Bop Shop: Songs From Muna, Carlie Hanson, Siena Liggins, And More

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

Bazzi And 21 Savage Breezily Brush Off Their Haters On New Song ‘Focus’

Before he slides on over to the MTV Movie & TV Awards this weekend, Bazzi is sliding past his haters on the new single “Focus.”

The “Mine” hitmaker tapped 21 Savage for the sultry track, which gets a dose of sinister energy thanks to some backing choir vocals. Bazzi’s buttery fusion of singing and rapping is as effortless as ever as he brushes off negativity: “You know that I’m fuckin’ with you heavily / Your energy is heavenly / Don’t spend a second trippin’ on my enemies / ‘Cause they envy me and my energy,” he sings against a thumping, trap-driven beat.

Special guest” 21, meanwhile, comes through with a razor-sharp verse where he asserts, “They know not to argue with me, I be way too high.”

Shortly after the new song’s premiere, Bazzi hinted that “Focus” is just a small taste of new music to come. “The love on focus has been unreal,” he tweeted. “Can’t wait for u to hear everything else.”

Until we find out whether his Cosmic follow-up is officially on the way, catch Bazzi performing “Paradise” at the MTV Movie & TV Awards, airing on Monday, June 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Lizzo is also taking the stage at the star-studded awards show, so you’ll definitely want to “focus” your attention on that, come Monday night.

Drake Is Celebrating The Raptors’ Win With Two New Songs So That Fans Are Also Victorious

The Toronto Raptors won the NBA Finals last night (June 13) and, since then, Drake has been insufferable. As the Global Ambassador of the NBA team that got its first final championship in Toronto’s history, it’s understandable that he’s excited about their victory. He’s so thrilled by the moment that he’s releasing two new songs to commemorate the moment sometime today. We’re just not sure when.

Drizzy made the announcement shortly after the buzzer rang signaling that the series was over when celebratory screams rang throughout his city. He took to Instagram to announce that a “2 Pack” would be dropping today: the first song, “Omerta” which a code of silence for criminal activity, according to the Oxford Dictionary. The second is “Money In The Grave” that features Rick Ross. That one sounds like,  for sure, it’ll be a bruiser of a summer anthem.

Drake won the award for Best Rap Song at the 61st Grammy Awards for “God’s Plan” earlier this year and, soon after, he told his fellow artists that awards didn’t really matter. He released Scorpion last year.

Blueface And Rich The Kid Say Happy Father’s Day To Themselves On ‘Daddy’

With Father’s Day around the corner, Blueface has released “Daddy” with Rich the Kid. But it’s not the kind of introspective, examination of the paternal presence that you’d expect. Instead, the two rappers drop a braggadocious summer anthem that sees them as the father figures. It’s hilarious and perfectly timed, and, for certain, like other Blueface songs, to become a song for the summer.

It’s impossible to listen to “Daddy” and not want to dance. It’s like “Thotiana” on steroids, only without YG or Cardi B. But that’s alright because Blueface by himself is a loose rocket shooting around the atmosphere; he just exudes energy nonstop. Rich The Kid joins in and rides the bouncing bass, doing what he does best; telling you what kind of garments he has and what brand of car that he drives that you don’t have. He’s a master bragger, the Michael Scott of boasting.

Blueface’s latest comes a month after “Stop Cappin” released. He’s getting ready to head out on the Buss Down Tour with artists like Asian Doll, NLE Choppa, and Sada Baby. Last month, he got his “Buss Down” on in G Eazy‘s video for “West Coast.”

Listen to “Daddy” up above and prepare for Father’s day!

Monsta X Ask ‘Who Do U Love?’ On Sleek, Sensual New Track

Who do you love? It’s the titular question at the heart of Monsta X‘s latest single, featuring rapper French Montana. It’s also a question that I’ve been contemplating since my first listen of the bouncy English-language track. I, for one, love whoever is responsible for its hypnotic hook. And whoever allowed rapper-turned-vocalist Jooheon to go off like that in the studio.

