meta-script9 New Pride Anthems For 2024: Sabrina Carpenter's "Espresso," Chappell Roan's "Casual" & More | GRAMMY.com
Sabrina Carpenter performing at Governors Ball 2024
Sabrina Carpenter performs at Governors Ball 2024.

Photo: Astrida Valigorsky/Getty Images

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9 New Pride Anthems For 2024: Sabrina Carpenter's "Espresso," Chappell Roan's "Casual" & More

Throughout the past year, a slew of music's brightest stars have blessed us with a batch of fresh songs that have quickly been embraced by the LGBTQIA+ community as classics, from Dua Lipa's "Houdini" to Troye Sivan's "One Of Your Girls."

GRAMMYs/Jun 24, 2024 - 01:27 pm

Every June, Pride Month offers a time for the LGBTQIA+ community to reflect and raise awareness — but also, to party it up. While there were plenty of Pride anthems to pack playlists prior to this year, the past 12 months have seen some flawless new additions from a mix of fresh talent and long-standing stalwart artists that the queer community happily embraces.

While there's no set template on how to create an undeniable Pride anthem, there are major hallmarks: high-energy tempo, candid lyrics, delicious camp, and an undeniable groove. Between pop bops and dance floor jams, no Pride party is complete without at least a couple of the songs listed below. Cheers to the cathartic power of music to usher in another season of acceptance and equality. 

Sabrina Carpenter — "Espresso"

You play it when you wake up. It's on the radio on the way to the club. It's playing at the club. Heck, it's even blasting at the gym the next day. 2024's newly crowned pop princess, Sabrina Carpenter, released an instant classic when she unfurled "Espresso" in April — more than enough time to learn the lyrics by Pride Month.

With an infectious melody targeting your ears like a jolt of morning caffeine, its steaming dose of memorable lines ("I'm working late/ 'cause I'm a singer") are the handiwork of Carpenter along with three veteran lyricists, including close collaborator Steph Jones, Amy Allen (Harry Styles, Selena Gomez) and Julian Bunetta, who is perhaps best known for his plethora of work with One Direction. "Espresso" marks further proof that if there's one thing Carpenter knows it's how to command an audience, whether through her captivating stage shows or viral, story-telling music videos that link together (including for recent single "Please, Please, Please").

Read More: Sabrina Carpenter Releases New Single "Please Please Please": Everything We Know About Her New Album 'Short N' Sweet'

Charli XCX — "360"

It's safe to say that Charli XCX is experiencing a new phase of her decade-long career as a critically acclaimed starlet. Her sixth studio album, BRAT, marks an evolution of her sound into a batch of adult tracks tailor-made for the club. As a result, it's spawned a number of viral memes among her legions of LGBTQIA+ fans, who have also boasted lime green avatars on social media in honor of what's being dubbed "brat summer."

It's no coincidence then that she'd release the project in the midst of Pride Month, led by the relentlessly pulsating single "360." With lyrics that have quickly already found itselves queer canon — "Drop down, yeah, Put the camera flash on" — the album boasts a hyperpoop energy and unapologetic individuality, making her recent spate of shows some of the hottest tickets in town.

Read More: Charli XCX's Road To 'Brat': How Her New Album Celebrates Unabashed Confidence & Eccentricity

Orville Peck, Diplo & Kylie Minogue — "Midnight Ride"

Giddy up! One of the brightest out stars in the LGBTQIA+ musical universe, the ever-masked Orville Peck has made a name for himself as a queer outlier in the country music scene. So it stands to reason that he'd partner up with none other than Kylie Minogue — who had the defining song of Pride '23 in the form of "Padam Padam" — for their own anthem for 2024. The result is "Midnight Ride," a whistle-powered, Diplo-produced earworm that's perfect for a rainbow-tinted hoedown.

The team-up is part of Peck's forthcoming duets project, for which he recruited a cavalcade of singing partners for queer-themed country-tinged tracks in a unique two-volume album dubbed Stampede (which drops in full Aug. 2). The collaborators include Willie Nelson, who croons with Peck on the eye-raising ditty "Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other."

Dua Lipa — "Houdini"

When Dua Lipa released Future Nostalgia in 2020, it became an instant classic in the pop world and LGBTQIA+ lexicon alike, cementing Lipa (and songs like "Don't Start Now" and "Physical") into the grand pantheon of queer playlist magic. The pressure was on, then, for her follow-up to live up to its commercial success and fandom.

Cue "Houdini," from this year's Radical Optimism, a cathartic dance floor anthem by one of the gay community's newer idols. Aside from setting the perfect tone for Pride Month with its delicious hook and refreshing confident lyrics "(Prove you got the right to please me"), in an interview with  SiriusXM Hits 1, Lipa said the production of the track set the tone for the new project: "I was like, "Okay, I feel like now I know exactly what this album's gonna be and what it's gonna sound like."

Read More: Dua Lipa's Road To 'Radical Optimism': How Finding The Joy In Every Moment Helped Her Become Pop's Dance Floor Queen

The Challengers soundtrack

Who knew that a soundtrack to a tense and sultry tennis drama would yield an album fit for the dance floor? The thumping array of tunes that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross churned out for Luca Guadagnino's Challengers has proved to be a hit beyond the film, with its synth-propelled soundtrack proving to be a unique and wild tracks, including the driving "I Know." 

Its embrace in the LGBTQIA+ community should come as no surprise considering the single note the director gave Ross before he started work. "The way he described 'Challengers' was in a one-sentence email," Ross told Variety earlier this year. "Do you want to be on my next film? It's going to be super sexxy.' Two x's."

Ariana Grande — "yes, and"

Ariana Grande is no stranger to gay-friendly anthems; in fact, she delivered one of 2020's most iconic Pride moments with her Lady Gaga duet, "Rain On Me." When her album eternal sunshine dropped earlier this year, it was no surprise that she'd offer a few more bops for a Pride playlist.

