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, Billy Joel makes his grand return, Don Toliver gets into psych-rock and TWICE keep the energy high. Check out all of this week’s picks below:
The first new Billy Joel single in decades arrives with uneven mix of anticipation and expectation — after all, the fact that “Turn the Lights Back On” exists at all marks a breathlessly exciting new development for a legendary artist, regardless of its quality. What a lovely discovery, then, that “Turn the Lights Back On” is both gorgeously rendered and a deeply felt personal check-in from Joel, who sounds like the same soulful storyteller he’s always been: “I’m late, but I’m here right now,” he sings, “though I used to be romantic, I forgot somehow.” For both decades-long fans and a new generation of listeners, “Turn the Lights Back On” stands tall as a meaningful new moment.
Although Don Toliver’s 2023 album Love Sick included guests like Justin Bieber, Future, Lil Durk and his partner Kali Uchis, new single “Bandit” features Tame Impala in sample form, as the 2020 track “One More Hour” turns into the backbone of a widescreen chest-thumping to kick off the new year. Toliver has never sounded more confident as he does spitting rhymes and hitting his falsetto over the stadium-rock guitar squeals, and “Bandit” becomes the rare sample-heavy track to both stand on its own merits and accentuate the high points of its source material.
As we enter February, New Year’s fitness resolutions may have started to fall by the wayside — but here comes K-pop titans TWICE to motivate you anew with their propulsive, dizzyingly fun new single. “I Got You,” the latest track from upcoming mini-album WITH YOU-th, builds upon the success of the group’s previous English-language singles by highlighting the collective’s melodic strengths and doubling down on the snappiest parts of the synth-pop production, creating a flash point that could cross over to U.S. platforms in a big way.
Next week is showtime for Usher, with new album Coming Home due out next Friday (Feb. 9) and a little performance called the Super Bowl halftime show two days later, but before his latest full-length and the biggest performance of his career are unveiled, the suave, sumptuous new track “Ruin” serves as a final preview of what sounds like a return to form. Rising Nigerian artist Pheelz lends a nifty assist over the dimly lit, Afrobeat-adjacent rhythms, but “Ruin” demonstrates Ursh pushing himself as a veteran artist, all while his silky-smooth appeal hasn’t dulled one bit.
“Straight Line” was “born of wanting to break out of routine and feeling like somewhere along the line, life lost some color and excitement,” Keith Urban explains in a press release; indeed, the first track released from Urban’s next studio album takes the country veteran’s time-honored formula and injects some adrenaline, with a driving tempo and some choice wooooooo-hoo’s in the post-chorus. While “Straight Line” will no doubt soundtrack some boisterous sing-alongs during Urban’s next tour, the song also bodes well for the follow-up to 2020’s The Speed of Now Part 1.
Editor’s Pick: Burial, “Dreamfear/Boy Sent From Above”
New music from Burial — one of the most influential and enigmatic producers of the 21st century — is always a gift, considering how sporadic his releases have been over the past decade, but “Dreamfear/Boy Sent From Above” feels particularly special, as a 25-minute double single that’s at once mysterious and intoxicating. Longtime Untrue fans will gravitate towards the ghostly vocals and shuffling beats, but proponents of Burial’s more abstract recent work should embrace the sprawl here, too.
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