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Some of the most creative, genre-expanding music of 2019 has come from none other than our queer brethren. And far from being confined to any one style, those artists’ 2019 releases span the gamut from hip-hop and pop to old-school rock and country.
(Side note: Who would have thought that 2019 would see not one but two LGBTQ artists killing the country music game??)
This year has already been a great one for new music, but as these 2019 releases by LGBTQ artists show, it’s also been a great year for queer visibility in the mainstream.
Here are 5 of our favorite 2019 releases by LGBTQ artists:
1. Tyler, the Creator, Igor
Released back in May, this fifth studio album from Tyler, the Creator, has been called some of his best work yet. It was also the queer rapper’s very first number one album, having debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 upon release. (His first four albums all made Top 5.) Tyler produced the entire album himself, and it features guest spots from a diverse roster of fellow musicians: Solange, Kanye, Santigold, La Roux, Pharrell and CeeLo Green. It’s a synth-heavy album (many have called attention to its ’80s vibes) that tells the story of a guy, Igor, who is seeing a guy who’s still attached to his ex-girlfriend.
2. Orville Peck, Pony
There’s no one else in the music industry doing what Orville Peck (a nom de plume) is doing. He’s a masked queer cowboy; a mashup of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Lana Del Rey; subconsciously — or, more likely, consciously — subverting gender roles in a genre that’s typically all about the toxic masculinity. (During his most recent tour, Orville Peck occasionally offered up a rousing cover of The Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl,” the twangy trio’s popular story-song of a female squad killing off an abusive husband.) Released back in March and still on our daily at-work playlist, Pony sees Peck singing about rattlesnake exes (“Take You Back”), rodeo lovers (“Big Sky”) and even drag queens (“Queen of the Rodeo”).
3. Miley Cyrus, She Is Coming
Hannah Montana is very clearly in the rear-view for 26-year-old pop icon Miley Cyrus, whose May release (not a full album but a six-track EP) is reportedly a small sampling of what’s to come. She Is Coming contains two tracks featuring guest spots, one with Ghostface Killah (“D.R.E.A.M.”) and the other with RuPaul (“Cattitude”). The EP’s opening track “Mother’s Daughter” and closing ballad “The Most” seem now to have been a clarion call announcing her breakup with husband Liam Hemsworth … if we’d just been paying attention.
4. Kim Petras, Clarity
One of the only trans artists to reach mainstream pop princess status, Kim Petras effortlessly transitioned from multiple earworm singles (“I Don’t Want It At All,” “Heart to Break”) to a solid studio album artist, and this debut LP, released in late June, is as sophisticated as a pop album can be. Like great pop these days often does, Clarity infuses hip-hop and house-y EDM into her sound for tracks that even pop queen Kylie would be proud of. (Her track “Sweet Spot” happens to recall old-school Kylie Minogue in the best way possible.) Packed to the gills with bops for pop-lovers, this debut record is proof of great things still to come.
5. Lil Nas X, 7 EP
Everyone with eardrums has by now had the hit single “Old Town Road” burned into their brains, but this eight-song EP (released back in June) offers more diversity of sound than that rap-country hybrid. On 7 EP you’ll uncover everything from hip-hop to disco to pop-rock to grunge in “Bring U Down” — though Lil Nas X’s twang rarely dissipates. Lil Nas X has since released a Blade Runner-vibes music video for second single “Panini,” and we can only hope his next track to get a video will be “Rodeo,” which features a crafty solo from none other than Cardi B.