Giving the Gays Everything They Want: The Essential Gay Anthems of 2020 So Far…

In the iconic words of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Erika Jayne “I’m gonna give the gays everything they want” and that’s exactly what the stars of this feature have been doing. In these quite frankly, miserable times few things have the instant healing power and excitement of new music. When we find that in 2020 many of our queer spaces are struggling due to quarantine measures, our beloved arts and theatre community is being devoid of audiences, and large queer publications are struggling – but thankfully music is still being released and celebrated by our community as a means to bring us together. Online communities of queer people have found solace in the excitement, discussion and celebrations of these empowering tracks which are keeping us united in difficult times.

Mel C – Who I Am

The former Spice Girl has thrust us on to the dancefloor (or our living room floors) for this upbeat electronic anthem that pairs her passionate, empowered vocals with a story of self-acceptance and pride. This and the joyous High Heels have reflected something of a new direction for Ms C who is steering away from the pop-rock trajectory she normally follows with her solo releases and dips into the shimmering world of electro dancepop.

Efendi – Cleopatra

It breaks us that we’ll never see this presented on the Eurovision stage in Rotterdam this year, as Efendi’s Azerbaijani entry Cleopatra would have undeniably qualified. This ethno-banger tells a story of the sexually-fluid Cleopatra and her empowering story through lines like “Cleopatra was a queen like me / Just like me, yeah, just like me / Straight or gay or in between.” There is no doubt that this would have gone off in a big way in the Ahoy arena.

Keiino – Black Leather

Eurovision 2019 public vote champs Keiino are continuing their hit streak with Black Leather – a big sexually-charged queer anthem that pays tribute to the Berlin club scene. The band noted: “it portrays a future where gender and gender expression is no longer a barrier to fulfil your hearts’ desires.” Now if that doesn’t scream big gay bop then who knows what does.

Debbie Gibson – Girls Night Out

The iconic eighties pop chanteuse Debbie Gibson returned to the music world with her highest profile single release in Summer 2019 with her track Girls Night Out – she’s subsequently made the most of the release in a number of remixes of the track. The Tracy Young remix of the track went live in January 2020 and peaked at #4 in the Billboard Dance Chart and it’s a big stonking party anthem – a celebration for Ms Gibson’s queer fanbase.

Jake Shears – Meltdown

After a high camp turn on The Masked Singer UK as a flamboyant unicorn (is there any other kind?), Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears dropped new solo material in the form of poppers o’clock disco single Meltdown. It marked a return to the Scissor Sisters discosleaze sound that Shears was known for, after a New Orleansian jazz detour of his debut solo album.

Louise Redknapp – Straight to My Heart

Louise Redknapp’s Heavy Love was a striking return for the much loved British pop star who’d been absent from the studio since her 2000 album Elbow Beach. The singer returned with glorious singles Lead Me On and Stretch – but also some cracking album tracks like Straight to My Heart produced by LDN Noise. Louise continues to have a passionate LGBT fanbase and the personal and autobiographical qualities that she packs into the album are something that seems to resonate with us.

Lindsay Lohan – Back to Me

Growing up in the nineties and noughties, Lindsay has been a constant in our lives on the screen and on our stereos – her hardships, love for partying and iconic turns in the likes of Mean Girls have cemented her place in the lexicon of many gay men. Following her pop-rock albums from the early 2000s, Lindsay returns to her strong fanbase with Back to Me – a slinky club anthem with themes of self-acceptance.

Bright Light Bright Light – This Was My House

A track that truly embodies the theme of this article is Bright Light Bright Light’s This Was My House. Making reference to the decline of LGBT safe spaces and the lack of community hotspots – something made a further challenge through the pandemic. The track is a reminder of the impact and positivity that a dance anthem can pack. It also features straight-up icons Nikki and Donna for extra rainbow points.

