Guilty Pleasures… Scissor Sisters

Music

Tom Hoskins reveals his fondness for the smutty themes of the San Francisco glam pop group

The success and critical acclaim of the Scissor Sisters’ debut would suggest that they are not a guilty pleasure; much of the recent The Magic Hour would suggest that they’re not a pleasure at all.

But there is little about the Scissor Sisters that is not guilty, as is most manifest on Night Work.

Scissor Sisters hardly made an effort to hide their sexual nature for public consumption, yet their name and logo still became prominent around 2004 on the radio and TV, as well as in homes amongst kids who didn’t understand it and parents who wouldn’t be comfortable discussing it. The songs continued in the same vein, with “Filthy/Gorgeous” reaching number five despite having the lines “You gotta wrap your fuzzy with a big red bow” and “But your biggest moneymakers’ flaccid”. The debut flitted from disco to glam to piano-driven ballads, with lyrics about the gay clubbing scene.

All this doesn’t seem to be scissor sistersa combination one would have expected the British population to have devoured as ravenously as they did; it also probably isn’t what people would expect a 19 year old heterosexual male to still be listening to nine years after its release.

What’s worse/better is that I don’t consider their debut to be the best release. Ta-Dah was inferior, yet Night Work surpassed everything (with the exception of atrocious lead single ‘Fire with Fire’). It was less commercially successful, probably because it was simply too far for most. The clenched bum in skin-tight pants isn’t to everyone’s taste and those who were put off by this probably did well to stay away as the songs somewhat reflect the cover. There’s a song about anal sex, the title track is from a prostitute’s point of view, and ‘Any Which Way’ has Ana Matronic ordering  “Take me anyway you like it, in front of the fireplace, in front of your yacht, in front of my parents, I don’t give a damn baby, just take me”. They up the intensity musically too, replacing the ‘70s-indebted and Elton John and Bee Gees-influenced style (which was perfectly guilty enough) with gay clubbing orientated synth-pop. It is an album with an ‘80s sound which is perfectly happy to alienate heterosexuals. It seems I really shouldn’t like it but it’s impossible not to.

 Tom Hoskins