As the world around us continues to fall apart, Getintothis’ Kris Roberts is here to offer some sweet relief in the form of queer anthems, this will give you a reason to smile.
I, for one, am sick of the decades-long month of March. It’s the shitshow that just doesn’t end.
Between being forced into a lockdown-that-isnt-technically-a-lockdown-but-is-still-a-lockdown because people apparently can’t keep away from Parkgate, and most of the population having no idea where next months’ income is coming from, if at all, there’s plenty to be anxious about right now.
And very little we can actually do about it.
Special mention to all those who are self-employed right now.
I think my favourite thing to come out of this whole situation is seeing all of the out of touch social influencers showing once again just how out of touch they are.
TikTok stars creating racist and ignorant videos on the pandemic amd Instagram influencers not understanding that some people have no other choice but the leave the house to go to work.
On the other side of the spectrum, we actually have some insanely resourceful and generous celebs offering their services to those in need.
From Joe Wicks‘ at home P.E. livestream to keep the kids active to David Walliams pledging to release an audio story everyday for a month to hopefully give parents a little bit of a break. We see you parents.
And while your kids run you ragged, we’re here to offer you some sweet relief in the shape of ten of most iconic, uplifting and downright smack-a-smile-on-that-face queer anthems to soundtrack your dance parties, your housework, or even to mask the sound of your cries as you retreat to the cupboard under the stairs.
Don’t let the word queer fool you. While each of these songs have become a symbol of queer culture within the community, there are many here that you will be very familiar with, you’ve probably danced to most of them at one point or another, and we’re here to bring them back to you, get you on your feet, and lift those spirits in this trying time.
If there’s anything that queer people know how to do, it’s lift each other up through the medium of iconic pop.
It’s our second language.
1. Cece Peniston: Finally
Cece Peniston’s Finally was the queer anthem of the 90’s.
This song could be heard blaring from every gay club across the world throughout the early 90’s, and has since become a staple for any gay club, queer space, or Pride parade.
A timeless classic that nobody can resist. It’s invigorating and soulful, it’s original dancehall groove and there is quite literally nothing not to love about this song.
2. Madonna: Vogue
I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you already knew this one was coming.
Well, here it is, enjoy.
This one is a cultural staple for the queer community, and for good reason. Not only is it one of the best songs ever made (yes, ever), it brought Vogue culture to the mainstream(ish). Vogueing is a dance style born out of the queer Ball culture that dominated the New York City queer scene mainly from the 70’s to the late 90’s.
Back when trans people and gay men faced even more discrimination and threat than they do today, they created the Balls, a safe space to get together, put on a show, and forget about the AIDS pandemic that was claiming the lives of those they loved.
Walking in categories where they would have to dress up to serve a categorised ‘realness’, they would take it in turns to put on a runway and ‘vogue the house down’.
Watch POSE for a fully-formed, entertaining breakdown of this time in queer history.
3. Lady Gaga: Born This Way
I think it would be gay sacrilege to not include Lady Gaga‘s Born This Way.
This song has been credited for inciting mass self-acceptance, so listen with warning. I wouldn’t say that what Gaga did with this song was unprecedented, there was Madonna‘s Express Yourself that carried a similar message (don’t tell the gays I said that, they’ll have my head), but I don’t think anyone has ever made a song with this message that was so obvious in its lyricism.
“No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I’m on the right track baby I was born to survive”. There is no pussy-footing around with this one. Many of the queer anthems through history had the tendency to hint at their support for us, a bit of a wink and a nod.
Not Born This Way, this is more of a warm embrace, and for many queer people was the first time they ever felt really seen and represented, and by one of the biggest pop stars of the time.
4. Donna Summer: I Feel Love
When I Feel Love was first released, Brian Eno told David Bowie that this song would “change the face of club music for the next 15 years”.
What an understatement that was.
It appears that every time our society seems to start forgetting about this song, someone comes along and reimagines it, putting it right back in our lives where it belongs.
