I brought back the Musical Shuffle Book Tag...again!
I tried to go TOO high-concept at first – 50 songs for 50 years of Pride! – but I scrapped that idea pretty quick.
For this round, I paired songs from my 2019 Pride Playlist (available here) with queer books.
Most of these are YA and I haven’t read them all.
For books I have read or know pretty well, I listed the specific representation.
Also, I tried to organize by color?
WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF??
“I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston
Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Rep: gay MC, mlm relationship
(CW: bullying, homophobia)
I’ve been in love and lost my senses
Spinning through the town
Sooner or later, the fever ends
And I wind up feeling down
I need a man who’ll take a chance
On a love that burns hot enough to last
So when the night falls
My lonely heart calls
If you’ve seen the movie version of this book, you’ll know why I chose this song.
Aside from that, the lyrics fit gooey romantic Simon pretty well.
“Feels Like Home” by Sigala, Sean Paul, and Fuse ODG ft. Kent Jones
Queens of Geek
Rep: bi MC, MC with Asperger’s and social anxiety, wlw relationship
I live the life of a rolling stone
Wherever I lay my hat’s my home
Tell me where you are and girl I’m gone
Meet me at LAX, won’t be long
The three lead characters travel to Supacon (ugh) to commune with fellow geeks.
I am almost positive said con takes place in LA.
“Phone” by Lizzo (explicit)
I Hate Everyone But You
Rep: queer poly MC
2:15 and lights come on
Pffft, where my phone?
Looking around like where my phone?
Looking where my homies went
Where the hell my homies went?
In this novel, two long-distance pals, one of whom is queer, communicate over the phone.
Expect a free spirit/basket case dynamic.
“Dancing On My Own” by Robyn
The Summer of Jordi Perez
Rep: lesbian MC, wlw relationship
I’m in the corner, watching you kiss her, ohh
I’m right over here, why can’t you see me, ohh
I’m giving it all, but I’m not the girl you’re taking home, ooh
I keep dancing on my own
Protagonist Abby self-identifies as “forever alone.” Who could love a fat queer girl with pink hair and amazing fashion sense?
Literally everyone. But better self-esteem is part of her character arc, so I won’t try and take that from her.
“West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys
Kicking in chairs and knocking down tables
In a restaurant in a West End town
Call the police there’s a madman around
Running down underground
To a dive bar in a West End town
In a West End town a dead end world
The East End boys and West End girls
This is a saga:
I read a book in the early 2000s about two British football besties who fall for the same girl.
Their competitive dynamic reveals some romantic tensions in their relationship.
One friend eventually accepts his interest in men; the other doesn’t.
And SPOILER: neither of them get the girl.
I can’t find this book for the life of me.
Instead, I’m sharing two queer YA books with similar(ish) plots, one involving a love triangle, the other involving soccer.
Here ya go:
“All Things” by Betty Who
The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Letters to Their Younger Selves
Say, it’s one more day
That you’ll be here beside me
It’s you and all of the things you do
That make it alright
Things keep getting better
In this anthology, well-known writers and artists (including Malinda Lo! Lucy Knisley! And my beloved Nick Burd!) write missives to their younger, questioning selves.
All the letters boil down to this encouragement: things will get better.
“Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels” by Todrick Hall (explicit)
The House of Impossible Beauties
This whole club is my runway, run bitch
Y’all five, four, three, twos, I’m a one bitch
Because Todrick uses the c-word and the lyrics are SUPES catty, I associated this song with an adult novel about ball culture.
I don’t play, I WORK.
“Womanizer” by Britney Spears
Henry “Monty” Montague from The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Rep: bisexual MC, mlm relationship, ace/aro character
(CW: violence, abuse, homophobia, racism)
Boy don’t try to front, uh, I
Know just just what you are, uh, I
You got me going
Bi. Rogue. Alcoholic. Hot mess.
Henry parties to forget.
He pines over his best pal/partner-in-crime.
“Different Colors – The Griswolds Remix” by WALK THE MOON
Heavy Vinyl: Vol 1 and Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
Rep 1: wlw relationship
Rep 2: lesbian MC, wlw relationship
We keep cranking the music up
Driving through our towns
But they don’t wanna hear
They want us to turn it down
So come on lovers, come on haters
Tonight we raise the fire
Cuz when the people get to dancing
Who cares about taking sides
I could not choose between the funky bassline and the protest lyrics.
So I picked a comic about girls working at a record shop and a book about queer Christians protesting homophobia in a small Georgia town.
“Human” by The Killers
Girl Made of Stars
Rep: bi MC, genderqueer character
(CW: rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse)
Pay my respects to grace and virtue
Send my condolences to good
Give my regards to soul and romance
They always did the best they could
And so long to devotion
You taught me everything I know
Wish me me well
You gotta let me go
Hannah and Mara abandon their former worldviews after Hannah’s assault.
They can no longer trust the boy they both love.
Justice, in this case, trumps loyalty.
Hannah and Mara share a lovely scene toward the end of the book. The joy in this song reminds me of that scene.
“House of Air” by Brendan MacLean
Call Me By Your Name
Rep: mlm relationship
(CW: graphic sex scenes, apricots)
No walls, no barriers
We talk without a word
Your eyes with no concern
Your heart forever turned
When you’re losing faith in all you’ve done
Gotta get away from everyone
Leave your broken heart outside
Let the music pacify
No one near, just you and I
In the house of air
Elio and Oliver create an idyllic little love bubble once they hook up.
Of course, Oliver is leaving soon.
It’s FINE. Aciman’s writing a SEQUEL.
“On the Floor” by Jennifer Lopez
Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens
Dance the night away
Live your life and stay young on the floor
Dance the night away
Grab somebody, drink a little more
This song and this book sound so joyful.
Let’s all stay young on the floor…
…by acknowledging that ball culture originated in black and Latinx queer spaces!
Dance the night away! Don’t supplant their history!
“Drop It On Me” by Ricky Martin ft. Taboo and Daddy Yankee
The Princess and the Fangirl
Rep: wlw relationship
Tonight it’s a special night
To get you by my side
I’ve been waiting all week long to get it on with you
Sometimes we hit the floor
Dance like we never did before
I’m going to put it on you Boricua-style
This song made me think of the dance scene in Geekerella, a book with a wlw side couple.
This companion novel features said couple.
“Mr. Put It Down” by Ricky Martin ft. Pitbull
Let the Right One In
(CW: violence, implied mutilation, pedophilia)
Who has a lifetime, baby?
We got the night right now
I know a spoiler that queers the relationship between Eli and Oskar.
Good rep? Probably not.
First book I thought of? Yep.
“Slide” by Calvin Harris ft. Frank Ocean, Migos (explicit)
Anger is a Gift
Rep: mlm relationship
(CW: racism, police violence, depression, anxiety, death, grief)
Do you slide on all your nights like this?
Do you try on all your nights like this?
Put some spotlight on the side
And whatever comes, comes through clear
I didn’t spend much time with Moss, yet this song makes me think of him sitting quietly on the train just trying to get home.
As June wraps up, I’m looking forward to more LGBTQIA+ book releases during the latter half of the year.
For more queer content, check out:
- the History is Gay podcast
- Tales of the City on Netflix
- What/If on Netflix (this show is the best kind of trash)
- this neat article on the history of pride flags
NO IDEA how this month passed so quickly, so enjoy it while you can!