Among them is "yes, and," a Max Martin-produced hit that can get even your stiffest friend moving on the dance floor. Perhaps it's no coincidence, then, that the creative team took the sonic elements of ballroom culture — a uniquely queer LGBTQIA+ experience — and fused them with lyrics perfect for a personal Pride anthem. "Say that s— with your chest," she croons. We will, Ari!

Read More: Listen To GRAMMY.com's 2024 Pride Month Playlist Of Rising LGBTQIA+ Artists

Peggy Gou — "(It Goes Like) Nanana"

If you've been on a dance floor in the recent past, odds are you've grooved to nostalgic beats courtesy the South Korean producer Peggy Gou. The breakout star is known for her unique brand of throwback dance jams, which carry a distinct '90s-era flavor that has led her to be embraced in queer spaces from Fire Island to West Hollywood. The most infectious, "(It Goes Like) Nanana").... samples the German artist ATB's 1998 track "9 PM (Till I Come)," no doubt a reaction to the recent revitalization of 90s-era culture popular in the LGBTQIA+ community, which provides a thumping link to queer culture past.

"For me,  the DJ is someone who teaches people the value of music and educates them," Gou told L'Official of her musical mission. "It is someone who transmits a beautiful memory and is somehow responsible for it."

Chappell Roan — "Casual"

While Roan has been a bubbling-under singer/songwriter for a handful of years, 2024 has proved to be decidedly her time to shine. Ever since the release of her debut album, 2023's The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, her back catalog has logged impressive streaming numbers, and she's commanded massive crowds at the likes of Governor's Ball and Bonnaroo.

Part of her appeal comes from her unabashed candidness about her sexuality (Roan identifies as a lesbian) and resilience. Both are exemplified by her single "Casual," which is about a relationship that doesn't seem to get all that serious, for better or worse.

However, Roan told the Associated Press last year that normally she isn't so sexually candid.  "The songs kind of give me the opportunity to act like that, and say that, and dress like that," she explained. "It's mainly to piss off — it's all a rebellion. That's what it is. It is very empowering, I think, for a lot of people. ... It's just not as empowering to me as it is living out a fantasy."

Read More: Chappell Roan's Big Year: The 'Midwest Princess' Examines How She Became A Pop "Feminomenon"

Troye Sivan — "One Of Your Girls"

By now, we've all heard Troye Sivan's infectious hit "Rush" or seen its viral music video — both of which earned the singer his first GRAMMY nominations this year. In the interim, his 2023 album, Something to Give Each Other, is filled with plenty of other tracks that speak intimately and eloquently about the queer experience.

Take, for example, the luscious "One Of Your Girls," a meditation on when a gay man has a transactional fling with an otherwise straight person. It subsequently has turned into yet another queer definitive anthem for the Australian star.

As a result, Sivan has turned into one of the musical heroes of the community: not only unabashedly talented, but an eloquent chronicler of the gay experience. Even better, as he told  NPR last year, his queer-focused projects are as cathartic for him as they may be for listeners. "There's a big element of pride in the fact that I am now so comfortably, openly gay."

PRIDE & Black Music Month: Celebrating LGBTQIA+ & Black Voices

Amy Allen Press Photo 2024
Amy Allen

Photo: David O’Donohue

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Meet Amy Allen, The Hitmaking Singer/Songwriter Behind Sabrina Carpenter's "Please Please Please" & More Pop Gems

Amy Allen has penned hits for stars like Halsey, Harry Styles, and Tate McRae, including two recent smashes from Sabrina Carpenter. As she embarks on her own artist journey, learn more about the GRAMMY-winner's already dazzling career.

GRAMMYs/Jul 18, 2024 - 06:13 pm

Some artists are lucky enough to have a moment: a song of the summer, a radio hit, or a point at which their song dominates the pop conversation. Before even launching her own singing career, Amy Allen has done just that — multiple times.

In 2022, the Maine native contributed to hit songs from Harry Styles, Lizzo, Charli XCX, and King Princess; at the 2023 GRAMMYs, she was one of the inaugural nominees for Songwriter Of The Year, Non-Classical, and celebrated an Album Of The Year win alongside Styles thanks to her work on Harry's House. And as of press time, two songs she co-wrote with Sabrina Carpenter are in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart: "Espresso" and "Please Please Please," the latter of which hit No. 1.

When you have a resume and catalog as impressive as Allen's, it's hard not to get stuck in a run of highlights — but Allen's writing style is so full of remarkable emotional depth and inevitable hooks that her life and career deserves further exploration. After binging on classic rock and performing in rock and bluegrass bands in her youth, Allen began writing songs for others in the mid 2010s and has only continued to expand her impact on audiences and collaborators alike.

"Amy is a once-in-a-lifetime writer and friend — it all comes to her very naturally and effortlessly," Carpenter recently told Variety. "She's super versatile: She can wear any hat and yet it still feels authentic. I've learned a lot from her and admire what an incredible collaborator she is."

Along the way, Allen has continued honing her skills as an artist in her own right, releasing a handful of EPs and singles since 2015, initially under the name Amy and the Engine. But on Sept. 6, she's ready to fully introduce herself with her debut album — fittingly titled Amy Allen.

Just after Allen celebrated her latest No. 1 and released her newest single, "even forever," GRAMMY.com rounded up the key details you need to know about the singer/songwriter's diverse musical background, from her advocacy for female creators to seeing Harry Styles sing a song she co-wrote to a massive audience.

Her Origin Story Features A Lot Of Car Talk

Allen's early musical growth relied on four-wheeled vehicles to drive the plot forward — in many different forms. Growing up in rural Maine meant long car rides to for school and family outings, which in turn meant a lot of time with the radio.

"My dad is the biggest classic rock fan, so since I was little, I spent hours every day listening to music in the car with him and my sisters," she told Variety earlier this year.

