20gayteen introduced us to more out-and-proud queer artists than ever.
But what will 2019 bring? We’ve presented 25 up-and-coming LGBTQ artists you need to be listening to.
From the feisty bubblegum pop-punk bops of GIRLI, to the alternative hip-hop sounds of Dizzy Fae and FHAT, these artists are all making their mark on the music industry. Cliché, but whatever.
Check out our list below…
Standout bop: BOY
British singer-songwriter Aaron Porter made his music industry debut last year with BOY, a queer slice of R&B, dance-pop perfection. The singer and dancer, who hails from East Grinstead, says he’s eager to “be a good role model for the younger generation” – and he’s doing this by entering the industry as an openly gay artist who isn’t afraid to touch base on sensitive topics such as toxic masculinity. He’s only released one track so far, but it absolutely slays. He’s one to watch out for.
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: Want 2
Orlando-born singer-songwriter Bronze Avery – birth name Gabriel Brown – released his fifth single at the end of last year, Want 2, a massive dance-pop anthem he describes as “bedroom sheets meets the dance floor”. The up-and-coming queer artist has released four bops so far: Leave Together, Pressure, Secrets and the Rick Astley cover Never Gonna Give You Up, but Bronze’s latest release feels like he’s OFFICIALLY arrived. His upcoming debut album/EP is one of our most anticipated, because we know he’s gonna serve us bops and lewks.
Standout bop: Only One
She’s only released six 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 48 million times. In the last quarter of 2018, Carlie toured the United States with Troye Sivan for his acclaimed Bloom Tour, so yeah, we can’t wait to see what she does in 2019…
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 early last 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 last 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 honestly 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.
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: 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 year, 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 anthems Run Into You and Middle of a Heartbreak 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. Late in 2018, 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, and followed it up with her incredible debut EP of the same name.
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. Last 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: Heartbeat
American duo REYNA are simmering synthpop perfection. Heartbeat – their eighth (and possibly best) release so far – will be included in the band’s upcoming debut EP, which will include the likes of Baby Forget It and Cool With It, both of which are the textbook definition of ‘pop perfection’. Their first single, Spill Your Colours, was written as an “ode to being your true self and not conforming to what society or your family expects from you”, and was inspired by member Vic Banuelos’ “traumatic” coming out experience to her parents. If you like Aly and AJ and Tegan and Sara, you’ll love REYNA.
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. Its follow-up, Flicker, served us another slice of dance-pop while tackling issues such as the lack of representation in the media – “the people on TV, they all look the same”.
Standout bop: Bite My Tongue
Aussie performer Sam Bluer made his music industry debut last 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! His best track, however, is his most recent release, the euphoric bop Bite My Tongue, which is possibly one of our favourite queer anthems of 2018. If his debut EP is anything like the three aforementioned tracks, we can see Sam blowing up this year.
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: 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 on her self-titled debut album, such as Daddy, Play Wit It and 100 Bad, the latter of which received a badass remix with British pop princess Charli XCX.
Standout bop: Dance Like You
Vardaan Arora became a viral sensation after the release of Feel Good Song in 2016, and when we spoke to him last year, he said he’s determined to represent the “vibrant, diverse community of LGBTQ artists” by showing the industry that POC can slay just as fucking hard. And it’s safe to say he’s been doing that so far with massive tracks such as Just Like That, Poison, Polaroid, and his most recent single Dance Like You.
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.”