One day soon here’s hoping we’ll see an American pop hit from a bona fide out LGBT artist or act.
You don’t have to look very far for some prime candidates: Cheyenne Jackson has just released I’m Blue, Skies, a shiny, sparkly new pop album with many songs perfectly attuned to Glee generation ears. Of course, European pop star Mika and Jackson’s fellow Broadway veteran Gavin Creel, to name another two, both released great sets with some radio-ready pop tunes in 2012. But despite best attempts by this writer and others, if you have heard much from or about Mika or Creel, it certainly wasn’t on American pop radio.
The band fun. graces this week’s cover of Metro Weekly as part of our annual Summer Music Issue. No, though clearly inspired by Queen, there’s nothing really gay about this pop hit-making band -- yet the band is imminently deserving of gay praise. Over the past year, the trio has emerged as a major champion of LGBT rights, already ranking up there with Cyndi Lauper. (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis is now angling for that pantheon too, with the sweet Top 40 marriage equality-themed hit “Same Love” featuring Mary Lambert.
What makes fun. so fundamentally pro-gay? As discussed in the cover feature, the band’s Jack Antonoff started the LGBT-supportive nonprofit The Ally Coalition. He also worked with Sara Bareilles in writing her great new pop anthem “Brave,” about the happiness that comes from coming out, or from at least being willing to stand out. The video is equally stirring for its vivacious choreography.
Though fun. hasn’t written an explicitly pro-gay anthem -- “Carry On” does come close -- the band did tap the lesbian sister act Tegan & Sara as its opening act for its tour this summer, including a stop Saturday, July 20, at Merriweather Post Pavilion. That’s not a pro-gay move to gloss over. While the Canadian Tegan & Sara especially recently has scored some moderate success in the U.S., you can’t help but wonder if the duo, responsible for many catchy radio-friendly pure pop songs in its 13 year recording history, wouldn’t be bigger if it could just catch a bigger break, or a bigger boost in the industry. (Even bigger, that is, than its support over the years from Neil Young, who originally signed him to his label, and Lauper, who took them out on the True Colors Tour -- to name but two.) But fun.’s support is arguably the biggest boost yet for the duo, who earlier this year released Heartthrob a super-produced set that is an obvious stab at mainstream success and includes the minor hits “Closer” and “I Was A Fool For You.”
For Antonoff, who co-wrote “How Come You Don’t Want Me?” from Heartthrob, the selection of Tegan and Sara as opening act boils down, purely and simply, to adoration. As he told Metro Weekly: “[Having Tegan and Sara open] is really exciting because they’re basically my favorite band.”