While Valentine’s Day has a long and complicated history, no one should ever miss out on a celebration of love. These songs, all performed by queer artists, depict the complicated nature of queer love — as imperfect as it often is. Whether you’re celebrating with your valentine or yearning for one to come your way, this playlist will dutifully accompany you this Valentine’s Day, celebrating the resilience of queer love and the talented queer artists that highlight it in whatever form it takes.
“To A Woman” by Lavender Country
Written in 1973, “To A Woman” is known for being one of the first queer country songs, reminding contemporary listeners of how radical queer love once seemed. This song and others on Lavender Country remain entwined with the gay liberation movement. Even among other trailblazing tracks on the album, “To A Woman” remains the only one about a love between two women. In its simplicity, “To A Woman” delicately expresses how much this love means to the singer, as gentle piano notes let lyrics, like “You’ve opened part of me, made me free” speak for themselves.
“Kissing Lessons” by Lucy Dacus
Released Feb. 2, Dacus’ latest bop details an experience in which a girl in elementary school gave her “kissing lessons.” Touching poignantly on the homoerotic nature of female friendships growing up, the song details moments in which one is unsure of what the feeling of closeness really means. As Dacus describes calling her friend Rachel “baby or darling” because she couldn’t think of a man to pretend she was kissing, the song paints the picture of complicated expectations of heterosexuality from which Dacus’ feelings depart. The powerful guitar and instrumental backings make this song incredibly danceable, almost enough to forget how melancholy the lyrics actually are.
“Soft Spot” by Claud
If Valentine’s Day has you lamenting the loss of a past love, the gloomy lyrics of Claud’s “Soft Spot” might be more your vibe. Throughout the track, Claud thinks back on a past relationship; even though their ex-lover doesn’t want to see them, this doesn’t mean that the warm and fuzzy feelings they obtained from their presence have immediately gone away. In each of the verses, Claud recounts a specific memory to reflect upon and contrasts the description of each memory with the track’s chorus, which echoes “Cause I’ve got a soft spot, I’ve got it for you.” The song’s themes of secrecy, tenderness and adoration from afar make “Soft Spot” the perfect queer love song.
“Silk Chiffon” by MUNA ft. Phoebe Bridgers
This bubbly pop hit, bursting with queer joy in its chorus, has quickly become well-loved for its cheerful and uncomplicated celebration of crushes on women. Taking inspiration from the lesbian camp classic “But I’m a Cheerleader,” the song’s music video is yet another homage to the queer experience, especially with the pink-toned outfits that MUNA dons. To top it all off, Phoebe Bridgers’ feature on the track is a surprising yet welcome departure from the haunting solo work she’s known for, proving that the Grammy-nominated artist can truly do it all.
“Drive Me, Crazy” by Orville Peck
This song intimately captures the sometimes star-crossed nature of queer romance, as Peck laments about two truck drivers enthralled within a love affair that exists only on the road. Peck’s signature bellowy vocals masterfully complement the song’s wistful imagery, making it a tearful yet celebratory love ballad perfect for the road ahead.
“Light Blue” by Snail Mail
For lovebirds celebrating the holiday in a traditional way, “Light Blue” by Snail Mail perfectly celebrates the dedication of romantic love. Coming off of her most recent album, Valentine, “Light Blue” is a poignant portrayal of Lindsay Jordan’s — better known by her stage name Snail Mail — fervent loyalty to a girlfriend, remarking “I wanna wake up early every day, just to be awake in the same world as you.” Whether the love you’re celebrating this Valentine’s Day is romantic or platonic, the passionate spirit that Jordan applies to her relationship can be admired by everyone.