Billboard’s First Stream 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, Taylor Swift unveils some secret songs, Kx5 points toward the dance floor and Hozier makes a long-awaited return. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
Taylor Swift, “All of the Girls You Loved Before”
To celebrate the kickoff of her Eras stadium tour on Friday (Mar. 17), Taylor Swift has cracked her vault open and given fans a few unexpected goodies: the “Taylor’s Version” takes on previously released tracks “If This Was a Movie,” “Safe and Sound” and “Eyes Open,” as well as “All of the Girls You Loved Before,” an unreleased gem from her Lover era. Like the best moments on that 2019 album, “Girls” crackles with rhythm and romance, as Swift sings about how past mistakes have created a better reality and concludes on the swaying chorus, “Every dead-end street, led you straight to me.”
“It was literally a product of us saying, ‘F–k it,’” deadmau5 told Billboard of the formation of Kx5, his superstar team-up with Kaskade. “I’m not saying we don’t love it, but we don’t need it, financially speaking. It’s just something we want.” That carefree desire is imprinted across new album Kx5, as the duo of dance music titans use these 10 tracks try things out in the context of their respective styles, and more often than not — from the breathless groove of the AR/CO collaboration “Bright Lights” to the strobing, dance-siren emotion of “Escape” with Hayla — that process of saying “f–k it” pays dividends.
Hozier, Eat Your Young EP
Hozier has been able to transcend the success of breakthrough smash “Take Me To Church” due to his songwriting panache — it’s the reason why he’s headlining Madison Square Garden later this year instead of being relegated to one-hit wonder status. Eat Your Young, a new three-song EP that precedes his upcoming third album Unreal Unearth, references Dante’s Inferno and the sins of gluttony and heresy, but does in a way that draws in the listener without preening like a college paper: the title track, for instance, charms with a strings-laden, bluesy chorus, letting its message seep in slowly and effectively.
Melanie Martinez, “Death”
Melanie Martinez is the type of artist that does not drop by between album cycles for one-off singles and tossed-off collaborations: the avant-garde pop auteur instead creates bold, expansive worlds with each project, and when one is complete, she stows away for a few years to make another. “I’m back from the dead, back from the dead,” Martinez declares on the chorus of “Death,” the lead single to upcoming album Portals, and while the dramatic five-minute track can be connected to her artistic reawakening with every project, the kinetic drums and electronic elements will also make listeners feel reborn, too.
Avenged Sevenfold, “Nobody”
On their first new single since 2016, hard-rock veterans Avenged Sevenfold try to make up for lost time by seemingly deploying all of their finely crafted skills in six minutes — guitar chugs morph into searing solos, pummeling verses lead into sky-high hooks, and the groove conveys a nervousness before all of the tension is eventually released. “Nobody” evolves around M. Shadows’ philosophical prodding, his voice heavy with the weight of his life questions — but that man can howl like no other, and his vocals still take hold of the listener after a long layoff.
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