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Underwater Bubble Pop invites you to be part of Lagoona Bloo's world

Underwater Bubble Pop invites you to be part of Lagoona Bloo's world

Lagoona Bloo in 'Underwater Bubblegum Pop' album
Mati Gelman

The mermaid pop star dives deep in an interview with Out about her debut album, Underwater Bubble Pop.


The perception of mermaids in popular culture has drastically changed over time. Once known as seductive, dangerous, and enigmatic sirens who would lure sailors into falling in love with them, mermaids are now often associated with the eager, bright-eyed, curious, and romantic character of Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid.

Lagoona Bloo's 2021 EP, AQUA, is an inspired body of work that introduces fans to a mermaid pop star with powerhouse vocals, sharp lyrical wit, and a willingness to show her vulnerability. As you swim through the depths of AQUA, though, you're transported to that image of a mermaid who, similarly to Ariel, is still lifting herself up on a rock and wishing to be part of a world unlike her own.

But her debut album, Underwater Bubble Pop — out this Friday, April 26 — takes a sharp turn away from its predecessor. While Bloo is still the mermaid pop star we've come to know and love, she's also a commanding, decisive, and expansive narrator with an elevated and fine-tuned perspective, radically washing out preconceived notions of what her music, as a drag queen, can be.

Underwater Bubble Pop is a sparkling collection of radio-ready bangers with catchy hooks, universal references, and highly Instagrammable lyrics, establishing Bloo as the bona fide pop star she's clearly destined to become. As I press play on the album and hear it open with "TMFO" (the mother-f*cking one), my immediate, gleeful reaction is to think of an iconic movie quote: I think we're gonna need a bigger boat!

Lagoona Bloo

Mati Gelman

Despite being a tour de force opener for Underwater Bubble Pop, "TMFO" was the last song written for the album. "We actually rewrote it," Bloo tells Out in an interview, adding that the track was inspired by watching The Matrix with friends.

"There's the scene where Neo goes to see the Oracle to figure out if he's the one," she recalls. "He's like, 'Am I the one?' And she's like, 'I don't know, are you?' He says, 'No, I don't think I'm the one.' And she goes, 'Great, well, then you're not the one.' [But] he leaves and he's like, 'Wait, no, I have to save my friend, I am the one.' And he becomes the one."

Bloo goes on, "For years, I was telling my audiences to say that they are the mother-f*cking ones. I was preaching that you have to speak highly of yourself so that the universe can give back to you, [but] I realized that I wasn't doing that. I wasn't practicing what I was preaching."

Whereas "TMFO" unleashes a new and exciting energy, the title track — "Underwater Bubble Pop" — feels like a mission statement for the entire record.

"I remember releasing AQUA and being like, 'I want to write a song called 'Underwater Bubble Pop.' I'm the mermaid pop star, and she makes underwater bubble pop!' (…) This album, this body of work, this type of music, it's all the mermaid's 'Underwater Bubble Pop.' I was actually super inspired by Kim Petras. 'Coconuts' is very [clear] imagery, like painting a picture. I remember being like, 'Save a seahorse, ride a mermaid.'"

"It's camp that we see in other pop music, but it's also layered with this provocative, salacious underwater sensuality, which I think is a very telling of who I am. And yeah, it is the statement of the album. It's just really exclamatory, claiming that title of mermaid pop star. If this song and the album are going to really define that for me, then that's so special."

Born and raised in Prairieville, Louisiana, Bloo comes from a Mexican American family that had "an amalgamation of jobs." Her mother, who immigrated from Mexico, worked as a secretary and also cleaned houses. Her father had a few jobs, too, such as being a cell site technician.

"Spanish was actually my first language," Bloo explains. "[But] when we grew up, my mom did everything that she could to make us as American as possible. My mom didn't like us to go out in the sun; she didn't want us to get tan. She always had her hair blonde. She was like, 'I'm an American girl now.' (…) So it's been really interesting, now that both of my parents have gone, rediscovering this beautiful culture that's always been a part of me, has been ingrained in me, and it is who I am."

While making Underwater Bubble Pop, Bloo feels the urge to explore her heritage and release songs in Spanish. This leads to "La Sirena," "Burbuja Pop" (Spanish version of "Underwater Bubble Pop"), and a Spanglish version of "Toys." To get the translation done correctly — which can be very tricky with lyrics! — Bloo collaborated with fellow musician Jarina De Marco.

