We’ve been thinking a lot about gay musicians this week (including our man Steve Grand), and it’s time we stood up for some of the forgotten or lesser-known tracks in their vast catalogs. Here are the ten most underrated tracks from ten gay musical superstars
10. Will Young, “Switch It On”
For a democratically appointed star, Will Young is one cheeky bastard. The UK Pop Idol champ churned out this Top Gun-themed homoerotic video in 2006, and it will make you fall in love (and lust) with him. Look at him checking out the danger zones on those other boys!
9. RuPaul, “Jealous of My Boogie”
RuPaul has a million singles, but I’m fondest of this one, which closes out every episode of Drag Race. The line “Don’t be jealous of my boogie” is the shadiest dancefloor command of all.
8. Boy George, “Sold”
It’s easy to forget that Boy George has had a surprising amount of incarnations (Remember in the mid ’90s when he made a bunch of Hootie & The Blowfish-style material like “Funtime”?), but more ashamedly, it’s easy to forget “Sold,” the titular track from his 1987 solo debut. In the UK and Italy it made a splash, but in the states we appreciated very little of Boy George’s solo work, including this cynical, yet celebratory jam.
7. Adam Lambert, “Never Close Our Eyes”
It’s pretty astounding that Adam Lambert has only had one Top 10 single in the U.S. While I’d say his most underrated non-single is the ferocious “Strut” from his first album, “Never Close Our Eyes” is his most fabulous sleeper single, a danceable earworm with great, sincere lyrics.
6. Scissor Sisters, “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin'”
How. How wasn’t this a huge U.S. hit? The Scissor Sisters’ 2006 summer jam “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin'” is the pluckiest, corniest, and most wistful of sugary rushes, with a vocal from Jake Shears that’s particularly Bee Gee-tastic.
5. Rufus Wainwright, “Out of the Game”
Of course Rufus sounds wonderful on this recent single, but please also never forget Helena Bonham Carter’s appearance in its video as a dotty librarian looking for love. Can you picture a more kickass friendship than Rufus and Helena? They are deliriously fabulous.
4. Pet Shop Boys, “Being Boring”
“Being Boring” packs the same ambient sass as “West End Girls,” but for some reason audiences were less willing to love it in 1990. But PSB devotees know the video is one of the gayest (read: full of naked men) videos ever. Thank you to this band always.
3. George Michael, “Jesus to a Child”
This is the only U.S. top 10 hit to make this list, but let me ask you: When’s the last time you heard this song on the radio? My guess is the mid ’90s, when George Michael’s comeback as a sullen balladeer was making headlines. Michael released “Jesus as a Child” as a single to highlight his songwriting abilities, and he was right to do just that: “Jesus to a Child” is a loving tribute to his late partner Anselmo Feleppa, and the lyrics of longing and pain are still so, so good.
2. R.E.M., “At My Most Beautiful”
R.E.M.’s catalog is full of underrated gems (“All the Way to Reno” off Reveal is another of my favorites), but perhaps this beautiful, melancholic tune from 1998’s Up is their great sleeper. I love when Michael Stipe’s voice drifts into a confessional, vulnerable sigh. Sigh!
1. Elton John, “Are You Ready for Love”
I’ve touted this instantly replayable, anthemic, and romantic track before, but to me it is the great achievement of Elton John’s late ’70s catalog and the most mysteriously under-recognized track of his career. Those sincere verses! That powerful chorus! This is Elton at his most fun-loving and loving.