Upcoming Albums from LGBTQ Artists

Don’t miss these albums from iconic artists of the LGBTQ community, coming soon!

The Lockdown Sessions by Elton John is a collection of collaborations that the British singer recorded remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, featuring Miley Cyrus, Lil Nas X, Stevie Nicks, and many more. The tracks cover a variety of genres and moods for a truly eclectic mix. Personally, I can vouch for this album because I’ve already heard a few of the tracks, including Chosen Family (absolutely gorgeous track with a great message) and Nothing Else Matters (gives me chills every time). If you, like me, spent time in quarantine singing along to everything and making playlists, you might relate to this album!

Broken Hearts and Beauty Sleep by Mykki Blanco is the new album from non-binary boundary pusher Mykki Blanco, melding hip hop and rap with club and trap sounds as well as experimental elements. I’m excited for this one because I love more publicity for non-binary artists, AND I just recently discovered this artist through their essay in The Queer Bible (an excellent book!).

 

To discover other LGBTQ artists, try:

Halsey’s If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power – their most recent album which was accompanied by a film released on HBO Max, and which wrestles with the suffocating side of love, pregnancy, creation, destruction and how we claim and use power.

 

 

Brandi Carlile’s In These Silent Days : the 2021 offering from a country and folk rock staple. Encompassing both intimate contemplation and defiantly rollicking tunes, it’s an album exploring the full breadth of Carlile’s skill and power, with echoes of Elton John and Joni Mitchell, according to critics.

Music Hype: Human by OneRepublic

This album has been hovering on the horizon for months now, as I waited to order it until a release date was officially announced. Now, it’s finally here! So let’s talk about OneRepublic: who they are, how they got here, and how we feel about their latest offering: Human.

OneRepublic is an American pop band formed in 2002. I know many of us in the millennial and maybe Gen X camps grew up listening to Apologize and Stop and Stare from their first album Dreaming Out Loud – both of which became massive hits around the world. Apologize in particular became iconic after being remixed by Timbaland.

All the Right Moves was the big hit from their second album, Waking Up, from 2009. Other earworms included Secrets and Good Life. More recently a lot of people found they’d accidentally memorized all the words to Counting Stars, the hit song from 2013’s album, Native. Their fourth album was Oh My My in 2016 and it was a major departure in their sound, producing singles Wherever I Go and Kids.

Human has been delayed a number of times (and I’m sure COVID was part of it), but there have been singles released from it to build hype, including Rescue Me and Wanted. According to some critics, this makes the album feel more like a time capsule than a new release: Rescue Me came out in 2019, which as we all know was a very different emotional moment than 2021. But there’s still a lot to love including the upbeat anthem Run and yearning track Distance, which echoes some of the band’s classic vibes. Speaking for myself, a band than can do soulful, emotional, and danceable all equally well is definitely worth following, and OneRepublic has a very strong track record to recommend them.

If you’re looking for a solid pop album that captures some nostalgia and some optimism, you might want to try OneRepublic’s Human, finally available for checkout.

Key Changes: Gen Z Hitmakers

I don’t know about you, but I’m hugely vulnerable to earworms: those songs that stick in your head and just never leave. Now, I fall squarely in the “millennial” camp, but in my experience lately, there are some Generation Z (born 1995-2015) pop artists that are making really catchy songs that spread like wildfire on social media and everyone finds themselves singing. Here are three top-rated Gen Z artists whose new albums we’ve recently purchased for the library, full of new earworms for you to love and hate – you’re welcome!

Billie Eilish became iconic for her oversized fashion and green-and-black hair alongside her homemade, whisper-sung tracks. I always found her work atmospheric and spooky, leaning into the dark side of humanity and growing up. For her new album, Happier than Ever, Eilish has changed her image to blonde hair and a nude color palette – but her softly sung, otherworldly musical style and lightly cynical lyrics remain largely unchanged. You might have heard her hit song Bad Guy from debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? This time around, watch out for Therefore I Am, which has a similar sound but revolves around defying bullies and haters.

