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, Beyoncé enters her Renaissance movement, Blackpink tees up their return, and Maggie Rogers discovers herself on her second album. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
Although six years have passed since Beyoncé’s last solo album, 2016’s Lemonade, the raw emotion of that album — which focused on personal betrayal and the pain, confusion and (ultimately) acceptance that come as a result — has not dulled one bit. Renaissance, its mesmerizing follow-up, is also an emotional project, but that feeling is euphoria: dance-floor joy drives the album as Beyoncé tumbles into a fantasia of house, disco, techno and garage, but the foundation here is the bliss one feels when their self-worth is sky-high. From the gleeful rhyming of “Heated” to the jaw-dropping vocals of “Plastic Off the Sofa” to the chest-thumping power of “Cozy,” Renaissance is a proclamation of inner beauty from an artistic queen, yet also functions as a mirror — when you listen to it, you’ll feel like your soul is unbreakable.
Blackpink, “Ready For Love” video
Blackpink will officially be back in your area soon, as the K-pop girl group has announced that they will return with new music in August; in the meantime, the quartet has unveiled as official video for “Ready For Love,” a charming, EDM-adjacent track that premiered as a collaboration with the video game PUGB Mobile. Most excitingly, Lisa’s rapping on the track sounds as slick and confident as ever — let’s hope, along with the pop harmonies and dance beats, Blackpink’s next project makes plenty of room for that skill to shine.
Maggie Rogers, Surrender
When Maggie Rogers made her 2019 debut Heard It In a Past Life, the singer-songwriter was still finding her voice after going viral with her song “Alaska,” which wowed Pharrell Williams during a master class at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute. With Surrender, Rogers has not only found it, but expanded its contours: the sophomore LP takes big swings — the lovely call-for-peace closer “Different Kind of World,” the intimate BFF sing-along “I’ve Got a Friend,” and especially the top-notch fuzzed-out rocker “Shatter” — with an understanding of Rogers’ sharpening vocal skills and writing nuances, so that even the most ambitious moments feel lived-in and authentic.
Although the world is absorbing MOTOMAMÍ a few months after its release, the moment that Rosalía began performing the breathless dance cut “Despechá” on her recent tour, it was widely agreed upon that fans could not wait a few more years for this unreleased track to see the light of day on its official follow-up. “Despechá” moves quickly yet gracefully, as Rosalía twirls around piano stabs until the beat catches up to her voice — the song would have been a highlight of MOTOMAMÍ, and it stands tall on its own as a gift to fans.
$uicideboy$, Sing Me a Lullaby, My Sweet Temptation
The cult following that Ruby da Cherry and $crim, a pair of cousins from New Orleans, have developed as the hardcore hip-hop duo $uicideboy$ over the past eight years has been nothing short of remarkable — their crowds are sprawling, their songs rack up millions of streams, and both of their albums have hit the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart. Third LP Sing Me a Lullaby, My Sweet Temptation doesn’t try to reinvent the duo’s respective wheel, but glides forward with reflections on themselves and their complex new reality in the spotlight, each bar compact and impactful while fighting against the bleakness.
Hayley Kiyoko, Panorama
Hayley Kiyoko shouldn’t be pigeonholed as a pop star for LGBTQ audiences: while her identity and advocacy as a queer artist has been important for widening representation in pop, Kiyoko also happens to be a gifted vocalist with a knack for hooks that can beguile any demographic. From the delicious takedown of opener “Sugar at the Bottom” to the intimate confessions of the lush closer “Panorama,” Kiyoko’s sophomore LP is the sound of an artist ready to transcend any preconceived notions and soar higher in the mainstream.