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, Bebe Rexha and Doja Cat take on social media, Stevie Nicks gives us an extended surprise and Trey Songz nods to where he came from. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
The Song That Perfectly Sums Up Instagram Anxiety:
Bebe Rexha feat. Doja Cat, “Baby I’m Jealous”
One of the side effects of our social media age is the constant comparison we make between the pristine photos we see on our timelines and our own, real lives. Bebe Rexha understands how that uneven playing field can play tricks on a person, and on “Baby I’m Jealous,” she constructs a universal story of insecurity, and how it can make one envious of the photos that their romantic partner is scrolling through. “I love me, until I don’t,” she sings, “My apologies for looking on your history / I’m trying to let it go.” Both Rexha and guest star Doja Cat nimbly toggle between rapping and singing, but Doja also provides the humorous flip side to an Instagram quandary: “If he fiending, he’s prolly get a catfish!” she crows.
The Song That’s a Pleasant Election Season Surprise:
Stevie Nicks, “Show Them The Way”
Stevie Nicks’ first solo single in six years was always going to be cause for occasion, and the presence of pop producer Greg Kurstin suggests an eye toward the mainstream. Yet “Show Them The Way” is more tone poem than top 40, a six-and-a-half minute pop-rock memory of a time of hope (quite literally — in a press release, Nicks describes a dream she had in 2008 about playing a political benefit, after watching a young Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries). Dave Grohl provides the song’s ripping percussion, but Nicks’ brilliance, present in every lyrical detail and the swelling chorus, defines “Show Them The Way,” and prevents the extended track from ever lagging.
The Album That Will Soundtrack Your Next Date Night:
Trey Songz, Back Home
“As an artist and new father, I want my music to be a true reflection of my evolution and my commitment to my fans to never forget where I came from,” Trey Songz says of his eighth studio album in a press release. As a defining R&B star of the early 2010s who has remained a reliable presence in the genre over the past decade, Songz does spend Back Home nodding to his roots, channeling his thoughts on love, sex and the passage of time through a more seasoned perspective and a voice always worth showcasing. The title track featuring Summer Walker was smartly released as a single ahead of the album, but “On Call,” with Ty Dolly $ign, combines two soulful approaches into a unequivocal high point.
The Remix That Makes a No. 1 Hit Even More Robust:
Travis Scott feat. Future, Young Thug & M.I.A., “Franchise” (Remix)
“Franchise,” the Travis Scott single that features Young Thug and M.I.A. and debuted at No. 1 on this week’s Hot 100 chart, was already brimming with personality before Future hopped on a new remix of the track. Wisely, the new verse is placed in the lead-off position to immediately add some new flavor and keep the DNA of the song intact on the back half. Future sounds especially animated floating over this beat, shouting out his Super Slimey brother Young Thug and tossing out Mike Tyson similes; and on a day in which the Los Angeles Lakers will try to close out the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, the Atlanta rap star closes his remix verse with a timely proclamation.
The Album That Will Sound Exquisite on a Summer Night, Someday:
Brothers Osborne, Skeletons
Brothers Osborne’s brand of outlaw country snarls loudly on third full-length Skeletons, a more muscular effort than 2018’s Port Saint Joe and an album that could very well turn T.J. and John Osborne into unquestionable headliners in the Nashville scene. Credit producer Jay Joyce for unlocking John Osborne’s full potential as a razor-sharp studio guitarist — when the riffs get hot enough to melt a few faces, Skeletons really soars. But Brothers Osborne also sound more primed for the moment after a pair of promising LPs: the opening run of “Lighten Up,” “All Night” and “All The Good Ones Are” is the most effective stretch of any Brothers Osborne track list to date.
The Song To Dance To at the End of the Work Week:
Daya, “First Time”
Daya was just 16 years old when she released her self-titled 2015 debut EP, which included Hot 100 hits like “Hide Away” and “Sit Still, Look Pretty.” Now, about to celebrate her 22nd birthday, her brand of pop has become more sensual and confident, and new single “First Time” forges a path as a beguiling dance artist with a sturdy point of view. The song is anchored by a dense collection of beats and the distant stab of synthesized strings, but Daya sells the more mature thematic focus: “We’re laying skin-to-skin, but I can’t pull you close enough / So voracious, take me to places,” she sings, her voice full of passion and wonder.
The Song That Would Be a Ton of Fun on Guitar Hero:
Greta Van Fleet, “My Way, Soon”
The first 20 seconds of Greta Van Fleet’s new single sounds like the group picking up its instruments after a long respite and settling into a guitar groove before the rest of the track comes together. “My Way, Soon” then blossoms into a reflection of a whirlwind three years for the classic-rock-adoring Michigan quartet, which has been relatively quiet since their 2018 opus Anthem of the Peaceful Army but appears ready to once again drop some euphoric riffs upon the world. In the same way that their tunes nod to past rock glories, “My Way, Soon” does not mess with Greta Van Fleet’s ‘70s-toasting formula, and should delight longtime supporters of the quick-ascending group.
The Song To Blast Prior to Sunday Kickoff:
Lil Wayne feat. Gudda Gudda & HoodyBaby, “NFL”
Two weeks after he returned with a deluxe edition of The Carter V, Lil Wayne is already back with a new single alongside a pair of his Young Money cohorts. “NFL” is not quite an anthem to be played during a Super Bowl halftime — despite Wayne’s beloved Green Bay Packers currently undefeated — but instead a compact rhyme deployment, with Gudda Gudda and HoodyBaby landing their punches quickly and Weezy mixing gun and football metaphors like there’s no tomorrow. Even on one-off tracks like these, Lil Wayne offers tiny reminders of why he’s one of the greatest to ever pick up a microphone.