Due to quarantine and social distancing guidelines, people feel more disconnected than ever. However, music always brings people together, so Ilse DeLange and Michael Schulte’s collaboration couldn’t have dropped at a more opportune time. In this Dutch/German team-up, “Wrong Direction” brings two artists together to lyrically discuss the disconnect in a relationship — oh, the irony. “Wrong Direction” finds the perfect balance between nostalgia and modernity, composed of a comforting, country-pop melody layered with fresh, alternating vocals that complement each other beautifully. They just don’t make duets like this anymore — simple, classic, effortless. Just the thing we need right now. —Sarina Bhutani
“One time, I met a woman who knew pain the same way I did.”
That’s Ariana Grande tweeting about Lady Gaga, her collaborator on the incredibly vibrant new dance-floor number “Rain on Me.” The song, which dropped today (May 22), pulsates with joyful energy through its shimmering house production. But as the lyrics tell, it’s a pure release — using the motion of music to process pain.
Grande continued with her journey alongside Gaga: “…who cried as much as I did, drank as much wine as I did, ate as much pasta as I did and [whose] heart was bigger than her whole body. She immediately felt like a sister to me.”
As Gaga revealed in an interview about her forthcoming album Chromatica earlier this year, the pair connected over their shared traumas and used that energy to create “Rain on Me.” “I sat with her and we talked about our lives,” Gaga said to Paper magazine. “It’s two women having a conversation about how to keep going and how to be grateful for what you do.”
Grande’s thanks continued: “She then held my hand and invited me into the beautiful world of Chromatica and together, we got to express how beautiful and healing it feels to mothafuckinnnn cry! I hope this makes u all feel as uplifted as it does for us both. i love u @ladygaga, u stunning superwoman!”
Gaga, meanwhile, took to social media to address Grande and thank her for being with her. “One time I felt like I was crying so much it would never stop. Instead of fighting it, I thought bring it on, I can do hard things,” she wrote. “@arianagrande I love you for your strength and friendship.” She also shouted out the album’s executive producer, Bloodpop, for his support. “Now when I cry instead of fighting it I say ‘I’m ready rain on me,'” Gaga wrote. “@bloodpop thank u for encouraging me to keep going when I was sad. Turns out even if you don’t feel good enough you still can be. I heard my joy back when we wrote this song. It was there, I just needed to find it.”
Experience the pure catharsis of “Rain on Me” above, and sing along when the time comes: “I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive.”
If you’ve seen actress/performer Condola Rashad as high-powered attorney Kate Sacker on Billions, you know the way she can work the room in a suit. But under the musical moniker of Dola, she’s set up a vast blank canvas onto which she can paint any kind of cosmic vision she likes. As she tells MTV News, her dynamic new visual for “Running in Place,” which premieres today (May 22), “brought me to a very Victorian place.”
That’s only part of the story. “Running in Place” is the third release from her EP Space Daughter, which she calls her “playful ode to the divine feminine.” As such, each visual so far has had its own distinct vibe and aura. “Running in Place” is, in Dola’s words, “a moody song about the death of mystery brought about by the taking over of dating apps.” And the vision, which she co-directed, brings that particular tragedy to life.
For each of Space Daughter‘s visual treatments, Dola herself appears as the titular being, ushering in a different side of herself and the journey. “The idea is that at the top of each video, she does something that basically allows her to manifest into another version of herself, to tell a different story of herself. Her story,” Dola said. By the end of the violet-tinged “Running in Place” video, a black-clad mourning Dola even lies down flowers at a headstone that reads “R.I.P. Mystery.” “I like when I meet somebody, not knowing everything about them. And there’s something about the dating apps where you do the whole background check before you even meet the person.”
This wasn’t quite her idea from the jump; in fact, it took a bit of distance to discover, which she did while listening back to the Space Daughter songs she created with collaborators.
“All of 2019 was manifestation year for me. I drew up these mood boards. I drew up these treatments and these outlines for these videos last January. And then we filmed these in August,” she said of the ambitious Space Daughter project. She knew once she found the song’s bridge — anchored around the lyrics “swipe to the left then we swipe to the right” — that one of the video’s central images would be based around a smartphone. “I knew I wanted choreography with the cell phone. I knew that. I was like, ‘You have to be dancing with this cell phone! I know that.'”
