First Out: New Music From Syd, Clairo, Kevin Abstract & More

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With summer in full swing, there’s no better time to update your seasonal playlists with new tunes 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 Syd’s stunning new single to Clairo’s long-awaited new album, check out just a few of our favorite releases from this week below:

Syd, “Fast Car”

From the moment it starts, “Fast Car,” the latest from queer phenom Syd, is the anthem of queer summer love that we all need in our lives right now. The Prince-inspired baseline guides listeners through the sultry new single, where Syd instructs her lover on exactly what to do. “We gon’ piss some people off/ But right now that’s where we belong/ Right here in your fast car,” she croons over the slinking new song. You certainly shouldn’t be pissed off by Syd’s latest entry — you should be blissed out and blasting it from your speakers.

“I wanted to make something for the gay Black girls,” Syd said of the song in a statement. “I want them to see themselves in this and in me.”

Clairo, Sling

Claire Cottrill isn’t sure if she’s ready to “grow up.” All throughout Sling, the singer-songwriter’s long-awaited sophomore album, Clairo establishes herself as a young woman struggling with the ideas of adult life, while also growing tired of the repetitive drama of her youth. With surgical precision, the star examines everything from toxic relationships (“Amoeba”), to mental health (“Just For Today”), to motherhood (“Reaper”), all while providing a new arsenal of the bedroom pop sound that helped make her one of the most exciting rising stars of the day.

“I’m so excited for you to hear this record, I hope you enjoy it,” Clairo said of the album in a statement. “It’s for mom, for Joanie, for me and for you.”

Kevin Abstract, “Slugger (feat. $not and Slowthai)”

Kevin Abstract knows how to give the people what they want. After years of fans hearing snippets and leaks released online, the Brockhampton rapper unveiled his single “Slugger,” featuring fellow stars $not and Slowthai. A grooving, smooth-as-silk single filled with an early-aughts Outkast vibe and lyrical references to stars like Lauryn Hill and the late Pimp C, “Slugger” shows Abstract at his finest — flexing his rap skills and putting out some of the slickest music thus far in his solo career.

Anne-Marie, “Beautiful”

“Are we beautiful? All of us, ’cause we got something natural.” In the central question at the heart of Anne-Marie’s latest single off of her upcoming album, the singer establishes herself as someone who just wants to help. “Beautiful,” co-written by Ed Sheeran and pop superproducer Max Martin, sees Anne-Marie contemplating the nature of her own self-worth and happiness, as she wonders aloud whether or not the standards of beauty she’s been forced to live up to even hold up. By the end of the first chorus, though, she has her answer: “You are beautiful/ I know, I know, you are.”

Ben Platt, “Happy to Be Sad”

Happy tears are still tears, as Ben Platt so elegantly points out in his latest single. On “Happy To Be Sad,” the singer beautifully illustrates the portrait of a lover having to leave his significant other for a while, and simply reveling in the sadness as a source of pure joy. It’s a confusing emotion to describe until you hear Platt’s cherubic vocals sing the words —then it feels like it’s happening to you right in this moment.

“I wrote this song the day after my boyfriend left me for a 5-month stretch,” Platt said of the new single in a statement. “It was the first time we had to be apart long term because of the pandemic. It came incredibly naturally and was an immediate expression of the mixed emotions I was feeling that day — the sadness to be away from him against the joy and celebration of finding someone I love enough to make me feel that way.”

Cody Frost, It’s Not Real

Throughout her scintillating new EP It’s Not Real, pop newcomer Cody Frost makes one thing perfectly clear — she’s not about to roll over for anyone. Frost’s lyrics slash through like knives, as she takes on old bosses (“Verbal Warnings”), falling out with old friends (“High/Bye”) and loneliness (“(I Should) Take Better Care”). But it’s on album standout “Stomachache” where Frost’s dark pop shines brightest — with a catchy melody and evocative writing, the song just proves that Cody Frost is a name that ought to be on your lips.

“I’ve been afraid for what feels like my whole life,” Frost said of her new project. “When writing this EP, I wanted to dig into myself and say out loud things that I could never articulate before. I’ve been learning about my ADHD, depression and anxiety and wanted to tell people the things that I kept locked up, purely because I couldn’t find the words before. This EP is about losing that childlike trust that you have in adults, and essentially coming to grips with being one myself.”

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