10 Songs to Celebrate Pride Month

Here at Alt Columnist, we mainly focus on alternative music, from indie rock to pop punk to singer/songwriter folk and everything in between. To celebrate Pride Month, we will be stepping outside of those genre-based boundaries and discussing songs that are pop, reggae, hip-hop, R&B, and alt-pop. These pieces are either about being LGBT+, are written/performed by LGBT+ artists, and/or have become regarded as empowering anthems for the LGBT+ community. We hope you enjoy, and let us know your favorite LGBT+ tunes! (Want a Spotify playlist? Click here!)

“Girls Like Girls” by Hayley Kiyoko

Hayley Kiyoko has risen to popularity through starring in Scooby Doo and Disney television shows, but her solo music career started taking off with the release of the This Side of Paradise EP in 2015 which featured her hit single titled “Girls Like Girls.” This indie pop song is an absolute anthemic jam for women-loving women everywhere, and the emotional music video presents the struggles that many gay people face in relationships and friendships. Hayley released her follow-up EP Citrine in 2016 which delivered more empowering tunes, like “Ease My Mind” and “Palace.” She recently debuted another single earlier this year named “Sleepover,” a fabulous slow burn that again details the difficulties of crushing on a friend. Overall, Hayley serves as an innovative indie pop artist who isn’t afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve.

“Girls/Girls/Boys” by Panic! at the Disco

Coming from the last genuinely good Panic! at the Disco album, (click here to read our review of Death of a Bachelor), “Girls/Girls/Boys” describes a love triangle complicated by bisexuality, but instead of execrating the orientation, Brendon accepts and supports it, chanting that “girls love girls and boys” and “love is not a choice.” “Girls/Girls/Boys” has become empowering for many LGBT+ youth, especially considering Panic!’s large young fanbase. While Brendon himself is not a member of the LGBT+ community, he has reported experimenting with men in the past but ultimately identifies as straight. He is a notable ally and features a rainbow pride flag at many of his live shows, overwhelmingly adorned by admirable praise from the audience.

“Ghosts” by PVRIS

Lynn Gunn, the frontwoman of the electro-rock band PVRIS, is gay and open about it in hopes of providing representation for others. It was hard to narrow it down to one song to feature in this post, but we settled on “Ghosts,” a personal favorite that exhibits the struggles of a relationship when dealing with “ghosts” which Lynn has explained is a metaphor for mental health issues, namely depression. This tune seems to tell the story of a couple facing challenges in their relationship due to these ghosts, the “things [Lynn] can’t see” but are still having an affect on their emotional connection, again pointing to psychological problems or other hardships. Overall, PVRIS has consistently released fantastic music and their powerful frontwoman continues to serve as a gay icon in the scene.

“Shameless” by Tyler Glenn

Tyler Glenn, lead singer of the pop rock band Neon Trees, has come out as gay and is shameless about it. He distanced himself from the Mormon religion due to his sexuality and other disagreements, and his debut solo album Excommunication discusses his experience and frustration with the LDS Church. “Shameless” is about not giving a damn and “living a life so shameless” while also calling out others on how they “hate what they don’t understand.” In a vein similar to Lady Gaga’s power anthem “Born This Way,” “Shameless” is bound to embolden listeners to be themselves unabashed and audaciously. Both songs also include religious inflections in the lyrics, taking jabs at close-minded church organizations, and Gaga in particular encourages the idea that God makes no mistakes and LGBT+ people can be spiritual no matter what.

“You Can Cry Tomorrow” by Betty Who

Again, it was difficult to choose just one song to include from the LGBT+ pop icon Betty Who. Jessica Anne Newham, known by her stage name Betty Who, relocated to the United States from Sydney, Australia, in 2007 and pursued a music career in the early 2010s with the debut single “Somebody Loves You” dropping in late 2012. Her sugary, upbeat pop jams have been utilized for gay marriage proposals and LGBT+ events, and she has performed at countless pride festivals across the country. “You Can Cry Tomorrow” is an uplifting ’80s-inspired pop tune with glimmering synths and catchy melodies, and the artist doesn’t hold back her sexual orientation in the lyrics.

“Heaven (ft. Betty Who)” by Troye Sivan

Speaking of Betty Who, she is featured on Troye Sivan’s emotional song “Heaven” from his 2015 debut album Blue Neighbourhood. The South African-born Australian initially found his fame on YouTube, garnering attention from other LGBT+ internet personalities like Tyler Oakley, Hannah Hart, and Connor Franta, and, through his profound interest in music, eventually signed to EMI Australia in 2013 to deliver his EP titled TRXYE, released in 2014. Troye is openly gay and acts as a role model for his viewers and listeners. “Heaven” discusses the familial and religious struggles that are unfortunately attached to the orientation, such as hiding the truth from one’s parents, coming to terms with oneself, and questioning spiritual beliefs. The piece is moving, haunting, and showcases perfectly the challenges many LGBT+ people face personally in the church.