That dancing comes via Dola and flanked support all seated in corsets in a Victorian interior, the set design matching the song’s baroque strings. But the phones in their hands are purposeful anachronisms. “I liked that juxtaposition between something that was antique and modern,” she said. “I knew I wanted that in the same image, of the constriction of what it is that I feel sometimes with dating apps.”
She’s also felt walled in about her sound as an artist, which doesn’t always follow along straight lines. She views the musical and visual components of “Running in Place,” for example, as “a beautiful mix of Stevie Wonder and Tim Burton.” But her previous Space Daughter entries — the gentle, elemental “Blue” and the sensual, bombastic “Give Up the Gold” — couldn’t be more different from that vibe (and from each other).
“What excites me is, as you could see from ‘Give Up the Gold’ or ‘Running in Place,’ [is how] I think people are all going to be, ‘Wait, what? Where are we going now?'” she said.
Dola still has several new shades of herself to reveal as she rolls out the rest of Space Daughter. But what’s consistent, even if the music itself varies from track to track, is the inspiration. “To me, I just felt like, even as an actor, my work is inspired by music. Every single character I’ve played has had a playlist that always builds from musical pieces,” she said. “So it’s truly shaped the way that I walked through my life.”
To that end, Dola is donating 100 percent of her personal proceeds of “Running in Place” during June, July, and August to benefit VH1’s Save the Music Foundation — which will aid in music education at an unprecedented time due to the coronavirus pandemic. “As schools are moving towards remote learning, these music students and teachers have kind of lost the ability to express themselves at school and in person, and a lot of these students have limited technology at home,” she said. “So I appreciated doing what they can to make sure that the students continue to learn about making music in these limited ways.”
See that inspiration in action by checking out Dola’s “Running in Place” video when it drops later today.
Last August, Lana Del Rey released her sixth album, Norman Fucking Rockwell to rapturous acclaim. By the end of 2019, it landed high on numerous publications’ best-of lists, and it even earned an Album of the Year nomination at the Grammys just a few months later.
But it was a long journey for Lana, as she writes out in a pointed new note posted to Instagram early Thursday (May 21). “With all of the topics women are finally allowed to explore I just want to say over the last ten years I think it’s pathetic that my minor lyrical exploration detailing my sometimes submissive or passive roles has often made people say I’ve set women back hundreds of years,” she wrote.
The catalyst for her note, it appears, is the recent chart success of several female artists she mentions by name. “Now that Doja Cat, Ariana [Grande], Camila [Cabello], Cardi B, Kehlani and Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé have had number ones with songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, fucking, cheating, etc — can I please go back to singing about being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect, or dancing for money — or whatever I want — without being crucified or saying that I’m glamorizing abuse??????”
“I’m fed up with female writers and alt singers saying that I glamorize abuse when in reality I’m just a glamorous person singing about the realities of what we are all now seeing are very prevalent abusive relationships all over the world,” she continued.
She also clarified that her frustrations are also rooted in, as she sees it, whose perspective gets incorporated in feminist art and whose doesn’t: “There has to be a place in feminism for women who look and act like me — the kind of woman who says no but men hear yes — the kind of women who are slated mercilessly for being their authentic, delicate selves. The kind of women who get their own stories and voices taken away from them by stronger women or by men who hate women.”
The note also mentions a decade of “bullshit reviews” she received and how she feels her art has “paved the way for other women to stop ‘putting on a happy face’ and to just be able to say whatever the hell they wanted to in their music,” unlike, she writes, her own early experiences. One of those “bullshit reviews” may be storied critic Ann Powers’s September 2019 take on Norman Fucking Rockwell, which was largely celebratory but also noted, as criticism does, “uncooked” spots and “B-plus poetics.” Lana did not agree, tweeting back at Powers that “there’s nothing uncooked about me. To write about me is nothing like it is to be with me. Never had a persona.”
This interaction has resurfaced again among the reactions to Lana’s new note, which range from the fans of the artists she mentioned defending their faves to others calling out what they see as hypocrisy to still others commenting on the inherent racial politics of a white artist calling out largely nonwhite artists. There are also those defending her and urging detractors to focus on her larger points about the importance of women’s points of view in music.
Amid all the discussion the statement is generating, it’s easy to miss a key detail Lana concludes with: She’s got two forthcoming books of poetry as well as a brand-new album set to drop on September 5. “I’m sure there will be tinges of what I’ve been pondering” in the new music, she wrote. While we wait to discover what that might sound like — and how producer Jack Antonoff, of whom she posted a FaceTime virtual jam session photo, will help shape it — read her note in full above.
