Billboard’s Friday Music Guide 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, Jung Kook makes an extended statement, The Beatles give one last farewell, and Olivia Rodrigo remains impossible to pin down. Check out all of this week’s picks below:
Jung Kook, Golden
Jung Kook has spent his entire career on an upward trajectory — first within BTS, scoring global hits and conquering stadiums, and more recently as a solo artist, notching billions of streams (literally) with a sleek brand of pop and smart collaborations. Golden, his debut solo album, takes some time to reflect on those dizzying highs, but also wants to keep the good times rolling: “Closer to You” (created with Major Lazer) allows Jung Kook to hop between forceful declarations and intimate breaths, while songs like the yearning dance track “Somebody” and the opulent surefire hit “Standing Next to You” demonstrate why Jung Kook deserves to be considered a superstar on his own.
The Beatles, “Now and Then”
Positioning a piece of music as “the final Beatles song” naturally provides it with weighty expectations that are impossible to match — so consider “Now and Then,” a demo recorded in the ‘70s that was revived with modern technology and features all four members, a surprise treat hiding in their hallowed discography instead. Along with a new music video directed by Peter Jackson, the wistful, understated “Now and Then” serves as a subtle reminder of the band’s continued power, now more than a half-century removed from their original studio albums.
Olivia Rodrigo, “Can’t Catch Me Now”
Although some of the lyrics to Olivia Rodrigo’s new single “Can’t Catch Me Now,” which comes from the soundtrack to The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, seem to document an action sequence from the upcoming prequel film (“But I’m in the trees, I’m in the breeze / My footsteps on the ground,” Rodrigo sings), the pop superstar provides a gentle touch to the lilting acoustic track reminiscent of the softer moments from recent sophomore album GUTS. Instead of aiming at flash for the end credits, Rodrigo has unveiled a heartfelt new edition to both the Hunger Games musical canon and her own catalog.
Megan Thee Stallion, “Cobra”
Megan Thee Stallion’s “Cobra” opens with a two-note electric guitar chug that serves as a snarl — and while Meg has flaunted plenty of braggadocio over the course of her career, her new single warns against getting too close because of how wounded she’s feeling. “Ayy, damn, I got problems / Never thought a bitch like me would ever hit rock bottom,” she spits, locating an impressive balance between emotional vulnerability and head-knocking hooks on “Cobra.”
Marshmello, Sugar Papi
Marshmello has founded a sprawling, globe-trotting career on deferential collaboration, bending his aesthetic towards various artists in the worlds of pop, rock, R&B, country and everything in between. Sugar Papi, a full-length journey into Latin music, unsurprisingly features a star-studded guest list that includes Young Miko, Nicky Jam, Farruko, Anuel AA, Manuel Turizo and Fuerza Regida, among many others — yet the project sounds authentic and hard-earned, with Marshmello augmenting his featured artists without ever overpowering them, a skill that he’s developed throughout his run.
Editor’s Pick: Spiritual Cramp, Spiritual Cramp
The members of San Francisco punk group Spiritual Cramp have been kicking around for years, both releasing EPs together and operating separately in other projects — but their self-titled debut carries the kinetic energy of a brash young band barging onto the rock scene with intentions of shaking things up. The hooks here are stylish and relentless, each sugary melody cloaking the band’s anger at the state of the world; like plenty of great punk groups, Spiritual Cramp want you to hum along and question authority in equal measure.
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