2010 Year in Review: Music


Guess who’s gay

One of the biggest trends of the last year was the elusive sexuality game. “Is she/isn’t she?” surrounded many female pop stars, whose comments would range from “I love everyone” to the professing (and later renegging) of bisexuality. This also extended to become part of an asexual-type aura, where artists hoped they would be received and (and subsequently sexualized) by everyone, no matter their gender and sexual orientation.

The biggest offender also happened to be one of 2010′s biggest new stars. Nicki Minaj has been rapping lyrics about lesbians and women since before she signed to Young Money Records, and she continued to flirt with the idea of being sexually interested in them in videos like Usher’s “Lil’ Freak.” But the more successful she became, Nicki backed away from an interest in females, and later told Rolling Stone she had faked the whole thing for attention.

Pop singer Ke$ha was one of 2010′s biggest earners, and she told The Advocate she is interested in “everyone.” Though she hasn’t publicly dated any women, it seemed she was speaking from her party girl persona, and is also friends with fauxosexuality marketing queen Katy Perry — she even made an appearance in her “I Kissed a Girl” video before hitting it big on her own. (Both women recorded songs/videos they hoped would become “gay anthems” this year. The jury is still out as to if they’ll be adopted.)

Perhaps Ke$ha and Katy were taking a page from Lady Gaga‘s book, as Gaga is the biggest star of the last two years. She also happens to be a huge LGBT advocate and has kissed a woman in two videos in that time, most notably in her Beyonce collaboration, “Telephone,” one of the most-watched videos of all time.

Lady Gaga’s openness about her bisexuality might have tipped some artists off that pandering to the gay community could be beneficial rather than stifling. However that doesn’t always include real life identification. Though rumors have surrounded both Rihanna and Christina Aguilera, both women took their perceived sexual fluidity to a new level in music videos this year. Rihanna’s “Te Amo” starred a model as Rhianna’s lover; in “Not Myself Tonight,” Christina kisses and straddles a woman bound to a chair. Coincidentally, both videos have a bondage theme.

But outside of performance, Christina and Rhianna date men, and comments on their sexuality have been more of a titillating response. This isn’t to say they aren’t bisexual, or that they are definitely straight; but as of now, they seem to know the power they have in teasing women — or teasing men with the idea that they love women.

On the other side of things, there are pop stars who are perceived as lesbian or bisexual who refuse to give themselves a label. La Roux’s Elly Jackson, Katie Melua and Janelle Monae don’t discuss their sexual preferences with the press and, when answering questions about their sexualities, often give vague comments. But all three of these artists have also made comments that indicate they are not as sexually fluid as we might have thought, making sure their orientation is not part of their appeal — or rather that their lack of orientation is part of the appeal.

It’s hard to decipher with these artists if this is a closeting-type situation. If they are truly queer in any way, it comes off as a personal affront that they don’t want to claim their part in our community. But there’s also the idea that their personal lives shouldn’t have an effect on them as artists. Nonetheless, the public is always interested in the personal lives of public figures, and the lesbian community is always looking for more great, relatable role models, especially in the music realm.

While some still doubt Lady Gaga’s bisexuality, choosing to put her into the same category of the aforementioned women, Gaga has had a fabulous year when it comes to being up front about queer issues and making sure to push boundaries in every way, including gender stereotypes. She donned a strap-on for Q magazine, modeled as a male alter-ego for Vogue Homme Japan and also managed to be named one of the world’s most powerful women and most powerful and influential person by Forbes magazine.

She’s one of the best new faces of bisexuality that we have today, and this should continue into 2011 with her upcoming album, Born This Way.

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