Well, it’s been a hell of a year for queer artists. First we lost David Bowie, and now Prince has passed away. Living in Minneapolis, the feeling of loss right now is palpable—but also the feeling of celebration and togetherness. Prince was a true member of our community. There are not many celebrities who regularly open their home to the public, where they throw parties and serve their guests pancakes in the morning. MPR invited community members and celebrities to call in and share stories about Prince. One such call came from Jim James of My Morning Jacket (don’t ask me why). He said (roughly) that Prince was ‘half man, half woman, half black, half white. He was a rainbow.’ Whether you were a fan of Prince or David Bowie, it is impossible to deny that they both had a profound effect on queer and gay culture. They challenged the public perception of what it is to be a man. And Prince was not just sex-positive, but body positive. Here’s a live performance of “Gett Off,” which features one of his most, uh, poetic lyrics about his proclivities, “I like’em fat. I like’em proud. You got to have a mother for me, now move your big ass round this way so I can work on that zipper, Baby!” Preach, Prince, preach!
Speaking of queer artists, Alex Newell, the actor who portrayed queer/trans character Unique on Glee, is poised to transition successfully into a full-fledged music career. He has released a string of catchy club singles, including “Collect My Love” with The Knocks, “All Cried Out” with Blonde, and now an EP of his own, Power, featuring my favorite song to date, “This Ain’t Over.” But I thought I would share another new collaboration with you, “Kill the Lights” with DJ Cassidy and Nile Rodgers. It’s a very faithful ‘70s disco throwback that was created for HBO’s series, Vinyl. Take a listen:
With any luck, you have already heard of Prince-vetted, Minneapolis-based, hip-hop artist Lizzo by now, but chances are you have not yet had the pleasure of being introduced to GRRRL PRTY. Singer/Emcees Manchita, Sophia Eris and Lizzo make up the core group, with others coming and going. Check out the sexy video for “Can I Live (feat. Velvet Negroni)” from their most recent EP, GRRRL PRTY x BIONIK:
If you like it, be sure to give a listen to the killer track “Poppin’” as well.
If slow and sexy R&B is your thing, check out Gallant. His sound is reminiscent of Miguel and The Weeknd. Falsetto reigns on his new album, Ology. Gallant has been something of a rising web star since his Zebra EP came out in 2014. With the release of this excellent new album, I am sure that his career will only continue to pick up steam. Gallant has collaborated frequently with indie artist Sufjan Stevens. There is a pretty excellent cover of Stevens’ track “Blue Bucket of Gold” that you can find on YouTube as part of the In The Room series. In addition, Seal recorded a duet version of the first single from Gallant’s new album, “Weight in Gold,” for the In The Room series as well. Here is that track:
Next is a British artist whose album I have not been able to stop listening to for the last month. Lapsley is something like a female James Blake. Her voice is captivating, and her songs are generally structured around fragmented vocal and percussive loops—with a healthy dose of synth thrown into the mix. Check out this gorgeous number, “Falling Short,” from her debut full-length album Long Way Home:
And to close out the blog, here’s a little bit of crazy for you—the good kind of crazy. Grimes is an incredible visual artist as well as a musician. Her videos score right up there with Lady Gaga and Bjork on the level of pure, unadulterated chaos and what-the-fuckery. Here is her latest video, and my favorite song from Art Angels, “Kill v. Maim”:
Actor, writer, painter. Drinks too much whiskey. Eats too much cheese.