Friday Music Guide: New Music From Sabrina Carpenter, Tems, Charli XCX & 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, we have the long-awaited new album from Charli XCX and the longer-awaited debut album from Tems, as well as a musical swerve from Sabrina Carpenter and a theatrical epic from RAYE. Check out all of this week’s picks below.

Sabrina Carpenter, “Please Please Please”

If you’ve fallen for Sabrina Carpenter over the course of her past couple sublime disco-pop smashes, you might be a little taken aback by “Please Please Please.” The song still has a good amount of the dancefloor snap of “Feather” and “Espresso” — down to the guitar chops and handclaps on the chorus — as well as the cleverly snappy lyrics (“Heartbreak is one thing, my ego’s another/ I beg you don’t embarrass me, motherf–ker”). But there’s a melodic unpredictability at play here, along with a near-country twanginess to the guitar picking and Carpenter’s yearning vocal, that makes “Please” a truly fascinating and surprising listen. It won’t likely interrupt any kind of Song of the Summer bid for “Espresso,” but it might make you even more excited for her full Short n’ Sweet album this August. (Also: rumored real-life paramour Barry Keoghan appears in the music video.)

Tems, Born in the Wild

Tems has already proven to be such a major part of the pop landscape of the past few years — with star-making guest appearances on global smashes by Wizkid and Future, and her own solo favorites like “Free Mind” and this year’s “Love Me JeJe” — that it can be tough to remember that she’s still yet to release a full-length solo album. That LP arrives this week with Born in the Wild, her 18-track debut, and it’s safe to say it was worth the wait: The set is full of the kind of blissful grooves, piercing lyrics and heart-melting melodies fans have come to expect from the Nigerian singer-songwriter, along with special guest appearances from fellow Afrobeats hitmaker Asake and star American rapper J. Cole.

Charli XCX, Brat

It feels like Charli has been teasing her Brat album for years, drumming up excitement with singles like “Von Dutch” and “360,” and now the full set is finally upon us. Already attracting some of the best reviews of her highly acclaimed career, Brat spans future-club bangers, emotional synth-pop ballads and countless shades in between, whipping through its 15 tracks at near-breakneck speed. It’s fun, it’s flirty, it’s often bitchy and it’s occasionally incredibly poignant, and it feels like the album that most of the past decade of Charli XCX has been building towards.

RAYE, “Genesis”

Turns out the winding, cinematic, five-minute drama of RAYE’s 070 Shake-featuring 2023 smash “Escapism” was only the beginning. “Genesis,” the new song from the singer-songwriter born Rachel Agatha Keen, is a seven-minute, three-part epic, produced by R&B legend Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins and evolving from a self-flagellating orchestral intro to a dark and decadent R&B shuffle to a swinging and scatting (and nearly optimistic-sounding) big-band outro. It’s a lot, and none of it is expected — meaning it might not quite have the pop appeal of “Escapism” — but it will certainly find its audience, and for many it will likely end up being nothing short of a revelation.

Zach Bryan feat. Noeline Hofmann, “Purple Gas”

Just a week after his “Pink Skies” scored a No. 6 debut on the Billboard Hot 100, Zach Bryan is back with a new duet. Noeline Hofmann might not have the name recognition of previous partners Maggie Rogers or Kacey Musgraves — the 20-year-old singer-songwriter, who wrote and originally recorded “Purple Gas” solo as “The Belting Bronco,” has no other songs even officially available on Spotify — but the sharpness and clarity of her Emmylou Harris-like delivery makes for one of the most lovely harmonic blends yet with Bryan’s gruffly unassuming croon.

“This song brought me to tears the first time I heard it so it was really important for me that Noeline gave me the privelage to sing it with her,” Bryan wrote on Instagram. “I have never covered another musician on an album, and it’s because I was waiting on someone to write a song like this. Noeline resonates like Gillian Welch to me and Gillian is one of my favorite musicians to ever live; now Noeline is too.”

Jung Kook, “Never Let Go”

Following a 2023 in which he became a global solo star in his own rights, with a trio of top five Hot 100 hits — “Standing Next to You,” the Jack Harlow collab “3D,” and the Latto featuring (and chart-topping) “Seven” — BTS alum Jung Kook is back with the new single “Never Let Go,” which may be ticketed for similar pop success. The song rides a bit of an Afrobeats bounce, with a melodicism borrowed from The 1975 and even the sentence-punctuating snaps of Tame Impala’s “New Person, Same Ol Mistakes,” as Jung Kook belts with clear-eyed sentimentality, “And when the days gеt longer/ You fill my world with wonder.”

Gracie Abrams, “Close to You”

With Abrams long functioning as your favorite pop singer-songwriter’s favorite pop singer-songwriter, she’s seemed for most of the 2020s to be right on the verge of a major mainstream breakthrough. “Close to You” feels like her bid to complete that crossover, a storming, synth-driven declaration of love and lust that sounds reminiscent of Pure Heroine-era Lorde covering 1989-era Taylor Swift, with all the radio-ready implications baked into that. Whether or not it reaches those chart-topping heights, it should set the stage nicely for her new album The Secret of Us, due out in just two weeks (June 21).

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