Monday, October 31, 2011

Bronski Beat - "Smalltown Boy"

Smalltown Boy - The Age of Consent

(Debuted December 22, 1984, Peaked #48, 15 Weeks on the Chart)

I remember watching the video for "Smalltown Boy" on MTV twice during 1985, but never even heard it once on the radio. At the same time, the song was part of a promo featuring "new music" that MTV ran which featured the synthesized opening line. As a result, that melody stayed with me for a long time.

At the time, that was all that I knew about the song. I had guessed the "smalltown boy" in the song was running away from his life because he felt trapped. I was 12 then, and living in a small town myself, and probably projected my own feelings onto the words I heard in a way I could relate. Of course, I turned out to be very wrong about it. Bronski Beat's members were homosexuals and their songs often addressed problems they faced because of their orientation. The video shows that as well (with the protagonist getting the snot beat out of him by a gang because of who he was), but I never would have picked up on it at that age...I still had a lot to learn about the topic of homosexuality.

"Smalltown Boy" would be Bronski Beat's only chart hit in the U.S., but they enjoyed more hits in their native U.K. and across Europe. Lead singer Jimmy Somervile would resurface later in the decade as part of The Communards on a pair of songs that remade 1970s disco classics.

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