It’s fitting that the cast of Euphoria were the ones to introduce Bazzi at the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards. Just as the HBO drama depicts the whirlwind exhilaration of being young and free, Bazzi’s blissful “Paradise” is all about “turning nights into memories” and reveling in love that makes you feel alive. And at the star-studded awards show — which aired on Monday night (June 17) — Bazzi definitely brought that kind of love to the stage.
Rocking an all-white outfit accented by touches of blue, the singer used an MPC machine to play the opening notes of “Paradise” from an intimate bedroom setup. But as soon as that rapturous first chorus hit, he bounded across the stage and brought the crowd to “paradise,” even making it rain blue confetti for the song’s climactic final chorus. Suffice to say, he turned this night into a memory.
Prior to his performance, Bazzi caught up with MTV News to talk about his new collaboration with 21 Savage, his love of Lizzo, and more — check that out here.
Lauryn Hill, who?! For her first-ever performance at the MTV Movie & TV Awards, Lizzo channeled that musical great while creatively paying homage to the 1993 comedy Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit — and taking the show to church in the process.
Specifically, Lizzo recreated the film’s climatic scene: Hill’s Rita belts a gospel standard, then she and the rest of the student choir ditch their robes for a confident, exhilarating performance. In Lizzo’s case, she belted out her smash single “Juice” while a crew of hyped-up break dancers twirled and spun around her. But it was all eyes on the singer herself, who stunned in an all-denim outfit and glittery hair, proving why Elizabeth Moss, Tiffany Haddish, and Melissa McCarthy were justified in introducing her as “100 percent that bitch.”
The “Juice” diva even paused the song at one point to break into a Sister Act-inspired vocal exercise, before seamlessly transitioning right back into her shinin’ hit anthem. Check out the praise-worthy performance below.
As promised, Taylor Swift dropped the highly anticipated music video for her bright and pride-filled new single, “You Need To Calm Down,” this morning (June 17) on Good Morning America. Quickly since its release last week — and at just the right time given that it’s Pride Month — the song has already become an LGBTQ+ anthem. Packaged in a box that’s perfectly pop, the song takes aim at haters and homophobes while spreading a digestible message that’s important for all to hear: We support and love the LGBTQ+ community, and we reject those who don’t.
Unsurprisingly, the new video is just as direct as the song itself, and Swift even rallied together some very familiar faces to help drive home the single’s message of love and acceptance. Ellen DeGeneres, Adam Lambert, Ryan Reynolds, Laverne Cox, Ciara, the cast of Queer Eye, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Hayley Kiyoko, RuPaul, and several others were called in to be a part of the star-studded video. Even Katy Perry, who was engaged in a longtime feud with Swift, made a cameo, further proving Taylor’s point that it’s much easier to spread love rather than hate.
But even though the video’s main message is clear, we all know that there’s typically way more to a Taylor Swift music video than what’s on the surface. Take the “ME!” video, for example. Just about everything that was packed into that roughly four-minute video alluded to something else fans could expect from her upcoming seventh studio album, which we now know will be titled Lover. And while Swifties did an excellent job dissecting each and every Easter egg their queen left for them when, was released, they’re also well-aware that making these small discoveries is part of what makes being a fan so fun.
That said, it should come as no surprise that the “You Need To Calm Down” video came full of even more clues for diehard Swifties to uncover. Fortunately, we’ve made the process a bit easier for you by taking the magnifying glass out ourselves and combing through all the wildest fan theories on social media. Here’s what we found.
A reference to Cher
For many Swifties, the framed quote that says, “Mom, I am a rich man,” was one of the first Easter eggs to jump out at them upon watching for the first time. However, it’s important to note that these particular words were never said by Taylor herself. In fact, the quote comes from a 1996 interview with Cher, and it was actually the pop icon’s response when her mother suggested that she should settle down and marry a rich man. (Yeah, right!)
While the framed quote definitely makes a statement, it’s unclear at the moment just how it will link back to Lover. Knowing Taylor and her attention to detail, though, it’ll all make sense eventually — likely when the album drops on August 23.
A not-so-subtle hint at track 5
Another more obvious clue came when Hayley Kiyoko shot a bow right into a target labeled “5.” As all true Taylor stans know, the fifth tracks on Tay’s previous albums have been some of the most heartbreaking, including “Cold As You,” “Dear John,” “All Too Well,” and many other tearjerkers. This could only mean one thing: Track 5 is going to be an emotional one, and are we ready for it? Probably not.
It also shouldn’t be overlooked that Hayley is the one to shoot the arrow here. More likely than not, this could mean that track 5 on Lover is a collaboration, which is something fans have been dreaming about ever since they performed “Curious” together on the Reputation tour. Not to mention, Swift has been hinting at track 5 for a while now.
