Sir Babygirl — the nom de plume of DIY musician, pop provocateur and producer Kelsie Hogue — makes experimental and unabashedly queer pop that taps influences from Hole, Charli XCX, My Chemical Romance, and Grimes to cartoons like The Simpsons and Hey Arnold! The result is a fiercely independent futurist pop (think PC Music’s Sophie meets Karen O) or as she describes it — music for “a future free of genre boundary and gender binary.”
Born in Silicon Valley and raised in Hanover New Hampshire, the artist developed her artistic persona while at Boston University — a part of its neighboring local Allston, Mass. music scene, where she fronted a “hardcore bubblegum band” and honed her talents behind the decks as a producer. Post-grad, the newcomer headed for Chicago’s DIY arts community, where she says she was “visited in a dream” by “pop princesses Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and dear departed high priestess Whitney Houston.” Their plea? Pop music was the only path for the artist — a “pure plastic expression" and “cartoon catharsis” that would inevitably become her destiny.
The newcomer arrived fully formed this February, with the release of her debut LP Crush on Me — an album equally devoted to hands-in-the-air dance parties as it is to self-discovery, which finds the artist musing on her own identity as bisexual and nonbinary. On “Heels,” Hogue imagines herself as Cinderella — though, just avoiding the ball altogether — while elsewhere she laments issues from coping with social anxiety (“Everyone is a Bad Friend”) to surviving queer courtship (“Flirting With Her”).
The set's overall takeaway? To celebrate the “silliness and sanctity” of a second adolescence — something that she deems a “rite so quintessential” to the queer coming-of-age experience. This fall, Sir Babygirl will follow up the release with a remastered, expanded re-work Crush on Me: Biconic Edition, set for release on Nov. 8 Father/Daughter Records (Diet Cig, Shamir).
To help ring in Billboard’s Summer of Pride, Sir Babygirl crafted a “Transitional Summer to Fall Bedroom Breakdown Playlist,” featuring cuts by Kevin Abstract, Charlie Puth, Charli XCX and more.
“I wanted to make a transitional playlist from the end of summer to the first days of fall. Transitions can be scary, vulnerable and confusing but hopefully allow for some sort of freedom on the other end,” she says. “Here’s a playlist for you to have a full bedroom breakdown to, complete with dying your hair and screaming into your hairbrush.”
Give the playlist a spin and also check out Sir Babygirl’s reflections on ten of its standout tracks below.
Miya Folick, “Freak Out"
“Okay, first off, shout-out to a fellow queer musician I really respect the work of! Also I get major theater kid vibes (something I for better or for worse deeply embody) with her very technically skilled vocal risks and control. When I first heard Miya Folick’s album Premonitions this year, it felt both undeniably fresh and subtly familiar in all the right ways. The production gives me Fiona Apple’s 'Extraordinary Machine' vibes, which was hella formative for me as a young musician/producer.”
Sir Babygirl, “Me”
“So there’s this sick new artist (new to some, extremely old to me) named Sir Babygirl and I’m gonna be real…her music slaps. And did you know she produces it? Yes, you heard it here first – – Sir Babygirl writes and produces all their shit alongside their amazing engineer Lee Schuna. Highly recc stanning."
Rico Nasty, "Big Titties (feat. Baauer and EarthGang)"
"Rico, if you’re reading this, I am begging you to punch me in the face. This song slaps so hard and the title says it all…what’s more powerful than a pair of big titties?"
Kevin Abstract, “Georgia”
“This song is such a good 'laying on your bed, staring at the ceiling, catching your breath after losing your shit to a Carly Rae Jepsen song and thinkin' about life' vibe. I love 'American Boyfriend' and this follow-up is so beautiful and singular. I love the worlds he carves with his production and lyrics and he’s gay so that is inarguably sick. Kevin, hit me up if you want a non-binary on the track.”
“Halsey went full T.a.t.u. on this and it fucking bangs! Shoutout to this absolute bisexual icon aka 'bicon'" who has consistently repped being bisexual before it was considered trendy. I feel like she’s just getting stronger and stronger and I can’t wait to see how her next album takes shape off of this total emo rage bop. Would love an entire screamo album by Halsey, to be honest.”
Tal Bachman, “She’s so High”
“I am 100% reclaiming this song as an absolute lesbian anthem. It’s one of the best melodies ever written. And it’s about feeling like this girl you’re in love with is just so far above you? Like, that’s how I feel every time I see a pretty girl…”
Charlie Puth, “Boy”
"I am 100% reclaiming this one as a bitchy male sub’s anthem. This song feels like every boy I’ve ever pegged."
George Michael, “Freedom!”
"I’m just now really sinking into George Michael’s catalogue officially and it brings me to regular tears his level of power and vulnerability (the switchiness of it all!). I put this on in the morning to charge my gay power up from 75% to a full 110% so I may have a gayer and more powerful day."
Charli XCX ft. Christine and the Queens, “Gone"
"This song is constantly on. A.G. Cooke’s production feels like it wraps around you and attacks you at the same time, a beautiful tug and pull that Charli and Christine play with lyrically and in the excellent video."
Kristin Chenoweth & Idina Menzel, “Defying Gravity” from Wicked
"This absolutely bumped in high school and it absolutely bumps now. Musical theater was the original emo music! Get with it! We are annoying and we are proud. If you want to completely blow your voice out, crank this one and let it rip. Also if you sell out my live shows I sing this in full. Be warned."
Catch Sir Babygirl on tour dates through the fall, with stops at The Empty Bottle in Chicago (Oct. 4), Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia (Oct. 8), Moroccan Lounge in Los Angeles (Nov. 8) and more.