Feeling overwhelmed by the new songs, albums and videos being unveiled today? You’re not alone. That’s why we’re putting together 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. Welcome to Billboard’s First Stream.
This week, Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber team up for another banger, Mary J. Blige remains “Thriving” alongside a rap titan, and Logic looks to level up as one of hip-hop’s most urgent voices. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
The Song Primed For Massive Radio Love:
Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber, “I Don’t Care”
The last time these two pop superstars teamed up was on the Billboard Hot 100-topping “Love Yourself,” the acoustic kiss-off from Bieber’s 2015 album, Purpose. Justin’s been relatively quiet on the music front over the past 12 months — blame blissful newlywed status if you must — but he comes back in full force with an assist on Sheeran’s first single since his world-conquering third album, ÷. On “I Don’t Care,” Ed and Justin wax poetic on the transformative power of love: “All the bad things disappear, and you’re making me feel like maybe I am somebody,” the pair harmonizes as an effective mix of snare taps and piano plinks help them glide forward. Given that Sheeran and Bieber have both developed into inescapable presences at Top 40 radio, expect pop stations to care a whole lot about “I Don’t Care” — now, and for the rest of the summer, too.
The Song That Might Make You Re-Think a Pop Legend:
Madonna feat. Swae Lee, “Crave”
After conquering the 2019 Billboard Music Awards earlier this month with an eye-popping performance of “Medellín” alongside Maluma, Madonna has continued previewing her forthcoming Madame X album with a song that takes her out of her comfort zone -- and succeeds because of it. “Crave,” featuring Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee, sounds like a modern update of Madonna’s classic pop aesthetic, with a propulsive trap beat that sounds ready-made for major playlists. Swae Lee has been on a hot streak within and outside of Rae Sremmurd -- he’s currently in the Top 40 of the Hot 100 as a guest on Diplo and Ellie Goulding’s “Close to Me” -- and his fit alongside Madonna is seamless here. Expect “Crave” to remain a highlight of Madame X when it arrives on June 14.
The Album That’s Full of Surprises (After Being a Surprise Itself):
Logic, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Announced less than two days before it was released, Logic’s latest finds the superstar MC showing off his quick-witted rhymes -- like on the hard-hitting Eminem team-up “Homicide” -- while also offering some unexpected new chapters in his story. The rapper has long juggled different personas and several approaches to his craft, and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind allows Logic to transition away from the experimental soundtrack to his Supermarket novel (released earlier this year) and focus on hip-hop storytelling from the Bobby Tarantino point of view. Along with the cautious optimism of “Out of Sight” and the powerful musings on drug abuse of “Cocaine,” Logic expertly weaves in a diverse roster of guests, including Gucci Mane, G-Eazy and (amazingly enough) Will Smith. Logic remains both prolific and in-demand -- and based on Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, he’s in no danger of wearing out his welcome.
The Song to Add to Your Workout Playlist For Extra Motivation:
Mary J. Blige feat. Nas, “Thrive”
“I am a diamond ‘cause of pressure / The bigger the trial, bigger the blessing,” Mary J. Blige asserts on her inspiring new single “Thrive,” which showcases an R&B legend following up on her “no more drama” mantra from the previous decade and looking toward a future of strength and power. While Nas effortlessly slides in for the guest feature, this is Mary’s show — and the song’s breakdown is perfect to get you pumped about overcoming your own obstacles. Blige and Nas will be heading out on tour together in June, and “Thrive” will likely be a centerpiece of that much-anticipated stage show.
The Album That Nashville Could Be Talking About For a While:
Rodney Atkins, Caught Up In The Country
With his fifth studio album, country star Rodney Atkins has delivered an affecting personal statement: the songs on Caught Up In The Country offer insight into Atkins’ family dynamic, along with his wife, Rose Falcon, duetting on two tracks. The deep-voiced singer’s lyricism is on point as ever, while on the album’s exuberant title track, he embraces a danceable rhythm that works wonderfully underneath his twang. Atkins has become a steady presence within the genre, and his latest album finds him succeeding while trying on some new hats as a performer and songwriter.
The Video That Will Get You Hyped For the Weekend:
DJ Snake, Offset, 21 Savage, Sheck Wes & Gucci Mane, “Enzo”
There’s nothing like getting together with a bunch of friends for a Friday or Saturday night outing; DJ Snake knows this better than anyone, which is why he’s gathered an ultra-impressive group of super-friends -- Offset, 21 Savage, Sheck Wes and Gucci Mane -- for his dynamic new single, “Enzo,” and its corresponding video. The clip for the song keeps it simple: expensive cars, slow-motion snakes, black-and-white opulence, and some of the biggest rappers on the planet, who all show up to drop their verses with respective intensity. DJ Snake’s music has been soundtracking parties for years, and the “Enzo” video will definitely have you primed to celebrate.
The Album That Will Unite Indie, Pop and Rock Fans:
Charly Bliss, Young Enough
This week’s most arresting indie release belongs to pop-punk upstarts Charly Bliss, whose sophomore LP Young Enough offers a spry combination of sugary hooks and thoughtful reflections on complex relationships. After the New York natives’ 2017 debut Guppy scored multiple year-end list nods, Young Enough proves to be an evolution, and a confirmation that this band is here to stay.
The Album That’s a Reminder of Major Talent:
Ciara, Beauty Marks
It’s been four long years since Ciara’s last full-length, and above all, Beauty Marks is an immediate reminder that the R&B star is naturally skilled when it comes to heartfelt expression and rhythmic delight. The follow-up to 2015’s Jackie is also the most positive Ciara has ever sounded, with an empowering team-up with Kelly Rowland (“Girl Gang”) and a funky infatuation anthem, “Thinkin Bout You,” that’s an unadulterated ray of sunshine. Ciara has been a unique voice in R&B for 15 years, and with Beauty Marks, it’s great to have that voice back.