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Shamir Reckons With Queer Erasure In 'Straight Boy'

Oct 11, 2017
Originally published on October 11, 2017 8:54 am

"Can someone tell me why / I always seem to let these straight boys ruin my life?" It's the million dollar question that opens "Straight Boy," the latest off Shamir's upcoming record Revelations. The record is a pivot away from his glossy dance-pop days to something more unplugged; rolling guitar riffs that cradle his voice throughout a track that sounds raw and intimate, like a one-on-one conversation.

But don't think for a second "Straight Boy" is a confessional about ignored text messages or ghosting; crack through its surface and you'll find a center that roils with the frustration of someone who's trying to work out why things like "whitewashing and queer baiting in media," as Shamir tells NPR Music, happen.

"It's about how frustrating it was for me to have my whole identity picked apart at a young age, just to see straight white men use it as an aesthetic choice," Shamir says. "The video quite unequivocally depicts the process of whitewashing and the repudiation of the queer and people of color who pioneered."

We literally watch Shamir disappear in the Ryan Carpenter-directed video; he stands, gently strumming his guitar, oscillating in and out of visibility and competing with a white boy counterpart who mimics his movement and visual aesthetic. In the end, it is the white boy who is left on our screens and Shamir has vanished without a trace — except his voice which, now, sweetly pours from the white boy's mouth.

Revelations is out Nov. 3 on Father/Daughter Records. Pre-order it here.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.