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, Miley Cyrus makes summer last forever, TWICE prepares for their biggest year yet, and Calvin Harris re-teams with a pop-star pal. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
Miley Cyrus, Endless Summer Vacation
Miley Cyrus’ new album, Endless Summer Vacation, is many things: a self-described love letter to the city of Los Angeles, a full day in two distinct halves (the track list is divided into “AM” and “PM” songs), a fresh start on the new label home of Columbia Records, a commercial comeback thanks to lead single “Flowers” becoming Cyrus’ first Hot 100 chart-topper in nearly a decade. Above all, however, Endless Summer Vacation is an apotheosis. After spending the decade following her Disney Channel rise by trying on different styles of popular music, from hip-hop to country-pop to guitar-rock, Cyrus positions her latest full-length as a culmination of her experiences and strengths, with a variety of sonic approaches folded into the mix. Cyrus, one of the more gifted pop artists of her generation, knows exactly who she is, and Endless Summer Vacation reckons with both where she’s been and where she might be headed next.
Click here for a full review and preliminary track ranking of Cyrus’ Endless Summer Vacation.
TWICE, Ready To Be
Although Ready To Be marks TWICE’s 12th mini album, the K-pop stars have been making notable recent strides as both a commercial unit and recording group: as they make the rounds on U.S. television and prepare to embark on a world tour next month, TWICE is expanding the boundaries of their pop aesthetic and delivering some of their strongest hooks to date. Ready To Be highlights like “Set Me Free,” “Blame It On Me” and the previously released hit single “Moonlight Sunrise” will get stuck in your head, but more importantly, they’ll pull you into TWICE’s world by showcasing what they do best as individual members and a cohesive unit.
Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding, “Miracle”
After previously conjuring dance magic with “I Need Your Love” in 2012 and “Outside” in 2014, Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding have once again teamed up on “Miracle,” a trance track that instinctively plays to the best qualities of both artists. Goulding is able to inject warmth into the heart of the song’s intro before sending her voice skyward on the chorus, and Harris provides the throbbing blueprint — when the drop arrives on “Miracle,” the listener feels overwhelmed with movement, and unable to resist.
Lauren Daigle, “Thank God I Do”
With her 2018 album Look Up Child, Lauren Daigle became of the biggest breakout stars of the contemporary Christian music scene in recent memory; then, she stepped away, taking multiple years to finish her follow-up. “Thank God I Do” not only previews that self-titled full-length, due out on May 12, but also suggests an evolution of Daigle’s approach: the piano ballad features the signature soar that fans have been waiting to return, but her voice has deepened with time, matching the epic sweep of the strings on the track and readying the masses for a prolonged showcase this spring.
Fever Ray, Radical Romantics
As one-half of The Knife and within their Fever Ray project, Karin Dreijer has made some of the most urgent electronic music of this century — and on Radical Romantics, the follow-up to 2017’s Plunge, they are able to both recall some of their career’s most indelible moments (Silent Shout fans are going to love this project) as well as forge ahead with provocative new questions. Dreijer contemplates legacy, identity and the contours of love, with tempos shifting and then collapsing, and pop exercises giving way to experimentation; Radical Romantics builds upon a towering career with one of the most well-rounded projects in Dreijer’s catalog.