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Inside Beat

Iconic female LGBTQ+ artists to play at your next jam session

Following her death, SOPHIE's legacy as an LGBTQ+ icon and producer serves as an emblem of the sheer talent that exists within the community.  – Photo by SOPHIE / Twitter

Based on TikTok's comment sections, artist girl in red and Hayley Kiyoko’s "Girls Like Girls" music video seem to have spawned thousands of Generation Z sexual awakenings.

That being said, there’s much more to LGBTQ+ women in music than the topped stream fare. Women, especially those who are members of the LGBTQ+ community, have long gone unrepresented in the music industry, despite the fact that there’s an abundance of talent.

Whether you’re looking for upbeat pop anthems, lowkey indie tunes or any songs about women loving women, here are six LGBTQ+ female artists to add to your next playlist:

Julien Baker

Longtime indie darling, Baker doesn’t sing much about romance, but as an out-and-proud lesbian, her work about her struggle with addiction and mental illness could bring comfort to young women in the LGBTQ+ community, especially considering the fact that LGBTQ+ youth are much more likely to struggle with mental health issues than their straight and cisgender peers.

Baker is also a Christian, and much of her music handles the religious experiences of queer women in religious spaces with the kind of nuance and grace I would've loved to hear as a lesbian growing up in the church. Baker is also a part of the group boygenius, which includes other artists Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers, who identify as queer and bisexual, respectively.

My top recommendations are "Sour Breath" and "Rejoice" by Baker and "Stay Down" by boygenius. 

Arlo Parks 

At only 21 years old, Arlo Parks has already gained plenty of critical acclaim in the music world. The British singer-songwriter is proudly bisexual and a Black woman. A worthwhile addition to any of the homogeneous indie or vibey playlists that are overrun with straight white guys, many of Arlo Parks’ songs do focus on the feelings she has for women.

She captures the sapphic experience well in both her friends-to-lovers pining anthem, "Eugene," as well as the supportive love song of her and a lover’s experience with homophobia, "Green Eyes."

Arlo Parks is the perfect soundtrack to whenever you want to lie back and imagine yourself as the main character in a coming-of-age movie or just vibe to a quality artist who is definitely going to be on the charts soon.

My top recommendations are "Eugene," "Green Eyes" and her lo-fi covers of Bridgers’ "Moon Song" and Frank Ocean’s "Ivy."

Jojo Siwa

No, this is not a joke. Siwa of "Dance Moms" and general children’s entertainment fame made waves this year when she came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and shared photos with her girlfriend.

Not only is Siwa a newly minted icon for having the bravery to come out when it could jeopardize her career (plenty of parents have already vowed to no longer let their children listen to Siwa’s music, to which she gave a resounding zero F’s), but also she makes certified bops.

Seriously. If you’re into campy, super family-friendly bubblegum pop — or if you have any younger sisters, nieces or children of your own that are part of her demographic — Siwa deserves all the support and streams she can get. 

I highly recommend checking out the tracks "Kid in a Candy Store" and "Worldwide Party.

Rina Sawayama

Japanese-British artist Sawayama has been making waves in the music industry since her critically-acclaimed sophomore album, SAWAYAMA, came out, and for good reason.

Every song she releases is a bonafide bop. Though snubbed by the Grammy Awards and the music awards of her home country of Britain (due to not having a British passport, a move that caused lots of criticism for its xenophobic nature), Sawayama, who identifies as pansexual, is one of the best artists working today. Her album, falling under a multitude of genres, is worth a listen in full … multiple times.

I recommend checking out her tracks "XS," "Comme De Garçons (Like The Boys)" and "Tokyo Love Hotel" (these are all off of SAWAYAMA), as well as her hit single, "Cherry."

SOPHIE

The incredibly influential SOPHIE — who had produced music for the likes of Kim Petras and Charli XCX — was one of the most successful and renowned music producers working before news arrived in January that she had died.

An icon in the transgender community and a true star no matter who she collaborated with, SOPHIE deserves to be remembered as a revolutionary figure in hyperpop and electropop, as well as a stunning show of what queer women, and transgender women especially, can do when they are given the opportunity to show their talent in the music industry. 

Some of my favorite tracks include "It’s Okay to Cry," "Immaterial" and "Girls Night Out" by Charli XCX and co-written and co-produced by SOPHIE.

beabadoobee 

beabadoobee is a 20-year-old Filipino-born, British singer-songwriter, who, like Arlo Parks, has already received critical acclaim for her music at a young age.

A musically sound indie-rock, bedroom-pop hybrid, beabadoobee's music has recently gone viral on TikTok, perhaps the most Generation Z way for an artist to break into the mainstream.

One of her most popular songs, "She Plays Bass," is a warmly romantic ode to a female bass player and a friend of hers. In the track, the artist, who is bisexual, laments how she wishes she and her bass player "could just date" and that she wishes she was "more like (her)" — a sentiment heard around the world for plenty of young gay women who don’t know whether they want to be with or be like, the women they love and admire.

You should check out "She Plays Bass." I also highly recommend her track "If You Want To."

Other honorable mentions include WILLOW (bisexual, alternative rhythm and blues (R&B), "Wait a Minute!"), Clairo (bisexual, bedroom pop, "Sofia"), Kehlani (queer, pop R&B, "Honey"), Teagan and Sara (lesbians, pop, "Closer") and Zolita (lesbian, electropop, "Holy")

The importance of supporting artists who make music for women who love women — and especially so when they are transgender and/or women of color — is indescribable. Success in the music industry has, for a long time, been more difficult for those of marginalized identities and even those who defend them.

Strides are being made to allow for LGBTQ+ women to enter the mainstream as successful artists, but throwing your support behind both up-and-coming artists and established members of the industry is still the best way to ensure their continued success.


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