By Denver-Rose Harmon, Staff Writer
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Like many other millennials, I found myself downloading TikTok around March 2020. “I just want to see what it’s all about,” I said. “Just making sure I don’t become out-of-touch by 30!” I claimed. “Listen, I’m just really bored,” I asserted defensively. Well, here we are about a year later and I still want to use those excuses but in reality I LOVE TIKTOK.
The algorithm has me wrapped around its virtual finger and plays me like a fiddle. For me that means actual fiddles and other instruments are often on my For You Page (“fyp”, if you want Gen Z acceptance). TikTok quickly learned that I love country shit and gay shit.
In the crossroads of those subjects, I’ve found some amazing LGBTQ+ country creators. Among the #cowboycore fashionistas and wise-cracking southern queers I’ve found a handful of wonderful musicians. I’m sure there are more than a handful to be found, but I’d like to share with you the ones that I’ve found organically while scrolling aimlessly.
Basically, I turned my mindless entertainment into my next assignment, can you blame me? Without further ado, here is a sampler platter of my five favorite country queer musicians on TikTok.
Colt McCannon @colt_mccannon (they/them)
I only recently found and followed Colt. My attention was forcefully (but consensually) grabbed when I saw a bearded cowpoke in a dress playing guitar with the words “IF YOU’RE LGBT PLEASE LISTEN ALONG TRUST ME IT’S GAY.” They proceeded with an original song delightfully reminiscent of “A Boy Named Sue”, complete with a Johnny Cash, somewhat-spoken-word, baritone.
I went to their account and found that this was followed by a video of them explaining in a masculine Southern drawl how unhoused people can get their stimulus check, all the while gesturing with a half-smoked cigarette and peppering in colorful language. I hit that follow button faster than lightning. I was not at all disappointed to find plenty of original music in their feed as well as their progressive socio-political takes, always presented matter-of-factly and from the heart.
Most recently, Colt released a song called “Jaime J Boone” , which I first heard on their TikTok. On the app I was captivated by the guitar picking, story-telling, and deeper-than-a-holler vocals. The studio version only improves on it, with haunting production and a crying fiddle.
The Reverent Marigold @reverent_marigold (they/them)
I can give you a perfect taste of who The Reverent Marigold is by telling you that their first single, coming out around April 9th and titled “God of Bones,” is a banjo-led folkpunk song about biominerals.
If that isn’t enough to pique your interest, this self-described “trans ding dong” is multi-faceted. Marigold got started on TikTok in the summer of 2020 by playing “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (originally “John Brown’s Body”) on banjo while teaching the true history of the song as an abolitionist ballad and Union soldier battle cry. From there, they continued to post videos playing folk songs on the banjo while teaching the history behind them. Since then, they have posted multiple original songs. All of which are rootsy and hypnotic, their voice always feeling truly reverent. Most recently, they began a woodworking series to provide an accessible and inclusive way for people to learn how to create, fix, and refurbish.
Olivia Klugman @olivklug (she/they)
I find every one of Olivia’s original songs captivating. From songs about working in a coffee shop to loneliness to driving a car; they are all beautifully written and rhymed. Their voice is a warm, sultry and light. The curly bangs are to die for. The lyrics strike me in the heart. Their most recent upload is a perfect example of why they got an automatic follow from me. It’s a folk piece called “Modern Day Monet” in which they lament about not having your shit together in your 20’s.
In addition to her original work, Olivia breathes new life into the songs that she covers. My personal favorite cover she’s done is “Dress” by Taylor Swift, which she made a little more country and a lot more gay. And look no further than her mandolin cover of Lorde’s “The Louvre” to see that she has bluegrass influence (“do they have bluegrass in New Zealand???” reads the caption.
Olivia’s most recent single “Not Forever After” was popularized on TikTok and just released last month. It is an alt-country song in which a casual hook-up is treated with sapphic romance. “Now I know that Cinderella don’t need no prince to survive,” is the lesson learned in this sweet ballad, a great example of Olivia’s succinct and clever lyricism.
The Wilder Flowers @thewilderflowers (she/her)
The Wilder Flowers is near and dear to my heart at this point, being one of the first country queers I followed. Unfortunately, she is taking a break from the app, but there is plenty of content there for you to check out until she returns.
The Wilder Flowers is a bi/pan woman with impeccable alt-country fashion sense, a beautiful voice, and a magnetic sense of humor and confidence. Music is only a fraction of her content, but I’ll keep my focus on that part for the sake of this list. Let it be known that she also has peaceful bread-making videos, hilarious comedy bits, and reusable menstrual pads with hot cowboys on them made by her brother. There’s something for everyone.
Back to the music. Her vocal range is captivating. I love when a woman sings in a low register, and let me tell you, she can get down there. But she also has a light, bright upper register that brings a peaceful atmosphere.
She can do more than just sing and play guitar, though. The Wilder Flowers is also working on an album and most notably a song about gay cowgirls that is to die for. It’s full of fun cowgirl quips, references “Jolene”, and makes me want to throw on boots and a skirt and start line-dancing. It’s also just plain ol’ pretty.
Chris Housman @chrishousmanmusic (he/him)
Chris is my most recent find on the list but he absolutely deserves a spot on this sampler platter. He is releasing a song on April 7th called “Blueneck”. As he puts it, “I wanted to write the song I wish I heard growing up. Where the y’all actually means all people.” He delivered, and the song blew up on TikTok. It brought me to tears not in spite of, but because of how joyful it is.
Chris is very passionate about changing the face of country music, and expressed in multiple videos how much he wants “Blueneck” to make a space for “liberal rednecks” and make waves in the country scene. He posted much more sporadically before “Blueneck” blew up, but there are gems in there. Covers, originals, funny moments, and amazing whistling (he’s one of the top 5 in the world). Chris is definitely one to keep an eye on, TikTok or otherwise.