On this week’s Index Staff Playlist, the Index staff share songs from artists that explore gender, sexuality, and what it means to be part of the LGBT+ community.
“Chanel” by Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean’s proclivity toward leaving labels off of his sexuality was notable in the R&B genre and across the music industry years before the release of “Chanel.” In fact, he first came out to the public about having a happy relationship with a male partner in 2012 with the release of his album Channel Orange. However, his 2017 single “Chanel” has something of a special quality through its exploration of the fluidity of gender expression and sexuality. Ocean opens the song with the lines, “My guy pretty like a girl/And he got fight stories to tell/I see both sides like Chanel.” This line gives the song an iconic brilliance in my opinion. Ocean uses the duality of the double-sided “C” logo of the Chanel brand as an allusion to both the femininity and masculinity he admires in his partner and also as a symbol for the ambiguity of his sexuality. The lyrics are a timeless celebration of loving whoever the hell it is you love for whatever reason and even though this song is now four years old, I still find myself bopping to it. –Isabelle Williams
“She’s My Religion” by Pale Waves
With their sophomore effort, Who Am I?, Pale Waves breathes new life into their sound. Pulling from the Avril Lavigne playbook, the record is full of 2000’s rock nostalgia. But most importantly, Who Am I? is an album of truth in identity. When the Manchester band’s first album came out in 2018, lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie was still in the closet. Now, both Baron-Gracie and drummer Ciara Doran have embraced their own identities. Baron-Gracie owns her identity as a lesbian woman, and drummer Ciara Doran came out as nonbinary late last year. On “She’s My Religion,” Baron-Gracie weaves a magnificent love song about her girlfriend that puts her truth in love at the forefront, owning her identity and singing with passion. It makes Pale Waves’ latest record shine even brighter and takes on an important meaning for anyone struggling to embrace their own identity. –Bren Swogger
“She” by Dodie
Surprise, surprise, I’ve picked yet another Dodie song to share for our playlist this issue. “She” by Dodie is an unrequited love song about women. This song was part of my bisexual awakening during my junior/senior years of high school. It hasn’t left my mind, or my playlist, since. This song will always have a special place in my heart as it reminds me of the first time I had a crush on a woman, who happened to be my best friend. I later shared the song with her and told her what it meant to me. She was such a huge support in me embracing myself, even if we just remained close friends. The lyrics perfectly capture the softness of love, but also the heartbreak of unreciprocated love. Dodie, and so many other artists, helped me find myself and accept myself as who I am: a proud, bisexual woman. Sharing “She,” or other songs, with others can help open up conversations and help you feel more confident about yourself. I love that about music. –Grace Alexandria
Isabelle Williams is a junior at Pacific University who is majoring in Journalism and minoring in Theatre. She is from Astoria, Oregon, and enjoys writing about music and entertainment as well as investigative reporting.
Bren Swogger is a journalism major at Pacific University Class of 2021. They currently live in Oregon City, OR. They are the creator of Indie/Alt Magazine, and also write for Vortex Music Magazine in Portland.
Grace Alexandria is a sophomore at Pacific University majoring in Creative Writing and Graphic Design. She’s originally from Hillsboro, OR but currently lives in Stayton, OR. She also works for Marketing & Communications and the Berglund Center at Pacific.