There are dozens of songs out there inspired by literature. Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” takes the perspective of Cathy, wailing at Heathcliff’s window, The Ramones beg not to live again in their long “Pet Sematary,” a reference to King’s novel of the same name, and there are even entire albums tackling works of literature like Rebellion’s “A Tragedy in steel Part II: Shakespeare’s King Lear” inspired, of course, by King Lear. Lines of beloved novels, titles stolen from the pages of kids’ books: it’s all out there waiting for you to hit play.
I think it’s easy to think art stops at the artist — that a book is written, published, and read and that’s the end of its life cycle. But the abyss speaks back. The readers and consumers of art carry those thoughts and lines with them for their entire lives sometimes, putting their love into poems, art, and songs. It’s a natural form of love to spend time creating, inspired by the things you’ve loved in your past.
Why shouldn’t it work the other way, then? Why shouldn’t songs inspire novels? Writers listen to playlists, take ideas from music all of the time. And the visual album Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae has already been made into a book, so it’s possible! Here are eight queer songs that, in my opinion, need to be books right now.
“Boyfriend” by Dove Cameron
With the declaration “I could be a better boyfriend than him,” Cameron’s “Boyfriend” is perfect for a deliciously tense romance novel or subplot. There’s the potential for pining, jealousy, and, of course, the moment on the dance floor when everything changes. What could be better?
“That’s What I Want” by Lil Nas X
The music video practically writes the book itself: a high school football player romance with heartbreak and angst thrown in. Really, at the heart of every romance and every single one of us is the simple want for someone to love us, making this the perfect song for an author’s inspiration.
“Pink Slips” by Jenna Doe
The messiness of high school relationships is front and center in “Pink Slips” as the narrator’s attention is caught by another girl. Wanting what you can’t have, looking for greener grass, and the reality that sometimes a relationship is good but just not right for you are all topics poignant for young adults. This would make a great messy, complicated, and real sapphic YA novel.
“for the girls” by Hayley Kiyoko
A lesbian Bachelorette? I’d be watching every week. Kiyoko’s “for the girls” music video makes this premise a reality with Hayley in the role of the Bachelorette as she doles out her roses. Just imagine a novel digging into the drama, the romance, and the betrayal behind the scenes on a sapphics-only set.
“No Place in Heaven” by MIKA
I mean, this list wouldn’t be complete without a MIKA song. “No Place in Heaven” deals with the often-complicated relationship queer people have with religion and God. I can see how touching and cathartic a novel of faith, identity, and finding a community could be for those going through the same thing.
“Transform” by Steam Powered Giraffe
I don’t know if it’s because Steam Powered Giraffe puts me in the sci-fi mentality, but “Transform” would make an incredible (and probably sad) take on a character modifying their body just to get attention from their crush. This concept could also be a great romance novel, with a little more reality-grounded transformations, to show the hope and downfall of changing yourself for someone else (and maybe also the power of doing it for yourself.)
“Angel Baby” by Troye Sivan
Sometimes relationships really do save you, and that’s exactly what Sivan’s “Angel Baby” is about. A novel about a rocky past with relationships and the unexpected meeting of someone who makes the character believe “living couldn’t get any better” sounds like a delight. Just imagine a character writing their love interest the lyrics to this song as a love letter!
“Pink + White” by Frank Ocean
“Pink + White” is full of nostalgia and the way we carry pieces of those we lost and left behind forever. The feeling of loss and immortality side by side, with images of cannonballs and dreams of flying would make an emotionally touching coming-of-age story that would connect with us all.