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, Beyonce shakes up the idea of a Disney album, Sam Smith keeps things uptempo and Miranda Lambert assures you that everything will be just fine. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
The Album That Is Way More Than Your Standard Disney Soundtrack:
Beyonce, The Lion King: The Gift
Beyonce is not known for taking any half-measures in her professional life; whenever she has a vision for a project, she makes that vision as thoroughly spectacular as possible. When she was announced to be voicing Nala in Disney’s live-action remake of The Lion King, little did we know that the voice-acting work was only one component to a sprawling idea: On the same day that the movie has been released, Queen Bey has bequeathed us with a massive, 27-track companion album that weaves in must-hear new music with snippets from the film. Fans will flock to The Lion King: The Gift for the A-listers involved — “Mood 4 Eva,” with Beyonce bringing in Jay-Z and Childish Gambino (who voices Simba in the movie) for a spiritual summit, is a major highlight — but they will hopefully stay for the African artists, including Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage and Mr. Eazi, who receive a well-deserved spotlight on the track list.
The Song That Gives a Pop Balladeer The Bass Drop He Deserves:
Sam Smith, “How Do You Sleep?”
“Baby, how do you sleep when you lie to me?” That’s the opening question on the chorus of Sam Smith’s new single, in which the superstar U.K. singer-songwriter further wrestles with the question of romantic betrayal. Yet unlike the slow tempos of his previous solo hits, “How Do You Sleep?” possesses the sleekness and dance-floor allure of his hit from his earlier this year, “Dancing With a Stranger” with Normani. Created with Max Martin, Ilya and Savan Kotecha, the song allows Smith to push the tempo and channel his hurt into a wobbly breakdown – a new pose for an established star, and one that succeeds.
The Song You Can Play After You Screw Up And Want To Shrug It Off:
Miranda Lambert, “It All Comes Out In The Wash”
“Having time off to write was great,” Miranda Lambert recently told Billboard about releasing her first new single in three years. “I got to live some life for a little bit, which helps, but I’m definitely really excited to have new music to play on the road.” Lambert has remained one of country music’s most compelling songwriters for over a decade, and “It All Comes Out In The Wash” sounds less like one of her poignant confessionals and more like a wonderful sing-along for her upcoming shows. Lambert sounds downright giddy while recounting regrettable drunk-dials and dating stints, but washes those mistakes away with a kick-ass kicker: “You take the sin and the men and you throw ’em all in / And you put that sucker on spin.”
The Song In Which a Budding Pop Star Steps Into Her Sound:
Hayley Kiyoko, “I Wish”
Make no mistake, Hayley Kiyoko is already an important artist: along with a top 20 album debut last year and a significant following that includes Taylor Swift, the 28-year-old has quickly become one of the most vocal queer women in mainstream music, and a fierce representative of the LGBTQ community. With that said, Kiyoko has only released one album, and is (naturally) still perfecting her sound. “I Wish,” her first new single of 2019, is a step in that direction. With her romantic frustrations laid out cleanly, Kiyoko delivers a nuanced vocal take over a springy beat, pushing her career forward on her own terms.
The Album That Old-School Rap Fans Need To Embrace:
Maxo Kream, Brandon Banks
Houston rapper Maxo Kream has released a handful of critically acclaimed mixtapes over the past four years, including 2018’s Punken. Brandon Banks feels bigger than them, and not just because the album represents Kream’s major-label debut (he signed to RCA Records), or because the guest list is much more impressive (Travis Scott, ScHoolboy Q and Megan Thee Stallion all stop by). The album is by far Kream’s most coherent as a storyteller, as snippets from his childhood, his thoughts on money, and meditations on his complicated relationship with his father all receive the widescreen treatment. Kream has long been a skilled rhymer, but Brandon Banks brings him to a new level as a hip-hop figure to fight for.
The Song That Has Already Set Pop Twitter Ablaze:
Charli XCX and Christine and the Queens, “Gone”
Charli XCX and Christine and the Queens are both European pop songwriting savants (from the U.K. and France, respectively) that have been teasing their collaboration for weeks as a sort of genre-saving moment of musical wizardry. In the end, the song exceeded the hype: “Gone” is an absolute indie-pop monster, a document of two artists that command melody in unique ways, singing about their insecurities while the production beneath them couldn’t be more confident. The diehards have been thirsting for a banger from these two, but casual fans should be getting “Gone,” too.
The Song That Will Remind You How Much You Love That One Shaggy Song:
Anuel AA feat. Daddy Yankee, Karol G, J Balvin and Ozuna, “China”
This week, some of Latin music’s biggest stars have joined forces to… interpolate Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me”? Indeed, Anuel AA, Daddy Yankee, Karol G, J Balvin and Ozuna have used this meeting of the minds to revive one of the biggest hits of 2000, and fortunately, the ploy never quite devolves into a gimmick as Ozuna rides that familiar melody. Credit the charisma of the artists for pulling this one together: over the course of five minutes, all five get their chance to shine, with Karol G breaking up the boy’s club in the back half of the song before J Balvin takes it home. “China” follows Daddy Yankee’s “Con Calma,” which resuscitated Snow’s “Informer” earlier this year, and the heralding of the familiar once again works well.
The Song That Will Be Your Turn-Up Anthem This Weekend:
Lil Pump feat. French Montana and Quavo, “Pose To Do”
The questions that Lil Pump, French Montana and Quavo pose on “Pose To Do” are not exactly difficult. Quavo is surrounded by women but can’t take them all home — what is he supposed to do? In turn, Lil Pump ponders, “All these lambos in my driveways, what I’m supposed to do?” While this trio never receives the advice that they crave, they do combine for a lovably club anthem with legitimate staying power. “Pose To Do” was not created to be prodded and analyzed, but to soak in sweatily on the dance floor. Ultimately, it achieves that goal.