Tones and I, AKA Toni Watson of Australia, rocketed to fame on the song Dance Monkey in 2019. Like Billie Eilish, she has a unique vocal sound, which in her iconic track is paired with danceable beats (evidence: the song is my favorite from the game Just Dance 2021). Dance Monkey was released on the 6-song EP The Kids Are Coming in late 2019. The new album, Welcome to the Madhouse, may have grown in scope as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic: Watson added 5 more songs and took extra time to do most of the production work herself. According to critics, the songs on this album are Watson being really vulnerable and exploring her mental health and the cruelty of haters, through clever lyrics and strong vocals.

This last entry was added to our collection a few months back, but it’s too popular not to be mentioned in this group. Olivia Rodrigo was originally known for her acting work on Disney shows, including High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, but with the release of her smash hit album Sour, her fame has definitely shifted. The earworm (for me, anyway) in this case is Good 4 U, an energetic and danceable take on the anger after a breakup, especially when an ex-partner moves on quickly. The album as a whole is very centered on the teenage experience, especially falling in (and out of) love: the other popular track is Driver’s License, about getting a license but losing a partner. Guaranteed to knock around your brain for a while, this is not an album to miss – even if you’re not a teenager anymore.

Key Changes: New K-pop

In case you’re not familiar, K-pop is an increasingly popular music industry based in South Korea. It features energetic tracks inspired by styles of music from all around the world, along with tight choreography. K-pop has produced a number of talented bands, including the ones highlighted below. Forming a k-pop group is taken very seriously in South Korea, with aspiring musicians becoming trainees and working hard to be chosen for a group, all while under a great deal of public scrutiny and strict rules for conduct. If this is all new to you, read on to discover your next intercultural music addiction! If you are familiar with this global sensation, you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for the below albums, recently added to the library collection. (Side note: k-pop tracks are also highly featured in the Just Dance video games, and make for quite a good workout!)

BTS (or the Bangtan Boys) is a seven-member pop group that first debuted in 2013, really breaking into the global music market in 2017 and quickly becoming one of the most popular Korean groups in the United States. Be is the South Korean boy band’s 5th album in Korean, and their 9th total, including their 4 albums in Japanese. It was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, featuring the band members’ thoughts and feelings during the crisis and the album’s creation. Primarily a pop music sound, the album includes influences from hip-hop, disco, synth-pop, funk, and many others. Lead single on the album is “Life Goes On”, and music critics have praised the album’s authenticity and simplicity. Previous albums available include Love Yourself: Her, Love Yourself: Tear, Love Yourself: Answer, Map of the Soul 7: Journey, and Face Yourself.

Blackpink is a four-member pop group, also based in South Korea, that debuted in 2016 and quickly rose to fame on the international charts, repeatedly setting new records for most-viewed music video within the first 24 hours of release. The Album is the group’s first Korean album (preceded by Blackpink in Your Area, a Japanese album, and their two-track debut album, Square One), their first full-length work, AND the first album by a Korean girl group to sell more than a million copies. The album’s eight tracks include collaborations with Selena Gomez and Cardi B and explore love and the complexities of growing up, highlighting the group’s mature side. Reviews have been mostly positive, complimenting Blackpink’s vocal ability and stylistic variety.

See also: Blackpink: Kpop’s no.1 girl group and BTS: Blood, Sweat, and Tears, two nonfiction works about the groups, as well as some great YA fiction featuring the industry: Shine, Somewhere Only We Know, I’ll Be The One, and K-pop Confidential.

Key Changes: New Quirky Music

I love ordering the music CDs for the library – getting the inside scoop on all the new albums coming out is great fun for me. The only thing I like better is sharing the cool new music with other people! Today I’ve got another two albums, recently ordered for the library, which give us a great opportunity to think about how the artist’s work has changed and matured over the course of their career.

Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass by Lana Del Rey is another unique installment in already unusual body of work. Her music is hard to classify in my mind, with old Americana glamour (think 1950s and 1960s) fatalistically described in hypnotic, narcotic vocals. I’ve heard it described as a red rose smoking a cigarette. Another word people use is “sadcore”, which describes a moodier, alternative musical style featuring depressive themes, bleak lyrics, and/or downbeat melodies. It’s perfect music for thinking about doomed love or the flaws in the American dream. She has continually evolved over the course of her career: her first album, Born to Die, was a breakout hit, heavy with American nostalgia but influenced by hip-hop and indie pop. A subsequent album, Ultraviolence, was more guitar-based, sounding like psychedelic or desert rock, and was followed by Honeymoon, which had a thick, crooning sound that felt like a time warp, according to one reviewer. Her next album, Lust for Life, was for her fans, and it was followed by her biggest success, Norman Fucking Rockwell, which delved deep into twisted and sordid American fantasies and was called “massive and majestic” by reviewers. In Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass, she has created a spoken word album, putting a series of original poems over musical accompaniment. Another studio album is anticipated in early 2021, titled Chemtrails over the Country Club.

Love Goes by Sam Smith is another artist that I’ve always felt stands apart from the crowd. They first rose to fame in 2012 and 2013 performing on other artists’ tracks, before releasing their first studio album In the Lonely Hour in 2014. This album rocketed to the top of the charts and won them 4 Grammy awards. They continued to release individual tracks, including Writing’s On The Wall, a very atmospheric song for a James Bond film in 2015, Promises with Calvin Harris, and Dancing with a Stranger with Normani. In 2017 they released a second studio album, The Thrill of It All, which was also a big success, especially the lead single Too Good At Goodbyes. This third album features another string of wildly successful singles including How Do You Sleep, To Die For, and I’m Ready with Demi Lovato. The beauty of Smith’s music is that it has grown increasingly personal and intimate over the course of their career; In The Lonely Hour had a crooner, R&B sound that was familiar, though extremely catchy, and the lyrics told age-old stories of love and loss reminiscent of music by Adele. With The Thrill of It All and subsequent singles, Smith became more vulnerable, putting more personal truth into their songs and developing a more meditative, unique sound. This album promises to be the most authentic record yet, featuring tracks that already popular as well as new unknown songs. Early reviews are positive, saying that with this album Smith celebrates freedom and self-expression in a way they haven’t before.

Recently Added: Quarantine Music

I think it’s safe to say the last few months have changed a lot of plans. Countless goals and dreams and ways of thinking have been forced to adapt, be revised, or be put to rest. One way, both beautiful and bittersweet, that these changes are expressed is through the art we create. Taylor Swift is a good example of what can be created in these unusual circumstances, but there are several other cases of creative projects altered by pandemic that are worth looking at. All the albums listed have recently been ordered for the library and will be available soon.

how i’m feeling now by Charli XCX is an album that was created in a truly unique way, unlikely to have arisen except in the context of self-isolation. The artist announced (where else?) on a Zoom call  that she would be making an album in self-isolation and that she would use only the tools at her fingertips to create the music, album art, everything.  Moreover, she worked collaboratively with her fans to get feedback on tracks, album art, and more. The result has been highly acclaimed by critics and fans.

In A Dream by Troye Sivan is the artist’s third album, following 2018’s Bloom. According to Sivan, this album represents an emotional rollercoaster, where emotions and feelings are shockingly fresh. Similar to Taylor Swift’s journey with Folklore, this album was made while Sivan was in lockdown in Melbourne, and it was facilitated by the boredom and isolation of the experience. Songs were created day by day and it was an unexpected realization to find that an entire album had materialized.

Here On Earth by Tim McGraw, in contrast to previous examples, was planned and recorded before the pandemic, but was unmistakably altered by it. The tour originally planned to accompany the release had to be canceled, and according to an interview with Rolling Stone, McGraw had to reexamine the record in light of the pandemic to see how its emotional impact had been changed. Some tracks, including I Called Mama, were found to have unexpected emotional weight.

ALICIA by Alicia Keys was also planned ahead of time, but struck a timely chord with its themes. Critics said the album struck a balance between hope and despair, and Keys herself said the album showed the value of introspection – something we’ve all had more time to do lately, right? The album was scheduled for release in March, but was delayed by the pandemic until September. In the meantime, various virtual performances allowed Keys to debut songs from the album ahead of its release, including the iHeart Living Room Concert for America.

