Pop culture guru David Ferguson is back to share some nostalgic anthems from the 2000s music scene. After curating lists of his favourite ’80s and ’90s queer tunes, it’s time to dive into the first decade of this century with a whole host of unforgettable hits.
We continue our adventures through queer music and time with the 2000s or the noughties, as some people attempted to refer to them. I was quite surprised at how easily I assembled this list, and I actually had to drop a few songs because I was determined to have ten (or less).
Here are my favourites from the 2000s, with the vague promise of the ‘10s and ‘20s to come. Also, potential earworms ahead.
‘Crying at the Discoteque’ – Alcazar (2000)
This song is from Swedish band Alcazar’s debut album Casino (2000) and was their first international hit. It samples the Sheila B. Devotion hit ‘Spacer’, which rose to number 8 in Ireland in 1980. The music video shows the band in retro 1970s gear (two words: silver shorts).
The band was initially active from 1998 to 2005 but has reformed a few times on a number of occasions to play at G-A-Y events. Band member Andreas Lundstedt is openly gay.
‘Crying at the Discoteque’ will likely re-lodge in your brain after a listen. It reached number 6 in Ireland.
‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’ – Blue featuring Elton John (2002)
Next on the list of 2000s queer anthems is ‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’, originally from Elton John’s 1976 album Blue Moves and later covered by Blue. I don’t remember much about Blue outside this cover, but I definitely liked it at the time. It appeared on the band’s 2002 album, One Love.
Band member Lee Ryan has said it is his favourite song of all time and suggested it when the executive producer said a cover number needed to be included on the record. John was initially only going to play the piano but then said he was willing to sing, making it a duet.
Singer Duncan James came out as bisexual in 2009 but revealed he was gay in 2014. Bandmate Lee Ryan defined himself as bisexual in a 2019 interview.
Both versions of the song (the original and cover) reached number 3 in Ireland.
‘Bad Day’ – R.E.M. (2003)
‘Bad Day’ is an anti-media song inspired by an incident where lead singer Michael Stype opened his front door and found a camera in his face. The track, written during the 1980s, references the Reagan administration’s policies, but somehow (and sadly) still felt apt during the reign of Bush the younger.
I think everyone can empathise with the chorus lyric, “It’s a bad day, please don’t take a picture.” The song was released as the lead single of the band’s 2003 album In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003 (highly recommended by this R.E.M. fan).
Unfortunately, this addition on my list of favourite 2000s queer anthems didn’t break the top 10 in Ireland, only reaching number 11.
‘Amazing’ – George Michael (2004)
This song was something of a rediscovery for me. I only have vague recollections of it when it originally came out, but I have found it growing on me as I listened to the playlist over the last week (yes, I actually test out the tunes). It really has a vibe of a previous decade to me.
The song is about George Michael’s then-partner, David Goss. It appeared on his fifth and final studio album, Patience (2004). Rolling Stone named it as one of Michael’s “20 Essential Songs” after his death in 2016.
It reached number one all around the world but just got the number four spot in Ireland.
‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ – Scissor Sisters (2006)
US pop band, Scissor Sisters, could have a top ten anthems list of their own for the 2000s. Their eponymous 2004 debut album produced ‘Laura’, ‘Comfortably Numb’, ‘Take Your Mama’, ‘Mary’ and ‘Filthy/Gorgeous’. However, their second album Ta-Dah (2006), produced my pick for this list.
The song was co-written by Elton John and features him on piano. The 2000s music video is staged as an animated billboard for the band.
The single reached the band’s highest spot in Ireland with a number two position.
‘Grace Kelly’ – Mika (2007)
‘Grace Kelly’ is the lead single from Lebanese-born UK singer Mika’s debut album, Life In Cartoon Motion (2007). The song is titled after the Academy-Award-winning actress, and her voice is used in the song (from the movie The Country Girl). It was inspired by a bad experience with a music executive. The lyric “I tried a little Freddie” refers to Freddie Mercury, who people have compared Mika to.
It is about how the industry wanted to mould him into something else, and him saying he could pretend to be whoever he wanted. Some of the songs on the album were sexually ambiguous, which led to questions about Mika’s sexuality. He declined to label himself for years before describing himself as gay in a 2012 interview. (Sidebar: check out his Eurovision 2022 medley).
‘Grace Kelly’ was a number one in Ireland.
‘Better’ – Boyzone (2008)
The song was originally a number 10 hit for Tom Baxter in 2007. It was the second and final single from Boyzone’s second compilation, Back Again… No Matter What. The song features Stephen Gately sharing lead vocals. Thanks to the band’s touring commitments, they weren’t able to promote the single and it charted poorly.
I’m including the song on my list of 2000s queer anthems for two reasons. Firstly, it is my and my husband’s song. Secondly, the music video depicts the band singing to women – with the exception of Gately, who is seen singing to a male love interest.
It is the last video appearance for Gately, who died in 2009 and the final single the band released before his untimely passing. It could only manage number 26 in Ireland.
‘Just Dance’ – Lady Gaga featuring Colby O’Donis (2008)
I am waiting for the queer villagers with torches and pitchforks after this statement, but I haven’t always been a fan of her ladyship. Researching this list that has improved her standing in my mind, and it has been a toss-up as to what single made the cut. I even resorted to the Irish Chart’s website to see which of her singles did well here. Answer: a LOT in 2009.
‘Bad Romance’ was on the list right up to writing, but I decided to go with her first Irish number one. It comes from her 2008 debut album, The Fame, which produced a rake of hits across the country and the globe. It is inspired by the fact that she was very hungover when she wrote it. You can see why my respect levels increased during my research.
A bisexual woman, she actively campaigns for LGBTQ+ rights and has attributed her early success to gay fans—no wonder she’s a gay icon!
As I said, ‘Just Dance’ was her first of seven number ones in Ireland to date.
‘Heavy Cross’ – Gossip (2009)
American indie-rock band, Gossip, hit mainstream success after the release of their third studio album, Standing in The Way of Control, in 2006. In 2007, they were signed by a subsidiary of Sony Music called Music With A Twist, which focused on LGBTQ+ acts.
The song I selected is from their 2009 album, Music For Men, which earned them a nomination for Outstanding Music Artist at the 21st GLAAD Media Awards. The single, ‘Heavy Cross’, was a top 10 hit across Europe and a massive success in Germany, in particular. It was recorded in 2009, but the band had been playing it for two years previously.
I think it is a catchy and infectious tune, but it only managed to reach number 26 in Ireland.
‘Bulletproof’ – La Roux (2009)
This song was the third single from the British synth-pop duo’s debut eponymous album, La Roux (2009), and their second hit after ‘In For A Kill’. It was a critical and commercial success. Digital Spy music editor Nick Levine gave the song five stars and, while comparing it to the previous 2000s hit, said, “Jackson’s vocals are less shrill this time around, but she comes off just as formidable, informing a useless sod who’s messed her about that she won’t be letting him do it again.”
The “sod” in question may have been a woman. Jackson has expressed discomfort at revealing her sexuality, however. She does not want to be put in a box and worries about how it would affect her career. ‘Bulletproof’ reached number five in Ireland.
So that was my list of 2000s queer anthems. Feel free to fight me over the Gaga pick and point out anything I missed.
If you’re looking for more of David Ferguson’s content, check out his previous GCN work here.
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