Friday Music Guide: New Music From Dua Lipa, Kendrick Lamar, Gunna 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, Dua Lipa gets the party re-started, Kendrick Lamar is drinking Haterade, and Gunna drops another zonked-out hit. Check out all of this week’s picks below:

Dua Lipa, Radical Optimism 

In the four years since the release of her sophomore album Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa has become an A-list celebrity — popping up in blockbuster films and at fashion shows, owning magazine covers and arena stages — and it’s all thanks to the smashes that came from that disco-revival opus, as well as the one-off singles (like “Cold Heart” and “Dance the Night”) that followed. Lipa’s hits are the engine of her increasing visibility, and Radical Optimism attempts to pile up more W’s while revealing more of the artist behind them: operating over candy-coated dance production and attacking each chorus with full-throated vigor, Lipa sings about desire and betrayal — although sometimes the quieter moments of the album, like on the understated guitar-pop of “Maria,” cut the deepest.

Kendrick Lamar, “6:16 in LA” and “Euphoria”

Kendrick Lamar has had a productive week while staring at a photo of Drake on his bulletin board: as the rap-superstar feud continues, K. Dot has dropped a pair of snarling diss tracks aimed at questioning the very fiber of his opponent’s being. Earlier this week we received “Euphoria,” a six-minute-plus takedown of the way that Drake talks, walks and dresses, among other things; this morning, Lamar dropped “6:16 in LA,” which plays off Drizzle’s timestamp song series and goes for the jugular (“Fake bully, I hate bullies, you must be a terrible person / Everyone inside your team is whispering that you deserve it”).

Gunna, “Whatsapp (Wassam)” 

One week before the release of new album One of Wun, Gunna is back with a delightfully chilled-out new single, as “Whatsapp (Wassam)” returns the rap star to the spacey heights of Wunna highlights like “Skybox” and “Wunna Flo.” Nobody in hip-hop is as adept at tossing out these type of relaxed, stream-of-consciousness flows as actual hits, and after “Fukumean” became the biggest solo hit of his career last year, Gunna has likely scored another rap-playlist staple.

Imagine Dragons feat. J Balvin, “Eyes Closed” 

Imagine Dragons have never been shy about mashing up their guitar-heavy pop-rock with hip-hop via guest rappers, from “Sucker for Pain” to “Enemy,” but a new version of “Eyes Closed” brings in J Balvin to drop bars in Spanish and provide the pummeling song with a new direction. Dan Reynolds capably hoists the hook above the head-snapping percussion and production wobble, but Balvin highlights the track, making “Eyes Closed” a showcase for his own skill set as he visits another artist’s universe.

Kane Brown & Marshmello, “Miles on It” 

Kane Brown and Marshmello have already mashed up their country-pop and dance stylings to great success thanks to the 2019 single “One Thing Right,” and with new collaboration “Miles on It,” the duo are both trying to recapture the magic as well as supply the world with a not-very-subtle song of the summer. “Just you and me in a truck bed wide like a California King / We could break it in, if you know what I mean,” Brown sings on the chorus before the tempo turns double-time, suggesting that “Miles on It” is not exactly referring to his Chevy’s odometer.

Editor’s Pick: WILLOW, Empathogem 

Following her preteen beginnings with “Whip My Hair,” WILLOW has spent more than a decade upending expectations of her recording career, swiveling from family-friendly pop to sumptuous R&B to riotous pop-punk. New album Empathogem adds jazz, art-pop and indie-rock flourishes into her expanding palette, but WILLOW’s personality drives the entire project, powering songs like “Run!” and “The Fear is Not Real” with jittery energy and resplendent charm; she’s a veteran at this point, but she’s still serving up the unpredictable.

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