In this age of self-isolation and quarantine, it’s never been more important to check in on each other and to connect. This goes for artists, too, who have been social distancing alongside us: livestreaming concerts and hangouts, creating their own talk shows, and… well, that’s what we want them to tell us, with Remote Access.
Last month, the neon-haired, pop-punk revivalist Yungblud released a blissfully metallic anti-anxiety anthem, “Weird,” along with a homemade video shot from the roof of a Los Angeles Airbnb, where the singer is currently social distancing with a few bandmates and his manager. Featuring lyrics detailing hard-won battles with mental health (“I can’t think, I can’t lie / I feel anxious all the time / If I smiled I would be lyin’”) overcome collectively (“Come hold my hand / Hold it tight”), the song came primed for its quarantine debut; but, Yungblud explains, it was written long before the coronavirus pandemic reached its peak.
“I was in what I thought was the weirdest time of my life ever imaginable,” he says, referring to a moment when his meteoric rise, dotted by collaborations with Halsey and Machine Gun Kelly and capped by a sold-out show at London’s O2 Academy Brixton, collided with personal heartbreak and surfacing depression. “But then all this happened and I was like, whoa, I could not have been more wrong if I tried.”
Despite feeling as if he’s been “put in a chicken coop” in quarantine, and missing his U.K. home (he has been calling his mom and sister most often), Yungblud is staying productive. He’s completed a new album, which he told Kerrang! will be “naïve and full of contradictions” and is “building the world” around it prior to release. He’s also staying positive, and spreading that positivity to fans around the world, particularly with the weekly YouTube Originals show Stay Home With: Yungblud, in which his stay-at-home crew document their most candid moments together: dancing around the apartment in their underwear, cooking (Yorkshire pudding is a favorite), and checking in on fans. The artist does not shy away from vulnerability, either, opening up about the sadness he felt after being forced to miss a close family member’s funeral; the fourth and final episode of the weekly series premiered on Monday (May 18).
It’s all part of the Yungblud experiment, which is less about Dominic Harrison, the 22-year-old kid from Doncaster, and more about providing people a sense of belonging to those that need it — anyone who’s ever felt alone and isolated. “Anybody out there who feels strange, and unstable, and like they don’t know what’s going on, I feel the same as you. And we’re together in that feeling.” MTV News calls up Yungblud to check in.
MTV News: You’re quarantined with your bandmates and your manager in Los Angeles, and you are working on an album. What has collaborating been like during this time?
Yungblud: To be honest, I’m just in a house with my best mates. When we say, “Oh, it’s my manager, or my photographer, or my guitar player,” those are just official terms. We’re just all best mates. And I think we’re just having as much fun as we possibly can. Because I feel quite lonely, and to connect to people, and to connect to my fan base, and to put out content going, “Is anybody else feeling the way I am?” and getting a response saying, “Yes, I am,” comforts everyone. And that’s what we do it for.
MTV News: How has isolation affected your music and your creative process?
Yungblud: It’s just about out-of-the-box thinking right now. We’ve literally been put in a chicken coop by the higher powers that be, and I don’t want to be a chicken right now. I want to be a human being. And I want to connect to people and make people feel like, yes, it is weird. It is bizarre. But as long as we stick together, we’re all going to be OK. So we’re just trying to have as much fun as possible and just provide laughs. We’ve got a YouTube Originals show, where it’s me, no insecurities, just me in my underpants, running around the kitchen, being an idiot. I’m kind of happy to show that side of me, because it’s just what I do at home.
MTV News: Who have you been calling or texting the most lately?
Yungblud: I’m calling my family a lot. I’m calling my mom a lot. I think I’m telling the people I love that I love them a lot more, which is a good thing. And I’ve been calling my fan base, I’ve been Skyping so many people all the time. Because if anybody knows Yungblud and what it’s about, it ain’t about me. I’m not just Yungblud. Yungblud’s an idea and an ideology that Dom connects to, and Frankie in Jersey connects to, and Joey in Australia connects to.
