*not all of these songs are necessarily gay anthems, but regardless, they’re appropriate for this referendum. Well, possibly…
With the marriage referendum taking place tomorrow, I thought it’d be fun to compile a list of gay anthems. Obviously it’s not going to take the average person 2 hours and 30 songs to get to their polling station, but hey – I was trying to be pithy with that title! Besides, you can throw on the Spotify* playlist below as you await the results on Saturday. For a guide of the essential do’s and don’ts of voting tomorrow, click here. For referendum tunage, read on! Shout out to Edel for suggesting this article in the first place. Great call!
*sadly, Fellas by The Rubberbandits and Good Stuff by The B-52’s are not on Spotify, but YouTube links are included below
01. Madonna – Vogue
Inspired by a newly burgeoning dance craze of the same name, which was popularised in the underground gay scene in the bars and clubs of New York, Madonna’s Vogue became a worldwide smash hit.
02. B-52’s – Love Shack
Of the four members in The B-52’s, three of them are gay, so they qualify for this sort of list automatically by default, right? Also, their music is excellent and I couldn’t choose just one song, so here’s 2: the classic Love Shack and the ridiculously underrated Good Stuff.
03. B-52’s – Good Stuff
04. Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Relax
Holly Jonhson and Paul Rutherford of Frankie Goes to Hollywood were openly gay in the 1980’s. This was a time when homosexuality was still a topic which general society wasn’t ready or wasn’t willing to deal with. The lyrics below clearly showed a pop group that did not give a flying fuck what people thought of them. The controversy surrounding the song once again showed the world that there is no such thing as bad publicity: Relax went to number one in the UK, as did the two singles that followed thereafter.
Relax, don’t do it
When you want to suck it, do it
Relax, don’t do it
When you want to come
05. Blur – Girls & Boys
Okay, so maybe I’m being a little tenuous with the inclusion of this one but let’s be realistic here. There’s overtones of disco, and lyrics like this:
Girls who are boys
Who like boys to be girls
Who do boys like they’re girls
Who do girls like they’re boys
Always should be someone you really love
Yep, seems pretty damn gay to me!
06. Ween – The Rainbow
The words to this one speak for themselves:
Many colors in the homo rainbow
Don’t be afraid to let your colors shine
Many colors in the homo rainbow
Show me yours, I’m gonna show you mine
If you find a pot of gold
Then every little thing
Is gonna work out fine
In the homo rainbow
07. Hozier – Take Me to Church
In an interview with New York Magazine, Hozier elaborated on the meaning behind Take Me to
Sexuality, and sexual orientation — regardless of orientation — is just natural. An act of sex is one of the most human things. But an organization like the church, say, through its doctrine, would undermine humanity by successfully teaching shame about sexual orientation — that it is sinful, or that it offends God. The song is about asserting yourself and reclaiming your humanity through an act of love.
08. Arcade Fire – We Exist
The original press release of this 2014 Arcade Fire single had Win Butler describing the song as being “about a gay kid talking to his dad.” Additionally, when introducing the song at the Coachella festival last year, Win further remarked, “The right to marry anyone you want is a human rights issue.”
09. Franz Ferdinand – Michael
Arguably Franz Ferdinand’s best song, Michael has lyrics like the following:
This is what I am, I am a man,
So come and dance with me Michael
10. Electric Six – Gay Bar
This one speaks for itself. And it’s a peach to boot.
11. Tim Curry – Sweet Transvestite
It’s from the soundtrack to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and it’s about cross dressing, which is pretty gay. It also rocks.
12. The Rubberbandits – Fellas
Both shocking and hilarious in equal measure, The Rubberbandits were on top form with this, as per usual. The most blatant, balls-out anti homphobia song I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. It’s even got a seal of approval from Stephen Fry.
13. Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive
One of the most infamous disco songs of all time, I Will Survive is a gay anthem as well as an endorsement of female empowerment.
14. Abba – Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)
Another disco classic that needs no explanation.
15. C+C Music Factory – Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)
If you grew up in the 1990’s watching The Simpsons, before it became an atrocious parody of itself, it’ll be hard (or even impossible) to hear this song without immediately recalling Homer Simpson accidentally taking his son Bart to a gay steel mill. The final punchline lands with a disco ball dropping and C&C’s club classic blaring, as the entire steel mill starts to groove their asses off. They work hard, they play hard!
