Songs of Existence

By Skokie Staff Adult Services

Our in-house audiophiles have curated a list of music that evokes the drama, heartache, struggle, liberation, and beauty of queer lives.

  • Channel Orange

    2012 by Ocean, Frank

    It might seem an obvious choice, but “Thinking about You”—along with Ocean’s public discussion of his bisexuality—still felt dramatic and newsworthy, a fact that perhaps says more about our society than about the singer himself (Flavorwire). Recommended by Chris.

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  • W

    2020 by Populous

    Andrea Mangia is an Italian musicologist and producer active since 2005. Yet he flowers on his recent W, a world music exploration infused by a queer sensibility that transcends language and expresses itself in the rhythms of an international dance floor (Hornet). Recommended by Chris.

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  • Jaime

    2019 by Howard, Brittany

    Billboard's review says, "Alabama Shakes’ gritty gospel-soul isn’t absent on Brittany Howard’s solo debut Jaime, but it’s augmented by wider spectrum of sound —“13th Century Metal” could be a Silver Apples homage and “Run to Me” has shades of soul-synth Bowie—and a deeper look into Howard’s psyche beyond what we’ve seen before. And what she reveals is the strength, thoughtfulness, and refusal to flinch that anyone would need to come to terms with their sexuality, publicly at that, in their mid-twenties." Recommended by Chris.

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  • Dirty Computer

    2018 by Monáe, Janelle

    2018 was a big year for Janelle Monáe. She revealed to the world (through an excellent interview with Rolling Stone) that she was queer, "causing a massive spike in internet searches for the word 'pansexual.' She also released Dirty Computer, her most personal and idiosyncratic album thus far, which earned the best first-week numbers of her career and was eventually nominated for album of the year at the 2019 Grammys" (Billboard). Recommended by Chris.

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  • Apollo XXI

    2019 by Lacy, Steve

    Says The Gay Times, "There’s very few 21-year-olds who can claim collaborations with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Solange and Vampire Weekend, but The Internet band member Steve Lacy is one of them. It meant anticipation for his full-length debut, Apollo XXI, was high." Recommended by Chris.

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  • Immunity

    2019 by Clairo

    As a teenager from a small town, Cottrill was often afraid of admitting her queerness because of unintentionally dismissive comments classmates would make about how certain girls “dressed like a lesbian.” It wasn’t until after she graduated high school that she began to come to terms with her sexual identity (Pitchfork). Recommended by Chris.

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  • By the Way, I Forgive You

    2018 by Carlile, Brandi

    Billboard says, "Lyrically touching and musically gorgeous, Carlile’s latest record was a triumph, heralding yet another example of excellent queer musicianship outside of the pop genre—and scoring her six nominations at the 2019 Grammys, including one for album of the year." Recommended by Chris.

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  • Expectations

    2020 by Pruitt, Katie

    Growing up in the Christian South, Katie Pruitt speaks to the struggle, fear, and courage of her personal experience on the song "Loving Her." Pruitt stares judgment in the face and challenges those who decide to wield it. Recommended by Paul.

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  • The Thrill of It All

    2017 by Smith, Sam

    Sam Smith balances humility, respect, courage, and sincerity in the love song, "Him." Though the ignorance and pressure around the song are heavy, Smith sketches out a way to rise above it without compromising authenticity. Recommended by Paul.

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  • Shaking The Habitual

    2013 by Knife

    Flavorwire says, "Few artists have tackled issues of gender and sexuality quite like The Knife did on Shaking the Habitual." Recommended by Chris.

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  • Full Coverage: Vol. 1

    2021 by Mattel, Trixie

    This four-song EP includes covers of Johnny Cash, Cher, and more by one of America's favorite Drag Queens, Trixie Mattel, who has created a name for herself in the music world as well. Recommended by Becca.

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