Queer Music All Year, Every Year!
by Alyssa Sileo
One of the most prominent ways I celebrate an old year and enter a new year is with music. As 2018 comes to an end, I want to share with you some of my four favorite queer music artists that have made my year so much fun, and also give you four band names that I plan to start getting more into in 2019.
St. Vincent: Even though I’ve loved one of her songs ever since fifth grade, it took me till 2018 to get into her whole discography. Her music, calling on electropop and rock, is both experimental and jazzy. Since 2007, she’s released 5 records, all receiving critical acclaim. She even performs sometimes with Bon Iver and Andrew Bird, two of my favorite indie folk/rock artists. This musician does not identity with a singular queer label.
One of my favorite tracks from her is her cover of “And Then She Kissed Me.” Check it out at this link!
Janelle Monáe: This is another artist that I first heard of in middle school, when “Tightrope” was on Just Dance…but thank goodness she released Dirty Computer this year, prompting me to get into her music more! Monáe’s music is a combo of funk, hip hop, and soul. This musician is also actress — she starred in Hidden Figures and will star in an upcoming biopic about Harriet Tubman. This year, Monae came out as pansexual, which is so exciting. She was named as the 2018 Trailblazer of the Year by Billboard Women in Music.
I love everything this artist is doing. Check out “Make Me Feel,” which is one of the best audio-tributes to Prince’s music I could imagine, at this link here.
Kevin Abstract: This artist who often performs with the musical collective Brockhampton specializes in rap, hip-hop, and R&B. He’s a certified queer icon and pioneer in his musical community, as he has repeatedly affirm that he will continue to make rap music about his gay identity so that others don’t feel alone. His most recent release, American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story, is a chronicle of coming of age and coming out, and takes me back to the time at the end of high school when I got so into it! Abstract is also a director of his music videos.
I love “Empty” off of American Boyfriend, so check it out here.
And now, for the artists that I hope to get more into in 2019:
Hurray for the Riff Raff: This indie rock band has 7 records in their discography since 2008, so I’m bound to find something I adore. One sees them on every “Queer Musicians to Check Out” list. The front-woman, Alynda Lee Segarra, hails from New York and is openly queer. Calling on her Puerto Rican heritage and her gift to her community in the aftermath of Hurricane María is Segarra’s “Pa’lante.” Watch this song’s beautiful music video here.
Too Attached: This musical sibling duo is of a trans artist, Vivek Shraya, and her brother, Shamik Bigli. I’ve only listened to one track so far and am immediately obsessed with this electropop sound. Their EP Angry was released earlier this year and I can’t wait to hear what Too Attached makes next. Check out the song that made me fall in love with this band, “Veins,” here.
Hayley Kiyoko: I know…I’m a lesbian and I haven’t gotten into Kiyoko music yet? I don’t know how it happened either, but I’m ready to remedy this in 2019. This indie pop was first a Disney Channel Actress in her teens. She won the 2018 Billboard in Music Rising Star Award. One of these days I’ll make it to one of her concerts…her fans call her “Lesbian Jesus,” if that gives you an idea for how much of an icon she is to us sapphics. Here’s a song I know by them that I love already: “Feelings.”
About the Author:
Alyssa Sileo’s Thespian identity comes first and foremost in anything she carries out. As a member of the Drew University Class of 2022, she studies theatre arts, women’s and gender studies, and Spanish. She’s a proud NJ Thespian Alumni and member of their state chapter board. She is the leader of the international performances network The Laramie Project Project, which unites worldwide productions and readings of the acclaimed Tectonic Theater Project play and encourages community-based LGBTQ+ advocacy. Alyssa is humbled to serve as the 2017 Spirit of Matthew Award winner and as a Youth Ambassador for Matthew Shepard Foundation. She believes there is an advocacy platform tucked into every piece of the theatre catalogue and intends to write outreach into the canon.