20gayteen has introduced us to more out-and-proud queer artists than ever.
To celebrate, we’ve presented 24 up-and-coming LGBTQ artists that you need to be listening to, like, right now.
From the feisty bubblegum pop-punk bops of GIRLI, to the alternative hip-hop sounds of Kevin Abstract, and the innovative and experimental queerness of SOPHIE, these artists are all making their mark on the music industry. Cliché, but whatever.
Check out our list below…
Andrea Di Giovanni
Standout bop: Shame Resurrection
Italian singer-songwriter Andrea Di Giovanni struggled with his sexuality for most of his youth. Growing up in a country with staunch, anti-gay views, the performer felt like he was unable to express his queer self and live authentically. He moved to London when he was 19, which he says allowed him to embrace his queerness and “true self”. Andrea told us: “It made my art more real, raw, honest, less manufactured and less fake.” If you like dark, unashamedly queer pop, you need to get into Andrea.
Standout bop: Spun
Ever since her spunky 2016 debut single, Smoke Weed Eat Pussy, Swedish hit-maker Ängie has become one of the most outspoken artists in pop music. Because she’s not afraid to speak out about feminism, mental health and homosexuality, Ängie has been declared the most “controversial pop star” by several media outlets, which she claims is down to a “bullshit world”. Her debut album, Suicidal Since 1995, is a seven track collection of moody, experimental pop. Again, it’s cliché to say, but there’s no one like Ängie out there right now.
Standout bop: Only One
She’s only released four tracks so far, but Carlie Hanson is making waves in the world of pop. With each single, the American singer/songwriter has blessed us with pop perfection, especially with her feel-good summer bop, Only One, which has been streamed over 41 million times. Carlie is set to tour the United States with Troye Sivan from 29 September – 8 November for his highly-anticipated Bloom Tour.
Standout bop: Just Like That
After being dropped from her first record deal at just 19 years old, Chelcee turned her attention to songwriting for some of the world’s biggest pop divas, including Kylie Minogue, Louisa Johnson, Kesha and Dua Lipa. Now, she’s ready for her own big break, and she’s pulling out all the stops to make it a success – her debut single Just Like That is an earworm of epic proportions, and she’s quietly been working with the likes of RedOne and Calvin Harris on her album.
Standout bop: Booty 3000
Dizzy Fae first caught our attention earlier this year with the release of her ethereal video for Her/Indica, a stunning depiction of the Minnesota artist’s first time falling for a woman. Like a whole new generation of LGBTQ artists, Dizzy is ready to conquer the world of music and fly the flag as an out-and-proud musician. “If I can be anything, it’s that person that someone can look at and be like, ‘I feel you’,” Dizzy told us. “How I feel about being queer and brown is probably how a lot of the world is feeling.”
Standout bop: Test Drive
British singer-songwriter Emily Burns released her first single Bitch earlier this year to critical acclaim, and followed it up with same-sex love anthems such as Girlfriend At The Time and Cheat, all of which have achieved over one million streams each. She released her debut EP, Seven Scenes From The Same Summer last month, and it’s incredible. We recommend getting into Test Drive first, because it’s such an anthem.
Standout bop: Pleasure
FHAT are an unapologetically queer music duo consisting of Aaron and Sedric, who treated fans to their brand of chilled alt-R&B in the form of their recent single Pleasure. The two relocated from Los Angeles to Berlin a few years ago and quickly found themselves forming a new musical partnership with influences that range from Mura Masa to Outkast.
Standout bop: Day Month Second
GIRLI doesn’t give a flying fuck. Like, at all. Since her 2015 debut, the 20-year-old Londoner – real name Milly Toomey – has become one of the most outspoken artists in the music industry due to her frank (and often feisty) lyrics about feminism and sexuality. Tracks such as Girls Get Angry Too and Girl I Met On The Internet touch on the aforementioned topics, all while exploring a variety of genres such as bubblegum pop, punk, rap and PC.
Standout bop: What I Need (feat. Kehlani)
Yes, we know Hayley Kiyoko has been in the entertainment industry for over ten years, but 20gayteen is when she fully arrived as a solo artist. Her debut album, Expectations, provided us with synthpop perfection in Sleepover, Feelings, What I Need and Curious. She was hailed as “the first unabashedly queer female” in pop, which led to her honorific title: The Lesbian Jesus.
Jesse Saint John
Standout bop: FAKE IT
After writing songs for close friend Brooke Candy’s critically-acclaimed debut EP, Jesse Saint John made a name for himself in the songwriting industry when he penned several incredible pop tracks for artists such as Britney Spears (Love Me Down), Charli XCX (Cloud Aura, Secret, I Got It) and Camila Cabello (Something’s Gotta Give). Like several other talented songwriters in the world of pop – Leland, Bonnie McKee, Chelcee Grimes – Jesse has decided to launch a solo attack on the charts with the release of his two fantastic pop-bops, MOVE and FAKE IT, which will be followed by his first EP later this year.
Standout bop: Empty
American rapper, singer-songwriter Kevin Abstract is best known as a founding member of American hip-hop group Brockhampton. Whether he’s publicly stanning Shawn Mendes, being incredibly adorable with his boyfriend on social media, or wearing a bulletproof vest with the word ‘faggot’ written on it during his live sets, the rapper-singer has never shied away from being open about his homosexuality. He regularly references his sexuality and same-sex desire during his verses on Brockhampton songs, as well as his own solo music – including his highly praised 2016 album American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story – becoming a beacon of queer visibility in the process.