16. Pet Shop Boys – Go West / Fight Like Apes – Vote Yes
Initially this Village People track was performed by the Pet Shop Boys at an AIDS charity event organised by Derek Jarman in 1992. It was subsequently recorded and released as a single, going to number one in Ireland, among other places.
The Fight Like Apes version, shared mere days ago is done in a style which only FLApes could achieve. The Go West refrain is obviously substituted in favour of Vote Yes.
17. Erasure – A Little Respect
Singer Andy Bell is openly gay, and with Erasure acheiving 24 consecutive Top 40 hits in the UK, it’s not surprising that this, probably their best known single is nothing short of anthemic.
18. Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Power of Equality
Okay, so I’m bending the rules a little bit on this one. Lyrically, the song is clearly an anti-racism statement, although many of the lyrics can easily be applied to this referendum, assuming you’re on the yes side. It popped into my head after weeks of seeing the hundreds of “Yes Equality” posters around Dublin’s city centre. Besides, with the Chili’s One Hot Minute track Pea including lyrics like “Fuck you asshole, you homophobic redneck dick,” the band have made it pretty clear where they stand on homophobia.
The power of equality
Is not yet what it ought to be
It fills me up like a hollow tree
The power of equality
19. Lady Gaga – Born This Way
To her credit, Lady Gaga has been an advocator of LGBT rights for some time now. Born This Way is about being yourself and acceptance, much like this referendum in a some ways.
20. George Michael – Freedom! ’90
It could be argued that this song is partly about George Michael coming out, although he didn’t become open about his sexuality until the late 1990’s. Still, with record sales worldwide of over 100 million, there’s no denying that Michael is a bona fide icon. And this song is a classic.
21. Lou Reed – Walk On the Wild Side
Lou Reed’s 1972 hit single features lyrics referencing transsexuality, male prostitution and oral sex, during a time which such topics were still very much taboo. It’s also an absolute belter.
22. Judy Garland – Over the Rainbow
This one was (presumably) not intended as a gay anthem, but it certainly can be (and has been) interpreted as such. In the context of this referendum, it’s hard not to listen to it without being instilled with a sense of hope and anticipation for a positive result.
23. Gossip – Standing In the Way of Control
The noughties indie classic Standing In the Way of Control was written by lead singer Beth Ditto, as a response to the United States of America’s Federal Marriage Amendment, which effectively made gay marriage illegal.
Nobody in the States was that surprised or shocked by what Bush did, but it made everyone I know feel helpless and cheated. I wrote the chorus to try and encourage people not to give up. It’s a scary time for civil rights, but I really believe the only way to survive is to stick together and keep fighting.
24. Garbage – Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)
Cherry Lips was written by Shirley Manson drawing inspiration from the novels Sarah and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, both by JT Leroy. The two novels deal with themes of transsexuality and homosexuality. The song itself is insanely catchy. How it wasn’t a huge hit is beyond me.
25. Scissor Sisters – Take Your Mama
Take Your Mama is about a young gay man coming out to his mother. Singer Jake Shears is purportedly close to his own mother, and this track is inspired by her.
26. The Village People – YMCA
One of the most widely known gay anthems, this song remains understood and regarded as being a celebration of the Young Men’s Christian Association’s reputation as a hookup point for young gay men.
27. The Muppets – The Rainbow Connection
Another one that’s bending the rules of this article a little bit. Once again, lyrically it can still be interpreted as an anthem though. And it’s a gem of a song.
Some day we’ll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me
28. Placebo – Nancy Boy
Placebo’s Nancy Boy lyrically deals with drugs, sex and bisexuality. Additionally, the song calls out those who embrace homosexuality merely because it’s fasionable. Singer Brian Molko elaborated thusly:
The song also “criticises people who think it’s fashionable to be gay – guys who think that because ‘some of my best friends are gay’ that they are going to try it out because they’re in a milieu where it’s cool, but they haven’t actually felt the desire themselves. In the song, I’m questioning people’s reasons for sleeping with people of the same sex. In the same way that heroin is very hip today, being bisexual seems to be very chic.”
29. Donna Summer – I Feel Love
I Feel Love may be the ultimate disco anthem. It was also groundbreaking at the time, still sounding as fresh and invigorating as it ever did, 38 years on from its initial release.
30. Grace Jones – Pull Up to the Bumper
Is it a gay anthem or is it merely about parking your car? Check the lyrics out and decide for yourself. Either way though, it’s a banger*.
*sorry, couldn’t resist…
Pull up to my bumper, baby
In your long black limousine
Pull up to my bumper, baby
And drive it in between
Spotify Playlist Link: