Jay Jacobson – Love Is Love – Could this be the most self-indulgent video ever?

We get sent a lot of music from unsigned acts looking for a bit of publicity. This one takes the biscuit, and not in a good way.

The artist in this video is Jay Jacobson, and the song itself is about being gay and being accepted for what you are. Jay calls it equality though. I call it self-indulgent.

Here’s the thing: I have no problem accepting homosexuality either in pop videos or in real life. We’re at a stage in pop culture where realistic depictions of gay people are starting to shine through. I’m thinking of course about Cam and Mitch in [[Modern Family (TV Series)|Modern Family]], and Dave and Ivan on [[Being Erica (TV Series)|Being Erica]].

Jay’s video – in which he takes center stage – comes off as preachy and a bit fake. You’ll see him taking his partner to dinner with his parents and his father choking as the two hold hands at the table. Seriously man, you’re 40 and you’re coming out and your parents never had a clue?

To add insult to injury, the ‘romantic dancing’ is about as sensual as showering in old dishwater. There’s no chemistry there whatsoever. There is finger sucking and lesbians cavorting in a toilet though. What’s the subtext there, that you have to hide in a toilet with your ladyfriend if you want a kiss?

I’d like to say there’s some redeeming aspect to the song, but it comes off as unsubtle and dated. There have to be better ways to make social statements in music than with this sledgehammer approach. We’re seeing so many gay couples in pop videos now as well – Pink, Katy Perry, Boyzone, etc. I’m not doubting that Jay’s experienced hostility in the past, and I understand that. It’s just that the whole concept here is so artless. It’s hardly a Papa Don’t Preach for the homosexual market, is it?

Here’s the video – I’m interested to hear what you guys think. Am I being too harsh here or is this song actually achieving anything?

7 Comments

  1. Dara Hickey

    Ignoring the tragic video, which, as you said features the worst dancing I’ve ever seen: I can criticise:

    The verses: For staters, they are non-existant. The melody is swamped by his intonation which says to me he’s been to far too many private singing lessons, and therefore has learnt to over-pronounce each lyric.

    They’re too slow and meadering, and as a listener I can’t help but be distracted as they just don’t engage, which could asl obe something to do with what you said earlier Gerard, that the video feels extremely self-indulgent.

    Even the second form verse (or bridge, if you like) fails to engage, as the melody still isn’t strong enough to be catchy and it’s too dull and closed to be a more emotional song.

    The chorus: Thankfully, the pace feels quickened at this stage, but I absolutely, under no circumstances whatsoever can excuse the omisson of a syllable in a vocal melody. It just sounds like a complete let down and the lyrics may as well be “I’ll stop here, thanks very much”. The fact it’s an incomplete musical phrase suggests the lyrics were written by a six year-old.

    Again, the catchiness is as hard to find as a decent Top 3, and even the multi-layering or additional synth-backing doesn’t do anything to bring this dead horse back to life (it died around about the mention of him finding happiness).

    Lyrics: Well, these a very poor, and as I voiced earlier, could easily have been written by a six year-old. They’re simplistic, unoriginal and above all, just plain boring.

    Also, the way he delivers them, despite his intended message, suggest that what he’s saying should be Law, and that if you don’t like what he’s saying, you can fuck off. This is also accentuated with his expression in the video, which just about says “I’m right, and you’re not”.

    Production: Christ on a bike, the production is one step above simply flatlining! The drums are far too dry and dominate the rest of the music. There’s not even an instrumental melody – it’s just a drum loop and a few chord produced on a cheap sequencer.

    The musical section should just be done away with, it elongates the audio bore-fest in the shape of this song, doing nothing new, just a few violins scaling and riffing somehere from behind all the percussion.

    His Voice: I’ve touched on this before; he over-pronounces a lot, which often means his intonation is delivered… without wanting to seem elitist, wrongly. He’s clearly going for an emotional kind of song here; one that’s very personal, but with his voice like that it’s often hard to see past what his voice sounds like, which is a very Stepford, very contrived vocal.

    On that, his voice is typically West End. I’m not usually one to throw this comment about to every aspiring singer but he really seems suited more to that area of music. There’s very little character in his voice, and during the “Love is love” post-chorus his voice sounds more bored than I am.

    And now, on that video, I’ll hold back commenting on how appallingly cheap it is because I understand he mustn’t have much of a budget (although the little camera turn at the end to try and fit “the dad” in is hilarious). But what I will comment on are:

    His dancing: Sorry, but driftwood dances better than that.

