It’s hard to stay up to date on the hottest artists, new singles, and albums Gen Z loves because new content pops up daily. Check out our rundown of the latest music so you can stay in the know (and maybe even surprise your teen with your extensive knowledge of pop culture)!
(Some songs listed contain profanity and/or inappropriate video displays. Our hope is that this list will inform and empower you to start great conversations with the teens in your life. Please use your discretion in deciding what music you’re comfortable with your family listening to.)
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie — Artist 2.0
Release date: February 14, 2020
Artist 2.0 is A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s third studio album. One of the tracks, “Numbers,” is currently ranked at #23 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The album discusses the disparity between his “rockstar lifestyle” and a variety of tougher themes, such as growing up in a rough neighborhood in the Bronx, heartbreak from the end of a relationship and the loss of close friends, and his feelings on the prison system. Be aware, this album does contain quite a bit of bad language and storylines. Use your discernment as a parent to decide whether or not your teen should be listening to this music.
Justin Bieber — Changes
Release date: February 14
Bieber’s fifth studio album Changes is the first since 2015’s Purpose. As Pitchfork rather critically puts it, it’s “a grown-man, R&B album about domestic love that has all the glow and eroticism of an airport terminal.” While reviews of the album have been shoddy at best, it does seem the pop-sensation-turned-R&B-artist is attempting to debut his, well, changes, as a married man (“never thought I’d settle down”) trying to stay true to his Christian faith (“circumstances change, but God always remains the same”).
“Yummy,” the lead single of the new album is an ode to his new wife, Hailey Bieber, as he highlights their lavish lifestyle and compliments her body with great excitement. “Get Me” is the second single from Changes. Bieber and R&B singer Kehlani sing back and forth about their “relationship” and compatibility. It follows the R&B theme he promised his audience in this latest album with chill beats and vocals.
Billie Eilish — “No Time to Die”
Release date: February 13
Billie Eilish became the youngest artist to record a theme song for a James Bond movie with “No Time to Die,” a dramatic, dark, and moody melody. “We’ve always wanted to write a James Bond theme song,” Eilish’s brother, Finneas, told the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast. “No Time to Die” tells of romantic betrayal, in line with hints from the film’s trailer that dark secrets will be revealed about Bond’s love interest.
Lil Wayne — Funeral
(Strong language)Release date: January 31
Lil Wayne is one of the core founders of the modern rap game. His 13th studio album features big names like 2 Chainz, Lil Baby, Big Sean, Jay Rock, the-Dream, and Adam Levine. It’s quite the diverse album—some songs slow and melancholy (like the title track, “Funeral”), some with strong beats (like “Stop Playin With Me”), and others eerie and intriguing (like “Clap For Em”). The songs do contain inappropriate language, objectification of women, and drugs. If your teen is a fan of rap music, this album may be on their latest playlist. Instead of cutting them off from listening to the album altogether, consider listening to a few of the songs with your teen and discussing the content with them. Chances are, they don’t think the messages Lil Wayne pushes are actually too great. But more often than not, our teens gravitate towards music with a cool sound over a good message. Try to bring some perspective and understanding on an album your teen may just be listening to for the sound.
Asher Angel — “Chills”
Release date: January 24Asher Angel is a 17-year-old pop singer with floppy brown hair, cool style, and a great voice, all of which makes him the ultimate teen-pop-sensation. His latest single, “Chills,” is a sweet song about the feeling you get when you meet someone special. He wrote the song because he felt that teenagers like himself could relate to the storyline. “The new music is very important because it’s real, it’s authentic. With my lyrics, I want them to say something. I don’t want them to just be there and it’s just a song that you groove to, it’s actually coming from me as an artist and a human being.” This message of authenticity is the definition of Gen Z, so this just might be your teen’s new favorite bop.
Mac Miller — CirclesRelease date: January 17
While Mac Miller passed away in September of 2018 of an accidental drug overdose, his legacy has lived on with the release of Circles. The posthumous album is Miller’s most artistically diverse and least “hip-hoppy” project yet. The title track, “Circles,” is a self-reflective song; he sees his weaknesses but views life in a positive, hopeful light. This theme of growth and positivity bleeds from one song to the next, giving the entire album a sense of maturity that exceeds previous albums. Was your teen a Mac Miller fan? How did his death affect them? What are their thoughts on the differences between Circles and Miller’s previous albums? What does it say about the possibility of growth and restoration in this life? How does their Christian faith add depth to the late Miller’s newfound perspective on life?