One of the harsh realities of being a Taylor Swift fan is that most of the time, things only make sense in hindsight — like her recent interview on Ellen, for example, where Taylor jokingly asked if the talk show host would like to be featured in one of her upcoming music videos. Turns out, that was another hint. Ellen appeared in “You Need To Calm Down” getting a tattoo by none other than Adam Lambert.
The tattoo, which says “Cruel Summer,” could literally mean anything, but Twitter’s best guess is that it’s the title of one of the songs on the upcoming album, and possibly her next single. On the other hand, it’s worth noting that Kanye West has an album of the same name, and given their history, this could just be shade.
A 13-hour watch
We all know that watches only go up to the number 12, but when Taylor peers down at her watch in this scene, we see that the numbers go all the way to 13. This, of course, is an ode to the pop star’s favorite number, and it’s definitely not the only time she references it in the video. It’s actually shocking how many ways she’s found to throw 13s all over the place.
Ryan Reynolds painting the Stonewall Inn
If you thought perhaps there was an Easter egg hidden in the brief scene where Ryan Reynolds was painting on a canvas, you’d be correct. Upon closer inspection, the actor is actually painting the Stonewall Inn — the site of the 1969 riots that started the LGBTQ+ rights movement. Taylor also performed at the New York City landmark on Friday night in a display of solidarity.
The red dice as a possible album countdown
Did you notice those red dice in the music video? According to some fans, the numbers on the dice add up to the number of days left until Lover‘s release. The problem? Fans are coming up with a few different numbers, and for many, the mathematics are simply not checking out. (For what it’s worth, Lover is still 67 days away.)
The hair, the stars, the necklace
In this scene alone, there’s a lot to unpack, so let’s start with the hair. Not only is Swift rocking the rainbow hair of our dreams in this portion of the video, but many fans were quick to point out that colors match the bisexual flag. Of course, we love an inclusive queen, and we also love her commitment to continuing her “13” motif as the video progresses. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the number is on her necklace, and there are also 13 stars on her shirt. She’s nothing if not detail-oriented.
A mailbox exclusively for love letters
Clearly, love is a major theme throughout this music video, so the filled-to-the-brim mailbox that says “love letters only” could very well just be an on-theme detail rather than a full-blown Easter egg. However, fans think there’s a chance this could be another hint, and while the future Lover connection still remains to be seen, it’s possible that she’ll squeeze something about love letters and mailboxes into the lyrics somewhere. After all, that’s kind of what she’s known for.
A bottle of pink champagne
You’re going to want to hold on tight, Swifties, because this Easter egg has the possibility to turn into the pop collaboration of the century. After all, Ariana Grande just so happens to have a song called “Pink Champagne,” which is why some fans are utterly convinced that a duet is on the way. But not so fast — other theories suggest that “Pink Champagne” will merely be a title of one of the songs on the album, and not necessarily a collaboration at all. Still, we’re going to roll with this Ari collab theory while we can because, wow, that would be epic.
The familiar teacups
There’s no denying that the teacups used by Taylor, Todrick, and the cast of Queer Eye seemlessly fit the aesthetic of the video, but is there more to it than just that? On Twitter, many Swifties have speculated a connection between the teacups and one of Swift’s favorite sitcoms Friends, since Phoebe used what appeared to be the same teacup on the show. Sure, it’s possible that Taylor and Phoebe could just have similar taste in fine china, but let’s not forget the Friends pins that Swift was wearing in her May cover of EW.
Katy Perry’s cheeseburger costume
Ready for a case of the chicken or the egg? If you moved past the shock of Taylor and Katy putting their rocky past behind them, you may have noticed this isn’t the first time the “Never Really Over” singer has dressed up as a cheeseburger. In May, Perry also wore a burger costume to the Met Gala — but was this outfit a subtle (if outlandish) preview for the “You Need to Calm Down” music video, or was it the inspiration for what ultimately inspired their looks for the epic scene? Hmm…
The homophobic protesters
The “ME!” singer made another reference to her favorite number in the shot with the aerial view of the protesters. If you count the amount of people protesting, it comes out to 13. Again, this could just be another opportunity to stay consistent with the use of her favorite number, or perhaps it’s an even bigger nudge toward track 13 on the album.
The reference to an anti-LGBTQ+ senator
At first glance, the misspellings in the homophobic signs held by protesters might seem like a statement against their uneducated and ignorant views toward the LGBTQ+ community. And while that’s certainly part of it, we’d like to turn your attention to one particular sign, which says, “Get A Brain Morans!” While staying on track with the spelling errors, this sign also seemingly calls out Kansas senator Jerry Moran, who’s taken an anti-LGBTQ+ stance throughout his career in politics.
