10 Sapphic Popstars You Need To Listen To

Pop

In the words of Renee Rapp: “Can a gay girl get an amen?”


In the song “Not My Fault,”
Renee Rapp teamed up with Megan Thee Stallion on an unapologetically gay anthem for the major motion picture, Mean Girls: The Musical. The song starts with the now-iconic clip from the original movie in which Cadie confronts Janice with the accusation: “It’s not my fault you’re like, in love with me or something.”

Since
Mean Girls dropped in 2004, there have been many think pieces about Janice’s role as forming the caricature of early-2000s red-scare lesbian panic. That was the year after Madonna and Britney shocked the world by kissing on the VMAs stage. It was four years before Katy Perry solidified her stardom with her hit “I Kissed A Girl.”

Sapphic stars had, of course, achieved fame and success before — in the 90s, having a k.d. Lang poster in your room was the equivalent of listening to
Girl in Red (we’ll get to that) — but queerness was still othered. For better or worse, Glee wouldn’t toxify our airwaves until 2009. And queerness was something to be whispered about, especially sapphic relationships — which went either ignored or fetishized.

Now, in 2024, having an explicitly queer song leading a major studio film shows a seismic sapphic shift. Janice is no longer at the fringes of the film’s plot. And the implications of having a lesbian play Regina George? Yes, a gay girl can get an amen from me.

Renee Rapp is just one of the young, sapphic popstars gracing the airwaves today. In those toxic early-2000s, a popstar’s success depended on how well their sexuality could be marketed by and to men. Hindsight has us reckoning with the
egregious objectification of Britney Spears and her peers in recent years. But now, with social media, the biggest popstars have more control over their image and have achieved success by unapologetically marketing to women — 2023 wasn’t the year of the girl for nothing.

The biggest stars in the world are leveraging predominantly female audiences —
Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, and even male pop giants like Harry Styles. And now the queer girls are taking over by singing not just about girlhood, but explicitly about sapphic desire. Within this zeitgeist, they’re remaking what it means to be a girl for everyone. No longer is it about appealing to the male gaze, it’s about identifying with people who make you feel seen and follow your interests unapologetically. This message is resonating with the straights and sapphics alike. Particularly on TikTok, it’s causing some to realize they’re not as straight as they thought.

From Gay-Famous to Mainstream-Famous

There’s long been a category of celebs who are irrefutable icons in the queer space but who go largely ignored by the mainstream music crowd. Think Troye Sivan. He’s been gaymous since his first album,
Blue Neighborhood. Close to a decade later, he’s finally broken through to the mainstream. Traversing from queer subculture to mainstream pop culture usually takes years. What’s exciting about the latest class of girls who like girls is that they’re starting their careers with mainstream recognition — and a lot of that is thanks to TikTok.

From young artists coming out in the past few years to emerging artists branding themselves as queer from the get-go, queerness is no longer relegated to the sidelines.

However, niche queer music communities are alive and well. It’s how “do you listen to
Girl In Red” became code for asking if a girl was queer. And it’s why, on TikTok, algorithms are leading individuals to queer content creators and suddenly realizing they, too, are queer. “If TikTok is showing you this, you might be gay,” read a wave of videos during the pandemic. And for many people, TikTok was right. Perhaps this surge of sexual awakenings has something to do with a new generation looking for queer representation in music. And finally, finally, it’s here.

Perhaps this is what Jojo Siwa was talking about when she declared in her now-notorious interview that she was the harbinger of “gay pop.” When she said in an interview that she “wanted to start a new genre … called ‘gay pop,’” she might have been onto something. She later clarified that she didn’t mean she invented the genre, but wanted to be part of brining it mainstream. “There’s so many gay pop artists … but I think that those gay pop artists do deserve a bigger home than what they have right now,” she said.

Fortunately for Jojo Siwa, she’s getting what she wanted — gay pop artists are getting way bigger platforms. Unfortunately for Jojo Siwa, it’s not her.

Femininomenons

Take Coachella 2024. It might as well have been Pride. One of the hottest queer moments was the rise of Chappel Roan. Bard of bisexuals everywhere, Chappell Roan has been giving gay girls infectious pop hits since 2020, with “
Pink Pony Club,” the lead single of her debut album The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess.

After her Coachella set and her viral summer single “Good, Luck Babe!” — a song about a queer girl who leaves the singer for a man — Chappell is one of the biggest rising stars to emerge from the desert, the people’s princess. Roan’s album is full of soaring pop bangers that put queerness at the center. The opening track, “Femininomenon” is a neologism Chappell created that combines “feminine” and “phenomenon.” The songs that follow are about coming of age, coming into one’s queerness, and discovering one’s whole self — themes that have earned her a cultish fanbase and a viral
Tiny Desk Concert, the hallmark of any true indie artist.

Other
femininomenons are shaking up the industry scene across all genres — both on and off stage. Billie Eilish has been a global megastar since she was only a teenager. After coming out as bisexual in 2023, Billie made headlines at Coachella for her undeniable queer energy. Having a Grammy-winning pop superstar be openly queer is a sure sign that the tide is changing. Especially since, after penning the song that defined girlhood last year — “What Was I Made For?”, which won Song of the Year at the Grammys for Barbie — her new album, HIT ME HARD AND SOFT, features songs like “Lunch” about queer desire.

