Underrated Queer Artists Who Should Be in Your Rotation

I have always been a music lover but didn’t become a music journalist until 2021. In that time, I’ve interviewed lots of musicians, done album reviews, and the like. What I’ve learned during this time is a pretty universal truth: Streaming has changed how we discover and listen to music. Before streaming, I found music through friends, colleagues, and music video channels on TV. Or just by going to a show and discovering the opener for the band I came to see. Apple Music, Spotify, TIDAL, and other streaming platforms came into the fray and brought with them algorithms that are supposed to tell what you like by seeing what you listen to already.

Anyone who has a streaming service can tell you these algorithms are often off, show you popular artists in the genres you already listen to, and don’t necessarily introduce you to new genres. If it wasn’t for working as a music journalist in Pittsburgh, I wouldn’t have met and listened to many of the underground musicians I know now.

With this in mind, I set out to make a playlist after getting an email from a band about their new single. Faint Shape emailed me to spotlight their song “I Wanna Be Your Bed,” and since I’m always down to check out to something new, I gave them a listen. When I went to their Spotify profile, I was shocked to see how few streams they had, because I really vibed with their music. Faint Shape is a queer-fronted band, so of course I wanted to take the opportunity to shine on their music, and the idea for a playlist for queer musicians that haven’t broken out yet came to me.

Before I go any further, I need to say this, because I know it to be true. Spotify numbers are not equivalent to talent. Great musicians that have their music on these platforms often don’t have thousands or millions of streams like musicians backed by major record labels, it doesn’t mean they aren’t talented. Also, just because I’ve never heard of this person or band doesn’t mean they are necessarily unknown. Many of them are probably recognized artists in the cities they live in, probably drawing out big crowds in their towns.

I also need to acknowledge that Spotify is deeply flawed. They have the lowest pay rate per stream among platforms, so artists make a lot less. The reason I’m using it is because of the monthly listener metric that paints an (albeit not full) picture of where these artists are in their music careers. I also find that despite its reputation, a lot of people use Spotify. If some of these artists have Bandcamps or places where you can buy directly from them and they see more of a profit, I’ll do my best to link those here.

All of the artists on this playlist have less than 10,000 monthly listeners, with many having less than 100 in total. I chose 10,000 as a number because, for me, it’s a good baseline to measure whether or not people outside of that person’s circle and city have found their music. If you have more than 10,000 monthly listeners, you’re probably doing pretty good as far as discoverability across platforms and Spotify. You might have a few of your songs on one of their curated playlists as well.

I tried to include a wide variety of genres and wanted to focus on queer artists of color, so you will find some of them here. Mostly, I wanted to spotlight their songs I felt were exceptional and deserve to be heard on a wider scale.

Okay, so, let’s dig into some of these songs.

Faint Shape’s “I Wanna Be Your Bed” is a great shoegaze-y track that is fast and severe, but still playful. The vocals of the lead singer, J, give the track that playful lightness that sold me on the song on first listen. The playlist kicks off with this song, and I think you’re in for a treat, dear listener.

AMEN” by Oompa is a braggadocious track that really hits. It’s a head-bobber for sure. Oompa has been around for a while and has performed with lots of acclaimed artists, which really speaks to my note about how Spotify streams aren’t indicative of talent. She’s been cosigned by other big artists, so don’t be fooled by the Spotify numbers, she should definitely be on your radio. Also, this track is a collab with Pittsburgh’s Benji. Shoutout to the hometown!

When I posted a call for artists on Twitter, many people recommended Ekko Astral, and their song TRANSDEMIC, BABY! is so fucking good. Another shoutout to Pittsburgh, an artist that I know from there, f3ralcat, is also featured on the playlist.

I think my favorite song on the playlist is Thurmon Green’s “Creature from the Deep,” slow and tantalizing, this song has body. And vocals! And soul! The last song on the playlist is “How Could You Say” by Claudine Magbag, an artist I found on TikTok. She has been trying to get this song to go viral on the platform, so run it up when you listen!

Here’s a link to the playlist for you to stream. Happy Listening!

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Dani Janae is a poet and writer based out of Pittsburgh, PA. When she's not writing love poems for unavailable women, she's watching horror movies, hanging with her tarantula, and eating figs. Follow Dani Janae on Twitter and on Instagram.

danijanae has written 157 articles for us.


  1. Nice! I always appreciate a good playlist, and ever since I read a study that suggested people stop listening to new music in their early 30s, I’ve made it a point to seek out new stuff. I started using last.fm to track my music on November 30 of last year, and since then I’ve listened to 1,368 different artists and discovered some new faves.

    I find Spotify pretty good at suggesting new-to-me artists I’ll like, although it can sometimes feel like it’s playing me the same stuff over and over. I find I can kinda break it out of its rut by playing a specific song that’s a little outside of my usual genres and letting it play the “song radio” afterward.

  2. Thanks for this!

    For anyone on Apple Music, I built out this playlist with the title: Autostraddle artists to watch by Dani Janae

    I have a question. For those of us who are on another platform, would it be possible for you to just list all the songs with title- artist as plain text? I can’t copy names from the Spotify list, so I need to retype them to find them. It’s not a big problem, but if this is something you could easily do, that would be fantastic. If you don’t want to clutter up the article, perhaps you could list them in the first comment?

    Thanks again for pulling this out, I’m excited to learn about underrated queer artists.

    • I Wanna Be Your Bed by Faint Shape
      I Like Girls by HUSHPUPPY
      Fluid by Basit
      PIGGY BANK by Djor
      Easier by Sad Girl Aquatics Club
      Amen by Oompa, Benji. (that’s two different artists)
      Misty Moonlight by Love Transmissions
      Dance On The Ashes by Pine & Fire
      TRANSDEMIC, BABY by Ekko Astral
      Cool Girls by Ruby Layne
      When by Deau Eyes
      OVER IT by Poet22
      Not At All by Buzzwords
      Earth (We’re In This Together) by How I Became Invisible
      my batteries r low and its getting dark (b seeing u) by all cats are beautiful
      Late Night Vibing by f3ralcat
      Low Down by Jays-OK, Nate Styles (this one is also two different artists)
      Creature From The Deep by Thurmon Green
      How Could You Stay? by Claudine Magbag

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