“My Boy Like a Queen”: Musical and Visual Queer Performance in Music Videos of Sam Smith and Troye Sivan
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In this thesis, I examine the ways in which queerness is portrayed in music videos of Sam Smith and Troye Sivan, applying (queer) musicological and gender theories in order to argue that the medium of the music video is an appropriate one for communicating such queer messages explicitly. I expand on Judith Peraino’s idea that the medium “music” is queer in essence because of its resistance to legibility by pointing out that applying images to music, as is done in the music videos of Smith and Sivan, creates an explicit expression of queerness. Nicholas Cook’s notion of multimedia conformance serves to demonstrate the way in which audiovisual relations contribute to an explicit portrayal of queerness. Queer music videos of the 1980s are compared to Sivan’s music video of “Lucky Strike” in order to demonstrate that explicitness plays a more important role in contemporary portrayals of queerness in mainstream media than in the 1980s. Then, Sivan’s music video of “Bloom” is analysed with regards to the notions of masculinity and femininity and Smith’s video of “How Do You Sleep?” is interpreted historically in order to compare the two artists and how they express their queerness through mainstream culture in different ways, nonetheless, with similar goals of fighting normativity and advocating for inclusivity. The fact that the music videos that I examine communicate queerness explicitly, shows that applying images to music according to Cook’s model of conformance, can counteract music’s queer feature of indirectness.