Today I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for their weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s prompt is all about music and books! There were several options: Ten theme songs I’d pick for certain books, ten songs I wish were books, et cetera.
I decided to make a list of ten songs I wish were books, but my original idea wasn’t any more specific than that… and then I had an EPIPHANY. What if I listed ten songs I wish were LGBTQ+ YA novels?!
I made a conscious decision to create a list comprised mainly of songs by actual queer artists, and I included songs for as much of the acronym as I could – the L, G, B, & T. That said, this list is heavily tilted in favor of F/F stories because… those are the songs I’m most familiar with. (And, to be honest, that’s what I prefer to read about.)
1. “Girls Like Girls” – Hayley Kiyoko
We will be everything that we’d ever need
Don’t tell me, tell me what I feel
‘Cause I’m real and I don’t feel like boys
I’m real and I don’t feel like boys
Saw your face, heard your name
Gotta get with you
Girls like girls like boys do
This is listed first not just because it’s the first song I thought of, but because it really is THE BEST. I’ve listened to it hundreds of times since it was released last summer, and I would love for the music video to be turned into a full-length movie… or a book! It would be a YA contemporary, definitely, and really really REALLY freaking cute.
2. “Cliff’s Edge” – Hayley Kiyoko
Love until we burn up, fire
Do whatever gets you seen
Kiss me with adventure
‘Til I forget my name
Chills run down my back, I’mma flirt with that
Get a little closer
As with “Girls Like Girls,” I feel like if this were a book, it would probably take place during a single summer. It has different characters than the first song/book, but maybe it could be set in the same place?!
I think the main difference between these two stories is that the first one is about two best friends figuring out their sexual orientations and slowly realizing that they’re in love with each other, which “Cliff’s Edge” is, to me, more about girls who are already confident in their identity. Maybe they come out to others in this novel, but it definitely wouldn’t be a novel where they’re still in the stage where they need to come out to themselves. Instead, the source of conflict in this story would come from the girls not knowing what they wanted from their relationship, or something like that.
3. “Girls Chase Boys” – Ingrid Michaelson
All the broken hearts in the world still beat
Let’s not make it harder than it has to be
Oh, it’s all the same thing
Girls chase boys chase girls
I don’t know WHY I immediately though this one would be set in a high school, but… I do?! I just think that setting would work so well. “Girls Chase Boys” would be a contemporary YA novel with lots and lots of queer characters, especially bi characters, and I think there would definitely be some gender-nonconforming characters too.
…I normally think YA contemporaries are boring, but I’ll make exceptions for LGBTQ+ YA contemporaries.
4. “Closer” – Tegan and Sara
Here comes the heat before we meet a little bit closer
Here comes the spark before the dark, come a little closer
The lights are off and the sun is finally setting
The night sky is changing overhead
Again, I don’t quite know why, but I could see this song becoming a short novel – almost more like a novella, really – and it would be told in free verse poetry. Also, illustrations. I feel like it should have those?
5. “#ThisCouldBeUs” – Doug Locke
I felt my heart beat boom
Reminiscing ’bout you
Oh, you sparked that fuse
And you blew me away
Never wanted to fade
But now my heart’s in two
Since you went away
I only want you to stay
WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. I AM NOT USED TO HAVING THIS MANY EMOTIONS ABOUT M/M COUPLES WITH THE EXCEPTION OF CAPTAIN AMERICA & BUCKY BARNES BECAUSE I VASTLY PREFER F/F TO M/M.
Last week’s Spectrum meeting was all about LGBTQ+ people in the arts, and this was one of the songs we listened to! This would be the perfect novel to tell using a dual narrative, with one story set in 1969 and the other in 2016.
6. “Ghost” – Halsey
Where’d you go?
I can’t find you in the body sleeping next to me
Where’d you go?
What happened to the soul that you used to be?
Halsey is bi, and there is an alternate version of this music video where her love interest is a guy instead of a girl, so I think it would be interesting to once again use a dual narrative in this story. Maybe both halves of the story would begin the same way, and diverge from there to show what her life is like while dating a guy vs. dating a girl?
7. “Same Love” – Angel Haze
There are no lakes of fire; they’re here on earth
And the only thing to do is put love first
And so I stand for the boy who died by his hand
To the sound of his father screaming “Woman loves man”
“This is Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”
And I stand for the girl with the cuts up her sleeve
And the heart in her hand and a chip on her shoulder
And I stand for it all until ignorance is over
This is for you, for knowing who you are
For never letting your magic outside of your heart
Be you, be brave, and understand that things do change
This is one of the most powerful songs I’ve ever heard. The Macklemore song it’s based on doesn’t even come close to it in terms of quality or…, well, anything really. I think this would be another good choice for a free verse novel. I’d like to follow the narrator throughout their childhood, adolescence, and into their twenties. Also, yay for intersectional diversity – Angel Haze is agender, pansexual, and mixed race!
8. “She Keeps Me Warm” – Mary Lambert
I’m not crying on Sundays, I’m not crying on Sundays
Love is patient, love is kind
My love, my love, my love, my love
She keeps me warm, she keeps me warm
THIS SONG IS SO STINKIN’ CUTE. It would be even cuter as a novel, I’m sure. ALSO YES THIS NEEDS A DUAL NARRATIVE SO THAT BOTH OF THE GIRLS CAN TELL THEIR SIDE OF THE STORY.
P.S. Yeah, this is the same person who sings on Macklemore’s “Same Love.” My aesthetic is “actual queer people outdoing an awkward straight guy on his own songs.” SORRY I’M JUST BITTER ABOUT THE SUCCESS OF HIS SONG WHEN THERE ARE MUCH, MUCH BETTER VERSIONS OF IT.
9. “Brave Man” – Will Young
See these scars of these years gone by
They don’t hurt me, just remind me I can cry
All that I know is we’ll slip as we go
Like dancers hold the bar across the wall
Draw up the horses, spears at the ready
I’m not afraid to fight the war
I’m a brave man
Running through the rain
For some reason – perhaps because the music video takes place in such a short period of time – I think this novel should take place over, like, a day. I think this novel would have beautiful, almost-poetic-without-being-told-in-actual-verse writing.
Also, I need recommendations for songs by and about trans people! I’m not aware of many, especially happy, positive ones.
10. “Take Me To Church” – Neon Jungle
Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
A fresh poison each week
“We were born sick,” you heard them say it
My church offers no absolutes
She tells me, “Worship in the bedroom”
The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you
I was born sick, but I love it
Command me to be well
I love this song, but I’ve never really understood why Hozier just didn’t ask someone else to sing it in the first place: It makes so much sense when a woman sings it about another woman. I don’t think it has the same impact when a guy sings it about a girl, and the music video shows two guys even though she/her pronouns are used in the song.
So, yeah. I love this cover. I imagine that the book would be somewhat like The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth, which is my favorite book ever – both stories deal with religion. (On the other hand, Cameron Post distinctly reminds me of “Girls Like Girls.” So I don’t even know after all.)
Soooo, this post ended up being one of my all-time FAVORITES to write! Yayyyy. Now you tell me: What songs would YOU love to see as LGBTQ+ novels, YA or otherwise?!