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, Selena Gomez’s long-awaited Spanish-language project arrives, Nick Jonas travels back into his solo space, and Blackpink’s Rosé drops a potent two-pack. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
Selena Gomez, Revelación EP
Since the release of her album Rare at the beginning of 2020, Selena Gomez has been exploring the different sides of her artistry — acting, hosting an HBO Max cooking show, collaborating with artists like Blackpink and Trevor Daniel, and now, recording a Spanish-language project. At 19 minutes long, Revelación allows Gomez to team up with rising Latin pop voices like Rauw Alejandro and Myke Towers while still shining on the solo tracks, especially on the crackling “Vicio.”
Nick Jonas, Spaceman
Two years after reforming the Jonas Brothers with his brothers Joe and Kevin and scoring a No. 1 single and No. 1 album, Nick Jonas is still operating off the high of that triumphant run on Spacemen, his first solo album in five years and his most confident outing on his own. Whether he’s examining the fractured present on the title track, interpolating Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is” on “Deeper Love” or delivering pop-radio catnip on “This Is Heaven,” Jonas sounds like he’s having a blast on Spaceman, and wants us to come along for the journey.
Just a few months after Blackpink fully arrived with their first album, one member of the quartet, Rosé, strides forward with an equally compelling solo vision: R is a pair of tracks that make an immediate impression, as Rosé reflects upon her path to fame on the alt-EDM jam “On The Ground” and then demonstrates her vocal prowess over electric guitar strums on “Gone.” These songs are too rock-solid to be brushed away as side-project fodder — hopefully, they set up a bright future for Rosé.
Giveon, When It’s All Said and Done… Take Time
By expanding his 2020 project Take Time from eight songs to 13 with this new deluxe edition, Giveon has unwittingly bestowed fans with a more well-rounded vision of his approach to ultra-smooth R&B. When It’s All Said and Done… Take Time contains at least one essential new Giveon song in “All To Me,” which boils down the singer-songwriter appeal to two minutes and change and leaves the listener anxious for the replay button at the end of the track list.
Rod Wave, “Street Runner”
“Sorry I missed your call, I was on a jet / I been so zoned out, tryin’ to figure out what’s next,” Rod Wave raps to open “Street Runner,” on which the Florida MC addresses a loved one from the road and plots his next professional move. The emotion in his voice rings true, and he navigates the piano line effortlessly — “Street Runner” focuses on artistic growth, and the listener can hear that type of evolution from Rod Wave play out in real time.
Chika, Once Upon A Time
As she enters Grammy weekend nominated for best new artist, Chika makes a powerful closing statement with the surprise EP Once Upon a Time, which aims to provide some uplift but subtly showcases the leap that the Alabama native’s sound has made in a short time. Exhibit A: the two-part “Cinderella,” during which Chika raps with a rapid-fire ease on the first half, and then offers one of the more opulent R&B jams of the year on the second part.
Imagine Dragons, “Follow You”/“Cutthroat”
If you regularly listen to alternative or rock radio, in which a plethora of Imagine Dragons smashes frequently appear, it certainly doesn’t feel like the band has been quiet since 2018. Yet “Follow You” and “Cutthroat” mark the arena band’s return, with soaring ambition intact: “Follow You” is a song of devotion that aims to be bellowed by thousands in a festival field, while “Cutthroat” is more tightly wound but invites head-banging in line with its jittery, pseudo-industrial stomp.
Lady A, “Like A Lady”
As the first taste of Lady A’s upcoming album, “Like A Lady” allows the group’s Hillary Scott to take center stage and present a modern girl-power anthem in the vein of Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman.” The hook pops in the way that Lady A intends, but the song works because of Scott’s vocal dedication, with the longtime country star singing to inspire others while staying supremely comfortable in her own skin.