Ryan Beatty writes Pop about Boys

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If we didn’t already know that pop songwriter Ryan Beatty (interview) is “proud to be a raging homosexual” (according to his Instagram), his finally released debut album, Boy in Jeans, would definitely confirm it ;)

Once dubbed “Justin Bieber 2.0″ — probably because he came up on YouTube, looks like a clean-cut twink and has a penchant for modern R&B — the California native is equal parts middle-of-the-road pop tart and hip-hop outlier (he sings the hook on Brockhampton’s Bleach). Though Boy in Jeans has its sights set on the charts, Beatty isn’t afraid to get a little freaky from time to time.

Ryan abandons his prom date to get busy with a guy in Bruise while, pretty much like everybody else, he gets high to Pink Floyd while searching for the dark side of the moon. He likes money and foreign guys (mais oui) on Euro and worries about his reputation throughout the single Camo. And he isn’t coy about sex. God in Jeans celebrates the beauty of his partner and the joys of sleeping “naked with the radio on.”

In other words, it’s business as usual for a young, healthy, hot-blooded American male who just happens to be gay. In a world where Troye Sivan and Years & Years are breaking glass ceilings everywhere, Ryan Beatty is what pops out.

No Love (Like First Love)

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Nearly eight years ago, a timid 12-year-old walked onto the audition stage of Britain’s Got Talent and stunned the nation by belting out his cover of ‘Feeling Good’. Now 19-years-old, Ronan Parke is back with his comeback single, No Love (Like First Love), and it’s impressive.

The new single has all the hallmarks of a successful release, but no-one saw just how good it would be. The teenager’s voice has matured a lot since his first steps in the industry, but the youthful power is still very much there, and it is glorious in No Love (Like First Love).

Kim Petras, Modern Pop Princess

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In her debut music video, I don’t want it at all, German trans pop star Kim Petras sings, “I want all my clothes designer, I want someone else to buy ’em.” The video also features spoiled poster girl Paris Hilton.

“It’s just a sugar-baby anthem,” Petras said. “It’s very tongue-in-cheek. … It’s a fantasy song about if my bratty side came out and had a ball.” It may sound like a tribute to rampant materialism, but the song is actually anything but superficial. Rather, it’s an ode to teenage girl fantasy — something Petras, now 25, missed out on back then.

“I wanted to kill myself as a kid,” she candidly admits. “I wasn’t popular in school, I got bullied pretty hard … but I’m talented and I’m good at music, and that’s always how I spent my time — in my room, making music.”

At 16, Petras was the youngest person in the European Union to undergo gender-affirmation surgery (she started hormone therapy at 12). “I feel like my whole teen life was taken up by fighting for that — fighting to get surgery and fighting to get hormone therapy,” she says.

Since the surgery is usually prohibited until a teen reaches 18, Petras had to convince a medical team to make an exception in her case. “My parents really educated me that not everybody’s as lucky as me, to transition early,” Petras says. She’s thrilled, “I get to help others who are not as lucky,” and is determined to remain a trans ambassador. “The great thing about my music career is that, really, people find out about me without knowing [my history] and it’s really just about the music … but at the same time, I’ll always fight for the transgender community.”

She also isn’t willing to be judged by her gender. “That somebody is female or male, it doesn’t define them … and if somebody’s transgender, it doesn’t define them,” she says.

Her life has really always been about music. Growing up, Petras remembers her mom playing Miles Davis and Billie Holiday records. As a teen, she recalls watching a Carole King documentary and becoming “really obsessed with songwriting.” Petras had a hit single, Last Forever, in her native Germany by the time she was 16. She’s been making music for over half her life and has written over 300 original songs, leading Petras to joke that her first full-length album will really be more like her “greatest hits.”

One can certainly see shades of pop princesses past in her edgy but perfectly polished, side-ponytail sporting, bubble gum-popping aesthetic.

