Synth Pop News: 10 Synth Pop Songs for Pride Month (2023)Pride Month in June means DJs worldwide celebrate with LGBTQ* artists and Gay Icons' tracks. Here are 10 songs that should not be missed!
Pride Month in June means DJs worldwide celebrate with LGBTQ* artists and Gay Icons' tracks. Here are 10 songs that should not be missed!
June is Pride Month. Apart from Rainbow Flags everywhere and Pride Parades in every major city, this means that DJs worldwide dig deep into their reord collections to play their favourite tracks by both noteble LGBTQ*-artist and so-called Gay Icons.
The music business has always been a home for queer talent, think such illustrious people such as Noel Coward, Little Richard, Freddy Mercury, Boy George, Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, Years and Years and many more. The Synth Pop scene of the 80's surly had its fair share of queer artists, as did related generes such as Hi NRG, Disco and House. And where would pop music be without its gay icons such as Madonna, Kylie and Lady Gaga?
So, without further ado I present to you my Pride Month playlist:
1. Pet Shop Boys – Try it (I'm In Love With A Married Man)
Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are of course better known as Pet Shop Boys, Britains most sucessful pop duo ever. Their hits "Westend Girls", It's A Sin" or "Suburbia" grace many 80s compilations. Their cover versions, such as "Always On My Mind" or "Go West" are as popular, but they also include some odd choices. Such as this song, which was first releast by girl-group Oh Romeo in 1983. Bobby 'O' Orlando, who produced PSB's first version of "Westend Girls", was the producer of this outfit, so maybe it is not totally surprising that the boys chose this song for their Disco 3 album. The PSB version debuted on the BBC's legendary John Peel Show in October 2002.
2. Holly Johnson – Legendary Children (All Of Them Queer)
Holly Johnson will forever be known as "The Voice of FgtH". Which is not a bad thing, after all FgtH shook up the 80s even though they only released two albums.
Still, Holly released four albums on his own. You may remember 1989's Blast, which contained hit singles "Love Train", "Americanos" and "Atomic City". The follow-ups, Dreams That Money Can't Buy and Soulstream did next to nothing commecially but after 15 years of silence, Holly did surprise us with the excellent Europa album back in 2014. It's worth checking out, if you like a bit of retro sounds and some fun, old-fashioned pop songs.
Legendary Children was originally released as a one-off single and celebrates the gay community, not only with its lyrics but also with a flamboyant video.
3. Divine – You Think You're A Man
Believe it or not, but at the time Divine was the best known drag queen on b0th sides os the Atlantic. He starred in several films by film maker John Walters, the best known of those is no doubt Hairspray. In the early to mid-80s, Divine also became something of a cult-classic in the Disco/Hi NRG scene when he released a number of singles and albums, some of which were produced by Bobby O.
You Think You're A Man however was the first single produced by Stock Aiken and Waterman to reach the UK Top 75 singles charts in 1984 where it peaked on No 16 in August of the same year.
4. Freddie Mercury – Living On My Own
Freddie Mercury really needs no introduction. Everybody remembers the flamboyant and charismatic lead singer of Queen, the band who gave the world masterpieces such as "Bohemian Rhapsody" or "Who Wants to Live Forever?".
This song was featured on Freddie's first solo album, Mr Bad Guy, which was released in 1985. As a single it only rached number 50 in the UK charts, but a remixed re-release in 1993 finally made the song more poplar and sucessful.
5. Gossip – Heavy Cross
This single was the first international sucess for american band Gossip, who claim to havee been influenced by Donna Summer and Siouxsie and the Banshees, thereby creating their unique blend of music that some describe as Dance Rock or Dance Punk.
In Germany the song spent 97 weeks in the single charts without ever reaching the Number One spot and sold 4500.000 copies, for which the band received triple gold.
6. Sylvester & Patrick Crowley – Do You Wanna Funk?
Sylvester was an american singer-songwriter, who was best known for his Disco/Soul/Funk singles in the late 1970s and 1980s. His trademark was his falsetto voice and his androgynous, flamboyant appearance. He was often referred to as the "Queen of Disco", and was particularly well-known in San Fransisco. He was even given the Keys to the City.
Sylvester, who was HIV positive himself, became an activist, fighting against the spread to the virus. He sadly died in 1988, due to complications from an AIDS related illness, aged 41. He left all his future royalties to San Fransisco-based HIV/AIDS charities.
7. Madonna – Vogue
Madonna does not need an introduction. At the time she was possible the biggest and certainly most controversial female pop artist. Right from the start, Madonna had been a so-called Gay Icon. Which shouldn't come as any surprise, as queer club culture always loved their female divas.
Madonna talked openly about sex, promiscurity and opposing commonly held conventions. And then there was "Vogue". In case you don't know, Vogue is a dance style that has its roots in the Ballroom Scene of New York City, which was an African-American and Latino underground LGBTQ* subculture. The single reached the Number One spot in Germany, the UK and the USA in 1990.
8. Kylie – All the Lovers
Kylie is the best-selling female Australian singer of all time, having sold about 80 million records worldwide. This achievement surly was a long way off when she started her way to fame in the Australian soap opera Neighbours, in which she starred as Charleen, the car mechanic and ended up being married to Jason Donavan. Well, his TV alter ego anyway.
British Hi NRG/Pop producers Stock Aiken and Waterman recorded four LPs with her. They included Top Ten hits such as "The Locomotion" or "I Should Be So Lucky".
The music video to "All the Lovers" was banned in several Asian countries due to its sexual nature.
9. Lady Gaga – Born This Way
Controversial. Bizarre. Epic. These are only three of many adjectives which have been used to describe Lady Gaga and her videos. Whatever you think of her, one thing she ain't and that's subtle.
You could argue that Lady Gaga picked up where Madonna left off, producing danceable pop made sexy with more than just a little naked skin.
This song asks us to accpt ourself as we are, because we were born this way. A notion that the LGBTQ* community embraced since Gloria Gaynor first released her single "I Am What I Am" in 1983.
10. Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax
You cannot compile a list of Gay Anthems without including FgtH's "Relax." The opening chords and the baseline are instanty recognizable even 40 years after it was first released as a single back in 1983. It had been produced by Trevor Horn for ZTT and reached Number One in the UK after it had been banned by the BBC for being too obcene.
The video is pretty drastic in its depictionof the gay leather club scene, even by today's standards. When I was growing up in the 1980s, it was all over MTV and it found it utterly fascinating, even though I only understood what it was all about many, many years later.
Bonus track: Year and Years – Starstruck
Fast forward to 2020 and the legacy continues with British band Years and Years, which lead singer Olly Alexander continues as a solo project since 2021.
Olly was bullied at school for being gay from a very young age. It caused him all sorts of problems; from anxiety and depression to an eating disorder and low self-esteem. In this light, his often provocative performances can be seen as a form of self-validation.
I hope you enjoyed this little trip down the glitter-and-fairydust-covered memory lane. And remember: Pride is not just about the party, it's about equal rights, anti-discrimination and respect.