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, Calvin Harris goes back to the early 90s, Megan Thee Stallion is proud of her earning power, and Hayley Williams takes a bold step forward alone. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
The EP To Fire Up Before Your Big Friday Night Out:
Calvin Harris, Love Regenerator EP
“I wanted to rediscover the way I originally began producing music 22 years ago before I ever thought about how it might be perceived by outside forces,” Calvin Harris says in a press statement about his new project. The superstar producer already took a surprising left turn away from pop radio on his last project, 2017’s brilliant jam session Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, and Love Regenerator finds Harris burrowing deeper into his personal interests, this time exploring rave and house music. The EP includes both extended and edited versions of the tracks “Hypnagogic (I Can’t Wait)” and “CP-1,” and the full version of the latter — a throbbing, relentless techno showcase — will have you goading Harris further down the rabbit hole for a full album of Love Regenerator music.
The Song To Sing Along To In A Car Ride With All Your Girls:
Megan Thee Stallion, “B.I.T.C.H.”
Megan Thee Stallion possesses one of the most nimble flows in modern hip-hop, yet she also has a sharp pop sensibility — even in an unyielding string of syllables, she makes space for a lyrical thesis and catchy hook. “B.I.T.C.H.” allows the Houston star to slow down her flow ever so slightly, over a dreamy production from Helluva Beats, to hammer home a story of financial independence as a non-negotiable in a romantic relationship. “I got my mind on gettin’ paid, we ain’t spoke in some days / He probaby thinkin’ I’m in pain, but I’m really on game,” Megan asserts, after proclaiming herself the title word as a form of personal achievement. The new single wraps a sly commentary on the expectations of working women around an anthemic chorus; it’d be foolish to expect anything less than another triumph from Megan at this point.
The Song You’ll Be Hearing a Lot on Alternative Radio:
Hayley Williams, “Simmer”
When the longtime leader of a band decides to make a solo album, the resulting side project can often sound like a simple continuation of the band’s aesthetic under a different name. That won’t be the case with Paramore’s Hayley Williams, based on the first taste of her debut solo project: “Simmer” leaves the jittery ‘80s art-rock of the band’s most recent LP, After Laughter, and dives into a darker, more muscular approach, with careening guitars and skipping beats more reminiscent of Portishead than Williams’ pop-punk background. And the singer sounds more than up for the detour, her voice stretching and contorting before buckling down on a hook that could be one of alternative rock’s biggest of 2020.
The Song That Wants Consideration For Your Wedding Playlist:
Jessie Reyez, “Love In The Dark”
Jessie Reyez has been something of a rising star for multiple years — a gifted singer-songwriter whom the music industry appreciates but who has yet to find the right song or project to cross over to a wider audience. Perhaps “Love In The Dark,” the touching first single from Reyez’ upcoming album, will deliver on that commercial promise: a piano ballad about unconditional love, the song lets her singular voice tiptoe across poignant lines (the opening line, “We’re only humans floating on a rock / But I think that you are made of stardust,” is a stunner) before the big chorus arrives. Reyez has worked with quicker tempos in the past, and likely will on her new album, but “Love In The Dark” is a strong single choice that could finally place the artist on a bigger stage.
The Song That Maybe (Hopefully?) Will Get Performed During the Grammys Ceremony:
Rosalía, “Juro Que”
Days before she finds out whether or not she will win the best new artist award at the Grammys, Rosalía has released a quick reminder as to why she’s worthy of consideration. New single “Juro Que” showcases several of the international sensation’s strong suits in a little under three minutes, including a modern riff on flamenco arrangements, effortless command of atypical song structures, creative percussion and a voice that slices through it all. “Juro Que” also includes a background of voices cheering Rosalía on, which recalls the feeling of watching her fully bloom as a performer over the past two years; with any luck, the new track gets featured on the Grammys stage, and Rosalía walks away with a win.
The Song That Will Be Making The Dad-Rock Rounds In The Coming Weeks:
Pearl Jam, “Dance of the Clairvoyants”
Just because Pearl Jam’s legacy has long been secure doesn’t mean they shouldn’t keep attempting innovation. To that end, the Rock Hall of Famers’ new single, which previews their first full-length since 2013’s Lightning Bolt, is the sound of Eddie Vedder and co. refusing to rest on their laurels: “Dance of the Clairvoyants” has very little in common with the band’s previous album, and sounds sleeker, more modern and with a revived sense of urgency. The single doesn’t carry the thundering chorus of any essential Pearl Jam hit, instead cryptically suggesting turmoil in the refrain: “Expecting perfection leaves a lot to ignore / When the past is the present, and the future’s no more,” Vedder sings. “Dance of the Clairvoyants” demands your attention because of Pearl Jam’s pedigree, then holds it with cutting lyrics and a towering outro.
The Song That Will Give You The Ultimate Confidence Boost:
Doja Cat, “Boss Bitch”
Doja Cat’s debut album Hot Pink was one of the pleasant surprises of 2019, a full-length bursting with attitude and energy from an artist previously written off as a one-viral wonder. Yet “Boss Bitch,” a new track from the Birds of Prey soundtrack, shows that Doja Cat has already evolved artistically in the months since Hot Pink was released (and as some of its track continue climbing the charts). This one-off is spectacular in its frenzied approach, with Doja Cat channeling Nicki Minaj’s manic flow while fashioning an electro-rap sound that’s unique to her strengths. “I took it and I ran for it! I run it, then I stand on it,” she crows on the track, and it’s hard to disagree.
The Album That Showcases One of 2020’s Brightest New Country Stars:
Chase Rice, The Album: Part 1
Capitalizing on a strong 2019 that showed that he could be one of country music’s new streaming forces, Chase Rice has unveiled a new seven-song project worth diving into for those whose curiosity was piqued by early hits “Eyes On You” and “Lonely If You Are.” Rice has a way of having storytelling details tumble from his lips, his portraits created quickly and efficiently; fans of Sam Hunt will take a shine to the tracks here, including the stomping standout “Everywhere.” Rice will undoubtedly release more tunes as 2020 rolls on, but The Album: Part 1 is a fine first step.