    The storyline: Pretty standard plot, but I dont think it’s particularly fair to penalise every gay person’s parents by showing them as instantly disapproving of their sons/daughters orientation. Obviously, this is an extremely delicate matter, and there must be nothing worse for a man when he finds out his son is gay, or a mother when her daughter is a lesbian as it must be highly embarrasing, particularly for the former.

    And once again I agree with you Gerard, why do the lesbians have to make out in the lift or in the toilet yet men can just go at it on the floor?

    His face: He’s certainly not conveying this sense of heartbreak or reject the lyrics are discussing, rather sending out a subliminally suggestive message about how he wants to bum whoever’s watching. It’s quite a difficult face to look at, no offence mate, but the look you’re giving the viewers is plain and simply unsettling, even to those who are completely judgment free about same sex couples.

    His little smirk he does proves he’s no mascot for gay people everywhere, because no matter who’s on the receiving end of that smirk, in whatever situation, it’ll come across as a “I’m better than you, don’t you think?” kind of smug grin/smirk rather than smile. Once again, sending out the wrong message about gay people if he’s trying to convert haters.

    In conclusion, he’s clearly going for an awareness-raiser here, but with that video, it’s going to fail even if it is seen by millions, which it won’t be. Seems to me, he’s painting people who aren’t gay as evil or disapproving of a homosexual relationship, and therefore branding everyone, even those who are judgemnt free as ‘the bad guys’.

    Even without the video, the song is poor – very poor – and fails to engage the listener at anytime during it’s long-drawn out duration. At the very least, it should be shortened before even considering releasing it to the public.

    Overall verdict in one word: Plain.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Wow, that was brutal! And I thought I was being harsh!

      I got an email about my review of this song today. Now, I suspect the emailer was associated with Jay in some way. Why? Because he defended the track.

      We’re agreed that as a social message, he’s going at it with a wrecking ball. You know, you run down people’s religion for making them homophobic and the only result is that you insult them and their position becomes more entrenched. Nobody wins from that kind of argument.

      The person also said that the video wasn’t showing two women as ‘hiding’ in a toilet. But toilets are places where seedy things take place – drugs snorted off the cistern, that kind of thing. How dumb to include that scene in a video where you’re trying to challenge/change people’s opinions? I have seen gay and lesbian kisses done tastefully and romantically in lots of music videos and TV shows. We in the UK have gay marriage, openly gay TV presenters, gay soap opera characters. This is the kind of song that someone who’s bitter would write – it’s preachy and high-handed and suffers from an obvious lack of perspective.

      The thing is, if I were angry and hurt about something, it’s perhaps the road I would take too. I’d get blinkered by the issue and deliver something like this. So in that way, I can understand why Jay took this approach to the song, but I don’t agree with it.

  2. Dara Hickey

    I realise I was being a bit harsh, but I can clearly see where he’s coming from. Although it doesn’t help his matter that he’s being very frontal about the matter he’s trying to talk about.

    To me, the video and song say that, “This is how we are, and whether you like it or not, we ain’t gunna change”. It’s, for that reason, a seemingly stubborn song and attitude that has all the subtlety of – you said it – a wrecking ball.

    The topic is a very delicate and very vulnerable matter to many, and so it needs to be dealt with just that – delicacy and vulnerability. If he wants homophobics to listen to his message, he needs a slight vulnerability that’s connectable, rather than storming into it with no restraints.

    However, none of this acts as an antidote to what’s before us. The song, whilst first and foremost discussing the idea of his sexuality with his parents, doesn’t seem to want include or respect other’s opinions, even if they’re not bothered by the subject. He seems to express an idiology that all those who aren’t gay are against him and are basically being unfair and judgmental of him.

  3. magsmagenta

    Before I got embarrassed for him and had to turn it off, If he had been a teenager it would have been forgivable, but I hadn’t realised he was a middle aged man. I know there are older people who can’t come out to their parents but there is no excuse for tackling the issue like a teenager.

    He isn’t a very good singer anyway.

  4. magsmagenta

    I think the main problem is he’s about 20 years too late, for himself and the video, the message and the music are really dated at least here in the UK, and like I said before the sort of thing teenagers would be angsting over, If he was 40ish and still hadn’t come out to is parents I would have expected there to be a very good reason why not, and inviting the boyfriend over to witness the whole sorry mess when he did finally come out would not be the best plan I would have thought.

    As what happened with coloured people in the US and Jazz music, music and entertainment can be used as very potent agents of social change, but only if the people producing the music have such undeniable talent that it makes a mockery of the prejudice against them, and makes those promoting that prejudice look foolish, which this does not. It also helps if if the entertainment in question makes people feel good, and like you want to be a friend and advocate for the person who is suffering the prejudice, which this also fails to do. Then once people are on your side you can slip in the odd social message and they’ll be much more receptive.

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