PEI·Opinion

Loud and proud! Turn up the volume on this P.E.I. Pride playlist: Opinion

With P.E.I.’s Pride Festival this Saturday through next, it’s an appropriate time to post some Pride-flavoured tracks that will help get you in the mood.

P.E.I.'s Pride Festival has begun so it's a good time to groove to some Pride-flavoured tracks

Janelle Monáe in the video for her single "Make Me Feel." (YouTube/Screenshot)

As the saying goes, the first Pride was a riot. At the Stonewall Tavern in New York City's Greenwich Village on June 28, 1969, a group of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, members of the trans community and drag queens fed up with police discrimination fought back.

It was the birth of the modern Pride movement.

Since that time, demonstrations, parades, celebrations and awareness campaigns have been established around the globe in commemoration of the anniversary of the riots so that we might embrace who we are and and continue the fight for the rights of our community.

Although Pride is a human rights event, music has always played a big role in our community, no matter how celebratory or sombre the occasion.

Whether it creates a sense of solidarity, shares our stories or sets us free, our message can frequently be found in the music.

In a sense, it gives us our voice.

Pictured is Dave Stewart years ago at the Stonewall Tavern and its commemorate plaque. (Submitted by Dave Stewart)

With P.E.I.'s Pride Festival happening July 20-27, it's a good time to listen to some Pride-flavoured tracks that will help get you in the mood. While there are plenty of Pride playlists out there, my challenge was to find some tracks that aren't yet in the canon and may never be.

To that end, you won't find Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive here. No Born This Way by Gaga. No You Make Me Feel by Sylvester, all Pride classics.

Oh, and no YMCA — that's for straight people's weddings only.

Instead, you'll find a mix of new and relatively recent tracks, and even some regional music, from members of the LGBTQ community and our allies.

A word of warning: I've chosen to include "clean" versions of tracks here, but there are still plenty of expressions of freedom, and guys who seem to lose their shirts at the drop of a beat.

If you think you probably won't appreciate what's featured here, please don't scroll. For the rest of us: hit play.

Make Me Feel

First up is Make Me Feel by Janelle Monáe, from her 2018 release Dirty Computer, an album she has described as "an homage to women and the spectrum of sexual identities." 

You'll no doubt notice some purple influence here, as Prince was working with Monáe on this album at the time of his death.

Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels

Formerly a contestant on American Idol and currently a choreographer on RuPaul's Drag Race, Todrick Hall is also a performer in his own right.

His EP, Haus Party, Pt. 1 features Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels which has become a bit of a YouTube sensation.

Not hard to see/hear why.

Juice

Seems like everybody loves Lizzo, and there was no way I was going to leave her off of this playlist. There were a ton of great tracks to choose from, but I picked Juice from her 2019 release Cuz I Love You.

Click and you'll hear why.

Ever Again

A pop star from the age of 15, Robyn took some time off to recover from exhaustion and then to navigate a break with her record label.

Forming her own label in order to gain control of her sound, Robyn reemerged with a more electro feel with dance chart favourites such as Tell Your Girlfriend and Dancing on my Own.

Last month, the Swedish singer released her latest single, Ever Again from her album Honey.

Fire

In 2017, everybody's favourite queer, body-positive singer Beth Ditto, formerly of the band Gossip, released her album Fake Sugar.

Its stand out track Fire features Ditto's trademark smokey vocals, a grungy country vibe and a yes-please dance beat.

Fun for Everyone (Minions)

How many bands do you know from Sackville, N.B.? Put together by a couple of best friends? Who happen to be lesbians?

Well, let me introduce you to Partner — aka Lucy Niles and Josée Caron. Though they're usually a little more punk rock, their new EP Saturday the 14th was a change in direction for the band, featuring ballads and this dance track, Fun for Everyone (Minions).

No Selfie Control

Cazwell has been around since the days when gay rap and hip hop were mostly in the closet, but he's always been out there doing his thing loud and proud.

In that sense, he's a one of the forerunners of the genre — albeit a white one in a genre created by African Americans.

From his 2014 release Hard 2 B Fresh, here's No Selfie Control.

Fun

One of the great things about composing a list like this is that I get to throw in favourites when they fit.

Anyone who knows me knows that Blondie is my favourite band, and in 2017 they gave us a terrific album called Pollinator which spawned Fun, featured here in the Greg Cohen Spirit of 79 Remix that kicks it up just a little.

City Grrrl

Much like Blondie, CSS is equally at home with both punk and dance.

From São Paulo, Brazil, CSS has been largely inactive since the release of Planta in 2013, due in large part to the departure of band member Adriano Cintra, but their 2011 track City Grrrl is everything a Pride track needs to be.

My Body

And now for something a little more subversive, from a band named bottoms and their track My Body.

Described on their Bandcamp page as "noisy acid punk house" — consider yourself warned.

Drop

Drop by Big Freedia, Diplo and DJ Snake will give you a dance-floor workout. I mean it.

Big Freedia specializes in bounce, a New Orleans style of hip hop that's particularly energetic, and this lo-fi video of a high-energy track is guaranteed to make you sweat, if you do it right.

Cost of Living

Time to wrap things up with some local talent. Charlottetown's Russell Louder is a trans performance artist and musician who is making some noise with their track Cost of Living.

Louder will also be preforming at Pride After Dark at the Delta Prince Edward on Saturday, July 27, at 10 p.m. as part of P.E.I.'s Pride Festival. Slow things down a bit and down a bottle of water as you dry the Big Freedia perspiration and sway to this terrific track.

So tell us, what's on your Pride playlist?

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read our FAQ.

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About the Author

Dave Stewart is an "ad man" at Graphcom in Charlottetown; a DIY filmmaker and musician; and contributor to The Buzz, Rue Morgue, Art Decades, Studio CX and online at RetroSlashers.net. He edited and contributed to the P.E.I. horror anthology Fear from a Small Place, and 26 two-minute episodes of his cartoon for The Buzz, And Yet I Blame Hollywood, were adapted on the CBC-TV show ZeD.

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