Queer artist releases

New music releases by queer artists–both albums and songs.

Music and queer culture have gone hand in hand for the better part of a century. In the 40s, queer Black women, such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Bessie Smith, and Lucille Bogan were revolutionary in how they expressed their queerness. In their performances, they openly flounced gender roles and embraced their sexuality. Throughout the 20th century, queer icons Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, and Elton John—among many others—dominated the rock scene.Today, whether it’s at the top of the billboard or amid niche playlists, queer artists continue to express themselves through their music, even without always discussing their queerness explicitly through their songs. Within the first months of the year, queer musicians already have made notable moves—here are a few that LM students may enjoy!

The single “Kissing Lessons” by Lucy Dacus narrates the casual romantic relationship between two childhood friends, kissing each other as if they were practicing for boys. What’s striking about this song is the focus of the chorus on the conventional family the narrator wished to have. Dacus sings: “With my children and their father…three sons and a beautiful daughter.” Dacus’ romanticization of this heteronormative dreamscape illustrates the struggle of many queer people, especially sapphics, to let go of the life that they’ve been taught to desire. Though many queer people still raise a family, the nuclear family remains a far-out hope for many. Dacus identifies as pansexual and may end up marrying a man but, regardless, queerness causes people to rethink what they value in their future and seeing this confusion expressed in music is a comfort to many.

Graphic by Emmi Wu ’23/Staff

Isaac Dunbar’s new single “Bleach” is an anthem to self-destructive tendencies. The song doesn’t encourage such behaviors, but rather serves as a testament to rebellion, parental issues, and regret. As Brynn Adler ’23, a fan of Dunbar’s since the beginning of his music career, remarks, “I think it has a great message and it’s extremely important because it portrays how queer kids tend to rebel against unaccepting parents.” In recent years, Dunbar has made a name for himself with various experimental pop songs, as well as his growing presence on TikTok and other social media platforms. “Bleach” continues his musical journey and is perfect to listen to while driving.

Mitski has long been a favorite of many due to her beautifully written lyrics discussing mental health, race, and relationships. While she does not explicitly discuss her sexual orientation through music, Mitski publicly identifies as bisexual and has attracted a large queer audience. On February 4, Mitski released her sixth studio album: Laurel Hell. To begin the album, “Valentine, Texas” follows a similar pattern to many past Mitski openers— starting soft and lyrical, then building and building into a powerful vocal and musical ending. Throughout the album, she makes a compelling homage to the new age hits of the seventies using catchy synths and compelling rhythms with tracks such as “The Only Heartbreaker,” “Love Me More,” and “Stay Soft”. In terms of how Mitski’s queerness affects her writing, LM AGSA co-president Nick Barr Bono ’23 says, “I’d say that she isn’t even intentionally leaving gender out of [previously mentioned tracks]. I think maybe instead her bisexuality affects the writing so that when she talks about patterns in her relationships—which is basically what ‘The Only Heartbreaker’ is about—gender doesn’t neatly factor in.”

Dreamer Isioma made the rounds on TikTok last year when the public caught wind of their single “Sensitive.” Since then, Isioma has had a very eventful year—between publicly transitioning and releasing their first studio album Goodnight Dreamer, which was released on February 23. With this new album, listeners can immediately feel the dream-like production that feels fitting with Isioma’s name and the album’s overall theme. The song “StayUp!” opens the entrancing album, and the project stays consistent yet creative in its sound throughout. Other notable songs include “The Chase,” “Voulez-Vous Me Too,” and the closer and titular track “Goodnight Dreamer.”

Music is, and has always been, a cardinal form of artistic expression. Queerness, as an identity and as a movement, has always been about pushing the boundaries of what is expected. In this very nature of non-conformity queer creation emerges, leading to queer artists making new and noteworthy musical choices. Countless queer artists are sparking waves outside those mentioned prior, and all of them greatly contribute to the constant evolution of music. Queer LM students continue to follow queer artists, both for representation and beyond. As Barr Bono described, “I absolutely seek out queer musicians, especially trans ones, partially because I want to hear more from others in my community but also because I’m sort of scoping out the space for whatever musical endeavors I might follow later in life.” 

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