1. Queen, “Fat Bottomed Girls”
Though he was loath to discuss it (or much of anything, really), Queen frontman Freddie Mercury’s sexual orientation was pretty widely understood. Which isn’t to say he didn’t confuse the issue, writing “Love Of My Life” for longtime female companion Mary Austin—and of course delivering delicious-booty ode “Fat Bottomed Girls” to the world in 1978. The song was written by guitarist Brian May, but Mercury delivers lines like “big woman you made a bad boy out of me” with gusto.
2. Ricky Martin, “She Bangs”
During his most commercially successful years, Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin refused to talk about his sexuality, and he dated Mexican model Rebecca de Alba for years. And then there was “She Bangs,” a glorious ode to a female (“she”) who enjoys intercourse (“bangs”), and which includes gender-specific lines like “I’ll do the time with a smile on my face / thinking of her in her leather and lace.” Martin came out publicly in 2010, referring to himself—strangely but sweetly—as “a fortunate homosexual man.”
3. Judas Priest, “Victim Of Changes”
When Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford publicly declared his sexuality in 1998, it came as a shock to pretty much no one: After all, this was the guy who made his career wearing S&M gear onstage and pointedly not singing about chicks, man. Except, perhaps, for early Priest classic “Victim Of Changes,” which finds Halford heartbroken over a lady: “Once she was beautiful, once she was mine.” At least he fooled that one girl in Heavy Metal Parking Lot—the one who wanted to “jump his bones.”
4-5. R.E.M., “A Girl Like You” & “Pretty Girl (Hey Hey Nadine)”
R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe was known primarily, in the band’s early years, as a mumbler of oblique nonsense—there was no way to discern a gender, or even a storyline, in many of his songs. But a couple of bootleg-only R.E.M. tracks that predate the Chronic Town EP offer pretty standard “Ain’t that girl cute” stories: “A Girl Like You” finds Stipe pining over a lady that makes him weak and breaks his heart, while “Pretty Girl (Hey Hey Nadine)” is a spunky little punker about a pretty blond with a childlike smile.
6. Elton John, “Little Jeannie”
As most pop fans know, Elton John doesn’t write his own lyrics—he leaves that to Bernie Taupin, his songwriting partner of a million-odd years. So there are some examples, in spite of John’s well-documented sexuality, of him singing about sexy ladies. “Little Jeannie”—which, to be fair, was released four years before he married a woman and well before he came out—is about a hot young thing whom John wants to be his “acrobat.”
7. Bloc Party, “Banquet”
Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke dropped plenty of hints about his sexual orientation, in song and in interviews, before coming out in 2010. But early-career superjam “Banquet” sounds like a slippery ode to a woman who has “such a dirty mind and it never ever stops.” (Later in the song, Okereke declares, “I’m on fire when you come.”)
8. Clay Aiken, “Touch”
“Girl, ’cause your touch is so right,” sang Clay Aiken to crowds of adoring ladies either too young or too self-deluding to know that he might rather be singing “boy.” Or perhaps they were just convinced by Aiken’s initial public denials of his sexuality, which were, sadly, probably good for business. But by 2008, with American Idol far behind him, Aiken finally told People the truth.
9. Wham, “Everything She Wants”
Teen girls in the mid-’80s could proudly point to Wham’s “Everything She Wants” as proof of George Michael’s heterosexuality: After all, it’s a pointed account of a married man whose wife’s greed is driving him crazy. Her proclamation that she’s pregnant—presumably by our hero—makes Michael even more despondent, because if his best isn’t good enough, how can it be good enough for two? Still, he got into this relationship because—at least six months prior to the story—she was “the perfect girl” for him. He was clearly conflicted: Long after coming out, Michael told GQ that he used to sleep with lots of women during the Wham days, even though he knew he was gay.
10. Mika, “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)”
Following Queen’s lead, British pop singer Mika penned this ode to the joys and pleasures of Rubenesque ladies, including the lines “You take your skinny girls / Feel like I’m gonna die / ’Cause a real woman / Needs a real man, here’s why.” The accompanying video is incredible as well, featuring Mika joyously dancing the streets with many objects of his affection. For most of the aughts, Mika was deliberately vague about his sexuality, calling himself “label-less,” but this earlier year he declared that he was gay.