for a music post to have no links to songs or artists, I thought I’d need an explanation. In Case 2, I forgot her name and anyways the song is unavailable since it was sold to the Nashville Music Industry. In case 3, I’m making the assumption that the singer and his friend are romantically paired: he did not expressly state this, and so it is not my place to say. Thus, not being able to link to 2/4, I thought it fair to not link to any.
Do you remember the pop duets from the 80s, a man and a woman singing a love song to eachother? And then some years later, you’d hear a cover, sung solo by a man and all the gender nouns have been modified for a heterosexual relationship. And then in the 90s, another cover, sung by a woman, gender nouns not modified, and the punkish rendition is no longer heterosexual.
Some songs I heard live over the spring and summer reminded me of that. They made me think about how such a simple thing as gender nouns can completely change the story that the song is trying to tell.
The first was at BaltiCon. The song was about two guys who spend so much time arguing over Serenity vs Millennium Falcon that they squander away their social skills and find themselves un-romantically-attached.
It was a cute song, but I found myself annoyed with it. It left me as an observer, listening to a song about other people. Why limit this funny idea to geeky guys? Let me tell you, women do this too: Me and Tonya and the Great Doctor Who Marathon of Summer 2012 (currently undergoing a repeat) at the expense of our social lives. I mean, I can relate to the idea portrayed in the song, but the trope of guys so engrossed in their geeky obsessions that they are social mis-fits is so overdone that it’s boring. A simple change of the gender nouns would have made that song exciting and edgy. And anyways, why do we have to perpetuate the myth that smart people are sexually unattractive? *annoyed* I think I was especially disappointed in this song because fandom is so often forward thinking, and this song was not.
The next song was written and performed by a woman who writes songs for Nashville, to be sung by Country music stars. The sentiment of the song, as she wrote it, was a plea for the husband to please stop worrying over house chores and come to cuddle on the couch. “Come out of the kitchen,” is the main rephrase.
The song was sold and will be performed by a man. That’s too bad.
This could be an extraordinary, game-changing song. Sung as a man to a woman, it’s just yet another boring country love song. “Come out of the kitchen,” totally typical, who cares.
Number three was a simple love song about smiles and eyes, nothing particularly incredible, sung by a man, with catchy pop-moments of “oh girl”, and “girl” this and “girl” that. However, when he performed this live piece, he was singing it to his Mr. Man, a handsome fellow sitting at the next table over. I know it’s none of my business and not my place to say, but it just breaks my heart. What a phenomenal piece that could have been, with the gender roles appropriate for the performance. This singer/songwriter told his story about how he is new to songwriting and still looking for his niche. You’re staring right at it, I’m thinking.
The last one was the control study, and example of what can be done when the songwriter and performer are not hiding behind gender roles. It’s a song traditionally sung by a woman, in a very tarty, sex-kitten kind of way. Sung by a man, the gender nouns in the song unchanged (they’re not clear in the original), and performed in all seriousness, left us with all kinds of creepy unanswered questions: is he being funny? is he offering to perform sexual favors? to which chimney is he referring? The intent of the rendition is to creep out the audience, and that goal is well-accomplished.