15 gems by queer artists that you may have missed in 2021

Jon Ali is In The Know’s music contributor. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram for more.

We did it! We made it through another year. 

2021 managed to be yet another roller coaster of a year like 2020. But luckily, amidst life’s many ups and downs this year, there was (thankfully) a ton of great music to help distract, heal and uplift us.

Artists who are part of the LGBTQ+ community went especially out of their way to make sure we were constantly supplied with ample amounts of musical escapism.

To celebrate the end of the year, we’re taking a look back at 15 songs from queer artists that you may have missed in 2021. Better late than never, we say!

Troye Sivan, “Angel Baby

Troye Sivan is certainly no stranger to the airwaves. He dominated speakers worldwide with Regard and Tate McRae on “You” all summer long. But we fear his glorious power ballad “Angel Baby,” released at the tail end of summer, was severely disregarded. It’s Troye like we’ve never heard before. Here’s hoping there’s plenty more to come from him in 2022.

Siena Liggins, “Dirty Girl” (with Baby Tate)

Detroit-born, Atlanta-based talent Siena Liggins undeniably came through on her mission to deliver “queer, b*tchy, tweetable” music with her debut album, Ms. Out Tonight. The track “Dirty Girl” serves as the satisfying, filthy highlight. “I know you’re guilty, you wanna be filthy,” she sings on the hook. Yes, yes, we do!

Arlissa, “Rules”

On “Rules,” British pop powerhouse Arlissa showcases beautifully heartbreaking storytelling with restraint. She lays bare her emotions and vocals in this gorgeous pop confessional from her most recent EP, The Lovers. Her voice alone will have you coming back for repeated listens.

John Duff, “Do It”

L.A. pop prince on the rise John Duff remained “one to watch” this year with his string of non-stop releases. But it’s the sparkly and feel-good “Do It” that truly did it for us. The slick, summertime-ready bop came packed with a futuristic dance strut while smartly evoking some of our favorite pop divas like Janet Jackson and Britney Spears.

Rebecca Black, “Worth It for the Feeling”

“Friday” viral sensation Rebecca Black came roaring back with a slew of new music and a confident new attitude in 2021. “Worth It for the Feeling,” from her Rebecca Black Was Here EP, is unexpectedly divine. With her chic and sophisticated slow-burn approach, Rebecca is proving she’s got more up her sleeve than some would’ve expected.

Vetta Borne, “Kissing Strangers”

Melbourne producer-songwriter Vetta Borne kept the disco-pop trend alive and well in 2021, and we’re so thankful for it. “Kissing Strangers” is a purely timeless tune full of summery pulsations, shimmering synths and buttery melodies, despite being inspired by a breakup. We can hear Vetta Borne taking over on a worldwide scale if the bops continue to be this good.

Daya, “Bad Girl”

Daya knows a thing or two about serving up some perfect pop (“Hide Away,” “Insomnia,” etc.). Her early 2021 drop “Bad Girl” certainly continued to prove as much, all while serving as a fierce declaration of who she’s become. “Bad girl, need a bad girl, cause the bad boys just don’t cut it,” she declares. Standout song, standout growth.

Starrah, “Miss This”

She’s the songwriting superstar who writes hits for our faves (Beyoncé, Normani, Megan Thee Stallion, etc.) and herself, too. “Miss This,” the lead single and opening track from her debut album, The Longest Interlude, is a short but satisfying display of her genre-bending and innovative musicality. The limit does not exist in the world of Starrah. 

Georgel, Katzù Oso, “Casa”

Mexican singer-songwriter Georgel approaches his Latinx-driven sound with a fresher perspective than what we’re used to hearing in the mainstream. “Casa,” from his fantastic EP Claro, should serve as a great introduction for you with its delightful dreaminess and warm, slow groove. Once you dive in, you’ll instantly be put at ease… so take a dip!

Lagoona Bloo, “Hands”

Lagoona Bloo has been holding it down in the vocal department for years in the drag queen trio Stephanie’s Child, alongside fellow members Jan Sport and Rosé. But it’s only this year that we truly get to see her shine all on her own with the release of her debut EP, AQUA. Standout “Hands” is a shimmering and rousing showcase of her undeniable talent, proving that you don’t need to be on Drag Race to be a true drag pop princess.

Mykki Blanco, “It’s Not My Choice” feat. Blood Orange

It had been nearly five years since we got to hear a project from rapper, poet and trailblazer Mykki Blanco, but they (thankfully) came back in 2021 with the mini-album Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep. “It’s Not My Choice,” their team-up with fellow innovator Blood Orange, was an immediate standout from the very first play. This smooth and pensive groove is collaboration done right.

Mel 4Ever, “About Fashion

If you were anywhere near queer nightlife in NYC this summer, you know Mel 4Ever as the true breakout star of 2021. Mel lets you know from the jump that she is already the fully realized, unapologetic pop star of her dreams. She sings, “My body is my fashion, my scars are still my fashion,” on hyper-pop throb “About Fashion” from her debut EP, and we’re fully on board with that declaration. The time to get familiar was yesterday.

BabyAngel69, “Cruel Intentions”

BabyAngel69 is certainly a newer face in the pop underground, but the sounds and visuals from their single “Cruel Intentions” will have you thinking they’re a seasoned pro. The disco-infused throb feels like an instant classic from the very first play with its modern yet nostalgic blend of pop thrills. The potential is undeniably there — and we’re ready for more!

L Devine, “Die On The Dancefloor”

English songstress L Devine provided us with non-stop bops all year long during the rollout of her latest project, Near Life Experience. But if you’re just catching up, we recommend “Die On The Dancefloor,” a cheeky yet shimmering dance floor anthem that truly defines all the nights out we missed during the early days of the pandemic.

Gia Woods, “Enough of You”

Fresh off releasing her debut EP Cut Season last year, L.A. princess Gia Woods came storming back in 2021 with her strut-ready “Enough of You,” which found her steering into more dance-ready territory in the most pleasing of ways. 

Mike Taveira, “Switch”

With every release, newcomer Mike Taveira keeps showcasing more and more potential and depth. His first 2021 release, “Switch,” like the title suggests, feels like a full switch into pop star mode with Mike confidently strutting his way through a pulsating dance groove. We’re keeping the Mike Taveira “Switch” on from here on out.

If you enjoyed this story, check out Jon Ali’s spotlight on another artist you should know, HARLOE!

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