Music

Friday Music Guide: New Music From Kacey Musgraves, Justin Timberlake, Cardi B 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, Kacey Musgraves centers her songwriting, Justin Timberlake returns to the dance floor, and Cardi B has her enemies on alert. Check out all of this week’s picks below:

Kacey Musgraves, Deeper Well 

Although Deeper Well could be construed as an antidote to Kacey Musgraves’ 2021 album Star-Crossed, considering how the jagged edges of that divorce meditation have been smoothed down on songs about quiet pleasures and self-love, Musgraves’ stellar songwriting has always remained the North Star of her craft, and prevents her latest album from feeling like a sharp turn. There are plenty of earthy delights to be found deep into Deeper Well, but the opening run of the ‘70s-indebted “Cardinal,” rustic title track and blissed-out “Too Good to Be True” ranks among the strongest 10-minute stretches in Musgraves’ discography.

Click here to read a full review and track ranking of Musgraves’ Deeper Well.

Justin Timberlake, Everything I Thought It Was 

Six years have passed since Justin Timberlake’s last full-length, 2018’s Man of the Woods, and the pop supsertsr has re-emerged with an album that plucks him out of the woods and better understands his core appeals. Everything I Thought It Was finds Timberlake playing the hits to a degree — shimmering rhythmic pop; crackling, Timbaland-helmed beats; disco grooves that aren’t contained to radio-single lengths; even the return of *NSYNC — but also does not represent a retreat into safe territory. Timberlake may be squarely in his forties at this point, but he still aims to have every moment of a sprawling, 76-minute album be considered thrilling. He’s a consummate entertainer who knows what he’s best at, and still finds occasions to operate in the margins of his aesthetic.

Click here to read a full review and track ranking of Timberlake’s Everything I Thought It Was.

Cardi B, “Enough (Miami)” 

Cardi B is tired of paying mind to her rivals: “I see my opps linking up, I’m like, ‘What in the f–k?’” she spits on new single “Enough (Miami),” which quickly follows another solo track, “Like What (Freestyle),” that similarly took aim at an adversary and her hastily conglomerated cohorts. “Enough (Miami)” is full of eye-rolls from Cardi, as well as killer lines; she may be growing weary of playing defense, but tossing out references to both Dr. Seuss and “Knuck if You Buck” on the same track is always going to entertain.

Zayn, “What I Am” 

Zayn has now spent more years as a solo artist than as an active member of One Direction, and over the course of that run, he’s allowed his curiosity to roam without committing to a single pop blueprint. “What I Am” adopts a folksy approach that we haven’t heard from Zayn before — country great Dave Cobb co-produced the new track, which precedes upcoming album Room Under the Stairs — but his voice continues to resonate, and his lyrics suggest a healthy reinvention: “Take me as I am,” he cries, “I’m tired of dancin’ around the point.”

PARTYNEXTDOOR, “Real Woman” 

“This is the hardest I’ve ever worked on an album,” PARTYNEXTDOOR told Billboard in a recent cover story. Indeed, new single “Real Woman,” which previews PARTYNEXTDOOR 4, features the R&B singer-songwriter sounding reinvigorated while lavishing the woman who’s captured his imagination. Rumbling, sumptuous percussion and backing harmonies assist PND as he climbs into his falsetto, and “Real Woman” immediately becomes a candidate for heavy rotation on R&B radio.

Editor’s Pick: Willow, “Symptom of Life” 

On Willow’s captivating new single “Symptom of Life,” the juxtaposition of the whooshing chorus — fast-moving, chattering, full of unanswerable questions about the meaning of life — and the gentle, wordless breaks of piano and drums demonstrates Willow’s savvy as a pop creator, capable of filling space with commotion and then pulling back for an exhale. “Symptom of Life” carries a whiff of Kate Bush’s wizardry; let’s hope Willow keeps plunging down that rabbit hole on her upcoming studio album.

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