Not only was February full of incredible new LGBTQ2S+ music, but it was also the month when this little column turned one year old! Monthly Tune-Up has officially done a lap around the sun, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to share this edition of song picks to close out February. Maybe it’s a tiny bit of the sentimental in me talking, but this is truly one of my favourite roundups of tunes that I’ve written (so far!). On deck, I’ve got two different collabs from PinkPantheress and Ice Spice, and Bully and Soccer Mommy, experimental R&B from Kelela, moody dance pop from Rebecca Black and other rock, punk, pop and hip-hop goodies for you to treat your ears to. Happy listening!
“Boy’s a liar Pt. 2”—PinkPantheress featuring Ice Spice
Did you start 2023 off with a nasty breakup? Did you spend Valentine’s Day pretending not to care about checking your phone for texts from *that* person, even though you really, really wanted to? U.K. songstress PinkPatheress and bisexual rapper Ice Spice, also known as Isis Gaston, are here to give you a comforting hug with their track “Boy’s a liar Pt. 2.” Originally a solo song by PinkPatheress, Ice Spice’s appearance brings a whole new layer of sass and vulnerability, calling out the hurt caused by the cheating and neglectful “boy” in question, while also throwing up a carefree middle finger and carrying on without him. The innocence of PinkPantheress’s singing paired with Gaston’s soft raspiness and the subtle but groovy bass line dancing beneath makes for an absolute dynamic duo of a collab. No truer words have been spoken when PinkPantheress sings, “The boy’s a liar,” followed by a chorus of, “I’m good enough”—the perfect remedy for mending a broken heart.
“Raven,” the title song off of queer alternative R&B artist Kelela’s latest album, makes you wait for its payoff. The languid simplicity of Kelela’s siren-esque singing, a synth that moves up and down and a sprinkling of piano and lush harmonies takes its time building itself up. It’s wrought with gentle tension and suspense that then bursts like a bubble when a heavy, rave-like beat drops three minutes into the run-time. What follows is a dark kaleidoscope of sounds and textures that swirl around listeners’ brains like a vortex. The experimental aspects that Kelela brings to her R&B/pop foundation is fresh and intense. There’s imagery of a raven being reborn and breaking free, signifying stepping into oneself and asserting independence and control despite past hardships in life. “Raven” is a unique and mysterious sonic ride.
“Misery Loves Company”—Rebecca Black
Listen. You should know by this point that Rebecca Black has proven herself to be more than just the “Friday” girl from 2011 (and if you don’t, well, that’s on you). The queer singer has released multiple EPs and singles that delve into the hyperpop and dance-pop genres. She even remixed “Friday” a few years ago and featured Dorian Electra, Big Freedia and 3OH!3, giving her infamous song a high-pitched, latex-covered makeover. Her full-length debut album Let Her Burn expands on her ideas as a singer and songwriter as she continues to play with hyperpop and an eclectic plethora of other sounds. “Misery Loves Company” might remind Rina Sawayama fans of her early work, with its futuristic synths that build and climb around Black’s voice, and a swirling bass throbbing underneath the euphoric choruses. The contrast of light and dark brings the themes of crawling back to a bad relationship to life. Just like Let Her Burn’s cover art, “Misery Loves Company” is hot and moody.
“Running Out Of Time”—Paramore
The emo resurgence that’s been happening over the last few years has given us plenty of new artists who draw inspiration from early/mid-2000s pop punk—but none of them can quite touch Paramore, OG veterans in this genre and proud LGBTQ2S+ allies who are still releasing bangers today. Hayley Williams, Taylor York and Zac Farro returned with Paramore’s long-awaited sixth studio album, This Is Why. As a near-lifelong fan of the band, myself and many other Pmore enthusiasts were delighted to hear the post-punk direction the band has been taking their sound in recently. “Running Out Of Time” is a prime demonstration of the trio honouring their emo/punk roots while adding some R&B and dance flavour into the mix. The song’s title is self-explanatory—the exhaustion of feeling like we don’t have enough hours in the day to get our shit done is something everyone has experienced. Williams’s powerhouse vocals bounce back and forth between weary and erratic, and the smooth, groove-based percussion and punchy guitar riffs make this song so damn catchy. Being late and worrying if you’re a bad person has never sounded so stylish!
“THAT ONE”—Chris Pierce
Jubilant, flirty and infectious, Chris Pierce’s new song “THAT ONE” warms up cold winter days and is on a fast track to becoming a new favourite jam of mine to blast during spring and summer. The queer indie pop artist sings of new love and infatuation, of getting to know someone special and thinking they could be “the one.” Pierce’s pivot to rapping in one verse, as well as the luxurious disco, funk and hip-hop elements that wrap around listeners’ ears, pulling us into the exciting world of the song—it’s pure pop prowess. We can’t hear the playful personality in Pierce’s vocal performance and not smile. “THAT ONE” has good vibes all around, and while it can easily be thought of as a belated feel-good Valentine’s Day tune, it’ll have you wanting to fall in love and have a wild, romantic night out any time of the year you listen to it.
“Lose You”—Bully featuring Soccer Mommy
The spirit of ’90s grunge/rock acts à la the Breeders, Plumtree and Liz Phair is alive and thriving on “Lose You,” the newest track from bisexual artist Alicia Bognanno of Bully, featuring Soccer Mommy’s Sophie Allison. Being in the alternative/indie rock scene and having similar musical styles, Bognanno and Allison’s collaboration makes perfect sense on paper, and even more sense upon hearing the song. From the fuzzy guitar riffs that are a staple in the era it’s pulling from, to the touch of bedroom pop qualities, to Allison singing backup vocals that make the two sound like a full-fledged band instead of separate artists pairing up—each layer comes together so satisfyingly, making “Lose You” sound like a song that’s existed for decades. The sunny melody that contrasts with the lyrics about the “pain and reality of impermanence,” as Bognanno has described on her Bandcamp, are the cherry on top of this track.