If you were to say that Kelsea Ballerini is country music’s newest “it girl,” you’d be correct.
Since Ballerini released her 2015 debut album, The First Time, she’s continued gaining traction. This year, she headlined her first arena tour; hit number one at country radio with her bold and empowering single, “Miss Me More” (prior to this, the last time a female artist hit number one at country radio was February 2018; coincidentally enough, Ballerini also claims that honor with lead Unapologetically single, “Legends”); and became the youngest person to ever be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. (Ballerini turned 26 on September 12).
But even with these accolades under her belt, Ballerini can agree that life is tough sometimes.
“Not everything pretty sparkles and shines,” Ballerini sings on “homecoming queen?,” the first single from her upcoming third album.
The title is a metaphor for someone who seems put together from the outside but struggles with insecurity inside. Not only is it a pertinent reminder of humanity in today’s era of social media and celebrity worship culture, “homecoming queen?” is also Ballerini’s most vulnerable lead single to date. (“homecoming queen?” joins previous album leads, “Love Me Like You Mean It” and the aforementioned “Legends“).
The track is simple yet elegant, and Ballerini leans into more traditional country rather than playing with pop sensibilities, showcasing her strength as a songwriter.
Pairing steady guitar sounds with Ballerini’s vocals, “homecoming queen?” is stripped down in the best kind of way, one that really allows the message to get through.
“I’ve learned there’s a lot of strength in vulnerability. I’ve learned that cliche catchphrase ‘nobody is perfect’ is actually true and when we let ourselves believe it we get freedom from ourselves. I’ve learned that I’m allowed to be happy, glittery, bold, sassy, and to never apologize for that side of myself. I’ve learned to also give myself permission to have a bad day, to feel insecure, to still be discovering who I am as a young woman, and to unzip the mess. I was never the literal homecoming queen. But damn, am I this homecoming queen.” –Kelsea Ballerini via Instagram, September 6
In addition to premiering her new track, Ballerini has been answering fan questions about her upcoming third studio release. Here are three things she’s shared:
1. KB3 will be released in 2020.
Ballerini responded to a fan’s question on Twitter, stating that KB3 won’t arrive until 2020. Right now, Ballerini said she’s “still making it perfect.”
2. KB3 will feature two collaborations.
In an Instagram Live celebrating the release of “homecoming queen?,” Ballerini shared that KB3 will feature two collaborations and that this is her first time teaming up with other artists on one of her albums. While she didn’t mention anyone by name, Kelly Clarkson is a fair guess. (Ballerini opened for Clarkson on her Meaning of Life Tour). Another good guess? Ballerini’s husband and fellow country singer, Morgan Evans. (The pair released this duet on his debut album, Things That We Drink To).
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Kelsea’s livestream was so fun & she revealed a lot of things (collabs WILL be a thing on the album & she filmed something (guessing queen Kelly clarkson)- swipe for my friends & I asking the IMPORTANT QUESTIONS that were not answered…. yet. @kelseaballerini don’t let this ❓ go unanswered hahaha #justicefortheoc 😂😅✌️
3. KB3 will be sad.
Ballerini shared that KB3 will have a lot of sad songs. In talking with The Tennessean, she discussed how marriage has changed her perspective on past relationships and how that’s translated into her songwriting. She said: “I’m writing the most heartbreaking songs I’ve ever written because I understand what went wrong before now.”
While Ballerini finishes up KB3, she can take comfort in knowing that her new music is being well received by her fanbase. Shortly after “homecoming queen?” was released, it became the “most added song” at country radio.