Standout bop: Let A B!tch Know
Parisian DJ, musician and dancer Kiddy Smile has been in the entertainment industry for over a decade, having performed with massive acts such as LCD Soundsystem and Beth Ditto/The Gossip. Last month, he released his 80s/90s house and ballroom inspired debut album, One Trick Pony, which sees the artist discuss what it means to be gay man of colour.
Standout bop: Heart to Break
German singer-songwriter Kim Petras is on the cusp of breaking through big time, having garnered well over 40 million streams on Spotify alone since launching her music career back in the summer. Her debut album is set to include massive bops such as All The Time, I Don’t Want It All, Heart to Break, Faded and Can’t Do Better. It’s safe to say that it’s shaping up to be one of our favourite debuts ever.
Standout bop: Upper West Side
American singer-songwriter and producer King Princess first achieved international recognition with her indie-pop track, 1950, a tribute to the LGBTQ community and queer love, which has (so far) amassed over 130 million streams on Spotify. Her debut EP, Make My Bed, was released in June to widespread acclaim, and proved that she’s one of the hottest up and coming LGBTQ artists of 2018.
Standout bop: Run Into You
Since 2015, American performer and producer Leland has conquered the world of songwriting, penning massive pop-bops for artists such as Daya (Hideaway), Troye Sivan (Bloom), Betty Who (Ignore Me) and Selena Gomez (Fetish). Oh, and he also co-wrote Kardashian: The Musical, VH1 Divas Live and Kitty Girls – three of Drag Race’s most sickening episodes ever. Now, the singer – real name Brett McLaughlin – is aiming to dominate the charts with the release of his relatable break-up anthem Run Into You, and the critically-acclaimed synthpop banger Mattress.
Standout bop: Like You Like That
L Devine is one of the UK’s most promising queer talents. Her debut EP, Growing Pains, was one of our favourite releases last year, thanks to pop jams such as Like You Like That, When The Time’s Right and Party On Our Own. Last week, she unveiled her Heathers-inspired banger, Peer Pressure, which explores the idea of what it means to fit in, and how you navigate that while maintaining your individuality. If you’re a pop fanatic, then you’ll absolutely love her.
Standout bop: Bad For You
Merlot has been a prominent figure in New York City’s queer scene for a number of years, having established themselves as a bankable model with their signature freckles and femme lewks. This year, they made their debut in the music industry with R&B track, Bad For You, a sultry, sensual number which sees the artist proclaim to a lover: “I’m not gonna change baby, through and through / Cuz’ I’m bad for you, cuz’ I’m bad for you.”
Standout bop: Just Friends
New York City native Morgan Saint captivated pop music fans last year with her Joan Jett-esque aesthetic and five-track collection of mid-tempo, dream-pop bangerz, which featured songs such as You and Just Friends. Since the release of the aforementioned EP, 17 Hero, Morgan has received acclaim from critics for her lush vocal delivery and raw, understated songwriting skills, and has built a dedicated fanbase within the LGBTQ community.
Standout bop: Cherry
Japan-born, London-raised singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama is serving high-fashion lewks and killer choreography with her highly underrated videography, especially for her latest single, Cherry. The track is her “most personal” yet, as it addresses the feelings of coming out as pansexual while being in a heterosexual relationship, and the accompanying clip is serving us the queer pop star fantasy we’ve been waiting for. Trust us, you’ll love her.
Standout bop: Body High
Aussie performer Sam Bluer made his music industry debut this year with two fantastic dark-pop tracks, Shift and Body High, the latter of which literally catapulted our wigs down the motherfucking street. The lyrics! The production! The video! We live! He may only have two tracks out at the moment, but he’s absolutely one to look out for.
Standout bop: I Am Her
Trans soul singer Shea Diamond spent a decade in prison after a particularly rough childhood. After her incarceration, Diamond became heavily involved in the transgender rights movement, and subsequently penned I Am Her, a soul/rock anthem about self-realisation. Justin Tranter, who’s produced tracks for pop kweens such as Selena Gomez and Gwen Stefani, discovered Diamond and signed her to the Warner-distributed label Asylum, which led to the release of her debut EP, Seen It All.
Standout bop: Ponyboy
Scottish record producer SOPHIE received massive amounts of critical acclaim with Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, a masterpiece in progressive, avant-pop. Critics lauded the record for its innovative and experimental production (she produced it all by herself) and for dealing with issues such as gender and beauty. She’s worked with Charli XCX, Madonna, Let’s Eat Grandma, Cashmere Cat, and is rumoured to be working on Lady Gaga’s upcoming sixth studio album.
Standout bop: 100 Bad
Canadian singer-songwriter Tommy Genesis received acclaim from Vogue, The FADER, Dazed, Elle, W and PAPER for her debut mixtape World Vision. The project provided us with several ah-mah-zeng songs such as Hate Demon, Potato Head and Execute. Since then, she’s slain our existence with tracks such as Tommy, Lucky and 100 Bad, the latter of which just received a badass remix with British pop princess Charli XCX. Her debut album is due for release later this year.
Standout bop: Fight Like a Girl
Zolita first gained her massive fanbase with the video release of her lesbian anthem, Explosion, which depicted the Californian-born artist as she yearns for more than just a friendship with her bff. “People told me that it had helped them come out, and helped them tell their best friends their feelings,” she told us. “Seeing that reaction definitely made me realise that this is what I’m supposed to be doing as Zolita, writing songs that disenfranchised people can see themselves in and relate to.”