When it came time for one of her sisters to start a band, the elder Allen named it No U-Turn, setting the theme. When the band needed a new bassist, Amy took up the low end at just 8 years old, learning classic songs from the likes of Tom Petty and Rolling Stones. The band started collecting opening spots at a bar in Portland, Maine, and lasted until Allen was in high school and her sisters had left for college. In addition, she started playing in a bluegrass band called Jerks of Grass alongside her high school guitar teacher.

Eventually, Allen thought about moving on and changing course. "I went to nursing school at Boston College for two years, and within a month of getting there I was like, 'I made a big mistake,'" she continued. After moving over to the prestigious Berklee School of Music, Allen started a new project, yet again turning to vehicular terminology: Amy and the Engine, who would go on to open for the likes of Vance Joy and Kacey Musgraves. The project's timeless indie pop charm shone brightly on singles like "Last Forever" and the 2017 EP Get Me Outta Here!, fusing references ranging from the Cranberries to the Cure.

She's A Major Champion For Women In Music

Back in 2021, Allen pondered whether it was time to carve up one of America's most prominent monuments. "Can you imagine tits on Mount Rushmore/ And Ruth Bader Ginsburg from dynamite sticks?" she sang on "A Woman's World," a highlight from her 2021 solo EP AWW!. The song backs off from that explicit ask, but the low-slung waltz of ghostly piano and gentle acoustic guitar still subversively slices at traditional gender roles and power dynamics. 

And while the track may focus its first verse on the Notorious RBG, Allen designed it as a more approachable anthem. "I felt very proud of that song. And it's something that I love to play live, because I think that it's nice as a woman to give that moment to other women in the audience where I see them," she told The Line of Best Fit upon the EP's release.

Her solo work sits in a long line of female pop and rock stars looking to lift others up — with Allen's list of influences including everyone from the Carpenters and Pat Benatar to No Doubt, Hole, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. But she's also aware of the shortcomings in the industry when it comes to behind-the-scenes matters, with female songwriters representing a disproportionately small percentage of the industry and often at lower revenue than their male counterparts. 

"It's important to have more women writing and performing so that younger girls can be hearing that and really connecting with that and resonating with that, and then being inspired to do that themselves," she continued. "I'm really excited to hear what the next generation of singer songwriters creates, and I want to do my part in making sure that they're able to."

She Went Full Circle With Selena Gomez

Allen's emotionally salient and indelibly quirky songwriting with the Engine caught the attention of more than just adoring fans. While on a tour stop in New York, she connected with Scott Harris, a songwriter who has worked with the likes of Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello, Niall Horan, and Meghan Trainor; when Allen eventually moved to New York, she would take on some of Harris' writing sessions when he was in Los Angeles. One of those sessions spawned the first song she'd place with another artist: Selena Gomez's "Back To You," which ended up on the soundtrack for the second season of Netflix's teen drama "13 Reasons Why" in 2018. 

"I grew up listening to Selena Gomez, and I know that she's going to be a pop icon forever," Allen told People in 2020. "She's awesome. I was so psyched…It definitely propelled my career in the pop writing field further."

Two years later, she would re-team with Gomez for "My Mind & Me," a single released alongside a documentary film of the same title following the impact of the star's diagnoses with lupus and bipolar disorder on her career. The single similarly offers an openhearted, empathetic look at big mental health struggles, this time in the form of a sweeping, cathartic power ballad driven by stumbling syllables and stair-step piano. 

The track was shortlisted for Best Original Song at the 2023 Academy Awards, charted in more than a dozen countries, and, perhaps most importantly, seemed to have made quite the connection with Gomez. "Honestly, it was therapeutic for me," the pop star and actress told Variety in 2022. "I felt super connected to what I was singing and what I was saying."

She Loves Seeing Her Collaborators Live

Songwriters often wind up hidden behind the scenes, unable to really gather the impact that their artistic expression is making on others. But thankfully, Allen has been able to catch a peek in on the arena-sized reactions for some of her biggest collaborators. 

One of Allen's most-played co-writes is "Adore You," a highlight from Harry Styles' 2019 album, Fine Line, which has nearly 1.7 billion streams on Spotify alone as of press time. The buoyant, slippery burst of Fleetwood Mac-indebted funk pop embodies the start of an infatuation, and fans similarly felt under the song's spell. And Allen finally got to see that feeling come to life at Styles' album release show at the Kia Forum in Los Angeles in 2019. 

"Watching Harry, I was really nervous because the album had only been out for a couple days and I wasn't sure if anybody would know that song," Allen told Variety in 2020. She also noted that the song was a hard turn from more heartbroken tracks she'd written for the likes of Halsey. "'Adore You' was my first feel-good song, so I'm psyched about that," she added.

Though not in person, Allen got a similar bolt of joy when she was able to watch Lizzo perform Styles' track for BBC Radio 1 in 2020. "I idolize Lizzo," Allen continued. "It really just goes to show that the right song can be performed by many different people." 

Little did Allen know that she'd get to celebrate a GRAMMY nomination and win alongside Lizzo and Styles, respectively, just three years later. She co-wrote "If You Love Me" from the flute-jamming pop star's 2022 record Special, which was nominated for Album Of The Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs, where Styles' Harry's House (which featured Allen's co-write "Matilda") won the coveted honor.

She Shapeshifts Her Songwriting For Each Artist

When a songwriter has to split their tracks up between multiple different artists, it might be difficult to ensure that each track sounds appropriately fitted to each performer. For Allen, it all comes down to knowing when to follow the rules and when to break them. 

"Sometimes we'll be writing and someone will say, 'It should go straight to the chorus here,' and in my brain I'm like, 'But we need a pre-chorus!' — you know, following the ABCs of songwriting," she told Variety. "But I've really been trying over the last couple of years to deconstruct some of those — that you don't need to pull out all the tricks all the time. It can actually make the song more interesting."

