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!
Halsey has successfully convinced us she is not a woman, she's a god. Her fourth studio album, If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power, sucked fans into a mystical world that's part darkness (à la Cruella) and part gothic (à la Sleeping Beauty), with Halsey as our ruler.
The 26-year-old spellbinder opted not to release any singles, letting the album's cover art (reminiscent of Madonna and Child) hint at how their own motherhood journey inspired its potent lyrics and textures. Baby Ember was born in July, and has already become Halsey's most powerful muse.
What follows are our picks for the best of the best. Your playlist for the weekend of Aug. 27-29 has arrived. Enjoy!
Halsey — "honey"
Though "I am not a woman, I'm a god" will soon be dominating radio stations nationwide, fans are flocking to one the artist's personal favorites: "honey." Halsey, who is queer and uses she/they pronouns, released this luscious love story that was initially just an "experiment" to demo the song making process for her 16-year-old brother, Dante, she told fans on social media. Two days after singing a bit in her backyard studio, she and producer John Cunningham realized how "dope" it was, and finished the fast-paced track: "She was sweet like honey / But all I can taste is the blood in my mouth."
So, who is her honey, if not Alev Aydin, the father of her child? "A lady does not kiss and tell," they said of the inspiration.
Ultimately, If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power focuses heavily on death and love, and how they're forever linked through heartbreak and motherhood. It's about blood.
BTS feat. Megan Thee Stallion — "Butter (Remix)"
The only person who could make "Butter" even smoother was Megan Thee Stallion, who got Butter Thee Remix trending on Thursday night. Meg rightfully boasts about her global influence in her new verse, rapping, "Smooth like cocoa butter / My drip more than a puddle / They know that I'm the wave / Take over every summer." No lies were spoken.
Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar — "family ties"
"Kendrick is competing with himself at this point geez," one fan wrote of the 13-time Grammy winner and self-described "prophet." This "family ties" collab is the first time fans have heard him on a song all year. Even last year, he was featured on just one song with Busta Rhymes' "Look Over Your Shoulder." Now, the Pulitzer Prize winner is back, and working on new music after "ducking the pandemic." We're all ears.
Kacey Musgraves — "justified"
Kacey has been candid about how last year's divorce from Ruston Kelly affected the upcoming star-crossed album. In fact, she has said her "post-divorce" album will be "formulated like a modern tragedy," inspired in part by magic mushrooms and the composer Bach. In her latest melancholy number, she's ready to have a good cry. The country star takes a solo drive and ruminates on what she was "supposed to do" when her lover said he "didn't want" her. "You should've treated me right," Kacey cries.
Don't expect the butterflies that came with Golden Hour, but her voice is just as beautiful—hauntingly so.
Selena Gomez and Camilo — "999"
We'd watch this over and over for the wigs alone. Selena is purple, green and every shade of blue in her psychedelic-inspired music video with the 27-year-old Colombian vocalist. She follows up her Spanish-language album Revelación (which dropped in March) with this song about going from zero to 100 (or specifically, 999) after realizing beyond a doubt you've found true love.
Belly and The Weeknd feat. Nas — "Die For It"
Belly's third studio album, See You Next Wednesday, is here, including this dystopian track that features Inception-worthy slow-mo explosions of screens and monitors.
The 37-year-old rapper invokes the 2019 death of Nipsey Hussle in one of the most memorable lines, mourning the loss of his former "Double Up" collaborator. As Belly says, "They killed Nip, will never fill the void / I know the devil cried a tear of joy."
OneRepublic — "Someday"
The pop rock band, fronted by Ryan Tedder, has finally dropped its fifth album, Human, whose first single came out more than two years ago. So yes, you can say "Someday" has been a long time coming. The band sets sail on a ship named after the Mona Lisa, and reflects on the age-old adage about being better when you're older. "Someday, we'll be all that we need," Ryan croons, satisfying fans of their signature sound that's both rough and wispy.