An showered with accolades as Billie Eilish has been over the past few years -- her boatload of Grammys includes a pair of back-to-back record of the year wins -- her songwriting is arguably underrated, her mastery of lyrical poetry and revealing turns of phrase understandably overshadowed by the other facts of her superstardom. “Your Power” puts that skill front and center, though -- the lacerating acoustic track is aimed at abuse and emotional manipulation, containing its fury within phrases that burn into your brain: “Will you only feel bad when they find out? If you could take it all back, would you?”
DJ Khaled, Khaled Khaled
Marvel at the guest stars DJ Khaled is able to wrangle for an album like Khaled Khaled if you’d like, but the man has been uniting A-listers on his track lists for over a decade, curating summertime anthems from a rotating lineup of brand names and tossing out ad-libs all the while. While Khaled Khaled has some pairings that would make any producer downright enviable -- Jay-Z and Nas! Post Malone and Megan Thee Stallion! Justin Bieber and 21 Savage! -- some of its strongest moments come from rising artists making the most of this mainstream opportunity, like Lil Baby attacking “Every Chance I Get” and H.E.R. adopting the Shawty Lo flip “We Going Crazy.”
The Kid LAROI feat. Miley Cyrus, “Without You”
The Kid LAROI’s rising hit “Without You” is marked by a raw emotion that comes from a teenage perspective and transcends genres, as the hip-hop star and Juice WRLD disciple has picked up a ton of alt-rock airplay with the single. This new version adds some soulfulness from Miley Cyrus into the mix, with LAROI’s bitterness now matched by the arena-rock croon Cyrus perfected on last year’s great Plastic Hearts album.
Olivia Rodrigo & Joshua Bassett, “Even When/The Best Part”
In between seasons 1 and 2 of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, one of its leads, Olivia Rodrigo, became a charts-conquering star, while the other, Joshua Bassett, made a promising pop debut of his own. “Even When/The Best Part” returns Rodrigo and Bassett to the characters of Nini and Ricky, however, forgoing the blueprints of “Drivers License” and “Lie Lie Lie” for a sweet, ukulele-assisted duet that showcases both voices in a more Disney-friendly sound.
Thomas Rhett, Country Again: Side A
The first half of Thomas Rhett’s new double album, Country Again, is being billed as a “return to his roots,” with the crossover country artist stepping back from the arena headliner life and coming home to the down-home themes and quieter production of his early work. As a result, Side A (with Side B planned for later this year) nimbly toes the line between Rhett’s world, with songs like “Want It Again,” “Where We Grew Up” and “More Time Fishin’” reminiscing on Rhett’s upbringing while possessing the type of hooks that will play well to the sprawling audiences he now garners.
Machine Gun Kelly feat. Kellin Quinn, “Love Race”
Machine Gun Kelly’s pop-punk makeover cannot be contained to one album. Following last year’s unexpectedly excellent Tickets To My Downfall, MGK is back at it with “Love Race,” a collaboration with Kellin Quinn that features some impossibly dramatic lyrics (“I picked up my guitar / And played it for the Reaper!”) as well as one of the most mosh pit-ready choruses of the year; where’s the Warped Tour when you need it?
Anitta, “Girl From Rio”
Anitta has taken “The Girl from Ipanema,” a bossa nova classic from her native Brazil, and brought it into the 21st century on “Girl From Rio” with the help of super-producers Stargate. The new single captures what makes Anitta so intriguing as an ascendant global star: she understands how to wrap a classic melody around her finger but inject enough attitude into the track to make it her own.