"I'll never forget going into the studio and just saying the word 'burbuja,'" she muses. "It was something I had never heard before and also so fun to say and sing. I think 'Burbuja Pop' is my favorite on the album… well, I don't know, I have so many, and I love them all!"

Bloo adds, "'La Sirena' was a track that I wrote in Spanish, and then there were adjustments and things that I added. (…) I'm very lucky that I was able to work with such an amazing artist and writer who I trusted. I showed her the music and she was like, 'I would love to translate.' I was really concerned about [it] because we had to write and record very quickly. I recorded the album in three days and then mixed it in another three, so we didn't have a lot of time to do it."

There are also the English and Spanglish versions of "Toys," a song that Bloo is still surprised by. "I didn't expect to write a song like this… I will say that," Bloo admits, shyly. "The track is so Britney [Spears]-inspired. It oozes this sort of Blackout-era, sexy vocal."

Nick Adams and Lagoona Bloo

Tanner Abel

Even though Bloo wants to make a song about pleasuring herself better than anybody else for the album, she catches herself off-guard when she tells her collaborators in a brainstorming session that she likes using toys.

"I guess not to be shameless, but I feel like we all do it?" she says. "We all pleasure ourselves. We all seek pleasure in different ways. (…) Everyone has what they do in their safe space to pleasure themselves. So, yeah, 'Toys' also lives in this world of confidence and self-love. This album is all about loving yourself in so many ways — metaphorically, in your mental health, and how you lead your life, but I also wanted a track about loving yourself in a physical way."

Bloo describes "Toys" as a "very real song" for herself. "I wanted to make it clear that I can take care of myself very well. (…) It's funny, I'm blushing through my blush right now talking about it, [but] it's such a part of queer culture as well."

There's also the idea that "Toys" can mean anything, really. "Toys can be window shopping, toys can be actual shopping toys," Bloo agrees. "Like you said, toys can be a hook-up. That's why, conceptually, for the album imagery, I had a boy toy: Mr. Nick Adams, Broadway's Nick Adams. We became really good friends during Drag: The Musical, and when I was building the creative campaign behind it, I was like… we have this beautiful Adonis all for me."

Speaking of Drag: The Musical, an original album written by Alaska, Ashley Gordon, and Tomas Costanza that's been developed into a live stage production, Underwater Bubble Pop includes a legendary collaboration between the mermaid pop star and the winner of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 2.

"I knew I wanted Alaska on a track. We've known each other for a long time. I love her. She's probably one of my favorite drag queens, if not my favorite," Bloo says. "She's just always made space for me. She's always seen me, given me opportunities, lifted me up, supported me, and spoken for me in rooms where I'm not in. So I was obviously like, 'How can I get her on this record?!' In a way that hinted to the camp of drag, but was still very pop-forward."

She adds, "This team that I work with has actually produced a lot of music for Alaska, so they're very tight. I remember being in the studio, we finished recording, and I literally hit her up. She was getting… I don't know, she was getting her nails done or something? And I was like, 'Hey, Alaska, can you come over and just sing a chorus? I just need you to say something, whatever.'" She accepts Bloo's invitation, and they have a blast recording Alaska's signature vocals commanding the audience: "Everybody get on down / Lagoona Bloo is back in town."

"It feels really good to know that I can call on my friend Alaska. Sometimes I have to pinch myself," Bloo confesses. "One of the most iconic, most famous, and amazing drag queens in the world is on my record saying, 'Lagoona Bloo is back in town.'"

There's no denying that Bloo is creating her own lane — one that is so interesting, collaborative, and fun that, as she sings in "Elle Woods," no one can resist this.

"Legally Blonde is one of my favorite movies of all time, and it's also one of my very favorite musicals," she reveals. "This story of being underestimated, people thinking that you can't do something and then proving people wrong… it speaks to me so much."

Bloo connects with Drag: The Musical cowriter Ashley Gordon and pitches the idea of a song that says something akin to, "Oh, you thought I couldn't do it? Watch me do it." As they discuss different concepts, Gordon tells Bloo that she likes to sometimes "write songs based on movie characters," adding that Elle Woods, the fabulous lead character of Legally Blonde brought to life by Reese Witherspoon, immediately comes to mind. "Do you like Legally Blonde?" Gordon asks Bloo.

