Streets Talkin’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, BTS release their latest widescreen statement, The Weeknd comes alive in the nighttime, and Selena Gomez finally gifts fans a longtime favorite. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
The Album That Brings A Bold Pop Vision To Stadium Audiences:
BTS, Map of the Soul: 7
Music historians will remember this current run for BTS as one of commercial dominance, as the K-pop group has broken cultural barriers, set chart records and gathered screaming fans around the world. An unsung aspect of that journey, however, will be the group’s unending musical ambition: new project Map of the Soul: 7 will delight fans of the group’s seamless mixture of disparate pop styles and thoughtful lyricism, while those unfamiliar with their back catalog will likely be stunned by the amount of ideas stuffed into each new song. BTS could have teamed up with Sia and delivered a perfectly fine dance-pop track, but instead, “On” is a massive, multi-lingual experiment in fusing individual members’ approaches to an anthemic chorus. Meanwhile, Troye Sivan’s songwriting on “Louder Than Bombs” is intermingled with a slithering hip-hop portion, and “Moon” puts a twist on the prototypical pop-rock hum-along. Map of the Soul: 7 is ensured a major debut because of the BTS brand name, but the boys haven’t stopped innovating, even after reaching stadium status — and that deserves a whole different type of applause.
The Song That Will Have You Sending Heartfelt Late-Night Texts:
The Weeknd, “After Hours”
The first two songs from the Weeknd’s upcoming After Hours project, “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights,” have exuded pop appeal: the former topped the Hot 100 chart, while the latter has become a radio staple thanks to a gigantic chorus. The title track begins as a muted course correction — Abel Tesfaye’s voice, apologizing for his romantic transgressions, floats in the ether in a way that recalls his House of Balloons days — but it’s a red herring. The drums kick in, the song wobbles with a new tempo, and the Weeknd guides “After Hours” into a bleary, regret-soaked dance cut. It’s easy to assume the Weeknd has turned fully toward the mainstream, but songs like “After Hours” prove that he’s still considering new ways to approach sound and structure.
The Song That Diehard Selenators Have Been Waiting For:
Selena Gomez, “Feel Me”
In the streaming age, the idea of studio leftovers — or even B-sides — are a little quaint; if it’s so easy to upload new music, why not toss out what ended up on the cutting room floor instead of letting it go to waste? Yet that makes the surprise studio edition of Selena Gomez’s “Feel Me” even more of a delight: performed during the pop star’s Revival tour, the fan favorite did not appear in Gomez’s recorded catalog until years later, as part of the Rare vinyl edition. And unlike other for-the-superfans pop tracks, “Feel Me” is beguiling enough to stand on its own, and fits in nicely with Rare’s thematic arc of Gomez reclaiming her agency post-heartbreak (“Long as you’re not with me, you’ll always be alone,” she sings). Maybe you’ve been waiting to listen to this version of “Feel Me” for years, or maybe you were unaware of its existence before today. In either case, your favorite new pop gem has arrived.
The Album With An Eye On Troubled Times:
Grimes, Miss Anthropocene
Anyone who has endlessly played Grimes songs like “Oblivion,” “Genesis” and “Flesh Without Blood” would be forgiven for wanting more pure pop songs from Grimes: emerging from the indie world at the start of last decade, the Canadian singer-songwriter has proven herself a savant when it comes to melodic construction and modern arrangements. On Miss Anthropocene, the long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s Art Angels, Grimes is interested in issues far heavier than radio fare, though: this is a dense, haunted project, paranoid over impending doom and upfront about the sleepless nights its creator has experienced as a result. There is beauty in the restlessness, especially for patient listeners: “Delete Forever,” written after the death of Lil Peep, refracts its sadness through inviting guitar strums, while “Violence” cloaks its lyrical abrasiveness in shimmering synths. Grimes may be too daring of an artistic voice to ever embrace mainstream pop, but Miss Anthropocene is a good reminder of how breathtaking her songwriting can be when colored outside the lines.
The Album That Adds To An Already Towering Legacy:
Ozzy Osbourne, Ordinary Man
At this point in his career, it would be extremely easy for Ozzy Osbourne to rest on his proverbial laurels, embrace his elder statesman status and phone in a new album. Ordinary Man, the new full-length from the metal legend, is many things, yet lazy is never one of them. Osbourne is really trying here, whether waxing poetic about his legacy alongside Elton John, trying to keep up with Post Malone’s breakneck pace (their previous top 10 hit, “Take What You Want,” is paired here with the gonzo rocker “It’s A Raid,” bringing Posty to Ozzy’s turf) or issuing melodic headbangers, like “All My Life” and “Under The Graveyard,” that aim for the vitality of his early days. Ordinary Man is a more sumptuous listen than it needs to be, and serves as Osbourne’s strongest solo project in over a decade.
The Remix That Brings An R&B Hit to Nashville:
Justin Bieber & Florida Georgia Line, “Yummy (Country Remix)”
A few months before releasing his R&B opus Changes, Justin Bieber linked up with Dan + Shay for a charming country-pop sing-along, “10,000 Hours,” that has endured as a crossover hit. Now, after Changes lead single “Yummy” initially received a remix from Summer Walker, the gentlemen of Florida Georgia Line have swooped in to provide something akin to the “10,000 Hours” effect. The ‘Country Remix’ has a bit of difficulty pairing the original track with some new twang and lyrics about home cooking and horseback riding, but it’s also clear that the stakes aren’t high: Bieber and FGL deliver their lyrics through apparent grins, clearly having a ball as they give a hit single a new shade. This new flavor of “Yummy” doesn’t fit on Changes, but it doesn’t need to, either.
The Song That Could Propel The Miami Heat Up The Eastern Conference Standings:
Rick Ross Feat. D. Wade, Raphael Saadiq and UD, “Season Ticket Holder”
Rick Ross’ new single “Season Ticket Holder” can reasonably be described as a new anthem for the Miami Heat, since it features… multiple Miami Heat legends, buoying the boss whose favorite basketball team resides in South Beach. Not only do rap fans get future hall of fame Dwyane Wade spitting about his career accomplishments — “Three rings on his finger, yeah, that boy was a winner,” he raps, before later inviting listeners to “check my stats if they askin’” — his longtime teammate Udonis Haslem also shows up on the track to come off the bench and hype up the crowd. Sure, “Season Ticket Holder” is a bit of a gimmick, but Ross comfortably delivers his portion and makes the most of this city tribute; even if your NBA allegiances lie elsewhere, respect is due to D. Wade for stepping up to the mic and shouting out the 305.
The Live Song That Will Have You Thinking About Heading To Lover Fest This Summer:
Taylor Swift, “The Man (Live From Paris)”
Real Taylor Swift heads know that, within her formidable discography, the Speak Now World Tour Live release stands out as more than the standard concert full-length, capturing the way that the country-pop star can inject every syllable of a studio project with a passion great enough to amplify her thematic focuses. Nearly a decade later, Swift has recorded a performance of Lover standout “The Man” with an intensity that makes us wish a new live album was in the offing. With the strums of her acoustic guitar supporting her, Swift performed the song in Paris last fall with seething grace — hear the quiet fire she gives to the bridge here, making the words of her feminist anthem even more resonant.