By Vincent Paz-Macareno
When you think of “bisexual musicians”, who comes to mind? David Bowie, is most people’s first answer. Next usually comes Dusty Springfield, Freddie Mercury, Debby Harry, maybe Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Billie Holiday for those who have been brushing up on their queer music history. If we were to have brought the openly bi+ legends of the 20th century all together for a photograph, we would have a fiercely glamorous class picture of about 20 or so rockstars max. And what a class picture that would have been.
In 2023, as of the date of this publication, there are almost triple as many musicians that openly identify as bi+, pan, queer, and unlabeled that have those legends to thank for paving the way for their visibility and creating a space to share their perspectives and experiences with the world through their music.
As a creative person, there’s always some kind of musical influence I can attribute to virtually every season of my life, and I’m incredibly lucky to be able to discover new music and artists nearly every single day as part of my career. Some of my earliest memories of bi joy come directly from music; I remember using “Swim Good” by Frank Ocean as a morbidly ironic yet effective pump-up song for swim meets in high school, and being subsequently fascinated by his love songs about different genders throughout his album Channel Orange. Or using Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson’s version of “Valerie” by The Zutons as an audition song when I was 16 or 17.
Bi+ music continued to underscore some momentous times into my adulthood as well – I will always remember “Sit Still Look Pretty” by Daya, and Zara Larsson’s cover of “Sexual” by NEIKED and Dyo as my most popular choices during my commute to the Upper West Side for my Daily Dance class in NYC; Conan Gray’s first few singles and EPs take me back to the Walgreens parking lot on 6th and Vermont in Los Angeles, where I would wait to pick up cancer and Alzheimer’s prescriptions for my grandparents while I stayed with them during my first few gigs here in town. The wildest part is all of these memories come from before I even “officially” came out as bisexual, which I was anxious about until I saw a friend retweet a bisexual coming-out tweet from Orla Gartland, whose song “Why Am I Like This” was a mainstay in my musical rotation since its release. When I decided to follow suit, I used lyrics from “Bisexual Anthem” by Domo Wilson as my caption. I’m telling you, the list goes on and on. And we’re just talking music here!
Naturally, about a year before the pandemic, I took my first crack at building a bi+ playlist. I called it “bi+ undiluted”. While none of the playlists I mention in this post feature any Broadway tunes, I based the title on the rather queer-code-able lyric, “You, and you, and nothing but you; No substitution will do; Nothing but fresh, undiluted, and pure; Top of the line, and totally mine” from the musical “The Last Five Years” by Jason Robert Brown. It was a little over an hour of music and it only featured eight artists, so it always felt incomplete in comparison to the three-to-four hour thematic soundscapes I usually strive for. I always wanted to formally revisit that concept someday and compile the playlist it deserves, and through my work with the Bisexual Resource Center, I’ve been able to do exactly that.
Using the eight artists from the original playlist as a seed to grow what became a 6+ hour behemoth of bi+ representation, I started compiling a list of as many reputable Bi+ artists as I could verify. I took a few suggestions from some of my fellow BRC board members, to whom I credit the inclusion of Lil Nas X, Chrissy Chlapecka, and The Veronicas, and also visited the incredible bi+ website, bi.org, and took note of the artists they had on record there. As I would cross-reference press releases to ensure that these artists actually were and are still bi+, I would find some incredible articles featuring lists of LGBTQIA+ artists, even bi+-specific ones, and add them to the list. Once I made sure I had a diverse enough roster to start with, I perused their discographies and selected songs that I felt were positive or healing and used Spotify’s “recommended songs” feature to discover more of those artists’ songs, and research other artists that came up to see if they were bi+ and add them if they were.
When the playlist had a few hours of music, I started to prioritize songs that that featured clear declarations of bisexuality and bi+ experiences, as well as mainstream hits, and in the spirit of the BRC, bi+ collaborations, and allowed them to dictate the overall sound of the project and refined it from there. Once I had the first iteration of the playlist, I then brought the BRC in to screen the songs and assemble an invaluable test audience of volunteers who helped us to further curate the playlist and make it an enjoyable moment of music for everyone in the bi+ community to experience together.
Now, after an entire summer of research, vibes, and curation, we’ve compiled the premier listening anthology of Post-2000s bi+ musicians ever digitally published, with every song prominently featuring at least one bi+ artist. Today, we are proud to publish “Bi+ Undiluted, presented by Bisexual Resource Center” on Spotify & Apple Music. It’s a snapshot of some of the best work released by the latest generation of bi+ musicians in the pop, rap, rock, alternative, and indie genres.
Here’s a quick breakdown of just a few stand-out artists and songs you’ll come across while you listen!
THE REIGNING BI+ QUEENS:
The People’s Queen: Domo Wilson
Our AAA-List Queen: Lady Gaga
The Rockstar Queen: Miley Cyrus
Our Pop Queens: Daya & Halsey
YOUR NEXT FAVORITE BI+ ARTISTS:
A FEW OF OUR MUST-LISTENS:
“Summertime in Paris” by Jaden & WILLOW
“Company – MUNA Remix” by Tinashe & MUNA
“Phenomenal” by Janelle Monae & Doechii
“BI-CONIC” MOMENTS IN THE ZEITGEIST:
“Valerie” by Amy Winehouse & Mark Ronson
“Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera
“A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton
“Cool for the Summer (Rock Version)” by Demi Lovato
Vincent Paz-Macareno is a creative professional, musician, and advocate currently based in Los Angeles. He serves on the Board of Directors of Bisexual Resource Center, where he sets the direction of the organization’s social responsibility initiatives as part of their Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, & Belonging committee, and leads projects and speaking engagements surrounding Bi+ Representation in Media.