“I grew up with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera,” Petras explains. “And I really love everything early-Madonna.” After coming to Los Angeles at 19, Petras says her early success in Germany didn’t open doors stateside and she ended up broke and “slept on studio couches for years.” But these days, the years of blood, sweat, and tears are starting to pay off and her career is shifting into high gear. She has collaborated with artists like Charlie XCX, JoJo, Baby E, and Lil Aaron. She records on her own label, has been featured on RISE (Spotify’s artist development program), and has been streamed over 30 million times on the platform.

With her new hit single and video, Heart to Break, climbing the charts, a full-length album in the works, and a tour with Troye Sivan this fall —  Petras doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. “I’m so, so ecstatic to be doing what I’m doing,” she says. “I’ve been working up to this my whole life, like since I was 12 years old, I was on the way here — so now I’m going to enjoy it.”

Neverland by Holland

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K-pop newcomer Holland released his first single Neverland earlier this year. The song and music video are all about queer love. Neverland is a mellow R&B track that relays the emotions of a man who wants to avoid discrimination and escape to a place of free love.

The song’s accompanying music video similarly places the singer’s sexuality in the spotlight, depicting a rare same-sex kiss in a video describing the ups-and-downs of a relationship. Neverland received a 19+ rating in South Korea because of the kiss.

Holland is the first openly gay k-pop idol to debut, though MRSHLL, another R&B artist, came out before releasing his first song last year, becoming the first Korean singer to begin his career while openly addressing his sexuality. Same-sex love is rarely addressed in k-pop and South Korea’s entertainment industry. Only a handful of celebrities, including the entertainer Hong Seokcheon and the transgender singer Harisu, are publicly out.

Though Holland has no large agency backing, and was a relatively unknown in the k-pop scene until he first started teasing his debut single, he has already caught the attention of many k-pop fans who have been eager to see more diversity and queer representation in the Korean idol industry.

Neverland racked up more than 700,000 views within 24 hours of its release, to this day the video has been watched over 10 million times.

Dance to This

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Troye Sivan and Ariana Grande start their own party in the video for their collaboration, Dance to This. Troye’s sophomore album Bloom is out on August 30th.

The clip opens with Sivan sitting in a rec room-cafeteria setting where people are quietly eating and reading. Bored, Troye brings a CD to a man with a boombox and begins singing, then dancing, at the front of the room before Grande gleefully joins him. The confused people eventually leave so Troye and Grande have the room to themselves.

Bloom follows the 23-year-old singer’s 2015 debut album Blue Neighbourhood. Sivan recently said that he’s been taking dance lessons ahead of his tour in support of Bloom (where he’ll be joined by trans singer Kim Petras as an opening act). “We spent the whole first class just moving in slow motion for, like, two hours,” he said.

This Is Me: A Pride Anthem

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During Sunday’s L.A. Pride parade, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles danced past the cheering crowd to perform a choreographed rendition of “This Is Me.” To the spectators present, the joyous moment officially confirmed the song as an anthem of Pride, which will undoubtedly be replayed throughout the month of June.

The song’s journey to the parade may be unexpected. But it has all of the requisite ingredients for this distinction. “This Is Me” was written by a gay man, Benj Pasek, and his writing partner, Justin Paul. The two are known for their original songs for Smash, La La Land,and Dear Evan Hansen, the latter of which won them a Tony Award for Best Original Score.

In addition to these queer credentials, the anthem in question is from The Greatest Showman, a 2017 musical film starring Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum. In the production, “This Is Me” is sung by Keala Settle, who portrays a bearded lady in the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Her experience, articulated through the song, is one of resilience in the face of hardship — which, after all, is what Pride is all about.

“I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be, this is me,” Settle sings in an unapologetic declaration of identity that all queer people can relate to. She adds, “I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, this is me.”

Lätkäjätkä-Ville

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I’m not sure how I feel about the music Finish YouTuber Tuure Boelius does… OK, I do know how I feel about it but I’m too polite to say it :p But hey, nothing wrong with a video of two cute guys kissing, right? (If you’d rather check out his butt, have a look at this video instead)