Pride month is nearly over but fear not, I’ve got another special instalment of What’s Going On for you. As promised, I’m looking at gay anthems from the 1980s. You know the Queen of Pop is going to make an appearance but there are also several hi-NRG dance jams that are totally 80s and a Boy George single that packs quite the political punch. If you like what you hear, be sure to add these tunes to your Pride party playlists.
Miquel Brown – Montreal-born actress initially found success as a musical theatre actress in the US in the 1970s before taking her talents across the pond. Through her various acting roles in the UK, Miquel eventually tried her hand at making disco records. Hooking up with producer Ian Levine in 1983 resulted in “So Many Men, So Little Time”, the biggest hit of her career. As the name implies, it’s a campy insatiable romp of a song complete with a video with muscle-bound male models. Miquel Brown Miquel also happens to be the mother of fellow 80s camp iconic Sinitta who would set the UK charts on fire with frothy dance hits of her own. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Listen to Miquel Brown’s single “So Many Men So Little Time” below.
Divine – Drag icon Divine might be best known for literally eating shit in John Waters’ 1972 cult classic film Pink Flamingos but let’s not forget his sweaty raunchy hi-NRG 80s tunes. After hooking up with producer/songwriter Bobby O for some cult dance hits in the early 80s, the Baltimore drag queen got connected with then fledgling production trio Stock Aitken Waterman and camp magic was made. While 1984’s “I’m So Beautiful” didn’t attain the same success as “You Think You’re a Man”, it stands out as a ferocious self-love anthem. For just a few minutes, we can all feel beautiful while listening to Divine.
Listen to Divine’s 1984 single “I’m So Beautiful” below.
The Communards – Short-lived duo The Communards weren’t around for very long, but former Bronski Beat lead vocalist Jimmy Somerville and musician Richard Coles created some decade-defining cover songs. The duo’s biggest hit was their 1986 remake of the disco hit “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” Joined by singer Sarah Jane Morris, their rendition is full-on hi-NRG. The lyrics being delivered by Jimmy Somerville in his trademark falsetto put a totally queer spin on the song’s already existing sense of longing.
Listen to The Communards’ 1986 single “Don’t Leave Me This Way” below.
Boy George – Pride is inherently political. While it’s certainly a time for fun and celebration, it’s also a time to stand up for LGBTQIIA+ rights. No song from the 80s does a better job of fusing the party vibes with a strong activist message than Boy George’s “No Clause 28.” The acid house tune was released in direct opposition to a law put in place by the Margaret Thatcher led Conservative government seeking to ban the promotion of homosexuality. Sadly, the law would pass but was repealed by Scotland in 2000 and by England and Wales in 2003. While Clause 28 may now be a thing of the past, the slamming Boy George protest single still remains.
Listen to Boy George’s 1988 single “No Clause 28” below.
Madonna – “Come on, girls. Do you believe in love? ‘Cause I’ve got something to say about it and it goes something like this.” What can I say about Madonna’s “Express Yourself” that hasn’t already been said? The second single released from the Like A Prayer album is a classic female empowerment anthem but with Madonna’s loyal LGBTQ fanbase, I like to think she’s talking to the proverbial girls. Originally a brassy tribute to 70s funk, the single remix is transformed into over-the-top late-80s dance perfection thanks to the work of Shep Pettibone. Turn this up loud, throw your hands in the air and express yourself.
Listen to Madonna’s 1989 single “Express Yourself” below.
You can hear all of the songs featured this Pride month for What’s Going On below. Happy Pride!