Pump Up Your Pride: The 10 Best Songs for Your Playlist
When you’re celebrating Pride, it helps to have the perfect playlist to set the right tone. The list below lays out Pride month songs from LGBTQ music artists and allies that are sure to energize your party and have everyone singing along.
Gaga’s 2011 Pride anthem to self-love debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, and it’s easy to understand the enthusiasm. Over a driving dance beat, Gaga sings about “loving who you are… No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgender life,” and how “God makes no mistakes.” The life-affirming lyrics helped establish Gaga as a vocal advocate for LGBTQ issues, a role she continues to fulfill.
Lil Nas X’s 2021 follow-up to his breakthrough country rap single, “Old Town Road,” this song revels in LGBTQ themes and imagery laid over an infectious hip-hop beat. With suggestive lyrics like, “I’m not fazed, only here to sin/If Eve ain’t in your garden you know that you can,” Lil Nas X here is not shy about what he wants, and it’s that kind of forthright honesty that many celebrating Pride can relate to. Lil Nas X’s outright celebration of his sexuality helps provide a template for future stars, furthering the cause of greater acceptance and tolerance.
Norwegian singer-songwriter Girl in Red’s indie-pop celebration of new love broke the Top 20 on the US rock charts back in 2019, a new commercial height for the burgeoning talent. With airy vocals over jangling guitars and melodic bass, the song seems almost haunting in its contemplation of newfound bliss. Girl in Red has become an icon of the LGBTQ music scene, though for the one-time music student, the songs have always been ways to explore identity and revel in romance.
The 2023 Grammy Award winner for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, this raucous romp finds Smith in top form, partnering with German-born singer Petras on lurid lyrics about a man stepping out on his wife “to the body shop, doing something unholy.” Petras brings her own dash of verve and confidence., but Smith takes the lead, with his impressive voice making its mark even through a full production of synthpop sounds. This one seems destined for Pride playlists for years to come.
This high-energy banger from New York’s preeminent glam-disco band lays electro beats and laser effects underneath falsetto vocals wailing about transgender sex workers. The 2005 release hit number one on Billboard’s dance music charts and number five on the UK charts, further establishing the group as a premiere LGBTQ pop music force in the new millennium.
This classic feminist and lesbian anthem put original riot grrrls and punk rockers Bikini Kill on the map back in the ’90s. Tobi Vail’s drums and Kathi Wilcox’s bass provide the driving beat, while Billy Karren’s guitar licks bring fury and power. But it’s Kathleen Hanna’s wail that sets the song apart, sneering lines like “When she walks, the revolution’s coming in her hips” with a verve that inspired a whole movement.
In 2013, Irish singer-songwriter Hozier was struggling to establish himself in the coffee houses and clubs of Dublin when he wrote and recorded this instant soul classic in his parents’ attic. With lyrics that liken romantic love to religion and a powerful vocal performance (producer Rob Kirwan kept Hozier’s original attic-recorded performance on the official release), the song reached #2 on the US charts. The accompanying black-and-white video depicting two male lovers and a homophobic attack underscored the artist’s support for the LGBTQ community.
In his 2007 hit, Mika explores selfhood and identification, imagining himself as the iconic film star and real-life princess before landing on a legendary singer more in line with his own identity as gay man: “I tried to be like Grace Kelly,” he sings, “But all her looks were too sad, so I tried a little Freddie, I’ve gone identity mad.” While originally written as a reaction to record label suggestions about his sound, for a musician, sound is identity. Today the song comes off as a true anthem, wrapped in a bouncy pop confection that’ll have your partygoers humming along.
Transgender Scottish producer SOPHIE’s second single off her only album, Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides (she died in a tragic accident in 2021), “Ponyboy” sees the EDM star using an almost industrial-style beat for a forceful, pounding effect. Layered over that, high-pitched vocals mix with a bass-toned chorus, with suggestive lyrics playfully offering to play on all fours like a farm animal. Transgressive and affecting, this one sticks in your brain.
The British synthpop trio’s debut single tells the story of a gay teenage boy leaving home for London because the “love that you need will never be found at home.” Mirroring lead singer Jimmy Somerville’s own experience leaving his Scottish hometown, the song features a catchy midtempo rhythm, entrancing keyboard melodies, and Sommerville’s hypnotic falsetto urging the title character to “run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away.” As far as songs about coming out, it’s one of our favorites.
More to Experience
Of course, just ten gay pride songs won’t get you through the month all by themselves. So be sure to check out our list of the best LGBTQ albums to celebrate Pride, the best playlists for Pride month, LGBTQ artists from a range of different genres, and the essential LGBTQ songs and anthems you’ll love. That should get you started, at least, but there’s always more gold to be found.
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