Billboard’s Friday Music Guide 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, Bad Bunny has a summer banger to offer, Summer Walker checks in between full-lengths, and Post Malone is working at a furious pace. Check out all of this week’s picks below:
Bad Bunny, “Where She Goes”
Bad Bunny is not satisfied with simply dominating one summer: after Un Verano Sin Ti was released last May and proceeded to take the world by storm, the superstar bursts back into view with “Where She Goes,” a new single that, unlike his recent Grupo Frontera team-up “un x100to,” is clearly designed to conjure summertime perspiration. After about 40 seconds of stormy synths and emotional crooning, the clubby percussion kicks in, and Bad Bunny morphs into a master of ceremonies, his energy never flagging even as the tempo of the track shifts around him. Bad Bunny is in a Midas-touch phase of commercial success — but even divorced from the timing of its arrival, “Where She Goes” sounds like a surefire smash, ready to pounce upon the season with hungry melody.
Summer Walker, Clear 2: Soft Life EP
At the beginning of 2019 — a year that would be momentous for Summer Walker, thanks to the October release of her Over It album — the R&B singer-songwriter released and EP, Clear, which would continue the momentum from her Last Day of Summer mixtape and set the parameters of her artistic formula. While fans await the proper follow-up to 2021’s Still Over It, Walker returns with Clear 2: Soft Life, a nine-song stopgap defined by her uncompromising perspective, whether it’s applied to yearning for company (like on the Childish Gambino collaboration “New Type”) or rejecting easy comforts (like on the spectacularly performed “Hardlife”).
Post Malone, “Mourning”
“Got a lot of s–t to say, couldn’t fit it in the chorus,” Post Malone declares at the end of the “Mourning” hook, and he’s correct, even outside of the context of the song: after 2022’s Twelve Carat Toothache marked Posty’s first full-length in three years, he’s already back next month with Austin, his fifth studio album, which was preceded by the single “Chemical.” Unlike that more pop-leaning offering, “Mourning” finds Post Malone operating within singsong rap, yelling at God and refusing to sober up while grappling with the excesses of fame; in this prolific period, the superstar is prodding at his sound and identity, and the results are intoxicating.
Kesha, Gag Order
The reinvention of Kesha’s pop career during her years-long legal battle against Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald has simultaneously been heartbreaking and revelatory: while the personal trauma that the “TiK ToK” singer has experienced during this time has been incalculable, she has mined the depths of her artistry and come up with wholly impressive sonic explorations like new album Gag Order. This album demands attention: as Kesha embraces throbbing cacophony and tries to make sense of senseless circumstances, her songwriting and vocal technique evolve with zero abandon and riveting results.
Lewis Capaldi, Broken By Desire to Be Heavenly Sent
The list of modern artists not named Adele who can guide heart-wrenching ballads to the billion-stream club is exceedingly short, but Lewis Capaldi, who earned international success with “Someone You Loved” and “Before You Go,” is on it, understanding the cocktail of vulnerable songwriting, tender production and vocal skill needed to affect the tear ducts of global listeners. On Broken By Desire to Be Heavenly Sent, the Scottish singer-songwriter doesn’t rip up the formula that made him a star — instead, he offers more stories that aim to stir, using songs like “Haven’t You Ever Been In Love Before?” and lead single “Forget Me” to reach wide and inspire as many listeners as possible to simply, effortlessly feel.
The combination of singer-rapper Aminé and production multi-hyphenate Kaytranada not only makes sense on paper as a fusion of two like-minded creatives who have worked well together over the years, but Kaytraminé, the duo’s self-titled debut album, also works brilliantly as a late spring release, primed to soundtrack Memorial Day Weekend hangouts and months of hazy beach days. With guests like Freddie Gibbs, Pharrell Williams and Snoop Dogg stopping by to buttress Aminé’s silky flow and Kaytranada’s luxurious beats, Kaytraminé is a summer essential on the same level of shorts and sunscreen.