June: sunny days, summer nights, and a whole lot of pride.
That’s right – Pride Month 2022 is finally here, and YEM has a song on this playlist for every part of the rainbow.
Kicking it off with an easygoing mood is “Want Me” by Baby Queen. This bubbly song featured on the Heartstopper soundtrack has pretty much all the necessities – yearning, a catchy chorus, and some French lyrics. The song’s liveliness and Heartstopper history makes it great for pride.
The next track, “Issaparty,” is from independent, non-binary musician Jordan Occasionally. It’s smooth and groovy, with a low key, dreamy quality not unlike a faded memory of the best party of all time. The laid-back fun continues in “Bang Bang Bang” by Lauran Hibberd. Another banger from the Heartstopper soundtrack (there’s a lot of them), it’s cheery and romantic with just a touch of wistfulness. It has a really sweet quality to it, perfect for pride.
“Goals_” is the latest single by independent trans musician SuperKnova. It’s got soft, soothing vocals, cool beats, and a great guitar solo, all performed by SuperKnova herself! While on the chiller side of things, its celebration of success and personal growth could easily be applied to queer people’s own achievements. Pride isn’t just about celebrating love: celebrate yourself, too!
Next up is “TELLY BAG” by BAYLI, another independent musician. It’s a little melancholy – the singer is being led on by a straight girl – but the fact that BAYLI can make a song like this so effortlessly catchy earns her a spot on the playlist.
Number six is none other than “Origin of Love.” Originally performed by Stephen Trask, it’s one of the most well-known (and, of course, well-loved) songs from the cult classic film Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Fans of Sex Education will recognize it from season one as Eric’s favorite song (he has great taste). Hailed for its depiction of gender fluidity and generally being ahead of its time, “Origin of Love” is a moving rock anthem that has earned its spot on every pride playlist and then some. Want more queer rock? Pansy Division is a great place to start. After emerging in the 90s as one of the first openly gay rock bands, their fun, iconic song “Fem in a Black Leather Jacket” embraces male femininity. It’s ideal for fans of early Green Day.
St. Vincent’s “And Then She Kissed Me” puts a more modern, queer spin on the classic “And Then He Kissed Me” by The Crystals. Off the EP Universal Love – Wedding Songs Reimagined, its charmingly scratchy vocals and electric guitar tell a simple, happy lesbian love story (which the media is all too short on). St. Vincent herself is pretty fluid when it comes to gender and sexual orientation, after noting in an interview that she “didn’t identify as anything” in particular. “I Need a Woman to Love” by Kesha (who happens to be openly bi) is off the same EP. It’s a cover of Janis Joplin’s “I Need a Man to Love”; while it’s difficult to do Janis Joplin’s iconic raspy voice justice, Kesha holds her own and then some.
Following it up is yet another banger off the Heartstopper soundtrack. From Montaigne’s 2018 album Glorious Heights, “Because I Love You” is charming and upbeat, just as good for dancing as it is for a romantic movie montage. Frankie Simone’s “LOVE//WARRIOR” is next, keeping the energy high. Simone’s vocals are strong and powerful, perfect for a song that’s equal parts music and rallying cry. The non-binary artist’s anthem proves to be just as infectious as it was four years ago, when it was released to much acclaim.
More fun pop follows with independent artist HYRA’s “Miss Understood.” This single was released last year. Its fresh, poppy beats encourage listeners to dance through their hardships; with a song as catchy as this one, it’s hard not to. The lyrics sound off on what it feels like to be constantly misunderstood, and while many queer people know this feeling all too well, songs like this show listeners that they’re not alone (while still being quite catchy).
Next up is another independent artist: BRONZE AVERY. His song “Boys!” depicts the highs and lows of love. Even though it can really, really suck sometimes (“It’s something ‘bout pushing me in/pulling me back/My intuition’s under attack by boys”), this breezy song is great for helping people sail right through the difficulties.
This next artist is probably most known for her electrifying and oh-so-danceable track “XS.” That’s right – it’s none other than Rina Sawayama! Thankfully (and not-so-surprisingly), “LUCID” proves to be just as fun, with a generous helping of romance. Off the Heartstopper soundtrack (of course), this is perfect for any pride party; the high vocals and addicting dance beats make it ideal for partying.
Heartstopper isn’t the only show that features banger after banger. Love, Victor has some hits up its sleeve: “Rendezvous” by openly gay independent musician Miss Benny (AKA: Ben J. Pierce). It’s an all-around earworm with a sensual beat. It’s ideal for listeners who’re getting ready for their local pride event and want to feel like their best, confident selves. “Electricity” is another Love, Victor bop. By Silk City, Diplo, and Mark Ronson (featuring Dua Lipa on vocals) it’s quality dance pop celebrating all kinds of love.
Coming in at number seventeen is GIRLI’s “Can I Say Baby.” The bisexual singer’s low voice is unique and intoxicating. The song has an ultra-cool beat and sounds like it was specifically made to be blasted, max volume, from the speakers at pride events.
“Get to Know Me” by Tony K, an independent musician, tells a tale of perseverance and rising above the odds. It’s on the Heartstopper soundtrack (what? It’d be a shame not to showcase all these quality songs) and has a great rap flow that’ll keep people hooked. The story of overcoming adversity will be relatable to many in the queer community.
Red Red Lips is another independent artist. Their song “Feel Alive” was featured on the Love, Victor soundtrack. Described on Spotify as “pure girl power,” this song’s electronic beats make for a dance-pop bop emphasizing the importance of living in the moment.
Wrapping it all up is non-binary musician Janelle Monáe’s “Make Me Feel.” Iconic and wholly irresistible, this song is a must on any pride playlist. Its sweet, sweet harmonies and beats make it the rambunctious younger sibling to Prince’s “Kiss” – unsurprising, considering he personally worked on the track before he passed.
If you identify as queer and/or want to help out LGBTQ+ kids and teens, check out The Trevor Project.