The State of Queer Women in Pop Music in 2019

The State of Queer Women in Pop Music in 2019

When lesbian pop star Hayley Kiyoko dubbed last year #20GayTeen, none of us were ready for how queer it’d it’d actually be.

Last year, queer women in music were more visible than ever before, with major releases from Lesbian Jesus herself, Halsey, Cardi B, St. Vincent, King Princess, problematic transgender queen Kim Petras, and the massive (and controversial) Rita Ora/Cardi B/Charli XCX/Bebe Rexha collab “Girls.” Just eight days into 2019, the queer women of pop haven’t wasted a single second; they’re already out here dropping new visuals and teasing us with new music. Yesterday alone, four super queer acts announced new projects coming soon. I’m elated, vibrating, and ready to dance. Here’s the current state of lesbian and queer pop music, and everything queer women have to look forward to this year that isn’t Captain Marvel.

To kick off 2019, Annie Clark (AKA one of Cara Delevingne’s exes AKA St. Vincent), announced the gayest of gay collaborations: In 2019, our queer lady thirst will be quenched with a brand-new Sleater-Kinney album—their first in four years—and it will be produced by St. Vincent herself. Sleater-Kinney frontwoman Carrie Brownstein has dated both her bandmate Corin Tucker and Clark, furthering my belief that the future of queer pop music is collaborations with gay exes. I also portend that the future of pop will be unanimously inspired by Cara Delevingne (see: Rita Ora’s supposed Sapphic single nodded to her fling with the British model). Please look for my dissertation on gay exes in pop music, coming this summer to Twitter dot com.

In addition to Sleater-Kinney and St. Vincent, it looks like lesbian alt-pop will have quite a moment this year, as Tegan and Sara revealed on their website that new music and a memoir was on the horizon. King Princess is set to tour her most recent EP, Talia, and even has some major festival dates set, like Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Firefly.

Actually, it’s worth mentioning that Coachella is getting gayer and gayer (despite being owned by an anti-LGBTQ Republican donor). This year, queer female artists like Janelle Monae, Lizzo, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Christine and the Queens, and transgender DJ SOPHIE will also be performing. Plus, Ariana Grande will be headlining the California festival—she doesn’t identify as LGBTQ, but has been lovingly and aggressively adopted by the community. Grande will be the fourth woman to ever headline Coachella.

Speaking of A-List pop stars, queer Top 40 queens like Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga are already delivering in a major way. In November, the pansexual singer-songwriter released her first single post-Younger Now, a throbbing bassline, disco-meets-country collaboration with Mark Ronson called “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart.” She performed the song in a dazzling dressed-up tracksuit on Saturday Night Live. The recently married musician’s seventh studio album is due out this year, and I’ll be crossing my arms and impatiently tapping my foot awaiting more disco tracksuits lewks. I really need a new phone background—new year, new wallpaper!

Lady Gaga, who once came out as bisexual and maybe-kinda-sorta rescinded it, launched her brand-new Vegas show Enigma on December 28th. The show, which features robotic Transformer-like set pieces, has already stunned fans of the flamboyant performer, and is set to run through November, with four special jazz and piano performances. According to NME, Gaga’s sixth studio album is currently being recorded at NYC’s Electric Lady Studios, and the working title is LG6 (sound familiar, Little Mix fans?). Hopefully, we’ll get our grubby gay hands on that music this year rather than next. Until then, we have awards season to look forward to, and a possible Oscar for the decorated musician’s role and song in A Star is Born.

And JoJo Siwa is set to release music on—I’m totally kidding. Can you imagine?

Like Gaga, bisexual pop stars are dropping music left and right. Today, former Fifth Harmony member Lauren Jauregui announced a second single from her debut solo album (untitled so far). “More Than That,” the follow-up to “Expectations,” is set for release on January 11th. The sultry singer revealed the goddess-like album art for the single, which offers a strong nod to Sandro Botticelli’s iconic painting of The Birth of Venus. Bisexual artist Halsey has already tweeted her support for her “Strangers” collaborator.

Speaking of, a new album is expected from Halsey either this year or next—no date yet, but the pop star said she’s started “collecting” new material. 

The very pregnant and bisexual Kehlani also teased a new song and video. The single, “Nights Like This,” is due out tomorrow (Thursday). It’s been two years since the release of her debut EP, and since then, she’s been featured on everything from Cardi B tracks, to Hayley Kiyoko’s album, a pregnancy, and my tombstone, probably. Can my epitaph please say “(feat. Kehlani)?”

Cardi B, Kehlani’s frequent collaborator and fellow bisexual mother in hip-hop, is reportedly in the studio working on her second studio album. Her debut record Invasion of Privacy swept pop and hip-hop fans off their feet last year. The reigning queen of hip-hop took to Instagram Live to announce the second album, which she hopes to release around the same time that Invasion of Privacy came out, which was in April of last year. Personally, I’m looking forward to more outrageous music videos, Instagram rants, and queer collabs from Cardi B this year. In December, the Bronx-native released her “Money” music video, which intercut shots of a strip club and the MC breastfeeding her baby Kulture. So, I’m definitely hoping for more motherhood meets hip-hop content, which was the most ambitious crossover event in history.

Another hip-hop/pop fluid queen, Lizzo, who told Teen Vogue last year that she refuses to identify as straight, released a new music video for her single “Juice” this week. The ’80s-inspired video is the vivacious performer’s latest release since last year’s singles “Good As Hell,” “Truth Hurts,” and “Boys.” No word on when her next album will drop, but according to Vulture, 2019 is the year. I want to say my body is ready, but how does one actually ready their body for a full album of Lizzo bangers? Unclear.

Of course, there’s R&B star Janelle Monae, who might just be the hardest working pansexual in pop music. As previously mentioned, the Dirty Computer singer will be performing at Coachella in April. She’s also set to headline Glastonbury this summer. After wowing queer fans with her gilded red carpet look at the Golden Globes, Monae released a music video for “Screwed,” another track from Dirty Computer, yesterday, and yes, it’s another video starring Tessa Thompson.

But wait, there’s more! Betty Who, who came out as bi in 2018 and gifted us with multiple Sapphic music videos, is currently on tour with the pansexual-led Panic! at the Disco (the same tour that Hayley Kiyoko opened for in 2018!). Last week, Betty teased a new song on her social media called “I Remember.” 

And finally, queer pop singer-songwriter FLETCHER has also announced a new project in 2019, hopefully coming soon—I adored her 2017 and 2018 releases “You Should Talk” and “I Believe You,” both of which perfectly blended the happy-sad sounds of pop with lyrics about painful memories and longing. Queer women love to yearn—it’s kind of our thing.

Currently, there’s more mainstream music being released by queer female artists than ever before. Just a year ago, while anxiously awaiting Hayley Kiyoko’s debut album Expectations, I felt severely underrepresented in pop music, which is not only my favorite genre, but is unimpeachably one that belongs to the LGBTQ community. Queer fans have created and elevated pop music since its very inception, but it wasn’t until very recently (arguably last year) that our stories were being centered in the art form itself.

In a post-Expectations, post-Dirty Computer world, I’m fucking thrilled that me and other queer women aren’t begging for scraps of music about women loving women, or once-a-decade male gazey bops like Demi Lovato’s “Cool For The Summer” and Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl.” I’m thankful for the sheer volume of Sapphic pop music that’s flooded my Spotify playlists in 2018, and am overwhelmed by 2019’s gay pop forecast. Consider me soaked—sorry, I meant quenched.

Header image via Getty


Jill Gutowitz

Jill Gutowitz is a writer and humorist currently living in LA, originally from The Void.

twitter