Every Contender for Song of the Summer 2024 Is Queer

On the last weekend of May, my friends and I attended the music festival Boston Calling —  mainly to see Megan Thee Stallion and Chappell Roan. Neither of them were headlining that night, but the crowds there for their performances indicated otherwise. Throughout the day, I saw a sea of pink cowboy hats sprinkled throughout the festival, glittering evidence of Chappell’s rise.

In January, a friend told me to listen to Chappell Roan, confidently declaring she was going to blow up this year. And so, here we are, my friend’s prophecy coming true as Chappell Roan’s popularity surges. It’s an exciting summer in general for queer pop, Chappell’s success accompanied by the release of newly out Billie Ellish’s sapphic single “LUNCH,” which debuted within the Billboard Top 10. Charli XCX’s “360” music video stars LGBTQ it girls like Hari Nef, Alex Consani, Quen Blackwell, and Richie Shazam. Summer of 2024 is undoubtedly a summer for the girls, and for queer pop-loving women, we have certainly been fed. And summer’s just begun.

It’d be an understatement to say we’ve come a long way since “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry and the kiss between Madonna and Britney Spears were some of the most visible displays of sapphic desire in mainstream pop music. And there’s clear demand for sapphic pop too, as major music events like MUNA’s massive Madison Square Garden show alongside boygenius, Megan thee Stallion’s wildly popular Hot Girl Summer Tour, and Chappell Craze all indicate. Queer artists are selling out huge concerts while putting their queerness at the forefront of their lyrics and performances. Demand for sapphic pop is so great that there’s even a subset of Swifties called Gaylors who theorize if Taylor’s songs are actually about a woman, not an ex-boyfriend. But in the current landscape of explicitly lesbian and bisexual pop, mere speculation doesn’t really satisfy this gay itch.

Thankfully, this new wave of sapphic pop taps into so many different aspects of sapphic love — from the crushing, to confusion, to romancing, to sexual tension, to sex, to heartbreak. Chappell Roan’s The Rise and Fall of The Midwest Princess is the refreshing album that epitomizes this moment by encapsulating all those things. And it does so without any pretense of catering to heteronormativity. Her song “Casual” has specifically gone viral for its most homoerotic lyric: “Knee deep in the passenger seat, and you’re eating me out.” And this isn’t some throwaway line in one verse. It’s part of the chorus. Chappell Roan’s music being as highly visible as it is now — “Good Luck Babe” playing in bars, cafes, even grocery stores all over the country — represents the fact that sapphic love is just like any other love, and she makes it fun and extra queer with her theatrical drag influences.

While gay anthems aren’t anything new, what’s exciting to me about this moment in queer pop music is that the songs are about so much more than your standard coming out story. It’s not focused on queerness being taboo. This moment delivers songs about exploring and celebrating the raw, unfiltered reality of gay love: the lust, the messiness, and all the fun. I remember feeling a sense of shame — embarrassment even — about feeling the same feelings towards girls that I thought were exclusively reserved for boys. When I heard Chappell Roan sing of her desire and yearning so forthright on “Red Wine Supernova” — I like (I like) / What you like (What you like) / Long hair (No bra) It’s my type (That’s right)” — my shame was replaced with relief.

Lyrics like those spoke to things I was too scared to admit about myself. Things I was too shy to explore as part of my sexuality. And I was glad that these feelings could be translated into someone else’s voice. Queer pop has become a source for me to project these confusing emotions, healing the life-long internalized homophobia I once had into an acceptance of myself. MUNA’s “Silk Chiffon” perfectly describes this feeling, embracing the beauty of feminine touch and love in the lines “Silk chiffon / That’s how it feels, oh, when she’s on me, all wrapped in a bouncy, carefree acoustic pop beat. With more and more pop stars identifying as lesbian, bisexual, and queer and openly sharing their struggles with love and talking to girls, queer women — young or old, out or closeted or questioning — have an accessible emotional outlet to scream, cry, and just jam along to.

Nearly 30% of Gen Z identifies within the LBGTQ+ umbrella, and it’s not a surprise the current pop landscape is dominated by queer performers. Expressions of gay love are becoming more normalized and common in mainstream music. This moment in queer pop brings forefront a new wave of innovative sounds from those under-heard voices and identities, and it’s happening at all levels of the industry. In the past, it sometimes felt like there was a lavender-colored glass ceiling keeping queer artists out of the top headlining positions, hardly getting the recognition that they deserve. Now, music festivals like All Things Go, Megan Thee Stallion’s massive summer tour (sold out in most cities) and her replacement of Tyler, the Creator as Lollapalooza headliner,  closely following Chappell Roan’s replacement of the original headliners at Kentuckiana Pride — which drew in record-breaking crowds as a result of her inclusion — are carving out space at the top of the pop charts for lesbians and bisexual women. Meanwhile, you also have a tremendous lineup of new and emerging talent coming up, too, including sapphic artists of color like Arlo Parks, Joy Oladokun, and Towa Bird.

I’m personally excited to see how explicitly gayer we can get next with more and more sapphic erotics woven into music videos and visual components of these artists’ performances. Seeing the performances of other established gay artists like Troye Sivan and Lil Nas X, who are both often campy and sensual, pushes pop visuals into distinctly queer erotics. Slayyter, one of my favorite queer pop artists, is all about drama and seduction in her music videos and visualizers. Last year, she further pushed the traditional pop boundaries by walking down Hollywood Ave naked in her “Erotic Electronic” music video. Rappers like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Bongos” and “WAP” music video from last fall similarly harness these erotic visuals and lustful lyricism unabashedly and proudly. Other queer music videos utilize visuals to tell powerful, heartfelt stories like in Rina Sawayama’s music video “Bad Friend.”In full Japanese salaryman drag, Sawayama expresses themes of how masculinity unfolds between relationships to social settings.

It’s about time pop music caters directly to a previously often ignored audience: gay girls who can love and feel too. Decentering heteronormativity allows space for sapphic singers to shine loud and proud and hopefully will encourage a new generation of gay women to do the same. From Chappell Roan’s “Good Luck Babe” to Billie Eilish’s “LUNCH” to Kehlani’s “After Hours,” every song of the summer candidate this year is queer. It’s officially Sapphic Girl Summer.

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Niya Doyle

Niya Doyle is a culture, beauty, and fashion writer from Boston. She's been writing since she was 12 year old. Aside from being chronically online she enjoys crocheting, baking cookies and brownies, and obsessively browsing Ebay and Depop for vintage thrifts. You can find personal essays and commentary on her Substack, or follow her on Instagram.

Niya has written 1 article for us.


  1. Sadly “Please, Please, Please” is the song of my summer but just cause Biden is our nation’s Barry Keoghan. I really don’t know if quitting or sticking it out is the best strategic option but please, please, please stop embarrassing us.

  2. My nibling and his boyfriend were at Kentuckiana Pride and saw Chappell Roan – from a great distance but still, they scored the best queer bragging rights.

    It is really exciting to see these young queer stars blowing up. Thanks for the overview

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