In fact, it might come down to what she prioritizes when sitting down to write, rather than which rules to follow. While walking the red carpet for the 2021 Ivor Novello Awards for songwriting and composition, Allen explained her perspective on songwriting formulas to PRS For Music: "When I'm writing for myself, I usually start with the verse and move my way through, and lots of other times when I'm writing with another artist I make sure the chorus is bulletproof."

The GRAMMYs Are Helping Change Her Family's Perspective On Her Career

Allen earned her first GRAMMY nomination in 2022 for her work on Justin Bieber's Justice, but her most meaningful nomination came a year later for Songwriter Of The Year, Non-Classical at the 65th Annual Awards ceremony (alongside Nija Charles, The-Dream, Laura Veltz, and Tobias Jesso, Jr.). While Allen had a hard time contextualizing the recognition, it helped her loved ones better understand the impact of her career.

"I'm just so grateful…Even my closest family and friends, they're like, 'I've listened to this artist for so long, or I listened to this song on the radio, and I had no idea there was a team that helped make this happen,'" she told VERSED: The ASCAP Podcast in 2022. "People like me growing up in small towns, we don't know that being a songwriter for a career is an option… I watched the GRAMMYs when I was growing up, and if I had known that people were making great careers, I would've gotten on the track a lot earlier."

Though the inaugural award ultimately went to Jesso, Jr., Allen seems to agree that he's deserving of the honor — he's one of her collaborators on her upcoming album.

Maine Will Always Be Home — and An Inspiration

For those who haven't been to Maine, a quick look at Allen's social media will reveal just how stunning the American Northeast can be. Among TikToks promoting her music, Allen almost inevitably drops in a clip displaying the expansive natural beauty of her home state — whether she's on a rope swing over a dazzlingly blue pool of water, or dropping a front spin while skating on the ice, or watching the massive waves from her family home.

"POV: ur back home in maine and wondering why u ever left," she plastered over one particularly stunning TikTok montage of a dazzling day swimming amongst waterfalls. The only thing as beautiful as the scenery is the music behind it is an unreleased track about missing home — proof that Maine will always be part of her, and that she clearly made the correct choice in following her songwriting dreams.

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Katie Gavin of MUNA performs at 2024 LA Pride in the Park at Los Angeles Historical Park on June 08, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.
Katie Gavin of MUNA

Photo: Chelsea Guglielmino

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5 LGBTQIA+ Record Labels To Check Out: Get Better Records, So Fierce! And Others

During Pride Month and beyond, LGBTQIA+ owned and operated record labels are diligently working to provide queer artists a platform while providing more visibility for their communities.

GRAMMYs/Jun 25, 2024 - 01:28 pm

Music is often a unifier — something that ties us together, allowing us to bond over our shared experiences. This is especially true among LGBTQIA+ communities. Whether you’re hearing MUNA’s pop songs crackle over speakers in a record store or finding ethereal deep-cut Ethel Cain demos on SoundCloud playlists, the queer community find an inevitable connection in the artists they seek out. 

For decades, queer artists have cultivated hidden scenes in rave, techno and dance music. Today, a new generation of LGBTQIA+ artists are shaping contemporary pop, from Reneé Rapp and Towa Bird, to Chappell Roan and RYL0. However, we cannot acknowledge this mainstream resurgence of queer talent without reflecting on the limitations which hold back the wider music industry from becoming more accommodating to LGBTQIA+ artists. 

A 2024 study from Queer Capita in partnership with Billboard revealed that 94 percent of music business participants feel that the industry fails to provide adequate resources or representation for the queer community. However, there's a severe lack of data on the number and scope of queer-specific record labels (those that are LGBTQIA+ owned, run or whose rosters reflect that demographic) — a shocking shortfall considering how queerness shapes the music industry financially. A 2022 "The Power of LGBTQ+ Music" report by Luminate revealed that, queer fans spend an average of 20 percent more on merch and, generally, spend $72 more on music than the general public. 

Read more: 15 LGBTQIA+ Artists Performing At 2024 Summer Festivals

Queer music is profitable and shaping listening trends. Although LGBTQIA+ acts are eagerly supported, — and major labels seem to be taking steps to increase queer representation on a corporate level and on their rosters — the wider industry must continue to support the indies and queer imprint labels that are fighting to survive.

These queer indie record labels are not only highlighting LGBTQIA+ artists and creating accessible, accommodating spaces, but they're often doubling down on the importance of visibility. As an artist or employee, it wouldn’t hurt if your boss (label manager, record executive, press assistant, etc) was queer too, right? This integration and inclusivity is essential when building equitable infrastructure in music.

So, now with Pride Month upon us, there’s been no better time to reflect on the vital resource that LGBTQIA+ labels provide and the ways they encourage our industry to do and be better. These labels are much more than champions of queer talent; they’re signifiers of independent ethos and resilience that keeps music communities thriving.  

From the late-night voguing parties in Shanghai that inspired Medusa Records to the against-the-grain roster of Saddest Factory Records, here are five global LGBTQIA+ record labels showcasing the necessity and irreplaceable talent of queer creatives.

Get Better Records  

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Artists to know: Alice Bag Band, La Dispute, Victoria Park, ZORA

Get Better Records has been around since 2009 and, over its 15 years, has become one of the most notable queer and trans-owned labels. Get Better was formed by Control Top drummer Alex Lichtenauer and their friend Nick King, though the label is now solely run by Lichtenauer. Get Better's roster platforms punk, alternative, experimental and hardcore acts.

Whether you’re looking for the intimate sound of Suzie True, the queer hardcore attitude of Baltimore newcomers No Doubt or want to experience the reverie of how Bacchae are twisting underground DC punk into their own boot-stomping beat, Get Better Records has become a hotspot for innovative acts bringing their distinct style to the music industry. 

