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There has undoubtedly been a queer pop explosion in music over the past few years – and 2022 only built further on that wave of incredible LGBTQ+ artists releasing some of the best songs out there. This year we saw Sam Smith and Kim Petras become the first openly non-binary and trans artists respectively to top the US Hot 100; Cat Burns enjoyed breakthrough success, remaining a firm fixture in the UK Top 5 for months; and Steve Lacy achieved long-overdue mainstream success by topping the charts with his R&B earworm of a track.

Here we list out our 20 favourite songs of 2022 by LGBTQ+ artists. This isn’t a ranking but rather a playlist which we’ve laid out in alphabetical order.

Cat Burns: Go
Reissued as a single in 2022, online sensation Cat Burns’ slow-burn hit set TikTok alight overnight. The singer’s delicate, stripped-back arrangement catapulted the London artist to viral fame and garnered her a UK Top 10, with over 42 weeks on the Official Charts. Go has served as testament to Burns’ talent and what fans can expect next. ZRS

Dove Cameron: Boyfriend
Former GAY TIMES cover star Dove Cameron rocked the pop world with her sultry, dark anthem, Boyfriend. The singers’ addictively intimate track swept across social media and was quickly adopted as the queer anthem of the summer. Cameron, who had made her name as an ex-Disney star, had previously scooped up a Daytime Emmy Award and pop culture notoriety, but Boyfriend set the artist in her own lane; a powerful, provocative smash hit, Boyfriend was the best “accidental” success to hit the internet. – ZRS

Ethel Cain: American Teenager
Taken from her debut album, Preacher’s Daughter, Tallahassee native Hayden Anhedönia makes fashioning a Taylor Swift-meets-Lana Del Rey new Americana goth pop tune look easy. Cain wraps atmospheric synths and electric guitar hooks to pull off an immersive commentary on the unattainable American Gen Z teen experience. While American Teenager stands on the indie-pop outlier in Cain’s record, the track’s song’s cult adoration speaks volumes and is a must-listen. – ZRS

Fletcher: Becky’s So Hot
A high-octane emotive single, FLETCHER well and truly flipped the script with Becky’s So Hot. There’s writing about your ex-girlfriend and then there’s writing about your ex-girlfriend’s new girlfriend. A mischievous, rock-inspired track, Becky’s So Hot doubles down on FLETCHER’s talent for catchy cathartic (and playfully bitter) tunes. – ZRS

Fred Again.. x Romy x HAAi: Lights Out
Fred Again.. dominated dance music in 2022, but this pulsating number with queer artists Romy (of The xx fame) and HAAi was a euphoric start to the year. Romy’s rich tone over a production of thumping beats, delicate hi-hats and frenetic electronics makes for a heartbreak anthem like no other. – LC

Grag Queen: Future Is Queer
“President Grag Queen in office, that sounds fucking iconic.” Sure does. After winning Queen of the Universe – Paramount+’s global drag singing competition – at the end of 2021, Brazilian artist Grag Queen has been delivering pop perfection song after song. Future Is Queer was written and produced by Leland as the official theme song of GAY TIMES Honours 2022, with its pulsing electronics and chant-worthy chorus the perfect backdrop for Grag’s powerful vocals and glittering presence. A manifesto for a queer future… What’s not to love? – LC

Halsey: So Good
This year has offered plenty of reliable tunes and Halsey’s So Good is exactly that. Hooked on a longing romance, Halsey cocoons the single in thrumming pop beats and effortless vocals. The new track swaps out her former alt-rock sound for a refreshed alt-pop landscape akin to the artist’s earlier Badlands era. While gritty, experimental rock suits the star, So Good is a pop-charged reminder that Halsey can make any genre work. – ZRS

Honey Dijon: Work ft. Dave Giles II, Cor.Ece & Mike Dunn
Iconic DJ and producer Honey Dijon brought dancefloors of the world together with her infectious new album Black Girl Magic. A highlight track – called Work – is a manifesto for losing yourself in the club, surrendering yourself to the music, and soaking in the positive vibes of moving freely and unapologetically. It all plays out over a rich mix of brass, beats and butt-shaking bass. Love is the agenda and Miss. Dijon is offering it out in spades. – LC

Hope Tala: Leave It On The Dancefloor
A shimmering feel-good disco tune, Hope Tala sweeps you away in this upbeat, celebratory number. A funky pop manifesto for leaving all your worries behind, this joyous summery single is the perfect antidote for a bad day. If you’re in need of a glitzy pick-me-up, Hope Tala is your girl. – ZRS

