Who Are You Watching? The Next Diva Generation

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com October 22 2013 5:00 AM ET

We're in a diva golden age, with fun troublemakers like Miley Cyrus and Rihanna getting the world riled up, more delicate divas like Katy Perry publicly calling out homophobes, and classic divas like Madonna still pissing people off. As the world won't stop turning, young ladies will never stop clawing their way to the top of the musical heap. So who are the women with the talent (or troubles) to capture gay attention and keep it there? These are the young women we're likely to be arguing about on Facebook long after twerking becomes a pop culture sidenote.

VV Brown
Singer, songwriter, producer, fashionista, and record label owner, VV Brown is the diva who does it all. Her style, both musical and aesthetic, is all her own. Samson & Delilah, Brown's newest album, feels darker than previous effort Travelling Like the Light, which included the hits "Blood in the Water" and "Crying Blood." This British beauty, whose real name is Vanessa Brown, is clearly not afraid to experiment and explore, with a sensibility that's more college radio than pop FM. Diva forebears: Björk, Fiona Apple


 

Paloma Faith
Like many of the young women on this list, Faith is British (must be something in the tea). With a musical style that harkens back to early-'90s blue-eyed soul, Faith has an amazing set of pipes that she shows off to much success on her latest album, Fall to Grace. She's a kooky one, with outfits that make her appear like an exotic parrot (a motif on her album artwork), and flaming red hair that brings to mind the German protagonist of Run Lola Run. While her music has a pop sensibility, her last album was produced by Björk producer Nellee Hooper, known for creating intriguing and off-kilter soundscapes. Diva forebears: Lisa Stansfield, Kate Bush

Haim
These three 20-something sisters from Los Angeles are not about flash, but musicianship — they play their own instruments! — that's earned them plaudits here and in Europe. Their songs are eminently heartfelt and catchy, bringing to mind an American version of Tegan and Sara (with an extra sister), while their long straight hair brings us back to Joni Mitchell and the ladies of the canyon. These down-to-earth divas definitely have staying power. Diva forebears: Stevie Nicks, Chrissie Hynde

Bonnie McKee
Bonnie McKee had already penned hit songs for an array of A-list pop stars, including Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Ke$ha, Carly Rae Jepsen, Christina Aguilera, and Kelly Clarkson, before her high-energy track “American Girl” became a staple of our summer playlists. Now the talented singer-songwriter is moving from the background to the spotlight and she’s wasting no opportunity to court an LGBT fan base along way. Take a look at McKee’s recent live performance of “American Girl” at West Hollywood’s gay club Tiger Heat and see why we think her star has only begun to rise. Diva forebears: Debbie Gibson, Katy Perry


Icona Pop
Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, the Swedish synth-pop duo better known as Icona Pop, dominated radio playlists, iPods, and dance floors this summer with their smash hit “I Love It.” However, it’s the pair’s infectious sound — fun and fiery lyrics fueled by a swirl of electro house, punk, and indie pop — that keeps us coming back for more. Additionally, the Swedish sirens’ welcoming attitude toward LGBT listeners is only the icing on top for queer fans who already adore the duo’s music. Those who doubt these divas are well on their way to becoming future gay icons need look no further than their latest music video, “All Night,” an applause-worthy homage to New York City’s house ballroom and drag culture. Diva forebears: Robyn, Gwen Stefani

Sky Ferreira
You're not truly a diva until you've been caught with some contraband. In light of Ferreira's September arrest for ecstasy possession, she definitely fits the diva bill. Pulsating synth beats drive the sultry music that garners her the coveted troubled-party-girl image, a necessary stage for any diva on the rise. Not to mention, she might have even tempted Miley to take a walk on the wilder sideDiva forebears: Ke$ha, Debbie Harry