PRIDE is all about self-empowerment and self-determination. It's about not just being comfortable with who you are but showing the world that there is pride to be found in being unapologetically you. And that's why, this PRIDE, we wanted to shine a light on a small handful of our favorite LGBTQIA+ artists. Ranging from rapturous hyperpop, revelatory bossa nova meditations, romantic rave music, and everywhere in between, these are 19 LGBTQIA+ artists who deserve a spot on your PRIDE playlist and every playlist for that matter.
girl in red
In her debut single, "i wanna be your girlfriend," a teenage girl in red unapologetically sings of young queer love over a mesh of lofi production and jangly instrumentation that would come to define much of the bedroom pop genre. It is a standout moment of unrelenting honesty, and a serenely simple three-minute confession that would go on to strike a chord with millions who were afraid of what it meant to be something more than friends. Now, a few years later and following the release of her critically-acclaimed debut album, if i could make it go quiet, Ulven still writes with that same emotional honesty, putting forth every ounce of herself for the world to see.
Meet Me @ The Altar
"the little lonely black alt girl i was in the 00s is living rn, she never even dared to hope she might see this 💖💖," reads the top comment on Meet Me @ The Altar's music video for their single "Garden." It is a sentiment shared by much of the rising band's fanbase, who are used to the mainstream alternative scene championing cis white males. Existing in the space between pop-punk and hardcore, Meet Me @ The Altar exists to challenge the notion that queer women of color don't have a place in punk. And after penning a record deal with Fueled By Ramen, home to the likes of Paramore, Panic! at the Disco, and nearly every pop-punk band that made up your middle school playlist, chances are this is just the beginning for our new favorite punks.
For Lily Lizotte, better known as THE BLOSSOM, music exists as the synthesis and subsequent recontextualization of a host of past experiences. From the sound of their dad belting away in his home studio to stumbling upon niche Internet subgenres, THE BLOSSOM transforms all this and more into a sound that is instantly recognizable but impossible to perfectly place. The culmination of this host of influences takes sweeping sonic form on their debut EP, '97 BLOSSOM, a perfectly imperfect introduction to one of the most fascinating rising artists of recent memory.
You may recognize BIMINI as Bimini Bon-Boulash, the runner-up on the second season of RuPaul's Drag Race UK. And now you should familiarize yourself with Bimini, brit-pop extraordinaire. Releasing their debut single "God Save This Queen" earlier this June, Bimini deftly channels late '90s brit-pop and punk to deliver a single that has us absolutely living for the ensuing chaos. Serving up multiple looks throughout its eye-catching music video, "God Save This Queen" is not just a non-binary anthem but a veritable 2021 lookbook.
With a sound that falls somewhere between turn-of-the-century R&B and bossa nova, Hope Tala's music is expectedly a dream given sonic form. Perhaps that's why much of the UK singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist's music is able to so deftly weave imagery of love, heartache, and teenage fistfights into tightknit tracks that feel simultaneously transcendental and deeply personal. And with the release of her 2020 EP, Girl Eats the Sun, Hope Tala poses one all-important question, "Why have a life if you're not going to do something crazy and make a difference in the world?"
For much of chloe moriondo's avid fanbase, watching her transform from budding ukulele sensation to pop-punk phenom very much meant watching her grow up. Getting her start on YouTube, moriondo’s fanbase witnessed her evolve as both an artist and person. Coming out in the aptly titled "a ramble about self identity, growth, and being a lesbian," to be a fan of the artist often feels like trading secrets with a close personal friend. It is a sentiment that rings all the more true upon delving into her debut album, Blood Bunny. Grappling with coming-of-age at the axis of empathic pop and euphoric pop-punk, Blood Bunny sees moriondo taking yet another impressive step forward.
Little is known about Godford beyond what can be garnered from a handful of interviews online and his succinct Spotify bio, and chances are he's happier that way. The anonymous DJ and producer aims to make non-binary music that exists outside of the confines of genres, overly-simplified classifications, and even himself. What is important are the emotions his music hold and what his listeners take away. Fusing romanticism and rave in his debut album, Godford: Non Binary Place, the anonymous artist does just that. He provides a space that exists simultaneously everywhere and nowhere, like an ephemeral night spent out on the dancefloor with a stranger or close friend.
Joy Oladokun is at the core of her music. It may at first glance appear to be a painfully obvious statement, but as her sincere songwriting seeps into every corner of your soul, it is a notion that becomes undeniable. In her major label debut, in defense of my own happiness, Oladokun writes with an unabashed authenticity, never turning a blind eye to the world around her. These shared reflections and recollections of life are often heartbreaking and uplifting in the same breath, but in their candidness, we can begin to piece together what it means to be human, imperfections and all.
Allison Ponthier may only have a handful of singles to her name, but her unmatched potential is clear as day. Raised in the outskirts of Dallas, Texas, Ponthier's moving songwriting and emphatic vocal prowess speak to her country roots. Pair that country sensibility with some of the most pristine pop songwriting we have heard in quite some time, and you begin to understand just how exciting Ponthier is as a rising artist. With only two singles to date, there's not much else we can say beyond do yourself a favor and play "Cowboy" on repeat.
