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Music News: How Gay Is Katy Perry? Plus, Nas, Pet Shop Boys, Jennifer Hudson, The Ting Tings


GuestbloggerRobbie Daw presents a weekly pop music update here on Towleroad! Robbie runs his own site called Chart Rigger.

Beginning last year, I'd been getting pitches from a publicist dealing with online press for an artist called Katy Perry and her song "Ur So Gay." To be completely honest, I just didn't dig the song. But as the title might imply, I also started wondering whether or not I was right to feel a bit offended by the lyrical premise -- a female telling off her H&M scarf-wearing boyfriend with the insult, "You're so gay and you don't even like boys," implying that he'd rather spend time with his friends and "MySpace-ing," etc. I basically chalked it up to me being a bit uptight, the song not being my thing, and moved on.

But the pitches kept coming. Soon Katy was signed to Capitol Records, a major label, and the press releases started mentioning Perez Hilton was touting her as a next big thing for summer 2008. In an interview with Blender, Perry, who turns out to be a pastor's daughter, exclaims, "I'm completely outrageous and I'll do anything for attention!"

Now the singer's got a heavily-promoted single called "I Kissed A Girl" (not a Jill Sobule cover), though it doesn't have a video. But rather than expound upon what I think of a seemingly heterosexual 23-year-old woman singing about her drunken female conquest, "I don't even know your name, it doesn't matter/You're my experimental game," I thought I'd turn it over to see what you, the Towleroad reader, think.

Are Katy Perry's lyrics offensive, or are they just silly, gimmicky pop songs by a self-proclaimed attention seeker to be taken with a grain of salt? Clips of "Ur So Gay" and "I Kissed A Girl" are below.

Two things to think about: 1.) A bit of digging finds that Katy Perry released an album of Christian music a few years back under the name Katy Hudson. 2.) Would your thoughts on the level of offense, if any, be different if it were a straight male artist singing either song (particularly if the latter were "I Kissed A Boy")?

Incidentally, Katy Perry's album, One Of The Boys, is out in June.

Ferras1road.jpg Hip hop star Nas drops the original controversial title for his new album.

road.jpg The Pet Shop Boys are working on new material with frequent Sugababes' collaborators Xenomania. Meanwhile, clips from a 2006 episode of U.K. program The South Bank Show on Dusty Springfield have popped up on YouTube, wherein the Boys discuss what it was like working with the singer on her 1991 album, Reputation.

road.jpg Recording artist Ferras (pictured left) -- whose track "Hollywood's Not America" you likely recognize as this season's American Idol good-bye song -- took to his MySpace blog Friday to dedicate the new single "Liberation Day" to the overturning of California's ban on same-sex marriage: "YAY!!!!!!!!!! ITS LIBERATION DAY EVERYONE!!!! WAKE UP!!!!!! It's 'LIBERATION DAY' for GAY PEOPLE everywhere!!!! The road to liberation day has been a long one, filled with tears and a great fight, but one that thankfully does not include giving up hope. Today, the end of the road is a little bit closer. Today, two people in love can finally be recognized just like everyone else. Its about love, acceptance and life. This is not only about a piece of paper, its about human rights. Its about rejoicing in the beauty of each and every person living on this planet! Its about individuality and the right to exist! Gay people are citizens just like everyone else and should be afforded the same rights. Without recognizing gay marriage as a legitimate expression of love, partnership and equality, we are still living in the dark ages-communicating a message of intolerance and hate. It's 2008. Its a new time. A new era. A time to wake up and 'throw your illusions away.' May all beings rejoice and be happy, as we get one shot- one life- to be all we can be, be the best humans we can be and to love and be loved equally, as we all bleed the same blood. To all my gay and lesbian peeps- this ones for you. All my love and respect, FERRAS"

road.jpg Darren Hayes will appear as a guest judge on the upcoming season of Austalian Idol, along with fellow Aussie Tina Arena. The London-based singer will help suss out talent in the U.K. for the program: "As an Australian entertainer living in London I definitely have a soft spot for Aussies trying to make it overseas. Rather than judging people, I'm going to be looking for that little bit of magic that someone once saw in me."

road.jpg Janet Jackson's going on tour: "It will definitely be a big production but it will definitely also be something that I've never done before, that people have never seen from me before." Don't they all say that?

road.jpg Jennnifer Hudson's album due out in September: "I think people will be pleasantly surprised, because it shows a side of my work that no one has heard before." Now, hold on a second...!

Ting_tingsroad.jpg TODAY'S NEW RELEASES:

The Ting Tings' debut set, We Started Nothing. The dancey pop/rock duo have the current #1 single on the U.K. chart with "That's Not My Name," while they're also enjoying a sizeable stateside hit with "Shut Up And Let Me Go," thanks to its inclusion in an Apple commercial.

