Originally published here via Billboard.com.
Every week, Spotify updates their "New Music Friday" playlist, featuring 50 of the freshest new tracks hitting the service that week.
On the heels of Billboard's partnership with the streaming giant, we'll be tapping Spotify's editors to sift through the soon-to-be-hits and highlight the best of the bunch.
Check out the picks and listen to the entire "New Music Friday" playlist for April 14 below.
Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
Now that Kendrick Lamar's highly anticipated fourth studio album, DAMN., has officially arrived, the ongoing joke that the Compton rapper now owns the Internet is becoming increasingly true. With his loyal fan base already championing the record as his greatest to date, many are throwing out countless fire emojis, re-posting the menacing portrait-turned-cover-art on social media and hailing King Kendrick as one of the best rappers of all time in the caption. Although the evidence may be overwhelming that the 29-year-old does have his eyes on further solidifying his legacy as the GOAT, Lamar has also proven staying humble is at the core of his being while he pursues his destiny. Earning every single accolade and whisper of praise with each polished release through relentless hard work and undeniable talent; Lamar now has fans shouting compliments from the rooftops, with DAMN. raising the bar for contemporary hip-hop to an arguably unprecedented level.
The 14-track collection includes three lone features, from the likes of Rihanna, TDE-affiliate Zacari and U2, allowing Lamar to take center stage and shine a light on his insane talents as a socially conscious emcee. As he delivers bar after bar, he lives up to the word-of-mouth hype he has spent years fostering, with each single its own full course meal of material to digest and make sense of. With tracks such as his Rihanna-assisted "LOYALTY.," "DNA.," "LOVE." featuring Zacari and the U2-blessed "XXX." all gracing our New Music Friday playlist this week, it's definitely time for K. Dot to reclaim his rightful place atop the throne and sit back to watch how fans take in his latest addition to his critically acclaimed discography. As a disclaimer, when listening to the project front to back, reactionary words such as "damn," (after all, Kung Fu Kenny was strategic with this one), "legendary" and/or "classic" may all come to mind. We promise this is a normal response to listening to what many are already calling Kendrick Lamar's latest magnum opus. Sit back, buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Chris Stapleton - "Broken Halos"
Chris Stapleton is gearing up to have a very busy 2017. With a week until his extensive tour schedule kicks off -- which has dates booking out all the way through November -- the acclaimed singer-songwriter has released the first single off of his forthcoming sophomore album, From a Room: Volume 1. His highly anticipated follow-up arrives roughly two years after his debut record, Traveller, went on to score him his first Grammy Awards (taking home for best country album and best country solo performance) as well as cleaning up at the Academy of Country Music Awards and Country Music Association Awards alike. As Stapleton adds to both his ever-growing trophy collection and discography, his new single "Broken Halos" helps build a strong argument that he is one of the most refreshing and consistent country artists to emerge in recent memory.
With song credits under his belt including working with artists such as Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Darius Rucker, Adele, Sheryl Crow, Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw and more, Stapleton is now further honing his songwriting talents but this time around, for his own solo career. With fans hailing him as an artist who creates "a classic every time," his new single is already being met with high praise. Opening up with a simple strum of an acoustic guitar and his powerful voice, the Nashville staple does what he does best, with the song's strikingly beautiful and somber nature captivating listeners with expert ease. Sure to tide fans over until his forthcoming studio album is set free on May 5th, Stapleton's well on his way back to the top and deservedly so.
