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, Doja Cat leaves you on red, Halle make a heavenly solo debut, and Demi Lovato links up with LE SSERAFIM for uptempo fun. Check out all of this week’s picks below:
Doja Cat, “Paint the Town Red”
One could reasonably expect for Doja Cat to snap back at faux supporters trying to constrict her to one sound or style; a bit more surprising is Doja Cat delivering a belated tribute to recently passed musician Burt Bacharach. Yet she does both on crackling new single “Paint the Town Red,” which utilizes the Dionne Warwick classic “Walk On By” as a foundation for the audacious multi-hyphenate superstar to declare, “Yeah, bitch, I said what I said.” While stans will pore over every line and innuendo, the entirety of “Paint the Town Red” sounds more dynamic than Dojo’s previous single, “Attention”: she’s naturally in the pocket during the rap verses, and the extended hook is a pop-rap triumph, brimming with self-assured skill.
Unlike most debut singles, “Angel” arrives after its creator, Halle Bailey, has already made a significant impact on popular culture — first as one-half of the acclaimed R&B duo Chloe x Halle with her equally talented sister, and then as a rising star in Hollywood, leading the live-action The Little Mermaid and coming soon in The Color Purple remake. “Angel” could have been a quick check-in for hungry music fans, but Halle infuses the rhythmic, piano-led track with vulnerability and heart, sharing her insecurities while declaring that she will ultimately fly above the sentiments trying to weigh her down.
LE SSERAFIM feat. Demi Lovato, “Eve, Psyche & The Bluebeard’s Wife”
Demi Lovato continues a particularly adventurous streak by hopping on a new remix to K-pop group LE SSERAFIM’s viral B-side “Eve, Psyche & The Bluebeard’s Wife,” leaping into the boundaries of the megawatt song and proceeding to nudge them just a little bit farther outward. The track was already a thumping, quick-moving flirtation, and Lovato’s voice provides another powerful siren cry: “I see it written on your face, yeah / I know you want a little taste, yeah,” Lovato sings with a world of confidence.
Grupo Frontera, El Comienzo
The story of Mexican music’s global breakthrough in 2023 cannot be told without Grupo Frontera, the Texas group who fully transitioned from releasing viral covers to scoring their own smashes this year. Debut album El Comienzo acknowledges the songs and co-stars that helped the collective conquer the charts — “No Se Va” and their Bad Bunny team-up “un x100to” are the first two songs on the track list, after all — yet Grupo Frontera have plenty of new tricks up their sleeves on the project, as they bring new collaborators into their universe and shine on their own with tracks like the emotionally heightened “Cansado De Sufrir” and the airy, charming “Me Gustas.”
Usher feat. 21 Savage & Summer Walker, “Good Good”
Modern R&B is rife with euphoric love songs and devastated heartbreak songs; less common are the post-breakup anthems in which both sides are pleased with the split and can newly coexist as friends. “Good Good” finds Usher exploring that rare terrain while sounding especially spry: maybe it’s the fresh subject matter, or maybe the presence of 2020s A-listers 21 Savage and Summer Walker have pushed the veteran to step his game up, but regardless of the reason, Usher is downright reinvigorated on these vocal runs and sumptuous hooks.
Editor’s Pick: ††† (Crosses), “Invisible Hand”
Nine years after Deftones leader Chino Moreno and producer/multi-instrumentalist Shaun Lopez released Crosses, the debut album of their project †††, we’re finally getting a proper follow-up — Goodnight, God Bless, I Love U, Delete. will be released Oct. 13 and feature guest spots from Robert Smith and El-P. Their official return as a duo is cause for excitement in the hard rock world, and lead single “Invisible Hand” is only going to heighten expectations for the rest of the album: the track locks in on a blindingly bright electro-rock groove before jerking the listener in different directions, and Moreno’s voice, driving and emotive as ever, serves as a guide to each pivot.