Dorian Electra is an Indie Pop singer, songwriter and performance artist from Houston, Texas, known for their androgynous style, high-concept music videos and Hyperpop songs about gender and sexuality.
Electra first came to prominence in The New '10s with their series of music videos, beginning with the self-produced "I'm in Love with Friedrich Hayek" while attending Shimer College. From there, they made several videos with the website Refinery29, including "Ode to The Clitoris," "Mind Body Problems" and "The History of Vibrators," as well as a series about intersectional feminism with videos like "The Dark History of High Heels" and "2000 Years of Drag," the latter of which would see a successful run at LGBTQ+ film festivals. Almost all of these videos were accompanied by a single.
Their mainstream breakthrough would begin in 2017, when they appeared as a featured vocalist on the Charli XCX song "Femmebot." By this point, Electra had adopted a more distinctly masculine appearance, with a new low-pitched singing style to go along with it. This would become their default appearance for the next two years as they would hype the release of their first full-length album, Flamboyant, which was self-released in 2019 on the back of several reasonably successful singles, including "Daddy Like," "Man To Man," "Adam and Steve" and the title track, all of which were accompanied by their trademark videos. This was followed by a sold-out promotional tour, Flamboyant: Chapter I, from August to December of that year.
A second tour, Flamboyant: Chapter II, was scheduled for 2020, but postponed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Nevertheless, Electra would release another full-length album, My Agenda, at the tail end of that year.
Dorian is genderfluid and goes by they/them/their pronouns.
Dorian Electra's work provides examples of:
- Alter-Ego Acting: Most of their songs are written from the viewpoint of a particular character or archetype. Dorian has said this it to prevent the satire in the lyrics from being too personal.
- Answer Song: "Barbie Boy" is one to Aqua's "Barbie Girl," which Dorian has said is one of their favorite songs.
- Auto-Tune: Of the stylistic variety. Many of their songs have the vocals mechanically effected or lowered to achieve a certain characteristic. "Flamboyant" also features a vocoder effect.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Dorian Electra. It doesn't really get any cooler than that.
- Badass Baritone: Starting with "Jackpot," they'd adopt a low-pitched singing voice for most of their songs, sometimes with their vocals mechanically lowered for a desired effect.
- Be Yourself: "Flamboyant" sends this message in a roundabout way, essentially saying it's better to be looked at for how distinct you are from everyone else than to not. "Freaky 4 Life" is a more straightforward version.
- Bilingual Bonus: "My Agenda" features a verse by Pussy Riot in their native Russian. Bouncing off the satirical themes of "the gays" having a singular agenda to Take Over the World, the band directly references the rampant homophobia perpetuated by their country's government to be taken over by their "gay propaganda".
- But Not Too Gay: Satirized in "Ram It Down," which mocks how homoerotic certain popular homophobic adages are.
- Camp: And how!
- Casanova Wannabe: Both "M'Lady" and "Gentemen" satire the "nice guy" phenomenon.
- Character Development: My Agenda follows a loose narrative of a stereotypical "incel" with a massively inflated ego and regressive views on gender and sexuality. Over the course of the album, this is gradually is revealed to be a façade to cover their own internalized homophobia and insecurities. The final two songs end up forming a watershed moment of sorts for its protagonist: "Ram It Down" sees them make a concession against their own better judgement by accepting gay people so long as they don't "ram it down their throat"... an idea which the insecure and affection-craving creep that they are suddenly realize they're actually kind of into. By "Give Great Thanks", they fully submit to the pleasure of humiliation, specifically that of what they consider the most embarrassing, degrading possible act: submitting to the "gay agenda" and respecting queer people.
- Concept Album: My Agenda explores themes of toxic masculinity through the POV of a man who embodies it.
- The Conspiracy: Parodied in the title track of My Agenda, whose protagonist claims to be part of the "gay agenda", a rhetorical conspiracy theory that gay people are a singular legion intending on taking over the world.