A proudly self-described “queer and trans owned” record label with a simple motto — inspiring everyone to practice and play. Through their committed gritty spirit, Get Better Records is summative of what we hope to see for all LGBTQIA+ artists: unconditional acceptance of their experiences and art.  

Saddest Factory Records

Location: Los Angeles, California 

Artists to know: MUNA, Charlie Hickey, Claud, Sloppy Jane 

While technically an imprint of Dead Oceans (the label Phoebe Bridgers is signed to), the arrival of her Saddest Factory Records was a welcomed one. Founded in 2020, Saddest Factory Records emerged off the back of Bridgers’ ongoing success as a cult fan favorite and served as an important reminder — the best creative decisions for LGBTQIA+ artists do, in fact, come from our own community. 

Saddest Factor's roster features a queer-charged collection of artists who deserve more eyes and ears. If you’ve not already here for queer fandom faves Claud, MUNA, or Sloppy Jane, you’ve got some work to do this Pride Month!  

So Fierce

Location: Toronto, Canada 

Artists to know: Oceane Aqua-Black, Gisèle Lullaby, Jay Light 

Founded by musician Velvet Code during the pandemic in 2020, So Fierce wears its pride on its sleeve — by name and artist roster. This inclusive music company pulls together a diverse mix of LGBTQIA+ talent, from drag queens to pop singers, and proves there’s space for all types of queer representation.

With over 20 years of experience producing for big names like Venus, Icesis Couture and Lady Gaga, Velvet Code has cultivated a space that gives LGBTQIA+ artists a platform to belong. Their roster includes names like Icesis Couture, season 2 winner of Canada’s "RuPaul’s Drag Race," and Miami-based singer/songwriter Deity Jane. 

Medusa Records

Location: Shanghai, China

Artists to know: Enema Stone, Michael Cignarale 

Based in Shanghai city, a monthly queer club night transformed from a queer-friendly communal space to something much bigger. These unforgettable eccentric Medusa parties hosted – filled with voguing, queens and pounding psytrance music – became pivotal underground expressions of Shanghai’s LGBTQIA+ nightlife. 

As Medusa Records, founders Michael Cignarale and Sam “Mau Mau" wanted to emulate the ecstasy of queer, unapologetic existence. "The label will channel Medusa’s sweaty midnight moments into a distinctive voice, embodied by musical and multimedia collaborations,” they said in a press release. Through the label, they hoped "to connect the emerging Chinese queer community with a global audience." 

Medusa Records works with local and international DJs, VJs, producers, vocalists, visual artists and others. Their roster features the wonderfully queer, camp and colorful stylings of resident drag performer and musician Enema Stone, as well as DJ Michael Cignarale. 

Outside their label, Medusa continues to give back during their sweaty, glitter-doused parties, where they host guest DJs and performers such as the Carry Nation, Chris Cruse, Octo Octa, Eris Drew, Nick Monaco, Chrissy, Jeffery Sfire, and Boris.

Whether you’re attending an IRL club night or cruising their online presence, Medusa Records know how to keep the beat going – and you’ll feel like you’re caught up in a never-ending party.

Boudicca 

Location: London, United Kingdom  

Artists to know: Samantha Togni, Wallis 

If music labels and party hybrids are your thing, Boudicca may be your next favorite destination.  

Starting out as a queer club night in 2019, Boudicca was founded by producer and DJ Samantha Togni and quickly became a hot spot for queer techno lovers. Now, the London-based party platform and record label is all about hitting high BPMs, championing hedonistic electronica, and giving space to under-the-radar non-binary, womxn and trans musicians. 

Regularly hosting or collaborating in queer club nights and DJ sets, Boudicca’s roster pushes electronica to its limits. The label has released a series of exhilarating crossover compilations: Pure Bones, Dreams That I Can't Quite Remember, and Dark As It Gets, each of which features game-changing acts such as Rotterdam-based duo Animistic Beliefs — who blend global club music, techno and IDM — to Peachlyfe, an incredible "hydra-sonic" non-binary musician. 

Listen To GRAMMY.com's 2024 Pride Month Playlist Of Rising LGBTQIA+ Artists 

Celebrate Pride Month

Ice Spice performs at the Sahara Tent during the 2024 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival at Empire Polo Club on April 13, 2024 in Indio, California.
Ice Spice

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer

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New Music Friday: Listen To New Songs From Ice Spice, Ariana Grande, Post Malone, Coldplay & More

As we slip into summer, get the season started by listening to these new songs, albums and collaborations from Gracie Abrams, Kygo, The Joy and more that dropped on June 21.

GRAMMYs/Jun 21, 2024 - 05:52 pm

The first New Music Friday of the summer delivers us fresh jams packed with exciting collaborations and debuts.

This week features releases from big name, genre-crossing collaborations, including Ariana Grande's remix of "the boy is mine" with Brandy and Monica, and Post Malone teaming up with Blake Shelton on their new track "Pour Me a Drink." As you build your new summer playlist, make sure you don't miss out on these ten must-hear tunes.  

Ice Spice — "Phat Butt"

After a massive year with the release of her EP Like..? and four nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs, Ice Spice is ready to level up once again with her newest single, "Phat Butt." With self-assured lyricism on top of a classic drill beat that is true to her sound, the track serves as the second single to be released from her debut album, Y2K!. "Phat Butt" comes as both a message to those who lacked belief in Ice Spice’s music career, but also as a quintessential summer anthem.

In the self-directed music video, the rapper is shown performing in front of a wall of graffiti with grainy video filters, emphasizing the Y2K feel. Ice Spice is set to take on her Y2K World Tour next month and it's no doubt that this "Phat Butt" will be a highlight on her setlist.

