A Song A Day. Part Five: REM
Welcome to part five of my handy cut out and paste guide to the entire history of queer popular music. Today's lesson - REM.
More specifically, the video for REM's Losing My Religion.
A new exhibition at London's Dulwich Gallery of Guido Reni's paintings of Saint Sebastian has spawned some learned essays in the press musing about how the pierced one came to become the patron saint of pooves.
There's really not much to this - he was a good-looking young chap who was invariably depicted wearing nothing but a loincloth - and you couldn't just Google "free" "gay" and "porn" back in Renaissance times, you know?
Anyway, it was the SS reference combined with the high quota of top male arty titty in the video for Losing My Religion that got many wondering for the first time about the sexuality of the previously oblique and "enigmatic" Michael Stipe.
"Losing my religion" is a slightly campy old southern phrase - which you might have expected to be taken up in song by their mates from Athens, The B-52s (See Part Three). Michael sort of sounds like he's singing about he's deliberating about losing his gay virginity, no?
This became REM's breakthrough hit in 1991 - proving you can never go wrong with a video full of half-naked men and a mandolin.
Fascinating fact: Popstarz promoter Tommy Turntables once had a lizard called Stipe. It smelt funny.