Queer artists are making some of the best new music out there right now.
Every year, more and more out and proud LGBTQ artists emerge, creating top quality bops and increasing representation for the community – and this year has seen the release of some of our favourite queer anthems of all time.
From queer females like Gia Woods and Kehlani, to gay men like Kaytranada and Greyson Chance, to trans and non-binary stars like Kim Petras and Sam Smith, we’ve rounded up 25 of the best LGBTQ anthems released in 2019.
25. Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels – Todrick Hall feat. Ciara
When Todrick Hall brought Ciara on stage for a performance of his queer club banger Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels at New York City’s World Pride celebrations earlier this year, fans were left gagging. The response was so strong that the two fierce artists released an official studio recording of the collaboration, and it’s everything we wanted it to be. Ciara adds her own flair to the song as she “pop[s] like a bottle” and “walk[s] like a model” over the track’s addictive beat. A big gay night out wouldn’t be complete without hearing this song at least once.
24. Boots – Greyson Chance
After getting us in our feelings on sophomore album Portraits, Greyson Chance switched things up with bold country-rock anthem Boots. The American singer-songwriter said the track was inspired by the Western cowboy aesthetic being popularised in recent years by people who – in his words – can’t “shoot their whisky quite right”.
23. Insomnia – Daya
Daya has been consistently delivering bops through her career, from debut single Hideaway to the infectious Left Me Yet. But it’s this year’s Insomnia, which pulsates with club-ready beats and trance influence, that takes pride of place as our favourite track yet. It’s like a darker version of Kylie Minogue’s pop classic Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, except with even more oomph.
22. Bad Idea! – Girl In Red
Girl In Red has earned a fiercely loyal fanbase with her brutally honest, self-produced tracks, becoming indie pop’s most promising new queer voice. On this year’s Bad Idea!, she laments the romantic feelings she’s developed for a casual fling – one she can’t stop returning to.
21. STFU! – Rina Sawayama
The explosive first single from London-based singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama’s upcoming debut album is a blazing attack on racist stereotypes and white male privilege, with heavy production from longtime collaborator Clarence Clarity. It offers a different, harder sound than previous tracks like Cherry and Cyber Stockholm Syndrome, but retains the pop sensibilities and catchy hooks we love.
20. Baby Boy – Kevin Abstract
Following the huge success he achieved with his band Brockhampton last year – including a very impressive No.1 album in the US – singer/rapper Kevin Abstract decided to go it alone for a surprise project earlier this year. It meant the music could be more personal, touching upon his position as an openly gay man of colour at the centre of hip-hop. Baby Boy – a collaboration with fellow openly gay star Ryan Beatty – centres on feelings of isolation, reflecting on a time where he felt lost in the world. It’s a sentiment many queer people can connect with.
19. Play Me Something Nice – Joesef
With just one EP to his name, Glaswegian singer-songwriter Joesef is already selling out headline shows and gaining comparisons to British sensation Amy Winehouse. Play Me Something Nice, the title track of his debut EP, sees Joesef beg a lover to come over one last time after a breakup, offering gloriously honest lyrics straight from the heart.
18. Sophie – Arlo Parks
After releasing her brilliant debut single Cola at the end of 2018, and being given a boost by pop superstar Lily Allen who made it one of her top five tracks on Apple Music, Arlo Parks went on to play sets at Glastonbury and Latitude Festival. Now with two critically-adored EPs to her name, the Londoner’s refreshing brand of confessional soul-meets-jazz-meets-funk is speaking to Gen Z like no one else can. “I’m still denying that I’m anxious as fuck, and I’m lacking in trust, and I think my art sucks,” she admits on Sophie.
17. Flash Pose – Pabllo Vittar feat. Charli XCX
Pabllo Vittar, the Brazilian drag sensation and former GAY TIMES cover star, joined forces with British pop superstar Charli XCX for their first English-language single Flash Pose, a vogueing-inspired track that’s made for striking a pose on the runway. “Look good when I walk in the party, ride pink cars like Malibu Barbie,” Charli proclaims with confidence on the track, before Pabllo invites the listener to “get in my picture” and “pose” for the camera. It’s absolutely ridiculous, in a way that only Pabllo and Charli could pull off.