It’s an idea that you will never be lonely, and you will never feel isolated, and you’ll never feel like an outsider here, even though you might be an outsider in the “real world.” It’s a place to exist to be solely who you are, no matter what you are, color you are, race you are, sexuality you are, however you identify. You’re just you, and we celebrate that. And I think right now, for people to feel calm, we’ve got to say connected. So, I just call my fan base and just check in. I’m like, “How’s it going? What’s up?”
MTV News: Yeah, there is a great moment in your YouTube show, Stay Home With: Yungblud where you call fans, and everyone just gets so excited.
Yungblud: Dude, it’s mad everywhere across the world. I just needed to check in with them, and I always do that. I do it every month but, as opposed to doing 10 this month, I did 50. The only reason I got into this whole thing was to feel like I belong somewhere, so I call them to remind myself that I belong somewhere. And when you can’t be on stage, when you can’t meet them, when you can’t smell them, when you can’t touch them, you’ve got to connect with him online.
MTV News: There was also a scene where you had talked to your mom about getting a stick-and-poke tattoo.
Yungblud: Oh, she’s mental, man. They just don’t get it, do they? She’s like, “That’s what happens in prison.” I’m like, “Mom, no it doesn’t. It’s chill. Everyone does it.” She’s funny. My mom does not hold back anything she thinks. My mom’s worse than me. As soon as she opens her mouth, you don’t know what she’s going to say.
MTV News: Did you end up giving yourself a tattoo?
Yungblud: No, I can’t get a hold of any ink. Soon as I can get some ink, I will.
MTV News: Do you know what you’ll give yourself?
Yungblud: I always wanted to get “verisimilitude” — it’s my favorite word — tattooed on my skin. Verisimilitude, ah! It’s like the appearance of being true and real. Someone read me that out of a book once. I was like, “That’s a sick word.”
MTV News: I’ve never heard it before!
Yungblud: It’s like, you close your eyes, ASMR. Verisimilitude. Verisimilitude.
MTV News: You released “Weird” during the coronavirus pandemic, but you actually had written it beforehand. That song makes so much sense for this particular moment, but what kind of space were you in when you wrote it?
Yungblud: I was in what I thought was the weirdest time of my life ever imaginable. I felt like I was trying to catch smoke all the time. I was going through a period in my life where I was taking another step in a journey to coming of age. Everything was weird to me. The world felt weird. Weird, weird, weird, weird, weird, weird, weird, weird, weird, weird, weird, weird, weird — it was going through my brain.
And in that moment of vertigo, I figured out that I needed to accept the parts of myself I didn’t like, celebrate the parts of myself I do like, and realize there’s just a load of stuff out of my control. Once you realize that, and you have a moment like that, and realize that the things you’ve been going through for the past 18 months have just been a weird time of your life, you figure out that everything’s going to be alright. Because there are going to be many more weird times. Everyone’s trying to grab onto something that’s familiar, because nothing is familiar right now. And I just wanted to provide people with an opportunity to escape, and to come together and dance around your kitchen like an idiot.
MTV News: What else have you been doing to stay creative during isolation?
Yungblud: I have been cooking, I will have you know. I loved cooking when I was a nipper, but I’ve been touring, so I never really cook. So, it was kind of good to get back into that. My guitar player’s so much better than me; he’s literally like Gordon Ramsay. I think I’m going to open a restaurant; I keep saying this. We’ll call it “Food for the Slightly Sad Yet Annoyingly Energetic.” Come pick up your pasta.
MTV News: What is it that you’ve been cooking?
Yungblud: Adam made a curry last night with homemade naan bread. I made beef udon. A good old Yorkshire Sunday dinner, a roast, which is what we have in the U.K. on Sunday. You get a big joint of meat, put it in the oven, let that cook, vegetables, Yorkshire puddings. For American people, a Yorkshire pudding is like a savory pancake that you put gravy on; it’s to die for. I miss home, I miss Sunday dinners, I miss cups of tea, and I miss fish and chips with loads of salt and vinegar on it. If you miss the U.K., you’ve got to bring the U.K. to you.
MTV News: What else can we expect to see from Yungblud coming out of quarantine?
Yungblud: There’s so much coming. The album’s done, man. I’ve just got to figure out how to build the world of this record in this situation. To build the world of an album, it’s hard enough when you’ve got all the tools, and all the paint brushes to paint the picture. But right now, I’m stuck in between four walls trying to build it. I’ve been working on my second comic book, so keep your eyes peeled on that as well. I can’t be not busy or I go mental.
