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by Goitsimang Moshikaro

A woman and her man that’s the moon sharing a tender moment, image from tumblr

It all started with Riptide

From the gentle strums of Vance Joy's "Riptide" to the soul-stirring lyricism of Hozier, the realm of music provides a canvas to paint the intricacies of sapphic romance. At its core, "Riptide" by Vance Joy captures the essence of sapphic love with its tender ukulele chords and quirky lyricism. What stands out is the focus on more than just physical beauty; it's about the experiences and emotions that intertwine two souls. Joy's emotive delivery weaves a story about personal preferences and intimate adventures shared with a lover.

“Lady, running down to the riptide

Taken away to the dark side

I wanna be your left-hand man

I love you when you're singing that song

And I got a lump in my throat

'Cause you're gonna sing the words wrong.”

Hozier and the lesbian community

Hozier with lesbian pride flag at concert performance, image from Twitter

Hozier's music resonates deeply with the yearning and desire often associated with sapphic relationships. He frequently portrays nature in how he receives her and gives himself. The keywords here are longing and desire. 

“ Hozier’s lyricism aligns so strongly with how people in lesbian relationships describe their love for their partners. It’s love in all its extremities and intensities.”

The raw emotion in his songs evokes a sense of authenticity, highlighting the intensity of love in all its forms. The intersection of nature and love in Hozier's music further amplifies the emotional depth. As nature is diverse and complex, so are sapphic relationships, defying stereotypes and challenging societal norms. 

Escaping into a different image of love: Why is that so?

Cover of single track “I Kissed A Girl” from album “One Of The Boys”, image from genius

Delving into the realm of sapphic romance unveils the complex interplay between safety, sexualization, and societal expectations. There's an internal conflict faced by some: a sense of guilt or dirtiness when sexualizing women, even when they sexualize themselves. This shame points to the ongoing struggle against objectification and the relentless sexualization of  queer women. For example, Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” presents an experience with another girl in a voyeuristic manner that invites the listener to be provoked and entertained by the events.

I kissed a girl just to try it

I hope my boyfriend don't mind it

It felt so wrong; it felt so right.

Drawing a stark contrast with heterosexual relationships, where women often find themselves objectified, queer songs carry a different tone. In many cases, songs by and about lesbian women emphasize emotional depth, determination, and sweetness rather than explicit sexual content. This intriguing dynamic converges the conventional portrayal of romance in music. There are only a few songs where it's the other way around, like Ashnikko’s “Slumber Party '' and Ryan Beatty’s “Cupid.” Male or masculine-aligned queerness does not arouse the male gaze which could be why there’s a much broader leeway into putting oneself out.

Girl in Red and the Female Gays

Album cover of Girl in Red’s “A Collection Of Every Song I’ve Ever Posted On Soundcloud” image from genius

“We fell in love in October

That's why, I love fall

Looking at the stars

Admiring from afar”

Among the notable voices in sapphic love songs, girl in red is one of many iconic and authentic representations of modern queer experiences. Through tracks like "We Fell in Love in October," Girl in Red (Marie Ulven) delves into the emotional intricacies of sapphic relationships, capturing the essence of young love and self-discovery. Marie transports listeners into a world of vulnerability and longing. The song's introspective lyrics and melodic instrumentation vividly depict the intensity and uncertainty  often accompanying  romantic entanglements. As the song unfolds, Marie's evocative storytelling invites us to reflect on the delicate dance of emotions that characterize sapphic connections.

The Other Woman - Jolene by Dolly Parton

“The other woman” (explained by Naomi Cannibal), with the parallel of “the other man,” is a trope most common in music across all genres where the main singer is facing a dilemma involving their partner. For example, taking Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”, Dolly laments in pleading to “Jolene” to keep to herself and not tempt Dolly’s partner. “Jolene” is an indirect being, relatively a concept, that amounts to surpassing Dolly across her beauty posing as a threat. These situations construct a perspective of the idea of love. This trope underscores the significance of trust and certainty within relationships, emphasizing a shared desire for loyalty and compassion.

So then What is love? - Baby don’t hurt me

Ultimately, exploring sapphic love through music offers a redefinition of the standard for love. It champions loyalty, compassion, and emotional connection over superficial attributes. In a world that often reduces love to mere aesthetics, sapphic love songs are a testament to the depth and authenticity relationships can attain.

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