16. In My Room – Frank Ocean
After what felt like a lifetime of keeping fans in suspense, queer enigma Frank Ocean finally returned with new original music this year. In My Room left behind the dreamy R&B sounds and vulnerability of previous records as Frank delivered a stream-of-consciousness over a synth loop complete with references to sex, poppers and his wealth.
15. Sugar Honey Iced Tea – Princess Nokia
Princess Nokia is the S.H.I.T. and she wants you to know it. You may recognise her most from 2016 track Tomboy, but the American/Puerto Rican rapper showed off just how much her style and sound has evolved with this year’s ferocious single Sugar Honey Iced Tea, which combined razor sharp raps with finger snaps and gospel vocals.
14. Naked Alone – L Devine
We’ve been following the upward trajectory of L Devine’s music career for more than a year now, enjoying every sweet moment of the sugary pop she has thrown our way. But on Naked Alone she has offered up something slightly different. That finely-tuned pop sensibility is still very much at play with chewy hooks and an addictive chorus, but with it comes a healthy dose of infectious funk. Considering the cheekiness of the lyrics, it’s the perfect accompaniment to make this summer anthem slap in the way it deserves to.
13. Glad He’s Gone – Tove Lo
Tove Lo is one of pop music’s fiercest females, and she’s unapologetic about her bisexuality and sex positive attitude, as she should be. New single Glad He’s Gone is one we can all relate to – helping a friend get over a relationship that was no good for them. It’s also one of the biggest earworms of the year, and will be stuck in your head for weeks if you let it inside.
12. Maybe You’re The Reason – The Japanese House
Earlier this year, The Japanese House – comprised of solo artist Amber Bain – finally made her mark on the LP front with her long-awaited debut album, Good at Falling. The album’s standout track is without a doubt Maybe You’re The Reason, an intimate fan-favourite that sees Amber search for a purpose in life after a breakup, all set to gorgeous synths and and a soaring chorus. An existential crisis never sounded so good.
11. Graveyard – Halsey
Halsey has quickly become one of – if not the – most prominent queer female voices in mainstream music, with massive hits like Without Me and Closer already under her belt. Graveyard, taken from the singer’s upcoming third studio album, is another slice of pop perfection about loving someone so much you end up following them to a bad place.
10. Demons – Hayley Kiyoko
If there’s two things the gays love, it’s Halloween and Hayley Kiyoko. For this year’s spooky celebrations, Lesbian Jesus gave us the ultimate Halloween treat with her dark new pop anthem Demons. The track is a bit of switch-up for the US singer-songwriter with its scuzzy bass and eerie vocal delivery – and we absolutely love it.
9. Hit The Back – King Princess
After serving us a string of bops like the empowering Pussy Is God and laid-back Prophet, the American singer-songwriter dropped her best single yet called Hit The Back – and it has a specific audience in mind. “Hit The back, the anthem for bottoms everywhere,” she wrote on Twitter. The track deceptively begins as a ballad as she begs a lover to “run me ’til I can’t go further”, before slowly building up to a massive groove-laden chorus tinged with a disco sound that’s guaranteed to get you dancing. With suggestive lyrics like, “I don’t care if you degrade me, ‘cause after all, you are my safety”, and “I’ll let you throw it down, hit the back, tell me you need respect”, it’s destined to become a queer anthem.
8. 10% – Kaytranada feat. Kali Uchis
Kaytranada’s excellent sophomore record BUBBA snuck into our playlists at the back end of 2019 with a host of excellent collaborations including Tinashe and Pharrell Williams, but our favourite remains the funk-driven 10%, which is elevated with dreamy vocals from Kali Uchis. Two GAY TIMES faves on one track? We’re sold.