Explore More: The Rise Of Ice Spice: How The "Barbie World" Rapper Turned Viral Moments Into A Full-On Franchise 

Ariana Grande, Brandy, & Monica — "the boy is mine (remix)"

When asking different groups who sings the song "the boy is mine," you're likely to get two answers. Some will say pop star Ariana Grande, while others will think of the original 1998 R&B hit by Brandy and Monica, which won the GRAMMY for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal in 1999. Doubling down on the shared name of the track and bridging the generational gap among music lovers, Grande, Brandy, and Monica have come together for a fresh remix of "the boy is mine," and the internet couldn't be more ecstatic. 

"My deepest and sincerest thank you to Brandy and Monica, not only for joining me for this moment, but for your generosity, your kindness, and for the countless ways in which you have inspired me," said Grande in an Instagram post announcing the collaboration. "This is in celebration of you both and the impact that you have had on every vocalist, vocal producer, musician, artist that is creating today."

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Post Malone has been dipping his toes into the country genre for some time now and fans have been anxiously awaiting his promised western era post Cowboy Carter.

Malone and Shelton first ignited excitement with a sneak peek of their song, "Pour Me a Drink" at the CMA Fest earlier this month. Since Posty announced the official release on Instagram, fans have eagerly awaited its arrival on streaming services. The track serves as a tantalizing preview of Post Malone's upcoming country album, F-1 Trillion, coming August 16. 

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Coldplay — "feelslikeimfallinginlove"

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The track sets the stage for the release of Coldplay's highly anticipated tenth studio album, Moon Music, set to land in early October. True to their brand, this song is geared to uplift your spirits, making it the perfect anthem for carefree summer car rides with the windows down.

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Kygo — 'Kygo'

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Maren Morris & Julia Michaels — "cut!"

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After a two-year hiatus from releasing music, pop enthusiasts have been eagerly anticipating Morris' return to the spotlight. "Can't wait to cathartically scream f*ck at the top of our lungs together," Morris said in an Instagram post announcing the track.

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“A better me equals a better you equals a better us. That’s been the formula of my life. I can’t thrive unless I’m around people who are constantly trying to better themselves as individuals,” 6LACK said in an interview with GRAMMY.com last year. “It took a second of me really looking at myself in the mirror, being honest and saying: I am not doing as much work on myself as I claim to be doing and want to be doing on myself.”

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The Joy came together through a serendipitous twist of fate. Years back, five boys arrived early to their school choir practice and decided to have an impromptu jam session. Realizing their undeniable musical chemistry, The Joy was born, quickly garnering global acclaim. "They are, like, my favorite group," Jennifer Hudson exclaimed on her talk show. 

Surfaces — 'good morning'

Known for their feel-good tunes that took over TikTok in 2019, Surfaces presents their sixth album, Good Morning. In tracks like, “Real Estate,” the band chronicles the idea of exploring one’s mind and thoughts, above all other features, backed by a tropical lo-fi instrumental, as well as a steady thump of a bass, and trilling trumpets. 

“’Real Estate’ is about the infatuation with that place in someone’s mind that you can’t get enough of,” Surfaces explained in a press statement. “It’s a familiar place to call home that feels safe and deserves all the love in the world. We wanted to capture the bliss of finding that space and reveling in it.” 

Lauren Watkins — 'The Heartbroken Record'

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"I didn't want to just put an album out — I wanted it to be purposeful," Watkins said in a press statement. "It's the past several years of my life, and that was just so much heartbreak and dramatic girl-feelings, but I think in a really deep and relatable way… and it just needs to get off my chest."

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Tove Lo (L) and SG Lewis (R) pose in front of a set of red doors
Tove Lo (L) and SG Lewis (R)

Photo: Nikola Lamburov

interview

Tove Lo & SG Lewis Crafted Sweaty New EP 'HEAT' In Celebration Of Their Queer Fans

"Every time I make anything that I'm excited about, I know that when I pass that to Tove, she's going to deliver something incredible back that I haven't even been able to imagine yet," SG Lewis says.

GRAMMYs/Jun 20, 2024 - 01:05 pm

HEAT, the new collaborative EP from GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Tove Lo and dance pop producer SG Lewis is 15-and-a-half minutes of pure dance floor ecstasy. 

Across the EP's four tracks, which dropped June 14 on Tove Lo’s Pretty Swede Records, Lewis brings in classic, euphoric '90s rave sounds and infectious rhythms. Tove Lo adds her signature sexy lyrics and vocals, with an extra dose of confidence and sass.

"We both really wanted this EP to be a thank you to the queer fans that we share and for the videos and the creative to be an opportunity to amplify those queer voices and to celebrate that community," Lewis says. "I feel very lucky to get to soundtrack moments in these spaces and to also get to learn so much from this community."

The duo gave their fans a first taste of their collaborative magic in 2022 with "Call On Me," a pulsing, urgent hook up tune so good they both included it on their last albums, Tove Lo's Dirt Femme and Lewis' AudioLust & HigherLove. They also teamed up on "Pineapple Slice," a sweet and naughty cut from Tove Lo's Dirt Femme.

Since then, their fans — particularly their loyal queer fans have been begging for more bops from the pair. Tove Lo, who is bisexual and often brings queer themes into her lyrics and music videos, has been crowned a gay pop icon, and Lewis' joyful, upbeat dance tunes have brought him many fans from the LGBTQIA+ community. They made the HEAT especially for their supportive queer fans, dropping it during Pride month with steamy gay clubs in mind.

Amid teasing their fans with snippets of "HEAT" and memes on social media, Nelly Furtado also dropped a sultry new single in May, "Love Bites," featuring none other than Lewis and Lo.

The fun and ease Tove Lo and Lewis feel working together oozes from each of their collaborations. Since they first got together in the studio, the "Busy Girl" artists have become fast friends. Their love for sweaty dance floors, '90s electronic music, and danceable pop bops creates a rich, shimmery sonic landscape for their music.

GRAMMY.com caught up with the two artists on Zoom from their Los Angeles' homes, for a lively, laughter-filled chat about crafting gay club friendly dance pop bangers, their magic in the studio together, and what having the support of the queer community means to them.

