As we head into the fall season, it’s time to amp up some of your autumn playlists with new songs 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.
Janelle Monáe, “Turntables”
With the 2020 election on the horizon, the issue of voter suppression — especially in the form of voter ID laws, the purging of voter rolls, removal of access to early voting and much more — has come back to the forefront of our political discourse. So, Janelle Monáe decided to pen a song for Amazon’s new documentary All In: The Fight for Democracy, in which the triple-threat takes the issue head-on.
The down-tempo groove of the verses fit Monáe’s cool and casual spoken vocals, before exploding into a frenzy of exalting guitars and horns, as the singer urges people everywhere to use the power of their vote this November. “It’s a boomerang booming back, yeah/ You laid the egg now it’s ’bout to hatch,” she raps. “You gaslight, ’bout to meet your match/ You f–k up the kitchen, then you should do the dishes.”
Mxmtoon, “OK On Your Own (feat. Carly Rae Jepsen)”
When Mxmtoon tweeted that she wanted to work with pop superstar Carly Rae Jepsen on a single last week, fans certainly didn’t expect that the collab would be arriving in just a few short days. But nevertheless, the pair released their latest single “OK On Your Own” earlier this week, much to the internet’s delight.
The moody, ukelele-heavy track sees Mxmtoon driving squarely in her bedroom-pop lane, while marking a departure for Jepsen’s sugary electro-pop confections of the last few years. Add to that a quarantine-inspired music video in which the 20-year-old singer wanders around her Brooklyn neighborhood in a mask, and you’ve got one another extremely relatable song to include on your next heartbreak playlist.
Fletcher, The S(ex) Tapes
In a way, the title of pop singer-songwriter Fletcher’s latest EP should have been a tip to fans about a potential “leak.” With a slated release date for next week, the singer unveiled The S(ex) Tapes more than a week early, to the delight of her devout fans. Throughout the 7-track EP, Fletcher continues the dissection of a breakup she started on last year’s You Ruined New York City For Me, with her moody pop jams reminiscing on wanting to stay friends (“If I Hated You”), hating on your ex’s new flame (“Bitter”), and even an ill-fated reunion (“Sex (With My Ex)”).
But it’s on EP highlight “Shh…Don’t Say It” where Fletcher shines brightest, as she blends grimy production with her sultry exploration of finding a rebound, as she sings “This don’t need to be serious, I just wanna touch you/ So don’t tell me how you’re feelin’, baby.”
With the protests against police brutality continuing throughout America, up-and-coming singer Mishko wanted to make a song that speaks to the current moment. Thus, his new song “Changing” was born, a reflection on the state of the world today twinged with hope for a better future. The chilled-out track and its accompanying video follow Mishko through a series of Black Lives Matter protests in Los Angeles as he croons, “We’ve waited far too long now to make that s–t up/ I think we might do something this time/ I feel it in my bones it’s a vibe.”
Chaz Cardigan, “Live a Little”
While much of his music has focused on living with and breaking through a panic disorder, Chaz Cardigan’s latest single “Live a Little” instead aims for the inspirational. The upbeat pop-rock tune serves as a series of mantras for listeners to repeat to themselves set to an infectious melody that will easily get stuck in your head. “You gotta wake up every morning see the day is a gift,” he insists in the chorus. “You gotta check that bucket list before you go to the crib/ Cause if you wanna light a fire then you gotta get lit/ You gotta live a little bit.”
Brendan Maclean, “Gemini”
Australian pop singer Brendan Maclean is taking fans on a trip to the future. With his latest single “Gemini,” the rising star combines the ’80s synth-pop sound he’s crafted throughout his career with some Flume-esque future-pop production, making for one of his most fascinating records to date.
The song’s lyrics show Maclean questioning his potential “other half,” wondering aloud if he’s actually found a soulmate, or if he’s just repeating old mistakes. “So there we go or there we won’t, I got so much to think about but I don’t,” he sings. “So let me know or let me go without, dying to talk it out, all I want/ One heart, six strings, twin peaks, gemini.”