Pandemic Playlist: Top 5 Placebo songs that are a celebration of the LGBTQIA++ friendly band's amazing music
As the celebrations for June being Pride Month 2020 continue in full swing, we thought it'd be a great time to revisit one of the most popular bands in the alternative rock circuit
Hello again, music lovers. As the celebrations for June being Pride Month 2020 continue in full swing, we thought it'd be a great time to revisit one of the most popular bands in the alternative rock circuit, Placebo. The British band is well known for their LGBTQIA++ friendly attitude, androgynous dress code and edgy yet catchy post-punk songs, which explore numerous themes such as sexuality, mental health, angst and drug use.
The band's co-founders Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal now perform as a duo with backing musicians, after previous core members such as Steve Hewitt and Steve Forrest departed. Their vocalist Brian Molko is an androgynous queer icon, unabashedly open about his bisexuality and the band's penchant for cross-dressing, saying "I actually wanted the homophobic to look at me and ask questions about their sexuality because I believe sexuality is fluid. For me, it’s not about gender – it’s about people.” So in honor of Placebo's bold and enduring impact on LGBTQIA++ culture, let's take a look at some of their beautiful, subversive music in today's pandemix.
Pandemic Playlist - Placebo Edition
'Nancy Boy' was Placebo's first breakthrough hit, released as the fourth single from their debut self-titled album in 1997. It was partially inspired by Suede's Brett Anderson infamous quote: "I'm a bisexual man who's never had a homosexual experience." The song's title alludes to a gay slur and is the perfect introduction to the band's music, dealing with themes of drugs, sexual experimentation and gender confusion. The subversive track eventually reached No 4 on the UK singles charts and contained hedonistic lyrics like "Alcoholic kind of mood / Lose my clothes, lose my lube / Cruising for a piece of fun / Looking out for number one." Molko revealed the song itself was a rebellion of sorts against the laddish machismo that had pervaded British culture at the time: "We were trying to make a strong political statement about the fluidity of sexuality with the dresses and make-up that we wore. We set out to confuse, and I guess 'Nancy Boy' was the perfect soundtrack to that."
'Every You, Every Me'
This crowd favorite was released as the third single from Placebo's second album 'Without You I’m Nothing' (1998). It is, in essence, a love song, talking about how hot-blooded passion can often make you act and react in silly and harmful ways. Lyrics include "My heart's a tart, your body's rent / My body's broken, yours is bent"). When asked whom the song was about, Molko replied: "I think it's about a lot of people. Probably anybody... everybody who's had the displeasure of sleeping with me." Interestingly, whenever Placebo talked about carnal love in their songs, they often took a deliberately ambiguous approach to gender, focusing instead on the sexual aspects of the relationship. This song was also included in the 1999 movie 'Cruel Intentions', further cementing its place in popular culture.
'Without You I'm Nothing' (Ft David Bowie)
'Without You I'm Nothing' was released as a single in 1999, from Placebo's album of the same name. It featured a collaboration with their good friend David Bowie, who was himself an androgynous queer icon of great renown in the music industry. The track is a slow, moody, haunting love song that features some gorgeous harmonies, with Molko's voice blending perfectly with Bowie's impassioned vocals. Talking about the song's genesis, Stefan Olsdal revealed, "We were in the studio and there, Bowie told us that he was going to sing the album’s eponymous song. He started to whisper the harmony into my ear. My feet became suspended from the ground. I realized that he was going to cause an explosion." The song remains one of the band's most iconic numbers and remains an evergreen staple on their live tours.
This gorgeous track was released as the third single from Placebo's fourth studio album, 'Sleeping with Ghosts', in 2003. Usually the term “special needs” is applied to people who have mental or physical disabilities. The track further expands on this concept by talking about a wheelchair-bound person who is still emotionally-dependent on their ex and does not want to be forgotten when their lover eventually achieves fame and fortune. Lyrics like "Remember me when you clinch your movie deal /And think of me stuck in my chair that has four wheels / Remember me through flash photography and screams" reveals that they are still unable to let go of their attachment. Molko revealed it was about "The tale of a celebrity has-been, told from a wheelchair. Someone reminiscing how the shoe is on the other foot and worrying that they’ll be written out of their ex’s biography."
One of Placebo's most beautiful tracks, 'Pure Morning' was released as the first single from their 1998 album 'Without You I’m Nothing'. Although it's one of their most celebrated hits, the band revealed the song was actually a last-minute addition to the album. The song was originally just a chiming guitar loop which eventually got fleshed out into a full-length number, with Molko improvising lyrics off the top of his head. He later revealed, "It’s a song about friendship - celebrating friendship with women. It’s about that point in the morning when the sun’s coming up and the rest of the world is waking up and you can’t go to sleep, basically, and you feel like a complete a*****e because you’re coming down [from drugs]. And it’s at that point you feel like your life is the least sorted ever and all you really crave is for a friend to put their arms around you and make you feel better. That’s the pure morning, when that happens.”
Pandemic Playlist is a daily list of songs that will keep you entertained instead of feeling drained while you're isolated at home. Look out for a fresh selection of great tunes from MEAWW to refresh your mood every day!