Pop

First Stream: New Music From Coldplay, J. Cole, P!nk and More

Coldplay
Dave Meyers

Coldplay

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, Coldplay are floating in space with “Higher Power,” J. Cole primes his fan base for his imminent opus, and P!nk looks back at a career full of highlights. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:

Coldplay, “Higher Power” 

Coldplay just premiered their new single in space, literally: the band linked up with the International Space Station to transmit “Higher Power’s” first play, along with a video including dancing alien holograms. That intergalactic launch makes sense for a song that returns the long-running British group to the starry-eyed pop of 2015’s A Head Full of Dreams -- with a dash of the ‘80s-inspired synth workouts that have been snaking through the mainstream in recent months, and a chorus designed to holler out in stadiums whenever Coldplay goes back on the road.

J. Cole, “Interlude” 

Next week looms large for J. Cole fans, who are already counting down the hours until long-awaited new album The Off-Season arrives in full; until then, we’ve got “Interlude” (stylized as “i n t e r l u d e”), in which the best-selling rapper sets the table for his return with a soul sample and some compact rhymes hinting at his current mind set. Cole discusses the rap landscape, religion, personal pain and gun violence (“This Southern heat make unbearable summers / Just last week, seen your mama weep, crying 'cause she don't wan' bury your brother”) in just over two minutes, whetting appetites for what else he’ll cover over a full album.

P!nk, “All I Know So Far” 

For longtime pop fans, experiencing the various iterations of P!nk’s career has been beyond rewarding -- eras, personas and live-show acrobatics spanning multiple decades and capturing the complex, unflinching performer at its center. “All I Know So Far,” which will be included on an upcoming career-spanning project of the same name, allows the pop superstar to impart some life wisdom over a guitar chug while Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the Oscar-winning songwriters who provided P!nk with “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman, once again help craft something theatrically stirring.

Saweetie, “Fast (Motion)” 

After breaking through on the Hot 100 last year with the undeniable “Tap In,” then scaling the chart in recent weeks with the shimmering “Best Friend” alongside Doja Cat, Saweetie has unveiled her song of the summer bid. “Fast (Motion)” finds the Bay Area rapper rising to meet her moment, spitting game over an elastic beat and twisting a flammable hook around her finger; don’t be surprised if this becomes Saweetie’s biggest hit to date.

Bebe Rexha, Better Mistakes 

“I never want to do anything more than once,” Bebe Rexha told Billboard this week. “I like to do things that are a little different, that f--k s--t up a little bit.” Indeed, Better Mistakes -- the sophomore album from the veteran pop singer-songwriter, best known for tracks like “Meant To Be” with Florida Georgia Line and “I’m a Mess” -- addresses Rexha’s vulnerabilities while simultaneously diving headfirst into sonic risks, whether it’s a pop-punk masterclass with Travis Barker (“Break My Heart Myself”), a Dean Martin flip alongside Rick Ross (“Amore”), or the radio fodder that she’s unlocked over the course of her career (“Baby, I’m Jealous” with Doja Cat).

Weezer, Van Weezer 

Van Weezer was originally imagined as Weezer’s fourteenth studio album, instead of the band’s fifteenth: announced before the pandemic, the album was shelved for a year, and in the meantime, Rivers Cuomo and co. completed the off-kilter baroque pop project OK Human first. Fortunately, Van Weezer -- a paean to power-pop, hard rock and hair metal, conceived to be supported during Weezer’s Hella Mega stadium run with Green Day and Fall Out Boy -- hasn’t lost any of its guitar heroism over that downtime, with single “The End of the Game” and new tracks like “1 More Hit” and “All The Good Ones” scratching the stomp-clap itch that “Beverly Hills” located years ago.

Isaiah Rashad feat. Duke Deuce, “Lay Wit Ya” 

Isaiah Rashad’s return, following a prolonged absence marked by struggles with substance abuse, was always going to be a major occasion for hip-hop obsessives; the fact that the TDE star has done so while bringing in rising Memphis MC Duke Deuce and operating over a sample of Three 6 Mafia’s “Ridin’ ’n tha Chevy” is simply icing on the cake. Rashad sounds confident and in command on “Lay Wit Ya,” which precedes a new full-length next month, while Duke Deuce uses his guest spot to exhibit the unhinged energy of his own great 2021 project, Duke Nukem.