Openly queer artists are releasing tons of great music, now more than ever. To help you with this extremely good problem to have, them. is selecting the best songs released by rising queer artists. This month, we’ve highlighted tracks by Lauren Jauregui and Tainy, Shura and Ivy Sole, Pabllo Vittar and Thalia, CupcakKe, Girlpool, HAWA, Orion Sun, Shamir, Deb Never, and Sasami. Check them out below and listen along on our Spotify and Apple Music playlists.
Lauren Jauregui – “Lento” [ft. Tainy]
Ex-Fifth Harmony member Lauren Jauregui links up for the second time with Puerto Rican reggaeton mastermind Tainy for “Lento,” a smoldering pop-reggaeton song for hot summer nights. Here, Jauregui sings mostly in Spanish, sensuously asking a certain someone to “slow it down” for her. But the second verse sees her switching to English, where she shows off her sassiness; “Bitch, I was raised by Caribbean waters,” she sings, flexing all sides of her personality.
Shura – “elevator girl” [ft. Ivy Sole]
Shura goes full ‘90s R&B on “elevator girl,” the first single since her 2019 album Forevher. On the funky TLC-indebted bop, she sings about the object of her affection with a gentle, airy falsetto, comparing her love to the feeling of getting high. “‘elevator girl’ is partly inspired by the time I had to get an elevator to my hotel room on the 22nd floor with a first date who I’d only just met in the lobby,” the New York musician said in a statement. Rapper Ivy Sole drops in later for a verse that describes what happens afterwards, behind closed doors.
Pabllo Vittar – “Timida” [ft. Thalia]
Brazilian drag queen and pop star Pabllo Vittar has come to save us from total quarantine boredom by releasing her surprise album 111, featuring an array of international musicians like Charli XCX, Mexican music superstar Thalia, and fellow Brazilian musicians Psirico, Ivete Sangalo, and Jerry Smith. Standout track “Timida” sees Vittar and Thalia trading off lines, beckoning to their lovers with a sinister, seductive energy, as if they’re both preparing to sharpen their knives. The best part? Vittar has launched her own TikTok dance challenge to this track, so you can fight off cabin fever while trying to recreate the video.
CupcakKe – “Lawd Jesus”
After she announced that she was retiring from music last fall, CupcakKe has decided to make her return doing what she does best: talking shit. Over a minimalist trap beat, the Chicago rapper bashes a whole slew of characters in her rapid fire bars, like broke bitches, old friends, women who don’t know how to do the dishes, and men who don’t tie their shoelaces. But even when on a fiery rapping streak, CupcakKe can’t help but show a glimpse of her winning sense of humor; when she sings a quick, “Lawd jesus,” during the hook, she does it with the same hilarious cartoon delivery of an exasperated Mickey Mouse.
Girlpool – “Like I’m Winning It”
On their newest single, Girlpool, the Los Angeles-based duo of Avery Tucker and Harmony Tividad, sheds their typical indie rock guitar and folk harmonies to make way for darker, more electronic-based instrumentation. “Like I’m Winning It” marks the band’s turn into a trip-hop and trance-inspired universe, indebted to the jazzy melodies of Portishead and the ‘90s British rave sound of the Prodigy. “When you touch me, it’s like I’m winning it,” Tucker sings at the outset, reveling in the menacing, yet enticing new world they’ve created
HAWA – “FRICK”
Listening to HAWA feels a lot like listening to Young Thug, in the way that both their rhyme patterns and vocal deliveries feel slippery, mercurial, and hard to pin down. Like the established rapper, the Berlin-born and New York-raised HAWA flirts with the fashion world; she’s a former model and performed at the Telfar men’s Pitti Uomo show earlier this year. But unlike Thug, she’s a 19-year-old newcomer who was classically trained and isn’t afraid to put her queer sexuality forward. “FRICK,” a standout from her recent the ONE EP, HAWA raps about eating pussy with a magnetic ease, as she flits from melody to melody over a Pharrell-esque beat. If anything, the rising rapper is proving that she’s beyond comparison.
Orion Sun – “Golden Hour”
Philly musician Orion Sun is the rising star you need to get to know now. Her debut album Hold Space for Me, which arrived last week, is an intimate exploration of cosmic R&B, vibey indie rock, and rap, and standout “Golden Hour” is a little sampler of all her talents. Through lilting rhymes, she lays out her life story in little Frank Ocean-esque vignettes; images of a bad trip, high school, leaving home, and tobacco-filled lungs. The song ends with Orion imagining her name in “bright lights,” as the keyboard in the background seems to evoke the slow dreaminess of a sunset. With her songwriting skills and stunning voice, it seems like that vision just could end up true.
Deb Never – “Stone Cold”
With her latest single “Stone Cold,” Los Angeles-based singer Deb Never pays homage to the former WWE champion Steve Austin. What makes this particular track so delightful is Deb’s choice to veer away from the dramatics and theatrics of professional wrestling; instead, she leans into her blasé delivery, even as she sings about “slammin’ bodies left and right.” Her energy is matched by the slacker funk instrumental, made by rap producer Kenny Beats, driving home the point that Deb Never’s cool lies in her effortlessness.
Sasami – “Mess”
It’s likely that Sasami wrote “Mess” before the United States went into full quarantine mode because of the coronavirus, but these lyrics ring true now more than ever. “Making fun of the state I’m in/With my pessimistic liberal friends,” the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter sings dismally, as if she’s tired of the world and, perhaps, herself. If there’s anything this song encourages, it’s that you don’t have to fight the feelings of self-deprecation that may arise from being a “mess” — a depressing source of affirmation for these times.
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