With its thumping bass line and smooth vocals, “Who Do U Love?” (out now) is the kind of sleek, sensual dancefloor track we’ve come to expect from the Korean septet, proving that Monsta X can seduce you in every language. “Who do you love? / Is it him or me? / ‘Cause I can’t take the pressure anymore,” the group sing on the moody pop track.

“Who Do U Love?” is Monsta X’s first single since the group signed with Epic Records last month, and it’s a smart play for U.S. radio — the last frontier for Korean artists with global ambitions. And Monsta X are already ahead of the curve. They collaborated with superstar producer Steve Aoki on the funky deep house track “Play It Cool” earlier this year — a song that was also re-released in English — and were the first K-pop act to join iHeartRadio’s annual Jingle Ball tour in the States. And they’ll be back later this summer for the U.S. leg of their We Are Here world tour.

Now, the group can add yet another milestone to their list: their North American television debut. Monsta X will perform “Who Do U Love?” in all of its soulful glory on Good Morning America on August 1.

For members Shownu, Wonho, Minhyuk, Kihyun, Hyungwon, Joohoney, and I.M, this is a major opportunity — to not only demonstrate their individual charms and powerful performance skills, but to also show just how uniquely poised Monsta X is for U.S. domination. They’ve got the hunger and the talent, and now they’ve finally got the song. Let’s hope America’s listening.

Madonna’s Spy Album Madame X Is Now Out

Secret agent Madonna has released her fourteenth studio album Madame X, named after her top-secret alias for her mission. Think of the LP as classified notes about her worldly trek through genres and influences. It’s finally here after what feels like years of anticipation and waiting, with Madonna first revealing its existence in January on Instagram and then its first single, “Medellin,” arriving in April. To all of the spies out there, Madame X is here to spin a story of multiple identities for you to identify with. For everyone else, you’ll find a collection of vast influences and great music.

Madame X has thirteen tracks and its deluxe version has fifteen. It features all of the previously released singles, “Medellin,” of course, featuring Maluma, “I Rise,” “Crave” with Swae Lee, “Future” with Quavo, and “Dark Ballet” which features Mykki Blanco acting as Joan Of Arc in the accompanying video. That’s a lot of massive records.

It all started with the “Welcome to the World of Madame X” trailer that Madonna released in April that served as an official announcement for the LP. She cosplayed in the name of pop music, wearing tilted cowboy hats and eye patches as she perused her Rolodex of identities. That brief tease has now been fully unveiled. Her world of secrets has now been unveiled to all.

Listen to the wide world of Madame X up above.

BTS And Zara Larsson Are Excited For A New Chance To Be Great On ‘A Brand New Day’

BTS are preparing to take over the world of mobile gaming – move over Minecraft, Pokemon Go, and Tinder because, like it or not, it’s a game of love – with BTS World. What better way to dominate than to the sound of your music? They’ve released another track from their forthcoming game soundtrack, “A Brand New Day,” which features Swedish singer Zara Larsson. And, of course, it’s brilliant. The kind of summery pop you sink your canine teeth into.

Electronic music producer Mura Masa, who has worked with Charli XCX and A$AP Rocky, is the producer of “A Brand New Day,” which finds BTS members j-hope and V wading through warm nighttime rivers of a sensual, tropical atmosphere. They’re reaffirming a partner about the power of their love along with their worldly potential in a soothing manner that, undoubtedly, has to ease the other person’s fears. Larrson soars in on a cloud to sing briefly about surrendering to the power of dreams. It’s powerful stuff.

Dreams are going to be a big factor of BTS World. Earlier this month, they shared a collaboration with Charli XCX, “Dream Glow,” that’ll appear on the game when it launches. BTS World will enable you, the BTS diehard, to manage the group in 2012 and will feature over 10,000 new photos and 100 never-before-seen clips of the group in action. You’ll be able to live out the dream life with unparalleled access, able to shape and morph the BTS experience whenever you want to your discretion. Aside from the soundtrack, you should also listen to their most recent project, Map Of The Soul: Persona, that they released in April.

Listen to “A Brand New Day” up above.

Taylor Swift Commands Haters And Homophobes To ‘Calm Down’ On Radiant New Song

Taylor Swift‘s brand new single is here, and it’s nothing to keep calm about.

