Pride week is over in Copenhagen. Do you have the pride blues? We do, that’s why the team is giving you a list of our favorite queer/queer-themed songs. The rules were we could only pick one, which quickly turned into a “but what about this?!?!” kind of drama. The emotional turmoil was settled only after compromising that we will also add a Spotify playlist with all the other songs we want to include. Without further ado, glitter up and dive in.
Jana - "It’s Okay to Cry" by SOPHIE
SOPHIE is hands down one of the most hard-hitting and cutting-edge music producers these days. What started out as a secretive music project has now blossomed into a gorgeous reveal. Up until October 2017 nobody really knew what she looked like or sounded like. Everybody was simply enchanted by the otherworldly pop beats that sounded like Hello Kitty and heavy machinery mashed together and dipped in sugar, or if we’re talking in more technical terms, raw waveforms that resembled bubble, metal, latex, and all sorts of other synthesized sounds. So, when all of a sudden the single It’s Okay to Cry appeared, everybody finally heard and saw SOPHIE in her truest form. For the first time ever the world got to hear her raw, unmodified vocals and got to see her fiery hair and cheekbones for days.
It’s Okay to Cry has already been coined as SOPHIE’s coming out song, but it’s so much more than that. Its multifaceted lyrics touch upon accepting both yourself and others and empowers you to own your true identity and the joy it brings. Plus, that video is so wickedly beautiful that one could watch it for hours on end.
Mihaela - "Modern Girl" by Sleater Kinney
I am going with Sleater Kinney, purely based on cultural significance. It’s kind of ironic that I had no idea about their existence when they were building up their iconic status on the Riot grrrl music scene and while I was, most likely, listening to the Spice Girls in my bedroom. Hey, feminism comes in different forms and shapes! Anyways, it was only through Carrie Brownstein’s acting career much later that I discovered them and the entire subculture, they were part of.
Sleater-Kinney eventually reached way pass the niche audience of Riot Grrrl, being named by several musical critics “one of the essential rock groups of the early 2000s” and “America's best rock band” or “the greatest rock band of the past two decades” in 2015 (links).
I am choosing Modern Girl, because it’s deceptively simple with the perfect lyrics, that will make you regret you are no longer a teenager, so that it could be somewhat appropriate to tattoo them on your body.
Christy - "Queen" by Perfume Genius
My personal pick is "Queen" by Perfume Genius. You've been to Pride, so I'm guessing you're pretty familiar with the term "queen". (In case you're not, I recommend watching an episode or two of RuPaul's Drag Race.) In Perfume Genius' song, queens are not just dazzling and stylish, they are also fearless. The lyrics reclaim a series of insults that are unfortunately familiar to queer people ("Cracked, peeling, riddled with disease") and devoids them of power.
Hadreas himself states that the song is about "gay panic"; the panic he reads on people's faces when they see him and pain him to be a giant queer monster. So, in the true spirit of RuPaul's "water off a duck's back", he refuses to apologise or try to gain acceptance and serves them a big plate of their own fears. With confidence, too. So put your headphones on and sashay away.
Erika - “I Will Survive” the Aretha Franklin version
As the idea of a post about pride anthems was being born, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” burst out from the depths of my subconscious. Being a child of a formerly communist country(side), my first extensive and repeated exposure to queerness happened to be in my preteen years, wrapped in the unfortunate form of the movie Boat Trip. It was back in the days when the internet was still a luxury of the few and Boat Trip was one of the handful of movies on our computer, which meant my brother and I watched it until we knew all the lines by heart. Besides the mind numbingly idiotic script and stereotypical characters (take this very NSFW clip as proof - yes, Hungarian dubbing was part of the experience), Boat Trip thankfully exposed us to instant favorites like I Will Survive and I’m Coming Out.
I would later learn that I Will Survive is not only a catchy disco song, but also a symbol of endurance in the gay community who survived the Stonewall riots and the AIDS epidemic in the span of a few decades. And much too late, I would come across Aretha Franklin’s version of the song, a version that turns future predictions of survival into a definitive “I’m a survivor” by incorporating bits of the Destiny’s Child hit, a version I would urge the world to listen to.
Delia — "Seigfried" by Frank Ocean
Whenever I hear Frank Ocean's voice, my mind immediately goes to Seigfried, his perhaps-break-up song. There are few bits in his album Blond(e) that speak overtly about his queerness, but there is something intensely appealing about finding the clues hidden within the lyrics. Like a brief exercise in a different kind of Oceanography. (Yes, I said it. I’m not sorry.)
Seigfried presents us with an inward journey, the lyrics travel back and forth between a world of inner thought that still feeds off the memory of a "speckled face", and an outer world where being queer makes life significantly more difficult. The lyrics meander to the feverish and solitary vision of a world where "I'd do anything for you, anything for you", but with a caveat — it can only be "(In the dark)".
Miruna - "Tomboy" by Princess Nokia
I’m not sure if this qualifies as a classic Pride anthem but it might be a part of a new Pride anthems wave. I remember Flow Festival (2017), a huge tent, the uproar and anticipation that came before Princess Nokia entered the stage. Once she did, jumping like crazy on the gender-defiant and unapologetic song “Tomboy”, everyone went wild. And so did I.
Princess Nokia is known for creating a safe space for people of colour, women and LGBTQ+ at her gigs and she lived up to that during her concert in Helsinki. She assured her audience a few times during her performance that if anyone is feeling unsafe, they should come in front and tell her or security about it. Now, take that and put it next to a great energetic tune (or let’s just call it “banger”) that gets the crowd shouting “little titties and fat belly”.