Queer Artist Spotlight: Conan Gray

In a moment of complete transparency, I did not know who Conan Gray was until very recently when a close friend of mine created a playlist for me with songs she believed I would like. I have notoriously had very basic music taste, and she thought it was time for an intervention. On this playlist were seventeen songs which I have absolutely adored, one of which is called “The King” by Conan Gray. When I first ran through the playlist it wasn’t on my radar as a favorite. However, after constantly repeating the playlist, I found that I would wait in that miniscule moment of silence between songs, hoping that “The King” would pop up in the rotation to brighten my day. In fact, I vividly remember the song coming on as I leapt out of the car in Boston to pick up coffee for my family. Once the song began to play I actually began to spin around the sidewalk as if I were the protagonist of a Disney film.


To my unwavering delight, I would not have to wait long before I could experience the magic of Conan Gray’s music once again. A couple weeks ago, I woke up and glanced at my phone as usual only to see a bombardment of messages from the group chat my friends had made for planning events. I opened my phone in a stupor as I was still wiping the sleep from my eyes, and I scrolled up through the texts in an attempt to find what the original subject of the conversation was. To my fascination and utter excitement, my friends were discussing the album Conan Gray had dropped the night before while I had fallen victim to slumber at the ripe hour of 10:00 as I normally do.


Without hesitation, I frantically blew the text messages out of my screen and hurriedly found the spotify icon amongst my unorganized plethora of useless apps. I fumbled about my bedside table until my hand rested upon my airpod case. How I knew it was my airpod case, I could absolutely not tell you. As I resettled myself among my blankets, I was whisked away as Conan began to sing the first track to this new album “Kid Krow”.


In the past, I have been known to enjoy only fast-paced music. Any song that simply had piano in the background I quickly skipped through if spotify ever tried to trick me into being less basic. However, this music wasn’t quite slow, but it wasn’t as fast or synth heavy as I was used to so I was hesitant to appreciate the album at first. However, I have found Conan to be a master manipulator of sound as well as words. His ability to tell stories within his songs is so beautiful and it can captivate anyone’s ear who is willing to listen. For example, his song aptly named “The Story” outlines the journey of several different pairs of people with different relationships. Although not every relationship outlined in the song was entirely relatable to all audiences, elements of their interactions or their personal struggles could have been widely interpreted to fit the storyline of any person’s life. For example, he describes the relationship between two male best friends who are both longing for each other but neither has the courage to tell the other. Although some may not relate to the experience of attraction to the same sex, many of us can relate to the concept of forbidden love or not receiving love equal to what is given. Conan’s poignant wording appears on several occasions during his album such as the song “The Cut that Always Bleeds”. In my opinion (and most of my friends would agree), this is the best song in the album. This song shamelessly intertwines the struggles of adolescence with unachievable love that, no matter how much is given, nothing is received in return. Not only is the title of the song beautifully worded, but the lyrics within the song indeed procure a cut that always bleeds within your heart for the one that got away. Although the idea of such emotions being provoked from a piece of music may seem daunting, Gray perfectly balances emotional pieces with fun and upbeat tunes that will have you frolicking around your kitchen looking for something to clean so that the atrocity of watching you dance is not imparted on your quarantined family (definitely not a personal experience). Songs such as “Maniac” and “Wish You Were Sober” prove to be the bops we all hoped for and expected from Gray in our current drought of entertainment. The thrumming baselines in tandem with catchy melodies make for a perfect listen while you continue to do useless things around your house to pass the time during quarantine. To find the album, you can search “Kid Krow” on Spotify or you can do the same on iTunes or apple music. I hope you all enjoy!


- Olivia

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