What Happens When Pop Artists Reimagine Classic Love Songs for Queer Couples

Illustration for article titled What Happens When Pop Artists Reimagine Classic Love Songs for Queer Couples
Photo: Christopher Polk (Getty Images for VH1)

There are endless benefits to representation across media—there’s power in seeing your story, and the stories of others, reflected in television, film, music...all platforms. There are endless dangers in it, too—tokenization is prevalent, perhaps, deceptively, more now than ever, which means conversation must be nuanced, fluid and continuous to really benefit all people. When I heard a handful of really wonderful pop stars, everyone from Kesha to St. Vincent and even Bob Dylan (he’s a pop star, fight me) worked on a compilation album, Universal Love, of classic love song covers that swap pronouns to reflect same sex couples, I was both delighted and concerned for the aforementioned reason. Hold your breath, I’m going in!


On the surface: Hell yeah! It’s about damn time pop music became an actually inclusive place and worked to better represent all kinds of love. And I say this next point as an iconoclast, someone who is certainly not married to canonical music whatsoever: Why not leave these dumb songs be and write new material that engages with different kinds of sexuality? This comp runs the risk of shouting to the world, “We don’t need original queer narratives, we need to force queer narratives to fit our heteronormative tradition, here, in song.” This does not speak to the sexualities of the artists in question, but it does bring up a crucial inquiry: Is this how representation looks?

I don’t know. The songs are gorgeous, I’d argue objectively so. Listen below and form your own opinion! Let’s learn from each other, dear reader.


Senior Writer, Jezebel. My debut book, LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands, is out now.

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