Monday, October 10, 2011


Song Title: "Mr. Misdirected Woo"
Artist: Spygenius
Search Term: "Typist" [This song is from an album named Songs from the Devil's Typist]

I personally am always a bit leery (or "weary," to put it in the parlance of a reality show contestant) of stories--in film, TV, or song--about a straight person lusting after a gay person and nurturing the fantasy that the latter will make an exception to his or her biologically-determined sexual orientation just this once. This is not to say that they're absolutely not tales worth telling in the first place. I have harbored any number of absolutely ludicrous crushes in my life, and although none of the unfortunate crushees were, to my knowledge, lesbians, for my attraction to be reciprocated would nevertheless have required many of these women to nonsensically cast aside reams of deeply-held feelings, beliefs, and standards. That was plain to see, but it didn't stop me from carrying a torch until it burned down to my hand and scorched me. Impossible romantic longing is universal, and it's a fertile artistic topic. The heart wants what it wants, to quote a famous old perv, and the painful gnashing of emotional gears that occurs when two hearts' desires don't sync up has provided fodder for many a terrific pop song, among other artistic media. But in an age that's still lousy with bigoted weirdos hanging onto the notion that homosexuality is a choice that can be changed or "corrected," I think it takes a particularly deft touch to focus on the yearning of the straight individual in this scenario without inadvertently rubbing up against the attitude expressed by Jason Lee's Chasing Amy character: "All women need is some serious, deep dicking." (It's hard to remember when Weezer was good at anything, but they got the tone precisely correct in "Pink Triangle," and justly won plaudits for the line "Everyone's a little queer/Can't she be a little straight?")

"Mr. Misdirected Woo," by the UK band Spygenius, is one of those songs that makes me wince a bit--I don't think they're ignorant at all, but their carelessness touches a nerve with me. Abetted by a Vaudevillian ukelele and impressive close harmonies, the lead singer laments that "all the girls I meet prefer the company of their own kind," hoping to sway one of them with not-especially-clever lines like "Can true love be gender-bender blind?" I get that they're going for ironic sauciness and there is nothing verging on hateful about it, and it may not bother other listeners as much as it does me. I admit that I tend to be way too sensitive about this topic, and it does take something extra super funny for me to look past that. (A queer friend once affectionately laughed, "Wow, you sensitive straight boys take this shit seriously!" after I'd subjected her to an email full of humorless venting of my highly-pressurized hot air regarding my support of gay marriage.) Even conceding that, I just don't find "Mr. Misdirected Woo" especially original or involving. Well done though the barbershop harmonies are, we are far beyond the novelty of Leon Redbone and the Squirrel Nut Zippers, who could make meticulous re-creation of early 20th-century popular music entertaining in its own right, and this song doesn't have a terribly compelling melody or any sort of twist to the arrangement. If I want to listen to a song presenting gender and sexual orientation as obstacles to potential romance performed by a band obsessed with old-timey musical styles, I'll just listen to Of Montreal's sublime "Tim I Wish You Were Born a Girl," which finds Kevin Barnes's hetero narrator sweetly professing his affection for a male friend and wishing that Tim were of the opposing sex so that their feelings of platonic intimacy could bloom into romance. Maybe in 30 years, when the LGBT community has won the battle to enjoy the equal rights to which they are entitled, songs like this won't strike me as hitting too close to home for me to listen to unfazed. But this song in particular will still be an unremarkable trifle.

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