With the recent coming out of Lebanese-British singer Mika (above) we were reminded that there’s a whole world of gay pop performers out there—and we don’t just mean Elton John, Ricky Martin and George Michael. We thought we’d make a dent in the growing list with a roundup of nine queer pop artists that might be a little lesser known to American audiences, but who get out toes a-tapping nonetheless.
Have an artist you want to spotlight? Sing out in the comments section!
Sam Sparro, Australia
Every gay worth his salt had this Aussie singer’s breakout single, “Black and Gold,” on repeat in 2008. Above, Sparro does guest vocals on the song “Feelings Gone” from UK electronic act Basement Jaxx. Nearer to home, Sparro co-wrote “Shady” and “Broken English” off of out popster Adam Lambert’s sophomore album, Trespassing. Sparro’s own recent solo album, Return to Paradise, was released in June.
Will Young, Great Britain
Years before Adam Lambert, or even Kelly Clarkson, Will Young became the first winner of England’s Pop Idol, which beget a legion of Idol franchises worldwide. His first single after being crowned was a cover of Westlife’s “Evergreen,” which sold more than 1.8 million copies. Young, 33, came out as gay right out of the gate, telling a British tabloid in 2002, that “For me it’s normal and nothing to be ashamed about. I’m gay and I’m comfortable with that. I really don’t know what the fuss is about.”
Subsequent albums have produced hits like “Your Game” (off Friday’s Child) and “Jealousy” (off 2011’s Echoes), but we really like Young singing the classics, like “Beyond the Sea,” above. Maybe he’ll record some new versions and change the pronouns?
Jón “Jónsi” Þór Birgisson first came to our attention as the lead singer of Iceland’s Sigur Rós, but he blew our socks off with his 2010 solo album, Go, and the song “Boy Lilikoi” (above). As one YouTube commenter put it, “Whenever I feel lost, hopeless, or surrounded by unfortunate events, I listen to this song and escape into another world filled with hope, light and happiness.”