop? Haddaway's "What is Love" and Amber's "Just Like That" are hardly cutting edge club rockers -- unless every gay bar in the world got sucked into a timewarp back to 1994. Also, the Janet Jackson and Mary J. Blige tracks aren't gay enough. Not nearly enough! Finally, including "All Things (Just Keep Getting Better)" -- the theme song from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy -- is sort of like putting The Cosby Show theme on a Black History Month compilation. LAME! I'm only giving it 2 Pink Joeys.


Overall, I'm disappointed with iTunes' Gay Pride playlists. Sure, they're gay... but they could be much gayer. Where's Morrissey? Where's Le Tigre? Where's the Army of Lovers?


Yikes... these guys might actually be TOO GAY for Gay Pride Month. Perhaps we should make July "Really Gay Pride Month", just so the Army doesn't feel left out?

Posted by Joey at June 13, 2006 11:28 PM

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Fun Fact: The word "gay" occurs 32 times in this piece. That's a whole lotta gay.

Posted by: joey at June 13, 2006 11:47 PM

i don't have itunes, but!

was there any bronski beat? possibly some erasure? if you are going with homosexual dance music you can't rule those two out.

Posted by: takahiro at June 14, 2006 01:11 AM

Both Erasure and Bronski Beat were well represented. One of the Erasure tunes was one of their BALLADS though, which was disappointing. They also had a Andy Bell song, remixed by Vince Clarke... so that pretty much counts as an Erasure track for my purposes. The trouble was that they had a lot of totally lame mid-90s dancepop to fill in between the decent stuff.

I could have done a much better job with those playlists, that's for sure. I've got my finger on the pulse of Gay America! (And don't ask me precisely WHERE I'm taking that pulse).

Posted by: joey at June 14, 2006 01:44 AM

I've been reading Joey's Headset for a while now and while I have no expertise in this field, you definitely should pursue contacting media
outlets about syndicating your writings as weekly newspaper columns.
You have a unique slant on different issues and your entries are much more funnier than many of the established newspaper columnists. Their
suppose to be funny, Right???? :)

Posted by: J.Michael at June 16, 2006 04:37 PM

Thanks, J. Michael! I do a bit of freelance writing on the side... but it would be nice if I could get a gig as a newspaper columnist. Then people could line their hampster cages with my writing.

(BTW, my site is actually called "Joey Headset", not "Joey's Headset". I don't actually own a headset.)

Posted by: joey at June 17, 2006 12:32 AM

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