Pop

First Stream: New Music From Young Thug, Iann Dior, Eric Church and More

Young Thug

Young Thug attends the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center on Jan. 26, 2020 in Los Angeles.

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, Young Thug brings his YSL compatriots along for another ride, Iann Dior wants to blow up in back-to-back years, and Eric Church offers part one of an epic trilogy. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:

Young Thug & YSL, Slime Language 2 

In 2018, the original Slime Language arrived as a means for Young Thug, a burgeoning superstar by then, to showcase the rest of his Young Stoner Life Records roster alongside heavy-hitting guests like Lil Uzi Vert and Lil Baby. Slime Language 2 functions in similar fashion, with even glossier cameos this time (Travis Scott and Drake show up on back-to-back cuts “Diamonds Dancing” and “Solid,” respectively), but with the YSL supporting players sounding more comfortable this time out -- particularly Yak Gotti, who stands toe-to-toe with Thugger and Gunna on back-half highlight “Take It To Trial.”

Iann Dior, Still Here 

After spending the first few months of 2021 taking a well-earned victory lap post-“Mood” and hopping on a few songs from other artists -- a Glass Animals remix here, a Clean Bandit single there -- Iann Dior is back with the first proper preview of his in-the-works next project. Still Here makes for a satisfying two-pack, with the Trippie Redd team-up “Shots In The Dark” boasting a guitar riff and nu-emo hook ripe for alternative radio, and “Don’t Wanna Believe” showing off Dior’s pop prowess in under two minutes.

Eric Church, Heart 

Heart has been released as a nine-track project from country giant Eric Church today, but it’s not quite the totality of his new music: next week, we get six songs on &, then nine more songs on Soul, to eventually be wrapped together as the sprawling, 24-song Heart & Soul. Until the rest of the project arrives, Heart should be appreciated as some of Church’s most focused songwriting since 2014’s The Outsiders, with songs like ”Bunch of Nothing” and lead single “Stick That In Your Country Song” walking the tightrope of arena-sized anthems that contain details unique to the man behind them.

Regard feat. Troye Sivan & Tate McRae, “You” 

While it’s not uncommon for a rising producer/DJ to tap a prominent pop vocalist or two and take a shot at the mainstream, it’s not often that such an attempt works this well. “You,” the new track from Kosovan producer Regard, sets up Troye Sivan and Tate McRae for unequivocal success, with a combustible ‘80s synth-pop texture that culminates in an electronic breakdown, as well as one of the most straightforward but delectable choruses of 2021.

Bebe Rexha, “Sabotage” 

“Why do I sabotage everything I love? / It's always beautiful until I f--k it up,” Bebe Rexha sings on her latest single, which pairs an examination of self-destruction with stark piano, atmospheric percussion and the quiet support of a string section. Produced and co-written by Greg Kurstin, “Sabotage” recalls some of the memorable mid-tempo balladry of his early 2010’s run, like P!nk’s “Try” and Tegan and Sara’s “I Was a Fool”; Rexha, of course, personalizes that approach, and leans upon her deep sense of yearning to make the song work.

Greta Van Fleet, The Battle at Garden’s Gate 

With their 2018 debut, Anthem Of The Peaceful Army, Greta Van Fleet made no bones about who they were (a Zeppelin-loving quartet) and what they wanted to accomplish (to rock, hard). Sophomore LP The Battle at Garden’s Gate doesn’t rearrange that mission statement as much as double down on it: with bombastically titled songs like “Stardust Chords” and “Trip The Light Fantastic,” Greta Van Fleet are still toasting to the gods of rock, but their formula is now a bit more polished, their riffs a little tighter, their understanding of what will make crowds bang their heads impressively refined.

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