LGBT artists you may not know (but should)
Your soundtrack for Glitterbomb pres
We’re now halfway through LGBT history month and the pride flags and rainbow projections are in full swing (yeah Emma!). As well as reflecting and raising awareness about queer history which is so often marginalised, it’s also an chance to celebrate LGBT culture, for me to procrastinate by making playlists, and for you to diversify your music taste.
Here are some bangers from artists you might not know but certainly should!
SOPHIE is a Scottish musician and producer, whose album ‘OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES’ is pop music at its best: masterful, unsettling and never boring. With lyrics such as, ‘I’m real when I shop my face’, this song raises questions about identity and authenticity, particularly in the context of facial feminisation surgery as a transgender woman. You may know this song from Contrapoints’ video about beauty and surgery which tackles similar themes. Her music and aesthetics defy gender expectations: ‘people do think in binaries, and when you confuse what those are, they’re like, this is wrong. But this is what I’m here to do.’
Ta Reine, Angèle
Angèle has been taking the French-speaking world by storm with her debut album ‘Brol’; effortless electronic pop with lyrics that don’t shy away from big issues. This song is about being young, beginning to think about your sexuality, and inevitably being in love with your best friend. She sings ‘Mais tu voudrais qu'elle soit ta reine ce soir / Même si deux reines c'est pas trop accepté’, which, if you haven’t brushed up on your French GCSE, roughly translates to ‘gay pining’.
Baby Boy, Kevin Abstract
Best known as the founder of BROCKHAMPTON, Kevin Abstract also released his third solo album in 2019. ‘ARIZONA BABY’ moves fluidly through genres, from hip-hop to lo-fi. He is outspoken about being gay and having ‘to exist in a traditionally homophobic space such as hip-hop’, but at the same time he emphasises that this only one part of his identity. He wants his music to speak to a wide audience: ‘If I were to just be this queer rapper, who only spoke to queer kids… I don’t think I could as effectively make a change for another young, black queer kid growing up in Texas.’
girls, girl in red
Norwegian singer-songwriter Marie Ulven began ‘girl in red’ as a personal project, recording and producing indie music in her bedroom in 2017. Now, she tours internationally and is quite simply a gay icon (that’s a technical term). ‘girls’ has lyrics like ‘this is not a phase, or coming of age. This will never change’, a positive, exuberant affirmation of queer identity. As well as ‘girls’, listen to ‘we fell in love in october’ and ‘bad idea!’.
Cherry, Rina Sawayama
Sawayama wrote ‘Cherry’ about the difficulties of coming out as pansexual whilst dating a man, which is seen by others as a ‘heterosexual’ relationship, a problem which persists within the LGBTQ community as well as society. She is also a Cambridge grad, studying politics, psychology, and sociology at Magdalene. For her, being at Cambridge was alienating. She experienced bullying and describes being surrounded by ‘little versions of David Cameron’, something which hits a little too close to home. However, she found solace through her music and queer spaces, a reminder of how important safe LGBT spaces are. She is unapologetic and powerful, champions intersectionality, and is someone we should all be listening to.
Hopefully you’ve discovered some new music, but this is far from a comprehensive list. Luckily, these artists and many more await in the 4 hours and 51 minute long Spotify playlist here.
Though most colleges fly the LGBT flag, have LGBT reps, experiences like that of Rina Sawayama remind us of the challenges that continue, especially within an environment like Cambridge, and the action that we must take to combat this.
Celebrating and centralising LGBT culture is one way to do that, so relax, put on some tunes, and have a fun, joyful, and proud LGBT history month.
Cover photo credit: Leeza Isaeva