Donna Summer's Crayons, her first studio album of pop material since 1991's Mistaken Identity.

Stop Drop And Roll from Foxboro Hottubs. The big "secret" is that it's actually Green Day doing punk-infused, '60s-sounding bubblegum.

Liverpool electro quartet Ladytron's fourth LP, Velocifero.

Actress Scarlett Johansson's album of Tom Waits covers, Anywhere I Lay My Head.

Jesse McCartney's Departure. McCartney is currently enjoying the success of having co-written Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" with OneRepublic's "Ryan Tedder."

New singles from Aimee Mann ("Freeway"), Solange ("I Decided, Pt. 2") and Judas Priest ("Visions").

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  1. Ugh.

    I really wish you hadn't given free promotion to that irritating poseur.

    Posted by: thin mint | May 20, 2008 4:55:12 PM

  2. It pains me that Madonna plugged Katy Perry, too; I loathe that song, and I don't think it's being uptight to be offended by it. I think all the people who say "get over it, it's just a song" have not read tons and tons of thoughtless posts from kids calling everything in the world that is bad "gay." In a way, her song is even more offensive because she specifically links things that are associated (however stereotypically) with gay men with "gay"/lame. In this way, she's saying it's okay for homosexual men to do these things, but other men shouldn't; she's just making the stereotypes even stricter. I just find it annoying that it's yet another encouragement for kids to use gay to mean bad/undesirable/wrong, which can't be good for their secretly, actually-gay peers. I mean, I had to tell a friend of mine in HIGH SCHOOL over 20 years ago not to say it. I blame Judd Apatow for bringing it back.

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | May 20, 2008 5:11:14 PM

  3. Yeah, she's really gross. contrived. derivative. much closer to Ashlee Simpson than to Garbage or whoever she's trying to emulate. And the Christian music past confirms it. No doubt she's got some Jeff Archuleta-type dad constructing her image every step of the way. If Madonna is in support, that's a huge disappointment too. Gross. And the use of the word "gay" is absolutely offensive.

    Posted by: jdp | May 20, 2008 5:17:42 PM

  4. in the late 70s the gogos sang "johnny are you queer?" which became a hit when it was covered by josie cotton a year or 2 later. interesting how this katy perry chick (wouldn't "kate perry" roll off the tongue a little more easily?) not only copped the same premise with "ur so gay" but copied josie cotton's record cover as well-at the driver's seat of a convertible.

    la plus ca change and all that.

    Posted by: alguien | May 20, 2008 5:23:41 PM

  5. C'mon Robbie, if you have to ask if Katy Perry's "You're So Gay" is offensive, you already have your answer. There's no need to bait Towleroad readers. I thought this homophobic piece of shit tune died MONTHS ago. Is Perez Hilton attempting to resurrect it? Figures.

    Why is it offensive to my delicate senses? Because it uses the word "gay" to describe unwanted or lame behavior and/or things, i.e., gay sucks. Get it? Good.


    Posted by: John in Manhattan | May 20, 2008 5:27:35 PM

  6. She is incredibly annoying, although not as annoying as the incessant emails sent out by Cornerstone Promotion hyping her.

    Posted by: Dave | May 20, 2008 5:28:46 PM

  7. Yeah the song sucks and so does her lame attempt at fame. Go back to Jesus you skank.

    Posted by: dezboy | May 20, 2008 5:46:32 PM

  8. Is Ur So Gay or I Kissed a Girl more or less offensive than Some Girls (Dance with Women)?

    Posted by: Andrea | May 20, 2008 5:48:54 PM

  9. Johnny Are You Queer is a much better song. And this 'Oooh, I'm so edgy!' wannabe is no Josie Cotton.

    Posted by: David D. | May 20, 2008 5:49:03 PM

  10. Her biggest offense is being boring.

    Posted by: Marco | May 20, 2008 5:55:22 PM

  11. I'm just wondering why she's wearing that tacky-ass blue beret thing.

    Posted by: fauxplay | May 20, 2008 5:56:19 PM

  12. can anyone use the word "offensive" anymore and not feel a bit silly?

    Posted by: brad | May 20, 2008 5:58:18 PM

  13. IN DEFENSE OF KATY...the Christian conspiracy theory is way off. I know Katy well - she's not a hater and is a big supporter/lover of the gays and her views on God and homosexuality are in line with most modern Christians who believe you can be gay and not burn in hell for all eternity (not that there is a hell or a God for that matter, but that's another discussion).