Billie isn’t the only established young female singer to explore queer themes in their music and videos. Singers like Madison Beer, who was discovered in 2012 at the age of 13, has since come out as bisexual and talked about songs on her new album that are inspired by relationships with women. And these go beyond the lyrics.

Her newest single, “Make You Mine,” is accompanied by visuals inspired by emblematic bisexual film,
Jennifer’s Body. Her other single, “Sweet Relief,” features a trans model as the love interest — which should not be revolutionary in 2024, but in the mainstream pop world, it still is.

Then there are the bevy of alternative and rock artists who have become queer icons. From Phoebe Bridgers and Boygenius to MUNA and Remi Wolf, Gen Z favorites are here, queer, and soon everyone will be talking about them.

The industry and mainstream audiences are finally feeling the heat from these female stars and paying attention in a huge way. In the words of Chappell Roan herself: “You’d have to stop the world just to stop the feeling.”

Here are the young, queer popstars singing about sapphic love:

Renee Rapp

Our media-untrained princess is a loud and proud lesbian force. After declaring “a huge thank you to every man that helped make me realize that I was a lesbian” at the GLAAD Media Awards, I’m excited to see where her music and personality take her next.

Chappell Roan

This Midwest princess launched the gay pop hit of the summer with “Good Luck, Babe!” We’ve been massive Chappell fans for
years, and we love watching her finally get the attention she deserves. Sapphic sleeper hits from her debut album include “Naked in Manhattan.” Stream The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess now!

Billie Eilish

Billie’s latest era promises to be her most authentic yet. She has always been known for her daring fashion and unconventional approach to popstardom — traits that many have read as signals of her queerness — and it’s thrilling to see her step into her new album bringing an unapologetic vibe to everything she does. Stream “Lunch” now.

Victoria Monét

After winning Best New Artist at the 2024 Grammy Awards, Victoria Monét’s career is primed to to hit the stratosphere. A songwriter and frequent collaborator with big names like Ariana Grande, Monét has been behind the scenes for years. But now her own songs are poised to take over the airwaves. She’s also confirmed her bisexuality and how coming out freed her as an artist — perhaps allowing her to earn her a Grammy.

“In songwriting, I stopped writing pronouns that weren’t accurate,” she told Em Rata on
High Low. “It was really freeing, and it opened up another window of creativity where I could say whatever I actually feel and be true.”

Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers has been the unchallenged giant of the confessional indie singers since her debut album
Stranger in the Alps. Collaborations with artists like MUNA, she has confirmed her queerness in her music and in everything from Sapphic sartorial choices and of course, her work with Boygenius. At this year’s Grammys, Bridgers issued a direct FU to the straight male gatekeepers of the industry, using her way with words to say: “the ex-president of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, said that if women want to be nominated and win Grammys, that they should “step up” … To him, I’d like to say, ‘I know you’re not dead yet, but when you are, rot in piss.'”

Boygenius

Comprised of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker, Boygenius is a collaborative project of Sapphic singers singing rock bangers. The 2024 Grammys saw them winning in traditionally male categories such as best rock song and best rock performance for their single “Not Strong Enough,” as well as best alternative album for their debut studio album,
The Record.

Ethel Cain

Another for the sad, ex-Tumblr girls, Ethel Cain’s melancholy melodies are finally gaining mainstream attention. Ethel Cain’s character says Southern gothic fantasy of Hayden Anhedönia, a 24-year-old artist whose stage persona is much like character-based singers of yore — think Marina and the Diamonds. The world she creates in
Preacher’s Daughter and her other work is similar to the dark fantasies of Lana Del Rey. And similarly, this world is about chasing freedom above all else.

“I want some variation for the trans experience as depicted in trans art,” Anhedönia told
Billboard in 2022. “Ethel Cain the character is trans, but I didn’t make it a big part of the story because to me, being transgender is kind of boring. It’s like, ‘I have brown hair, I’m transgender’ — it’s very ‘whatever,’ you know? Ultimately, it’s not about the identity itself, it’s about the freedom to be whatever you are.”

MUNA

MUNA is an indie-pop comprised of Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson who have been gaymous since their

debut album in 2017. Thanks to collaborations like “Silk Chiffon” with Phoebe Bridgers and features in queer films like
Alex Strangelove, they’ve been reaching an increasingly mainstream audience with their infectious gay pop bangers.

Remi Wolf

With multiple viral hits under her belt and one of the most impressive voices on the pop scene, Remi Wolf is the coolest Gen Z stars out there. Her eclectic style, genre-bending sound, and energetic stage presence make her a certified superstar. And her indiscriminate use of pronouns in her music solidifies her as a bisexual superstar.

Girl in Red

Girl in Red used to be an IYKYK niche music act known pretty much only by girls who like girls. If she came up on your Spotify algorithm, it was trying to tell you something. But she has since exploded and become an indie-pop darling — even collaborating with pop princess, Sabrina Carpenter on “ You Need Me Now?”

Madison Beer

Like Billie, Madison’s latest phase feels more herself and unrestrained. A child of the Tumblr days, it’s no surprise that she’s drawn to queer ephemera like Jennifer’s Body. As she blossoms as a musician, let’s hope we hear more sapphic themes in her lyrics.

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