Rising star Keanan is carving out a space for himself in the world of British rap as one of a handful of openly LGBTQ+ innovators. Ooh La La featuring fellow gay artist CARTERTHEBANDIT was a standout on his recent EP, Exhibit Green, with its Spanish guitar line, hazy brass and swaying chorus fuelling sharp lyrics and an incredibly tight flow from both artists. Big things are certainly ahead for both of them. – LC

Lil Nas X: Star Walkin’
Not one to shy away from a massive pop anthem, Lil Nas X took us into the cosmos with his special single Star Walkin’. The soaring earworm of a chorus had us hooked from the first listen, while his lyrics of overcoming adversity gives you the type of adrenaline rush that makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. “Why worship legends when you know that you can join them?” he asks. We don’t need telling twice. – LC

MUNA: Home By Now
A queer pop gut-punch, Home By Now shines in its melodic ruminations of a relationship that couldn’t quite last. “If I had been able to grin and bear it / Would we be home by now?” Katie Gavin questions, post break-up. MUNA are at their best when serving hits adorned with thumping electro-pop beats and authentic lyrics. With Home By Now, the three-piece effortlessly remind us how they’ve become masters of speaking from the heart. – ZRS

Omar Apollo: Evergreen (You Didn’t Deserve Me At All)
If you’ve not yet got a crush on Omar Apollo, you need to reassess your life choices. The American singer-songwriter got his first taste of mainstream crossover with this lilting, soulful number as he laments over his flame leaving him for another woman. It was a standout track on his latest album Ivory that showcased his raw vocal to superb effect. – LC

Reneé Rapp: Too Well
Kicking off her solo music career in style, Broadway star Reneé Rapp has quickly proven herself as a well-versed wordsmith. Taken from her debut EP, Everything To Everyone, Rapp’s beloved fan-single Too Well has racked up over 4 million streams and it’s continuing to soar thanks to its funky melody and creative storytelling. Reneé Rapp is no doubt a star in the making and Too Well proves just that. – ZRS

Rina Sawayama: This Hell
Japanese-Brit pop star Rina Sawayama is back and This Hell turns up the heat with this rock-tinted no-guilty dance hit. Whether it’s the joyously charged guitar riffs or the nods to glam pop icons Britney, to Lady Di’, Whitney, and Shania Twain, we couldn’t get enough of this cranked up banger. – ZRS

Sam Smith & Kim Petras: Unholy
History was made in 2022 with Sam Smith and Kim Petras becoming the first openly non-binary and trans artists respectively to hit No.1 on the US Hot 100 and bagging a UK No.1 in the process. Unholy is a provocative pop number wrapped up in chewy hooks, slick production and sensual lyrics. Effortlessly catchy and concocted for repeated listens, it’s a seductive anthem packed with carnal desire. – LC

Saucy Santana: Booty ft. Latto
It takes a brave soul to sample the Chi-Lites’ Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So) after Beyoncé took it to new heights on her solo debut Crazy In Love, but Saucy Santana has the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to completely own it. Booty – featuring fellow rap star Latto – is an ode to a perfectly rounded derriere and is as bouncy as the title suggests. It’s a downright bop that picks you up in seconds and gets you shaking your booty, booty, booty. – LC

Steve Lacy: Bad Habit
Steve Lacy’s mainstream breakthrough has been long overdue. Bad Habits thrives on its lo-fi production, tying together elements of R&B and funk to produce one of the songs of the summer. Based around a missed opportunity to recognise a potential love interest, its reflective regret is something that connected with millions and took the track straight to the top of the US Hot 100. – LC

TAAHLIAH: Fall Into Place ft. Tsatsamis
The sexiest hyper-pop anthem of 2022? Easily this dancefloor number from British DJ and producer TAAHLIAH and singer-songwriter Tsatsamis. “Call me, call me, I’m a sex toy, something to enjoy,” Tsatsamis coos over TAAHLIAH’s blood-racing blend of hyperactive electronics, heavy beats and a chorus that reveals its full effect after midnight. Dance tracks don’t get more fun than this. – LC

Tove Lo: No One Dies From Love
Swedish artist Tove Lo has had a stellar year, so picking just one of her tracks was no easy feat. But No One Dies From Love hits just that little harder. It embraces that perfect combination of confused heartache with electro-pop dance-floor ready beats for an anthemic ode to lost love of epic proportions. A future classic at Tove’s shows for years to come. – LC