Hayley Kiyoko wasn’t kidding when she sang “girls like girls like boys do.” Love, curiosity and attraction between women is nothing new -- and it’s certainly not a novelty, like some media might suggest.
While there are countless love songs and songs about relationships featuring heteronormative pronouns, we’ve compiled a playlist of genre-spanning tracks from queer, lesbian, pansexual and bisexual women who have written and sung about their feelings towards other women. From Janelle Monáe to King Princess, celebrate queer artists and girl-on-girl love with these 30 songs, below.
Baum, “Hot Water”
Baum’s “Hot Water” is an electric ode to the joint excitement and nervousness that comes with discovering one’s sexuality. “You look so nice / Can I kiss you / Smell like Secret, Teen Spirit,” the queer pop upstart opens the track, her voice cradled by a cushion of plush synths. Later, she admits her inexperience on the chorus: “But I’ve never done much at all… / I’m in hot water.”
Gia, “Only a Girl”
Gia’s steamy debut single isn’t just the artist’s personal coming-out letter in pop form. It’s also a slow-burning salute to women who love other women everywhere. “Dark eyes, pink lips / Now my heart is racing,” the lesbian pop artist sings over a smokescreen of trap beats and electronica. “Only a girl can make me feel this way.”
Ames, “Flowers for Anna”
Indie singer-songwriter Ames’ mellow “Flowers for Anna” is a heartbreaking and all-too-relatable account of young, blossoming queer desire nearly stifled by the oppression of societal expectations : “I've always been the weirdo/ With flowers in my hands for Anna/ Her little brother who liked me/ I'd pretend he was her.”
Rina Sawayama, “Cherry”
London pop phenom Rina Sawayama’s upbeat “Cherry” is all bright, fizzy aughties-era pop on the surface, but below the glossy sheen is an explosive pan/bisexual-awakening anthem for women just discovering their feelings: “Down the subway, you looked my way/ With your girl gaze, with your girl gaze/ That was the day everything changed.”
Asiahn, “Like You”
Asiahn is sensual and smooth on “Like You,” a bittersweet late-night R&B jam that tackles a young woman’s burgeoning feelings for a mysterious babe she meets in the club -- even though she’s already “got a girl” back at home. (Don’t worry: Asiahn told Billboard she’s not on that cheating vibe.)
King Princess, “Pussy Is God”
Brooklyn-bred King Princess is delightfully candid on “Pussy Is God,” a wonderfully subversive lesbian love song that doubles as a prayer to her lover. The genderqueer artist celebrates her divine same-sex romance over an unexpected synth-pop soundscape, her NSFW hymns punctuated by a funky bassline.
Kelala, “Truth or Dare”
“Truth or Dare” can certainly be read as a rumination on queer longing and sexual tension. Over a percussive plane of skittering new wave beats, Kelela sings about the delicate dance between two would-be, could-be lovers, growing more confident and determined with each sensual verse.
Beatrice Eli, “Girls”
Swedish alt-pop star Beatrice can’t stop thinking about girls on this buzzing electro-pop banger. “I've seen this girl on the TV/ Seen this girl in the mall/ I see pictures in my head / Of my head between their legs,” Eli sings on the rambunctious, lusty chorus while, elsewhere on the track, she recounts the way her 6th grade teacher’s long, dark hair, “always works getting me aroused.”
Kehlani likes her girls just like she likes her honey: sweet. The R&B-pop artist serenades her lover on this dreamy, light-as-air ballad. “All the pretty girls in the world/ But I'm in this space with you,” Kehlani sings, her smoky voice floating over a twinkling bed of acoustic guitar chords.
Alyson Stoner, “Fool”
If you like taking long walks on the beach with your girlfriend, consider Alyson Stoner’s breezy bop your new summer love anthem. The upbeat tune’s joyful music video, which finds the singer-actress kissing her femme lover as the Malibu waves crash around them, that gives the already sweet song an added feeling of intimacy.