As promised during her revealing Instagram Live session on Thursday (June 13) — where she also announced her seventh album, Lover — “You Need to Calm Down” arrived at the stroke of midnight. It’s another buoyant offering from the pop star, who continues radiating joy by putting haters and homophobes in their place: “You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace / And control your urges to scream about the people you hate / ‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay.” We stan a new Pride Month anthem!

Did you catch how Swift spelled “glad” with two A’s in the accompanying lyric video? Yep, that’d be a reference to the LGBTQ organization GLAAD, which recently received a generous donation from the pop star herself.

The track’s cover art shows Swift’s back covered with a (presumably fake) tattoo that echoes the opening scene of her “ME!” video: a kaleidoscope of butterflies emerging from a slithering snake, which was the dominant symbol of her brooding reputation era.

“You Need to Calm Down” is the second taste of Lover, following the Brendon Urie-featuring lead single, “ME!”. The reputation follow-up arrives on August 23 and marks a decidedly lighter and brighter direction for Swift, who appears amid pastel-colored clouds on the dreamy cover art.

Swift further revealed on Instagram that the 18-track project is “very romantic.” She explained, “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 or going through a conflict or dealing with things in your life. It just kind of looks at those things with a very romantic gaze.”

Find out more album details here, and get those countdowns going!

King Princess Is A Channel-Surfing ‘Cheap Queen’ In Her Quirky New Video

There’s good news and bad news about King Princess‘s new video for the downbeat anthem “Cheap Queen.” The good: it’s total surreal fun, recalling the retro-style visuals for her breakout hit “1950” and the fabulously cheesy “Pussy Is God.” The bad: she doesn’t actually “make a grown man cry” on screen, despite what her lyrics suggest. But what the vid lacks in adult male tears, it makes up for with charming quirkiness.

The fun begins with a new interlude, “Useless Phrases,” which King Princess sings to a sandwich while floating through the clouds. Turns out, that scene is part of a goofy TV show she’s watching, and she unenthusiastically flips through more channels while sprawling out on an oversized sofa. The 20-year-old plays several different characters that pop up on the cartoonish TV, each more animated than the last. Her channel-surfing antics end with a beauty queen contest where she’s, of course, crowned the “Cheap Queen” while dryly asserting, “I’m getting too cocky since everyone wants me.” Damn right.

“Cheap Queen” is the lead single from King Princess’s upcoming debut album, which follows her 2018 EP, Make My Bed. She hasn’t announced a title or release date yet, but here’s hoping KP has more music planned for the rest of 2019. She’s right, after all: everyone wants her.

Dallas Austin Wrote Some Of Your Faves’ Biggest Hits — Now He’s Getting His Hall Of Fame Due

By Jewel Wicker

Dallas Austin was once “catfished” — before the phrase had even been coined — by women pretending to be Salt-N-Pepa. The musician and songwriter behind dozens of pop and R&B hits, including Top 10 smashes by TLC, Pink, and more, says he regularly spent hours on the phone with the imposters. He even traveled to New Jersey to meet the person he believed to be Spinderella at a skating rink to no avail. Eventually, he met the real rappers at a basketball game and realized he’d been played. The posers, Austin says, had also been speaking with Jermaine Dupri and helped instigate a beef that was brewing between the two Atlanta creatives. At the time, Austin was producing for the Michael Bivins-discovered group Another Bad Creation and Dupri was masterminding rival Atlanta kid group Kris Kross. It’d take the two men years to reconcile.

The two have certainly come a long way since then. Thursday night (June 13), Dupri will help induct Austin into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, recognizing him for the bevy of hits he’s helped write. Austin said he told the Hall of Fame he wanted Dupri, who entered the hall in 2018, to do the honors immediately once he learned he’d be inducted. “I met him at the car wash in North Clayton [when I was] 17, and me and him [have] been friends back and forth since then,” he says, noting the two are also working on starting a company together.

