Music Geek-Out #12: (London) Suede’s “Beautiful Ones”
Wow, I’ve dropped the ball on this series. Sorry! Lots of summer writing, a book proposal to get out, articles to get out, all that jazz.
Anyway, this is part of a playlist I did for philoSOPHIA 2012, hosted at Miami U in Oxford, OH. The playlist reflects both the catalog of the old WOXY/97X radio station, which used to be run out of Oxford.
Next on the playlist was (London) Suede’s “Beautiful Ones”:
Suede is the most interesting of the “Britpop” bands, from a feminist/gender studies perspective. Lead singer Brett Anderson was known for his androgynous, almost femme performance demeanor. It’s also worth thinking about how Anderson’s non-macho gender presentation was interpreted alongside Suede’s “indulgent” pop sound; their music was the opposite of hard-core, it was just fun and enjoyable. Like their singer, Suede’s music was “androgynous”: a little too pop/femme, but with enough indie-rock stubble to prove its authenticity, its real value, etc. So, there’s a lot to say both about Anderson’s gender presentation, and the gendering of Suede’s music vis-a-vis Britpop more generally. That’s why I chose this song for the playlist, and not, say, some Blur. Sure, I could have chosen “Girls and Boys,” but that is too upbeat for music that’s supposed to play softly underneath lots of shop talk, catching up, networking, etc. I chose this particular Suede song because beauty is obviously a well-established feminist issue.
And, I’m referring to them as (London) Suede because, though their name is really “Suede,” there was a US musician who sued them, claiming to already have performed under that name. So, because of this legal technicality, they went by “London Suede” in the US.
it seems worth pointing out that Suede is/was a dyke musician active for a decade or more before the London Suede formed. i remember seeing her open for Ani in the mid-90s, just after winning the legal case around the name… unlikely that anyone would ever have mistaken the two for each other, in any case.