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  1. #10926
    Hangin' Around cyrille's Avatar
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  2. #10927
    Thailand Expat Jofrey's Avatar
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  3. #10928
    Thailand Expat VocalNeal's Avatar
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    Radio Caroline Albums station. good workshop music?

    Radio Caroline

  4. #10929
    Thailand Expat Jofrey's Avatar
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  5. #10930
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    YMCA: redux with liner notes:

    The gay ecstasy of the Village People


    In our latest essay in which a critic reflects on culture that brings them joy, Jack King explains why, for all their cheesy reputation, the YMCA hitmakers fire him up like few others.

    I can’t recall exactly where I was when I first heard a song by the Village People. I was doubtless very young – as I remember, the venue was either a school disco or a wedding reception. It certainly wasn’t a sordid affair. I should admit immediately, though, that I suspect this memory to be made up. This is probably where we all imagine we heard Village People for the first time – those of my generation, at least: such is the way their biggest hits have become the sonic staples of our biggest events and get-togethers.

    However, be this memory real or simulacrum, it strikes me as hilarious given what the Village People are universally known for: tongue-in-cheek gay innuendo, sparsely covered by a flimsy veneer of hyper-macho drag. But they’re not ‘just’ gay. They’re almost overtly (homo)sexual. Their signature song YMCA – one of the most famous of all time, most recently appropriated by Donald Trump supporters, who have turned it into M-A-G-A – is about cruising for sex in a mens’ health club; others celebrate traditionally male-oriented institutions such as the navy and the police.

    Despite being queer pioneers, the Village People are now more often thought of as novelty act, thanks to hits like YMCA and Macho Man (Credit: Gett Images)

    Yet, because of the band’s supremely cheesy reputation, their music passed me by for a long time. I avoided it quite organically, actually; we all have to at least pretend we have high tastes, after all. Can you imagine being caught listening to the Village People with any kind of sincerity?

    Then, around a year and a half ago, I listened to their music out of choice – the listen that changed it all. It was actually an accident of Spotify’s algorithm – I had been listening to an album by revered disco pioneer Patrick Cowley, whose ethereal, frisky compositions, often soundtracks to ‘80s porn films, couldn’t be more different from the Village People’s stereotypical garishness. However the service’s automatic run-on feature clearly disagreed and decided that, when Cowley’s sensual, gay bathhouse-ready rhythms ended, ‘Macho Man’ would be a great follow-up. And so the opening drums of the track began: a repetitive “tssh-tssh-tssh, tssh-tssh-tssh”, a simple beat, but one which demands you shake your ass.

    The chorus of Macho Man has washed through pop culture like torrential rain. We’ve all heard some variation on the theme, be it the original, a football stadium chant, or Homer Simpson’s ‘Nacho Man’. Yet unlike most flash-in-the-pan pop hits, which stick to the teeth of pop culture like toffee, this was genuinely catchy. I let the song play out a few times. Once the novelty had worn off somewhat, I flicked on to another song, one I’d not heard (of) before: San Francisco (You’ve Got Me), a punchy, queer-coded ode to the bayside Californian city, which reimagines it as a hedonistic utopia (“Freedom is in the air, yeah / searching for what we all treasure: pleasure”).

    Their more popular tracks might be vacuous, but others envision a world in which male bodies could be free to come together without oppression
    For better or worse, I was hooked [at]– and soon I’d listened to nearly their entire discography. I found their later albums pretty awful, but I heavily rotated the first three (Village People, Macho Man, and Cruisin’) for a good six months, plus one or two other singles. It was all so fun; some songs, like Milkshake, which is literally about making a milkshake, were hilariously bad and more joyous for it. San Francisco, with its celebratory high tempo and soul-grasping jubilance, became my on-repeat running anthem. And I was fascinated by the empowerment I felt from Village People, the title track on their eponymous debut album, and an unambiguous call for gay liberation that sounds more akin to a protest chant than a chart topper. It lit a fire in my gut in a way few queer artworks have before. And all this from the Village People?

    The politics of disco

    Well, yes. Said first three albums (and especially the first two) carry a surprisingly political energy; the more popular tracks, such as the eponymous Macho Man, might be vacuous but others – take I Am What I Am, a defiant chant that suggests exactly what you’d expect it to suggest – envision a world in which male bodies could be free to come together without oppression.

    San Francisco was one of the gay meccas the Village People celebrated on their visionary debut album (Credit: Alamy)

    As far as evoking same-sex love goes, there was a precedent – from disco’s genesis, queered sexual positivity was the life blood of the genre, as Peter Shapiro identifies in Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco. “As the cultural adjunct of the gay pride movement, disco was the embodiment of the pleasure-is-politics ethos of a new generation of gay culture, a generation fed up with police raids, draconian laws and the darkness of the closet,” he writes. “That this new movement was born on the night of Judy Garland’s funeral couldn’t have been more appropriate.”

    That said, the genre’s lyrics tended to eschew more overt political statements – and the few that did carry an unambiguous message of gay liberation didn’t chart well. Queer pop historian Martin Aston cites the example of Carl Bean’s I Was Born This Way, released three decades before Lady Gaga’s riff on the same theme: “I Was Born This Way sold respectably but never charted. [...] Political disco was almost an oxymoron.” Yet, despite this, the Village People’s eponymous debut, certainly, can hardly be described as apolitical, even if it is the group’s reputation for frivolity that has endured within popular consciousness...


    Majestically enthroned amid the vulgar herd

  6. #10931
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    My 10 year old daughter was very happy this morning to know that I knew of BlackPink and that one of its members hailed from Buriram. (good job she didn't ask me to name any of their songs)

    I then played the following half a dozen times for her listening pleasure. she was not amused particularly with my singing.
    I have to admit though BlackPink look better.


  7. #10932
    Its all gleaming
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  8. #10933
    Its all gleaming
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  9. #10934
    Its all gleaming
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    Hugh alan kernow wasn't always the smartest cookie, with the stranglers he looked good.


  10. #10935
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  11. #10936
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  12. #10937
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    Born 8 years before my mum and one of her favourites, mine too


  13. #10938
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    I will go to hell for this, but just what would a tea bagging be like with a young Ella doing scat


  14. #10939
    Its all gleaming
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    last for now, sorry for the old stuff


  15. #10940
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NamPikToot View Post
    last for now, sorry for the old stuff
    ...even more old stuff: Monday morning pick me up...


  16. #10941
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  17. #10942
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    ...make a joyous noise unto whatever you believe in:


  18. #10943
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    ...thanks NPT for reminding me of the greatest music combo: Ella and Cole Porter


  19. #10944
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  20. #10945
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  21. #10946
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