Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Weekly Playlist: National Coming Out Day

These are the standout tracks by LGBTQ+-identifying artists, handpicked for you by Collegian staff
Graphic by Isaac Brickman

Name: Kalana Amarasekara

Blurb: “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the classic rock anthem that ventures into many genres is often  interpreted as exploring the lyricist’s personal turmoil; notably, his sexuality. Freddie Mercury’s powerful vocals and piano playing combined with the dexterous musicianship of his bandmates have gained the song its due reverence as a testament to the power of rock music and how it can strike an emotional chord with people.


Song: “Unpunishable” by Ethel Cain


Your name: Jamie Long

Blurb: Floridian singer-songwriter Ethel Cain is often associated with the current resurgence of Southern Gothic —picture white linen dresses and deteriorating churches. But her art is so much more than a sanitized, aestheticized version of the rural south. Her song “Unpunishable”, from her 2021 EP “Inbred”, explores abjection in the form of an unhealthy fictional relationship. The distorted vocals and heavy minimalist instrumentals create an eerie palette for the perverse and taboo themes that she explores in this song, and throughout the EP. Cain’s art bleeds outside the harshly drawn lines that mainstream media has established for queerness, and allows for all the nasty, gritty truths of trans existence and life in the south.


Song: “Malibu” by Kim Petras


Your Name: Michael Pastorello

Blurb: “Malibu”chronicles themes of escapism, nostalgia and the desire for a perfect love. The singer longs for a paradise-like escape to Malibu, a coastal city in California known for its stunning beaches and luxurious lifestyle. The lyrics convey a sense of yearning and a desire to leave behind all troubles to experience an idyllic love story in the picturesque setting. “Malibu” is characterized by its infectious pop melodies, featuring catchy hooks and a bouncy, feel-good rhythm. Kim Petras’ vocals are energetic and full of optimism, perfectly matching the song’s upbeat and summery vibe. The production incorporates elements of synth-pop, creating a modern and radio-friendly sound that’s both danceable and enjoyable.


Song: “D&D + Asexuality” by Skull Puppies


Your Name: Maggie Bonassar

Blurb: Despite both the album art and the band’s name implying the opposite, “D&D + Asexuality” is a sweet and intimate song that reflects on love, sex and loneliness. The song itself is a slow solo, reinforcing the singer’s emotional isolation as a result of their sexuality while reminding us that they are still incurably human. It’s witty, nerdy and exactly what you would expect based on the title.


Song: “Junky” by Brockhampton


Your Name: Shannon Moore, Assistant Arts Editor

Blurb: Off of the boyband’s most celebrated album, SATURATION II, “Junky” gives Brockhampton’s members a chance to catalog their inner demons. Front runner Kevin Abstract notably raps about his struggles with sexuality. Over a beat that heavily features sirens, hi-hats, and deep bass to reflect an anxious tone, Abstract addresses homophobia within his family, himself and within the rap community which has a reputation for being hypermasculine and homophobic. Other members such as Matt Champion and Ameer Vaan rap about their own struggles with drug addiction and the sensationalized portrayal of women, but the song opens with Abstract’s verse. In “Junky”, Brockhampton covers many issues but ensures homophobia is at the forefront of their grievances.


Song:Garden Shed” (feat. Estelle) by Tyler, The Creator


Your name: Matt Chaparro

Blurb: Tyler, the Creator’s portrayal of loneliness, sexuality and other vices is done beautifully on his fourth studio album, “Flower Boy”. After the release of his third studio album “Cherry Bomb” which was met with harsh criticism on initial release, Tyler wanted to create a project that was personal and intimate. The seventh track “Garden Shed” is the centerpiece of the album, emboding Tyler’s vulnerabilities regarding his sexuality. Rap and Hip Hop have previously restricted artists from being themselves through a traditional obsession with hypermasculinity and the denouncement of homosexuality in the hip-hop scene. Artists like Tyler, The Creator challenge this narrative with sensitive, eloquent lyrics and simple, yet masterfully crafted chords. He chronicles how he’s been concealing his sexual orientation and hiding in the closet, or for the sake of the song, a garden shed, due to fear of other’s reactions. “Garden Shed” paints a picture of an artist who has struggled with being open with their sexuality, and these struggles  allow  others to relate.


Song: “It’s Okay to Cry” by Sophie


Your name: Luke Macannuco

Blurb: The opening track of Sophie’s 2018 studio album “Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides” is a powerful balled titled “It’s Okay to Cry”. The song is about letting out one’s true identity in defiance of the fear that such an act produces. A surprise release in 2017 along with a music video revealed Sophie’s face for the first time and her transgender identity to the public after years of anonymity. The glittery synths and tender vocals of “It’s Okay to Cry” contrasts with the rest of the album, which features a heavier, more distorted electro-pop sound; a sound which Sophie largely pioneered, leading to this decade’s ever-expanding hyper pop scene. The lyrics are powerful, tear-jerking, and above all, accepting: “I hope you don’t take this the wrong way / But I think your inside is your best side.” Sophie passed away in a tragic accident on Jan. 30, 2021, but her musical innovation and compelling message will resonate with anyone who has undergone a struggle to share their true identity in a challenging world.


