Toronto Diary
59 min

The 10 best queer songs of the year

If the dwindling number of days left on your calendar hasn’t tipped you off yet, 2012 has almost come to an end. I know, that did go by rather quickly, didn’t it? Go figs. And since there’s no better way to close off the year than by condensing it into easy-to-swallow top-10 lists, here are the top 10 best queer singles of the year.

#10 – Zebra Katz’s “Ima Read” (featuring Njena Reddd Foxxx)

Hip hop has never been the most welcoming place for queer people, but in a surprising twist, this year saw a huge swell of gay rappers entering the limelight. You can attribute it to talent or the resurgence of ball culture, but either way, Zebra Katz’s “Ima Read” was fucking fantastic. As a celebration of the art of reading, “Ima Read” was clinically matter-of-fact in its blistering insults as it rode a simplistic, rubber-band ball bounce of a beat. The library is now open.

#9 – Hunter Valentine’s “Liar Liar"

While the gays took over hip hop, punk rock remained firmly the realm of lesbian and trans women, with punk mainstays Hunter Valentine releasing a terrific new addition to their hit list with “Liar Liar."

#8 – Le1f’s “Wut"

Few music videos were quite as Tumblr-baiting as Le1f’s “Wut,” which featured the New York rapper spitting fire over a relentless assault of twerking, voguing and — in what is easily one of the most inspired mind-fucks of the year — Pikachu-masked muscle men.

#7 – Gossip’s “Move in the Right Direction"

After Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto enjoyed a brief flirtation with haute couture as fashion’s It girl a little while back, it only made sense that the band’s sound would inch away from the bluesy swamp-rock of Standing in the Way of Control in favour of something a little more pop-happy and polished. Regardless, “Move in the Right Direction” held on to what made Gossip great while adding a sugar coat to their work.

#6 – Azealia Banks’s “Fierce"

Category is . . . GLAMOUR. Few tracks fully embraced house culture the way Azealia Banks’s “Fierce” did. Sampling Franklin Fuentes’s “Fierce Talk,” and backed by a fan-made video featuring clips from Paris Is Burning, “Fierce” was a master class in serving eleganza extravaganza, as demonstrated in the bridge, as Banks switches from laughing to snarling rap in the space of a single breath.

#5 – Tegan and Sara’s “Closer"

There’s a reason the video for Tegan and Sara’s “Closer” centres on an ‘80s karaoke house party, complete with a massive, fuzzy-screened TV: the influence of John Hughes movies on the track is undeniable. “Closer” is three-and-a-half minutes of the kind of wish fulfillment only seen in the closing shot of a brat-pack movie.

#4 – RuPaul’s “Glamazon"

The only thing more surprising than the video for “Glamazon” — which features 100-foot-tall drag queens murdering a who’s who of big-name celebrities using giant high-heeled shoes and tuck attacks — is just how enjoyable RuPaul’s “Glamazon” was. It’s a shimmering, dazzling pop masterpiece, easily beating out anything put out by the likes of Katy Perry, Demi Lovato or Taylor Swift. 

#3 – Against Me!’s “Transgender Dysphoria Blues"

When the lead singer of Against Me! came out as transgender, fans might have been shocked, but let’s face it: the presence of Laura Jane Grace was always flitting just outside Against Me!’s earlier work. So when she finally emerged, Against Me! really came into its own as a band. As the lead single off the upcoming album of the same name, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” marked the beginning of Against Me!’s reign as a truly transcendent rock outfit.

#2 – The Scissor Sisters’ “Let’s Have a Kiki"

All right, yes, maybe this song was run into the ground a little bit, between the Glee cover and the air-play and whatnot, but you can’t deny the song is still a lot of fun. Sure, the Scissor Sisters may be on hiatus, but at least they left us on good terms.

#1 – Frank Ocean’s “Thinking About You"

It wasn’t enough for Frank Ocean to be one of the first mainstream R&B acts to come out as a lover of men. He had to punctuate the high-profile outting with one of the most critically acclaimed, emotionally honest albums ever released. Channel Orange was one of the few modern-day mainstream masterpieces, and “Thinking About You” cemented Frank Ocean as one of the last real artists to make accessible music.

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