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, Big Red Machine delivers another indie-folk showcase for Taylor Swift, while Drake lends an assist to a standout Brent Faiyaz track. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
Big Red Machine feat. Taylor Swift, “Renegade”
As we approach the one-year anniversary of Folklore’s release, indie-rock fans with an additional affinity for Taylor Swift’s songwriting continue to receive generous gifts: Big Red Machine, the project of The National’s Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, have released one of two new songs featuring Swift (recorded in Los Angeles the week Swift’s Folklore won the album of the year Grammy, no less). “Renegade” carries the texture of a modern National song — all skittering beats and emotional warfare for adults — but the experience of hearing Swift leave her imprint on that world remains thrilling, even after many months and multiple Bon Iver duets. They sing together here, too, and it’s just as satisfying as “Exile.”
Brent Faiyaz feat. Drake, “Wasting Time”
On a song featuring Drake and produced by the Neptunes, Brent Faiyaz shines the brightest: the R&B singer dominates “Wasting Time,” leaning into the buttery throwback percussion, letting his voice sway amongst the strings, sounding tough but vulnerable within a romantic persuasion. Drake fires off a few choice lines — calling himself “the pessimist gold medalist” is worthy of an eyebrow-raise — but Faiyaz, following last year’s F–k The World album, is growing by leaps and bounds.
J Balvin & Skrillex, “In Da Getto”
Skrillex provided a countless amount of mind-losing bass drops at festivals during the first half of the 2010s, while in the second part of the decade, J Balvin brought his swaggering beats to parties around the world; naturally, the pair has teamed up in the early 2020s for a low-stakes, high-octane dance track. In the video for “In Da Getto,” Balvin raps, Skrillex grins, dancers groove around them and fireworks shoot off behind them — it’s an expensive and entertaining way to declare that, after more than a year in lockdown, the party world is rumbling back to life.
jxdn, Tell Me About Tomorrow
In the wake of a pop-punk revival led by Machine Gun Kelly’s crossover hits and Olivia Rodrigo’s explosive success with “good 4 u,” Jaden Hossler — former TikTok phenom and prospective rock phenom — and picked up his guitar and requested to lead a new generation of Warped Tour-ready acts. Debut album Tell Me About Tomorrow delivers the hooks, angst and gleefully sneering charisma of jxdn’s early hits “Angels & Demons” and “So What!,” with songs like “One Minute” recalling the sugary highs of mid-period Blink-182 (Travis Barker produced the album), and “Wanna Be” smartly bringing MGK himself to the mosh pit.
Imagine Dragons, “Wrecked”
Imagine Dragons leader Dan Reynolds began writing “Wrecked” after his sister-in-law tragically lost her battle with cancer, yielding a somber and heartfelt follow-up to the recent radio single “Follow You” and the hard-charging “Cutthroat.” The fragility in Reynolds’ vocal delivery is moving — the rock star is stripped bare on the track, and even when the chorus swells to meet the band’s arena-sized approach, the singer holds onto that naked emotion for guidance.
Doja Cat, Planet Her (Deluxe)
After delivering her latest opus last week, Doja Cat continues to showcase the number of poses her music can strike with the deluxe edition of Planet Her. Don’t miss “Why Why,” a crackling collaboration with Gunna, as well the Eve team-up “Tonight” that sounds beamed in from the best rhythmic pop playlist from 2002 — and lets one of the most underrated MCs in popular rap history drop a few choice bars.