Here are 4 LGBTQ artists to add to your Pride Weekend playlists

Heading into the last weekend of Pride Month, there’s no doubt that people are eager to start dancing again. To help with your Pride playlists, here are a few LGBTQ artists who dropped musical gems this month, and are increasing visibility and acceptance at the forefront of the music industry.

Following a year of quarantine, indie rock band Japanese Breakfast created a gateway to happiness with their euphoric and ambitious third album, Jubilee. The album arrived just in time for Pride Month and reminds us how it feels to be at the “centre of magic',” from the chorus of the first song "Paprika" to the last note of the album. Jubilee follows bisexual lead singer Michelle Zauner’s memoir, Crying in the Hmart, a recount of her experience as a Korean American and how she stepped away from music to take care of her mother who she lost to cancer. “After spending the last five years writing about grief, I wanted our follow up to be about joy,” Zauner said in an interview with Rolling Stone.

The relatable theme throughout the album is the weight of our experiences and how they affect everyday life. In "Posing in Bondage," she sings: “When the world divides into two people/Those who have felt pain and those who have yet to/And I can't unsee it, although I would like to.” In the face of ongoing discrimination and racism against Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and other people of color, Michelle Zauner continues to show that visibility for AAPI LGBTQ musicians is critical. In the energetic and colorful track “Be Sweet,” Zauner shares her desire for a more hopeful future, with the lyrics: “Make it up once more with feeling/Recognize your mistakes and I'll let you back in/Realize not too late, love you always.”

This month, Hayley Kiyoko gifted her fans the perfect queer summer jam with the release of "Chance." Kiyoko directed the music video for her new single with the vision of bringing greater visibility to the LGBTQ community. In an interview with Variety, Hayley shared: “I’m always starved for hopeful queer stories onscreen, and I really wanted to direct a narrative that focused on the happier ‘honeymoon’ phase of a relationship, to show what can happen if we take a chance on ourselves and have that love reciprocated. The video is meant to portray those first few weeks, months, or even years when you are utterly head over heels in love with each other.”

Hayley also shared, “'Chance' is a song based on those moments when I denied my true feelings for someone out of fear of rejection, and therefore didn’t allow someone to take a chance on me, I hope this song empowers people to push past their own self-doubt and realize how worthy they are of love.”

Following her electric jam “I Am America” from last year, Shea Diamond has returned with the hot new single, "Smile." The single is a reflection of Diamond’s ability to triumph in the face of hardships she has gone through in her life. The fun and empowering music video for "Smile" highlights queer love, expression, and happiness at the center -- a message that is certainly needed this Pride Month. In a beautiful sequin gown, Diamond stands confidently and sings: “So alone, six years old/ in the dark broken heart in the dark/ Here we go now, you now I’m a star, I’m a star /If I can smile, baby you can too/If I can slide, you got no excuse.”

In an interview with the LGBTQ&A podcast hosted by Jeffrey Masters, Diamond spoke about the meaning behind her music: ‘“My music is me. My music is not pretending to be somebody else.It speaks about how we should center ourselves, self-care. If we don't have self-care in ourselves, how can we care for anybody else? It's time to tear down this system of oppression.”

Queer pop music sensation VINCINT dropped his debut album, There Will Be Tears, this month, filled with high energy dance tracks and next-level vocals. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, VINCINT shared his admiration for pop music: “I love the joy in it, I try to pull from my real experiences often because honesty is the biggest component when it comes to making really good music.” There Will Be Tears features eleven tracks that follow the process of embracing and accepting change after confronting trauma. He went on to share: “You can expect to cry and the unexpected thing is that it won't be sad all the time. Maybe it'll be a relief that you didn't think that was going to come. I want them to take away from this the feeling that it's okay to be human and to express that emotion.” 

VINCINT is heavily influenced by artists like Beyoncé and Celine Dion, and that inspiration shines through, especially on the powerful upbeat track "Higher" featuring queer artists Alex Newell and Princess Precious. VINCINT’s velvet soulful voice reminds us that our hearts break the same with the track "Hard 2 Forget" with the lyrics: ”Why would you leave me just to live in my head/so easy to love so hard to forget/Drinking and dancing while dreaming in bed/so easy to love so hard to forget."

VINCINT has also shared his thoughts on the impact of queer artists in music today: “Queer talent right now is leading the forefront of how music is sounding and that's really, really sick. To look out at the landscape of pop music, R&B, rap and see us at the forefront and pushing the narrative that you don't have to think of me a certain way for me to make really good music.”