Orville Peck – Summetime

Queer, masked country crooner Orville Peck continues to celebrate those struggling to find a place in mainstream society (exploring these themes magnificently in his debut album Pony) with Summertime. The track tackles themes of loneliness as Orville notes: “The song is very much about missing somebody, even though they might be right there next to you, or missing somewhere that may be just out of arm’s reach.” Relatable to us all right now.

Erika Vikman – Cicciolina

Eurovision fans will ultimately always hold this as a lost classic, failing to grab the top spot in Finish UMK Selection programme. But Erika Vikman still managed to build a global fanbase with the track that celebrates the sexual freedom, courage and selflessness that Vikman sees in Italian singer, adult entertainer, and politician Ilona “Cicciolina” Staller – all done in the genre of Scandinavian schlager.

Carly Rae Jepsen – Let’s Be Friends

The sugary pop sounds of Carly Rae Jepsen and her seminal album third album Emotion cemented her into the hearts of gay audiences – something further engrained in her less immediate, yet still wonderful fourth album Dedicated. This standalone little number is an upbeat one that celebrates excising negative influences from your life.

Dua Lipa – Physical

One of the most high profile pop releases this year taking a courageous ‘all bangers, no ballads’ approach that more artists should be brave enough to take is Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia. Among many of the highlights is Physical a dance-pop song with influences of 1980s disco and techno music. Tracks like this have seen Dua asserted as the darling of young LGBT audiences.

Agnes – Goodlife

Agnes collaborates with Cathy Dennis on her pop comeback Goodlife with the Swedish singer noting:  “It’s about those brief moments of pure happiness. It’s more on a spiritual level and the feeling of having someone on your side and you truly being there for someone.” Being unable to access your community, friends, and loved ones are real issues that the sentiments of this song undoubtedly echo, whilst providing a dancefloor distraction.

RuPaul – Ruby Is Red Hot (Kummerspeck Radio Mix)

Mama Ru, Queen of Fracking dropped her new EP You’re a Winner, Baby back in January and whilst it was lacking a Call Me Mother style beast, it did provide us with some throwaway jams. One that seemed to elevate above the rest was Rub Is Red Hot – Ru’s track from her short-lived Netflix series – remixed by frequent collaborator Kummerspeck.

Pussycat Dolls – React

When the Pussycat Dolls dropped the video for React thousands of queens across the globe immediately started emptying the water from their baths and writhing around the floor in it – and can you bloody well blame them? The track is a scintillating banger that asserted the Dolls back in the pop scene – the sexy electronic dance anthem was one of the girl’s finest moments.

Kristine W – Barracuda

The Queen of the US Billboard dance charts returned with her first new collection (Episode One: Love and Lies) in some time. Kristine W’s dance cover of Heart’s 1977 power-rocker Barracuda was a standout from the set.

Daphne Guinness – Hallucinations

Cultural icon Daphne Guinness continues to release her unique blend of theatrical, avant garde pop – something beautifully showcased in recent track Hallucinations. Produced by Bowie and T. Rex magic maker Tony Visconti, Daphne’s solid connection with the queer communities are furthered in her collaborations with Alexander McQueen and David La Chappelle.

Greyson Chance – Dancing Next To Me

Greyson Chance follows previous single, country tinged pop track Boots, with all out electropop banger Dancing Next To Me. Pairing his gorgeous falsetto with upbeat electronic pop production creates a wonderful blend and continues to promise great things for Chance’s next studio album. The track is accompanied with a neon lit romantic video directed by Edgar Daniel. It’s also fantastic to see Chance putting a LGBTQ+ romance at the heart of his video.

Alanis Morissette – Smiling (F9 Remix)

Alanis Morissette teamed-up with one half of the Freemasons for this F9 Remix of Smiling. This enigmatic, glistening update on the track from the singer’s upcoming LP Such Pretty Forks in the Road strengthens Alanis’ ties with the queer community.

