Pride 2021 kicks off on June 1, and while celebrations this year will likely be muted, there’s no reason we can’t paint a whole rainbow at home. In fact, it’s vital that we do, given that there have been worrying reversals in-and the abuse of-queer rights around the world, including in Poland, Uganda, Hungary, and the Philippines. So, it’s more important than ever to celebrate our sexuality, as loudly, proudly and safely as we can.
To accompany this year’s festivities, allow Vogue to provide a selection of new singles released just in time for Pride. You are most very welcome.
1. “Sun Goes Down” by Lil Nas X
After melting our minds with “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” the American rapper shows a slightly more serious side on his latest single. But what begins as a reflection on loneliness, insecurity and internalized homophobia soon takes a triumphant turn through self-affirmation and self-belief. A celebratory song of uplifting loveliness.
2. “Girls Like Sex” by L Devine
British singer Olivia Devine delivers a musical manifesto that wholeheartedly celebrates female desire. This gorgeously glossy slice of lyrically liberated, sex-positive pop is sure to become a queer anthem and firm favorite. Watch out for her bold, brave and brilliant next EP, Near Life Experience: Part One, out on July 23.
3. “It’s A Sin” by Elton John and Years & Years
Recorded for the UK’s BRIT Awards in May, this upbeat cover of the Pet Shop Boys’s 1987 synth extravaganza is magical. The collaboration also honors screenwriter Russell T. Davies’s hit Channel 4/HBO Max miniseries of the same name, which explored the early years of HIV and AIDS. Sir Elton John and Years & Years lead singer (and the TV show’s star) Olly Alexander perfectly deliver a joyously camp and brilliantly over-the-top reworking of a classic.
4. “Hush” by Jayli Wolf
Singer, actor, activist and filmmaker Jayli Wolf-an Indigenous Canadian who identifies as bisexual and was bought up as a Jehovah’s Witness-explores these and many other areas, including the trauma of generational genocide within her forthcoming EP, Wild Whisper. Precursor “Hush” is a queer call-to-arms, encouraging people to replace feelings of shame and self-hate with pride, self-love, and liberation. Powerful and profound.
5. “If I Were You” by k.d. lang (“Close to the Groove Edit” by Junior Vasquez)
Could a Pride playlist even exist without Kathryn Dawn lang? I’d strongly suggest not. The Canadian icon, 60 this year, has collated, for the first time and for Pride month, some of the biggest and best remixes to some of her biggest and best hits, including “Sexuality” by DJ Krush, “Summerfling” by Chris Brann and “Lifted By You” from Ben Grosse and Lang herself. A massive highlight of the album, “Makeover,” is Junior Vasquez’s furiously fab 1995 reworking of “If I Were You,” which helped propel Lang from country singer to bona-fide pop star.
6. “Tavern Kween” by Desire Marea
Flying mostly under the radar, so far, is KwaZulu-Natal born Desire Marea, part of the Johannesburg collective FAKA, who are doing an amazing job of redefining the South African art scene and amplifying the voices of the queer community (and collaborating with Telfar and Versace while they’re at it). Their extraordinary self-released album, Desire, featuring this hauntingly epic, defiantly free-spirited single, considers loss, spirituality, displacement and love. Desire will be re-released by Warp this summer.
7. “Horsewh!p” by Aja featuring Dai Burger
If you’ve ever wondered what happens when two icons collide, wonder no more. RuPaul's Drag Race star, host and rapper Aja’s new single featuring fellow New Yorker Dai Burger is quite fervently ferocious. Dropping references to BTS, lamb chops and Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife Coretta Scott King, the pair eloquently express dismay for their detractors while reveling in their own brilliance. A stunning slice of excellence.
8. “Got No Choice” by Brooke Eden
After a four-year break, singer and songwriter Brooke Eden returned earlier this year with a trilogy of singles celebrating same-sex love. The final offering of the three is another gloriously lovestruck song about her girlfriend, written by the Nashville-based Eden, Jesse Frasure, and Cary Barlowe. The queering of country music (Orville Peck, Brittany Howard) goes from strength to strength, and Vogue is very, very here for it.
9. “Serotonin” by Girl In Red
Stage name Girl In Red, Norway’s supremely talented Marie Ulven’s debut album, If I Could Make It All Go Quiet, is a candid confessional that continues themes she’s explored before, including anxiety, depression and unrequited love. Despite addressing an incredibly serious subject, the record’s most recent single, “Serotonin,” manages to somehow be hopeful and joyful. Co-produced with Finneas (Billie Eilish’s brother), songs like this continue to establish Ulven as a leading voice in queer pop.
10. “Back Together” by Amorphous featuring Kehlani
As you might expect from such a pairing, this is just exquisite. The debut single from Jimir Reece Davis, a.k.a. Amorphous, who counts Oprah as a fan thanks to mash-ups such as these, this track features the delicious vocals of Oakland’s finest, Kehlani Parrish, as she reflects on the fluctuations of love. Just really, really great.