Top 6 Songs About Women Sung by Men That Would be Meaningfully Improved if They Were Sung By Women Instead

There aren’t a lot of songs about same-gender love playing on the radio, so we WLW (women who love women) make do with what we can find. Often my friends and I will hear a song and discuss it through a queer lens by imagining how the meaning of the lyrics would change if the vocalist was the same gender as the song’s subject. Those discussions inspired this article.


It is my personal opinion that each song on this list is meaningfully improved by conceptualizing the vocalist as a woman singing to/about another woman, with minimal lyrical changes (such as changing "a guy like me" to "a girl like me"). There’s no theme to the genre or quality of the songs included on this list, they’re just songs I happen to know and I honestly have no discernible taste. I also don’t claim to speak for every WLW’s experiences or opinions in my analysis; it’s exclusively personal and anecdotal.


See, it’s not that songs sung by men about women can’t be interesting, it’s just that most of them aren’t. I’m partially kidding. This whole article is partial kidding. However, I’m serious when I say that queer narratives are rich with depth and emotion. Queering a heterosexual narrative adds dimensions that didn’t exist before. The experiences of WLW are different and special, which is why stories about them are so important to be heard. To queer a story is to complicate it, but in a good way. As you read on I hope you see what I mean.


6. Justin Timberlake - “Not a Bad Thing”


“Said all I want from you is to see you tomorrow

And every tomorrow, maybe you'll let me borrow your heart

And is it too much to ask for every Sunday

And while we're at it, throw in every other day to start


So don't act like it's a bad thing to fall in love with me

'Cause you might look around to find your dreams come true, with me”


We’ll start off easy with this bop from JT. As is, this song is about a guy who’s weirdly demanding of a woman’s time and arrogantly confident that he can heal all of the emotional damage inflicted on her by her past boyfriends who made the same shallow promises as he did before breaking her heart. Uh, pass.


When sung by a woman: This song is about breaking down barriers to achieve love that is forbidden. From one woman who is self-loving and brave to the other who is afraid, it is a willful and empathetic plea for a chance. Don’t act like it’s a bad thing to fall in love with me. The female singer urges her should-be girlfriend to leave behind her troubled relationship history and internalized homophobia to embrace what will really make her happy, what will make her dreams come true.


Through this lens, the singer’s request to spend every day with her love is an endearing one‒evoking an image of the stereotypical, highly committal “U-Haul Lesbians” that we WLW often joke about (and sometimes embody). This yearning for togetherness, against the rules, against the past, is beautiful.


Will the singer’s love embrace her true feelings? Will they ever be together? The song ends with no answer to these questions, but the singer’s confidence in her own sexuality and powerfully empathetic lyrical plea leave us feeling optimistic.


5. Luke Bryan - “Roller Coaster”


“And we spent that week wide open

Upside down beside the ocean

I didn't know where it was goin'

Just tryin' to keep my heart on the tracks


I should’ve known that kind of feeling

Would last longer than that week did

Blown away and barely breathin’

Sunday came and it was over”


I promised myself I would only allow one country song onto this list, and this is it. Even though I enjoy it on occasion, I’ll be the first person to say that I think a large portion of country music is awful and another large portion of it is criminally boring. This song, though it fits into the latter category, is relatively harmless. Boy meets girl, she blows his boring country singer mind, they separate after a week, and he feels nostalgic. The end.


When sung by a woman: This song is about first love. Being young, and new. From a WLW’s perspective, it’s about having a chance to express genuine romantic emotion for the first time. Meeting a girl who, for a fleeting moment, makes you feel wide open, and upside down. The girl from summer camp. The girl from spring break. The one who made your head spin with ecstatic confusion, wondering who you are, and who you and she were together.


The girl who you still thought about long after it was over. The girl you’ll always remember. This song is a memory of the last girl you met before you started to know yourself. The first.


4. Backstreet Boys - “Madeleine”


“Kiss you with honesty

Love you unconditionally

Trust you and let you breathe

Give you back your dignity

So rise up, rise up, rise and live again

'Cause only you can Madeleine”


I only put this on the list because my name is Madeline and if a girl sang this song to me I would melt.


3. James Maslow - “Who Knows”


“How do you say that you love

Someone who tears at your heart?

Who knows

Who knows


He doesn’t care for you much

Why can’t I give you enough?

Who knows

Who knows”


I’ll never take any music video that includes a shot of a naked woman lying on a male artist’s chest seriously. I don’t expect anyone else to, either. If you can distract yourself from that, you’ll hear a song about a man who’s feeling simultaneously superior and inferior because the girl he loves has another male partner who he thinks he’s better than but can’t get her to dump no matter how hard he tries. Boo hoo.


