Friday Music Guide: New Music From SZA, Selena Gomez, Justin Timberlake and More

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, SZA makes her return to “Saturn,” Selena Gomez is living her happily ever after, and Justin Timberlake has one ready for longtime fans. Check out all of this week’s picks below:

SZA, “Saturn” 

First previewed in a commercial that aired during a Grammys ceremony where SZA took home three trophies, new single “Saturn” exists in conversation with the blockbuster R&B formula of her 2022 album SOS while also peering ahead into a daring artist’s unwritten future. SZA spends the song searching for answers, creeping in front of the slower tempo and trying to get ahead of karma: “If there’s a point to being good / Then where’s my reward?” she wonders. Considering the fact that SOS arrived five-and-a-half years after SZA’s previous album, “Saturn” should be treated as a sumptuous gift from an artist who isn’t in the habit of tossing out any old single.

Selena Gomez, “Love On” 

Selena Gomez has released love songs before, but she’s never sounded quite as giddy as she does on new single “Love On”: around its radio-friendly chorus, the pop star plays a clip of French dialogue, shrugs off steak tartare for a makeout session, and explains, “This doesn’t have to be some sort of mathematical equation / Slip off your jeans, slide in the sheets, screaming ‘yes’ in quotations.” Although listeners will undoubtedly connect the release of “Love On” to Gomez’s budding romance with super-producer Benny Blanco, the song harnesses Gomez’s veteran pop instincts and pushes them into a euphoric new direction.

Justin Timberlake, “Drown”

There is no signature Justin Timberlake sound, considering all of the iterations of the pop star’s career — yet fans of the mid-‘00s rhythmic pop classics that kicked off his solo career should heartily embrace “Drown,” the latest offering from his upcoming album Everything I Thought It Was. Over blinking beats and streamlined synthesizer, Timberlake revels in his hurt and morphs his pain into chewable hooks; the switched-up outro, in which the a drums-heavy deconstruction captures JT’s emotional breakdown, acts as a final nod to those multi-part Futuresex/LoveSounds hits.

TWICE, With YOU-th

It’s lucky number 13 for TWICE, as the best-selling K-pop group has now reached a baker’s dozen worth of mini-albums but has not stopped developing its winning approach. The six songs of With YOU-th roll through a handful of energetic synth-pop productions without ever sounding trite or tired; “One Spark” is an easy highlight, full of shuffling beats and vocal wonder, but don’t sleep on project finale “You Get Me,” with production that stacks higher as the TWICE members express fizzy enchantment.

MGK, “Don’t Let Me Go” 

During his rap ascent and exploration of pop-punk, Machine Gun Kelly always kept his personal trials and tribulations easily identifiable, but new single “Don’t Let Me Go” may be one of the most personal compositions of his career: following a somber piano intro, MGK (who has seemingly formalized his nickname as his official artist name) sings and raps about heartbreak, family abandonment and violence, identity crises and, most crushingly, the loss of a child. Regardless of where you stand with his various sounds and styles, “Don’t Let Me Go” makes for a deeply affecting check-in.

Editor’s Pick: Bleachers, “Me Before You” 

The strongest track yet released from Bleachers’ upcoming self-titled studio album, “Me Before You” whittles down the big-band excitement of Jack Antonoff’s outfit and creates a lush, intimate portrayal of an incomplete life before a partner was found. Multiple voices and instruments Antonoff’s open-hearted ode, with the saxophone blasts that have highlighted recent Bleachers singles turned into wandering thoughts and feelings; soon enough, the song collapses into a warm puddle of guitar, capturing a feeling of exhausted contentment.

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