Art manifests itself in multiple forms, with music being one of the most powerful. With the industry evolving quickly and launching new artists that are popping up the charts, 2022 was no exception in influencing the new Gen Z with their relatable lyrics and the LGBT+ representation in the media that generated a sense of affirmation in identity. Here are 10 songs that vibed with queer Gen Z this year:
Hayley Kiyoko, ’For The Girls’
We may remember Hayley from being a Disney star, for her many roles as an actress, or maybe after winning the final episode’s lipsync from RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race Season 1. Her influence over the years in the music industry and LGBT+ representation is undeniable and the song ”For The Girls” is a clear example why. Portraying a queer version of the hit reality show The Bachelor, Kiyoko told in an interview with Entertainment Tonight that we need more representation within our community. Thus she created a universe where 15 queer contestants are trying to find love and hoping the fans will get to see themselves on screen through this story and set that she was self-directing.
Dove Cameron, ’Boyfriend’
Another former Disney Channel star who embraced her queerness, Dove Cameron wrote Boyfriend from a perspective of freedom, not even knowing if the song will feature on her EP, let alone become a queer anthem. Cameron reports to the song as what it felt like to grow up queer and be surrounded by women who were not celebrated as they should or were famously mistreated.
Conan Gray, ’Memories’
Have you ever experienced trying to move on over a formal romantic partner but can’t because you have these memories that come back to you in a painful way? Well, Conan Gray comes back with a song that portrays these feelings and wrote this as an escape for helping to get over that one person. You know who. Gray is an artist who is very praised by the LGBT+ community, representing the people who don’t want to label themselves. His songs about this gender-neutral love and his gender-defying aesthetic made fans fall in love with him.
Muna, ’Kind of Girl’
The Los Angeles-based trio came out with this empowering song, encouraging the power of language and using words to describe who we are and whom we want to be. Being vulnerable is something we need to embrace when we queers are sharing how we identify and how we would like to be perceived, Gavin explained. She continued: “The experience brought home the fact that it’s not enough for queer and trans people to be clear about who we are, we also need a community around us that hears, believes, honors, and supports us. We’re very proud of what we made and grateful to everyone who was a part of it. We hope the bigots hate it.”
Sam Smith, Kim Petras, ’Unholy’
The song that blew up this year on TikTok made history making Sam Smith and Kim Petras the first ever openly non-binary and transgender artists to top the Billboard Hot 100.
It’s not only a queer anthem but one of the most-played songs of 2022. The video is a powerhouse of movement, depth, and notes with energic performances by both Smith and Petras but also guest appearances from queer celebrities. The whole church choir vibe in the chorus goes very well with the ”unholy” theme. The vision of the entire project is to make it quite an addicting song and also a celebration of queerness.
Tove Lo, ’No One Dies From Love’
2022 was the year we witnessed Tove Lo’s return as an independent artist with the release of her 6th album ”Dirt Femme” telling GAY TIMES she finally felt “creatively free”.
After releasing ”No One Dies From Love”, the song quickly gained success within the community, with Tove Lo being a long-time LGBT+ fan favorite.
The fans related to the overwhelming post-breakup emotions that Tove Lo captured in the song that was co-written with her long-time collaborator, Ludvig Söderberg. Going through an existential crisis, crying, drinking, walking, and talking about the consuming idea of portraying your whole existence and happiness around one person made the two of them create this heartbreak song that you can dance to.
Rina Sawayama, ’This Hell’
”This Hell” is the first released single from the Japanese-British pop star Rina Sawayama’s sophomore album called ”Hold The Girl”. Representing the queer rebellion through its mix of pop, rock, glam, and country vibes. Rina talks about how important is for her to give love and protection to each other. She added that the rights of minorities are being taken away because of traditional religious beliefs, especially in the LGBT+ community.
Beyoncé, ’ALIEN SUPERSTAR’
Beyoncé came back this year with her new album “Renaissance” after a pause of 6 years in the making. The album is paying homage to queer POC pioneers of disco, funk, and ballroom scene with samples from drag icons. She dedicated this album to her gay uncle, that was the first person who exposed her to music and culture that inspires her today, and also to the “fallen angels” of the club culture.
The carefree song ”ALIEN SUPERSTAR” is making people dance and gained immediate success in the queer community through its lyrics, which are inspired by the ballroom culture. In true ballroom form, the song itself narrates a moment of grandiosity, making it impossible not to join Beyoncé’s world and state of mind and realize your beauty and uniqueness.
Carly Rae Jepsen, Rufus Wainwright, ’The Loneliest Time’
Her themes over the years, the glittery, sparkling aesthetic made Carly Rae Jepsen an
LGBT+ icon by creating a safe space for the gay community through her music and ”Loneliest Time” is no exception. After hits like ”Call Me Maybe” or ”Good Time”, she came back this year with a different 80s inspired sound in which she sings about loneliness and toxicity, making her sound more polished than ever. The harmonies of Jepsen and Rufus Wainwright’s voices are truly delightful and the camp style of the video is heavenly.
BROCKHAMPTON, ’Big P—Y’
Every beautiful thing is coming somehow to an end, and Brockhampton is one of them. After releasing ”The Family” album, the band has entered an “indefinite hiatus”, making this their final album. With eccentric personalities, energetic characters and performances, and Kevin’s casual rapping with humor and sometimes graphic lyrics about being black and gay in the hip-hop community, they became known and loved by fans all over the world. Their single from the penultimate album kicks off with a provocative title and discusses topics like the group’s untimely breakup and the pressure Kevin faces from fans and the label alike.
Article by Ciprian Ciobanu
Ciprian Ciobanu is Gen Z Editor for GAY45 and an MA student at University of Timisoara, majoring in painting but working in a mixed media field. Ciprian is currently in Timișoara finishing his studies and working on the process of developing and reflecting on the relationship between art and the trends of a given time from music, fashion, popular stories, etc.