First Stream: New Music From Miley Cyrus, Bizarrap & Shakira, Sam Smith and More

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, Miley Cyrus grows with “Flowers,” Shakira doesn’t hold anything back alongside Bizarrap, and Sam Smith recruits two pals to keep evolving. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:

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Miley Cyrus, “Flowers”

Throughout her career, Miley Cyrus has remade her image and sound at the start of a new album era, from the grown-up synth-pop of Can’t Be Tamed to the audacious hip-hop influence of Bangerz to the pensive country-pop of Younger Now to the homage-paying guitar-rock of Plastic Hearts. As a sleek, disco-adjacent midtempo pop track, “Flowers,” the first taste of upcoming album Endless Summer Vacation, doesn’t tip its hand and reveal a radical sonic reinvention for Cyrus — but that lack of transformation actually benefits the superstar, who sings of changing course and finding self-fulfillment after a breakup, in this context. Singing with wisdom and a steady sense of space on “Flowers,” Cyrus shows that she can still conjure pop magic, but can also feel comfortable in her own skin.

Bizarrap & Shakira, “Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53”

“This is for you to be mortified, to chew and swallow, swallow and chew,” Shakira declares on volume 53 of Bizarrap’s acclaimed (and increasingly popular) music sessions — and indeed, the collaboration is intended as an evisceration, with several haymakers directed at Shakira’s ex-husband, soccer star Gerard Piqué, already making the rounds on social media. However, don’t let the tabloid fodder outshine Shakira’s most vibrant single in years: “Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53” is rich with hooks, beat changes and invigorated singing, as if dunking on her ex has unlocked the most dazzling version of an all-time superstar.

Sam Smith feat. Koffee & Jessie Reyez, “Gimme”

The Sam Smith Renaissance continues with “Gimme,” a lush dancehall riff on which the singer-songwriter, having recently tinkered with their microphone persona on the sweaty hyperpop smash “Unholy,” downplays their crooning for a more subtle, sensual delivery, to great effect. Instead of sacrificing the intimacy of a sexually charged song like “Gimme,” guest stars Koffee and Jessie Reyez switch up the song’s chemistry and make every second of the track, from the chiming refrain to the bumping second verse, as impactful as possible.

Moneybagg Yo & GloRilla, “On Wat U On”

Give Moneybagg Yo and GloRilla, two rock-solid Memphis rappers increasingly crucial to mainstream hip-hop, a bass-heavy beat with a menacing piano line, and the results are probably going to be stellar. Yet “On Wat U On” represents more than a reliable head-knocker from the CMG label mates: as the pair justify their kiss-offs while cosplaying in an unstable relationship, they form a symbiotic relationship of loners who know what they want and can toss in the right ad-libs to demonstrate as much (GloRilla earns extra points for dropping “Hate yo’ ass!” to punctuate a line).

Margo Price, Strays 

In the summer of 2020, during the throes of the pandemic, Margo Price and her husband/collaborator Jeremy Ivey spent six days in South Carolina taking a ton of hallucinogenic mushrooms and furiously penning the album that would eventually become Strays; that backstory explains the inhibited songwriting at the heart of the country-folk mainstay’s fourth album, but also underscores how nuanced the album can be in between more free-wheeling moments. Tracks like the kicky “Been to the Mountain” are balanced out with “County Road,” a poignant message to a young victim of a car accident, and “Lydia,” a powerhouse ballad about abortion that stands among Price’s best work.

PartyNextDoor, “Her Old Friends”

About 95 seconds into new single “Her Old Friends,” PartyNextDoor locks into a groove that reminds casual fans why he’s still such an exciting presence in popular R&B: his voice floats up then twists back down, and stacked vocals circle in and out of harmonizing, as if a ghostly chorus can’t decided whether or not to support him. The new track follows singles like “Sex in the Porsche” and “No Fuss,” hinting at the first PND full-length since 2020… but regardless of when that arrives, moments like that in the middle of “Her Old Friends” are worth savoring.

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