Keeana Kee, “You’re Real”
Latvian pop star Keeana Kee describes this sweltering single as a “very passionate lesbian love (and lust) story,” and she’s not lying. “You’re Real” is pure passion, from the mesmerizing Latin-influenced production to Keeana’s sincere proclamations to her crush: “You're the last thing I wanna lose / You're the thought I wake up to.”
L Devine, “Daughter”
On “Daughter,” English artist L Devine expresses her romantic devotion by speaking to her lover’s mother, who doesn’t quite accept her daughter’s sexuality. Set over a dreamy synth-pop soundscape, it’s a tender, empathetic love song that captures the complex challenges that come with having to navigate the unaccepting family of one’s partner. It’s emotional and hopeful all at once.
Dizzy Fae, “Her”
Queer artist Dizzy Fae opens up about the first time she experienced falling for another woman on “Her,” a woozy, sensual slice of alt-R&B that explores the unavoidable vulnerability that comes with falling in love. Dizzy’s fluttering vibrato is bewitching as she sings about discovering the expansiveness of her blossoming sexuality.
Studio Killers, “Jenny”
Studio Killers’ Cherry wants to “ruin” her friendship with the titular “Jenny” on this humid Europop-meets-EDM affair. Over a summery Mediterranean groove, the frontwoman admits her not-so-platonic feelings towards her bestie, declaring, “We should be lovers instead.”
Girl in Red, “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend”
Norwegian bedroom pop musician Girl in Red, a.k.a. Marie Ulven, weaves a bittersweet confessional about teenage queer romance on this fuzzy indie-rock ditty about unrequited love. “I don’t wanna be your friend, I wanna kiss your lips,” Ulven sings about a girl named Hannah on the achy-breaky chorus, which sounds like it was ripped straight out the pages of her diary.
Tegan and Sara, “Closer”
Twin sister duo Tegan and Sara, both openly gay, revel in getting “closer” with their respective lovers on this uplifting, boisterous electro anthem. It’s a glittery dance floor banger that celebrates love in all its colorful iterations.
Mary Lambert, “I’d Be Your Wife”
Mary Lambert is charming and infatuated on this sweet indie-pop tune. “It started with a feeling, then you had me dreaming/ Now you never leave my side/ So can you give us a try?/ 'Cause I'd be your wife,” she coos sincerely over a flurry of acoustic guitar chords and a twinkling melody.
Lucy Whittaker, “Curious”
A thumping beat and skittering synths parallel the restless fluttering of Lucy Whittaker’s heart on this electro-pop bop about desperately wanting to steal away a boy’s girlfriend from him. The London-based singer’s crystalline vocals explode on the lush chorus, which captures the thrilling rush of both falling for someone and being curious about your sexuality.
Janelle Monáe, “Make Me Feel”
Self-proclaimed “free-ass motherfucker” Janelle Monáe, who publicly identified as pansexual in 2018, delivered an instant anthem for bi/pan women everywhere when she released the music video for ”Make Me Feel,” which featured the pop star crawling between women’s legs and grinding up on both a male and female love interest (the latter being Tessa Thompson) under pointed bisexual lighting. It was a powerful message of solidarity for anyone who’s ever felt themselves unable to contain the fluidity of their sexual attraction, with Monáe right there with them, singing her heart out over a deliciously wobbly beat: “Baby, don’t make me spell it out for you/ All of the feelings that I've got for you/ Can't be explained, but I can try for you.”
Zolita, “Like Heaven”
Emerging alt-pop artist Zolita, who openly identifies as a lesbian, is insatiable on this dark, synth-drenched song about sensuality, longing, and embracing one’s true desires, the judgment of others be damned: “The weight of their eyes can’t bring us down/ Can’t stop staring when we’re around/ Kiss on the subway, we’re heading to my place/ And I’ve been waiting all day, now your skirt be on my face.”
