Single Review: Garbage “Queer”

Queer
Album: Garbage
Year: 1995

Garbage exploded with “Queer,” the second single off their self-titled album. By 1996, Shirley Manson had established herself as a woman not to be messed with. However, unafraid to confess her most intimate secrets, which she did in a 1996 Details article.

Steaming with brazen sexuality, “Queer” starts mysteriously and straightforward. “Hey boy/take at me/let me dirty up your mind,” Shirley Manson sings to an unknown man. She mocks him in the chorus for his phoniness: “You choke behind a smile/a fake behind the fear/the queerest of the queer.” By the end, she is challenging the man to own up to his sexuality and deal with it. “I know you’re dying to/you can touch me if you want/you can touch me.” However, she knows he’s not going to change by capping the verse with, “you can’t stop.” A complicated single, which lends itself to Garbage’s ambiguous lyrics. Its point takes several listens to pin down and figure out.

Sampling “Man of Straw” by Single Gun Theory, Garbage effectively seam together rock and techno. The sample creates the cryptic tone while the drums add an underlying aggressiveness. Shirley Manson is a versatile vocalist. She can be sensual and taunting at the same time, while maintaining the overall tone of the song.

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