Way back in April, comedian and writer Joel Kim Booster tried to manifest something massive. “Lorde honey now is the time,” he tweeted, attempting to summon the pop star from the unofficial break she’s been taking since her Melodrama tour wrapped in late 2018. A month later, Booster’s plea seems like it might’ve worked — at least it terms of giving an update.
On Tuesday night (May 19), Lorde reemerged to give an important update to her fans via email, one that spans her current musical state of mind and is very good news for Booster and other fans. “I can tell you, this new thing,” she wrote, “it’s got its own colours now. If you know anything about my work, you’ll know what that means.” (Lorde’s got synesthesia, a condition that, in effect, allows her to associate certain colors with non-visual senses, including hearing music.)
This latest email is the first such dispatch since one in November 2019, in which she shared that she’d spent a portion of that year “working away on the new songs” and that she was dealing with the death of her dog, Pearl. Pearl comes up in this latest note, too, as does her grief about losing him. But it’s quite hopeful: After she allowed herself some time, she got back in the studio in December and “happy, playful things” emerged.
“I felt my melodic muscles flexing and strengthening,” she wrote, also mentioning Jack Antonoff — who helmed Melodrama with her — traveling to New Zealand to work with her, as well as the two of them working together in Los Angeles. They’re still working on it together via FaceTime during self-isolation.
Oh, and that music? “The work is so fucking good, my friend,” Lorde wrote. “I am truly jazzed for you to hear it.”
Elsewhere, the 23-year-old mentions how she had to take some time to re-center after her last tour in order to “make some food, grow some stuff, go to the beach a bunch, finally acknowledge (and kick) my social media addiction.” She’s also grown her hair quite long once again, perhaps even like it was in the Pure Heroine days.
“You’ll probably be pleased to know my hair is big and long again. I think after Melodrama came out I said I wouldn’t put out another record until my hair was long — both because hair takes time to grow, and I knew I needed time, and because I knew the next record would require the longest and wildest hair yet.”
Lorde has also seen your pleas, and she gets it. But she’s asking you (and Joel Kim Booster) to be patient.
“I’ve been looking at some of your notes online, and I can feel the (extremely sweet, EXTREMELY flattering) desperation creeping back into your voices,” she wrote. “But as I get older I realise there’s something to be said for the pleasant feeling of waiting for something of quality to become available to you.” She likens it to baking bread or waiting for a package to arrive, celebrating the anticipation as a “delicious activity.”
Read Lorde’s note in full, as captured by a fan account, above. Then, see some of the fan reactions to her hopeful message below.
It might be springtime, but Kailee Morgue just wants to go to Halloween Town.
The spooky shop in Burbank, California is home to props, accessories, masks, and all things ghoulish, and for Morgue — a 21-year-old rising artist whose sound blends sharp punk influences with a cloudy contemporary pop sound — it’s all she can think about while self-isolating in the new, sparsely decorated apartment she moved into just before she had to hunker down. “They have the masks from Halloween III that are like $500, but I just want them. I’m like, ‘Yes! I will drop $500 for those masks!'” she told MTV News recently.
As she crouched on the floor of her new place and took a recent Zoom call, she discussed her new EP, Here in Your Bedroom, a six-song collection with nary a creepy tune in the bunch. Instead, it’s packed with live drums, chunky power chords, and a sparking cherry-bomb “manic anthem” called “This Is Why I’m Hot” — no relation to the Mims classic. Though she’d seen success with 2018’s subterranean “Medusa” and the downbeat kiss-off “F**k U,” Morgue’s new EP allowed her to go deeper into the more rollicking music that raised her, as well as the diaristic storytelling she ripped straight out of her own life.
“If it was a song like ‘Medusa,’ like, who cares if somebody helped me co-write that? They didn’t, but if they did, it’s so much a story about something that didn’t happen to me that it could be cool to bounce those ideas [off of someone else],” she said. “But with something that is so personal, I wouldn’t want to get that [help]. So I just really wanted to make that clear.”
That’s why she tweeted, when the EP dropped, “The credits on certain platforms might say otherwise but I wrote the entire EP on my own besides a co-write on ‘Tied Up’ and I am fucking PROUD of this project.” In order to get to that place of pride, Morgue worked with producer Cameron Hale on matching the right instrumentals to her words. That included plenty of live drums, a staple of the slick punk-inspired bands like Blink-182, Paramore, and No Doubt she’d grown up on. They’re the gunpowder on “This Is Why I’m Hot” and fellow barnburner “Wisconsin Ave” that makes them really smoke.
