Courtesy Warner Bros Records

Music

Anne-Marie Is Sincere, Perfect Imperfection

When Anne-Marie wrote her song “Perfect” she had no idea that listeners would immediately latch on to the line “And I’ll love who I want to love/’cause this love is gender-free.” To the 27-year-old pop singer, the lyric was just another moment of sincerity on her debut album Speak Your Mind. To everyone else, it was rebel yell, offering solace to fans who don’t identify with a specific label like straight, gay or bisexual.

“I was just trying to get everything in the song that I felt needed to be said,” Anne-Marie shrugs, sitting in a hotel lobby in Manchester while on tour opening for Ed Sheeran in the U.K. “I feel strongly about that. I feel like it should be genderless. I feel like people shouldn't have labels. You shouldn’t have to come out because it's normal to love whoever you want. It's just really strange to me to have that label thing on it so it was important to me to say that.” She pauses. “I definitely didn’t think that it was gonna be the talk of the song. I’m glad it is, but yeah.”

The lyric led to an interview with The Line of Best Fit in April in which the singer, who initially rose to acclaim on Clean Bandit’s 2016 single “Rockabye,” admitted to not being specifically attracted to men or women. “I've never felt the need to tell anyone that I'm bisexual,” she said in the interview “I don’t feel like I am.” That sentiment, however, led to dozens of news outlets declaring that Anne-Marie was bisexual, completely missing her point, that “you're not labeling yourself, and they labeled me,” she says.

The real message, for Anne-Marie, is self-love and acceptance, which are ideas that thread throughout her music and interactions with fans. While “Perfect” is about sexuality, it’s also a commentary on embracing who you are beyond insecurities or flaws. “What I love about what I do is the fact that I can help people,” she proclaims before nothing that she would be “a doctor or something that helped people feel good” if she wasn’t a singer. The beauty of the song is that its open to interpretation: “Someone can take one sentence and feel like, ‘You've made me feel like I can be comfortable with my sexuality.’ Another one can be like, ‘You've made me feel good about not having a size whatever waist.’”
Anne-Marie grew up in Essex, where she didn’t know anyone who identified as gay or lesbian while she was in school. Her parents were very open-minded and encouraged Anne-Marie to forge her own path, never dictating an assumption about her love life, and today the singer credits them for her beliefs about sexuality. One of the reasons she trusts the power of music is because it can reach people in less liberal areas where they might not have access to other viewpoints. Hearing a song about genderless love might help a young person in a conservative area feel less alone. In fact, she’s had numerous fans reach out to say her art gave them the strength to become contented with their own sexuality.

“That’s why people need to take music seriously,” Anne-Marie says adamantly. “When you're writing it, you need to think about that. I definitely feel like, ‘If this is going to be heard by a lot of people, I don't want to just write something that's a hit song because it gets played on the radio and it’s got a catchy chorus.’ I know that it touches people—that music gets through to people more than normal conversations do.”

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