It’s the most prideful time of the year — so let’s celebrate with some hot tunes!
Taylor Swift got the queer ball rolling this week by releasing her new song You Need To Calm Down, which came complete with an unapologetic LGBTQ-themed music video.
Regardless of your feelings about that song — or Taylor in general (save it for the comments section, you gays) — the new single is already making a difference. For instance, it inspired us to come up with a list of some of the most iconic LGBTQ anthems of all time!
We’re talking some of the best songs from George Michael, Madonna, Elton John — plus maybe even a few tracks you didn’t realize were born from gay issues!
So, celebrate love and pride month by taking a listen (below).
Don’t Stop Me Now
At the height of Queen’s popularity, few fans were aware that frontman Freddie Mercury was openly queer — despite his fierce stage presence and clues he dropped in their music. Don’t Stop Me Now wasn’t a huge hit at the time of its release in 1978, but the song has since become one of the band’s most memorable tracks, and remains an ode to having a good time — whether that’s with supersonic women or supersonic men.
“That’s why they call me Mister Fahrenheit/I’m traveling at the speed of light/I wanna make a supersonic man out of you”
Born This Way
Lady GaGa makes no mistakes, especially when it comes to producing songs about self-love and self-acceptance. Mother Monster was already one of the biggest LGBTQ allies in the world when she released a song that gave the gays something to go wild over: and we’re mostly talking about the GaGa/Madonna feud that Born This Way provoked. (JK… kinda.)
“No matter gay, straight, or bi/Lesbian, transgendered life/I’m on the right track baby/I was born to survive”
The video for this 2012 Tegan and Sara track features friends and lovers of all genders chilling in blanket forts and doing each others’ makeup, giving a refreshing look at the innocent side of queer youth. Tegan Quin said the song was about “a time when we got closer by linking arms and walking down our school hallway, or talked all night on the telephone about every thought or experience we’d ever had. It wasn’t necessarily even about hooking up or admitting your feelings back then… It was the anticipation of something maybe happening that was truly exciting and satisfying.”
“All you think of lately is getting underneath me/All I dream of lately is how to get you underneath me”
You saw this one coming. Madonna had been a gay icon throughout the ’80s, but this track solidified her into a full-on gay deity. Inspired by the Harlem drag ball scene, Madge’s definitive 1990 hit became an anthem of the LGBT community at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Interestingly enough, the track was originally recorded as a B-side, but ended up topping the Billboard Hot 100 — and for good reason!
“If the music’s pumping it will give you new life/You’re a superstar, yes, that’s what you are, you know it”
This underappreciated, quiet piano ballad about growing up gay came during Elton John’s dark period in the early ‘80s. The lyrics were written by out-and-proud British punk rocker Tom Robinson, who already had a hit of his own with Glad to be Gay.
“I would give my life/For a single night beside you.”
Come To My Window
Melissa Ethridge wrote this song while she was on tour, lonely and missing a lover who was slipping away from her. The song ended up on her groundbreaking album, Yes I Am, which inspired her to come out publicly. She said in 2009:
“At the same time the album became a hit, I came out publicly. The gay community lifted me up and supported me. That bridge in the song (below) was taken to an anthem level. It bypassed any meaning I ever put in the song and became part of a mass consciousness. It is still a huge moment when I perform it live.”
“I don’t care what they think/I don’t care what they say/What do they know about this love anyway?”
Troye Sivan turned around mainstream radio with this poetically allegorical pop track about opening up (wink) to a new love interest. The Aussie singer confirmed the song was an ode to bottoming with a since-deleted, not so subtle tweet: #bopsforbottoming.
“Take a trip into my garden/I’ve got so much to show ya/The fountains and the waters/Are begging just to know ya
You’ve likely heard this self-confidence anthem plenty of times before. But did you know Sara Barielles wrote it as a love letter to a friend who was struggling to come out as an adult? Now that you do, listen to the song again and try not to gay cry.
“Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live/Maybe one of these days you can let the light in/Show me how big your brave is”
It’s Raining Men
This iconic song was originally offered to Donna Summer after it was written, but the disco queen passed on recording it because she was a born-again Christian and thought the track was “blasphemous,” according to songwriter Paul Shaffer. Luckily, the Weather Girls were down to make the hedonistic track theirs, and the result was an anthem for all the lonely girls (and boys) who were thirsting for some beefcake. Amen.
“God bless mother nature, she’s a single woman too/She took off to heaven and she did what she had to do”
You Need To Calm Down
For anyone who disagrees with a Taylor Swift song being on our list, we kindly ask you to calm the f*ck down — because girl earned it with this celebratory bop. In what starts out as a clap back to Tay’s own haters turns into a sharply-worded message to homophobes everywhere: stop hating, your signs are ugly, and don’t step on his gown. Some have accused the pop star of exploiting the LGBT community here for her own gain, but given the slew of drag queens and openly gay celebs who appeared in the video, even our queer, cynical souls think this effort is genuine. Even if it’s not, the lyrics are still on point.
“Sunshine on the street at the parade/But you would rather be in the dark ages/Makin’ that sign/Must’ve taken all night”
Eight years before he came out publicly, George Michael released this breezy 1990 single about matters he wasn’t ready to discuss out loud.
“I think there’s something you should know/I think it’s time I told you so/There’s something deep inside of me/There’s someone else I’ve got to be”
I’m Coming Out
As if we could end this list with anyone other than the Supreme! In the late ‘70s, Diana Ross approached legendary songwriter Nile Rodgers to produce new tunes for her. He and Bernard Edwards wrote the 1980’s hit “because of her gay following,” he later told the Mail on Sunday, but lied a little in order to convince her to record the track. He explained:
“A DJ told her was going to ruin her career – people would think she was gay. It was the only time I’ve ever lied to an artist. I said: ‘What are you talking about? That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard in my life!’”
The lie was worth it: Ross recorded the track and it’s one of her biggest hits to this day… not to mention one of the most iconic LGBT anthems of all time!
Did we miss any good Pride songs? Leave your favorites in the comments (below)!
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