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Spotlight: 10 rising queer singers

Dorian Electra

Dorian Electra identifies as queer and genderfluid and uses they/them pronouns.

As an artist, Dorian Electra embodies camp, glamour and drag. As a whole, their music is electronic pop, but it’s honestly so hard to describe because of how uniquely sampled it is. Dorian Electra’s latest song “Flamboyant” is a poppy electronic tune, sprinkled with synth, bass and Mozart. With their trademark penciled mustache, Dorian Electra embodies the fluidity of both gender expression and musical genre. The song that is perhaps most representative of their style is “Career Boy,” one of the precious few songs that can be described as a sexy, campy and satirical parody of white-collar office culture.

Lyric Sample – “Career Boy”

I’m addicted to the work, I

I love the way it hurts, I

Ugh, the suits and pencil skirts

I get what I need ’cause I’m greedy for it

Suggested music video viewing: “Career Boy”

Dorian Electra, photographed by Daniel X O’Neil


Zolita identifies as a lesbian woman and uses she/her pronouns.

Zolita uses lo-fi, hollow beats with a bold bass and a soulful, passionate voice to spin epic ballads of love, loss and adventure. Her most well-known song, “Holy,” features the poetic struggle of two girls in love in a secluded, patriarchal boarding school cult. Another song, “Fight Like A Girl,” is a feisty anthem of intersectional feminism and a sensual ode to femininity all at once. If anyone can produce a track that’s both heartbreakingly tragic and an undeniable headbanger, it’s Zolita.

Lyric Sample – “Holy”

I can fight but the devil wins

And I will fall like I sin new sins

Forgive me father I am weak

And it’s not forgiveness that I seek

Suggested music video viewing: “Holy”

Zolita, photographed by Justin Higuchi

Beatrice Eli

Beatrice Eli identifies as a lesbian woman and uses she/her pronouns.

With her brassy, vaguely accented voice, Beatrice Eli manages to defy my personal rule that all good music has to somewhat rhyme. Her lyrics resemble more prose than poetry, yet the precisely mixed electronic beats make it sound like magic. Her song “Girls” is a proud, synthy ode to the adolescent queer crush, and even her emotional ballads like “Trust Issues” manage to leave listeners introspective and thoughtful, not just sad.  

Lyric Sample – “Girls”

Thinking of my teacher

Yeah, my 6th grade teacher

With the long, dark hair

It always works getting me aroused

Suggested music video viewing: “Girls”

Beatrice Eli, photographed by Hanna Sörensson

Janelle Monae

Janelle Monae identifies as a pansexual woman and uses she/her pronouns.

To simply compare her to Prince would be an understatement. Janelle Monae translates traditional rock beats into electric mixes of synths, pipe organs, clicks, tongue pops, whispers and various 80’s style samples—Purple Rain who? Her hour-long music video film “Dirty Computer” rivals Beyonce’s “Lemonade” with its sci-fi, queer, polyamorous love story against all odds. And when she’s not rocking out, she’s rapping; powerful, punchy tracks like “Django Jane” and “Americans” are lyrically clever, critical and make you want to dance and scream and fight.

Lyric Sample – “Americans”

I like my woman in the kitchen

I teach my children superstitions

I keep my two guns on my blue nightstand

A pretty young thang, she can wash my clothes

But she’ll never ever wear my pants

Suggested music video viewing: “Make Me Feel”

Janelle Monae, photographed by Eli Brownell

Dodie Clark

Dodie Clark identifies as a bisexual woman and uses she/her pronouns.

Do you want to cry about an ex-girlfriend that doesn’t really exist while listening to whispered, nostalgic ramblings on love sung over a plucky ukulele? Let me introduce you to Dodie Clark. With a trembling voice on the edge of tears, Dodie Clark croons of love and shame in “She,” which can be described as both hauntingly sad, and a perfect little piece of stock music. “6/10” sings of ugliness and monotony, and “Human” tells of our desire to truly know another person, and to plumb the depths of their soul. Dodie Clark will make your heart hurt, and you’ll love the pain.

Lyric Sample – “She”

Am I allowed to look at her like that?

Could it be wrong

When she’s just so nice to look at?

And she smells like lemongrass and sleep

She tastes like apple juice and peach

Oh you would find her in a Polaroid picture

And she means everything to me

Suggested music video viewing: “Human”

Dodie Clark, photographed by DancingInSpace

Angel Haze

Angel Haze identifies as pansexual and agender and uses they/them pronouns.

