First Out: New Music From Julien Baker, Starrah, Pussy Riot & More

We’re heading into spring, which means it’s time to freshen up your playlists with some new music 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 Julien Baker’s heartbreaking-yet-beautiful new album to Starrah’s excellent pop-meets-R&B single, check out just a few of our favorite releases from this week below:


Julien Baker, Little Oblivions

It’s hard to imagine that exemplary singer-songwriter Julien Baker could make her music somehow more personal. But on her third studio album Little Oblivions, Baker arrives at a depth of self-understanding that seems impossible, with an expanded sound that only adds to its fanfare. Throughout the searing new album, the star touches on topics like drug abuse (“Hardline”), relapses (“Faith Healer”), panic attacks (“Heatwave”) and even compulsive behaviors associated with OCD (“Ringside”). She does all this with a deeper, fuller sound beyond the shoegaze guitars of her previous work, now punctuating her lines with pounding drum machines, glistening synths and thrilling vocal harmony.

Of her patience in creating Little Oblivions, Baker told Billboard: “I didn’t want to because I didn’t know what else to do. This is the pursuit that’s been the highest priority to me since I was 16 years old. I was like, ‘What do I do with my life now?’ I think that helped me a lot as a musician, being able to sit on the songs and work with them. It was nice to do it that way for once.”

Starrah, “Miss This”

If you somehow don’t know Starrah’s name already, get familiar: The grade-A songwriter behind hits like Rihanna’s “Needed Me” and Camilla Cabello’s “Havana” is continuing to impress through her own original songs. On “Miss This,” Starrah takes a pop-forward approach to the R&B sound she cultivated on past singles like “How It Goes” and “Keep Calm,” this time spreading her lush vocals over a simple synthesized bass line and some clean dancehall drums. “Come get something from me/ All of this, this, this,” she croons on the single’s chorus. “Come through love me, touch me, f— me/ Make you miss, miss this.”

Pussy Riot feat. Dorian Electra, “Toxic”

Both Pussy Riot and Dorian Electra have made it abundantly clear how they feel about toxic masculinity — so now, they’re turning the tables. “Toxic” sees the Russian activists/pop provocateurs team with the rising hyperpop phenomenon to finally get a chance at feeling a little poisonous themselves. With production from 100 gecs’ Dylan Brady, this warp-speed pop commentary whizzes by without flinching, as Electra and the members of Pussy Riot let their prospective lovers know, “Come here, mansplain me/ Your balls meet my knee/ Freedom, I’m craving/ Dare to mansplain me.”

Joy Oladokun, “Jordan”

Soulful singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun is back yet again, this time with a single examining the coming-out process with laser-focused precision. “Jordan” sees Oladokun taking on the religious symbols seen all throughout gospel music, and weaponizing them to paint a portrait of persecution, and then acceptance. The singer relies only on her voice, the soft strummings of an acoustic guitar and her powerful lyrics to bring the listener into her world — and it works like a charm.

“I wrote ‘Jordan’ the day I decided to come out,” Oladokun said of her new song on Twitter. “I had spent a lot of time in self isolation dreaming of what it meant to be fully known. Letting myself imagine a life where I could be loved and happy was my first step into that journey.”

Cavetown, “Paul”

If you’ve ever had a song stuck in your head and needed to just get it out, Cavetown can relate. After having it stuck in his head “for weeks,” the singer-songwriter dropped his cover of Big Thief’s “Paul,” giving the song a new, lo-fi feel, adding in his signature harmonious vocals over a simple guitar melody. If you’re in the market for some goosebump-inducing music, look no further. “It’s one of those songs I feel like I’ve known forever, so it feels so safe and comforting,” Cavetown wrote on Twitter. “I recorded a cover during a difficult time in my life & doing so provided a little bit of calmness for me.”

Slayyyter, “Clouds”

Everyone has gotten acquainted with some sadness over the last year, but when rising pop singer Slayyyter sings that she’s “unhappier than (she’s) ever been” on her latest single, it hits. “Clouds,” Slayyyter’s latest from her forthcoming album, is a disco-pop jam about … well, being sad. Produced by fellow queer artist Nicopop, “Clouds” sounds like it ought to be blasting out of the speakers of a nightclub, as long as everyone in attendance is cool with feeling just a little sad while dancing through the pain. Slayyyter lets us know that she can relate, singing, “Some days I feel good then I really wanna disappear/ I always got clouds over me.”

Bachelor (Jay Som & Palehound), “Anything at All”

When queer artists Jay Som and Palehound announced their brand-new band Bachelor, fans everywhere rejoiced. And if their debut single “Anything at All” is any indication of what’s to come, then there’s a good reason to be excited. A groovy ballad all about unrequited, queer love, the sound feels fresh and new for both artists, and will fit perfectly on any of your chill vibes playlists. In Palehound’s own words, “Let the shipping begin.”