QUEER VOICES
08/04/2017 10:53 am ET

Why Kele Okereke And Olly Alexander's New Song Is A Musical Milestone

"Grounds for Resentment" breaks fresh ground for openly gay pop artists.

Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke whetted fans’ appetites for his upcoming album Thursday by unveiling “Grounds for Resentment,” his new song with Olly Alexander of Years & Years

The mid-tempo ballad, which can be heard above, began generating buzz instantly. A number of music critics pointed out that it’s a love duet performed by two openly gay male stars, which is still an anomaly in mainstream pop. 

“For I know I left you bruised, but when I catch your old perfume, it takes me back to nights of passion in your room,” Okereke, who came out as gay in 2010, sings on the track. “When I caught your eye, I could tell the flame was far from gone... am I wrong?” 

Okereke, 35, told The Guardian that he’d wanted to collaborate with Alexander, 27, after reading a 2015 Digital Spy interview in which the Years & Years singer-songwriter lamented a lack of openly gay male pop stars who used male pronouns in their music. (Alexander opened up about his sexuality in detail as part of the BBC documentary, “Olly Alexander: Growing up Gay,” released in July.)  

“I remember reading something that he wrote about the use of pronouns in pop music for gay artists that I thought that was very perceptive and intelligent – just that the use of pronouns was the last frontier for gay artists,” Okereke said. “There are lots of gay acts that avoid using the term ‘he’ when singing about same-sex desire. It will just be a neutral term, whereas Olly understands from what I read that there is a long way to go for gay musicians in being able to describe love and desire authentically.”

He continued, “So I was very happy to sing a romantic duet with him on my album, because I couldn’t think of a precedent of any out gay musicians singing a love song to one another without having to hide behind codes. It was nice to put that all out there.”

The admiration is mutual. On Thursday, Alexander tweeted:  

Interestingly, “Grounds for Resentment” follows another much-buzzed-about track detailing a same-sex relationship. In June, Halsey teamed up with Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui for “Strangers,” which is an ode to a fractured relationship between two women. The women use female pronouns in the song, prompting critics to hail it as an “milestone,” given that both performers identify as bisexual in real life.  

It’s truly refreshing, if overdue, to see mainstream music embracing more diverse forms of love. “Grounds for Resentment” will appear on Okereke’s new album, “Fatherland,” which hits retailers Oct. 6.  

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