by Alex Hawgood
AT first listen, “We R Who We R,” the current single from the pop singer Ke$ha, sounds like just another entry in her glitter-caked catalog of dance hits. But “We R Who We R” has a subtext: It is intended as a response to the recent rash of suicides by gay teenagers and young adults, several of whom were close to Ke$ha’s age.
“Mean,” a song that Taylor Swift released early in anticipation of her third — and current No. 1 — album, “Speak Now,” is a bluegrass version of an antibullying public service announcement: “Someday I’ll be living in a big old city/And all you’re ever going to be is mean,” she sings. “Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me/And all you’re ever going to be is mean.” Pink’s “Raise Your Glass,” a new single that is included in a greatest-hits album that is to be released next week, addresses similar themes of overcoming persecution: “So raise your glass if you are wrong in all the right ways, all my underdogs.” For the song’s just-released video, Pink plays a singer at a gay wedding. (Or would that be a commitment ceremony?). And the video for Katy Perry’s new single, “Firework,” a song from her album “Teenage Dream,” features a scene in which two boys passionately kiss as pyrotechnics burst from the singer’s bust.
Together, these artists represent a new wave of young (and mostly straight) women who are providing the soundtrack for a generation of gay fans coming to terms with their identity in a time of turbulent and confusing cultural messages.