When sung by a woman: This song is a raw, laconic tragedy. It’s a story of painful, heartsick wondering. The chorus takes on a desperate, pleaful tone. The female vocalist watches the woman she loves get hurt. She watches her pick getting hurt over being with her, repeatedly. What would make someone choose pain over love? Why isn’t her love enough?


This could be a story of a WLW hopelessly pining after a straight woman. It could be a story of compulsive heterosexuality preventing a woman from leaving her male partner and embracing her true love. It could be a story of one woman stringing another along by accident or through careless experiment. The singer doesn’t know the answer, all she can do is wonder in agony. She asks, again and again, why her love story can’t be real. She asks, then answers, to no one in particular: Who knows? Who knows?


2. America - “Right Before Your Eyes”


“You don't even know my name

I guess that I'm to blame

Don't know the right things to say

So I pretend away


That I'm Rudolph Valentino

Pull up in my limousine

Oh, won't you come in out of the rain

Things'll never be the same”


This song is quite a bit older than the others, but it has a special place in my heart. When I was really young I would listen to my mom’s CD of America’s greatest hits on my Discman during long car rides. I didn’t know who Rudolph Valentino was, or even what a limousine was, but I knew that this song was smooth and beautiful and made me feel dreamy. Lyrically, it’s about a man who’s too timid to talk to the beautiful woman who sits next to him on the bus every day, so he fantasizes about being Rudolph Valentino, the 1920s silent film star and sex symbol, and sweeping her off her feet. Kind of weird, when you think about it.


When sung by a woman: There’s a lot of depth to explore in this song. First of all, being too shy to make a move on a girl you like or even talk to her at all is the most WLW thing I can think of. Jot that down.


I think back to my younger self when I listen to this song. I think of the version of myself that was in the closet and had low self-esteem. When I thought about the girl I had a crush on, I imagined myself as attractive, confident, strong and most importantly, male. I thought that it was the only way I could exist in the heteronormative world as someone a girl like her could be interested in. I felt othered and exoticized by the environment I lived in. I silently wished I was someone who would be easier to love.


I believe this is a common experience among WLW, and it’s what this song is about from a female perspective. Dreaming of being someone more confident, powerful and privileged than you are, being able to pull up in your limousine and pull the girl you love out of the rain. It’s about projecting yourself into an idealistic caricature before you have learned self-love, quietly and innocently immersing in fantasy to cope with the way things are before they get better. The female singer hums this song to herself every day, on the bus.


1. Big Time Rush - “Boyfriend”


“You're looking for a boyfriend

I see that

Give me time, you know I'm gonna be that

Don't be scared to come put your trust in me

Can't you see all I really wanna be

Is your boyfriend

Can't fight that

Let me down you know I'm coming right back

I don't care at all what you've done before

All I really want is to be your...”


Sorry for getting all self-reflective with that last song. Let’s end on a lighter note.


Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Madeline, why is this number one? You’d have to change a lot of the gendered lyrics in this song to make it queer, and then it’d still be pretty generic. Did you put this on the list by mistake?”


You’re wrong. This song is the reason this article exists. It’s the gayest of all.


At a glance, It’s an incredibly generic boy band bop. The most interesting thing about it is its insane catchiness, which, from a scientific perspective, is bananas. The story: A boy likes a girl. He tells her he wants to be her boyfriend. He says he will be a good boyfriend. End scene.


When sung by a woman: Here’s the trick. Don’t change any of the lyrics. Any of them. Then listen again. What is this song about? It’s flirtatious. It’s playful and sarcastic. It’s a suave, confident, WLW who’s sure she can be whatever the woman she’s singing to needs in a partner. Oh, you’re looking for a boyfriend, she says. What is a boyfriend? Someone who’s caring? Strong? Loyal? I see that. Give me time, you know I’m gonna be that. She knows she can be anything a boy can be, better than a boy can be. Never dated a girl? That’s okay, she doesn’t care at all what you’ve done before.


The female singer sarcastically urges on. Just let her be your boyfriend. Give it a try. Imagine if Hayley Kiyoko covered this song. WLW, don’t pretend you wouldn’t die.


I leave you with this: In the future, I hope there will be lots of songs with narratives like each one I’ve described on this list that we don’t need to abstractly interpret. We deserve our stories told in blatant, undeniable terms. I can’t wait to hear them.



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