First Out: New Music From Elton John & Britney Spears, Tegan and Sara & More

·4 min read

With a big weekend ahead for music fans as the 2022 VMAs loom large, why not take a quick moment to catch up on the latest songs from your favorite queer artists?  Billboard Pride is proud to present the latest edition of First Out, our weekly roundup of some of the best new music releases from LGBTQ artists.

From Elton John and Britney Spears’s latest much-hyped collab to Tegan and Sara’s stunning new ballad, check out just a few of our favorite releases from this week below:

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Elton John & Britney Spears, “Hold Me Closer”

After the slow-burn success of his groundbreaking Dua Lipa & PNAU collaboration “Cold Heart,” Sir Elton John is back with yet another career-spanning mashup; and he’s bringing along the Princess of Pop. Unveiling “Hold Me Closer,” featuring none other than Britney Spears, John interpolates not only his 1971 hit “Tiny Dancer,” but also the verses of his 1992 song “The One.” Meanwhile, Spears’ voice sounds as good as ever, with her soft, focused vocal perfectly complimenting the British icon’s lower baritone, creating the perfect vibe for the end of summer.

Tegan and Sara, “Faded Like a Feeling”

Growing up only to grow apart is one of the more tragic romantic tropes that exists — so it’s no wonder that when Tegan and Sara pen their own version of this kind of tale, it rings true. On “Faded Like a Feeling,” the twin duo reflect on past relationships that fell apart because they changed. The melodies are simple and sweet, while their songwriting remains as sharp as ever, as they sing “I ran out on your love/ Hoping you don’t blame me/ I changed like the seasons/ And you faded like a feeling.”

Rina Sawayama, “Phantom” 

Rina Sawayama is done being a people pleaser — on her new single “Phantom,” the star examines her own tendencies to do what’s best and easiest for everyone around her, without taking into consideration her own needs. Taking on a mid-2000s pop/rock power ballad tone, “Phantom” continues the singer’s recent streak of emotionally vulnerable yet extremely catchy singles. “I don’t want to do this without you/ I don’t want to do this if you’re just a ghost in the night,” she sings. “I tried everything to fill up the void you left me with/ My phantom.”

Jake Wesley Rogers, “Modern Love”

Who wants a good old-fashioned love song? Jake Wesley Rogers is here to deliver with “Modern Love,” his take on a romantic power ballad explaining the beauty of his relationship. Rogers doesn’t overcomplicate things — he knows that a piano, some drums, and layers upon layers of his rich voice will let the audience in on a piece of his whirlwind romance. His songwriting remains as sharp as his soulful tenor, making “Modern Love” yet another win for the rising star.

Bronze Avery, “Figure It Out”

Bronze Avery is here to remind you to stop giving toxic people your attention. On “Figure It Out,” his genre-bending new breakup jam, the indie pop singer calls out his ex’s game-playing, manipulative behavior, but instead of offering a giant middle finger, he simply asks his ex to “look in the mirror this time and figure it out.” It’s a simple, effective message transmitted over an undeniable R&B-meets-pop hook that will hit your dopamine receptors from the moment you press play.

Grace Gaustad, “Old Ways”

Everyone, at one time or another, has thought about regrets — or, as Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman put it in the recent series finale of Better Call Saul: “What would you do if you had a time machine?” It’s a question that rising indie singer Grace Gaustad ponders openly on “Old Ways,” a moving ballad that sees the aspiring star questioning if going back would even make a difference for her. The answer is a stroke of reality for both the listener and the singer, albeit a sad one; “Back to my old ways/ Where I feel safe,” she sings. “Thought I had it for a second/ But I don’t think I can change.”

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