20-Bi-Teen was a really queer year, especially when it comes to music. I’ve been writing Queer Your Ears regularly for the entire year, so I’ve been keeping up with all the new queer and trans tunes. I also fell in love this year! As such I’ve been keeping an especially close eye on lesbian love songs, because making playlists is essentially one of my love languages. I mean, really, making mix CDs used to be my jam in high school; I bought myself an external CD burner before they came standard on every computer. And then CD-ROMs became obsolete and now I couldn’t make a mix CD if I tried and even if I did, where would she play it? Sending a Spotify link is not nearly as romantic as hand-delivering a wrapped, custom-made CD.
However, Valentine’s Day is coming up in only two months! This is my holiday gift to those of you who struggle with Valentine’s Day gifts: make her a Spotify playlist! Even though I just said it’s not as romantic as a mix CD, it can still be really cute. And guess what, I’ve already done most of the work for you!
Here are 20 lovely lesbian love songs to kick off your playlist. Important: not every artist on here identifies as a lesbian! Some are bi, some are queer, some might ID as non-binary. But they all feel like queer songs about loving women to me, so that’s essentially how I chose them.
There are a few genres on here, so you’ve got options depending on what your girl likes — though, of course, most of it is slow acoustic ballads, because these are love songs, after all. But there’s some variety! Also, I didn’t write a Queer Your Ears for this month, because who releases new music in the last month of the last year of a decade and expects it to get attention with all of the Best of Decade lists going around? By the way, look out for one of those from me soon!
Oh, and of course, here’s the Spotify playlist. They are in a particular order this time, by the way, so maybe listen in order first before you do the shuffle thing? <3
This feels lowkey corny to me as someone born and raised in the Bay Area. But I feel like I sometimes underestimate the power of someone deciding to come out and publicly declare their gayness. Especially in country music and the places where that’s popular! Corny can be cute!
Brittany Howard is not the first to compare love to drugs, but she’s done it in one of the loveliest ways I’ve heard. I made the obvious realization lately, that I think a lot of queer people come to late, that while casual sex is great and can be fun and wonderful in its own way, there’s something special about really loving, intimate sex with someone about whom you care deeply that you can’t get from casual encounters. I really love how simple and wholesome this verse is, essentially a roundabout way of describing epic, soul healing, amazing gay sex: “And where I come from/ We work hard and grind and hustle all day/ There comes a time, there comes a time/ At night, where we get to play/ And we smile and laugh and jump and clap/ And yell and holler and just feel great.”
“I think we can do it if we try” opens what seems like a lesbian hesitation anthem, but by the second verse we’ve U-Hauled our way right into “Oh my god/ I think I’m in love with you.” This sounds — like, honestly, a lot of songs on this playlist, if we’re being honest, and maybe like a lot of pop music in general, if we’re being real honest — like a young person’s first gay love affair. “Standing here alone now/ Think that we can drive around/ I just want to say/ How I love you with your hair down/ Baby you don’t got to fight/ I’ll be here ’til the end of time/ Wishing that you were mine/ Pull you in, it’s alright.” Clairo doesn’t know what to do; should they stay or drive around? She will love her forever and protect her — not that she really know what any of that means, practically speaking. But that young gay energy is still exhilarating and we should celebrate it!
Now, here’s a much more grown up, mature love anthem. Love as religion, bodies as altars, sex as sacred glory. There’s still some hesitation and longing here, but the vibe is much more sensitive, adult caring rather than giddy youthful lust: “I want to consecrate your body/ turn the water to wine/ I know you’re thinking about kissing too/ Oh girl, don’t stop/ please/ you can lay your hands on me.” I love the use of religious symbolism masks what is really just some lovely, sexy consent talk: “Don’t stop, please/ you can lay your hands on me… Baby, don’t apologize.”
Despite how hackneyed “I resisted falling in love with you, but I couldn’t help it” is in mainstream culture, it hits in a different, special way for us. Now, Grimes here indicates that the reason she was trying not to fall in love was because she “got hurt before,” and told her mom that there’d be “no more drama.” And, the song doesn’t get into the politics of queer visibility either, like Katie Pruitt did above, and the music video is also a studio session cop-out. I want to believe she’s genuinely so young and ahead of the curve that homophobia isn’t even on her mind? Or maybe it’s a missed opportunity. Regardless, this is a great anthem for all the cynics out there who aren’t even trying to do the whole “love thing” and then get caught up. You love to see it.
