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by Eddie Sayago
Pride Month was very different last year, and it has changed dramatically since the festivities of 2019. (This year’s Chicago Pride Parade is scheduled for October 3.) No one would have imagined that 2020’s Pride Month would consist of protests and marches for Black Lives Matter, protesting police brutality and calling for the defunding and abolishment of police departments around the world.
And Pride is different for each person. It is either a celebration of being proud of who are you or a continuation to call out the discrimination of various groups--particularly trans, double minorities, leather/kink communities--who are often left out of the parade in favor of the traditional (*cough* white cis Ken dolls *cough*) type of gays corporate America is comfortable slapping on their ads and merch.
We had a march for that reason in the formerly-named Boystown neighborhood as various leaders of the drag community confronted the white cis-male establishment that dominates the city’s primary LGBTQ+ commerical center.
This short list of Pride songs focuses on black artists from all genres, eras and locations, including a few local artists who make this queer Chicagoan proud that they are from his hometown. However you celebrate this season, I hope you seek out these and other queer-identifying artists and add them to your music collection.
From the EP Be Yourself (2018, Tay Bennett Entertainment)
Coming out of his older brother’s shadow to become a successful musician (and Instagram thirst-trap) in his own right, Taylor Bennett came into his own with the 2018 single, “Be Yourself”, where he came out as bisexual in the song.
More importantly, Bennett is fully showing off his confident rap delivery and lyrical prowess (“I knew since birth I was certain that I was sent with a purpose/While you competin' with crabs in a bucket I'm in the ocean”) while saying to the naysayers who question him (“And n---s still call me f----t, but b---h my sh-t lookin' fabulous”) to get out of the way. His confidence continues on his next album The American Reject and subsequent work. (See his performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.)
by Eddie Sayago
The mesmerizing lead of a fascinating documentary now airing on HBO, Tina Turner has been captivating audiences for over six decades, performing and recording numerous songs ranging from country and rock to R&B and EDM.
In 2020, Turner collaborated with DJ/producer Kygo on a remix of “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” and has performed covers from many artists including Elton John, Sam Cooke and Al Green.
Here are five artists who pay tribute to the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll with these eclectic covers.
Yes, this was originally a Tina Turner song. "Don’t Turn Around” was a B-side for the 1986 single “Typical Male,” written by Albert Hammond and perennial Oscar nominee Diane Warren. Ace of Base’s rendition was the second single from their debut album and peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Turner’s “Don’t Turn Around” would appear in the 2018 jukebox musical Tina.
by Kyle Sanders
Lord, it’s like 2020 was a hard candy Christmas! We barely got through it, but still didn’t let sorrow bring us way down. How did we pull this off? The answer: Dolly Parton.
Last year, Parton kept our spirits up the only way she knew how: by staying busy! Her elastic work ethic saw the country legend release a Covid-related inspirational song, create a YouTube page to read bedtime stories to schooless children as part of her Imagination Library charity, and close out the year by releasing a Christmas album supported by a television special.
Perhaps the most admirable contribution she made to 2020 was donating $1 million for scientific efforts in creating a vaccine to cure Covid-19. That vaccine—created by Moderna—has since been approved and is now being (slowly yet surely) distributed across the country.
Parton also published a collection of her songs in a coffee table book entitled Songteller. While the book contains nearly 200 titles, she claims to have written over 3,000 songs.
During the early months of the pandemic, I actually challenged myself with listening to all fifty-one of Parton’s albums (all available to stream on YouTube for free), and it made me appreciate just how great of a songwriter she is. She can break your heart with one song, then mend it back together with another.
Despite her bubbly persona, she also has a rather dark streak, having produced songs that’ll leave you absolutely devastated (seriously, try listening to “The Bridge,” “Down From Dover,” or “Me and Little Andy” without ruining the rest of your day).
But of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t focus on the songs that, like Dolly’s welcoming presence, bring a lot of joy. In honor of her 75th birthday, here are ten Dolly songs that’ll keep your spirits lifted during this tumultuous time:
by Eddie Sayago
As we are halfway through April (I know, it doesn’t feel like it.), I noticed how many songs there are about the month (or the woman named after the month). Here are 6 songs about the month that some enjoy while other wish it could end so summer will arrive. (There's no rush, it's not like you have places to go right now.)
April is a weird month in Chicago. It’s technically spring and yet snow always falls at some point. (There was a snowstorm just two days after we had a sunny day with a high of 80 degrees last week.) But at some point, we always miss that special someone. “Are you out there somewhere?/What are you up to?” It should be weird to still pine for and miss someone who is no longer a part of your life, and that it’s alright to feel this way. Beach Bunny lets you know that it’s alright to feel whatever you’re feeling right now. It’s a weird time for all of us.
by Eddie Sayago
As Pride festivities conclude across the world this week, there are numerous songs in many languages that celebrate the community and bring everyone to the forefront. Here are five dance songs in Spanish to add to your playlists and soundtrack for Pride Month, next dance party, and beyond...
The literal translation to this song title is “It’s always Friday in my heart”, which is not a bad way to view the world, especially when one needs a break from all the doom and gloom. This Chilean musician and filmmaker has his heart on his sleeve and is not afraid to express himself. As his career has advanced, Anwandter’s music has intertwined both political and personal issues, all served on a platter of danceable pop and visually poetic music videos (like the one for this song.)