Song: “Whataya Want From Me” by Adam Lambert

Your name: Shanti Furtado

Blurb: “American Idol” starlet turned modern-day Queen frontman, 41-year-old Adam Lambert has accomplished what many aspiring musicians could only dream of. Lambert’s breakthrough 2009 track “Whataya Want From Me” proved he had the chops to honor the late great Freddie Mercury, right from the start. The pop ballad is heartened with a catchy drum and guitar melody, drawing listeners in from the very moment the play button is pressed. But what makes “Whataya Want From Me” so notable is Lambert’s vocal prowess– dexterous with a rich, unmistakable tone only belonging to that of a rockstar. Lambert croons, “It’s me, I’m a freak but thanks for loving me” in the track’s second verse. What can be interpreted as a message about a struggling romance, “Whataya Want From Me” duly represents the queer struggle of feeling pressured to adhere to certain societal norms, whilst still remaining authentic to their identity. Every so often a song rolls around with a timeless essence of nostalgia, bringing you back to the very place you first listened to it. “Whataya Want From Me” is a tell-tale example of that, fit with themes of triumph so consistent with what Lambert makes an icon.


Song: “Chosen Family” by Rina Sawayama

Your name: Grace Chai

Blurb: The Japanese-British artist Rina Sawayama collaborated with the rock legend Elton John to produce a musically and emotionally rich queer anthem in 2021, “Chosen Family.” The light, sweeping lines of the piano contrast the deep storyline of a queer person finding community and love in their “chosen family,” or the people who accept them fully as they are. The lyrics explore tones of loneliness, fear and hope, culminating in the chorus: “We don’t need to be related to relate / We don’t need to share genes or a surname / You are, you are / My chosen, chosen family.” When asked why she wrote this song, Sawayama responded that she wanted to highlight the solidarity of the LGBTQ community in supporting each other, such as the people who helped her through hard times in university. “A lot of people… get ostracized from their family for coming out or just living true to themselves,” said Sawayama. “I wanted to write a song literally for them, and it’s just a message and this idea of a safe space—an actual physical space.”


Song: “Geez louise (with henhouse!)” by Underscores


Your Name: Andrew Freeman

Blurb: This epic from the brand-new artist Underscores record tackles transgender existence across seven minutes and multiple genres. Whether it’s refuting the fallacy that transgenderism is a new fad, dealing with the hardships of being discriminated against for simply existing, or the infuriating tendency of parents who insist their child should wait until they’re older to transition, this song expertly covers many facets of transgender existence in our current age and political climate. Did I mention that the song absolutely rips? Everything about it is amazing; the heavy rock introduction, the folk passages, the burning guitar solos, the pillowy transition into the pounding closing movement.


Song: “3 Boys” by Omar Apollo


Your Name: Allie Powers

Blurb: Being his first new song of 2023 since the release of his 2022 album “Ivory,” Omar Apollo’s “3 Boys” presents the reality of an untraditional relationship. Omar shares his challenge of accepting a non-monogamous relationship with his partner and is the first song he has ever written about non-monogamy. The chorus of the smooth, melodic song shares Omar’s experience of feeling interconnected to one man, facing his inability to be open to anyone else: “3 boys would work if I wasn’t so tethered to you.” The romantic yet mesmerizing melody expresses the hardships of a one-sided relationship, with one person fighting to understand where he is going wrong with his partner. The complexities of exploring multiple romantic connections showcase Omar’s vulnerability through a heartfelt track that resonates with many listeners.


Song: “Bets Against the Void” by The Scary Jokes


Your Name: Naomi Bloom

Blurb: This song is the last track on The Scary Jokes’ 2019 album, “BURN PYGMALION!!! A Better Guide to Romance,” and the final chapter to the narrative told by the album. The song features a sound that The Scary Jokes’s New Jersey-based queer singer  Liz Lehman described as an exploration of the “dark side of dreamy bedroom pop,” which they also refer to as “nightmare pop.” The song continues the narritive told in the rest of the album: the story of two people in a messy relationship, one of which hopes that even if it all ended, that the other would still remember her. The song brings their story to an end with a final verse, as melancholy as it is hopeful: “Will you remember me when our spirits scatter off? / I know I’m an artist cause I just can’t stand the thought / That a love as beautiful as ours could be / Forgotten.” This concluding song is a heartfelt and raw one, and it is clear how much love Lehman put into crafting their narrative and music.