PWR BTTM - "LOL"
From swapping instruments mid-set to infamously referring to themselves as "genre-queer" the duo fondly known as PWR BTTM has been heroically switching things up from the jump, first joining forces creatively in 2013. Comprised of members Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce, who both interchangeably handle vocals and instrumentation, the duo has been steadily winning over the hearts of their growing fan base by unapologetically staying true to themselves in all their queer glory. By refreshingly addressing identity in their music, with Hopkins identifying as queer and using he/him/his pronouns while Bruce identifies as queer, non-binary and transfeminine and uses they/them/their pronouns, the pair is spearheading a movement inspiring others to be exactly who they are. With each release, the Brooklyn-based duo covers new ground, effortlessly gliding between different styles of music stemming from a foundation built on empowering garage punk rock. Following their 2015 debut, Ugly Cherries, PWR BTTM has been fostering a community of fans that is as diverse as it is die-hard, with their lyrical content as political as it is personal and their sound as feel-good and welcoming as it is designed to fiercely challenge the status quo. Currently in the middle of a sold-out tour in Europe, PWR BTTM has sweetened the announcement of their sophomore full-length album, Pageant, with the release of the lead single, "LOL," a song that is much more dynamic than its acronym of "laughing out loud" may suggest.
"'LOL' is a song about trying," member Ben Hopkins shared exclusively with Spotify. "Trying to understand. Trying to grow up. Trying to reconcile who you wish you were with who you can't help being. Sometimes you try as hard you can to do those things and you fail. You fing fail really, really hard. So hard that you have to give yourself a break and just laugh about how hard and weird things can be; about how no matter how secure you think you are deep down there's a part of us all the feels like they're doing everything for the first time."
With their sophomore album inspired by their self-declared shared interests in high-femme glamor, systems of gender, identity performance and all things drag, "LOL" is a glorious place to first become enamored by PWR BTTM, especially if you haven't yet indulged in experiencing the group's boundless creativity.
Bishop Briggs - self-titled EP
Bishop Briggs has been whimsically living a dream life the past year, going on to accomplish incredible milestones and impressively establish her budding music career, all before even releasing an official album or EP. While her first-ever single, "Wild Horses," proved she was poised for greatness, something that her impressive follow-up track "River" further solidified, she essentially has been silencing haters ever since with every boss move she makes next. After "River" first put her on Coldplay's radar -- a track that has since garnered over 30 million streams -- the powerhouse vocalist went on to open up for the veteran rockers on their recent A Head Full of Dreams Tour and officially got to work on her highly anticipated debut six-track EP.
Now that the self-titled project has finally arrived, the 24-year-old is making her mark as dark pop's next alternative voice, finding her stride in the mysterious fringes of life's melodramatic moments. In addition to including her breakout singles, the project also features the previously unheard tracks "The Fire" and "Dark Side," with each a strong offering to her growing catalog. As we get to know Briggs more and more through her music, with the project arriving just in time for her to perform at Coachella and kick off her first-ever headlining tour, it's undeniable Bishop Briggs has a long career ahead of her. The best part? She's still just getting started.
Royal Blood - "Lights Out"
After several years of nonstop touring, including with the likes of the Foo Fighters, English rock duo Royal Blood is picking up where they last left off in the studio and this time around, are returning as hungry as ever. Earlier this week, the pair, comprised of bassist/singer Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher, officially announced their follow-up to their 2014 self-titled debut, confirming their upcoming album, How Did We Get So Dark?, will arrive this summer on June 16th via Warner Bros. Records.
Pairing their new single, "Lights Off," with a brilliantly chaotic visual, Royal Blood is already back to their tried-and-true talented ways, scoring many points for creativity and top-tier songwriting alike. During the accompanying music video for the track, the rampageous rock-n-rollers hold their ground in a dimly lit interior, powering through the gritty anthem despite a mob of bodies unexpectedly bursting through the ceilings and walls. As the enclosed room's walls surreally becomes like water, the bodies thrash about the enclosed room as the song builds, with everyone eventually being washed in red light as the music takes over. Earlier this year, frontman Mike Kerr shared that their approach to their new album was to toss out any ideas that they weren't proud of, something that judging by "Lights Out" is a method that works extremely in their favor. With 10 new tracks on the way, narrowed down from the 50 Kerr revealed they originally wrote, Royal Blood is putting it in their own words that their new album is "way sexier, more confident sounding" than their impressive debut was. Needless to say, the countdown for album number two has officially begun.
Words by KC Orcutt