As it continues to heat up outside this summer, why not heat up your playlists with new music from some of 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 Melissa Etheridge’s brand-new single off her upcoming album to Amorphous’ long-awaited debut album, check out just a few of our favorite releases from this week below:
Melissa Etheridge, “For the Last Time”
“This song was written back in a time when things weren’t as beautiful as they are today,” Melissa Etheridge opines in the opening moments of her latest single. “Things were getting hard, and there was not a lot I could do about it.” With a simple introduction, the queer icon makes the mood of “For the Last Time” abundantly clear — this is a song about frustration. The relentless guitar riffs and occasional glissandos from a moody harmonica add to the growling anger in Etheridge’s voice, as she vents about a woman she can’t seem to get out of her head, and who won’t admit that the feelings between them are mutual. If you’re in need of some emotional release, let Melissa Etheridge guide you through on this ode to queer love … and queer anger.
Amorphous, Things Take Shape
When you read through the featured artists on Amorphous’ new EP, it does not read like a debut project; with mega stars like Brandy, Kelly Rowland, Kehlani and many more, the tracklist instead reads like a who’s who of powerful R&B music. Listening through Things Take Shape has a similar effect — from the opening beatbox of the mesmerizing “The Wave” (with some A+ vocals courtesy of Brandy), to Rowland’s echoing last note on project closer “Finally (Cannot Hide It),” Amorphous proves that raw talent will always shine through. If you haven’t already, make sure to mark Amorphous as one to watch.
Allison Ponthier, “Hell Is a Crowded Room”
Introverts of the world rejoice, as Allison Ponthier has just given you an anthem. From the moment it starts, “Hell Is A Crowded Room” proves itself as the ballad every person overwhelmed by constant social interaction ought to hear. Plaintive guitar strums accompany Ponthier’s soothing vocals, as she paints a picture of overexposure and jam-packed spaces, while her voice betrays a quiet panic as she firmly calls out pointless small talk, trying to fit in among stangers and everything else in between. “With every breath it gets harder to breathe,” she admits, before taking a breath. “But I push on, pray it gets easier/ Past the chaos, I shoot like a meteor.”
Joy Oladokun, “Judas”
Of all the songs on Joy Oladokun’s excellent deluxe edition of her debut album In Defense Of My Own Happiness, “Judas” perhaps hits the hardest. An ethereal single about struggling with imposter syndrome in your own relationship, Oladokun wonders aloud if she is the maligned disciple to her lover’s Jesus, asking if she’s in a relationship for the right reasons, or if she’s “holy if I’m doing this for me?” As per usual with the fast-rising singer-songwriter, it’s a beautiful song that will have you thinking about it for the rest of the day.
Ever made a big change in your life and then wondered to yourself if you’d made a mistake? LP is here to tell you that you didn’t on “Goodbye,” the lush, uplifting new track off of her upcoming album Churches. Filled to the brim with warping sonic landscapes and the singer’s distinctive vocals, “Goodbye” instead paints a picture of a life being led by the idea of sheer possibility — and that’s the hit of serotonin we’re all in desperate need of these days.
“Goodbye is a blast for the soul. A spring cleaning to free myself and hopefully others from the shackles of my own mind,” LP said of the new single in a statement. “The light is always there if you want it. I definitely want it.”
Courtney Barnett, “Rae Street”
Courtney Barnett has always been an artist keenly adept at taking internal, hard-to-describe emotions, and transforming them into perfectly-articulated songs. “Rae Street,” the first single off her upcoming album, is no exception. Throughout the hypnotizing single, Barnett takes pen to paper about the internal frustration faced throughout the last year, both with the pandemic and the rise of movements towards greater political equality, through the metaphor of a residential street, each home facing a different issue that we’ve all struggled with through the last year. It’s a beautiful example of Barnett’s continued skill at evoking the perfect imagery for exactly what she’s trying to say, and it’s a single you won’t want to miss.