“I even remember when I sent [‘Wisconsin Ave’] to my A&R and my manager, and they were like, ‘Live drums? OK…’ But I told the producer, ‘I want this to sound like a band. I want it to sound full,'” Morgue said. “Because I had just gone on a tour and I was touring with a band — two bands, actually — and I was just like, ‘I’m playing with one drummer and a backing track and I really want it to be bigger than that.'”
“Wisconsin Ave” sounds a little like Lorde’s “Ribs” given the Warped Tour treatment. It’s so endearing because of the knocking percussion that, by the time it climaxes in a cyclone of post-punk energy, provides the perfect rigid counterpoint for Morgue’s floating vocals. The trick also recently made songs like Halsey’s “3am” and Broods’s “Peach” similarly leap out from headphones; it’s true of the chasmic pounds on Morgue’s opener “Still” and the Eric Valentine-style road-flattened cracks that run through “This Is Why I’m Hot.”
But that’s only one sonic element of Here in Your Bedroom, the EP that takes its title from a Goldfinger song. Single “Knew You” distills that urgency into a subtler powder, “Tied Up” flaunts Morgue’s nocturnal and jazzy side, and shiny gem “Dying to Live” is pure wiggly dance-pop. “We made it from scratch in a few hours, and that song was definitely not what I thought it would be,” she said. “Having an ’80s dance track that I’m referencing, dancing with myself, is a very random thing. But I think it’s more sonically that I was like, ‘Oh I didn’t know I’d go there.'”
Here in Your Bedroom (which dropped April 24) is unafraid to explore new terrain, which makes sense for Morgue, who recorded and burned her first-ever CD of music when she was 11. She still has it, along with two others, but “nobody sees them.” (“It’s there for sentimental purposes,” she said.) Around age 8, she started experimenting with songwriting by singing new words over melodies by radio hits from artists like Kelly Clarkson. Thirteen years later, she’s got her own melodies, though she appreciates the idea of not thinking too hard about songs as she’s making them — something she learned from loving Blink-182.
“I like the idea of writing things that don’t need to be thought about that much because I think that a lot of times, you can get stuck in your head and think, ‘This has to mean something, and I’m being too hard on myself,'” she said. “So kind of wandering off and doing that a little bit made me realize I can actually integrate this into the music that I make if I just tweak it a little bit.”
Another thing she’s integrated into her music is her pure love of the Halloween movie franchise. “I made way more songs that sound like ‘This Is Why I’m Hot.’ They just didn’t come out,” she said, mentioning the slasher cut that she may tease via an Instagram snippet in the future. Try to hear it, though, in your head: a two-minute, punky lightning bolt about the fictional mass murders of Michael Myers, booming with big drums and buzzsaw riffs. Morgue might not even need those $500 masks.
Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber debuted their stay-at-home serenade “Stuck With U” earlier this month with a charming video that mashed up home-quarantine videos from fans and celebrity friends, and with positive change in mind. With proceeds from sales and streams going to the children of COVID-19 frontline responders via grant funding and scholarships, the single-for-a-good-cause quickly struck a chord with listeners, and on Monday (May 18), Billboard announced that the track has debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The achievement marks Grande’s third time leading the chart, Bieber’s sixth, and their first together; it is also both singers’ third song on the Hot 100. Notably, only industry giants Mariah Carey and Drake (who made his third debut with “Toosie Slide” in April) have previously debuted at No. 1 that many times. Congratulations to the young pop duo!
But the news did not come without some controversy. The single beat out “Gooba,” the rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine‘s first post-prison release, which netted at No. 3 and is tied for his highest-charting single with Nicki Minaj, “Fefe.” Tekashi took the opportunity to accuse Billboard of selling No. 1 spots. “YOU’RE A LIE AND CORRUPT. YOU GOT CAUGHT CHEATING AND THE WORLD WILL KNOW,” he wrote in an Instagram post. In a corresponding video of the musician in all-white speaking to-camera, he referenced “30,000 units” — by which he presumably meant streams of “Stuck With U” — purchased with “six credit cards” that allegedly ensured the single’s place on the chart. He added, “I want the world to know that Billboard is a lie. You can buy No. 1’s on Billboard.”
