Like Chappell Roan? Here’s Some Sapphic Pop Stars Who Spearheaded 2024’s ‘Femininomenon’

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Chappell Roan seems to be the name on everyone’s lips. After she released The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess in September 2023, the sapphic music spiral reached every nook of the world. Roan, however, wasn’t the first of her kind; in fact, sapphic pop music has been crawling its way into the mainstream for over a decade now. According to Spotify, Chappell has gained a place in the top 500 artists in the world in a matter of months with particular help from her newest single, ‘Good Luck, Babe!’, which has held its place in the Official Singles Chart Top 100 up to today. So, if you’re loving Chappell Roan, here are some other sapphic songs and artists you might like to discover this Pride Month.

And if radio stations and music enthusiasts aren’t talking about Chappell Roan this month, they’re likely discussing Billie Eilish and her new album HIT ME HARD AND SOFT which came out on 17 May 2024. Eilish’s internet-viral track ‘Lunch’ has kept its spot at number two in the Official Singles Chart Top 100 for two weeks now, and there is no sign of its popularity going stale. ‘Lunch’ has instantaneously become a staple sapphic song since its release, likely with great help from Eilish’s viral commentary: “I’ve been in love with girls my whole life, but I just didn’t understand – until, last year, I realised I wanted my face in a vagina.” 

Whether spelt out so candidly or not, queer artists have been writing about queer relationships for a long time. The UK is a powerhouse of turning out queer-led pop music and is home to history’s biggest LGBTQ+ pop icons, such as Elton John, Freddie Mercury, and Boy George. But queerness in music has often been limited to the person and not extended to the music. Queen didn’t talk about cunnilingus, nor did they self-declare themselves drag queens. Eilish and Roan have, as have dozens of their predecessors. Numerous sapphic pop artists laid the foundation for the new ‘Femininomenon’ of unapologetic, taboo-discrediting, queer lyricism. The last decade has its niche of blatant, sometimes hyper-sexual or hyper-romantic queer love songs, and there’s no better time to uncover them than in 2024. Importantly, 2024’s queer music phenomenon is woman-led and femme, but Roan beat me to the pun with her aptly-titled track, ‘Femininomenon’. 

girli is a brilliantly British example of an artist who has spearheaded the sapphic music spiral. She has unapologetically branded herself as a sapphic artist since she began her music career nearly a decade ago. In 2016 she released ‘Girl I Met On The Internet’, signalling to the world that to be a modern pop star meant infusing her authentic queer self into her songs and lyricism, instead of keeping the two traditionally separate. She has continued her decade-long commentary of ordinary, relatable queer experiences, finding a boom of success with her single ‘More Than a Friend’ in 2021. On 17 May 2024, girli released an epitomic collection of sapphic songs in her recent album Matriarchy, compiling 14 tracks of queer experience and female empowerment. 

With a popular American following, girli’s sapphic energy has strongly influenced artists on that side of the Atlantic, and the baton has mostly stayed there. Brooklyn-based singer and producer, King Princess, has found the harmonic intersection between traditionally ‘crude’ language and warm electronics. Don’t be deceived by the audacity of her 2018 single’s title, ‘Pussy Is God’ — indeed, it sounds like heart-poured vocal caramel over orchestral synth. This juxtaposition is what puts King Princess in the queer niche of the last decade. 

A sweetness glazed over brash honesty is the hallmark of sapphic pop, felt tenfold in the music of chloe moriondo who adds punky instrumentals to her bubblegum vocals. Her 2021 album Blood Bunny features the heartthrob track ‘I Want To Be With You’, which, unlike King Princess, disguises steamy kink within a romantic sweet pitch. Maggie Lindemann, too, has this punk-princess charm. Her 2022 song ‘she knows it’ embodies the lure of the femme fatale that inspires sapphic awakenings, backdropped by Avril Lavigne-style pop-punk riffs. 

This mysterious ‘woman of the night’ aesthetic is certainly a sapphic favourite. Dove Cameron’s biggest hit, ‘Boyfriend’, is straight out of a lesbian James Bond film. This is one of the most popular sapphic songs of the last decade, having an immense influence on this year’s queer music. Her impact has penetrated the digital world so deeply because, like Eilish, she already had a unique fan base. Although only a footnote in her achievements now, Cameron was a Disney Channel icon and has raised a generation from Liv and Maddie to TikTok, endorsing confidence in the femininity and sexuality of young teens and adults around the world. And like much of Chappell Roan’s discography, Cameron’s ‘Boyfriend’ flirts with the gender spectrum and the secrecy of bisexuality and fluid sexuality. 

Within the niche of sapphic pop music also exists the niche of bisexuality and the coming-out of women, phrased perfectly in Roan’s ‘Naked In Manhattan’ as so: “Boys suck and girls I’ve never tried”, followed by “Oh, I’ve never done it, let’s make it cinematic”. Chandler Leighton’s ‘I THINK YOU TURNED ME’ perfectly sums up this sentiment in a queer dance-pop serenade. The energised sexual coming-of-age of Roan and Eilish’s music is what has made them so remarkably captivating, different to the gentler pull of other sapphic stars like girl in red, whose folk-infused writing has a seriousness that Roan’s ‘Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl’ could never understand. Indeed, Roan, Eilish, and their ‘Femininomenon’–fuellers take their queerness seriously, but take their music so playfully, encapsulating the free spirit of their Gen-Z cult followers.

But in this queer joy remains a deeper concern about sexuality fitting into trends. Is sapphic music just a trend this year? Billie Eilish was popular before, perhaps she doesn’t need the sapphic spiral to stay relevant. However, the world’s introduction to the curious and experimental music of modern queer artists will make the demand for it all the stronger. The niche has become mainstream, and unlike fashion and beauty trends, queerness and LGBTQ+ consumers of music will always be here to sustain the spiral.

This ‘Femininomenon’ has opened the doors to campy, fun, and electric queer music. After the boom of Roan and Eilish on the international music stage, we’ve seen the confident production of sapphic music from many up-and-coming queer pop stars. For example, there’s girli’s newest album Matriarchy; lozeak’s single from 24 April 2024, ‘Moist’, and Beth McCarthy’s single from 31 May 2024, ‘Good Bi’, all of which are written for a sustainable, enthusiastic audience.

Words by Roxann Yus


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