Feeling overwhelmed by the new songs, albums and videos being unveiled today? You’re not alone. 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, Miley and Lana are pop’s new Avengers, Drake’s got an anthem for U.K. crime TV, and Halsey once again changes up her approach. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
The Song for a New Generation of Independent Women:
Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus & Lana Del Rey, “Don’t Call Me Angel (Charlie’s Angels)”
When the original Charlie’s Angels film adaptation was released in 2000, the action flick boasted one of the most memorable soundtrack singles ever in the Destiny’s Child smash “Independent Women Pt. 1.” A reboot naturally means another shot at re-creating that pop success, and for the upcoming Elizabeth Banks-directed Charlie’s Angels, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey have joined forces to present another anthem for all the women making their own way in the world. “Don’t Call Me Angel” combines the makeshift trio’s individual intensities into a unified statement of badassery, with Cyrus still gleefully sneering in “Mother’s Daughter” mode and Grande innocently suggesting vampiric intent. The real fun comes in the song’s second half as Del Rey, the least experienced in uptempo radio fodder, sounds blissed-out on lines like, “I fell from heaven / Now I’m living like a devil.”
The Song That Will Remind You Of All Of Your Romantic Missteps:
Give credit to Halsey for keeping fans, and pop purveyors in general, on their toes: following the spectacular feminist-punk bonfire of previous single “Nightmare,” the singer-songwriter presents “Graveyard” as a partly acoustic comedown, and straightforward discussion of toxic romance. “When the hand you wanna hold is a weapon / And you’re nothin’ but skin,” she somberly begins, before handclaps push her forward and she tumbles into a swift chorus. “Graveyard” succeeds due to its restraint: instead of plowing into its thematic elements, Halsey lets them wash over her, and keeps her perilous commitment more disappointing than dramatic. Few pop artists are as stylistically diverse as Halsey has become, and “Graveyard,” which precedes just-announced new album Manic, represents the adoption of an exciting new shade.
The Song That Might Just Get You Hooked Onto a British Crime Drama:
Drake, “Behind Barz – Bonus”
In late 2017, Netflix announced that it would be reviving the early-2010s British crime television series Top Boy, thanks in part to the personal interest of one Aubrey Drake Graham. As the new series premieres this weekend on the streaming service, Drake, an executive producer on the reboot, has been kind enough to drop a new track not only inspired by the show, but seemingly inspired by British rap as a concept. “Behind Barz” is a freebie that finds Drake sporting a clipped, Stormzy-esque flow to honor the gritty flow of the new narrative; even if this visit across the pond only lasts one song, it’s certainly a fascinating bonus cut from rap’s biggest name.
The Album With Pop’s Most Thrilling Guest List:
Charli XCX, Charli
Nearly five years removed from her last proper album, Charli XCX has spent the interim spinning into an indie-pop cult hero, in-demand collaborator and electric live performer, making new full-length Charli less of a long-awaited update and more of a victory lap for a winning reinvention. The singer-songwriter is constantly imagining the future of pop music, and while solo tracks like the echoing, electro-fizzing “Next level Charli” and finger-snapping love song “White Mercedes” hit their marks, the album’s strength is in its numbers: Haim, Lizzo, Troye Sivan and Sky Ferreira all stop by Charli’s funhouse, and the five-artist “Shake It” features five-alarm mayhem from Big Freedia, Cupcakke, Brooke Candy and Pabllo Vittar.
The Songs That Will Be Sing-Alongs at Stadiums Next Summer:
Green Day, “Father of All…”; Weezer, “The End of the Game”; Fall Out Boy feat. Wyclef Jean, “Dear Future Self (Hands Up)”
This week, Green Day, Weezer and Fall Out Boy announced a 2020 joint stadium tour in grand fashion, with all three releasing new singles that preview upcoming full-lengths. All three tracks are worth adding to your personal pop-punk playlist — Weezer’s “The End of the Game” throws back to the sunnier chugging guitars of their early 2000s work, while Fall Out Boy somehow bring Wyclef Jean into their world of jittery anthems with “Dear Future Self (Hands Up).” Yet Green Day’s “Father of All…” is the swaggering return we’ve been hoping to hear from Green Day, who work with producer Butch Walker on a balancing act — handclaps, falsetto, electric-guitar screech — full of allure and danger.
The Album In Which Folk-Rock Gets a Little More Ambitious:
The Lumineers, III
For those who only know the Lumineers from stomping sing-alongs like “Ho Hey” and “Ophelia,” it might be surprising to hear that the group’s new project, III, is a concept record based around the voices of three different generations of the same family; on streaming services, the album is presented in three distinct parts, with bonus tracks composing a fourth section. The arena headliners have presented a time-spanning story worth poring over… but even if you don’t want to get too deep into the narrative, III offers a surprisingly stripped-down and affecting tone as a whole, with “Left For Denver” and “It Wasn’t Easy To Be Happy For You” showcasing traditional folk songwriting alongside the more rousing single “Gloria.”
The Song That Will Get You Almost Too Hyped For The Weekend:
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, “Mood Swings”
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie has enjoyed his share of mainstream moments over the course of his short career, with hits like “Look Back At It” and “Drowning” demonstrating a keen understanding of melody. New single “Mood Swings” is s different animal entirely, as the rapper snarls and warbles over a Wheezy beat that yawns and shudders like Future’s best deep cuts often do. It’s A Boogie’s most aggressive moment to date and he emphatically sells it; the way he deploys his voice makes Young Thug an easy touchstone, but the fragmented exclamations congeal into a short, unified burst.
The Song That Really Should Have Soundtracked This Summer:
Major Lazer feat. J Balvin & El Alfa, “Que Calor”
The phrase “Major Lazer featuring J Balvin” indicates a very fast tempo, and “Que Calor,” the new collaboration that also boasts Dominican rapper El Alfa, does not disappoint as a dance floor scorcher. Diplo and co. reach into their tropical bag and pull out a sweaty arrangement driven by a trembling flute sample; meanwhile, Balvin oozes confidence in his natural habitat, his voice deepened to contrast with the instrumental hook. “Que Calor” doesn’t try to break any molds, but with a lineup this rhythmically secure, why would you need it to?
The Song That Should Be Used For Monday Morning Motivation:
Rex Orange County, “10/10”
“I feel like a five, I can’t pretend / But if I get my shit together this year, maybe I’ll be a ten,” Rex Orange County sings on new track “10/10,” which goes into detail about the singer-songwriter’s rocky recent history and personal setbacks before declaring that he’s going to overcome these hurdles — with a new mindset and the help of some friends, of course. These themes have been covered exhaustively in pop, but Rex Orange County has a knack for cozying up to a listener and compelling us to invest in his story; in front of heavy synth stabs, he smiles through his emoting, a hangdog charm palpable on every syllable. Buy into what the young British songwriter is selling, and you’ll find that “10/10” will help you sort out your own loose strands.