entertainment

The 10 best LGBT albums of 2018

This was the sound of 20GayTeen.

2018-12-26

Words: Will Stroude

The world might be burning around, but my GOD what a soundtrack it's been backed by this year.

From eargerly-anticipated follow-up records from the likes of Troye Sivan and Year & Years to Christine & the Queen's continued assault on middle England's understanding of gender roles, the LGBT pop babes delivered in 2018.

After hefty deliberation and just two near-altercations at Attitude HQ, we present our top 10 best LGBT albums of the last 12 months...

10) Jake Shears – Jake Shears

He might have left us waiting for SIX whole years for solo material following Scissor Sisters' 2012 hiatus announcement, but Jake Shears made sure his eponymous debut lived up to expectations, and then some.

Taking his cues from his former band's '70s glam-rock-inspired sound, the swaggering showman remains the only man in music who can carry off a song called 'Big Bushy Mustache'. Long may it continue.

9) Jess Glynne – Always In Between

Ineludable pop force Jess Glynne burst back into the charts this year with a second collection of era-defining soul-pop numbers, while similatanously declaring she won't be "put in a box" because of her sexuality.

One thing's for sure: this year's Attitude Music Award winner ain't going away any time soon.

8) Christine and the Queens – Chris

Two years after rewriting the pop girl rulebook on 2016's Chaleur Humaine, Héloïse Letissier continued to the push boundaries as she embraced her masculine identity on this lushly-produced follow-up.

Poignant moments like 'The Walker' and single '5 Dollars' showcased a fiecely independent artist who somehow becomes more inscrutible the she bares her soul. 

7) John Grant – Love Is Magic

Widely considered one of the most thought-provoking LGBT artists of his generation, Grant remained as defiantly outspoken as ever on his first album in three years, Love Is Magic.

The record's moody, intricate soundscapes represented the 50-year-old's strongest embrace of electronic music yet, as he continued to lay bare his struggles with addiction, mental health and sexuality. Plus, 10/10 artwork.

6) Rita Ora – Phoenix 

 

Pop's premier it girl sang about kissing girls this year before opening up about her past relationships with women and finally dropping her mythical second studio album, which delivered more hits than Anthony Joshua on steroids.

5) Hayley Kiyoko – Expectations

After bubbling away nicely for the last couple of years, the so-called 'lesbian Jesus' finally marked her ascendancy in 2018 with a self-assured debut collection of pop gems.

Dripping with cool, Kiyoko's bolshy brand of pop is loaded with enough idiosyncracies to make her one of music's most exciting breakthrough stars. Check out our recent interview with the 27-year-old singer here.

4) Years & Years – Palo Santo

With the arresting Olly Alexander increasingly placed front and centre of proceedings, Years & Years took the themes of sexuality and spirituality that worked so well on 2015's Communion and took them up to a 10 for this fizzing follow-up.

Accompanised by a hypnotic short film which perfectly manoeuvered it into queer concept album territory, singles like 'Sanctify' explored the darker areas of the queer experience as Alexander moulded romantic encounters with 'straight' boys into a full-on mainstream chart assault. Take that, Aunt Susan.

3) MNEK - Language

MNEK has already been helping to direct the sound of commercial pop radio for years through his work with everyone from Dua Lipa to Beyoncé, so it was only right that in 2018 - a decade after signing his first publishing deal at the age of 14 - the the arrival of the superb Language gave us a chance to see what he could do with his own full-length album.

In short: A lot. Over the course of 16 stunningly-crafted tracks, the outspoken star served up an unfiltered look at gay life, love and relationship with some of the most undeniable pop melodies of the year.

Listen up world: MNEK is one of UK's most important musical talents right now.

2) Troye Sivan – Bloom

With his superior second record, Troye finally completed the tranformation from YouTube teen sensation to artistic powerhouse in 2018.

Matching his obvious musical talents with a newfound self-assurance pulled it all together for the Aussie star, as the 23-year-old celebrated the delirious highs and crushing defeats of queer youth with a lyrical profundity to rival Lorde's Melodrama.

Throw in some 'bops about bottoming for good measure, and you've got one of the queer standouts of the year.

1) Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer

Janelle Monáe might be an eternal critical darling, but boy is it earned each and every time. 

Dirty Computer is perhaps the enigmatic star's most accessible record to date, yet it sacrifices none of the risk-taking intellectualism or sensuality for which the 33-year-old is renowned.

Fearlessly celebrating female sexuality, queerness and empowerment, chilled electro-soul numbers like 'Crazy Classic Life' and Grime guest-starring album highlight 'Pynk' hit the euphoric sweet-spot like nothing else this year.