Song: “That’s Us/Wild Combination” by Arthur Russell


Your name: Thomas Machacz

Blurb: Despite the influence that singer/songwriter/avant-garde cellist Arthur Russell has had on shoegaze, art pop and alternative music at large, there’s still nothing that sounds quite like his discography. “That’s Us/Wild Combination” is an echoey, tactile, sweet and dreamy mashup of two musical ideas: one a simple synth-based love song and the other a cello-based meditation. Russell’s evocatively simple lyrics seamlessly blend the digital and the analogue, creating a song that feels both wildly intimate and bracingly new. A native of Iowa, a devotee of disco and a colleague of minimalist composer Philip Glass, the artist has combined worlds that seemingly have nothing to do with each other. It could be argued that his queerness granted him a natural outsider perspective, but Russell’s music speaks for itself. “That’s Us/Wild Combination” was released in 2004, over 20 years after it was recorded and 12 years after the artist’s death from AIDS-related illness. But even now, Russell’s singular artistic vision sounds like it could be from any time at all.



Song: “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John

Your name: Lucy Postera

Blurb: After coming out to Rolling Stone magazine in 1976, Elton John has been a gay icon ever since. Tiny Dancer, originally released on his 1971 hit album “Madman Across the Water”, is inspired by the coast of California and the adventures that took place for John. With soft notes of guitar, piano and background vocals by Tony Burrows, Tiny Dancer illustrates beautiful airy scenes found on the west coast. Closing your eyes, imagine the love story he sings of and picture details of affection from this music man. The song perfectly describes the magic of finding endearment and articulates the longing to be loved.


Song: “FOOLS” by Troye Sivan


Your name: Sierra Thornton

Blurb: Although one of Troye Sivan’s latest songs, “Rush”, is trending on both TikTok and Spotify, my introduction to his catalogue came from his debut album, “Blue Neighbourhood”. Gaining rapid attention and success from his YouTube channel in the early 2010s, Troye Sivan officially came out as gay in 2013 with “Coming Out” at over 10 million views. Although the album is a nostalgic classic for those in middle school at the time, the third track “FOOLS” is a phenomenal listen for any demographic. With a backing track that incorporates both slowed piano and charged synths, the blend works surprisingly well to create an atmospheric escape. The lyrics are simplistic, but not bland, by honing in on the longing and nervous flutter that young love often encompasses.


Song: “Papercut” by Kevin Abstract


Name: Crissy Saucier

Blurb: Kevin Abstract, the frontman of the Brockhampton, is one of the few represented gay rappers in the music industry today. “Papercut,” a song on his sophomore album, “American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story,” is a beautiful serenade to Abstract’s very first confrontation with his sexuality. Abstract admits that the first time he acknowledged his sexuality out loud was while recording this track, shocking his friends who listened in the studio. The echoey chords and powerful background harmonies provide an angelic instrumental to Abstract’s intimate reflection of his identity. Abstract depicts his vulnerable relationship with his sexuality through his harsh and genuine lyrics, aiming to inspire his listeners to find comfort in their own identities.


Song: “Used to Be Young”by Miley Cyrus


Name: Taylor Zirilli

Blurb: This is the first song Miley Cyrus has released since she dropped her new studio album “Endless Summer Vacation,” in March. The song’s release was partnered with the introduction to the “Used to be Young” series featuring  Cyrus discussing all of her major accomplishments and big moments within the film and music industry over the last 22 years. As Cyrus is known for melding into many different genres of music, this song is a slow pop song with a strong meaning behind it. Miley takes the listener through a journey of self-reflection on the past and the many ways she felt judged and misunderstood specifically by the media. I enjoyed this song so much not only for its catchy soundtrack but also because of how honest it is. We have all had points in our life where we felt misunderstood, but I can’t imagine my worst moments as a child or young adult being plastered all over the media.


Song: “Don’t Even Worry” by Becca Mancari, ft. Brittany Howard


Name: Caitlin Reardon, Head Arts Editor

Blurb: Before the recent release of their third record “Left Hand,” breakout alt-indie artist Becca Mancari tapped close friend and five-time Grammy winner Brittany Howard for their sultry single, “Don’t Even Worry.” Howard’s influence on the track is apparent through its heavy yet energetic instrumentals. The Nashville-based musician tastefully combines their sweet, light vocals with Howard’s gritty vocal style, creating a contrasting blend that marries the pair’s individual sound. The two repeat the lyrics, “Go and take your time / I’ll be right here / Don’t even worry, I’ve got you,” wielding a powerful message of support and hope for the ones you love during hard times. Slowly building a push-and-pull tension between weighted drums, a bluesy guitar and stirring string orchestra, the musicians’ vocal timbre cohesively weaves together as one vehicle. Mancari and Howard’s “Don’t Even Worry” is an intimate force to be reckoned with, proving that a strong friendship often translates effortlessly and organically into the studio.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *