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, Justin Timberlake returns still looking out for number one, Ice Spice gets lightly scatological and Megan Thee Stallion becomes Megan Thee Rattlesnake for one particularly venomous diss track. Check out all of this week’s picks below:
Justin Timberlake, “Selfish”
It hasn’t been the easiest half-decade of Justin Timberlake’s career, following 2018’s poorly received Man of the Woods album and some very public relitigation of his old behavior in his personal relationship with Britney Spears and professional relationship with Janet Jackson. But with a catalog and legacy like he has, a new Timberlake project is still going to command some degree of attention — and we’ll see just how much with the release of “Selfish,” single from his upcoming Everything I Thought It Was album. Despite the title, the song is actually much more unassuming than his usual lead singles: a honeyed, ornately produced mid-tempo ballad built on warmly groaning organs and a bossa nova drum machine. “If I get jealous, I can’t help it/ I want every bit of you, I guess I’m selfish,” JT sings on the chorus — not exactly a brand-new sentiment, but one sweet enough to really get up much hate for.
Megan Thee Stallion, “Hiss”
The song that your entire social media feed is buzzing — fine, hissing — about this morning is almost certainly Megan Thee Stallion’s take-no-prisoners latest. “I just wanna kick this s–t off by saying f–k y’all,” Megan proclaims to begin “Hiss.” “I’m finna get this s–t of my chest and lay it to rest.” Megan then spends the next three minutes spitting venomous bars against her haters and rivals, including rhymes about BBLs and Megan’s Law, which have been largely interpreted by fans online to be about Drake and Nicki Minaj’s husband Kenneth Petty, respectively. (Nicki Minaj seemingly responded on IG Live this morning with bars of her own.) Regardless of intended targets, though, the song contains some of the fieriest rapping of Megan’s career, and seems likely to recenter her in the hip-hop conversation for early 2024.
Ice Spice, “Think U the Shit (Fart)”
Ice Spice basically dominated 2023 from January on, so it’s not shocking she’d try to get in early on 2024 as well. “Think” is a bit of a left turn for her — go-to producer RIOTUSA replaces her usual drill beats and pop-leaning hooks with Jersey Club thumps and bleating synths, sounding like a cousin of 41’s underground smash “Bent” from last year. Ice’s vocals put a lot of stock in the questionable chorus rejoinder, “Think you the s–t?/ You not even a fart,” but goes a little harder on the verses, spitting, “I’m a pretty b–ch, I don’t like fightin’/ On the beat, I’m goin’ Super Saiyan.” We’ll see if it’s enough to keep her 2023-long hot streak on the charts cooking into 2024.
Lil Nas X, “Where Do We Go Now?”
Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero, the first full-length documentary about Lil Nas X, debuts on MAX this Saturday (Jan. 27). We wrote about our biggest takeaways from the doc here, but while fans wait to get their first look at the doc, Lil Nas has gifted them with another new song (following “J Christ” from two weeks ago): “Where Do We Go Now?” The pop-rock power ballad is written with and produced by LNX’s star’s go-to collaborators, Blake Slatkin and Omer Fedi, and feels like very natural new sonic and thematic territory for the genre-blending star, as he pleads “I just wanna be somebody new inside” over tender guitars and racing drums.
Morgan Wallen, “Spin You Around (1/24)”
Call it a Morgan’s Version: Country superstar Morgan Wallen announced last night on social media that he would be releasing a new version of his 2015 early-career recording “Spin You Around” this Friday. Why now? Because it’s not the only new release you’ll see posted on his artist page this morning: Stand Alone, parent EP to “Spin You Around,” has also been re-released in a 13-track “10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition” (despite having come out nine years ago), featuring eight previously unreleased songs — all against Wallen’s wishes. “I cringe when I listen to these songs & I’m very concerned my fans may mistakenly believe this is a new release by me,” he explained.
So to hopefully direct fans away from the unapproved new re-release, he’s re-recorded the fan favorite as a stripped-down acoustic ballad, subtitled with today’s date and given the cover-art note “had to leave the duck woods to make this.” It’s a lovely new version of the love song — which despite its rough-draft quality, does sound decently in line with more recent Wallen recordings — and it wouldn’t be shocking to see it become a new-old hit for Wallen, much like some of those Taylor’s Versions have the past couple years.
The Smile, Wall of Eyes
Apart from the huge pop, rap and country releases of this Friday, there’s also the less-top-40-friendly (but equally anticipated in some corners) new sophomore album from rock supergroup The Smile, led by Radiohead duo Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood. The eight-track new set features more blends of knotty art-rock melodies, psychedelic instrumental flourishes, Krautrock grooves and alt-funk jams, and has already attracted some of the early year’s strongest critical notices, including a Best New Music designation in Pitchfork.