DIFFERENT LOVES, SAME FEELING: CHARACTERISING (SEXUAL) DIFFERENCE IN EARLY 21st-CENTURY ANGLO-AMERICAN POP-ROCK
The British pop-rock band The Feeling emerged in the mid 2000s as part of a wave of guitar-based groups echoing the Britpop of a decade earlier. While the other bands in this group (such as Franz Ferdinand and the Kaiser Chiefs) were received as unproblematically ‘indie’, The Feeling (and their out gay frontman Dan Gillespie-Sells) occupy a curious and conflicted critical position. Both winners of credible songwriting awards (such as the Ivor Novello) and reviled in the pages of indie journal-of-record the NME, they appear to have been the subject of, not homosexual panic, but rather anti-essentialist panic. Indie pop/rock, with its tradition of ‘performing’ androgyny and queer sexuality (and its own sense of otherness in relation to mainstream pop and stadium rock), has, paradoxically, sometimes struggled to accommodate unmarked yet lived gay identities, as observed by journalist Miranda Sawyer in 2006. The Feeling provide a case-study – within the intersection of sexuality, genre and the music industry – in the construction of a contemporary male musico-social identity. One reliant neither on hyper-masculinist cock-rock nor the ‘outrageous’ high camp espoused by frontmen of other acts featuring both heterosexual and gay members in the lineage from Queen to Scissor Sisters. Drawing on elements of queer theory (Spargo 1999; Sullivan 2003), reception history, semiotics and intertextual analysis, I explore musical relationships between The Feeling and acts found to be comparable. Following on from scholars such as Frith (1990), Jarman (2009) and Hawkins (2006, 2016), I characterise a musical aesthetic articulating a kind of queer sensibility embracing forms of difference which include, but are not limited to, same-sex attraction.