First Stream: New Music From Rihanna, SZA, Jin & 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, Rihanna returns from a far-too-long absence, SZA tries out the full-length version of a long-teased fan favorite, Ice Spice goes under the sea and more. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:

Rihanna, “Lift Me Up”

Rihanna’s much-anticipated return to music comes not with the kind of door-kicking, floor-filling lead single we once expected from her on a yearly basis, but rather with a lush, percussion-less ballad of domestic bliss. Co-written with producer Ludwig Göransson, Afrobeats sensation Tems and film director Ryan Coogler and featured on the soundtrack to the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack, the stirring song showcases Rihanna’s still-improving vocals as she sings of the security she seeks in her partner and her life: “Lift me up/ Hold me down/ Keep me close/ Safe and sound.” A simple and touching love song, also written in part as a tribute to the late Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman.

SZA, “Shirt”

It’s not quite as long-awaited as Rihanna’s comeback, but SZA fans have been waiting for the full version of “Shirt” since she first teased it on TikTok in 2020, spawning a dance challenge in the process. Safe to say the full version of the song fits just right, with the singer-songwriter’s typically scattered and piercing vocals racing over a booming beat, leading to an already trademark chorus: “Blood stain on my shirt/ New b–ch on my nerves.” If the song sounds like something that could’ve played on BET’s Planet Groove in 1999, there’s a reason for that: Turn-of-the-century R&B architect Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins co-produced and co-wrote the track, along with SZA and “Freaky” Rob Gueringer.

Jin, “The Astronaut”

Coldplay’s first blast off into the BTSverse went pretty well — the two groups’ “My Universe” collab debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking the former group’s first time topping the chart since 2008 — so it’s not surprise to hear Chris Martin & Co. called on again for co-writing duties on Jin’s solo single “The Astronaut.” The bilingual love song provides the kind of sparkling pop-rock maximalism we’ve come to expect from the two groups, with Jin’s plaintive vocal perfectly selling the chorus sentiment (“When I’m with you/ There is no one else/ I get heaven to myself”) — with Martin’s own backing cries of course providing valuable assistance underneath.

Polo G, “Bag Talk”

After proving near-ubiquitous in popular music from 2019 to 2021, Polo G has had a more laid-back 2022, with just a couple features and a one-off single (“Distraction”) to his credit so far this year. “Bag Talk” suggests the break might coming to an end: Co-produced by heavy-hitters TM88 and Southside, Polo brings the urgency to the widescreen production, promising “You could pick any location in the city I’m good, b–ch/ Everywhere I go, I’m stamped… I need evеry dime, I stay on my grind/ Like Tony Hawk up that ramp.”

Dove Cameron, “Bad Idea”

Following in the mode of prior releases “Boyfriend” and “Breakfast,” “Bad Idea” is Dove Cameron’s third badass “B” single of 2022, another sultry and alluring pop offering performed with an audibly devilish grin. This time, Cameron also takes cues from another “Bad” singer: With its alternately jaunty and eerie production, darkly pulsing beat and whisper-cooed vocals (with occasional dips into sing-speaking), the song could’ve slotted rather naturally into the middle third of Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Ice Spice, “Bikini Bottom”

Everyone’s favorite viral Bronx hip-hop sensation — and Billboard‘s own R&B/Hip-Hop Rookie of the Month for October — is back with a new single, and it might be her most irresistible yet. Ice Spice hopscotches through a skittering beat and a particularly springy RIOTUSA production in “Bikini Bottom,” spitting, “How can I lose if I’m already chose?/ Like, If she feelin’ hot then I make that b–ch froze.” Running a very replayable 1:46, you can bet that the staff at the Krusty Krab is getting down to this one at any opportunity.