Today is the one year anniversary of the album Nothing’s Real by lesbian pop sensation
Shura. Nothing’s Real was Shura’s debut album and gave us hits such as “Touch”
and “What’s It Gonna Be?”
The cover art for Nothing’s Real shows sketched and photographed versions of Shura overlayed with each other and was voted one of the top 5 album covers of 2016 by many online polls (x).
Aleksandra Lilah Denton A.K.A. Shura was born on June 16,
1991 in Manchester England. Her Russian actress mother and English filmmaker
father primed her for a career in the arts and she began studying
guitar when she was 13. Although she was a standout member of the Manchester
City Youth Football Team, she eventually chose music over sports and began
seriously recording music at age 16. Her first song, “Touch,” was first
released in 2014 and quickly blew up on YouTube. A year later, Shura had signed
with Universal and two years later she dropped Nothing’s Real.
With over 2 million views on YouTube, the music video for “What’s It Gonna Be” stars Shura and her real life twin brother Nick, who is also gay. Both siblings came out at the age of 16 and in an interview with Elle Magazine, Shura recalls, “It was never like I had to go, ‘I am gay.’ Slowly, almost by osmosis, by the way I was behaving, it became obvious and accepted” (x).
The album and the music video for “What’s It Gonna Be” received
somewhat of the Hayley Kiyoko treatment during the summer of 2016 – which is to
say, it inspired many a “Sapphic Summer Romance” playlist and kept the gay
girls bopping all summer long. The album as a whole is far from a collection of
vapid love songs, though. With the shine of a synthpop, 1980s sound, Nothing’s Real is a coming-of-age story
where Shura vents about anxiety attacks, ruined relationships, and the strange,
niche challenge of navigating lesbian aesthetic; on the song “2Shy,” Shura
confesses to smoking cigarettes and awkwardly wearing a cap, just “trying to be
someone I saw on TV once.” Although the gayness of Nothing’s Real or any of its singles is not as obvious as something
like the 2015 classic “Girls Like Girls,” you would be hard pressed to find a
track on the album that’s not simply begging to be put on the soundtrack of a John
Hughes-style teen lesbian romance movie.