I feel like there are so many queer women in rap, but a lot of them hedge their bets and do the whole gender-neutral pronouns thing, or play up the bisexuality and have men in their video, or whatever. I haven’t heard hip-hop that’s explicit about woman-to-woman romantic – not just sexual! – affection like this in a WHILE. I’m glad that Young M.A. is getting some competition too as far as out lesbian rappers go! Anyway, this song is FULL of dope ass bars. “The world is so full of production/ I think she the lone acapella/ So I’m nervously runnin’ through ways in my mind/ ’til I find a good way I can tell her.” “I know you sick of the fake/ We can just dip out the place/ Take you to dinner, we fill up our plates/ Rarely the one who can make a mistake/ I got decisions to make/ Am I a cannibal? Look like an animal/ and she just told me she wanna get ate/ Dammit that look like a lot on my plate.” It’s fun and flirty and sexy and the music video is lit. Don’t sleep on Chika!
Holy shit. Holy shit! The raunchy, dirty, lustful, explicit, explicitly gay sex anthem I didn’t know I needed. How bold is Kehlani for this? “Tryna eat you, then I’m tryna kiss you/ ‘Cause I know you freaky and you want a taste/ Yeah, I fuckin’ feel you/ mean I feel you fuckin’/ Shit, I feel you cummin’.” And Teyana, no stranger to being incredibly hot beyond all comprehension, comes with the realness as well: “Talk that shit/ play with that clit/ and watch it rain on you, baby.” God damn. I’m sweating.
I love how caring and supportive broox sounds here for her love. She’s clearly not doing well, and what do “lovers do?” “I will take you higher/ I’ll make you feel lighter/ I’ll take you higher/ Spark up your fire… You can fall in my arms now/ I won’t let you go down, down… lemme fuel you up and get you good/ Get you up and going guaranteed.” Now, this song is super sexy, but I see a darkened room, candles, some CBD salve, snacks, a comfy bed, two lovers, naked, with one giving the other a long-ass, lovely, relaxing massage. Like really digging in. And maybe it transitions into sex but it’s not about that, it’s about just devoting yourself to trying to help your partner feel better. That really is what lovers do!
Is there a more 20-BiTeen way to describe the feeling you get from your lover than “It’s like cold brew after getting high?” This song is like the smoothest cruise line (do people still say “cruise?” Is it just a “pick-up” line?) ever. “You can come to my bedroom/ I’ll give you a tour, give you something to look forward to.” OOF! I’m sweating. At A-Camp I met an interesting person, and my girlfriend stalked their Insta, and they have “theirs and theirs” wall-mounted Hitachi magic wand holders on either side of their bed! What!? Imagine chatting this person up, and then getting a glimpse of their bedroom seeing that, and then you look back at their face and they just have this knowing grin. Dizzy Fae is right there. Fae has all kinds of different analogies for being eaten — “dip me in chocolate, smooth me out and place me on berries,” and “dip me in honey, slide me out and eat me with nothing.” Like, god damn. This is the sexiest fucking song.
King Princess calls this a “bottom anthem,” and I think it’s lovely. A sweet little love song from a bottom to her top. Without that information, or a basic understanding of D/s relationships or power play, some of these lyrics could seen as problematic: “I’m your pet,” she croons, and later, “I don’t care if you degrade me/ ‘Cause after all, you are my safety/ and everything you touch just feels like yours to me.” But with context it’s so cute to me. And I love that in the chorus, it’s clear that this is a power play, not abuse: “I’ll let you throw it down/ hit the back.” It’s not just something her partner does, it’s something she lets her do. This is by far my favorite King Princess song.
Betty Who’s album was released on February 15th of this year, and it’s chock full of queer love songs. I struggled whether to choose this song or “Marry Me,” which is so lovely but a little too on the nose, or “Between You And Me,” which is more about unrequited love for a friend (but has a lovely music video in which Who plays her own love interest). What I love about this one, though, is how it deals honestly with the struggle of being in a long-term relationship: “And sometimes I wonder why we have to work this hard/ But here we are/ I remember nobody loves me like you do/ I remember I don’t want perfect, I want you.”