Rising rapper YBN Cordae is the talk of the town of hip-hop; the lyricist equivalent of King Midas, bringing gold to whatever production he touches. For his latest synthesizing of treasure, he’s brought along Chance The Rapper for “Bad Idea,” a mellow track about the highs and lows of life as they come and how to maneuver through them all. They’ve also released a music video that juxtaposes an empty present with a joyous past and shows that it’s important to always move forward.
YBN Cordae, in “Bad Idea,” is reckoning with fame as a musician. He’s on the rise and looking back at life so far, how he’s been playing the cards that he has been dealt with. In the accompanying video, he’s a man that’s seen better days. He sits in mud with a dirt-beaten face, a frown on his lips that indicates that he is, quite possibly, at his lowest point. But what keeps him going is a picture, a portal to a time when everything was alright. He’s a bit younger in this period, his braids long, his skin glowing from what looks like witch hazel. Family surrounds him at a cookout. All is well. The scent of charcoal-burnt hotdogs can be smelled through the screen.
Chance The Rapper arrives at this cookout and delivers his guest verse while heading to get a plate of BBQ-d goodies. In it, he tells a cautionary story filled with powerful gems about life. “Don’t ever drink the Kool-Aid,” he spits, figuratively wagging a finger and hinting at not following peer pressure. He talks about traveling the world four times while looking for a parking spot, with one line in particular seared into your memory, long after his words are spent: “Some of these decisions is like Sharpie on a dry-erase.” There’s a funny bit. At one point, both Chance and Cordae are miniature emcees on the hood of the car, dangerously close to gigantic windshield wipers that would be a danger if Jigsaw was Thumbelina’s size.
The video ends with zooming back out to Cordae’s present, accepting his memories as his past. He picks up his belongings off the street and makes a trek to somewhere unknown, with confidence. He’s going to keep moving forward.
“Bad Idea” is Cordae and Chance’s first collaboration together. It follows the videos for “Locationships” and “Have Mercy” that Cordae dropped earlier this year. He’s preparing to release his debut studio album The Lost Boy sometime soon.
Watch YBN Cordae and Chance The Rapper admire the past and look towards the future “Bad Idea.”
Robyn‘s dream-like music suspends you somewhere between waking and sleep, where the demons of sleep paralysis slowly stroke your shoulders while you watch in horror. It brings peace, but it’s always hard to describe exactly what it feels like, what it sounds like, and what it tastes like because music does leave behind some kind of lasting touch on the tongue. In the video for “Ever Again,” the singer is suspended in between concrete times, in a realm like our own, but vastly different. It’s visually striking, and, more importantly, dreamy.
Robyn is…underwater. She pulls you away from the land of black eyelids into where your limbs are limp and stiff, watching her sing in a ghostly white dress in a land of statues. The walls, possibly skies, are a deep blue. Nothing passes here, especially not time. In this aquamarine paradise, she entrances with each note, each movement, that keeps you invested in what she’s saying. You won’t want to wake up from this dream.
Robyn released Honey last year and since then she’s dropped possibly the most creative videos in the music industry. Last month, the sun-kissed “Between The Lines” video arrived with giant splashes of color, with “Send To Robyn Immediately,” and the album’s title track also receiving one-of-a-kind treatments.
Immerse yourself in Robyn’s fantasy world in ‘Ever Again’ up above.
You need to take a breather, relax from the bad vibes and just….chill. Do so with Taylor Swift‘s new video for “You Need To Calm Down,” that’s just about anything but chill. But there’s lots of pastel, lots of spring and summer, lots of good energy, and….a burning trailer. There’s a lot going on, but you need to calm down. Let Swift lead you to this promised land of sunbathing and equality populated by a star-studded cast of LGBTQ+ community members and allies.
Swift is chilling in “You Need To Calm Down” with a wide cast of people in a secluded land away from hate and discrimination. She’s lounging in a lawn chair, soaking in a fresh sun and also relaxing in a pool, unbothered. Her world turns upside down with argumentative people coming to protest and then massive food fights, but through it all, she’s making the best of it, smiling. It doesn’t matter that there are people angry at other people for just existing and living their truths. Swift and the gang are happy and living their best lives, regardless.
If you keep your eyes peeled, you’ll see a ton of familiar faces such as Ellen DeGeneres getting a positively badass tattoo, Billy Porter getting another spectacular fit off, Laverne Cox showing off a spectacular bikini bod, and Katy Perry dressed as a gigantic cheeseburger. And, inexplicably, Ryan Reynolds is painting what’s going on behind the scenes.
