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 continues to preview her bold new project, Benny Blanco calls on some more super-friends and Maluma shares his stories from Jamaica. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
Selena Gomez feat. Rauw Alejandro, “Baila Conmigo”
After kicking off the promotion of her upcoming Spanish-language project with the sensual “De Una Vez,” Selena Gomez slightly picks up the tempo alongside fast-rising Puerto Rican star Rauw Alejandro on the graceful duet “Baila Conmigo.” Gomez sounds comfortable trading lines with Alejandro, their vocal tones complementing each other on a hook that’s unobtrusive yet effective; the track demonstrates the subtlety of Gomez’s range, and adds promise to her upcoming project.
Benny Blanco, Marshmello & Vance Joy, “You”
What do you get when you combine two of the most influential producers in modern mainstream music with the Australian singer-songwriter behind “Riptide”? You get “You,” a mash-up of Benny Blanco’s pop instincts (currently showcased on the Justin Bieber collaboration “Lonely”), Marshmello’s festival-ready drops and Vance Joy’s heartfelt folksiness. With the varying approaches, the single take a few seconds to settle in, but by the second verse “You” hits its stride and sets itself up as a potential summer anthem.
A seven-song project about the week Maluma spent in Jamaica prior to the pandemic, #7DJ blends reggae music and dancehall in with Maluma’s traditional reggaeton sound, yet doesn’t betray the Colombian star’s core artistry. The brief check-in following last year’s Papi Juancho album is highlighted by tracks like the shape-shifting dance cut “Chocolate” and the exuberant “Desayun-Arte,” which captures the live, uninhibited sensation of classic reggae.
Weezer, OK Human
Weezer was supposed to release an album titled Van Weezer — a project inspired by classic metal — in 2020, leading up to their stadium tour with Green Day and Fall Out Boy; the tour was postponed due to the pandemic, the album was delayed, and in the meantime, Rivers Cuomo and co. began messing around with orchestral pop songs that they’v now collected into OK Human, released before the still-forthcoming Van Weezer. The good news is that OK Human is far more satisfying than a quarantine side project, with tracks like “All My Favorite Songs” and “Bird With a Broken Wing” aiming to evoke classic Beach Boys… and often hitting their lofty marks.
Eric Church, “Heart on Fire”
In between taking home the entertainer of the year trophy at the CMAs and singing the National Anthem alongside Jazmine Sullivan at the Super Bowl, Eric Church has previewed his upcoming project, Heart & Soul, with a boisterous blast of guitar-rock. “Heart on Fire” contains the type of yell-along hook, piano blasts and full-band harmonies to become an eventual live favorite, but Church’s passion makes the whole affair soar — he sounds downright possessed on the track, as if the country legend still has a ton to prove to himself.
Arlo Parks, Collapsed in Sunbeams
There’s a reason why artists like Billie Eilish and Phoebe Bridgers have spoken so highly of London singer-songwriter Arlo Parks: the 20-year-old deploys a soulful voice and distinct point of view to synthesize R&B, indie-pop, trip-hop and emo music. Debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams lives up to the months of hype that preceded its release, thanks primarily to Parks’ clear-eyed storytelling — focused here on her childhood, and rife with the type of lyrical details you could study for weeks on end.
Lil Durk feat. Lil Baby, “Finesse Out The Gang Way”
The deluxe edition of Lil Durk’s The Voice album — 72 minutes of the Chicago rapper’s melodic musings — is well worth getting lost in, and a good place to start is this new team-up with Lil Baby. “Finesse Out The Gang Way” finds Durk riding a complex trap beat, reminiscing on his pre-fame days ceding the floor to a ferocious-sounding Lil Baby, who barely takes a breath while reflecting on his own come-up.
Porter Robinson, “Look at the Sky”
“Look at the Sky” previews Porter Robinson’s first full-length in seven years, as the acclaimed producer experienced severe anxiety following his breakthrough 2014 project, Worlds. Instead of focusing on personal struggle, the opening glimpse of new album Nurture offers an unadulterated shot of hope: “Look at the Sky” radiates warmth, twisting in a few different directions over its five-minute run time but returning to its encouraging mission statement: “Look at the sky, I’m still here / I’ll be alive next year / I can make something good.”