- Darker and Edgier: My Agenda, while still as campy at their previous work, is decidedly heavier in both its subject matter (a pointed criticism of toxic masculinity) and musical style (a hybrid of Nu Metal, hardstyle, and dubstep).
- Deconstructor Fleet: Their bread and butter. Many of their songs deconstruct accepted concepts not only of gender and sexuality but power dynamics in relationships, among other things. Examples include:
- "Flamboyant" is about denying the negative connotations with the term, saying that there's absolutely nothing wrong with being over-the-top if you like to be that way.
- "Daddy Like" takes the LGBTQ+ expression "daddy," as well as the concept of a sugar daddy, and crafts it into a character who is less an archetypal older cis male stud and more like a caring father figure who also happens to be a lover (which is somewhat Truth in Television).
- "Man To Man" deconstructs the idea that Real Men Hate Affection by saying that a real man is brave enough to let his guard down and talk about his feelings, especially with other men.
- "Adam & Steve" turns the old homophobic adage into a "kind of biblical gay fanfiction" about how God would love Adam and Steve as much as he would Adam & Eve.
- "Ram It Down" similarly satirizes how the homophobic phrase of "I'm ok with gay people, as long as they don't ram it down my throat" is hilariously, unintentionally homoerotic.
- "Give Great Thanks," at first, sounds like a parody of BDSM language, with some of the most bluntly vulgar descriptions of violent sex set to a pretty electric piano melody. It's also about just how romantic it is to entrust your physical and emotional well being to someone you love, enough that you'll let them to whatever they want to you without fear of getting genuinely hurt, and how much closer you two become as a result.
- Double-Meaning Title: "F The World" is sung from the perspective of someone who's both so fed up with how Life Isn't Fair (if not ranting about their First World Problems) that they just want to yell "Fuck the world!" and also so horny that they want to literally fuck a planet.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Dorian's music, videos and appearance all began much more distinctly feminine. The subjects of their songs (vibrators, high heels, the clitoris) were all things which were historically associated with women, they sang in a more natural soprano voice and lacked the androgynous pencil mustache they'd later be known for. Musically, their songs were closer to 80s throwbacks than the hyperpop trend they'd be a part of. And if you go back even further, their very first video doesn't resemble their more popular style or appearance at all, being little more than an off-the-cuff home movie made for a college class. It wouldn't be until "Jackpot," a song about gender fluidity (and released around they time they came out as gender fluid), that the subject would find it's way into both Dorian's lyrics and appearance.
- Erotic Asphyxiation: The second verse of "Give Great Thanks" describes this."I'm grateful, I'm grateful
I'm grateful, I'm grateful
The way that you're choking my neck
And not letting me breathe
I don't need air anymore 'cause I have you, baby"
- First World Problems: Within the My Agenda narrative, "F The World" is sung from the perspective of an entitled, emotionally sterile man who believes that the only way to deal with what passes as problems for him is to curse everyone out or screw anything that moves.
- Freud Was Right: Deliberately inverted in "Clitopia," which outright states that Freud was wrong when he said that the proper way for a woman to have an orgasm was through vaginal penetration, not clitoral stimulation. The lyrics imply that, because he had neither, he couldn't speak with much authority on the subject.
- Guyliner: They have an entire song named after it, an affectionate celebration about being a guy who enjoys making themselves up. Dorian in general heavily invokes this, with masculine visual dialect and very stylized, flamboyant makeup being major components of their aesthetic.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: "Sorry, Bro (I Love You)," which includes the requisite "No homo" in it's second verse.
- Hypocritical Humor: The third verse of "Clitopia" mocks how cis male scientists and doctors tend to omit any proper facts about the clitoris from textbooks due to their own biases... only to then argue over which of them "discovered" it as a form of sexual conquest.
- Large Ham: "Flamboyant" is about being one, being flamboyant in presentation, taste, and overall lifestyle.
- Last Note Nightmare: "Ram It Down" is already a fairly loud and ominous hardstyle banger, but the climax devolves into an even noisier and intense breakdown with Lil Mariko absolutely screaming "Ram it down, ram it down, ram it down!" over and over again. This creates some amusing Mood Whiplash in the playlist as it's immediately followed by the gentle and dainty synths of "Give Great Thanks".