While the song itself is powerful enough to pull anyone into a nightclub, it was Patrick Crowley that remixed the song in 1982 into a near-15-minute-long Megamix and let me tell you, we lapped it up. Maybe 15 minutes is still not long enough.
The latest iteration of the track comes from Sam Smith, who did a pretty bang-up job, though nothing could ever compare to the original.
5. Queen: I Want To Break Free
The video alone should tell you all you need to know about this choice.
Freddie Mercury in full drag, it doesn’t get more queer than that. While this song wasn’t actually written by Mercury himself, the song is a tale of breaking out of a bad relationship and being free. It seems fitting.
The video has become probably Queen‘s most memorable music video ever, and has inspired countless halloween knock-off costumes that straight men so eagerly purchase year after year, what a legacy. The video was so controversial in its time that it caused some trouble overseas because it looked ‘homosexual’. Almost 30 years on and it still remains one of the most prolific tracks in queer culture.
6. Donna Summer: Macarthur Park
It’s another Donna Summer song! What can we say? She’s a queer icon.
This one is a little bit (or a lot) less known, but is included for no other reason than it is probably the campest and most over-dramatic song ever written and is a go-to for drag performances across the world. While it was actually written by Richard Harris, Donna Summer‘s version is far more dramatic, and far more clubby.
To put it simply, it’s a song about heartbreak over a cherished cake being left outside to be ruined by the rain, and the worst part is she’ll “never have that recipe again”
You might think I’m misunderstanding the song, surely it’s not about a cake? Let me assure you, the lyrics are literally: “I don’t think that I can take it, cause it took so long to bake it, and I’ll never have that recipe again.”
7. Diana Ross: I’m Coming Out
While I don’t think Diana Ross originally wrote this song as an actual ‘coming out’ song, trust the queer community to hijack it and use it as a way to come out of the closet. To their credit, there really is no better way to do that than to a Diana Ross song.
“I’m coming out, I want the world to know, got to let it show”.
Can we really blame them? It’s right there. Needless to say you will never find a single Pride parade anywhere in the world where this song isn’t played at least twice an hour. I implore you to try.
8. Deee-Lite: Groove Is In The Heart
Forget what I said about Freddie Mercury, it doesn’t get more queer than this, a pansexual trio fronted by drag-inspired Lady Miss Kier.
This one is for anyone eager to let their freak flag fly, it’s disco, its sample-upon-sample, and it has a video that would put any of your acid trips to shame.
It’s another camp song that we as a community have had no choice but to claim, have you heard it? How could we not? It has a Kazoo for goodness sakes.
9. Scissor Sisters: Let’s Have a Kiki
A Kiki: “a term which grew out of American gay social culture, and is loosely defined as a gathering of friends for the purpose of gossiping and chit-chat”
This is a song about something that comes as naturally to gay men as speaking to the manager comes to Karen.
Gossip and chit-chat runs through our veins.
The Scissor Sisters captured exactly the role these cultural practices play within the four walls of any gay gathering, all on the backdrop of catchy drum beats and even catchier claps.
I dare you not to smile at this one.
10. Robyn: Dancing On My Own
And that brings us to number 10, we may have saved the best ’til last here.
Robyn‘s Dancing On My Own is nothing short of a club classic, and my own karaoke go-to. It’s perfect, its heart-wrenching and emotional and it’s relentlessly danceable all at once.
if there’s anything queer people know about, it’s seeing your ex in the club dancing with someone else. The dating pool is small after all, as are the amount of queer nightlife spaces in any given city.
Maybe this is why it resonated with us so much, maybe it’s nothing too do with the songs lyrics at all. The song itself pop perfection, the beats are intense and all-encompassing, and it’s impossible to escape the tight grip is has on you when it comes on in the club.
So play away ’til your heart’s content.
Maybe these tracks will light up your days like they’ve done for us for years. I’ve given you the queer communities best (or worst) kept secret…aggressive pop music will put a smile on your face, no matter the current state of the world.
There is still joy to be had, and music to dance to, so turn it up and try to enjoy yourself, and maybe soon enough this will all be over.