“Hey, homecoming queen, why do you lie?/When somebody’s mean, where do you hide?” asks Kelsea Ballerini in the new song “Homecoming Queen.” Released overnight, it’s the first taste of the “Miss Me More” singer’s follow-up to her 2017 album Unapologetically.
A gentle, mostly acoustic tune that calls to mind the Knoxville, Tennessee, native’s 2015 hit “Peter Pan,” “Homecoming Queen” reckons with inner pain and offers some encouragement to not hide it. The titular character is framed as an ideal, but Ballerini peers beneath the surface to acknowledge the struggles this person may be facing, and says it’s OK to not paint on a smile for her peers. “What if I told you the world wouldn’t end/if you started showing what’s under your skin,” she sings.
In the song’s video, Ballerini embodies aspects of the homecoming queen as a young star leaving the stage, quickly being joined by what appear to be younger versions of herself performing in the mirror. With a bit of camera magic, Ballerini’s stagewear vanishes and she’s in her comfy clothes, tears streaming down her face.
“I’ve never been so proud to release anything and start a new chapter…here’s my heart in a song,” tweeted Ballerini on Friday.
Next up for Ballerini is a performance at the Los Angeles County Fair on Saturday, before heading to Australia to play C2C in mid-September.