Brash, Bawdy Scissor Sisters Slice Into America


International audiences liked the group not just for the beat, but also for Jake Shears and Babydaddy's witty, but tragic lyrics that tackle social issues and personal heartbreak.

A Kitschy Extravaganza

The band's concerts are kitschy extravaganzas that tempt even the most cynical naysayers to join the party.

"Jake and Ana have always been performers," Babydaddy said. "It's a reference to what they remember as children, growing up with pop music that was flamboyant. We see a lot of the '80s in what we do."

Although "Ta-Dah" is currently the top album in England and "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" is ruling the singles chart for the third week in a row (beating Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack"), the Sisters has primarily been known in America as a gay band.

This, because with the exception of Ana, who's married, and Paddy Boom, all members of Scissor Sisters are openly gay.

Wal-Mart didn't sell the first album (Jake Shears said it was due to "coarse" lyrics and song titles) but with recent live performances at festivals like Coachella and a TV appearance on "Late Night With Conan O'Brian," the band has begun to broaden its base.

This week, popular music blogger Scott "Stereogum" Stereogum posted: "I'm surprised how much I'm blogging about the Scissor Sisters. Especially because I once deemed them 'not so special' on this very blog. Maybe I didn't listen to the last album enough, or maybe their live show did the convincing, but this band's songs rise above the novelty."

According to Babydaddy, "Ta-Dah" is a bit more rock 'n' roll than the Sisters' self-titled 2004 debut.

"America's really obsessed with labels," he said. "We hear that we're a disco band, a '70s retro band. There's an element of us looking to the past. There's an element of dance music. Still, all in all, the format is pop."

A new hurdle in tackling the U.S. market may have arisen when Jake Shears recently dove the band headfirst into hot water.

Currently, "Ta-Dah" is not being carried in 1,100 record stores, including FYE, Sam Goody, Coconuts, Strawberries and Specs, because of comments that Jake Shears made at the National Association of Recording Merchandisers convention last month.

After visiting an FYE store and seeing a CD for almost $20, Jake Shears publicly complained that the store's prices were too high.

FYE demanded an apology, which so far, Jake Shears has refused to give.

No apology, no "Ta-Dah" at these stores, although it will be available almost anywhere else in the country, including, this time around, at Wal-Mart.

With this new album, the band is following a strategy that was successful in England during the first go-around.

Initially, British TV shows, not pop radio, supported the Scissor Sisters.

Once viewers saw the band, the album started selling itself. It's a formula the band wants to repeat starting with tonight's performance on "Dancing With the Stars."

Recently, band members were asked to perform in front of Prince Charles.

"It's an honor," Babydaddy said, "but I don't know if we're going to be able to do it."

Asked whether President Bush might extend the same honor, he says he doesn't know, but the songs "might make him dance."

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