Sam Sparro – Everything

Sam Sparro returned with new single Everything and album Boombox Eternal – and let’s be honest, it was absolutely everything. Soaked in gleeful late eighties and early nineties nostalgia, the track is a glorious return from the much-missed singer with its Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis inspired production and complete adoration for classic pop history.

Hans – Oxygen

The world’s favourite “German” cabaret star shared his Eurovision-ready dance anthem – a love letter to the accordion, titled Oxygen. The Fringe circuit regular and America’s Got Talent favourite worked with Kylie and Olivia Newton-John collaborator Chong Lim and executive producer Ross Fraser (Aussie Eurovision royalty Guy Sebastian and Dami Im) to produce a euphoric piece of eurodisco.

Alex Newell – Boy, You Can Keep It

Alex Newell established a huge LGBT fanbase from his time in Glee and has continued to keep us fed with his most recent single Boy, You Can Keep It. This dance-anthem sees Alex telling his suitors what he’s not interested in – mainly material goods in a relationship. At a time like this the song resonates further, with human connection being one of the main things craved by many of us.

The Sounds – Things We Do For Love

The Swedish electronic rock band returned with with a new single and an upcoming album Things We Do For Love. The band have an established gay following and singer Maja Ivarsson has spoken about previous same-sex relationships before, whilst a quick google image search for Jesper Anderberg will quickly showcase why the band attracts gay fans. Things We Do For Love is slinky electronic dance rock packed with synths and icy vocals.

Lady Gaga – Stupid Love

One million gay hearts were crushed when Lady Gaga announced that her upcoming LP Chromatica was being delayed from its original April 10th release date, but fortunately we still have Stupid Love to enjoy. The track was a kaleidoscope of colour, ambition and joy – perfectly ripe for the times.

Rufus Wainwright – Damsel in Distress

Not all queer anthems need to take us to the dancefloor and Rufus Wainwright’s intelligent blend of singer-songwriter pop pays tributes to Joni Mitchell, evoking connotations of the 1960s and 1970s music scene in Laurel Canyon.

Dixie Chicks – Gaslighter

The thorn in the side of the right wing country community, The Dixie Chicks made a triumphant return with Gaslighter an empowering and fiery anthem that marked a defiant welcome back to country’s most unapologetic vocal trio. Standing for all that’s wrong with the country music scene’s right-wing attitudes, the scathing Gaslighter is a track that gives a voice to the underrepresented.

Tom Aspaul – W.M.

Diving straight into the world of shimmering disco with his single W.M. singer Tom Aspaul continues to bring us closer to his anticipated Black Country Disco album. The track brings us a very British slice of dance music with references to the “Midland Metro” and “going out tonight in the W.M.”

Little Mix – Break Up Song

The British girlband continue to prove themselves as proud LGBT advocates and this 80s inspired synth pop anthem about getting over the end of a relationship is undoubtedly one to tap into experiences faced by their fans. You can celebrate the group’s best LGBT friendly moments in this lovely Attitude article.

Ricky Retro & “Joe Exotic” – Here Kitty Kitty

Whilst the wonder is still infatuated with cult Tiger King figure Joe Exotic, DJ Fisher’s very ‘Merican persona Ricky Retro has launched a remix of Exotic’s track Here Kitty Kity. Openly gay Exotic feels like a character lifted straight from a John Waters’ film with this outsider becoming an instant viral sensation. Subsequent reports have suggested that Exotic’s music is not actually his own music with Danny Clinton and Vince Johnson singing most of it according to producer Rick Kirkham.

Maluma – Qué Chimba

The Latin heartthrob won legions of gay fans in his collaborations with Madonna and Ricky Martin (and some steamy photoshoots), and his track Qué Chimba has become an upbeat, energetic quarantine anthem. A somewhat tone-deaf discussion of his sexuality did shake Maluma’s relationship with the LGBT community unfortunately.

What queer bops are getting you through quarantine? Share them in our comments section.

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