“I Found A Girl” by The Vamps

The Vamps debuted as a British pop rock reggae band with syrupy sweet melodies and summertime vibes, though they originally started out uploading covers on YouTube, everything from One Direction and Austin Mahone to Neon Trees and McFly. Even as their career has progressed, they still continue to post covers, branching out to more rock oriented artists like Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, and 5 Seconds of Summer. Their second album Wake Up featured the band taking a more pop approach in their style with songs that could easily have appeared as One Direction b-sides but still maintaining their guitars in most instances. The project also included the monumental “I Found A Girl,” an energetic pop rock reggae fusion song about a man falling in love with a lesbian and, like Brendon in “Girls/Girls/Boys,” he doesn’t condemn her sexuality but rather welcomes it.

“Apologize (ft. OMVR)” by Matilda

Norwegian up-and-coming pop artist Matilda (no, not the musical/film) has released multiple amazing singles and albums, unleashing infectious electro indie pop tunes with a ferocious bite. (Oh, and she also wrote some of them with Betty Who.) Her music video for “Apologize (ft. OMVR)” gained viral attention from the LGBT+ community for shining the spotlight on the ups and downs experienced by a lesbian couple. Her song “Ghost” is catchy and pleasingly memorable with a melody you won’t be able to get out of your head. (Coincidentally, another artist by the name of Matilda has released a song titled “Girl Code” which discusses a lesbian struggling with a crush on her friend. If we are mistaken and these Matildas are the same artist, please let us know. We were greatly shocked!) Matilda continues to be on the rise with her single “Illusion” which was recently released at the end of May.

“Dancing in the Rain” by Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is the brother of Chance the Rapper and opened up about being bisexual in early 2017. He told Billboard that his main motivation for coming out publicly was for his fans to know him better. “You don’t want to do anything that makes your fans not like you anymore, but I realized, ‘F— it! Be yourself.’ You got to be yourself. That’s what I said; that’s what my parents have always told me. The only people I felt like I deserved to tell was my fans because if your fans don’t know you, how can they support you? Then there was also the idea that for somebody that has a platform like mine that can speak to these many people, to come out and say something like that, I hope, puts courage in people to do the same thing.” His sweet R&B-tinged hip-hop ballad “Dancing in the Rain (ft. Donnie Trumpet, Shay Lewis, & Brandon Fox)” details the desire to just dance with your partner and let go of the pain, the worries, and the heartache.

“Night Go Slow” by Catey Shaw

Catey Shaw, a pop artist from Brooklyn, mentioned in an article with AfterEllen that she’s “had relationships with men in the past and with women” and her sexuality influences her songwriting; she enjoys making music that elevates LGBT+ people. From humble beginnings busking on subway platforms to alt-pop renown, Catey Shaw is a seasoned singer/songwriter who describes her music as being very careful and mixing many genres together, like jazz, disco, and reggae. The music video for her slow-dance-ready song “Night Go Slow” features a young lesbian couple enjoying a night alone together between sleeping in the back of a truck and stealing from a convenience store. Catey’s sweet pop tunes will not only get stuck in your head but also serve a greater purpose for the LGBT+ community.

Other great songs to check out…

Let us know in the comments some of your favorite LGBT+-related songs and inspirational artists! (Of course, please understand that a person’s sexual orientation does not define their entire identity; humans are inherently multidimensional, so please take time to look into these artists even more beyond their sexuality and/or political/social stances.)

16 Overlooked Songs from 2016 You Need to Hear

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2016 wasn’t an amazingly fabulous year for alternative music, but we did get some pretty great records. (Check out our year-end lists here!) Out of those fantastic records, here’s 16 great songs from the year you might have overlooked. Please keep in mind these are not necessarily the best songs of 2016, just some you may have missed out on hearing about.

16. “Never Know” by Set It Off

While our review of Set It Off’s newest album Upside Down wasn’t so positive, we did point out a few decent deep cuts, one of those being “Never Know.” “Never Know” is decisively the least poppy piece on the album, and is painfully overlooked despite this. The pop aspects of Upside Down aren’t why it scored so low; it’s because Set It Off did nothing interesting with it, but “Never Know” proves that SIO still has some rock in them.

15. “All Downhill From Here” by The Summer Set

Stories For Monday, the latest record from pop rockers The Summer Set, earned some attention for its upbeat singles, but most songs went unnoticed. “All Downhill From Here” is a fun-loving, rosy tune that is sure to get you singing along. While the chorus is a bit repetitive, the lyrics detail growth, feeling caught between being a kid and an adult, and even touches upon the American Dream standards. “All Downhill From Here” is definitely an underrated track.

14. “Troubled Times” by Green Day

Green Day made a significant comeback with Revolution Radio and even did a fantastic performance of “Bang Bang” at the AMAs. However, the song “Troubled Times” flew under the radar. Like the majority of Revolution Radio, “Troubled Times” is a politically charged piece, rightfully calling out how exclusive love and peace is in world and warning others of repeating history.

