The April showers are finally giving way to May flowers, so what better time to update your playlists with some new jams from your favorite queer artists? Billboard Pride is here to help with First Out, our weekly roundup of some of the best new music releases from LGBTQ artists.
From Hayley Kiyoko’s grand return, to Girl in Red’s long-awaited debut album, check out just a few of our favorite releases from this week below.
Hayley Kiyoko, “Found My Friends”
Lesbian Jesus is finally back. Hayley Kiyoko returned this week with her stunning synthpop single “Found My Friends,” a groovy anthem to self-love in a time when we all need it most. The singer-songwriter waxes poetic throughout the song, as she sings of “swimmin’ deep in a pool filled with swirlin’ thoughts,” all while the song’s entrancing, woozy production (which marks a new sound for Kiyoko) provides a dopamine-boosting backdrop that will have you reaching for the repeat button.
“‘Found My Friends’ is a song I wrote during a challenging time when I realized instead of being my own worst enemy, I could actually be my own best friend,” Kiyoko said of the song in a statement. “It’s about discovering and nurturing a strong friendship with yourself. This song resonates even more so now with everyone experiencing isolation in quarantine, when we still somehow find the resilience to connect with one another and find comfort in each other.”
Girl in Red, If I Could Make It Go Quiet
After years of singles, EPs and hype, Girl in Red’s debut album If I Could Make It Go Quiet is finally here. Modifying the shoegaze sound that made Marie Ulven an Internet phenomenon by plugging it in and speeding it up, Quiet brings the best of Girl in Red’s sound to the forefront with fuzzy guitars, precise synths and killer melodies. Ulven also sharpens her songwriting throughout the album, taking on a more reflective, often even angrier perspective as she evolves into her latest form: a star on the rise.
“There are things on this album that I haven’t been able to talk about in my songwriting previously,” Ulven said in a statement. “Serotonin is brutally honest, lyrically, especially about having these intrusive thoughts — thoughts of never going to be okay, and thinking my therapist hates me … I’m addressing a lot of things I haven’t been comfortable talking about, or admitting to myself, or even things to tell my closest friends and family.”
Throughout his career, Stephen Wrabel has made it clear that he knows how to write uplifting ballads. “Good,” his latest single, is certainly no exception — throughout the heartfelt, earnest new single, Wrabel paints a vivid portrait of a relationship, as he sings to his lover to stop sweating the details and to let life happen. “Baby let a good thing be good/ Don’t know why it makes you so sad,” he sings on the song’s instantly memorable chorus. “I would change it all if I could/ Don’t you let a good thing go bad.”
“Whether it’s anger, resentment or hurt, it’s the smallest disagreement that can bring those feelings from the deep-down to the surface,” Wrabel said of the song in a statement. “The smallest thing can turn a good thing bad. But leaning in and trusting can keep a good thing good.”
Trixie Mattel feat. Orville Peck, “Jackson”
Sometimes, you see two artists collaborating, and you just know it’s going to be good. That was absolutely the case when queer country stars Trixie Mattel and Orville Peck teamed up for their very own cover of Johnny Cash and June Carter’s country classic “Jackson.” The pair’s voices fit perfectly together, the choice of song is an A+, and the production is pitch-perfect. If you’re a fan of classic country, absolutely do not miss out on Mattel and Peck’s spot-on reimagining of “Jackson.”
“‘Jackson’! A stunning callback to the golden era of country music,” Mattel said of the new single in a statement. “A time of wigs and rhinestones (thank god) and iconic duets. Orville and I are thrilled to put our spin and flourish on this anthem of American music. Yes, I wore red and not pink, so brave.”
Siena Liggins, Ms. Out Tonight
If you’ve been sleeping on Siena Liggins, it is time for you to wake up. With her debut album Ms. Out Tonight, the up-and-coming star carves her own lane in the pop music space with infectious, memorable songs about sex (“Dirty Girl” with Yung Baby Tate), queer relationship dynamics (“Ms. Out Tonight”), and much much more. If you’re looking for some songs that will have you ready to get back to the club, look no further than Ms. Out Tonight.
“Initially I wrote the title track ‘Ms. Out Tonight’ about a girl I was dating who wasn’t sure if she was ready to be out in public with me,” Liggins said of her new album in a statement. “When I got in the studio and the lyrics I wrote for her mirrored my own experiences, it was evident how much anyone can miss out on by hiding. That birthed the concept and project, Ms. Out Tonight, that explores who I really am and how I really feel and what happens if I say it all out loud.”
Parson James & JoJo, “Dirty Laundry”
While it may not seem like it at first glance, the pairing of Parson James and JoJo on an R&B-pop song is inspired. “Dirty Laundry,” the duo’s new single, is a tender-yet-swaggering love song, where the pair ask their respective lovers to get vulnerable and share what it is that’s on their minds. Take two acclaimed singers and put their stratospheric vocals together, and you get a blissed-out anthem that will give you goosebumps every time you press play.
“It felt so natural after writing it to ask Jo to be on this record. We have such a deep and meaningful friendship where it’s exactly that,” James said of the collaboration in a statement. “We know each other in and out and have experienced extreme hardships together. I wanted to normalize platonic love and show an example of a gay man and his best female friend fully having each other’s back. It’s something that isn’t seen enough in my opinion.”
Vincint feat. Alex Newell with Princess Precious, “Higher”
Ready to dance? Vincint sure is, as he makes clear on his stunning new single “Higher,” the latest from his highly anticipated debut album. This dance-pop house jam once again shows off the singer’s unbelievable range, while adding in some deeply satisfying dance production courtesy of pop mega-producer JHart. Add in Alex Newell’s incredibly uplifting vocals, a punch of energy courtesy of rapper Princess Precious, and a full choir singing along on the song’s euphoric chorus, and you have a song that is guaranteed to have you singing along in no time.
Mila Jam & Evangeline Wong, “Timewaster”
Turns out, when you pair Malaysian pop singer Evangeline Wong with New York’s Mila Jam, you get magic. “Timewaster,” the new single from the pair, sees the two (singing in both Mandarin and English) refusing to put up with any trash from their respective partners. Complete with a slick trap beat, the single is a self-love bop that sees two powerful women declaring: “I ain’t got no time for you/ ‘Cause you a timewaster.”
“‘Timewaster’ is the anthem for all of us knowing our worth and valuing our own time,” Jam said of the new single in a statement. “I’m so excited to collaborate with Evangeline on this dope project. We’re calling out all the perpetrators that wanna takes us for granted and soak up our energy. No Timewasters!”
Joy Oladokun, “Sorry Isn’t Good Enough”
Singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun is ready for a new era of her career. On “Sorry Isn’t Good Enough,” the rising talent trades in her soft, acoustic musings of the past for some excellent pop production — complete with slamming drums, keyboard riffs and an enchanting melody, the track treads new ground in Oladokun’s career. But one thing certainly remains, and that’s the star’s songwriting; taking a half-hearted apology and using it as fuel to her fire, Oladokun forcefully refuses, letting her former lover know: “Don’t care what you have to say, that you think it’s OK/ That your words have fixed me, but sorry isn’t good enough.”