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, Harry’s House is finally open, Quavo and Takeoff stop by the “Hotel Lobby,” and Zach Bryan continues a steady rise. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
Harry Styles, Harry’s House
Harry’s House is Styles’ loosest, least fussy solo album to date, the sound of an artist in a rarefied pop-star zone comfortable in his environment and not having to worry about any unkempt corners of himself. Harry’s House boasts synths and rhythms designed to soundtrack lazy summer nights, conversational lyrics that revel in personal detail, ballads that opt for hushed resonance over emotional bombast, and a voice, deepened with time, that doesn’t need to overreach in order to impress.
Read our full review here.
Quavo & Takeoff, “Hotel Lobby”
What does “Hotel Lobby” mean for the future of Migos? Days before Quavo and Takeoff released their new single under the moniker Unc and Phew, the other member of the triumvirate, Offset, unfollowed the pair on Instagram, sparking breakup rumors. Hopefully one of the greatest hip-hop trios of all time remains intact, but in the meantime, “Hotel Lobby” impresses with a natural camaraderie that the members demonstrated on their early mixtapes, as Takeoff handles the denser flow and Quavo gleefully punctuating every fifth word with another ad-lib.
Zach Bryan, American Heartbreak
“There’s love, loss, revelry, resentment, and forgiveness all wrapped into one piece of work,” rising country star Zach Bryan says in a press release about his new album, American Heartbreak. Part of the reason why the Oklahoma native has become one of the genre’s most visible rising stars of the year is his ability to tackle different themes and moods with aplomb; another reason is his voice, sturdy but with an approachable lightness, which carries tracks like “Heavy Eyes” and “Younger Years” here.
Rina Sawayama, “This Hell”
The stars are aligning for a Rina Sawayama commercial breakthrough, after her excellent 2020 LP Sawayama earned a cult following and artists like Lady Gaga and Charli XCX took enough notice to feature the avant-pop artist on their projects. “This Hell,” which precedes September sophomore album Hold the Girl, finds strength in being an outsider — written about being spiritually dismissed as a minority and member of the LGBTQ community, the song showcases Sawayama’s singular brand of songwriting, as she turns perceived damnation into a catchy, inclusive call-to-arms.
The Notorious B.I.G. feat. Ty Dolla $ign & Bella Alubo, “G.O.A.T.”
Commemorating the 50th birthday of the gone-too-soon legend, “G.O.A.T.” serves as a reminder of the timelessness of the Notorious B.I.G.’s music, here repurposed around new-school stars and still sounding fresh. Biggie’s verses come from 1997’s “I Love The Dough,” while Ty Dolla $ign and Nigerian R&B artist Bella Alubo stop by and pay homage — and instead of sounding patched together, “G.O.A.T.” sizzles, with all three artists making sense when placed next to each other.