13. “Stairs” by Joyce Manor

Cody is arguably Joyce Manor’s best record to date. It is more well-rounded and mature compared to past releases, and the song “Stairs” is somewhat evidence of that progression and development. Well, maybe not so much, considering the writer can’t even do basic tasks without the person they are addressing, and slightly selfishly desires to keep them all for themselves… “Stairs” is still a jam! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

12. “Through the Night” by Anarbor

This entire self-titled album is achingly neglected! “Though the Night” is an excellent deep cut from this record. It’s a step away from Anarbor’s earlier rock sound but certainly in the right direction. “Through the Night” blends pop and alternative into one savory amalgam; it’s smooth, suave, and polished, undoubtedly catchy and sadly overlooked. Give the whole album a spin!

11. “Home Movies” by Beach Weather

The creamy alt-pop of Beach Weather’s Chit Chat EP shines on the song “Home Movies.” A covert dash of ’80s synth pop and glimmering guitar melodies coupled with the nostalgic lyrical content creates a spectacular listen. This sentimental piece was apparently overshadowed by the other wonderful, more upbeat song “Chit Chat.” Honestly, this entire EP is marvelous!

10. “President Heartbeat” by Everything Everything

Everything Everything’s album Get to Heaven (which apparently released back in 2015 but didn’t hit the United States ’til February 2016) truly deserved a spot somewhere on our year-end list, but we unfortunately didn’t get around to hearing it until last week! I know, I know, late to the party… One of the great underrated songs on Get to Heaven is “President Heartbeat,” a critically written, sparkly guitar-driven tune sure to get stuck in your head.

9. “Sway” by Moose Blood

Blush is Moose Blood’s most popular album to date, and yet some tracks still went overlooked. “Sway” begins with a twinkly guitar melody (that kinda reminds me of this song) and swells into steady movement with emotional songwriting and vocal performance. “Sway”‘s vague lyrics and uncluttered instrumentation adds to the theme of simplicity spelled out all throughout the record.

8. “Empty Picture Frames” by Real Friends

Talk about a pop punk anthem! Next to “Mess,” “Empty Picture Frames” is one of the most spirited chants on this full-length. It’s catchy and animated and bound to get stuck in your head, yet it doesn’t sacrifice the ardent songwriting to accomplish this. This track goes hand in hand with “Basement Stairs,” another underrated track from The Home Inside My Head, when discussing honesty and concession of selfishness, buoying those ideas as themes throughout the record.

7. “Don’t Stop Making It Happen” by Grouplove

Grouplove withdraws to a sound more similar to their debut full-length and expands upon the indie rock style even more in their masterpiece Big Mess, which is far from a mess. “Don’t Stop Making It Happen” is an entertaining deep cut from the record, and attests to that indie rock affection with a catchy chorus and clanging guitars.

6. “Wondrous Heart” by Fatherson

Open Book by Fatherson is a monumental album. It’s emotional, raw, poignant, and passionate alt-rock that begs to be not only heard but also felt. “Wondrous Heart” is an astounding piece from this record and yet failed to garner the attention it deserves. The velvety instrumentation and ardent lyricism is nothing less than stellar and beautiful. “Wondrous Heart” is simply wondrous indeed.

5. “Gold Medal Ribbon” by Pierce the Veil

Misadventures by Pierce the Veil is characterized by utilizing computerized components to couple with the fierce trademark pop rock, and “Gold Medal Ribbon” embodies all those aspects. “Gold Medal Ribbon,” titled after, well, an ice cream flavor, is heartfelt and earnest but does not receive its due recognition.

4. “Knew Your Name” by Thief Club

Thief Club is the side project of Hit the Lights vocalist Nick Thompson and released an album in 2014 with “Knew Your Name” present on it. Yet another album, Just Give Up, was released this year in 2016 with the same track making an appearance. Sooo we thought we’d give it a shoutout because “Knew Your Name” is so good! It’s pop rock bliss with clever songwriting, just go listen to it.

3. “Repeat” by Young the Giant

Home of the Strange is no doubt the best Young the Giant album yet. It’s cohesive, flowing, mature, cultivated. It’s absolutely stunning and just a pleasure to listen to! Read our full review here! However, some tracks were still neglected, like “Repeat.” “Repeat” showcases the musicianship of this band and the intellectual lyricism, not to mention Sameer Gadhia’s stellar vocals.

2. “Boys Do” by LAYNE

LAYNE offered up some of their best material to date on the The Black Hills debut EP! But honestly, everything LAYNE has put out is absolutely exquisite, seriously give them a listen. “Boys Do” is a fabulous tune from the extended play, and represents everything this band is masterful at: glossy guitar melodies, catchy choruses, haunting atmosphere, and enthusiastic songwriting.

1. “Everything All At Once” by Local Natives

Sunlit Youth displays Local Natives evolving and becoming more and more dynamic with every release by incorporating electronic inflections and consolidating politically charged lyricism. “Everything All At Once” is a more personal deep cut from this golden record. It’s daydreamy and passionate, rhapsodic and exuberant.

Well, there you have it, the most overlooked songs of 2016! Keep in mind that these aren’t exactly the best songs of 2016 (even though a couple of them are) but rather just songs that flew a bit too far under the radar. Give them a spin and let us know what you think! What songs do you think are underrated?