I think on the surface this is about Lesbian Relationship Hesitation — “I wasted all my time/ Waiting for the stars to align/ To intertwine,” and then kicking yourself when you’re finally ready but your lover has like, moved away or you missed your chance. But I think it’s just as wonderful as an anthem to the long-distance relationship: “She makes me wonder why/ She makes me wonder what I’m doing/ Spending all these seconds away from her/ The time I’m losing/ being far away/ I’m lost in space/ Make it go away/ all this space between us.”
The vibes of this low-fi track mesh perfectly with the lyrics, about laying in bed with someone you love after waking up first, and just watching them sleep. It’s impossibly intimate, just like the experience is. Her little non-sequitur thoughts about her lover while enjoying that morning haze — I imagine this is on a Sunday morning and there’s no rush to get up or do anything – are precious: “I never get/ Bored of lookin’ at you/ ‘Cause every time/ I see somethin’ new/ Like the scar on your spine/ You fell off a roof when you were nine/ You’ve lived a life/ Before me/ I don’t ever wanna leave/ I’ll watch you sleep/ And listen to you breathe.”
What are you willing to do for your lover? Would you die for them? Would you kill for them? Now, I don’t necessarily condone the sentiment, but “It’s not enough/ to run that dog out of this town/ My weapon’s cold in the backseat/ hunt that monster down/ I wanna be the one/ who kills the man who hurt you, darling” is perhaps the most romantic lyric on this entire list.
There’s something so special about finding love within one’s own cultural community, especially when that community is marginalized and/or has been colonized by the wider culture. “You have eyes/ Just like mine/ And your hair/ The blackest shine/ When I see you/ And I notice/ What a girl is/ In this moment.” This little indigenous love anthem is so simple, so pure, so beautiful, and the music video is perfect. Also, how incredible is “You like milk? I have cows” as a pick-up line?
Here’s where we start getting to the heart-on-your-sleeve acoustic ballads. This is just a pure, acoustic, “I would do anything for you, won’t you please love me?” song, infused with a, “Hey, I’m kind of going out on a limb here being open about my gay love for you… do you want to do this? Because I’m ready.”
I don’t know if this song is about a romantic love or a platonic one, but I have to put it here because it’s about loving someone who’s really, really sad. “Baby, you’re wishing you could die with the moon/ but I would miss you/ You’re there picking out your flaws from 3 A.M. ’til noon/ Like the bad kids at school used to do/ Well, fuck ’em, ’cause you turned out so kind and so cute.” I know that love isn’t going to heal anyone’s depression or whatever, but when I was in that place, knowing that people would miss me and that I was loved was super helpful in keeping me alive. There aren’t enough love songs like this one.
I wasn’t going to include this song on here, because it’s more of an unrequited love song, and I was trying to focus on requited love songs. But I had to include it just for these lines: “She smells like lemongrass and sleep/ She tastes like apple juice and peach… She tastes like birthday cake/ and story time/ and fall.” Couldn’t be cuter.
There’s a moment in every relationship when each person has a decision to make. Where is this going? Do I want to commit to it? Because you can only be in an “Are we dating or…?” situation for so long. You have to decide – is this going to stay casual? Or am I all in?
I saw Heather Mae live when she came through San Francisco, and when she started to play this song, she invited a queer person up onto the stage. The entire audience — well, of about 10 people, it was a pretty small show — collectively held their breath. She started playing the intro chords, and the person invited their partner up, and then they proposed. And Heather Mae played the song, and they danced, and we all cried. After the show, the new couple beamed around the venue showing off the ring, and I chatted with Heather. “This was… well, expected, I guess!” I offered, and she agreed, and said she’s already played it at multiple weddings, and this wasn’t the first and wouldn’t be the last queer proposal at one of her shows, and she’s just so happy to be part of the process. I’ve written about this elsewhere, but I had to again. It’s just so simple and beautiful.
I didn’t include this because, as far as I know, Kim Petras is straight, so this isn’t really a “lesbian” love song. But not everyone on this list IDs as a lesbian or even a woman, so… well, who cares about all these labels anyway? I don’t know. Some people? I wanted it to be all songs that are explicit about — or from artists who are explicit about — being a woman-loving woman. I don’t know. Kim Petras is so incredible. This song is so fucking hot. I couldn’t leave it off! When she says “I love when you love me back to back/ Baby be my QB while I’m throwin’ it back” I felt that. And then when she says “Have me hittin’ notes… high notes” and she hits the high note? Damn.