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"Boy Crazy" - Nicky Buell

Queer representation in pop music is new.

Like, really new. Just 13 years ago, Katy Perry’s dulcet recollection of girl-on-girl experimentation (“I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it”) was praised—or vilified—for its gay-friendly subject matter, despite the fact that, well, it wasn’t really about being gay. That song was just one piece of a decades-long pattern: LGBT experiences relegated to the lens of straight people. Simultaneously, LGBT artists have traditionally declined to integrate their sexuality into their songwriting (Raise your hand if you’ve ever had an older female relative exclaim about her childhood heartthrob singer, “I never knew he was gay!”).

We’ve come a long way in just the past decade. Today, artists aren’t just topping the charts—they’re topping the charts with songs that are explicitly about their own experiences, their own sexualities, their own identities. But in this limited time, we’ve only just grazed the possibilities of queer pop. Between the triumphant anthems and the heartfelt poetry (both important and well-deserving of praise), there’s room aplenty for another side of the genre. This is the side that’s simply about being young and queer, with all its attendant experiences: the good, the bad, the shy, the excitable, the lovestruck, and—of course—the hormonal.

Enter “Boy Crazy”, the latest release from Seattle-based artist Nicky Buell.

Buell, a recent and rising star in queer pop, has been candid about his musical motivations. “I just want to normalize a boy singing about another boy in music,” he says. “I don’t hear enough about boys in lust over other boys on the radio, or in music enough.” To remedy that bereavement, Buell packed “Boy Crazy” with as much lust as possible. And in the process, he’s made a song that mixes boisterous fantasy with frank intimacy in a way that feels fresh, melodic, deeply authentic, and irresistibly fun.

Just like a good love note, the song is intrinsically confessional; Buell even precedes the first verse by clearing his throat. It’s a small touch, but it’s one of many ways that “Boy Crazy” captures the impulsive, slightly unscripted nature of desire. To the beat of electronic drums and sultry exhalations, Buell deals his carnal confessions in a manner both intimate and occasionally contradictory. “Intellectually, sexually, boy I’m falling for you gradually,” he sings—and this right after asserting that “I wanna move hella fast with you”. But these contradictions feel genuine! Who among us hasn’t subjected our partner to a Frankensteinian bricolage of compliments in the heat of passion? The song isn’t called “Boy Sane”, after all.

The surprise star of “Boy Crazy” is the violin, sporadically present in the song’s verses and chorus, before hitting a confessional climax at the song’s bridge. The instrument’s sharp interpolations heighten the drama, while also reflecting the touchy, nervous feelings of intimacy. It fits the theme. Sex is mature; obsessing about sex is immature. “Boy Crazy” is both.

Special mention must be made of the song’s music video, which visually captures all the contradictions and craziness of young lust. In the chorus Buell transforms into a sort of devilish, death-metal specter (maybe I should just say “sex demon”? He’s literally horny), complete with contact lenses, bloody makeup, and camera-mugging. The look reminds me of Alice Cooper. Maybe that’s fitting, considering that the subversive glam-rock band was often accused of crossdressing on stage; Cooper himself vocalized his appreciation of his queer fans, and even mused—in the 70s!—on the possibility of his own pansexuality (But only once; like I said, we’ve come a long way).

Nicky Buell is a fresh face in a fresh genre of music, and much like queer pop as a whole, he has plenty of room to grow. “Boy Crazy” showcases his already considerable talent—not just in his vocals and his songwriting, but in his authenticity, his clever humor, and his determination to incorporate his sexuality into his music. His latest single is punchy, funny, and honest: an exploration into the fact that a major part of being gay is, well, liking guys—and sometimes, really liking them. “Boy Crazy” isn’t just a good song. It’s a step forward in the normalization of queer experiences. Buell’s music encourages all of us—LGBT or not—to embrace our crazy desires with all the passion and love in our hearts.

Or in any other body parts.

Written by Alex Figueiredo

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