Songs of Existence

By Chris Breitenbach

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)

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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)

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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 a 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 than we’ve seen before. She reveals the strength, thoughtfulness and refusal to flinch that anyone would need to come to terms with their sexuality, publicly at that, in their mid-20s."

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  • Dirty Computer

    2018 by Monáe, Janelle

    2018 was a big year for Janelle Monáe. First, 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.' Second, she released Dirty Computer, her most personal and idiosyncratic album thus far, which earned the best first-week numbers of her career and was nominated for album of the year at the 2019 Grammys." (Billboard)

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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."

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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 from high school that she began to come to terms with her sexual identity. (Pitchfork)

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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."

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  • If I Could Make It Go Quiet

    2021 by Girl in Red

    After bursting onto the scene with the lesbian viral anthem "I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend," in 2018, Girl In Red (Norwegian musician Marie Ulven) released this bright, urgent, poppy, and solid debut last year.

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  • Collapsed in Sunbeams

    2021 by Parks, Arlo

    "Black Dog," the first single from the debut album by Arlo Parks, a twentysomething musician from England, was one of my favorite songs of 2021. Written for a friend with depression, it begins with the stunning couplet, "I'd lick the grief right off your lips/You do your eyes like Robert Smith." The whole album is terrific.

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  • If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power

    2021 by Halsey

    New York-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Halsey has been making sonic waves for almost a decade now. Last year's If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power saw her teaming up with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (who produced the album) to make an album full of cinematic, pop grandeur and songs exploring pregnancy, mortality, and empowerment.

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  • Changephobia

    2021 by Rostam

    Formally of Vampire Weekend, Rostam (Rostam Batmanglij), has been making waves as a go-to super producer (making his biggest splash working with Haim) and quietly releasing amazing solo albums like this one. While firmly rooted in alternative pop, Changephobia sees Rostam embrace more jazz and R&B elements with great success.

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