What do you hope fans get when they finally hear Heat and where are you imagining it being played?

Tove Lo: I hope that all our fans get completely floored and that they play it at the pre-party, in the club, and at the after-party — in all the spaces where they want to be free and sweaty and have fun.

SG Lewis: From what I've heard so far from people who've listened to it, people can feel the fun that me and Tove were having in the studio making it. I hope that it serves as a soundtrack for hedonism, celebration, freedom, and some really sweaty moments.

I was wondering about the specific sonic references and inspirations that you brought to the EP. I definitely heard some squelchy acid house on "Heat" and on "Desire" I got some Cascada and early trance, '90s Ibiza vibes.

SG Lewis: I have been reading this book by Sheryl Garratt called "Adventures in Wonderland," which tells the story of the birth of acid house and how it was brought back to the U.K. from Ibiza and exploded into this huge moment in the '90s and grows into trance.  As a result, I was just digging through a lot of the records from then.

Also, Tove and I were DJing a lot at parties and with our friends and stuff. A lot of those records that I was playing, Tove was as well; we were arriving at the same point through different avenues. There was a shared interest in those sounds and that nostalgia, so we really wanted to channel a lot of those two genres in this project. It happened very naturally through the music that we were playing and DJing together. We hardly even ever had a conscious conversation about how it would sound.

Tove Lo: When it comes to writing the melody and lyrics, from my end, there's never a conscious, "Oh, I want to make a vocal like this." I just kind of [go with] what is speaking to me in this track and whatever comes up. I don't know where it's coming from, but it's probably coming from us DJing at 4 a.m. and it reminds me of that moment, it's unlocking this thing. [Chuckles.]

Lyrically, I wanted it to feel confident and sexy. I step over the line a few times in certain songs, which is the way I love to write. You really encourage that free space. I don't think you've ever said, "Ah, it's too far. You even said [imitates British accent], "Can it be hornier?" [Everyone laughs.]

I feel like we are very aligned with what we wanted it to be. I don't want to say there's not a deeper message, it's more just us loving music, loving to make music together, and our joint fans kind of telling us that we need to make more music together. So, we are responding to this request. [Both giggle.]

How would you describe the magic of when you two get in the studio together? Because obviously, there's something there that's special.

Tove Lo: It's weird, but it's kind of like when you meet someone that you just really click with. As people, we get along really well and like to hang out, and we have a similar sense of humor, so it is a fun time. But just because you're good friends, you don't necessarily make good stuff together. It's hard to explain it, but it's a feeling of being totally at ease with someone, but still wanting to do your absolute best. That's how I feel when I work with Sam. I want to really impress him, but I feel very comfortable doing the journey together.

SG Lewis: It's a really rare sensation in the studio. This is a terrible analogy, but it's like playing a game of tennis with someone and every time they return the ball, they send it dead down the center in the right position. Every time I make anything that I'm excited about, whether it's a chord sequence or a drum pattern or something, I know that when I pass that to Tove, she's going to deliver something incredible back that I haven't even been able to imagine yet. That's where the energy comes from for me, it's this kind of back-and-forth of excitement in the process. And it's just honestly so much fun making music together. I can't say that I've had such a natural studio chemistry with many people before.

What do you admire most about the other's artistry, music and approach to music-making?

Tove Lo: With Sam, I'm always very impressed with how — I think I've said this to you probably 100 times — you can make it feel like there's the energy of something new, but it still has nostalgia in it. I don't know if it's the samples you're using or you're just inspired by certain tracks, but it gives me a feeling of, "Oh, I remember this, but I haven't heard it before," which is what everyone is trying to do, but it's really hard to. And you just live and breathe music. It goes into performing and DJing too, where you'll DJ for seven hours. You just love music and you know the history. It really gives me a lot of inspiration.

SG Lewis: I'm very flattered. Tove is an expert song crafter and creator of pop music, but to me, she has something that no other writer of pop music has. She is able to speak about things with a freedom of expression in her songs. She'll say things that other artists wouldn't dare to say, out of the rules of society. I think it's why she is such a queer icon and her music is so embraced in the queer community, because she harnesses this freedom of expression in her writing that is so raw. It gives her pop music an edge that no other artist on the planet has for me.

Tove Lo: Sam, that's so nice. Can I get this recording [to listen to] when I'm having a bad day?

Can you speak to your love of crafting gay club friendly dance pop bangers, and how you harnessed that specific energy — like you said, the sweaty, free, hedonistic club space — on HEAT?

Tove Lo: Sam and I share a lot of fans in the queer community, and they basically demanded that we make more music together. So we're like, "Well, this is going to be for you then." So this is a celebration of our queer fans, and also a thank you for the support that we've both had from the community. And I'm obviously part of the community myself, being a queer woman, but Sam, you're like a guest in the community. 

Also, you have to remember, the queer community will choose you. It's not something you can barge your way into. If your music resonates, you're in and the support is always there. My most loyal fans are part of that community. And there's a similar love for that kind of music that you can let go and be yourself; it's a safe space to just really live out your true self in whatever way that may be.

SG Lewis: As Tove mentioned, I've been so fortunate to be a guest in these spaces and to receive so much love from the queer community. I'm a nerd about music, and I study the history and who's making what, and I love that about the queer fans that I have; they're reading the notes on who produced what records and who wrote this and the collaborations. There's a level of obsession with pop music that we both share.

What does having the support of the queer community mean to you as artists?

Tove Lo: For me, it feels like there's a mutual love and respect. When I do my own tours, a huge part of my crowd is queer and I feel like I can fully be myself and really feel free and comfortable in my own skin and body and to express myself the way I want. I feel like they always have my back and I always have their backs. Also, all the cool s*** starts in the queer community. They're paving the way for a lot of artists and creators. They're the ones discovering everything first.

