LGBT Pride Month Playlist

June 25, 2012

A recent article in Billboard magazine entitled “Gay & R: Marketing, music and the LGBT community’s mainstream clout,” by Andrew Hampp talks about the buzz being created by bands and artists who play gigs at gay clubs and have impacted the culture. Here is a playlist of songs and artists to celebrate Pride month.

True Colors/ Cyndi Lauper

here were a few years in the mid-’80s when one couldn’t go out for a cup of coffee without encountering Cyndi Lauper in one form or another. Her videos were playing constantly on MTV, her music was everywhere on the radio, and, best of all, children were even dressing up as Cyndi for Halloween. In retrospect, it was a Lauper-ish time but it was all over quite quickly; in fact, the period in the ultra-limelight didn’t even span the period covered by two album releases, which means that this follow-up to her smash debut album was relegated to the also-ran pile, with sad results such as only one sort-of hit single (the title track) and nobody apparently interested in imitating the skirt she wore on the back cover photo, which seems like it is made of slashed-up concert posters. Kind of a shame since so much love and attention went into this album. -All Music Guide

We R Who We R/ Ke$ha

Ke$ha says she was inspired to write “We R Who We R” by news stories of a rash of suicides among gay youth. She told Rolling Stone, “I was really affected by the suicides that have been happening, having been subject to very public hatred [myself]. I have absolutely no idea how these kids felt. What I’m going through is nothing compared to what they had to go through. Just know things do get better and you need to celebrate who you are. Every weird thing about you is beautiful and makes life interesting. Hopefully the song really captures that emotion of celebrating who you are.” The song includes the lines “You know we’re superstars, we are who we are.”

All Time Low/ The Wanted

e first boy band to score a number one without the aid of reality TV since Blue in 2001, five-piece the Wanted have played a big part in resurrecting the previously dying genre. The fact that first single “All Time Low” didn’t receive huge X-Factor-style publicity, and was even snubbed by Radio 1, makes their success even more impressive. Their self-titled first album suggests that chart domination isn’t unlikely to end soon. With an eclectic sound taking in indie, rock, dance, and pop, the Wanted are truly a modern boy band. – All Music Guide

Born this way/ Lady Gaga

It was inevitable that Born This Way would be an escalation of The Fame,it was inevitable that Gaga would go where others feared to tread, it was inevitable that it would be bigger than any other record thrown down in 2011, both in its scale and success. This drumbeat, pulsating as insistently as Eurodisco, is so persistent that there is an inevitable feeling of anticlimax upon hearing Born This Wayfor the first time and realizing that Lady Gaga has channeled her grand ambitions into her message, and not her music. Gaga has taken it upon herself to filter out whatever personal details remain in her songs so she can write anthems for her Little Monsters, that ragtag group of queers, misfits, outcasts, and rough kids who she calls her own. – All Music Guide

Raise Your Glass/ P!nk

Released in 2010, Greatest Hits…So Far!!!rounds up the great majority of these hits, bypassing some singles — her debut “Most Girls” and “You Make Me Sick,” “God Is a DJ,” “Funhouse” and, most regrettably, “Feel Good Time,” her Beck/William Orbit-written entry for the Charlie’s Angels II: Full Throttle soundtrack — but hitting all the blockbusters (“There You Go,” “Just Like a Pill,” “Trouble,” “Stupid Girls,” “U + Ur Hand,” “So What,” “Please Don’t Leave Me”) while adding two new entries to her canon: the rabble-rousing “Raise Your Glass.” – All Music Guide

Trespassing/ Adam Lambert

The heart of Trespassinglies in the first two-thirds of the album, when Lambert is strutting like a glam-disco diva, sparring with Dr. Luke and Pharrell Williams, belting out his hooks with an easy confidence. And he’s got some great hooks here, too: big, bright, insistent hooks powering songs that revel in their sleaziness. Even if these songs never grace the charts, they sound like inevitable hits and prove that Lambert is a genuine pop star who has now left American Idol far behind. – All Music Guide

It Gets Better/ Fun.

Fun.’s debut album Aim and Ignite was an interesting blend of seemingly divergent styles topped by a healthy dose of grandiose ambition and performed with a precise abandon. The trio made an album that was truly progressive and also super catchy and fun. The follow-up, Some Nights, ramps up the ambition and sonic bombast, but also manages to be even more powerful and impressive. The album is overloaded with strings and horns, backing vocals, keyboards, and programmed drums surrounding Nate Ruess like a clamoring crowd, but never drowning out his innately sincere vocals and painfully honest lyrics. He has the kind of voice that could cut through any amount of noise, not by using volume but honesty. Even when he’s fed through Auto-Tune, you know he’s telling you the truth all the time.- All Music Guide

All the Lovers/ Kylie Minogue

By time of Kylie Minogue’s eleventh album, 2010’s Aphrodite,she had been releasing records for over 20 years. Most artists who’ve stuck around for that long end up rehashing their past catalogs and/or growing stale, but Kylie manages to avoid these fates by constantly working with new collaborators, keeping up on musical trends without pandering to them, and most importantly, never taking herself too seriously. The squiggly synths of the massively catchy “All the Lovers,” the sighing background vocals and spiraling harpsichord-esque synths on the ominous “Closer,” and the heavenly extended breakdown on “Looking for an Angel” are the kind of hooks that reward repeated listens.- All Muisc Guide

Take your Mama/ Scissor Sisters

The eponymous release is a gleaming composite of epic, unabashedly pretty ’70s songwriting and fancy-pants disco hedonism, reflecting the decadent dance-pop afterglow of all that George Michael wrought. This flirty, satiny sexuality tingles in every lyrical inch of Scissor Sisters, as the Sisters save their subtlety for the songcraft. Opener “Laura” is a swaggering, absolutely irresistible update of vintage Stevie Wonder, illustrated with piano breaks and a honking sax. “Take Your Mama” chirps in a high register, a honky chateau dreamland of the Beta Band covering Elton John. -All Music Guide

Sing it Loud/ K.D. Lang and the Siss Boom Bang

k.d. lang turned her back on the country-influenced music that first earned her fame with 1992’s Ingenue, and while she’s been making consistently fine albums since then, lang’s career has often seemed either eclectic or rudderless, depending on how you wish to look at it; she’s made a series of albums that have jumped from one stylistic vantage point to another, never settling in one place for long, and while they all feature her genuinely remarkable skills as a vocalist and often impressive songwriting, one rarely gets a sense of stylistic growth from her work since Ingenue, if only because she seems to be starting from scratch each time out, without building on what she’s done before.- All Music Guide

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