It wasn’t in vain that John Lennon’s words, “Imagine all the people, living life in peace” became the mouthpiece of revolution in the 60s that encouraged inclusion and tolerance. The song has, since then, been extended in interpretation to include various minority groups for which it has translated into an anthem.
But when it comes to the representation of deviant gender identities in music, there have been various other songs with a significantly specific aim. And boy, are they amazing!
Here, we bring you a compilation of five songs that pushed the binaries and captured the complexities of gender in their own way. Happy listening!
The Kinks– Lola
This 1970 song by the English rock band The Kinks, was inspired by an encounter that the band’s manager had one night while dancing in a bar with a transvestite, whose identity he didn’t realize initially. Lola is supposed to be the embodiment of everything fluid and without labels in the world, while at the same time having an absolute surety of one’s own identity. The beautiful message of the song becomes clear enough with the lines, “Girls will be boys and boys will be girls. It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world except for Lola.”
The Replacements– Androgynous
As the name suggests, the song attempts to portray the androgynous identity, a combination of “feminine” and “masculine” characteristics. It tells the love story of Dick and Jane who dress the same way, and wear their hair in a similar fashion, with no outright markers of being a man or a woman and are quite satisfied with their gender identity.
Hedwig and The Angry Inch– The Angry Inch
The song comes from a very popular musical by John Cameron Mitchell which was adapted into a film by him. It chronicles the life of an East German transgender rock musician whose sex change operation goes haywire and she’s left with an “angry inch” to endure throughout her life. It captures the rage and dissatisfaction of Hedwig who can’t physically become the person she thinks she is.
Lady Gaga– Born This Way
The song and the album not only won Lady Gaga her numerous Grammy nominations, but also deified her into a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) icon, instantaneously. It portrayed at length the self-empowerment of gender identities that do not follow traditional societal norms. For all her general weirdness and macabre music videos, she created a cult of misfits who are rather appreciated for being different.
Arcade Fire– We Exist
This amazingly worded song coupled with a smack-in-the-face music video comes from the latest album of alternative rock band, Arcade Fire. It follows the struggle of a young individual, played by Andrew Garfield, exploring and coming to terms with his gender identity and facing body image issues and harassment in the way. The song is a declaration of the very existence of queer population.
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