Emily Burns and Olivia Nelson, “Vanilla Sundae”
British singer-songwriter Emily Burns’ “Vanilla Sundae” is a same-sex folk-pop duet that finds Burns and R&B artist Olivia Nelson trading verses and harmonizing about an endless lazy Sunday spent together. “Come, let's talk about it now, girl / I can't live without it… / Don't wanna try another flavor, I want you,” the two croon sweetly on the track, which feels more like a warm, toasty cinnamon bun than its titular chilly dessert.
Hayley Kiyoko, “Girls Like Girls”
Hayley Kiyoko pines over another young woman on this emotive synth-pop anthem about queer love. While the accompanying music video is equal parts heartbreaking and cinematic, Kiyoko’s lyrics normalizing same-sex romance are mighty powerful: “Girls like girls like boys do/ Nothing new.”
Beth Ditto, “Love in Real Life”
Queer music icon Beth Ditto sings about unconditional, no frills love on this sweeping, synth-assisted Southern rock tune off her album Fake Sugar. “Nothing ever is perfect/ There's the good and the bad/ Though it's never on purpose/ Sometimes I make you sad,” she warbles, celebrating both the ups and downs that come with being in a relationship.
Halsey ft. Lauren Jauregui, “Strangers”
Halsey’s first song to use explicitly female subject pronouns, “Strangers” finds the hopeless fountain kingdom artist and Lauren Jauregui, two of pop’s openly bisexual stars, trading verses over a lush soundscape of pulsating ‘80s new wave beats. Cushioned within the swirling synths, the two women sing of the heartache, frustration, and lust bursting from a seemingly doomed relationship.
Melissa Etheridge, “Come to Window”
The music icon’s first single released after coming out as a lesbian in 1993, for decades “Come to My Window” has been rightfully recognized as a queer anthem. “I don't care what they think/ I don't care what they say/ What do they know about this love,” Melissa Etheridge belts on the rock classic’s bridge, powerfully brushing off anyone who doesn’t recognize her relationship with her girlfriend as valid.
Kodie Shane, “Sing to Her”
Kodie Shane is all effortless swag and sexual confidence on “Sing to Her,” a neon-tinged club banger that finds the Atlanta rapper boasting about her ability to seduce a love interest through her vocal prowess. Using generous female pronouns, Shane makes it clear exactly who she’s interested in romancing, gleefully appropriating the bold self-assurance so often associated exclusively with cishet men -- proving, in the process, that romantic assertiveness is not gendered.
K.D. Lang, “Constant Craving”
Canadian singer-songwriter K.D. Lang came out as gay the year she released this hypnotizing, Grammy-winning soft rock single in 1992. (Religious groups picketed outside the Grammy Awards the year the song won.) Since its release, the song has become an unofficial anthem for queer longing (or craving, rather), as well as the existential search for authenticity and self-acceptance.
Japanese House, “Lilo”
There’s nothing more natural than love. The Japanese House, a.k.a. Amber Bain, explores this on “Lilo,” a warm, tempered synth-ballad that shimmers like sunlight glinting off a pool. The video, which stars Bain’s real-life girlfriend at the time, captures the effortless cyclical flow of a relationship -- from the mundane to the extraordinary, it all feels so easy.
LP, “Girls Go Wild”
Recorded in Joshua Tree when indie-rock singer-songwriter LP was “having some trouble with [her] girlfriend,” “Girls Go Wild” is a sun-kissed yet angsty jam that tackles the complex intersections between love, insecurity, devotion and uncertainty. No relationships are perfect, and LP’s track is a nuanced look at a couple at the end of their tether.
Rita Ora, “Girls”
Though dogged by controversy surrounding lyrics some in the LGBTQ community deemed problematic upon its release, Rita Ora’s “Girls,” a collaboration between her, Bebe Rexha, Cardi B and Charli XCX, certainly captures the lived truths of some gay and bi/pan women. (After all, queerness largely exists on a spectrum, and every experience is different.) In response to the backlash, Ora, who has had “romantic relationships with women and men,” wrote that the song “was written to respect my truth and is an accurate account of a very real and honest experience in my life.”