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, The Weeknd and Ariana Grande team up to make a big hit even more enormous, H.E.R. wants listeners to “Come Through,” and Moneybagg Yo keeps working his way to the top. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
The Weeknd feat. Ariana Grande, “Save Your Tears (Remix)”
It’s been nearly a year and a half since The Weeknd kicked off his After Hours era — “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights” were released way back in November 2019 — and the superstar’s most recent opus is still going strong on the charts, with “Save Your Tears” at No. 5 on the current Hot 100. Who better to give his latest hit a boost than “Love Me Harder” collaborator Ariana Grande, who slides into view after some well-placed hums and dials up her dramatic delivery in the second verse: “Don’t like when I’m with nobody else / I couldn’t help it, I put you through hell,” she croons as the ‘80s-indebted production sparkles around her voice.
H.E.R. feat. Chris Brown, “Come Through”
Fresh off a song of the year win at the Grammys for the social call-to-action “I Can’t Breathe,” H.E.R. offers something more subtle and sensual on “Come Through,” a new single featuring Chris Brown that plays out like an intimate text thread. H.E.R. expertly deploys her vocal range as she’s trying to coordinate a meet-up, particularly on the third verse, in which her vocals are layered and glide toward a high point.
Moneybagg Yo, A Gangsta’s Pain
Memphis rapper Moneybagg Yo has made his way to the forefront of commercial hip-hop through relentless grinding, his deep, rumbling drawl picking up momentum over multiple studio albums, mixtapes and guest appearances over the past three years. A Gangsta’s Pain continues that trajectory, thanks to a workmanlike commitment to entertaining rap purists: the bars here are unceasingly hard, on new-school summits like “Free Promo” with Polo G and Lil Durk as well as on “Certified Neptunes,” a rare appearance from Pharrell Williams.
Sasha Sloan feat. Sam Hunt, “When Was It Over?”
Trying to pinpoint the precise moment in which a promising relationship started to dissolve has long been an emotionally frustrating pastime, but Sasha Sloan and Sam Hunt play the game on “When Was It Over?,” their beautifully understated new duet. The rising pop star and country great lob questions at one another in search of a resolution, and although the answers never come, the lyrical details turn that lack of closure into something painfully human.
Natti Natasha & Becky G, “Ram Pam Pam”
One of the reasons why Natti Natasha and Becky G’s 2018 collaboration “Sin Pijama” became a Latin chart smash was their shared charisma, as the two pop stars packed the single with pieces of their intoxicating personas and let them ricochet off each other. “Ram Pam Pam” functions similarly, with a frothy hook tying together the verses but Natasha and Becky selling the concept themselves.
Porter Robinson, Nurture
Porter Robinson’s 2014 full-length Worlds represented a striking electronic music debut, but the producer faced anxiety issues in its aftermath, delaying the follow-up to a project brimming with promise. Fortunately, Robinson has not only returned but has done so with an album that’s bold, unexpected and successful, as Nurture leans into pop structures, utilizes Robinson’s voice and uplifts with wide-reaching gems like “Look at the Sky” and “Musician.”
Yola, “Diamond Studded Shoes”
When Yola scored a surprise best new artist nomination at the 62nd Grammy Awards, the music industry was given a much-needed heads-up about one of the more compelling soul-pop singer-songwriters coming out of the U.K. As the first taste of her sophomore LP, “Diamond Studded Shoes” delivers on that certified promise: Yola’s booming voice has only grown more spectacular over the interim between albums, and the rockabilly swing of the single suits her perfectly.