If we didn’t already know that L.A.-based pop songwriter Ryan Beatty is “proud to be a raging homosexual” (according to his Instagram post three weeks after the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016), his finally released debut album, Boy in Jeans, would confirm it.
Once dubbed “Justin Bieber 2.0″ by Billboard — probably because he came up on YouTube, looks like a clean-cut twink and has a penchant for modern R&B — the California native is equal parts middle-of-the-road pop tart and hip-hop outlier (he sings the hook on Brockhampton’s “Bleach”). Though Boy in Jeans, produced by Calvin Valentine, has its sights set on the charts, Beatty isn’t afraid to get a little freaky from time to time.
Ryan Beatty abandons his prom date to get busy with a guy in “Bruise” while, pretty much like everybody else, he gets high to “Pink Floyd” while searching for the dark side of the moon. He likes money (who doesn’t?) and foreign men (mais oui) on “Euro” and worries about his reputation throughout the single “Camo.” And he isn’t coy about sex. “God in Jeans” celebrates the beauty of his partner and the joys of sleeping “naked with the radio on.”
In other words, it’s business as usual for a young, healthy, hot-blooded American male who just happens to be gay. In a world where Troye Sivan and Years & Years are breaking glass ceilings everywhere, Ryan Beatty is what pops out.
As a gay man of a certain age, I still thrill to the relaxed openness of the young generations for whom sexual fluidity is not just accepted but the norm. No doubt it will grow tiresome as the novelty wears thin — it’s inevitable — but that’s the kind of progress we all should welcome.
In his own way, and most likely without expending too much thought on it, Ryan Beatty is helping to nudge the needle forward.