LGBTQIA+ artists across various genres are responsible for some of our favorite projects these days, whether it’s through songwriting and producing or performing themselves.
We love to listen to music that comes from a diverse group of people standing up for what they believe in, which makes us connect to it. That means the boys’ club that has been long-standing in the punk and alternative scene is no longer the status quo.
Many of our favorite artists are expanding the representation in the alt scene, where they’re penning love songs about queer romance, singing about mental health and identity struggles or just raising a big middle finger to bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and overall hatred in our society. It’s not just about making a song that’s catchy anymore (though these artists definitely make jams). The younger generation cares about music that stands for something.
We decided to put the spotlight on 10 LGBTQIA+ alt-pop artists who are redefining what pop music is, who can make it and the true potential the genre has when it comes to amplifying marginalized voices.
Lauren Sanderson got her musical start on YouTube, and her sound blends pop, R&B and hip-hop that radiates swag and coolness. She makes songs such as “But I Like It” and “Upset” about the ups and downs of her relationships with women and mental health struggles. And in 2020, she released her debut album, Midwest Kids Can Make It Big. Besides creating music that’s vulnerable and honest, Sanderson is an outspoken advocate for LGBTQIA+ youth. In 2015, she gave a TEDx Talk about children coming out to their parents that’s a total gut punch and a must-watch.
L.A.-based artist WRENN has risen in popularity this past year in a savage way—exposing her cheating ex on TikTok in a hit song. Her most recent track “Hailey” features audio of her ex-girlfriend cheating on her, and she turned the shitty experience into a hyper-relatable track. She’s gone on to make even more TikToks about people assuming the song is about a guy and creates hilarious content for young people navigating the tumultuous dating world.
London-based artist Seeva released his debut album, We Need To Talk, in 2020, which feels like a peek into his diary. Seeva, who’s South Asian and queer, writes about his experiences and views on love, loss, heartbreak, fetishization and more in atmospheric pop and electronic tracks. Many of the songs will make you want to dance and cry, sometimes even at the same time, in this outpouring of emotion and artistry.
Lynks, formerly known as Lynks Afrikka, is the alter ego of Elliot Brett, who’s leading the queer revolution of pop music. This artist makes queer industrial pop that’s witty, funny and thought-provoking. They also tie in elements of performance art and drag. They’ve released two EPs, Smash Hits, Vol. 1 and 2, in the past year, which are filled with songs that combat capitalism, toxic masculinity and the trials and tribulations of life.
Nonbinary and queer artist Claud Mintz, known as Claud, makes dreamy bedroom-pop songs. The tracks spell out nearly every weird, awkward, beautiful and heartbreaking step of young relationships. They were the first artist to sign to Phoebe Bridgers’ label Saddest Factory and just released their debut album, Super Monster. Listen to tracks such as “Wish You Were Gay,” “Soft Spot” or “In Or In-Between,” which are about the unknowns and uncertainties of crushes and new romances.
While this list is about alt-pop, the only true way to describe ZAND, in their own words, is “ugly pop.” ZAND is gritty and doesn’t care about making you comfortable, particularly in their songs about feminism, rape culture, transphobia, sex work and mental illness. Listen to songs such as “Slut Money,” which discusses sex workers’ rights. Or put on “Bald Bitch” and “Freak,” which unabashedly describe a trans experience, including dating and relationships, self-image and going against the status quo of societal expectations.
Alabama rapper CHIKA is one to watch in hip-hop. She got her start when she went viral for dissing Kanye West in a freestyle about him supporting Donald Trump over the beat of his own song, “Jesus Walks.” In 2020, she released her debut album, INDUSTRY GAMES, and an EP, ONCE UPON A TIME, this March. She was also nominated for Best New Artist at this year’s Grammys. Additionally, her music implements elements of pop, R&B, indie and more, which shows her range. While she’s outspoken against racism, sexism and bigotry, she’s also queer. It’s a perspective that’s in her songs and music videos such as “Can’t Explain It.”
Jakk Fynn is a transmasculine Latinx singer who navigates issues surrounding masculinity, sexuality and more through his music. The L.A. artist, who grew up in a Christian household, explores rejection, self-love and identity in powerful pop tracks. His 2020 EP, Cancelled, features five tracks meant for moments where you just need to sing and dance the heartbreak away.
Star Amerasu, aka Ah-Mer-Ah-Su, is making her voice heard in a world deadset on erasing her existence. Her debut album, Star, is an honest telling of a trans woman of color who’s fought through trauma and is able to find self-acceptance and forgiveness. She uses her sultry, sharp voice that sounds influenced by Nina Simone and sings over electro indie-pop beats to make crystal-clear songs with heart-wrenching stories.
Trans artist Ryan Cassata has been busting his ass to make it in music. He started his career at 13. Since then, he’s released a handful of albums documenting his life experiences and trying to inspire people like him. His music takes on elements of pop punk, hip-hop, electro-pop and indie to make a sound that’s quintessentially authentic. He was the first openly trans performer at Warped Tour, which is a feat in itself. His latest album, 2020’s Rebels & Ghosts, features honest tracks about transitioning, masculinity and acceptance, such as the smash hit “Daughter.”