Pop

First Stream: New Music From Ariana Grande, Ty Dolla Sign, Bruce Springsteen and More

Billboard’s First Stream serves as a handy guide to this Friday’s most essential releases — the key music that everyone will be talking about today, and that will be dominating playlists this weekend and beyond.

This week, Ariana Grande is unflappable in her return, Ty Dolla $ign is his own best co-host, and Bruce Springsteen goes back to basics. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:

The Song That You’ll Be Humming Along To By The Third Listen:
Ariana Grande, "Positions"

Ariana Grande was relatively quiet during the first three quarters of 2020, and she still managed to notch two more No. 1 singles on the Hot 100 chart, as part of songs with Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, respectively. That’s how bulletproof Grande has become as a commercial superstar -- she achieves ubiquity even without a solo project to promote. And on new single “Positions,” which kicks off her next era, the singer sounds as confident as she’s ever been. A decadent slice of rhythmic pop that focuses on Grande’s romantic dexterity, “Positions” soars in the details, the way Grande quickly clips off the first chorus out of excitement to share more thoughts, or how the ad-libs on the bridge build into a supportive harmony. There was no doubt before now that Grande was one of modern pop’s defining artists, but “Positions” serves as a handy reminder of just how much she’s capable of.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Pandora
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

The Album That Will Serve As Your Weekend Party:
Ty Dolla $ign, Featuring Ty Dolla $ign

Ty Dolla $ign’s new album title is one of the most self-effacing, and canniest, in years: the master collaborator, who has appeared on a countless number of projects from artists across genres, is acknowledging his industry perception while presenting a full-length that leans into it. Featuring Ty Dolla $ign is bursting with A-listers -- Post Malone, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Anderson .Paak, Thundercat and Serpentwithfeet all appear, and that’s just the first quarter of the 25-track album -- and while the cameos can be dizzying at times, Ty, one of the most reliable crooners in the space between hip-hop and R&B, is prepared to play master of ceremonies and connective tissues. Take your time with Featuring Ty Dolla $ign, which is perhaps his most complete project since Free TC.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Pandora
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

The Album That Sheds New Light on a Larger-Than-Life Personality:
Bruce Springsteen, Letter To You

On last year’s Western Stars, Bruce Springsteen played the role of omniscient narrator, telling the tales of classically drawn characters from an effectively modern perspective. If the album was a storytelling exercise, Letter To You has ended it, returning the Boss to first-person songwriting about loss, faded glory and learning to live with an unshakeable past; the album was created quickly with his E Street Band family, giving the project a familiar Springsteen sheen and a lack of lyrical fussiness. Songs like “Burnin’ Train” and “Janey Needs a Shooter” would fit in well at any Springsteen stadium show, but it’s “Last Man Standing,” full of memories and uncertainty for what comes next, that resonates the most.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Pandora
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

The Video That Will Make Any TRL-Loving Stan Nostalgic:
Machine Gun Kelly feat. Halsey, “Forget Me Too”

Part of the magic of Machine Gun Kelly’s Tickets To My Downfall album -- that’s right, magic! -- is how authentic his pop-punk pivot sounds, with Blink-182’s Travis Barker helming a project that harkens back to the glory days of Warped Tour while somehow never sounding overly derivative. A few weeks after its release, we get a music video for a standout track, the Halsey duet “Forget Me Too,” that also honors a bygone era, in which music videos with neon guitars and nifty special effects were all over MTV on weekday afternoons. MGK and Halsey have a blast while tossing objects at glass walls in frustration with each other, and when Barker shows up at the end for a roaring drum solo, every turn-of-the-century teen’s heart skips a beat.

The Song That Returns a Latin Pop Star To Center Stage:
Karol G, "Bichota"

Thus far in 2020, Karol G has released tracks with the Jonas Brothers, Pop Smoke, Ozuna and her romantic partner, Anuel AA; all of these, of course, follow the massive success of last year’s Nicki Minaj team-up, “Tusa.” And while the Colombian singer has grown her profile as a go-to collaborator, new single “Bichota” demonstrates what she can accomplish when she doesn’t need to share the spotlight. The mid-tempo track almost functions as a test for Karol, with the beat constantly dropping away and leaving her voice unsupported for seconds at a time. It’s nothing Karol G can’t handle -- “Bichota” is beguiling as a solo statement, and a testament to her vocal prowess.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Pandora
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

The Album That Sounds Like a Global Dance Party:
Major Lazer, Music is the Weapon

It’s hard to believe that Music is the Weapon is Major Lazer’s first album since 2015’s Peace is the Mission: the worldwide dominance of “Lean On” feels like ages ago, and Diplo has kept his most global-friendly project active in the meantime. As a gathering of Major Lazer singles released over the past two years, Music is the Weapon highlights the group’s consistency even as it has roamed into wildly different sounds across continents, from the Latin pop stomp of “Que Calor” with J Balvin and El Alfa to the post-EDM folk flare-up “Lay Your Head On Me” with Marcus Mumford to the Afrobeats fusion of the Mr. Eazi/Nicki Minaj opus “Oh My Gawd.” As for the previously unreleased material, dig into “Bam Bam,” a team-up with French Montana and BEAM with the type of beats that beg for unforgivably high volumes.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Pandora
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

The Song That You’ll Be Grooving To On Saturday Night:
H.E.R., "Damage"

H.E.R.’s songs can often be provocative -- witness the power of this summer’s “I Can’t Breathe” as part of a rich tapestry of new protest music -- yet the singer-songwriter is somewhat underrated in her talents as a straightforward love song architect. New single “Damage” is in the mold of a classic R&B track, with H.E.R. showcasing her emotional vulnerabilities while addressing a new beau (“Promise that you won’t let me fall,” she sings) and letting her sturdy voice lead the way. The release of “Damage” precedes H.E.R.’s debut on Saturday Night Live this weekend, and the Grammy winner will be coming equipped with a satisfying new groove.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Pandora
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

The Song That Will Make You Log Off Social Media:
Finneas, "Can’t Wait To Be Dead"

As Finneas has released more solo material, he has slowly carved out an artistic voice distinct from his work with his younger sister, Billie Eilish. “Can’t Wait To Be Dead” explores the singer-songwriter’s folk-rock tendencies as he writes about the dichotomy of the Internet, nodding to the anger of the comment era and the hateful ideologies that are increasingly visible. Much like Eilish’s single “My Future,” “Can’t Wait To Be Dead” eventually turns on a dime and presents a full band finale, all while Finneas cries out for some understanding; issuing a song with this level of righteousness always carries a risk of online mockery, but fortunately, Finneas pulls it off and takes another step forward on his own.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Pandora
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

The Song That Will Convince You To Finally Ditch Your Lame Dude:
Saweetie feat. Jhene Aiko, "Back To The Streets"

A press release declares that “Back To The Streets,” the new collaboration between Saweetie and Jhene Aiko, is a song “for all the ‘F’ boys.” Truer words have never been written: on the sizzling new single, the rapper and R&B singer champion their worth, nodding to past mistakes -- “My ex used to act like he owned me,” Saweetie laments -- and boasting about their newfound sexual enlightenment. Both artists sound playful and invigorated, dancing around a sing-song post-chorus while a beat co-produced by Timbaland crackles beneath them. Following the success of “Tap In,” Saweetie continues to unveil new shades of her artistry, and “Back To The Streets” represents a smart expansion.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Pandora
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

2020 Billboard Latin Music Awards: The Most Memorable Moments | Billboard News