15 pop gems by queer artists that you may have missed in 2020

Jon Ali
·5-min read
Queer Artists
Queer Artists

Jon Ali is In The Know’s music contributor. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter for more.

How is it already the end of 2020? We don’t know, but we are more than ready to say goodbye to this rollercoaster of a year. And how do we do that? By looking back at some of the positives that it brought us, of course.

With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping us stuck at home for a majority of the year, music felt more important and prominent than ever. Artists that are part of LGBTQ+ community went especially out of their way to make sure we were constantly supplied with ample amounts of pop escapism.

To celebrate the end of the year, we’re taking a look back at 15 gems from queer artists that you may have missed in 2020. Better late than never, we say!

“Only Time Makes It Human” by King Princess

After releasing her debut Cheap Queen last year, King Princess came roaring back in 2020 with her strut-ready kiss-off “Only Time Makes It Human,” which found her steering into the dance-ready arena in the most pleasing way. We can only hope there’s plenty more to come from her next year.

“Gay Street Fighter” by Keiynan Lonsdale

Love, Simon star-turned-pop star Lonsdale’s unapologetically queer lead single from his debut album, Rainbow Boy, was the right kind of messaging we needed in 2020. A self-love anthem that is both undeniably soulful and endlessly quotable. “Everybody’s just a little bit gay,” indeed!

“La vita nuova” by Christine and the Queens (feat. Caroline Polachek)

France’s Christine and the Queens surprised fans with a whole EP’s worth of new music at the top of the year, and their team-up with 2020 breakout darling Caroline Polachek on the title track “La Vita Nuova” is an immediate standout from the very first play. This is a collaboration done right.

“The Fall” by MERLOT

Some time away clearly does an artist good. Almost a full year had passed since NYC rising star MERLOT had released new music — and then came “The Fall,” which was definitely worth the wait. It’s an instant earworm that encapsulates that moment of pure bliss and complete infatuation for that special someone.

“Boys!” by Bronze Avery

In a perfect world, this would’ve been this year’s song of the summer. As the title suggests, “Boys!” is indeed about boys. L.A.-based Bronze Avery supplied us with one of those lyrical gems that is instantly replayable and relatable — or, as he calls it, an ode to the “euphoric highs and tragic lows of dating.”

“Daydream” by The Aces

Two years after making their mark with their stellar debut album When My Heart Felt Volcanic, the ladies of The Aces finally made their return with “Daydream,” the slick, summertime-ready lead single off their sophomore follow-up. This is a very timely gem all about the difficulties of being away from a loved one… something most of us could relate to in 2020.

“Hard 2 Forget” by VINCINT

VINCINT went full on Dancing Queen in 2020, and we’re so thankful for it. “Hard 2 Forget” is a purely big tune full of summery pulsations, soaring strings and almighty build-ups that fall into euphoric beat drops. The powerhouse singer’s soaring voice just won’t quit. We’re ready for plenty more VINCINT in 2021.

“Don Dada” by Cakes Da Killa x Proper Villains

Brooklyn-based rap superstar Cakes da Killa continued to prove that he’s ready to turn the party up at any given moment. From its unstoppable club-ready beat to its rapid-fire lyrics, “Don Dada” establishes Cakes, yet again, as one of the most skilled rising talents putting down slick bars. The time to get familiar was yesterday.

“Dance Alone” by Tayla Parx

She’s the songwriting superstar that can write hits for our faves (Ariana Grande, Janelle Monáe) and herself, too. “Dance Alone,” from her sophomore album, Coping Mechanisms, proved to be a short but satisfying (and well-timed) 2020 serenade for dancing under the disco lights… at home.

“Roses” by Adam Lambert (feat. Nile Rodgers)

Forever “American Idol” fave and Queen frontman Adam Lambert released some of his best work to date with his fourth album, Velvet. His sensual, funky team-up with the iconic Nile Rodgers, “Roses,” will undoubtedly go down as one of his most underrated songs. It doesn’t get chicer than this.

“Eye 2 Eye” by Sam Sparro

Sam Sparro’s comeback came in full force in 2020 with the release of his new album, Boombox Eternal, and he struck gold yet again with standout “Eye 2 Eye,” a dreamy and powerful ’80’s-influenced popscape made fit for stadium-sized audiences.

“Daze Inn” by Carlie Hanson

“Daze Inn,” one of the many highlights off of Hanson’s latest EP, DestroyDestroyDestroyDestroy, is that moody yet ethereal gem that’ll make you dream of a place where you won’t have to worry about the day-to-day dramas of life. It’s pop escapism in its purest and most literal form. Consider me checked into the “Daze Inn” in 2020.

“Safe Places” by Cassidy King

On “Safe Places,” Ohio’s own rising starlet Cassidy King showcases her impressive songwriting skills by leaving her emotions bare in a true pop confessional that’ll have you going back for repeated listens. It’s the superb balancing act for me.

“EGO” by Gia Woods

L.A. songstress Gia Woods provided us with non-stop bops all year long during the roll out of her debut EP, Cut Season. But if you’re just catching up, we recommend “EGO,” her alluring and brooding reminder that the need for unhealthy control can often poison a relationship.

“Coachella” by REYNA

REYNA, the Milwaukee-based duo comprised of sisters Vic and Gab, knows exactly what makes for perfect pop, and their early summer drop, “Coachella,” certainly proved as much. It’s an undeniably groovy, sun-soaked jam that’ll have you craving for that summer escape.

If you enjoyed this article, check out Jon Ali’s spotlight on Almondmilkhunni, the bi songstress on the rise!

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