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.