TO.HOMO - Top queer Toronto songs
Toronto has always been a hotbed for musical talent, but it's the queers who took that bed and lit it on fire! Queer, gay, lesbian, trans... our people have been making terrific music before gay bars even existed in this city. Here are the top songs by queer Toronto artists.
Comin' Down - Jackie Shane
One of our city's greatest musical legends, Jackie was a transgender woman and powerhouse soul singer who lit up any stage she stood on. Best known for her track "Any Other Way," we really love "Comin' Down."
High School Confidential- Rough Trade
From their iconic New Wave album Avoid Freud, Rough Trade's song about a sexy student includes the lyrics "She makes me cream my jeans when she comes my way." The band's main vocalist and Toronto music royalty, Carole Pope growls through the track leaving you wanting more denim and cigarettes in your life.
Rise Up - Parachute Club
Lead by the fantastically butch Lorraine Segato, Parachute Club's uplifting anthem of freedom seems to have never gone away. The 1983 hit song that declares "freedom, to love who we please," among many other positive, unifying messages.
Days Like That - Sugar Jones
The radio hit from the first group birthed out of the Popstars reality music series in 2001 is most definitely stuck in an era. You can hear the hair gel and pleather. But you can't deny the oddity and catchiness of that hook!
Sweat of your brow - Jully Black
This Jully Black tune finds her at her very best. Sweating in a hot summer apartment with minimal makeup, full R&B diva vocals in check and a simple dance instruction to us eager listeners. We will always have a soft spot for Miss Black.
Boys wanna be her - Peaches
She might live in Berlin now, but Peaches will always be Toronto's queer high priestess singing songs about dicks, vaginas ... basically, every body part doing everything you've ever imagined with anyone you want. She pushes sexuality and music to new heights and has the pipes to pull it off right. This tune is one of faves.
Lewis Takes off His Shirt - Owen Pallet
Naming a single song from singer, songwriter and composer Owen Pallet is a feat. Sure his album He Poo's Clouds won the Polaris Music Prize, but it's tracks like this one that demonstrate a musician with his queer ear on the ground, in the clouds, over rainbows. His songs can be heartbreaking, fascinating, and sometimes, like this tune, stunning.
Ban Marriage - The Hidden Cameras
If you were around in Toronto in the early 2000's, you probably danced among the flying toilet paper roles, naked bodies and an army of instruments and voices of the Hidden Cameras. Joel Gibb and his merry group of players creative what was then dubbed as "gay church folk music," and this track is one that would send holy water splashing everywhere.
Nobody's Supposed to be here (Hex Hector remix) - Deborah Cox
Like Whitney's "It's Not Right, but it's OK" remix, Deborah's slow R&B jam is a dancefloor murderer. Sure, the smooth R&B original is a classic, but after it's been gay clubbed up, it's an undeniable dance diva moment.
Broken Bones - Love Inc.
Dance Mixmasters, Electric Circus faves and late '90's post-rave posi-vibe club kids Love Inc. featured ferocious vocalist Simone Denny and producers Chris Sheppard and Brad Daymond. "Broken Bones" and "You're a Superstar" were pretty huge hits for the trio and they remain one of the country's biggest dance music acts of all time.
My Moon My Man - Feist
OK, she's not gay. This song's not even especially queer, but the vibe, the subtle beat and the video (airport choreo!)make this a song that needs to be included on this list. Leslie Feist was, afterall, once roomates with Peaches - they lived together on Queen West - and is one of our fave Toronto pop things.
Reckless with your Love - Azari & III
Toronto music and style pushers Dinamo Azari and Alixander III, ft. Vocals of Fritz Helder and Starving Yet Full met and created the monster that was Azari & III - a perfect burst of house and tech with swishes of vogue, tech and a certain '90s flare that still sets any dancefloor on fire when played.
Home - Austra
Katie Stelmanis's electronic project Austra has made her the grand sorceress of Toronto with her icy cold beats, haunting melodies, and queen empress witch vocals. It's hard to pick a favourite track from her past albums, but we're really into this one from 2013's Olympia.
Slipping Away - Diana
Diana is a Synthpop trio who could soundtrack late nights in your '90s apartment after work, as you take out your, should pads, wipe down your glass dining room table and get your hairspray out before a night on the neon town. Vocalist Carmen Elle is also the queer brainchild of Less Bar, Bloor West's newest gay bar. This song captures are hearts and hips, every time.
Slicked - Weaves
A Toronto foursome making in-your-face pop music for weirdos. We love Weaves and lead singer Jasmyn Burke's voice and presence. She's a force and this is a band making Toronto proud as they tour the planet, rack up Polaris Prize nominations and make videos like this one for our fave track "Slicked."
Oh Yeah - The Cliks
Lucas Silveira's Cliks project was loud, abrasive, punk, pop and had such an i-don't-give-a-shit attitude about it, that all the queers of Toronto couldn't help but fall in love when "Oh Yeah" arrived. It's early 00's indie rock at it's very gayest and greatest.
10 Feet Tall - Light Fires
Once upon a time Gentlemen Reg and his angelic folk-pop existed... and then Regina was born, which ignited Light Fires. A dance project from Reg's femme alter-ego Regina Gently. Her brand of shiny electro-pop is wrapped in poetics, bouncy beats and high kicks for dayyys.
Do Easy - Tasseomancy
This mystical and magical duo described this song, and our fave as a track "for the seasoned loners, stoners, and lackadaisically laid. Do Easy was written as a dead-beat anthem for a generation who was told that anything is possible after the possibility slows."
Bobby - Kids on TV
Queer electro legends Kids of TV will forever be one of our favourite things to happen in Toronto's gay music history. Their blend of brash, hyper-pop mixed with messages, statements, and spastic beats forever changed the city's queer-west culture.
Chosen - Andres Sierra
Andreas is a new pop thing in the city making big, over the top pop tunes for dancing like a wild person in your kitchen while no one's looking.
Architect of HeartBreak - Witch Prophet
Ayo Leilani is Witch Prophet, and a gift to the city of Toronto. The singer/songwriter is creating a cosmic world of chill, soul music for your heart and mind. This track - a collab with THEESatisfaction's MC Stas - melted the internet last year and is the soundtrack to every Sunday of our lives, basically.
Party Girl - Chinawoman
Cult favourite, Michelle Gurevich - AKA Chinawoman - has a big fanbase in Europe. She's kind of like Toronto's Nico or PJ Harvey. Raw, real, and brutally honest, this isn't party music. "I used to cry, but now I don't have the time," is our favourite lines from this tune.
Work - Charlotte Day Wilson
There is no voice like Charlotte Day Wilson's voice. She is soul, R&B, pop. She the burning flame of a candle. She is Sade's white, Canadian baby cousin. She plays guitar, she's shy, and her EP is perfection. Listen to "Work" and you're welcome.