Each month, we ask a LGBTQ mover and shaker to curate a playlist for Billboard Pride. Whether they’re actors or activists, musicians or media personalities, we want to know what music they’re listening to. For July’s Billboard Pride playlist, we’ve asked V Magazine’s digital editor Mathias Rosenzweig to take us on a nostalgic journey for his mix.
Rosenzweig’s column, POP-ED, is a prile-style interview with “individuals who've shifted popular culture as we know it today.” The writer has spoken to Christina Aguilera, Amber Rose and, most recently, Adam Lambert, quizzing them about their time in the limelight.
“I guess I get some sort therapy out talking about parts pop culture that made me feel “too gay” when I was younger,” Rosenzweig tells Billboard. “What better way than to discuss Aguilera than with Aguilera herself?”
Rosenzweig explained that he grew up listening to music alone in his room or during rides to school. He recalls that his taste in music — faves included Rihanna, Samantha Mumba and Aguilera — was not what boys were supposed to listen to. “Even my 'niche' artists were too weird and feminine to share with my friends when growing up in the suburbs Philadelphia, where 50 Cent and Soulja Boy Tell’em reigned supreme.”
Check out Rosenzweig’s musical trip through memory lane below.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Maps”
I remember listening to this song repeatedly on a middle school field trip from Philadelphia, where I grew up, to Washington D.C. My friend Caitlyn asked if she could listen and laughed at how sad the song it. Looking back, being that emo is pretty funny. But something about romantic longing — borderline begging, in this case — paired with the track’s unusual sonic landscape made it appealing back then, and still today.
Enya, “Only Time”
This preceded Cassie’s “Me & You” as my MySpace song, which shows dedication. The song shifts back and forth between minor and major keys, although that doesn’t quite prevent it from being a tad dreary in general.
Evanescence, “Bring Me To Life”
This song and liking Eamon’s “Fuck It (I Don’t Want You Back)” were probably the closest I came to feeling badass in high school. Amy Lee gave me just enough goth rock to feel "dark" without things feeling scary or satanic.
Britney Spears, “Gimme More”
As if being pop’s glittery princess wasn’t enough to make Britney Spears a gay icon, she went through a troubled and misunderstood phase. Unsurprisingly, at least in my opinion, it was her best time, artistically. “Gimme More” was one the diamonds formed out external pressures.
Sade, “By Your Side”
Most people get introduced to Sade’s repertoire by their parents or while developing a well-versed knowledge R&B. I discovered her episode 13 Sex and the City’s season 4 when Samantha Jones slow dances with hotel-mogul Richard Wright. Seeing a strong woman also be vulnerable was appealing for sensitive boys like me.
Frou Frou, ”Breathe In”
Imogen Heap’s first large-scale project Frou Frou, which was her with Guy Sigsworth, made one the only albums I can still listen to from start to finish. Reportedly, Heap just “blessed” Ariana Grande’s new album with some sort contribution, which means I’ll be listening.
Imogen Heap, “Hide and Seek”
Also this one.
The Cheetah Girls, “Cinderella”
If you know then you know, and that’s all I can say.
Christina Aguilera, “Genie in a Bottle”
I had the pleasure speaking with Aguilera for POP-ED and had to a massive binge on her entire catalog. Turns out the song that made her a star is still my favorite, and it certainly was back when I was a teen.
Samantha Mumba, “Gotta Tell You”
God, what the hell is Mumba up to these days? This used to be the jam.
Past Billboard Pride playlists: Adam Rippon | Munroe Bergdorf | MNEK | RuPaul | Connor Franta | Bonnie McKee | Brandi Carlile | Melissa Etheridge | Mj Rodrquiez | Jaboukie Young-White | Hayley Kiyoko | Miss Lawrence | Jake Shears