Music by queer people, for queer people
‘Tis the season for songs about love, be it romantic, heartbreaking, sexual, or otherwise. Here’s a playlist of five songs by queer artists to listen to whether or not you’ve got someone to cozy up to this Valentine’s Day.
“Honeybee” by Steam Powered Giraffe
Steam Powered Giraffe (SPG) is a musical pantomime troupe started by twins David and Isabella “Bunny” Bennett. Bunny, a trans woman, began hormone replacement therapy in July 2014 after having changed the gender of her character, the automaton Rabbit, earlier that year.
The original 2012 recording of “Honeybee” is SPG’s most popular song on Spotify, and was re-recorded after Bunny transitioned. The 2015 version has a more clear, present, and reverberating quality to the instruments and vocals, showing the troupe’s (and Bunny’s) musical and personal progress. The song itself isn’t directed toward any particular gender, and applies to anyone besotted by another.
“I Love You” by Woodkid
Woodkid, also known as Yoanne Lemoine, is an openly gay French musician and music video director who has collaborated with Drake, Rihanna, Lana Del Rey, and Katy Perry.
“I Love You” is a hauntingly forlorn song about unrequited love for someone who doesn’t know and/or care. Though this is a universal experience, Woodkid taps into a particularly queer sense of rejection and yearning, heard in the lyrics when he speaks directly to the boy he loves.
“Type” by Todrick Hall
Todrick Hall is a recurring judge and choreographer on RuPaul’s Drag Race as well as a decorated musician and music producer.
“Type” comes from the album Forbidden, set in a world where heterosexuality is stigmatised the way queerness is today. The song highlights a lack of love in a self-depreciating way. The smooth synths, punchy bass drums, and up-beat vocals that contrast the heartbreaking lyrics. Sometimes in relationships, for better or worse, love just isn’t quite there.
“Girls Like Girls” by Hayley Kiyoko
Hayley Kiyoko, known for her roles in Five Points, CSI: Cyber, and Lemonade Mouth, has had a successful music career since 2013.
“Girls Like Girls” marked Kiyoko’s public coming-out as a lesbian, and has since inspired a New York Times bestselling novel by the same name. This song is cheeky and unapologetic about loving women, and the music video puts visuals to this with stolen glances and kisses.
“Love Machine” by Alter Boy
Alter Boy is an alt-pop collective fronted by trans and hard-of-hearing vocalist Molly Priest. Their performances often feature heartbeat-like rhythms, otherworldly lighting, and Australian Sign Language to broaden their work for audiences who can’t enjoy other forms of music.
“Love Machine” explores bodily self-consciousness, vulnerability, and sexual intimacy, all threaded with synths, piano, and Priest’s ethereal vocals.