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Give Great Thanks" has some of the lewdest, most bluntly earnest lyrics about being at the sexual mercy of another person during BDSM... all set to a sparkly electric piano. Double Subverted in that it is meant to be genuinely romantic (Dorian even said it was the most personal song they'd ever written).
- Miniscule Rocking: Most of the songs on My Agenda are under three minutes. "Gentleman," "M'Lady" and "Sorry Bro (I Love You)" are all under two (the whole thing is eleven tracks long and clocks in at only 25 minutes).
- Most Writers Are Male: Discussed in "Clitopia," which argues that the reason so little is known about the clitoris is because it that, historically, all research and conclusion on the subject were by cisgender men with their own agendas to fulfill.
- My Girl Is a Slut/My Girl Is Not a Slut: Invoked with "M'Lady" as part of its satire on incels and their tendency to flip-flop between worshiping the ground a woman walks on and calling her a bitch because she won't have sex with them."M'lady is sexy
M'lady is pure
M'lady is chaste
M'lady's a whore"
- Obligatory Bondage Song: "Give Great Thanks", which is an expression either of legitimate romance and trust through themes of BDSM, or — within the context of My Agenda's narrative — a full submission of a bigot's newfound love of submission.
- "Pachelbel's Canon" Progression: "F The World" uses a minor key variation on this.
- Rated M for Manly: Played with, satirized and deconstructed in most of their music. My Agenda is a more critical take on this subject.
- Real Men Hate Affection: Also frequently deconstructed.
"Are you man enough to soften up?
- ...in "Man To Man."
Are you tough enough to open up?"
- ...in "Sorry, Bro (I Love You)." It follows many of the same themes as "Man To Man" (ie, that men can only express themselves through impersonal violence) with a little bit of Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today? thrown in.
- There are hints of this in "F The World" as well. The character singing it is implied to be suffering from First World Problems, but rather than take some perspective on it, they channel it into rage and hate-fucking.
- Refuge in Audacity: Done to make a point.
- Running Gag: More often than not, Dorian can't seem to get through a music video without dramatically smashing something over their head.
- Shaking the Rump: Done at the end of the video for "F The World," where Dorian twerks in cutoff jeans. And a cashmere autumn sweater.
- Siamese Twin Songs: "Gentleman" and "M'Lady."
- Silly Love Song: "Give Great Thanks" is about as close to one as you're going to get from Dorian, in that while the emotions are sincere, it's expressed within the context of being submissive to the intense sexual whims of their partner.
- Something Completely Different: The video for "F The World" shows Dorian ditching their trademark adro-masculine appearance for an explicitly feminine "autumn girlfriend" look.
- Sorry, I'm Gay: Inverted with "Sorry, Bro (I Love You)": it doesn't say "Sorry, but I'm gay, therefore I can't be in a romantic relationship with you," it says "I'm sorry that I'm gay and I want to be in a romantic relationship with you, heterosexual male friend."
- Stylistic Suck: Much of the style of My Agenda appropriates typical "edgelord" meme imagery to depict its Villain Protagonist, both in visuals (the cover art being a JPEG of Dorian with a katana and fedora) and of sound (taking Nu Metal, Dubstep, and Hardcore Techno inspirations).
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Closer to idealism. While most of their music is critical of outdated concepts of gender, sexuality and other forms of identity politics, it's always in the form of a positive alternative.
- Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Smack in the middle. Dorian's songs, while shamelessly campy, aren't novelty songs, but while there is sincerity to the subjects in the lyrics, their intended purpose is silly fun.
- Up to Eleven: The subject of "Flamboyant.""Don't tell me what to do
Don't tell me what to say
You know I like it loud
'Cause that's the only way
No taste for subtlety
And no time for restraint
No, I go all the way!"
- Your Makeup Is Running: Dorian is shown wearing this look in a few shots at the end of the "Flamboyant" video.