It feels like no hyperbole to call Rina Sawayama an inevitable pop icon. First garnering critical acclaim with singles like "Cherry" and her 2017 debut EP RINA, the Japanese-British singer-songwriter staked her name on her immaculate ability to capture all the glamour and larger-than-life appeal of early '00s pop. Building on what was a nostalgic yet forward-thinking vision, Sawayama returned with her 2020 eponymous full-length debut. From nu-metal, club beats, to veritable pop anthems, SAWAYAMA emerged as a genre-defying showcase of an avant-garde pop star.
Listening to Arlo Parks' music is akin to sipping on a hot cup of chamomile tea as you watch the world slowly pass by your living room window. It is a testament to the British poet and singer-songwriter's subtle yet beautiful way with words, the way in which each lyric serves as a glance into a tightly-held memory or passing observation. These poetic musings come to life in her debut album, Collapsed In Sunbeams, which layers lyrical revelations over some of the most tender R&B of recent memory. Parks' is more than a must-listen; she feels like the birth of a new wave.
Claud has spent the past few years making a name for themselves in the indie pop world, and the culmination of it all arrives in their debut album, Super Monster. The acclaimed album sees Claud reckoning with coming-of-age and love with an irresistible charm. Pair that with a penchant for grounded, affective songwriting and infectious, dreamlike melodies and you have one of the best debuts of recent memory. In case you somehow need any further convincing that Claud is one to watch, Super Monster marks the debut release from Phoebe Bridgers' Saddest Factory Records.
Equally as inspired by R&B and neo-soul as she is by her generation's penchant for blurring genre lines, UMI and her music exist as a form of spiritual healing. Half-Black and half-Japanese, her work explores everything from identity to self-introspection, such as on the aptly-titled Introspection. It is a fondness for self-exploration that UMI delves headfirst into on her 2019 EP Love Language, a sublime blend of identity struggles, love, and anime that tackles the issue of always feeling like an other, never Black or Japanese enough.
Sad boy summer. It's the simplest way to being explaining Joesef's serene albeit somber sound. Emerging out of Glasgow, the quickly rising star often wears his still bleeding heart on his sleeve, even when the underlying sonics seem to be moving onto greener pastures. It is an exquisite balancing act that comes to life on his 2020 EP, Does It Make You Feel Good?. Blending elements of soft-spoken R&B, jazz, and ethereal pop, Joesef sets himself apart as an artist whose influences and appeal know no bounds.
At the top of the year, we named Serena Isioma one of our top artists to watch in the year to come, and for good reason. The self-proclaimed "nonbinary rock star" experienced a breakout moment with "Sensitive," a track that is difficult to perfectly encapsulate but think along the lines of fusing modern-day R&B and woozy indie-pop with reckless abandon, and you'll be about halfway there. It was an impressive standout track that was only buoyed by a pair of EPs, Sensitive and The Leo Sun Sets, in 2020, officially cementing Isioma as an artist like no other.
Khai Dreams' music is effortlessly easygoing. With its straightforward guitar lines and understated production, every track from the Pacific Northwest singer-songwriter flows out as naturally as breathing. Maybe it's that laid-back approach that begins to explains Khai Dreams' universal appeal and millions of monthly listeners, despite releasing most of his music independently. A hallmark of the DIY generation and its massive homebrewed potential, it would be a crying shame if you didn't let Khai Dream's serene meditations transport you somewhere far from here.
Like much of their Gen Z cohorts, Frances Forever's exponential rise was not the result of a well-executed marketing plan but by the pure chance of a single song finding a home online. The song in question, "Space Girl," was originally part of NPR's Tiny Desk Content before soon blowing up on TikTok, and it's not hard to see why. Short, sweet, and to the point, "Space Girl" is a saccharine love letter to that bubbly feeling of floating on cloud nine. Now signed to Mom+Pop and with their debut EP, Paranoia Party, due out later this year, this is the perfect time to get familiar with Frances Forever.
Unapologetically playing with gender norms and stereotypes while seeing just how far they can push the limits of pop, Dorian Electra has long maintained a cult following in the world of experimental, highly addictive hyperpop. And it's not hard to see why. Having collaborated with the likes of Charli XCX, 100 gecs, Village People, Pussy Riot, Rebecca Black, and more, Electra's music ranges from off-the-rails hyperpop to introspective pop slow burns. All of this and more reaches a fever pitch in their 2020 album My Agenda, a devious showcasing of one of pop's most explosive figures.
Maya Cumming, professionally known as MAY-A, is no stranger to the hustle it takes to make it in the music industry. The Australian artist got her start entering numerous singing competitions in her hometown of Byron Bay and started busking on the streets at the tender age of 11. Now, she has a breakout single under her belt in the form of "Apricots," an anthemic indie-pop ode to queer love. And since that breakout moment, MAY-A has continued to release impressive single after single - the latest being the collaborative "American Dream."