New music Fridays are a thrilling, yet daunting prospect for any music lover.
It's essentially a weekly holiday where fan-favorite artists and fresh faces alike drop their latest offerings for all the world to hear, flooding streaming services and digital retailers with an onslaught of aural goodies. But who has the time to sit there and listen to everything before updating their playlists? There's just too much good stuff! (And, if we're being honest, usually a few stinkers, too.)
As it turns out, we do. Welcome to The MixtapE!
Whether your holiday weekend plans include fireworks or barbecuing, you're gonna need an explosive playlist. Fortunately, some of our favorite artists have been experimenting with new sounds and collaborators, and they're ready for the world to hear.
After Taylor Swift enlisted Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon for her last two folksy albums, she returns the favor this week with a feature on "Renegade," an emotional single from their band Big Red Machine.
J Balvin teamed up with Skrillex and a TikTok star for one hot party anthem, while Luke Hemmings is spending this summer showing a new side of himself—outside of 5 Seconds of Summer—by releasing his introspective debut solo single and album. Blink-182's Travis Barker is expanding his portfolio as well, producing a new track by jxdn and Machine Gun Kelly that sounds straight out of the early 2000s.
They all turned out to be worthwhile endeavors, as their biggest fans are eating up the new music. Top off your Fourth of July playlist with a little romance, thanks to bops from Jordan McGraw, 2PM and Andy Grammer.
What follows are our picks for the best of the best.
Your playlist for the weekend of July 2-4 has arrived. Enjoy!
J Balvin feat. Skrillex — "In Da Getto"
J Balvin welcomed two new beings into the world this week. His partner, Valentina Ferrer, gave birth to their first child, Rio, on June 27, and now he has dropped the catchy "In Da Getto" with DJ and producer Shrillex.
The song's artwork and music video also feature a surprising cameo from TikTok comedian Khaby Lame (as if you needed any more reasons to listen). The Prince of Reggaeton heads out on tour in the U.S. and Mexico this summer, and this number better be on the setlist.
Big Red Machine feat. Taylor Swift — "Renegade"
"Renegade" is basically the evermore bonus track we never knew we needed. Swift teamed up for a third time with songwriter Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver's Justin Vernon for this fast-paced single from How Long Do You Think It's Gonna Last?, the second studio album from the guys' band Big Red Machine (out Aug. 27). After the trio collab'd on "exile" and "evermore," their latest work feels like a dreamy reunion.
"This song was something we wrote after we finished evermore and it dawned on us that this was a BRM song. Taylor's words hit me so hard when I heard her first voice memo and still do, every time," Dessner tweeted. "I'm so grateful to Taylor for continuing to share her incredible talent with me and that we are still finding excuses to make music together."
Swift, who will also appear on BRM's "Birch," gushed, "When [Dessner] came into my life, I was ushered into his world of free-flowing creativity where you don't overthink, you just make music."
Jordan McGraw — "SHE"
McGraw continues to melt our hearts. The husband of E!'s own Morgan Stewart and the son of Dr. Phil, McGraw released "HER" in April, just months after he became a dad when the couple welcomed their daughter, Row.
Now, he's sweeping us off our feet once again with the steamy follow up, "SHE," as he prepares to embark on the Jonas Brothers' Remember This tour. He sings on the new track, "She likes to talk in the sleep / A simple conversation turn it into a scene / She likes to fight in her sleep / An irrational account of an encounter with me."
Luke Hemmings — "Starting Line"
Five seconds of streaming is all it takes to know Hemmings can make it as a solo artist. The 5 Seconds of Summer vocalist is striking out on his own with his first solo single, "Starting Line." The heartbreaking ballad gives the first taste of his intriguing debut album, When Facing The Things We Turn Away From, coming Aug. 13.
Hemmings wrote on YouTube that this project "grew out of a year of enforced stillness." The Australian singer, 24, explained, "I'm so grateful for the journey this album has taken me on and I'm so thankful to have had this creative outlet during my time at home. Lyrically and sonically, this album has allowed me to decipher the last 10 years of my life and help me make sense of the person I am today and how I got here."
jxdn feat. Machine Gun Kelly — "WANNA BE"
Kourtney Kardashian, get ready to blast this all day long! Her boyfriend, Travis Barker, recruited 20-year-old singer and TikToker Jaden Hossler (known as jxdn) as the first artist signed to his DTA Records label. Barker produced his debut album, the 18-track Tell Me About Tomorrow, which includes this angsty single with Machine Gun Kelly.
The pop punk collaboration surely calls for another chic double date between Kardashian, Barker, Machine Gun Kelly and girlfriend Megan Fox to celebrate.
2PM — "Make It"
MUST is obviously a must for K-pop fans! The South Korean boy band made a big splash with its first album in five years on Monday, June 28. As for "Make It," the music video has already surpassed 20 million views in just five days. The apocalyptic serenade features all the members—Jun. K, Nichkhun, Taecyeon, Junho, Wooyoung and Chansung—confessing their love as it rains fireballs on Earth.
Andy Grammer — "Lease on Life"
From the artist behind "Good to be Alive," "Keep Your Head Up" and "Fine By Me," this upbeat single oozes with the same optimism that made his previous songs a hit. Like the rest of us coming out of the pandemic, Grammer is hopeful that "Everything's gonna be alright / Got a brand new lease on life / When I look into your eyes."
As the proud father of two wrote on Instagram, "I hope it comes across for you and makes you feel a little bit of that when you hear it. Do me a personal favor and get into a car, roll down your windows, blare it super loud and let go of some of the emotional weight of this last year. I am so damn excited for you all to hear it."
Happy listening and happy Fourth of July weekend!