"I got so excited that when she [asked me], 'Do you Legally Blonde?' I said, 'Baby, I'm a star. What, like it's hard?' It just came out," Bloo explains with absolute joy and excitement in her voice. "We literally wrote the song in an hour and a half. It was exactly right, just perfect. And beyond loving the movie itself, I mean… Legally Blonde is an iconic piece of pop culture. Elle Woods is such an iconic character that everyone is familiar with and so many people can relate to."

She points out, "It's also interesting because writing 'Elle Woods' was [actually] a part of changing the way I thought about pop music, and expanding my mind of what is possible to be written about."

Underwater Bubble Pop calls back to an era when pop music had fun with double entendres, puns, and covert messages. There was always a literal meaning, right on the surface, for casual listeners who were just looking for a bop. But there was often so much more to be found at the bottom of the ocean for those who dared to go there.

In a way, this album also calls back to the original interpretation of mermaids, but it updates the concept of what confidence means to a mermaid pop star. This theme and idea is the clearest in "Tunnel Vision," the seventh track in the record.

"We wrote the song… and for the team, in general, it was kind of a song that we overlooked," Bloo says. "We loved the song, but I just remember the general response that it was kind of a sleeper. [My team was] like, 'Oh, yeah, this is cool. I can't wait to hear it once it's recorded.' But then we got in the studio and recorded it, and I was like, 'Wait a minute. Hold up.'"

She explains, "It's a really powerful song, and it was a huge part of my healing. I realized for so long that I was waiting around for other people to love me and treat me and validate me. I was waiting for someone else to fix me, to save me. This knight in shining armor. And that is not [just] a person, but an opportunity, be it a platform, be it a relationship. There were all these things in my life that I desperately needed to validate me, to make me feel like I was working. 'Tunnel Vision' is an active no to that."

"I'm on a mission because I already know what that is. I've spent 30 years of my life doing that. I've spent so much of my life waiting around for other people to tell me that I'm talented, waiting around for other people to love me. This song is an active decision to focus on the opposite, [which is] hard. That's why there were times when I had to have tunnel vision. There were times when I had to focus so hard on myself and protect my peace, even when it was uncomfortable. It was so foreign to me. It was so weird for me not to make myself available to people. It was so hard for me not to give in."

"Sorry," she takes a beat, "I'm trying to dance around without being literal, you know what I mean? There's just so much in my life that I had to actively cut out so that I could do [this] for myself, so I could take care of myself. And that's what that song is all about."

Lagoona Bloo in 'Underwater Bubble Pop' artwork

Mati Gelman

In the past few years, Brazilian queens like Pabllo Vittar and Gloria Groove have gained millions of monthly listeners on Spotify and have competed as equals with other musicians. For many reasons, I tell Bloo my belief that Underwater Bubble Pop has everything it takes for a pop album by a drag queen to reach those heights in the United States.

"Drag queens, especially in the United States, are pushed into a box as far as what [people think we're] capable of. I feel that in all aspects of the entertainment industry," Bloo says. "I'm so inspired by Pabllo and Gloria because, I mean, they're doing what I want to be doing. (…) We have Adore [Delano], we have Courtney Act, we have Trixie Mattel, who's banging out music all the time. We have Alaska, who is just the echelon of drag music. Not only did I want to join those ranks, but I wanted to change people's minds about what 'drag music' is capable of. My intention was to make a pop album."

She adds, "On the music industry side, people are like, 'Oh, she's a drag queen,' so that's what that is. But on the drag side, it's like it's the same thing. I can't tell you how many people have groaned [when] I'm like, 'I'm going to sing a song now.' (…) My goal is to break into the mainstream, to be a queer standout in such a hetero industry."

"I'm very honored and proud to say that I'm actively pursuing this in a way that I haven't really seen yet in drag — especially for someone who hasn't had a platform," Bloo notes. "The fact that I've been able to do this music and start building a name for myself as a pop artist is just so invigorating. It makes me feel like all of the hard work that I've been doing for the last eight years is finally coming together."

You can now listen to Lagoona Bloo's debut album, Underwater Bubble Pop, on all music streaming services.

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Bernardo Sim

Bernardo Sim is a writer, content creator, and the deputy editor of Out. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.

Bernardo Sim is a writer, content creator, and the deputy editor of Out. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.