You know all about Sam Smith and Adam Lambert. But what about some of the other LGBT artists who are blowing up the music scene?
Below, we’re calling out phenomenal queer acts who should be added to your playlist. Now.
Androgynous 20-year old Shamir Bailey is making waves in the music industry with his countertenor range. His debut album, Ratchet, dropped in May to rave reviews.
Inspired by Janis Joplin and Lana Del Rey, Shamir embraces his androgynous voice: “It’s not feminine, it’s not masculine,” he told Radio.com. “It’s a happy medium. I feel like if the world was more like that, our problems would be gone.”
Who Is Fancy
With just two singles to his name—”Goodbye,” which hit Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40, and “Boys Like You,” featuring Ariana Grande and Meghan Trainor—he’s already making a big impression in the industry.
We expect you’ve already been listening to this rising star’s music. But if not, check out his performance of “Boys Like You,” with Meghan Trainor at the New Now Next Honors, below.
San Francisco duo Krylon Superstar and DavO Richardson are pretty freaking fabulous—and explosive live. Double Duchess first caught our attention last year with the music video for ” Good Girl Freak Out,” which featured Kelly Osbourne giving us Jem and the Holograms life.
Now we’re addicted to their cover of Grace Jones’s “Bullshit,” which Paper described as “Spun a tad darker and infused with ample amounts of ballroom-inspired vogue bass and a scintillating bubble synth line.”
Released last fall, this Canadian singer’s debut album, We Loved Her Dearly, is a masterful electropop opus interwoven with political themes.
Openly bisexual Lowell, uses her music to candidly talk about her sexuality and working as a stripper when she was younger.
Laura Jane Grace, Against Me!’s lead singer, came out as a trans woman in 2012, and the band’s sixth studio album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, dealt with that experience.
The band has long been respected in the punk scene, but Grace crossed over into more mainstream circles when she collaborated with Miley Cyrus on a cover of Against Me!’s “True Trans Soul Rebel,” to help promote awareness of Miley’s Happy Hippie Foundation.
A Philly-based singer-songwriter and piano player, Joshua Thomas says he was inspired by artists like Joni Mitchell and Tori Amos—and it’s not hard to hear that soulful sensitivity in his music.
Thomas told G Philly his latest EP, The Harboring, “isn’t a ’gay’ album… but as any person who has had the experience of coming out knows, all the doors open after that. I was able to write freely for the first time with this material, and I wasn’t afraid to share that honesty with the public.”
Years & Years
Lead by out front man/keyboardist Olly Alexander, this London electronica trio is blowing up in a big way—and will get even bigger when their debut album, Communion, launches July 10.
Alexander told Complex that their newest single, “Shine,” is about “the overwhelming and unstable feeling of falling in love… we wanted to use light to represent that feeling.”
The out-of-control music video, above, takes a page from supernatural flicks like E.T., Poltergeist and Close Encounters.”
But she’s a talented rapper with a lot to say—and a damn impressive resume: Her video for “Battle Cry” featuring Sia, was nominated for a VMA last year.
Right now, we’ve got “Candlxs” on repeat. The song was inspired by her relationship with model Ireland Baldwin. (That’s a watercolor painting of the two of them in the YouTube clip above.)
“It feels incredibly personal, but im happy to finally share the passion ive had but couldnt express,” she posted on Tumblr.
Seattle musician Michael Hadreas received attention in 2012 when his YouTube video was flagged for featuring two men hugging in their underwear. Since then, as Perfume Genius, he’s created bold and brilliant music, especially on his 2014 album Too Bright, which made that made Pitchfork’s Best Album List.
In June, Hadreas played his largest show to date at the Royal Festival Hall in London.
Hurray for the Riff Raff
This bluesy folk collective from New Orleans released their fifth album, Small Town Heroes, last year to positive critical and commercial acclaim. Fronted by queer singer-songwriter and banjo player Alynda Lee Segarra, Hurray for the Riff Raff also includes Yosi, a transgender fiddler, and was named to the Out 100 in 2014.
“We’re breaking the barrier for queer people in folk and country music,” drummer David Jamison told Out, “and working toward a time when we don’t have to think of queer people as activists — when ideas of queerness are a given.”
A solo project by British singer Adam Bainbridge, Kindness hit the scene in 2009 with the debut single, “Swingin’ Party.” He followed it up with other tracks, including “This is Not About Us.”
Bainbridge, who doesn’t discuss his sexuality much publicly, told Clash, that his song with Robyn, “Who Do You Love,” is about “people and connection, and how you can identify who you are by those you love. Those people say a hell of a lot about you.”
Bye-bye Katy Perry—there’s a new diva planting a bi-curious anthem in our ears: Sizzy Rocket wrote “Bestie” after a booze-filled romp.
“It’s based on a real experience,” the out singer told us back in June. “I had a crazy adrenaline and alcohol-fueled night out with my best friend in a hotel being glamorous ordering champagne to the room. We ended up in bed together in a whirlwind, and the next day I wrote a song about it.”
This Rocket is taking off: Sizzy’s got a new track coming out this month, is producing her own zine, and isa already lining up live shows.
What queer musicians are on your playlist? Tell us in the comments.