Swift revealed the cover for her forthcoming album Lover last week with all of its pastel-ly goodness. There’s still a short wait for it – one that we’re obsessing over along with Lindsay Lohan – before it gets here on August 23 with its super-stuffed tracklist of 18 cuts. In addition to sharing details about the album on Instagram, she also went live to get personal with her fanbase. “This album, in tone, it’s very romantic,” she said. “And not just simply thematically, like it’s all love songs or something. Because I think that the idea of something being romantic, it doesn’t have to be a happy song. I think you can find romance in loneliness or sadness org going through a conflict or dealing with things in your life. It just kind of looks at those things with a very romantic gaze.”
Watch Swift’s ‘You Need To Calm Down’ video up above and just…relax.
The singer performed her hit “Shake It Off” at the Pride Month cabaret show.
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Ariana Grande doesn’t do features often, but when she does, it’s usually for her friends in the music biz: Nicki Minaj, Troye Sivan, and 2 Chainz, for instance. Her latest is no exception — on Friday (June 14), production duo Social House released “Haunt You,” the new single they’ve been performing as part of their opening act on Ari’s Sweetener World Tour.
The moody track is centered around delicate guitar chords, and bolstered by mesmerizing production from Michael “Mikey” Foster and Charles “Scootie” Anderson. It all builds towards their spectral chant, “Never thought something so beautiful could haunt you,” and Grande’s breathy backing vocals. On her Instagram Story, the pop star congratulated her friends on the new release, admitting, “i cry most nights u sing this.” One listen to the song — and a view of its intimate, family-focused video — should prove why that’s the case.
In a press release about the new song, Scootie said, “For me, ‘Haunt You’ is about making the best of the time you have with loved ones regardless of the circumstances because time is something you’ll NEVER get back.” Mikey added, “‘Haunt You’ is about appreciating the beauty in the things you love, even if they’re no longer yours.”
“Haunt You” is the first taste of Social House’s debut EP, due out on August 2. Judging by their stellar track record — the duo also produced Grande’s “thank u, next” and “7 Rings” — it’s definitely a project worth getting excited about.
“Steady, are you ready?” Little Mix ask on the opening lines of their new single, “Bounce Back.” And honestly, no one is ready for what the British girl group just unleashed upon the pop world.
“Bounce Back” makes excellent use of Soul II Soul’s classic R&B smash “Back to Life” — the chorus samples that song’s iconic “However do you want me? / However do you need me?” couplet. Little Mix’s take on it is fresh, fierce, and flirty, especially when they bring it to life in the accompanying video, which also arrived on Friday (June 14).
In it, Perry, Jesy, Leigh-Anne, and Jade transform into figurines inside a little girl’s dollhouse — but this the prim and proper Barbie’s Dreamhouse you remember. Modeling leopard-print leotards and matching denim, the girls twerk and party through the vibrant scenery. Fashion, choreography, vocals, attitude… this is full service, Mixers.
Speaking about “Bounce Back” in a BBC interview shortly after the song’s premiere, Leigh-Anne Pinnock gushed, “We love this song. Ever since we heard it, it was just instant, wasn’t it? It was a no-brainer. It’s just an absolute summer anthem, an absolute vibe.”
“Bounce Back” appears to signal the launch of a new era for Little Mix — it’s their first new music since their fifth album, LM5, arrived last November. The group will perform the new single on The Late Late Show with James Corden on Tuesday (June 18), and here’s hoping they bring some of the video’s iconic looks and moves to the stage.
Korean artist Holland received widespread global attention for his debut single “Neverland” in 2018. Or, more accurately, for the song’s music video, which featured a kiss between the openly gay independent singer and another man. In the world of K-pop, same-sex affection (physical or otherwise) is encouraged, but only ever as an extension of fan-service. After all, Korea is still deeply conservative, and that’s a line artists can’t publicly cross without scandal. Until Holland, “K-pop’s first openly gay idol.” But it wasn’t until his second single — the shimmering EDM track “I’m Not Afraid” — that Holland’s potential, both as a queer trailblazer in the industry and as a singular artist with a vision, came into focus.
“I’m not afraid anymore,” he sings over a moody, house-infused beat that’s somewhat reminiscent of Troye Sivan’s celebratory “My My My!” The hook is repetitive, sure, but it’s also a powerful affirmation. “I am saying that I am no longer afraid to reveal that I am gay,” he said of the song’s meaning upon its release last year. “I’m not afraid of standing in front of the public anymore.” Truthfully, the 23-year-old singer’s greatest strength is his willingness to open up about his own experiences as a young, queer man just living his life — completely unafraid of and unbothered by other people’s opinions. —Crystal Bell