Decades have passed since legendary acts like Prince and David Bowie first began to tear down preconceived notions of sex and gender, but their legacy is felt now more than ever in this holy year of #20GayTeen. Thanks to the democratization of online music distribution, alternative voices that once struggled to be heard are finally reaching our ears, exploring all kinds of love that exist outside of the heteronormative mainstream.
Although we’re only halfway through 2018, queer music lovers have already been spoiled for choice by the work of some extraordinary artists this year. Here at INTO, we’re rounding up 10 of the best LGBTQ songs released so far in 2018, covering everything from vagina pants and robotic lovers to our very own ‘Lesbian Jesus’ along the way.
Janelle Monáe featuring Grimes – “Pynk”
Following the release of bisexual anthem “Make Me Feel” and her own coming out as pansexual, Janelle Monáe pushed aside her cybernetic trappings for a moment to unveil “Pynk.” A delicate and beautiful ode to “pussy power,” the star’s third single from Dirty Computer celebrates femininity in the most visual way possible, forever imprinting the image of her glorious vagina pants on our minds forever.
Years & Years – “Sanctify”
During a recent interview with Nylon, Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander promised fans that new music from the band would be unapologetically queer. Need proof? Look no further than the robotic video for “Sanctify,” which explores the hedonistic joy of helping a “straight” man explore new sides of his sexuality.
Kim Petras – “Heart To Break”
Transgender pop star Kim Petras lies on the cusp of mainstream fandom, but for now, ’80s-inspired ditties like “Heart To Break” and “I Don’t Want It All” remain the LGBTQ community’s best-kept secret. Chart success beckons.
Keiynan Lonsdale – “Kiss The Boy”
Love, Simon star Keiynan Lonsdale was inspired by the themes of his first major film to write a song called “Kiss The Boy,” where he uses his silky voice to flip the classic song from The Little Mermaid on its head. With its infectious chorus and bouncy production, it’s easy to imagine Lonsdale’s single appearing on its very own Disney soundtrack one day in a brighter, more inclusive future.
Trixie Mattel – “Break Your Heart”
Outside of that Madonna line-dancing video, country music is rarely associated with the LGBTQ community, but Drag Race All Stars 3 champion Trixie Mattel is on a mission to change that. Channeling the camp fun of Dolly Parton in drag, “Break Your Heart” deserves to be the breakout hit that propels Trixie Mattel into the mainstream, giant wigs and all.
Hayley Kiyoko featuring Kehlani – “What I Need”
Once upon a time, lesbian music was confined to the stereotypical realms of indie folk, so it’s particularly empowering to hear openly queer pop stars like Kehlani and Hayley “Lesbian Jesus” Kiyoko casually sing a gorgeous summer jam together. It doesn’t hurt that they make out in the accompanying video, too.
Fischerspooner – “TopBrazil”
It’s been almost a decade since we last heard the electroclash duo Fischerspooner share their salacious club music with the world, so it’s no surprise that they quite literally came back with a bang in the orgiastic video for “TopBrazil.” In a world where the male gaze is now regularly flipped back on itself, now is the perfect time for acts like Fischerspooner to celebrate the naked male form in all its beauty.
MNEK – “Tongue”
MNEK has come a long way since writing songs for The Saturdays and nowhere is this more evident than in his 2018 single called “Tongue.” Exploding with confidence and desire, the openly gay star deserves to be on everyone’s lips when his debut album drops later this year.
Tove Lo featuring Charli XCX, Icona Pop, Elliphant & Alma- “Bitches (Remix)”
Pop music has a long history of exploiting bisexual love to attract listeners, something which became a hot topic again recently following the release of Rita Ora’s track, “Girls.” Enter Tove Lo, the bisexual Swedish singer who enlisted a host of international friends to join her this year in celebrating the sapphic joys of oral sex with women.
Troye Sivan – “Bloom”
Self-proclaimed “pop twink” Troye Sivan has attracted a devout fandom thanks to his authentic exploration of gay desire on record, but no other song of his dives quite so deep into this topic as “Bloom,” which could very well be the very first song about bottoming to enjoy chart success. Never has pop music been more liberating.