SG Lewis: Speaking to queer friends of mine and artists that I work with, anyone in that space has had to fight to express who they are, and there's an element of bravery in even being who they are and the expression of themselves. As a result, the thing that I feel so lucky to get to witness is that freedom of expression in the queer community that is so, so powerful. That's why these spaces and these parties have such an incredible, amazing energy; everyone in that space has acquired this ability to express themselves in a way that you don't see elsewhere. To have the support of that community on a musical level is a massive privilege — to have music that is celebrated in those spaces where that extreme expression and joy and euphoria is happening is really a dream.

I want to know the story of how you two met, because in one of the press releases, I think it said it was on the dance floor.

Tove Lo: Yeah, it was, but Sam was at my house before we met. I think I was out of town, but my boyfriend and my roommates had a party or something. And Sam's like, "Where am I? Why is there a bunch of Tove Lo art on the walls?"

SG Lewis: I was at a Phoebe Bridgers concert and I was standing next to this tall, lovely Kiwi man named Charlie. We were just shooting the s*** and I was like, "This guy's the best dude ever." I ended up at their place for an after-party. I was like, "Why is there so much Tove Lo memorabilia on the wall?" He was like, "I think you're working with my wife next week."

Tove Lo: That says a lot about me, having a bunch of my own sh-t on the walls. [Laughs.]

During the pandemic, I put up every concert photo I have of all the crowds, because I didn't think anything was going to come back. So, my walls are full of shots of me from behind me with a huge crowd. Maybe this is a little narcissistic. I might need to take it down.

SG Lewis: But it's also lots of photos of your friends. It's a celebration of your life, not a shrine to yourself.

Tove Lo: I can't remember the full order, if we then just met in the studio, but we have spent a lot of time on the dance floor together.

SG Lewis: We've had some crazy times, and I have a feeling this EP is going to lead to plenty more.

Talk to me about your CLUB HEAT [parties], because I know you've had one or two and there's more coming.

Tove Lo: We did one in London when we also did the video shoot, which was a crazy day, so much fun.

SG Lewis: Our second one is on Thursday night in L.A.

Tove Lo: The first one was so fun. It was just exactly what I hoped for: completely packed, sweaty, us [DJing] back-to-back, and me not being able to help myself and getting on the mic and singing way too often, because I love the stage. It feels exactly how the EP feels — sweaty, fun, club. I'm trying to think of the perfect word, but it's just all those words. 

SG Lewis: The format of the CLUB HEAT parties is a back-to-back DJ set with a performance element from Tove. I think it gives this really amazing, unique, chaotic party energy. Those moments where she performs really elevates the energy in the room. It's honestly utter chaos in the best way possible. There was literally sweat coming off the ceiling in the London one.

Are you planning on doing more?

Tove Lo: They're gonna be [announced] last minute. There's not going to be planning far out, but we're going to be doing more. 

SG Lewis: I think there's a kind of pop-up element to them. As the nature of the party being chaotic, I think the planning of them is also quite chaotic. I think that it'd be criminal not to do this in New York, which feels like the epicenter of chaotic, sweaty parties.

What was it like working with [producer and DJ] Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs [TEED] on the EP, who did some of the co-production? How did he help bring it all together or bring out different things in the music?

SG Lewis: Orlando [Higginbottom, aka TEED] is not only one of my closest friends, he's very much a mentor of mine. He's taught me so much about production. He is one of my favorite artists and producers, and as much as he gets very sheepish when I tell him that, we're constantly playing each other's music.

While the EP came together from Tove and I in the room together, he was the outside voice who was able to take those songs from 90 to 100 percent, whether it's a synth line on "Heat" or "Busy Girl" was both of us producing together. That was a beat that we started outside of the room that I then played to Tove, and she absolutely killed it on.

I have to ask about the new song with Nelly Furtado, "Love Bites." How did that come together? What was it like working with her and having the three of you in the studio together?

SG Lewis: I was put in contact with Nelly because there was word that she was working on new music. Before I know it, I'm texting with Nelly Furtado, and I was like, "What's going on? This is insane." It was immediately apparent that she was extremely friendly and cool.

Tove Lo: She's way too chill. I'm like, you can be so much more of a diva.

SG Lewis: She was like, "Oh, send me some beats." As a producer, you hear this all the time. You send 10 beats and you never hear anything ever again. I sent this pack of beats. I go to bed and I wake up the next day, and she's written a full song on one of the beats and sends me the vocals.

Fast-forward six months, we'd worked on a couple of things, but none of them had really hit the bullseye yet. I reworked one of the things we were working on, reproduced the beat, and ended up with this idea I was really excited about, but it didn't have a chorus. I was going to ask Nelly if I could send it to Tove. Before I had the opportunity to discuss this with Nelly, I sent the idea without the chorus. And Nelly was like, oh, "Could you send this to Tove Lo to potentially write a chorus on it?"

Tove Lo: I dropped my phone, it's still cracked from it. I was like, "Are you kidding?" And [I thought the] beat was so sick. And her voice and the "ey ey," it's just like Nelly! Sam and I went in the studio and wrote the chorus together and sent it to her. And she's like, "I love this. Can we please get in the studio and finish it together?" We had a late session at 7 p.m. I think she's a night owl. I [was excited to] find someone who wants to work night hours with me. The three of us worked all night; recorded it, tweaked it, finished stuff. She's so lovely. She's got such a distinct voice. I was a little bit star-struck when she got on the mic.

SG Lewis: Her voice is so distinctive and iconic. She has the superstar tone where you know it's her immediately. It's really surreal as a producer to get to work with vocals like that from two iconic pop stars on one song.

How long was the period of time from when she asked you to send beats to y'all getting in the studio together?

SG Lewis: It was about six to nine months total. Everyone's sort of all over the world, so it was really cool for it to all come together in this moment, in the studio, in-person, together.

I love that Nelly's embracing a different sound and really daring to try different stuff, because it'd be so easy for her to try and replicate her past successes. But she's just too badass for that.

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