Friday Music Guide: New Music From Beyoncé, Camila Cabello, J-Hope 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, Cowboy Carter arrives, Camila Cabello upends expectations and J-Hope continues his winning streak. Check out all of this week’s picks below:

Beyoncé, Cowboy Carter 

There was a time when Beyoncé was known more for her radio fodder and less for her full-length thematic statements; Bey has spent a little over a decade flipping that script, and while she’s still scoring hits (like her most recent No. 1 single, “Texas Hold ’Em”), she has become one of modern music’s boldest album auteurs. Cowboy Carter, which refracts country music’s history through her superstar prism, heralds a sound and then shifts its shape, blending popular voices and classic songs into a singular vision that ranges from acoustic lullabies like “Protector” to show-stopping workouts like “Ya Ya.” It’s a work of staggering ambition and execution, and as with all of her recent projects, the legend of Beyoncé continues to grow.

Camila Cabello feat. Playboi Carti, “I Luv It” 

“I Luv It” is bananas: Camila Cabello repeats the titular phrase breathlessly as synths whirr around her words, then a sample of Gucci Mane’s classic single “Lemonade” drops, and finally Playboi Carti slides in to mumble some game before the single collapses. The whole affair is off-the-wall pop experimentation, but for Cabello, that might be exactly what the doctor ordered as she enters the next phase of her solo career — “I Luv It” is brash and knowingly surprising, which is more than enough.

J-Hope, Hope on the Street Vol. 1 

After 2022’s Jack in the Box demonstrated J-Hope’s solo ambitions and hip-hop panache, Hope on the Street Vol. 1 continues expanding his artistic world while also recruiting some special guests. BTS fans will love hearing Jung Kook stop by “I Wonder…” and its warm production bed, while Benny Blanco and Nile Rodgers help engineer the clap-along dance cut “Lock / Unlock” — all the while, however, J-Hope remains a commanding presence, giving each track the pop of attitude it needs.

mgk x Trippie Redd, genre:sadboy 

Machine Gun Kelly and Trippie Redd are frequent collaborators and kindred spirits, mussing up the lines between rock and hip-hop and using their vulnerabilities to connect with younger listeners. At 27 minutes, the collaborative project genre:sadboy allows MGK and Trippie to play off of each other at a brisk pace, telling their tales of dissatisfaction and yearning on tracks like the understated “Lost Boy” and the Frou Frou-sampling “Beauty,” and proudly leaning in to that “sadboy” label.

Editor’s Pick: Sheryl Crow, Evolution 

Sheryl Crow thought her 2019 album Threads would be her last; thank goodness she was mistaken. Evolution is a rollicking affair that more squarely centers Crow’s personality after her guest-packed previous album: the recent Rock Hall inductee has tapped producer Mike Elizondo to make her pop-rock musings smack a little harder, but her smoky voice and witty lyricism are the stars of the show, and haven’t dulled one bit after a long layoff and a few decades in the game.

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