7. How Do You Sleep? – Sam Smith
After introducing fans to a brand new sound with the Normani-featuring Dancing With A Stranger in January, the British singer-songwriter continued to shed their balladeer image on recent single How Do You Sleep? The emotive track was crafted by Sam alongside hitmakers Max Martin, Savan Kotecha and ILYA – so it’s no surprise that it’s the kind of song that’ll be stuck in your head for weeks, and even has a dance break.
6. Icy – Kim Petras
With a new single released each week, it was hard to decide on just one track from trans pop trailblazer Kim Petras to include on this list, but the incredible Icy just about edged its way to the top. It’s the kind of absolute pop banger that leaves you needing a lie down after listening. We’ve seen Kim’s wind-machine-swept performance of Icy from her Clarity Tour appear on our Twitter timelines more than any other video this year, and if you haven’t seen it, do that now. Like, right now.
5. Nights Like This – Kehlani feat. Ty Dolla $ign
After receiving universal acclaim back in 2017 with her debut album, SweetSexySavage, Kehlani has released a number of tracks including Honey, Touch and Again, but it’s Nights Like This with Ty Dolla $ign that remains her best post-debut release. It’s an ethereal breakup track that tugs at the heartstrings, as Kehlani question the intentions of a former lover while Ty completes the love triangle. “You gon’ get my hopes high, girl,” she repeats throughout the track, making it clear that the song is about a same-sex lover. It’s visibility we definitely need more of in mainstream music, especially when it sounds this good.
4. Mother’s Daughter – Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus has made a career out of reinventing herself, from her bubblegum Hannah Montana days, to her rebel Bangerz era, to back-to-her-country-roots album Younger Now. Her latest era, including standout track Mother’s Daughter, feels like the most natural sound for Miley so far – rebellious, catchy and confident. For all her controversies, it’s this track (both the song and the music video) and its message of female empowerment and inclusivity that feels the most impactful.
3. Number One Fan – MUNA
After an astonishingly good debut album, MUNA followed up this year with a sophomore release throbbing with pulsating synths and bittersweet melodies that both sustain and elaborate on their signature brand of emo-pop music. The highlight, of course, was lead single Number One Fan. This strutting pop bop will have you reaching for the nearest pair of retro sunnies, slipping into an oversized denim jacket and striding down the street like you’re in your own 80s teen movie. As for that guitar at the end… magical. Most importantly, the song celebrated the concept of self-care and being your own biggest supporter – and for a world still learning that loving yourself isn’t actually a bad thing, that feels revolutionary.
2. Gone – Charli XCX feat. Christine And The Queens
Who could have predicted that one of the most exquisitely-crafted bangers of 2019 would be a track about anxiety? “I feel so unstable, fucking hate these people, how they’re making me feel lately,” admits Charli over stuttering bass and tension-building synths. French artist and queer icon Christine jumps in to mirror her spiral into crisis, as she questions, “Why do we keep when the water runs? Why do we love if we’re so mistaken?” in what might be one of the most hotly debated (and beautifully poetic) verses of the year. As the song races towards its ecstasy-driven climax, the chemistry between the two pop superstars is electrifying. A perfect collaboration? It exists right here. A special shoutout must go to the heart-pounding visual for the track, which was a pop music moment in itself.
Old Town Road – Lil Nas X
When it comes to leading the way, no-one has soared higher than Lil Nas X so far in 2019. His debut single Old Town Road was addictive enough to start with, fusing elements of country, rock and hip-hop into an easy-going ear-worm of epic proportions that dominated viral video platform TikTok and defied the limitations of genre. But with the added husk of Billy Ray Cyrus – a genius collaboration after Billboard decided the original wasn’t quite country enough for the country charts – the track went on to become the longest-running number one single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, spending an incredible 17 weeks at the top. And when Lil Nas X decided to come out publicly to mark the end of Pride Month, he immediately became one of the most successful openly gay rappers music has seen in quite some time – if not, ever. 2019 was Lil Nas X’s year, and we can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for him.