Angel Haze’s music is raw, painful, and extremely powerful. Their cover of Eminem’s “Cleanin Out My Closet” rages against the memories of childhood sexual and religious abuse, and their cover of Macklemore’s “Same Love” details their journey overcoming homophobia. Angel Haze’s music is loud, and thick with musical layers. As an artist, Angel Haze is driven and determined, having once released a song every day for a month for a project called 30 Gold. Angel Haze’s music is provocative, ugly and reflective, yet always incredibly triumphant.

Lyric Sample – “Battle Cry” ft. Sia

I woke up one Sunday morning, stopped believing in Jesus

Stopped believing in churches, I stopped believing in preachers

I realized I was a teacher, not just one of the heathens

I’m born to destroy the fallacies, start creating believers

Suggested music video viewing: “Battle Cry” (trigger warning for rape mentions)

Angel Haze, photographed by Dominick Stuhler

Laura Jane Grace

Laura Jane Grace identifies as a woman attracted to women and uses she/her pronouns.

One of the foremost proprietors of garageband anarchist rock, Laura Jane Grace never fails to impress with her beautiful screams of death to the government, and half-serious encouragements to chuck a rock through the window of my nearest Starbucks. Frontwoman of the rock bands Against Me! and Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers, Laura Jane Grace makes her listeners want to proudly embrace their manic depression and kill Jeff Bezos while doing it. Her music also spans the trials and tribulations of her personal life, as seen in her album, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues.”

Lyric Sample – “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” with Against Me!

I was a teenage anarchist

Looking for revolution

I had the style, I had the ambition

Read all the authors, I knew the right slogans

Suggested music video viewing: “True Trans Soul Rebel” ft. Miley Cyrus

Laura Jane Grace, photographed by Jordan Uhl

Brooke Candy

Brooke Candy identifies as a pansexual woman and uses she/her pronouns.

Referring to her fanbase as the “fagmob,” Brooke Candy is a rapper, performance artist and singer whose repertoire spans punky rap tracks like the aggressive anarchist anthem “WAR” to spunky pop tunes with a retro flair like “Nasty,” and even wordless arthouse pieces like “A Study In Duality.” For Brooke Candy, her queer identity and her rebellion are entwined, rejecting definition and normativity with songs like “My Sex” (featuring Pussy Riot) and “Living Out Loud” ft. Sia. 

Lyric Sample – “WAR”

We are a country built on greed

History books nobody should read

Land of the fake where the rich is the free

Do as they say and they’ll let you breathe

Suggested music video viewing: “Paper or Plastic”

Brooke Candy, photographed by Ladygaga260102

Alyson Stoner

Alyson Stoner identifies as a woman attracted to all people regardless of gender. She prefers not to label her sexuality and uses she/her pronouns.

You might know ex-Disney star Alyson Stoner from the Camp Rock movies, but her music paints a truer picture of her than we could ever see on television. Her soulful, indie guitar songs cover everything from the sadness of her childhood stardom in “Stripped Bare” to flighty romance in “FOOLS.” The music video for “Stripped Bare” features her shaving her head, asserting her independent adult identity. Her newest music is simple, with guitar backing up her high, clear voice, and it does nothing but highlight the quiet emotion behind every word she sings.

Lyric Sample – “Stripped Bare”

It’s clear to me now that I was your survival

All your excuses are dead on arrival

You say it’s the truth but my blood is my Bible

And I’m finally cuttin’ the strings, yeah

Suggested music video viewing: “Stripped Bare”

Alyson Stoner, photographed by Cosmopolitan UK

Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile identifies as a lesbian woman and uses she/her pronouns.

Witnessing Brandi Carlile win a well deserved Grammy for Best Americana Album this year for “By The Way, I Forgive You” was a truly religious experience. A fitting end to this list, Brandi Carlile’s rousing country ballads are joyous, triumphant and simply glorious. Her Grammy-winning song, “The Joke,” is a rebuff of her past detractors and bullies. Brandi Carlile infectious, not only in her adorable dimpled smile but also in her dangerously contagious confidence.

Lyric Sample – “The Joke”

Let ’em laugh while they can

Let ’em spin, let ’em scatter in the wind

I have been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends

And the joke’s on them

Suggested music video viewing: “The Joke”

Brandi Carlile, photographed by Guy McCullough