As 2020 mercifully draws to a close, it’s time to listen to some new tunes from 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 Fletcher’s new single off the Promising Young Woman soundtrack to Serena Isioma’s excellent new EP, check out some of our favorite new releases this week.
Fletcher, “Last Laugh”
The plot of the upcoming thriller Promising Young Woman sees the titular young woman of great promise ensnaring various, self-proclaimed “nice guys” into situations where she gets to dispatch justice on these would-be sexual predators.
So, when pop singer-songwriter Fletcher was tasked with providing a new song for the upcoming film, she passed with flying colors. “Last Laugh,” the latest from the rising pop phenom, offers up the same kind of titillating revenge fantasy, as Fletcher dons the swagger of a femme fatale, taunting that she plans to make her prey question everything, even their own sanity. “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nah, it’s me in your dreams,” she sneers, before correcting herself: “Or maybe call them nightmares.”
Maggie Lindemann, “Loner”
Over the last nine months, just about everyone has been forced to learn what it means to be alone thanks to social distancing — but for those who haven’t, Maggie Lindemann simply can’t relate. Throughout her new single “Loner,” the 22-year-old singer glorifies the idea of being on your own, while simultaneously wishing that she wasn’t hard-wired for life by yourself. The driving guitar line combines nicely with the chilled-out production, as Lindemann lets listeners know that “I don’t need permission to feel sad/ And don’t need no witness to have my back.”
Serena Isioma, The Leo Sun Sets
Where many artists boast about their greatness, indie up-and-comer Serena Isioma is more focused on self-improvement. The Leo Sun Sets, the 20-year-old singer’s new EP, explores Isioma’s insecurities and triumphs in equal measure, in one moment gassing up her own sense of self-worth (on the glorious “I Feel Fantastic”), and in the next beating herself up for messing it all up (the groove-infused “Why Am I So Toxic”).
“This is a project about my evolution,” Isioma tells Billboard about her new EP. “While I’m nervous to share such intimate details about my life, I hope others see themselves in my music. Maybe they’ll feel inspired to take steps towards bettering themselves like I did.”
Kidd Kenn, “Gold Digger”
Ready to flex? Rising rapper Kidd Kenn’s new music video for “Gold Digger,” featuring fellow rising rapper Dess Dior, is exactly what you’d expect to see from an already-established name — money, mansions, fashion, etc. The 17-year-old holds nothing back in his luxurious new video, letting his haters know that they can stay pressed, because he’s doing more than fine without them. Or as Kenn put it: “B—h you can block me but you can’t get rid of me/ Like how I look so he always gon’ picture me.”
Rina Sawayama, “Love It If We Made It (The 1975 cover)”
As a part of her new Sawayama deluxe edition, Rina Sawayama decided to dip her toe into another cover, this time taking on a fan-favorite track from Dirty Hit labelmates The 1975. For her cover of “Love It If We Made It,” Sawayama adds in her own brand of genre-bending, futuristic-yet-nostalgic production to give the song a new vision. She manages to keep her vocals as close to Matty Healy’s stuttered delivery as possible, while still giving the song a new vibe that will have you jamming out at home all weekend long.
Claud, “Soft Spot”
On their gloriously indie new single “Soft Spot” (off their upcoming debut album Super Monster), rising alternative star Claud is having some trouble getting over their significant other. The song’s lo-fi, fuzzy production lends perfectly to the singer’s raw vocals, as they let their crush know that for the time being, they’ll still be here, hoping for the best.
“This song is about knowing I can’t be with this one specific person, but my feelings won’t go away,” they said of the new single in a statement. “I still hope I run into them, or they randomly text me about something. It’s just me romanticizing what I can’t have and being like ‘but what if…'”
Jeni Schapire, “Casual”
There’s something heart-rending about Jeni Schapire’s voice as she sings the words “Is this casual enough for you, baby?” The words, which sit at the center of her new song “Casual,” land like a pile of bricks — the singer-songwriter cuts right at the heart of what it feels like to be told that your partner just doesn’t want to “put a label” on things. The incisive songwriting only stands to bolster the Schapire’s stunning vocals, as she emotes through every syllable of the heart-breaking song.
Jordana, Something to Say to You
Taking her two previous EPs and combining them into one album, Jordana aims to get right to your indie core with Something to Say to You — the production throughout the new album drips with gooey guitar riffs and low-key basslines that will have you slowly grooving throughout your living room well into the weekend.
Meanwhile, songwriting on a track like “Reason” stands out, as she lets her lover know “Like the scent of peppermint, the smell of you is on my clothes/ In my mouth and in my nose.”
Lani Renaldo, “Woman”
When it came time to put together her new single “Woman,” singer-songwriter Lani Renaldo decided to get real. A heart-wrenching ballad about being judged for the expression of your gender, “Woman” sees Renaldo brandishing her razor-sharp songwriting alongside a simple, gorgeous melody to put you right into her shoes. “I was reflecting on this idea that if I dressed differently or wore makeup, tried to pass in a more feminine way that maybe it would shape my relationships differently,” she said of her new song in a statement. “Maybe I would be liked and though I think there have been several times I’ve been made to feel ashamed for how I look or who I love, I forgive those people that made me feel that way … I use it as fuel to remind myself how to treat others and to be mindful of who I let in my life.”