By Madeleine Tomasoa, Staff Writer
“I kinda wanna thank him/ But I kinda wanna knock him out/ I kinda wanna push him up against the wall/ I kinda wanna buy him a round”– Whoever Broke Your Heart; Murphy Elmore
People on TikTok are creative. That’s how you get viral videos of queer teens reenacting Murphy Elmore’s “Whoever Broke Your Heart”, simultaneously deriding and appreciating its original source audio.
There has long been an intersection between country and those who are queer. If one’s sexuality is a form of personal expression, then an intersection of sexuality and performance through music is to be expected. Furthermore, the premise of the country-lovin’ South being characterized as the “Other” can be similarly reflected in the treatment of queer folk. Queer country fans can relate to the stigma surrounding the ‘country-listening-redneck’ as members of the ‘other’.
Same-gender intimacy in country music is made possible due to country music’s basic assumption that sexual attraction is exclusive to the relationships that men have with women. So there is little threat in expressions of love or affection for the same sex. The absence of explicit homophobia is not due to acceptance or tolerance, but curiously from the erasure of homosexuality itself. Ironically, this creates space for queer readings to be had in country music.
Elmore sings “I kinda wanna push him up against the wall / I kinda wanna buy him a round,” resulting in fans speculating that the speaker in the lyrics is physically attracted to the male character. The suggested homoeroticism is only made apparent when Elmore continues: “I kinda wanna make him pay.”
TikTok user Aiden Thomas writes “THERE IS NO HETEROSEXUAL EXPLANATION FOR THIS.” Plenty of commenters also reacted in a similar vein, stating that the basic premise of the song felt like an “enemies to lovers” plot; a trope which is popular within the queer community.
Other TikTok users have come forth and expressed their interest in country: Whiffy on TikTok, for example, writes, “Who else is just finding out about gay country music?” going as far as to caption their video with, “Nah he is in love with him, I ain’t listening to anything else #gay #country #music”.
This ‘newfound’ expression and appreciation of queerness in country is echoed by other users, who have compared the song’s premise to the beginning of Brokeback Mountain. In this, TikTok brings the queer country community together through a mutual appreciation of the near-outlandish homoerotic lyrics and the fun music surrounding it.
Ultimately, “Whoever Broke Your Heart” is a song about someone seeing us at our metaphorical worst, yet still falling in love with us all the same. Perhaps such a statement hits close to home with the queer community, leading to the song’s popularity among queer youth. If country music is concerned with the day-to-day lives of people, and if country music is a proxy for our everyday persona, then the ambiguously gay lyrics could be a source of strength for queer youth.
Madeleine Tomasoa is the current Assistant Editor for Sledgehammer Lit. They are from Jakarta, Indonesia. They enjoy betting on losing dogs and watching cars go around in circles.