To celebrate Mika's coming out earlier this month, I thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at ten out gay (or bi) men who seem to have no trouble tearing up the charts today despite the glass closet. Sure many of these boys experienced career setbacks after coming out, but for overall, these men represent over 100 million albums sold collectively. They're all powerhouses in their genre, and they continue to affect and influence the industry. Of course, they're no match for the ladies... but that's a different post altogether!
10. Boy George: He may not have his act all together, but he's still a spectacular performer. As he aged, his voice became richer and more confident. I dare say I like him more now than at the height of his fame--even though he can be downright scary sometimes! Here is one of his recent singles, "Vote For Love." Appropriate with the votes in Maine, Washington and Kalamazoo coming up... (please click the links to help!)
More after the jump...
9. RuPaul: I can't lie, I own more RuPaul albums than should be legal. That said, Ru's summer jam, Champion, was a solid piece of pop. "CoverGirl," "Jealous of My Boogie," and "Champion" were all outstanding singles, and dance-floor-fillas! Here is "CoverGirl" from that album. Look out for Ru's newest venture, Starrbooty coming to a TLA video catalog near you soon!
8. Mika: "We are Golden." Nuff Said. Didn't you just know he was going to blow the world's socks off when you heard "Grace Kelly?"
7. Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters): Yeah, I know Scissor Sisters have had TONS more recent hits than "Filthy Gorgeous," but this is just one of the best dance-rock songs ever made, and its my piece, so I'm doing it! In all seriousness, however, Jake Shears is a renaissance man in the industry. He has a keen ear for the perfect pop hook, and he's worked with some of the biggest names in rock and pop as a writer. He'll surely have a strong presence in many areas of the industry for a very long time--like the gay Jack White!
6. Michael Stipe (REM): When Michael Stipe came out earlier this year, I was shocked... I had been under the impression he was already out! Out or not, this band has been the keystone to the Alternative Rock and College Radio genres for over 20 years.
From "Losing My Religion" to "Stand" to "Orange Crush" to "Everybody Hurts" and "What's Your Frequency Kenneth," Stipe and REM have dominated the airwaves with strong, purpose-driven guitar and Stipe's unique voice that sounds like an enthralling combination of an angel and the homeless guy who passes through your back alley arguing with himself at night. "Hollow Man" is from their latest album, Accelerate.
5. Rufus Wainwright: Son of Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III, brother of Martha Wainwright--Rufus was destined to make beautiful music. His chillingly melodic yet lethargic voice is as haunting as it is beautiful, and it pairs up with his piano like Glenn Beck pairs with crazy--perfectly! He's a soundtrack shoe-in, with songs on everything from Shrek to High Fidelity and dozens of other films. He even reproduced in its entirety Judy Garland's Carnegie Hall set a few years ago. If that's not gay, I don't know what is.
Here's one of his most recent hits, "Going to a Town."
4. Andy Bell (Erasure): He looked so sexy in those tight jeans back in the day. Of course, I was about five, so I couldn't really appreciate it, but Andy Bell and Erasure have made some amazing New Wave and Dance for over twenty years, and tricked millions of suburban housewives into digging totally queer music! Erasure is still together, still making amazing music ("I could Fall In Love With You" obliterated the competition on Dance charts two years ago) and still touring and selling out stadiums.
When I saw them on the True Colors tour three years ago, they brought down the house by doing a set of their most amazing hits (unlike a certain 70s icon who decided to only do previously unreleased material from her forthcoming album. Can we say bathroom time?) and I lost my voice screeching "Love To Hate You" at the top of my lungs. "Breathe" is a few years old, but the song and the video are gorgeous. One of my favorite songs ever. And I hate ballads, usually.
3. Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys): God, as bad as I want to, I can't stop listening to the Pet Shop Boys. It creeps in at least once a week. If it isn't "Its a Sin" or "West End Girls" "Go West" or "What Have I Done To Deserve This," then it's "You Were Always On My Mind" or "DJ Culture" "Domino Dancing" "Opportunities" or "New York City Boy." The Pet Shop Boys are one of Billboard's most successful Dance Acts of all time, with only Janet Jackson and Madonna charting more often on the Dance charts. That's pretty good company to keep. And Pet Shop Boys have earned their position.
Even though Neil Tennant's nasally, almost snide delivery doesn't necessarily sound angelic, the raw lyrics and the classic synth-pop sound get under your skin and consume you. They're pretty kitschy--from their one-word album name gimmick to their styling periods that had them emulating Soviet iconography for a long period of time--but they're also pretty spectacular performers. Their concerts are nothing to sniff at and the artists that they've worked with are all among the top selling living artists of all time. They're legit. And lets face it, Neil Tennant is still sexy--and he doesn't have any hair left. "Did You See Me Coming" is from this year's Yes.
2. George Michael: One of the most talented musicians to ever get a mug shot, George Michael's career has spanned almost three decades now, and he's still showing up surprising audiences at concerts around the world (just a few months ago he surprised a UK audience there to see Beyonce, joining her for a curtain duet). Though he's extremely troubled, his music is brilliant and beautiful. And, as it turns out, the perfect soundtrack for cleaning your house on a Sunday afternoon!
Though he's created some outstanding music over his long career, his most personal album by far was Listen Without Prejudice, a beautifully sad yet optimistic intimate collection of songs that can easily bring you to tears right before getting you up and dancing. Anyone who knows me, knows that spring doesn't start until we've gone driving around town with all the windows down blasting "Freedom 90" as loud as is legal. Here now is one of the greatest singles ever written and one of the greatest music videos ever filmed.
1. Elton John: I don't have to explain why Elton John is number one, right? One of the most successful male musicians in pop history, Elton John has consistently rocked for four decades and shows no signs of stopping. I'm going to let his music speak for itself.