Key Changes: New Pop Music

Many times, the story of a musician’s career is a sad or depressing one. The pressures of fame and the struggle to stay relevant often have devastating consequences, especially when taken in conjunction with adolescence and young adulthood, which are difficult in their own right. For that reason, I’m always happy to see artists’ work reflect a more positive or healing trajectory. There are many musicians or groups whose growth I could talk about, but for now, here are two examples drawn from my own favorites.

Taylor Swift’s Folklore came out as a complete surprise to her fans, both because no one knew it was coming, and because the sound of these songs is so different from her recent tracks. Swift is a fascinating artist for me purely because you can never quite predict what she’ll do next. She refuses to be bound by a particular genre, always seeming to fit her sound to the personal story she wants to tell. She started out using country-inspired sounds on early albums such as Taylor Swift and Fearless, switching to a more mainstream pop sound with Red and 1989. In 2017, her album Reputation took a much darker tone, only to make a complete 180 to 2019’s Lover, which was much more bubblepop inspired. Now, she’s changed course again with Folklore, which features more acoustic, indie pop sounds as well as an imaginative, fantasy vibe.

Compared to Taylor Swift, Adam Lambert is less famous, but his growth as an artist, culminating in 2020 album Velvet, is equally compelling. A powerful vocalist, Lambert got his start on American Idol in 2009 and finished as runner-up. His first album, released later that same year, was titled For Your Entertainment and leaned heavily into a glam rocker vibe, flashy and energetic. In contrast, his next album, Trespassing, struck a much more muted, darker vibe, with less glam and more edge. The movement into darkness continued with The Original High, which featured many tracks with an emptiness theme – Ghost Town, Another Lonely Night, etc. As a fan, I was concerned that this indicated the stereotypical downward spiral of the rock star. However, around that same time, Lambert started touring with iconic album Queen, lending his showstopper voice to the band’s famous repertoire. This move was a big success, and the start of a new chapter for Adam Lambert as an artist. In 2019, he started releasing tracks from a new album, Velvet. In these tracks, the tone is much more hopeful, empowered, and renewed, with tracks like Superpower and New Eyes.

I could go on and on about how interesting it is to compare musicians’ most recent work with how they got their start – and honestly I might, stay tuned – but for now, my main takeaway from these albums is the feeling of hope and imagination. It tells me that things can get better, that we continue to grow and change through difficult times.

New CDs for June

Fitz & The Tantrums — Fitz and the Tantrums

The third album from Fitz & The Tantrums is brimming with imagination, energy, and genre-smashing scope. Includes the tracks Handclap; Complicated; Do What You Want; and more.

 

 

 


Nick Jonas — Last Year Was Complicated

Radiohead continues to do things their way with the release of their first new album since 2011. Their unique rock style comes through on tracks like Burn the Witch.

 


Radiohead — A Moon Shaped Pool

Fresh off of the success of his 2014 self-titled album, Nick Jonas returns with a release that has already generated a hit with the track Close featuring Tove Lo.
Red Hot Chili Peppers — The Getaway

Along with the single Dark Necessities, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ first new album in five years also includes new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer and production from Danger Mouse.

 

 


Tegan & Sara — Love You to Death

The follow-up to Tegan and Sara’s 2013 pop breakthrough album, Heartthrob, is their eighth studio album and features the single Boyfriend.

 


Train — Does Led Zeppelin II

Train, the band behind such hits as Hey Soul Sister, pays homage to one of their biggest musical inspirations with the release of the first cover album of their career.

 

 

New CDs for November

Sarah Bareilles — What’s Inside: Songs from a Waitress

With her fourth full-length album, Sara Bareilles offers up a taste of the music that she has created for an upcoming Broadway musical, which is based on the 2007 film. Included is the single She Used to Be Mine.

 

 

 

Justin Bieber — Purpose

The highly anticipated album features Justin Bieber’s recent hit singles, What Do You Mean and Where Are U Now, and draws influence from an array of genres and collaborations. The iconic album chronicles Justin’s personal and artistic growth as he solidifies his place among the biggest stars of the time.

