Billed modestly in press releases as “The greatest gay anthem of all time?”, “So Gay” is the latest offering from Tanzanian singer Hunter. Raised to Indian parents in the former capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, an environment in which homophobia is governmentally sanctioned, it’s tempting to read “So Gay” as less of a timid emergence from the closet as a cavalry charge into Judy Garland’s swimming pool.
The track surprisingly eschews the Vengaboys-esque glitzy tat of many songs self-consciously styling themselves as gay anthems in favour of a measured, bluesy stomp, complete with bluegrass ornamentation and twanged slugs of walking Double Bass. Hunter works in his Indian heritage with blares of Bollywood brass, and unorthodox vocal processing in the chorus spools his voice into a digitised babble.
Vocally, the singer has apparently spent several decades gurgling battery acid in Tom Waits’ diaphragm, gnarling his voice into a wizened growl somewhere between a chain-smoking Genghis Khan and Moe from the Simpsons, which lends a delicious incongruity to his opening salvo “You think I’m weak, a fairy boy?” Although dealing in didactic and hackneyed gay-is-OK platitudes that are readily available in countless other songs, there is a wry playfulness to Hunter’s drawled instruction to “Never mess with the gays/Have a heavenly day”, and his impish awareness of his own daftness in his gruff boasts that “Your girlfriend wants me, sister too”. Although advertised as “the leader of an LGBT revolution”, he might have to settle for charmed bemusement and polite applause for now. CO
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOyS3cF_zQA&sns=em