Changing leaves, the cool breeze, pumpkin patch visits and sweater weather – fall is one of the most exciting times of the year. Walking around on campus when the weather is shifting makes me feel like the main character, and there’s nothing that a main character needs more than a good soundtrack.
Fall is not only a time of change but a time of discovery. Recently, mostly due to Spotify’s new daylist function, I have been discovering a lot of contemporary singers and listening to new music. October is LGBT+ history month, so there is no better time to discover (or rediscover) some queer music artists that will spruce up your fall playlists.
Here are 10 queer artists you should check out, along with my personal favorite fall-vibe songs to get you started.
Janelle Monae is an American singer, songwriter, rapper and actress. She came out as pansexual in a Rolling Stone cover story in 2018 and has since come out as nonbinary. Monae uses both they/them and she/her pronouns. Their music is upbeat, sensual and unapologetically queer. Monae has a distinctive musical style, which combines elements of R&B, funk, pop and science fiction themes. She sings about emotional insecurity and sexual liberation, weaving profound messages into catchy choruses.
My song rec: “Phenomenal” from “Age Of Pleasure”
Halsey is an American singer, songwriter and actress, known for her unique blend of pop, alternative and electropop music, as well as her honest and confessional songwriting. Throughout her career, Halsey has been an advocate for gender and sexuality equality, and she identifies as bisexual. Halsey’s career has been marked by her candid, personal songwriting, which often explores themes of love, identity and mental health.
My song rec: “Honey” from “If I Can’t Have Love I Want Power ”
boygenius has taken fans by storm this year. Boygenius is an American indie supergroup formed by Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julian Baker. All three members of the group are part of the LGBTQ+ community. The group made their debut in 2018, releasing a self-titled EP, and then went on hiatus until earlier this year, when they released their album “the record.” 2023 has been a busy year for the band, as they went on tour and released another EP, “the rest.” Boygenius is praised for their authentic and vulnerable songwriting.
My song rec: “Letters To An Old Poet” from “the record”
Elton John is one of the most famous queer artists, but his name is still an important addition to this list. John is an English singer, pianist and composer, and a trailblazer for the queer community. He has sold over 300 million records worldwide and is regarded as one of the most popular entertainers of the 1970s. In 1976, John also came out during a Rolling Stone interview, and since then, has been a spokesperson and an advocate for gay rights across the world.
My song rec: “I’m Still Standing” from “Too Low For Zero”
K. Flay, whose real name is Kristine Meredith Flaherty, is an American singer, songwriter and musician known for her genre-blending music that combines elements of alternative rock, hip-hop and electronic music. The singer is proudly a member of the LGBTQ+ community and has talked in interviews and on social media about how she incorporates those themes into her music. K. Flay has made a name for herself with brutally honest lyricism and bold instrumentals. In 2023, she released her album “MONO” which deals with her struggles with addiction, loss and being queer.
My song rec: “Shy” from “MONO”
Troye Sivan is a young Australian singer and actor. Sivan is known for his pop music, and his career has been marked by a unique blend of music, acting and a strong online presence. Sivan is openly gay, and he has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and visibility. Many of his songs and music videos address LGBTQ+ issues, and he uses his platform to promote inclusivity and acceptance.
My song rec: “One Of Your Girls” from “Something To Give Each Other”
Miley Cyrus has been a household name since her “Hannah Montana” days, but the American singer and actor brings more than Disney star fame to the table. Whether you know her from her wig-wearing days or the chaotic wrecking ball era, Cyrus has matured a lot, and so has her music. Soulful ballads and funky pop hits are intermixed in her newest album, “Endless Summer Vacation.” Cyrus came out in 2016 and has been a voice for the LGBTQ+ community long before that.
My song rec: “Plastic Hearts” from “Plastic Hearts”
Cari Elise Fletcher, more commonly known as just Fletcher has made a name for herself in the pop industry by releasing queer anthems like “Becky’s So Hot.” The young American pop singer released her breakthrough single “Undrunk” in 2019, and her fame has been steadily growing since then. Fletcher came out as queer in 2021, and her music is emotional, spunky, and loudly proclaims her love for women. Combining strong vocals with brutally honest lyrics, Fletcher is a great example of the emotional pop that fans love.
My song rec: “Bitter” (single)
Arlo Parks is one of the newer music artists on this list. This English singer-songwriter debuted in 2021 with her first album “Collapsed in Sunbeams,” which received critical acclaim and commercial success. Parks is not only a talented musician but also a poet. Her lyrics are commended for depth and emotional resonance. Many of her songs tackle sensitive and personal topics, such as mental health and self-discovery. Parks is openly bisexual and uses her platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity, mentioning in interviews how being a Black, queer woman influences her songwriting.
My song rec: “Blades” from “My Soft Machine”
Frank Ocean, or Christopher Edwin Breaux, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and photographer. He is known for his innovative and genre-blurring music, emotionally charged lyrics, and his ability to push the boundaries of musical genres. He has been a significant advocacy figure for LGBTQ+ rights and has been open about his sexuality since 2012. His songs are defined by how they stand out from the norm, and Ocean has earned fame for his creativity and innovation in traditional R&B and hip-hop.
My song rec: “Forrest Gump” from “Channel Orange”