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Orville Peck covered Bronski Beat’s pioneering queer anthem Smalltown Boy and it’s the sadbanger to end all sadbangers

Josh Milton June 30, 2020
Orville Peck. (Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Orville Peck. (Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Enigmatic gay country singer Orville Peck, known for his blisteringly blue eyes and bespoke Lone Ranger masks, did the Lord’s work Monday evening (June 29) by dropping a country-disco cover of “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat.

Peck has, over the last year, actively obliterated many of the stale shibboleths of country music gatekeeping by simply existing. The cowboy crooner, who released his debut album, Pony, in 2019, recorded the track under lockdown as part of Spotify’s Pride series.

Taking the synth-pop nightclub anthem, the Canadian singer transformed it into a woozy and weathered sadbanger, and is that a tear in our eye? OK, give us a moment.

Orville Peck does cowboy cover of ‘Smalltown Boy’ and it is gloriously gay.

Giving “Smalltown Boy” a Southern-fried twang, the song glosses heartfelt lyrics with thumping disco beats. In the original version, Jimmy Somerville’s soaring falsetto tells the story of a young gay man breaking after years of bullying and deciding to leave his, you guessed it, small town.

The semi-autobiographical song captured an experience eerily familiar to many queer folk, of fleeing hometowns on the hinterlands and pursuing lives in the big cities.

But Orville Peck, who looks like a Brokeback Mountain fanfic come to life, stretches the song from 1980s Britain to the dusty all-American frontier.

With his glassy blue eyes peeking from a mask that scatterers into pink fringe, the cover art for the song sees Peck, whose real identity is wrapped in mystery, wear a trans Pride flag pin on his suede waistcoat.

And, from a cursory glance on Twiter, both the cover and the subtle solidarity with the trans community is everything that 2020 needed.

Orville Peck cover forms part of Spotify’s Pride celebrations.

“Smalltown Boy” saddles up alongside various other queer artist’s tributes, as Spotify marks the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

Josef rips out “Thinking of You” by Sister Sledge while Rina Sawayama covers Lady Gaga’s “Dance in the Dark”.

The man behind Peck remains unknown. In various interviews, a patchwork autobiography has begun to emerge of a gay man creating the noir, spaghetti-western musician persona after being both a model, dabbling in theatre and growing up in various continents.

Oh, and being best buds with sexually ambiguous super-producer Diplo.

 

More: Orville Peck, Spotify

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