11 Must-Have’s For The Ultimate Pride Playlist

11 Must-Have’s For The Ultimate Pride Playlist

george, kylie, cher
L: George Michael (Photo by Pete Still/Redferns/Getty Images). C: Kylie Minogue (Photo by James Arnold - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images). R: Cher. (Photo by Martina Raddatz/Redferns/Getty Images)

It’s that time of the year again! The Sydney Mardi Gras festival is upon us once again, bringing the city to life with one of the grandest celebrations of love on the planet. 

The globally famous event has come a long way since 1978 when a gay rights parade marching down Oxford St grew to thousands and ended with numerous arrests. Revellers weren't deterred, and returned to Oxford St year and year again, in ever-increasing numbers. With the addition of extravagant floats promoting LGBTQI+ rights and issues, it has transformed into one of the world’s biggest annual parties. 

And what's a party without some tunes?! LGBTQI+ icons and allies have played an undeniable role in the progression of equality, championing the community and fueling the party with empowering anthemic hits. So, we’re celebrating the artists and the songs that have helped pave the path of acceptance with some must-have tracks for the ultimate pride playlist. 

Cher | “Believe” 

Pop icon, Cher has six decades worth of chart-topping hits in her arsenal, but it was her stunning Grammy-winning, diamond-selling 1998 dance hit that rocketed her to No. 1 in 23 countries – and is still one of the best-selling singles of all time! Whether it was the Eurodance backing, abstract Autotune, or its empowering message, the song struck a massive chord in the clubs and has become one of the most enduring gay anthems of all time. Cher headlined the Sydney Mardi Gras after-party in 2018

Kylie Minogue | “Spinning Around”

Kylie’s got no idea exactly what sparked her massive massive global LGBTQI+ following, but she has certainly embraced it with open arms. She once told Billboard in 2018 that she first became aware of drag queens competitively impersonating her in the 90s when she was passing a popular gay bar in Sydney and stumbled upon a Kylie Night. “I was like 'What?!' I'd never heard of a Kylie Night but I said 'We should go! We should go! … Now there's tons of them. But I'm the least Kylie person when I'm at any of those nights."

However it started, Kylie wears the LGBTQI+ community’s adoration as a badge of honour and stands united with the community on issues like marriage equality, vowing not to get married until everybody could do the same. Kylie also headlined the Mardi Gras after-party in 2019. 

David Bowie | “Boys Keep Swinging”

Bowie’s androgyny was otherworldly. We have him to thank for breaking down so many cultural barriers with his wildly progressive personas and themes. This one peaked the censors' attention in 1979 with the line “other boys check you out” as he performs his own backing vocals in drag. 

Pet Shop Boys | "Go West"

This 1993 disco hit, originally released by the Village People in 1979, was a chart-topper around the world. Lyrically it has been interpreted as a call to gay men to move west to a San Franciscan utopia where life is “peaceful.” The track was and made famous by the Pet Shop Boys after they performed a cover version of the song for an AIDS benefit at the Hacienda Club in 1992 and later released it as a single. When Pet Shop singer, Neil Tennant officially came out in 1993, the band’s music had already carved a space for greater tolerance of queer culture in the pop mainstream.

Madonna | "Vogue"  

It’s fair to say almost every Madonna song belongs on this list! But, with a music video as iconic as the track itself, “Vogue” takes the cake. The super-stylized black and white clip finds Madge in full retro Hollywood glam, looking about as fabulous as can be as she delivers the instructional dance moves. The tune was originally recorded as a B-side, but when the ‘vogueing’ craze took off in gay clubs, it ended up topping the Hot 100.

Elton John | “I’m Still Standing”

Pretty sure this one speaks for itself! There are countless reasons Elton belongs on this list; perhaps most because, since coming out in the early 90s, he has always openly spoken about how proud he is to be gay. As one of the most successful singer-songwriters of all time, he is a beacon of hope. 

Cyndi Lauper | "True Colors" 

Cyndi Lauper's "True Colours" champions self-acceptance and inner pride, it was a message that not only defined her own bold persona, it also spoke to the heart of the LGBTQI+ community, anthemincally. An avid advocate throughout her career, after the single topped the Hot 100, Lauper co-founded the True Colors Fund, a nonprofit organization focused on ending homelessness for LGBTQI+ youth.

George Michael | “Faith”

For anyone growing up in the 90s, George Michael was probably one of the first gay icons they knew. He came out of the closet in an era when openly gay celebrities were almost unheard of and was one of the first starts to speak openly about his homosexuality, making him a true trailblazer of LGBTQI+ acceptance. RIP George. 

Melissa Etheridge | “Bring Me Some Water”

Another openly gay artist who paved the way for wider acceptance was Melissa Etheridge. In 2014, the singer told Philly Mag, “I had no desire to be closeted to the public. It didn’t feel right. So, being gay was the thing I talked about.”

The B-52's | “Roam”

The B-52’s were wildly inspirational. Four of the band’s five founding members identified as LGBTQI+, and, while they certainly didn’t hide it, they felt no need to explain it. With their Day-Glo beehives, retro outfits and flamboyant themes, they wrote camp sensibility into pop culture forevermore, embracing the notion of ‘weird is good’ at their very core. 

"Not until 1992 did someone ask us about being gay," Keith Strickland told journalist T. Cole Rachel a few years ago. “It was almost more subversive that we didn’t talk about it. We were just trying to be ourselves.”

Queen | “I Want To Break Free”

The late, great Freddie Mercury was one of the most talented artists the world has ever seen. The singer always remained guarded about his sexuality but, as the first major rock star to die of AIDS, his life and legacy brought much-needed attention to finding a cure for the deadly virus. Following his passing in 1991, the remaining members of Queen founded The Mercury Phoenix Trust and organised the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness, to raise money for AIDS research the following year. Whether he confirmed it or not, Freddie Mercury’s unabashed identity and stage persona carved a path for future generations to follow. 


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