 

 

Kurt Cobain — Montage of Heck

Along with serving as an aural complement to the acclaimed documentary about the late Nirvana lead singer, this collection allows a rare and unfiltered glimpse into Kurt Cobain’s creative progression.

 

 

 

Enya — Dark Sky Island

Enya’s latest album is inspired by lyricist Roman Ryan’s work on a series of poetry books themed around islands, specifically the island of Sark’s decision to be designated as a dark sky island.

 

 

 

Kirk Franklin — Losing My Religion

On his eleventh album, Kirk Franklin once again establishes himself as the frontrunner in Gospel music. The thirteen song project explores timely themes and classic sentiments, while offering renewed testimony to Franklin’s status as a Grammy-winning songwriter and producer.

 

 

 

Ellie Goulding — Delirium

Ellie Goulding’s bold and brilliant new album represents an almighty step change, shaping a new narrative for the next stage in this remarkable singer’s journey. It also includes the single On My Mind.

 

 

 

 

Ceelo Green — Heart Blanche

Atlantic recording artist CeeLo Green’s eagerly awaited new studio album which is the superstar’s first full-length release in nearly five years. Singer/songwriter, producer, performer, TV personality, fashion icon, entrepreneur, and so much more, CeeLo Green is among the most creative and unique artists of this or any era.

 

 

 

 

Hunter Hayes — The 21 Project

Four-time Grammy nominee Hunter Hayes releases a unique and special collection. Each disc on the three CD set includes seven songs, each one performed differently-acoustic, studio, and live. It gives fans a special look into his creative mind.

 

 

 

 

Tim McGraw — Damn Country Music
In a year that has seen him performing at the Academy Awards and named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Tim McGraw releases a brand new album. Included is the new hit single Top of the World.

 
One Direction — Made in the A.M.

One of the world’s biggest pop bands returns with their highly anticipated fifth album, their first since the departure of Zayn Malik. The album features Drag Me Down, which has quickly become one of their biggest singles to date.

 

 

 

Trans-Siberian Orchestra — Letters from the Labyrinth

The latest album from Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the first since 2009’s Night Castle, is being released just as the band heads out for their highly anticipated Ghost of Christmas Eve winter tour.

New CDs for October

5 Seconds of Summer — Sounds Good Feels Good

5 Seconds of Summer release the highly anticipated follow-up to their chart-topping debut album, which has sold over three million copies worldwide. Included is the new single She’s Kinda Hot.

 

 

Ryan Adams — 1989

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Ryan Adams has made headlines with his track-by-track re-recording of Taylor Swift’s hit fifth album.

 
Toby Keith — 35 MPH Town

Two years after the release of Drinks After Work, country superstar Toby Keith is back with a brand new album. Along with the title track, it includes the hit single Drunk Americans.

 
Demi Lovato — Confident

Demi Lovato has no plans of cooling down as she swings into the fall season with her highly anticipated fifth studio album. The first single, Cool for the Summer, was an MTV VMA nominee for Song of the Summer.

 
MercyMe — MercyMe, it’s Christmas!

Ten years after releasing The Christmas Sessions, MercyMe returns with a new holiday collection that features reinterpretations of classic Christmas songs as well as original songs.
Pentatonix — Pentatonix

Grammy and Dove Award winner Chris Tomlin rings in the holiday season with a mix of festive Christmas classics and original songs. There are also special guest performances from All Sons & Daughters, Lauren Daigle, Kristyn Getty, and more.
Chris Tomlin — Adore: Christmas Sounds of Worship

Grammy and Dove Award winner Chris Tomlin rings in the holiday season with a mix of festive Christmas classics and original songs. There are also special guest performances from All Sons & Daughters, Lauren Daigle, Kristyn Getty, and more.

 

 

Carrie Underwood — Storyteller

Country superstar Carrie Underwood is back with her fifth album, her first since 2012’s chart-topping Blown Away. It includes her latest hit single Smoke Break.