    As much as I don't like her "YS Gay" song for the obvious lyrical slams, I've heard the rest of the CD and it's fantastic. The label probably chose those two songs just for shock value and to get people to do exactly what we're doing now -start buzz.

    Posted by: Buddy | May 20, 2008 6:09:12 PM

  14. You guys do know that record labels pay Perez Hilton for those plugs on his blog? They are ads disguised as blog posts.

    Posted by: crispy | May 20, 2008 6:18:22 PM

  15. Yes, I talked about Miss Perry and her song, 'You're So Gay' back in January. Sure it’s just a song, but wrapping your homophobia in post-post-irony new wave ’80s kitsch as if no one is going to call you out on your desperate attempt at publicity is plain bullshit. Nonetheless it’s the ‘you’re so gay’ chorus that bugs the shit out me, attaching the term ‘gay’ to all that is negative. How sad that the record company chose to push her on what really is a poor song, to unleash your homophobia, as if calling a fellow out as gay you were somehow insulting him, regardless of the slang usage. I guess Kate couldn't get the term Faggot past the record label. All the great new music that's been released this week that would be of interest to gay folk and 1/2 the entry is dedicated to Perry, come on, I think we can do better.

    Posted by: Jocko | May 20, 2008 6:46:56 PM

  16. Now all I can hear in my head is,
    "you're so gay / you probably think this song is about you...."

    Posted by: oakling | May 20, 2008 7:10:26 PM

  17. Yes, better, like Sam Sparro's CD which was also released in the US today, I think. Black & Gold!

    Posted by: Michael | May 20, 2008 7:12:25 PM

  18. I Kissed A Girl does have a video. We watched it today in our weekly Standards & Practices meeting here at MTV. Chock full o' lesbians. Well, Howard Stern's version of lesbians anyway. It should pop up on YouTube any day now.
    What do you expect from an artist who Madonna loves? Someone worth hearing? HAHAHAHAHA! Oh, please.

    Posted by: jeffreychrist | May 20, 2008 7:32:48 PM

  19. The label probably chose those two songs just for shock value and to get people to do exactly what we're doing now - start buzz.

    Yes, exactly, and if this website is getting paid by the label for the advertising, well that's fine -- we all have to make a living.

    If this website isn't getting any cash from the label for the story, then I hope the maintainers are aware that other sites are. Giving it out for free makes you look like a sucker, particularly when you're promoting someone who insults you.

    Posted by: thin mint | May 20, 2008 7:42:38 PM

  20. I actually don't find any of her songs offensive. I don't see Ur So Gay as portraying homosexuality as a negative quality. But I believe she uses the gay stereotype in order to fuel her song. It's just a fun song slamming one of her boys. And as for I Kissed A Girl, are you serious? The song is amazingly catchy and incredibly fun. I am not offended by any of these songs at all.

    Posted by: Jonathan | May 20, 2008 8:06:53 PM

  21. What "gay stereotype" does the song portray, exactly? I listened to it, and what I noticed most was that the lyrics didn't seem to describe any recognizable person or even any recognizable type.

    Is there a stereotype that gay men typically listen to Mozart and read Ernest Hemingway? If such a prevailing belief exists, I have never been aware of it.

    As for the fake-lesbian song, that trick was tired when Tatu did it years ago. Today it's just sad, like a drunk girl who gets louder and cruder as closing time approaches.

    She really seems to have nothing to offer except blog buzz. And, as I said before, I hope this blog was paid well for contributing to it.

    Posted by: thin mint | May 20, 2008 8:30:24 PM

  22. By the way, on a more cheerful note, I'm super-excited to hear of a new song by Aimee Mann! I don't have iTunes, but I looked on Youtube, and there's a live version of her new single that she performed last spring.


    And, because the quality on that clip isn't so great, here's my favorite Aimee song:


    Posted by: thin mint | May 20, 2008 8:56:21 PM

  23. I've met katy, and trust me katy loves the gays...

    now as for "i kissed a girl" being a "fake lesbian song" ... don't a lot of girls kiss girls without claiming to be lesbians?

    plus, it's catchy. get over it.

    Posted by: pocket | May 20, 2008 9:02:52 PM

  24. For anyone else who doesn't have iTunes, I found a complete and clearer version of the new Aimee Mann song at her MySpace.


    The single is "Freeway" but the song that auto-plays is another track from the album she has coming out June 3rd, @%&*! SMILERS.

    It has a tuba part. Heh.

    Posted by: thin mint | May 20, 2008 9:56:32 PM

  25. As for the Green Day -oops, Foxboro Hottub - album, it's GREAT!! Very reminiscent of their early indie work - just fun punkpop.

    Posted by: Roy | May 20, 2008 10:22:03 PM

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