9 Pop Songs With Secret Queer Subtexts


This week on Noisey, blogger Ryan Bassil comes up with a pretty wild conspiracy theory: that Hot Fuss, the 2004 debut album from The Killers, is actually all about “a murderous homosexual relationship.” Sure, it sounds a little far-fetched, but using pop lyrics — which are a lot of the time pretty vague — to back up a theory is a fun thing to do. So it got us thinking: how many other popular songs have secret queer subtexts? You might be surprised to see what we dug up.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVw9VkYyTFk]

David Bowie — “The Width of a Circle”

There be no queer subtext as much as queer text in this song, with pretty blatant lyrics like, “He swallowed his pride and puckered his lips / And showed me the leather belt round his hips / My knees were shaking my cheeks aflame / He said ‘You’ll never go down to the Gods again.'”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7V9pfaCqChY]

Tori Amos — “Raspberry Swirl”

I promise it’s not Tori Amos Week at Flavorwire, but you can’t deny that her ode to her female friendships — much less the title (especially the title) — is pretty queer.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkMFLUXTEwM]

Tommy James and the Shondells — “I Think We’re Alone Now”

Later made even more famous by Tiffany, this pop song was originally recorded by a group of dudes, and it’s nearly impossible not to raise an eyebrow at the line, “Look at the way we gotta hide what we’re doin’ / ‘Cause what would they say if they ever knew.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jz7IjXu0DfQ]

The Beatles — “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”

Plenty of people think this song — which includes lyrics like, “Everywhere people stare / Each and every day / I can see them laugh at me” — is actually about The Beatles’ closeted manager, Brian Epstein.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oID_fZDtcs0]

Bruce Springsteen — “Backstreets”

The Boss recounts “one soft infested summer” when he had a love affair with a Terry. Was Terry a man or a woman? It’s not particularly clear, but they were “hiding on the backstreets / with a love so hard and filled with defeat.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lt6r-k9Bk6o]

Sophie B. Hawkins — “Damn, I Wish I Were Your Lover”

Anyone with a lazy ear might miss the point of Hawkins’ sexy ode to an unrequited lover if they didn’t pick up on the lines, “And I lay by the ocean / Makin’ love to her with visions clear / Walked the days with no one near,” which prove she’s not out to make it with a dude.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uF9Q3hnAr88]

Freda Payne — “Band of Gold”

One of the theories behind this song, which has confused people for decades, is that the reason they spent their wedding night in separate rooms was that, well, he just wasn’t that into her, if you know what I mean.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diYAc7gB-0A]

George Michael — “Freedom ’90”

Hindsight is 20/20, so these days it’s a little more obvious what Michael was singing about here. But hey, it’s no “Father Figure!”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6VrKro8djw]

Paul Simon — “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard”

When asked what the mama saw that was so shocking, Paul Simon replied, “I have no idea what it is… Something sexual is what I imagine, but when I say ‘something’, I never bothered to figure out what it was. Didn’t make any difference to me.” What other kind of naughty activity would call for a radical priest?