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Scissor Sisters  
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Music and Lyrics

Most of the songs performed by the Scissor Sisters are composed by Jason Sellards and Scott Hoffman, although other members of the group sometimes contribute to various degrees.

Hoffman, who plays multiple instruments, including the rhythm guitar, studied writing and music production at Columbia. When he and Sellards first formed the band, Hoffman wrote the music and Sellards provided the vocals and the dancing. Subsequently, however, Sellards also contributed lyrics, and most of the Scissor Sisters songs are attributed jointly to Sellards and Hoffman.

Most of the songs are witty and sardonic, and sometimes joyful; but they can also be serious and touching. The songs often celebrate androgyny and pansexuality, and seem to revel in hedonism, yet they also expose hedonism's dark side.

Scissor Sisters songs frequently combine cheerful music with bleak lyrics to create an unusual effect. In juxtaposing a bright tone and insistent beat with barely concealed vulnerability and suffering, they make statements about the need to celebrate even in the face of sadness and despair and about the coexistence of happiness and pain. "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'," for example, chronicles the fear of commitment and rejection, but its infectious beat compels us to dance even in the face of its refrain, "I don't feel like dancin'," and its complaint, "My heart could take a chance / but my two feet can't find a way."

The songs deal with issues as serious as prostitution and drug abuse and coming out, but often they present these issues with a misleading lightness, as in "Take Your Mama Out," which at first hearing seems to be a rollicking paean to having a good time, but only later reveals itself as possibly a plaintive account of the desperate need to come out to one's family however painful doing so may be.

Although the songs typically work by indirection, eschewing the bald statement of meaning and often deflecting a definitive narrative, that is not true of all of them. For example, "Mary," which was inspired by Sellards' love for his best female friend, who supported him when he came out as a teenager and who died of a brain aneuryism in April 2006, speaks straightforwardly and touchingly of love and concern for a troubled friend suffering from obesity and low self-esteem.


The Scissor Sisters have collaborated with a number of other artists, including Elton John and Kylie Minogue. With Minogue, they co-wrote such songs as "White Diamond," which she performs on her 2007 album X; and Hoffman and Sellards wrote "I Believe in You," which appears on the Ultimate Kylie album (2007). The Scissor Sisters have also performed with her, as well as with a number of indie bands.

The band has also worked with such acts as Andy Bell, Pet Shop Boys, Blondie, and Tiga. In addition, they have toured with such bands as Depeche Mode and Duran Duran. In September 2010, it was announced that Scissor Sisters would open for one leg of Lady Gaga's Monster Ball Tour.

Sir Ian McKellan contributed the voice-over to "Invisible Light" on the Night Work album.

Jake Shears is currently collaborating with playwright Jeff Whitty on a musical version of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, which is due for production in 2011.

Activism and Awards

Although the Scissor Sisters avoid soapboxes, their openness as to their sexualities has amounted to a kind of activism. While disavowing the label "gay band," they nevertheless embrace transgressive sexuality.

In a 2006 conversation with Elton John, Jake Shears proposed that the Scissor Sisters, the Pet Shop Boys, and John give a gay pride concert in Moscow. Although no such event has yet occurred, it remains a possibility.

The Scissor Sisters received a 2005 GLAAD Media Award for their eponymous album, beating out such other nominees in the category Outstanding Musical Artist as Melissa Etheridge and Rufus Wainwright.

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