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, DJ Khaled returns with help from some A-list rap peers (as well as from the Almighty), Britney Spears‘ comeback begins via a collab with fellow pop immortal Elton John, and Eiffel 65 are finally back in our lives thanks to David Guetta and Bebe Rexha.
DJ Khaled, God Did
The rest of Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist this week could scarcely boast a greater list of A-listers and rising talents as DJ Khaled’s typically star studded new affair, God Did, including Drake, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, John Legend, Kanye West, Eminem, Future, Lil Baby, Lil Durk, 21 Savage and Roddy Ricch — and that’s just on the first five tracks. Rap fans will no doubt find plenty of potential personal favorites from the 18-track set to choose from; our early picks for highlights include the soulful 21 Savage showcase “Way Past Luck,” the Eddie Murphy-sampling Migos near-reunion “Party All the Time” and of course, the eight-minute title track, capped by an epic Jay-Z verse sure to dominate Twitter this weekend.
Elton John & Britney Spears, “Hold Me Closer”
After Elton John made pop magic alongside Dua Lipa repurposing songs from his past over a euphoric dance-pop beat on 2021’s “Cold Heart (PNAU Remix),” could he capture lightning in a bottle twice using the formula in 2022 with Britney Spears — in her first major appearance on record since the end of her conservatorship? The answer, surprisingly, seems to be yes. “Hold Me Closer” stitches verses from 1992’s “The One” with the eternal chorus to 1971’s “Tiny Dancer,” over a blissful beat helmed by pop powers Cirkuit and Andrew Watt — and once again, the whole somehow ends up more than the sum of its parts. Spears’ welcome presence is more supportive than leading, but this should certainly help tide her fans over until she’s ready for.her proper star return.
Lil Tjay, “Beat the Odds”
It’s of course totally impossible to listen to Lil Tjay‘s emotional new solo single “Beat the Odds” without hearing it in the shadow of the recent attempted robbery that nearly resulted in his murder — not the least of all because Tjay raps about it himself in the new single. “I took seven shots, no shame/ Back to wall, I’m still gon’ blow you down, I ain’t no stain,” he spits over a dolorous piano-led beat from KXVI, DesirezBeats and KBeaZy. The song is a triumph of survival — metaphorical and literal — but it’s also strikingly weary, as Tjay testifies, “They be like ‘Tjay, why do you move around with all them f–kin’ guns?’/ I just tell ’em that’s ’cause I don’t wanna die.”
The first official song release by 25-year-old singer-songwriter Lolahol will understandably draw the most headlines for the fact that its creator — whose real name is Lourdes Leon — is of course the daughter of an all-time pop great. But in truth, “Lock and Key” would be a head-turning debut from any up-and-coming talent. It’s an alternately dreamy and frenetic alt-pop transmission whose glitchy, drum-and-bass-reminiscent beat provides the perfect sense of claustrophobia for the emotional clutter of the song’s lyrics — which only find respite on the immediately stunning chorus refrain of “I need a breeze/ Whisk me away.” It doesn’t require any Madonna comparisons — though that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t also have sounded great on Ray of Light.
Rema feat. Selena Gomez, “Calm Down”
Afrobeats singer-songwriter Rema has been enjoying one of the summer’s international breakout hits with the irresistible sway of his love song “Calm Down” — cracking the top 10 of Billboard‘s U.S. Afrobeats Songs chart, and also climbing to a new high of No. 94 on this week’s Global 200 chart (dated Aug. 27). And as Wizkid’s “Essence” did around this time last year during its own ascent, the song’s success has triggered occasion for a high-profile remix featuring a North American pop star — in this case Selena Gomez, whose low-key pop vibes feel right in line with the song’s entrancing grooves. It doesn’t really need Gomez to be a hit, but hopefully her presence should accelerate the process just the same.
David Guetta & Bebe Rexha, “I’m Good (Blue)”
Are you ready for Eiffel 65 to be back in your life (and perhaps on your radio dial and/or streaming playlists)? Star producer David Guetta and pop fixture Bebe Rexha certainly hope so, as their new single “I’m Good (Blue)” leans heavily on the unshakeable turn-of-the-century smash referenced in its parenthetical. This “Blue” borrows both the original’s synth riff for its own cascading piano hook, and the infectious chorus melody for its EDM-era-reminiscent hook, sung in preparation for the imminent Best Night Ever. If TikTok is any indication, the timing is right on — when Rexha posted an early version of the collab (which a caption explaining it as something she and Guetta had worked on “years ago”) earlier this month, the clip got over 1 million likes.