Halsey — ManicRelease Date: January 17
Your Gen Zer may be drawn to Halsey’s latest album for its focus on mental health. It’s chock full of stories detailing her experiences with bipolar disorder (where Manic derives its name), emotional breakups, codependency, bisexuality, and more. There are some heavy topics, with messages both uplifting and heartbreaking. This is a great album to explore with your teen, especially if they’re already listening to it. Because while there may be lyrics that confuse or even alarm us, our kids just need us to hear their perspective so they feel understood. Then, we can offer our own wisdom and discernment on those heavy lyrics.
Eminem — “Darkness”Release Date: January 16
“Darkness” has a theme of despair, repeating the line “hello darkness, my old friend” (a line from Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”). The song includes a chilling compilation of news clips covering various American mass shootings. Closing out the music video is an image of TVs in the shape of the U.S. with the words “When will this end?” referring to tragic shootings in conjunction with the national gun debate. This is another difficult, yet important song to discuss with your teen if they’re a fan of Eminem’s music because the dark and political messages require a discerning ear.
Selena Gomez — RareRelease date: January 10
This 16-track album is arguably the biggest hit of Selena’s career. Get all of the details on this album here!
Future — “Life is Good” ft. DrakeRelease date: January 9
“Life is Good” has quickly topped the charts, currently ranked at #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The song was released as a collab between Drake and Future, but it’s basically two songs put together in one track. The music video shows Future and Drake side-by-side as co-workers in a bunch of odd jobs: garbage men, a tech company, a fast-food restaurant, and as members of the video’s camera crew. On the one hand, it looks like they’re trying to relate with and even glorify the life of the “average” person today; however, at times it can be hard to distinguish between relating and poking fun. “‘Life Is Good’ functions like a good episode of SNL. Two well-known celebrities remake themselves and play with their image in short, digestible bursts. Some of the jokes hit, while others do not,” Rolling Stone’s Charles Holmes said. If your teen is a Future and/or Drake fan, get their thoughts on the duo’s latest collab. What do they think it means to live a day in the life of an “average” person today? Do Future and Drake illustrate that well, or does it seem more like two celebrities poking fun from the perspective of their lavish lives?
Moneybagg Yo — Time Served
(Strong language)Release date: January 10
Time Served is Monneybagg Yo’s third studio album, the follow-up to May 2019’s 43VA HEARTLESS (his most successful album to date). In the rap album, Bagg shows us small glimpses into his past, reminding fans that he’s still the same Demario White (his real name) behind all the success. He gets the most vulnerable in “Thug Cry,” where he recounts hardships:
I done made some real bad choices with my life
And I knew I wasn’t right but I ain’t feel no love
Is what it is, I done done what I done
Ain’t nobody perfect, who the f*** is you to judge?
Echosmith — Lonely GenerationRelease date: January 10
The title track of this album highlights how disconnected and isolated we tend to feel today, hence, the “lonely generation,” and urges listeners to build real-life connections with one another. “No matter what situation we’re in, we’re constantly being consumed by our phones and having the hardest time being present. This video really captures that, while also serving as a sneak peek into every single video we made for this album. We made a total of 12 music videos. So stay tuned,” Echosmith said of “Lonely Generation.” This could be a cool song to listen to and discuss with your teen. Talk about the lyrics and discover how they feel about making connections with people in today’s world.
Lauv — ~ how i’m feeling ~Release date: March 6
Following the theme of mental health in pop culture, Lauv got real with his audience, revealing that he’d struggled with “a case of intense obsessive anxiety and depression.” The 21-track album ~ how i’m feeling ~ is yet to be fully released; however, a few songs are already out, including “Changes,” which he released January 2, 2020. The album is “about embracing personality and all its different aspects,” Lauv shared.
(P.S. If you want to dive deeper into the lyrics of any of these songs, Genius is a great place to decode music and discover the meaning behind the lyrics.)