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, it’s about time for a new Lizzo hit, Swedish House Mafia keeps us grooving into the future, and Anitta has more than just one style to showcase. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
Lizzo, “About Damn Time”
“Oh, I’m not the girl I was or used to be,” Lizzo declares on new single “About Damn Time,” before finishing off that introspective realization with, “B–ch, I might be better.” The past few years have been transformative for Lizzo, but the pop star maintains her party-starting instincts and sense of cheeky confidence on her first single of 2022, sashaying over some disco-pop production while dropping spirited ad-libs and immediately quotable wordplay exercises (get ready for “thick-thirty” to immediately enter the cultural lexicon). “About Damn Time” sounds closer to breakout hits like “Truth Hurts” and “Good As Hell” than last year’s Cardi B team-up “Rumors,” and Lizzo sounds like, after an extended break, she’s ready to take aim at the top of the charts once again.
Swedish House Mafia, Paradise Again
Experiencing a Swedish House Mafia live show at the height of the EDM craze was its own type of euphoria — a full-bodied, wholly pure spectacle, with leaders of a scene that meant so much to dance diehards and casual partygoers alike. As its title suggests, the reunited trio’s new album Paradise Again partly exists to recapture that magic — days before a Coachella headlining slot alongside The Weeknd, no less — but Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello have also evolved as individual producers, and deepened their collective sound, as evident on tracks like the sophisticated house banger “Heaven Takes You Home” with Connie Constance and the strobing, rhythmic “Lifetime” with Ty Dolla $ign and 070 shake.
Anitta, Versions of Me
Brazilian pop star Anitta struck a series of different poses leading up to Versions of Me, from synth-pop siren on “Boys Don’t Cry” to reggaetón dynamo on “Envolver” to hip-hop assist leader on “Faking Love” with Saweetie. The full album demonstrates that diverse skill set as well, but Anitta doesn’t stretch herself too thin: across the different styles and sounds, she commands attention with an unshakeable point of view and smooth, self-assured vocal delivery, as if she’s been waiting to showcase her talents on her own terms and won’t pass up her opportunity.
Kay Flock feat. Cardi B, Dougie B & Bory300, “Shake It”
If you’re even a casual hip-hop fan, get ready to hear a whole lot of “Shake It” in the coming months, as Kay Flock’s viral Bronx anthem has become even more explosive in time for the summer thanks to a new verse from borough-mate Cardi B. The drill-adjacent reworking of “Bananza (Belly Dancer)” started taking off on social media and hip-hop radio thanks to the posse cut’s ferocious energy, and Cardi now contributes to that mightily, each threatening bar tumbling out of her mouth with wild-eyed conviction. Open your windows, and watch “Shake It” dominate.
Phoebe Bridgers, “Sidelines”
Post-Punisher and its well-deserved widespread acclaim, any new Phoebe Bridgers song is going to generate interest — including one for a Hulu adaptation of a Sally Rooney novel. For the upcoming miniseries Conversations With Friends, Bridgers has penned a song that’s both more gentle and highly produced than some of her recent oeuvre: “Sidelines” features flourishes like finger-plucked strings, backing harmonies and booming percussion on the chorus, which add gravity to Bridgers’ words of finding a purpose through connection with another person.
Conan Gray, “Memories”
Where does Conan Gray want to go next? After a promising 2020 debut with Kid Krow, the singer-songwriter has spent the months leading up to his sophomore LP Superache exploring different pockets of his artistry, from the intriguing dance workout “Telepath” to the stirring alt-rock anthem “Jigsaw.” “Memories” pushes Gray further down the rabbit hole, into the direction of a piano-pop auteur, with pleading lyrics and a quiet-loud contrast that allows him to flex his vocals; whether or not the rest of his forthcoming album resembles “Memories” remains to be seen, but regardless, this one is going to bowl fans over when performed live.