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 (July 28), Travis Scott takes listeners to Utopia, Post Malone introduces his fans to Austin, and Offset and Cardi B brush off the haters (with a movie star’s help). Check out all of this week’s picks below:
Travis Scott, Utopia
No pyramids, no problem: Even with its much-hyped premiere event in Egypt delayed until a date TBD, Travis Scott still dropped his long-awaited Utopia — five years after his 2018 blockbuster Astroworld — this Friday at midnight. Like Astroworld, the album is a winding journey through Scott’s sonic universe, with such A-list guests as The Weeknd, 21 Savage, Future and of course his old “Sicko Mode” collaborator Drake — though you’ll have to actually listen to know that they’re on there, as the streaming tracklist is once again feature spoiler-free. The most exciting cameo this time around: fellow H-Town native Beyoncé, detouring from the Renaissance Tour to Utopia, with her first-ever appearance on a Travis Scott album.
Post Malone, Austin
Guitar Posty was promised, and Guitar Posty was (mostly) delivered. Which is not to say that Austin finally features Post Malone living out his Kurt Cobain fantasies in full — you probably wouldn’t even quite call it a rock album, more just a pop album with a power ballad or two, a disco jam (!!) and a good amount of six string over all of it. Some are fun, some are despairing, some somewhere in between, but all clearly more by the man behind “Circles,” than the one behind “Rockstar” or “Congratulations.” It’s an enjoyable listen — and an interesting career move for Post, who experienced a bit of a commercial downturn with last year’s wrenchingly personal Twelve Carat Toothache, and who has yet to really recapture the chart dominance of his late 2010s this decade.
Offset feat. Cardi B, “Jealousy”
Cardi B’s absurd run of scene-stealing features continues with an overdue solo collaborator — her own husband, Offset. “Jealousy” doesn’t have much of a chorus or hook to speak of — it would just get in the way of the couple’s bars, as Offset insists “I’m Michael, I’m not no Jermaine” and Cardi attests, “B–ches don’t wanna go Birkin for Birkin/ B–ches ain’t got enough hits for a Verzuz/ B–ches be actin’ so different in person.” The song is helped by a sample of Three 6 Mafia’s “Jealous Ass B–ch” and a music video that sees the duo paying tribute to the 2001 John Singleton classic Baby Boy, with original star Taraji P. Henson even making a cameo.
Mitski, “Bug Like an Angel”
After 2022’s top five-debuting Billboard 200 hit album Laurel Hell, critics’ darling turned viral indie sensation Mitski is already scheduled for the follow-up LP, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, out in September. This week, we get the first taste: “Bug Like an Angel,” a Cowboy Junkies-like acoustic ballad with occasional jarring choral punctuations, and the kind of poetic lyrical exhaustion fans have come to expect from her the past half decade: “When I’m bent over wishin’ it was over/ Makin’ all variety of vows I’ll never keep/ I Try to remember the wrath of the devil/ Was also given him by God.” A year and a half since the last album? Already way too long a wait.
Gucci Mane, “Woppenheimer”
Never let it be said that Gucci Mane doesn’t give the people what they want. A meme nostalgic for Guwop’s peak mixtape run went viral last weekend, theorizing that if we were still in 2009, we’d have gotten a Woppenheimer project pegged to the Christopher Nolan-directed box office smash. Today, La Flare says “fair enough” and does indeed release a “Woppenheimer” — with the fan’s proposed cover art and everything — though only a single rather than a full mixtape. The narcotic trap banger indeed could have appeared on an Obama-era Gucci release, as he raps on the hook, “Broke people like bringin’ up the past, I’m talkin’ recently/ I know what I did for you, but what you did for me?” The ball is indeed back in their court.
Carly Rae Jepsen, The Loveliest Time
In 2022, she was having The Loneliest Time — but those days are over, and the Canadian pop favorite is back this week and apparently having a much nicer go of it. From the jazzy friskiness of “Anything to Be With You” to the neon synth drama of “Kamikaze” to the Midnight Star-interpolating electro-pop of “Shy Boy,” Carly Rae Jepsen does indeed seem to be feeling loose and carefree, hopscotching from one sound to another and generally keeping the vibe consistent throughout. Fans can only wonder what set might be completing the trilogy in 2024: The Luckiest Time? The Looniest Time? The Languorousest Time?