CD Review of Hey Hey My My Yo Yo by Junior Senior

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Hey Hey My My Yo Yo
starstarstarstarno star Label: Ryko
Released: 2007
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As we were putting our Summer of Love anniversary piece together, it was my job to determine the significance, if any, that the Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, et al had on the youth of today. The answer: not much, and to be fair, there is no reason to expect that they would. The more troubling part, though, came in analyzing the type of music the kids were digging, and realizing that very little of it is what you would call fun. Mean, sarcastic, aggressive and sleazy, definitely, but not fun, no sir.

That would, perhaps, explain why bands like Scissor Sisters or Junior Senior are not megastars, because damn it, they should be. Seriously, how does the program director of a dance-oriented pop station, or even Radio Disney, not throw “Move Your Feet” or “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’” into power rotation the second it arrives in their mailbox? (One theory springs to mind, but I’ll save it for the end, in the interest of keeping the conversation pleasant.) And what will be their excuse for not playing Hey Hey My My Yo Yo, Junior Senior’s latest? The album is as perfect a summer pop album as you’re likely to find. The songs distill the best ingredients of Kool and the Gang, Earth, Wind and Fire and Michael Jackson into short, sweet booty-shaking goodness. Oh, and the members of Junior Senior are Danish white guys. Who doesn’t want to hear that?

Warning, hyperbole ahead: “Can I Get Get Get” is easily one of the year’s best singles. With a scratch guitar that will make Nile Rodgers beam with pride and an instant-classic back-and-forth verse (“I don’t do that kind of thing.” “Say what?” / “I don’t do that kind of thing.” “Why not?”), “Can I Get Get Get” is crazy catchy. “Hip Hop a Lula” may contain some rapping in the verse, but this is more Tom Tom Club than anything that resembles modern-day hip hop. In other words, expect this to wind up as a sample under a ‘pimps and ho’s’ rhyme a year from now. The album’s most pleasant surprise arrives when the unofficial queens of summer fun, B-52’s singers Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, share lead vocals on “Take My Time.”

All right, time to stop beating around the bush: why is it that Junior Senior and the Scissor Sisters are not as successful in the States as they are in the rest of the world? Quite simply, because they’re gay. Well, only Junior is gay, but one gay member appears to be enough to brand them as a gay band. (Insert your own Freddie Mercury/Rob Halford/Clay Aiken joke here.) If you look at the “Billboard” charts, you’ll see that 80% of the songs in the Top 40 are hip hop songs or songs by pop idols (read: white people) that feature one hip hop artist or another. As a culture, hip hop is notoriously homophobic – the most effective way to assassinate a rapper’s character is to spread a rumor that he’s gay – so it stands to reason that any radio station that butters its bread with hip hop flava would be under tremendous pressure from its listeners to quit playing that faggot crap, thereby leaving Junior Senior and the Sisters homeless on the dial. It’s a stinging indictment of how little we’ve progressed (regressed?) as a society in terms of acceptance of gays. But I suppose that side of the argument is better left to the Salons and PopMatterses of the world. All that matters to me is that Junior Senior are huge everywhere else in the world, but for reasons beneath our dignity, they’ll never be popular here. Ye gods.

So yeah, one of the guys in Junior Senior is gay. Big fucking deal. Put Hey Hey My My Yo Yo on at your next party, and see how many people give a rat’s ass about the band’s sexual orientation as they’re shaking their groove thangs. It’s supposed to be about the music, isn’t it?

~David Medsker