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Pinkerton.

You'd think alternative rock would naturally deal with alternative lifestyles. Complaints about the once-vital genre's stagnancy have grown louder, and the pressure mounts for would-be rad rockers to prove themselves as something other than cash-hungry. As a result we queers have found ourselves the subject matter of several tunes coined by straight dudes who are desperate to whine about something a little more imaginative than suburban ennui.

Weezer, the MTV wonder of a few seasons back, isn't doing too well these days. This is not for lack of trying: The title of its sophomore flop, Pinkerton, refers to the central character in Madama Butterfly. Puccini's classic opera apparently is the album's central influence. And the opera's theme of hopeless love certainly pops up in the song "Pink Triangle." The singer falls in love with an aloof woman who wears a pink triangle on her sleeve. "If everyone's a little queer," songwriter Rivers Cuomo reasons, "can't she be a little straight?"

Less rational and more annoying is Bloodhound Gang, the latest group of skanky buds with backward baseball caps and a musical sensibility to match. Their wanna-be status is confirmed by the song "I Wish I Was Queer So I Could Get Chicks." It's a tune that both envies nancy boys (straight girls love 'em) and stereotypes them (we all have names like Dirk or Lewis, wear women's lingerie, appreciate British synth-rockers Depeche Mode, and shave our heinies). Even if some of those things are true some of the time (especially the Depeche Mode part), it's irritating to have them pointed out to us by some guy who is by his own admission too ugly to be, you know, one of us.

Alternative rock homophilia is nothing new. The Velvet Underground generated it before the hapless losers in Weezer and Bloodhound Gang were even born. That point is driven home by the reissue of VU's final studio album, Loaded, here expanded to double-disc length with plenty of demo versions, outtakes, and full versions of favorite songs edited for the album's original 1970 release. Such an uncut classic is "Sweet Jane," and it's up to the listener to figure out if Jane is a she or a she-male. This ambiguity telegraphed punk godfather Lou Reed's future. (He later paired with a transvestite in the early '70s.) Falling in love with unavailable dykes and envying fabulous fags is everyday stuff. Courting drag queens via pop tunes is far more cool, and the Velvets did it 27 years ago.

Proving that hetero appropriation Of homo-ocity can still be groovy, however, is White Town, the one-man band created by Asian Anglo synth popper Jyoti Mishra. His single "Your Woman" entered the British charts this Fear at number one, despite no one's knowing who Mishra is. Singing a Beatlesque melody over a bleeping background that would make all Depeche Mode-sters proud, Mishra tells of a callow lad whose bad behavior will never win his affections. Is he singing through the persona of a choosy gal, a sensible drag queen, or a flattered but stoic straight guy? Only Sweet Jane knows for sure.
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Author:Walters, Barry
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Mar 18, 1997
Words:516
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