For her part, Grande didn’ seem too bothered. The “7 Rings” singer took to social media to celebrate the landmark achievement, showing her gratitude for her fans. “thank u to everybody who supported this song, this cause and made this happen. we love uuuuu so much,” she wrote in an Instagram post.
In the same breath, she chose to “address a few things” by writing, “my fans bought the song. JUSTIN’S fans bought the song. … to anybody that is displeased with their placement on the chart this week or who is spending their time racking their brain thinking of as many ways as they can to discredit hardworking women (and only the women for some reason…..), i ask u to take a moment to humble yourself.”
Though Grande did not call out Tekashi by name, she closed her post by congratulating her colleagues on the chart — “even number 3,” she wrote.
“This video is dedicated to touching.”
That’s how Harry Styles‘s bleary-eyed new clip for “Watermelon Sugar” begins, and in perfect Styles fashion, it escalates from there. He’s got a watermelon, you see, and he’s touching it. Well, first he’s not — and then he is, and then he really is. And now he’s eating it.
The whole thing’s a vision of ecstasy and summer haze that eventually culminates in what I feel most comfortable calling a fruit orgy. It’s not quite that cheap, though; this is Harry Styles we’re talking about. Rather, it’s a celebration of pleasure that, by the time it wraps, harkens back to his 2017 “Kiwi” video, reminding us of the man’s own sagely words from before his second album Fine Line even dropped at the end of 2019: “Kiwi walked so Watermelon Sugar could run.”
The clip opens with a masquerade-masked Styles bringing a slice of watermelon to an oceanfront breakfast table, complete with coffee and orange juice. Forget cake by the ocean. This is all about fruit by the sea. Quickly, the orgiastic celebrations commence, with very hot people surrounding Styles, touching him, smooching his cheeks, and embracing their own textural euphoria by being around each other.
Now more than ever, to borrow a phrase from every commercial airing during this unprecedented time, it’s important to remember there are other ways of connecting while we remain socially distanced. Styles’s video provides a nice additional layer: Not that it’s time to go out and have a beach fruit orgy, but to remember that while we stay home and stay safe, we can’t forget about how physical human contact makes us who we are.
“DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME,” a Styles tweet promoting the video reminded. “Practice social distancing.” And once you’re done practicing that, you’ll ideally have perfected the art of touching just in time to touch other people once again — whenever it’s safe to do so.
By the end of the video, Styles assembles his beach band for a tiered group pic reminiscent of the post-confectionary food fight class photo that punctuates his “Kiwi” clip. The connections between the two songs — not to mention those with “Cherry” and a few other Styles cuts — have been documented.
I, for one, appreciate Styles’s commitment to his own look even while getting presumably sunburned on the beach. Though the “Watermelon Sugar” clip finds him in flared jeans, a billowy striped top, and even a wonderfully ’70s shirt decorated with daisies, the opening table scene shows him off in what’s become his trademark Fine Line-era outfit, a sweater vest.
That he can do all he does here in such garb is inspiring. Check out “Watermelon Sugar” above and get a little inspiration yourself.
On Sunday night (May 17), Taylor Swift brought her Lover album to life during the ABC broadcast of her City of Lover Concert, an album celebration she filmed last September in Paris. If you didn’t tune in, you’re in luck: Select tracks from the show are now streaming. You can also watch the entire performance right now on both Hulu and Disney+.
The songs currently available to stream include Lover cuts “Cornelia Street,” “Daylight,” “Death by a Thousand Cuts,” “Lover,” “Me!,” “The Archer,” “You Need to Calm Down,” and “The Man.” The show, captured on September 9, 2019 at L’Olympia Bruno Coquatrix, marked the live debuts of these Lover cuts.
Setlist.FM reveals that the show saw Swift performing 16 tracks in total, including older tunes “Red,” “All Too Well,” and “Style.” Those are not currently streaming, but album closer “Daylight” gets a makeover here from moody synth-driven number to pure piano ballad. Similarly, Swift reimagines “The Man” as a strummy acoustic statement; she’d previously shared video of this performance back in February.
Ahead of the performance, Swift shared some photos on social media showcasing pink and blue highlights in her hair. “It was the best album release party I could’ve wished for,” she wrote. “Love you guys.”
Check out “Cornelia Street” above, “The Man” below, and find the rest either on Swift’s YouTube page or your favorite streaming service.