“Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat – Music Review


It’s Buffalo Pride week, so I thought I’d cover an 80s song with some LGBTQ substance to it.

“Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat is a song about a gay boy running away from his small town home.

Just to put into perspective, this song not only was a gay anthem during the rise of the AIDS crisis, but the song broke into the top 50 in the US Pop Charts (as well as landing at #3 in the band’s native UK).

Lyrically, the song is a simplistic tale of a boy who was bullied for his sexuality, and leaves home to search for love outside of his narrow-minded small town.

Musically, the song is a synthy, ethereal dance charmer. This song was sampled in 2015 by Brandon Flowers for his song “I Can Change,” which is how I ended up running across it.

Of course, as per usual, it turns out I have the entire The Age of Consent album by Bronski Beat on vinyl.

I’m not actually going to grade this song, as I feel evaluating it as a musical piece spits in the face of its emotional messages.

Oddly, a lot of LGBTQ individuals that I know have never heard of Bronski Beat or this song. It makes sense: I was born in the 90s, like most of my friends, and most of them don’t have a penchant for 80s synthpop.

That being said, I often cite this album when discussing LGBTQ music. Bronski Beat certainly broke down some barriers in representation back in the 1980s, and that barrier is still hard to break even today.

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