Austin says being inducted is the “biggest honor I could have” — and it’s certainly well deserved. The Georgia-bred songwriter and producer was the man behind many of the timeless ladies’ anthems of the ’90s and early 2000s. From TLC’s “Creep” to Monica’s “Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)” and Pink’s “Don’t Let Me Get Me,” Austin helped these outspoken young women create the songs that would come to define their lasting legacies. “I would take mostly girl perceptions, look at it from a guy’s standpoint, and write a song. I feel like I got more depth out of women’s songs,” Austin says. Long before Lil Yachty helped write City Girls’s “Act Up,” the women’s anthem of summer 2019, Austin penned Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops),” a song about getting revenge on a cheating ex by spending all of his money.

If you ask Austin about the secret behind his songwriting success, he’ll react with a carefree response that would imply they were somehow easy. Writing for artists is all about getting to know them and understanding how to take one’s own experiences and filter them through another person’s perspective, he’ll say. But capturing the spirit of all the artists Austin has penned for isn’t as effortless as he’s made it look.

Since executive producing Boyz II Men‘s 1991 debut album, including the single “Motownphilly,” Austin has written and produced for JC Chasez, Madonna, Carly Rae Jepsen, and more. TLC’s “Creep” found Austin producing and writing a quintessential R&B song of the ’90s, featuring a jazzy trumpet sample woven throughout a hip-hop beat and controversial lyrics about cheating on a preoccupied boyfriend.

Less than a decade later, he’d trade that sensual R&B sound for the gritty pop stylings of Pink on “Don’t Let Me Get Me,” a song backed by an electric guitar instead of a trumpet. Austin said he wrote the song after arguing with his on-again-off-again girlfriend at the time, TLC’s Chilli, before a session with Pink. “I got back into the studio and I’m just like, ‘I’m a hazard to myself,'” he says. The songwriter says many of the songs her wrote for the singer’s 2001 album Missundaztood were inspired by his own tumultuous relationship, although he’d tweak the lyrics to make them uniquely Pink.

This is how Gwen Stefani‘s synth-pop hit “Cool” was created, too. Austin, says he remembers listening to No Doubt’s “Simple Kind of Life” and wondering how Stefani and bandmate-slash-ex-boyfriend Tony Kanal were able to work together and make such personal songs about their relationship. Inspired by this, he started writing “Cool.” He considered finishing the song with TLC, but says he was miserable in the session. “The last thing I [wanted] to do is sit in a studio with [Chilli] and record this song with her talking about we’re cool,” he says. He wrote “Damaged” for the group instead and held on to “Cool” until he met Stefani a few years later. After explaining how she’d inspired the lyrics and playing it for her, the two finished the song together.

Of course, not all of Austin’s hit songs were inspired by his relationship with Chilli. Years after Austin helped the kids of Another Bad Creation find success with “Iesha” in the early ’90s, he signed Monica, an 11-year-old who sported “Greenbriar [Mall] rings, sweatsuit, and gold glasses” to his record label, Rowdy — a venture Austin hopes to relaunch this year — and executive produced her debut album, Miss Thang. Even as a kid, Monica had experienced a few hardships. So on the project, instead of toning down her attitude, Austin tapped into it. He says he remembers thinking “if Brandy’s attitude is ‘I Wanna Be Down,’ Monica’s attitude is going to be ‘get down.'” He wrote the album’s lead single, “Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)” and eventually co-produced the hit collaboration “The Boy Is Mine” with Brandy. By the time Monica was ready to record her second album, Austin and Dupri had reconciled their previous differences. Dupri produced and co-wrote the hit single “The First Night” for the project.

Now, decades after they first met, Austin and Dupri are hoping to work together on a regular basis. The two are both continuing to grow Atlanta as an entertainment hub, with Austin working in the newly formed Georgia Entertainment Caucus to create a bridge between the music business and government. One of their goals is to ensure the state’s music-tax incentives are effective and to create an entertainment district in the city. The Dallas Austin Foundation, formed by Austin in 2003, also provides him an outlet to teach local kids about the business aspects of the music industry. In doing this, he hopes to help the next wave of creatives avoid the business problems he and his friends went through early in their careers.

Later this year, he’ll also launch a new company, JDA, alongside Dupri. Austin says he hopes the Atlanta-based business firm will eventually encompass music, film and TV production, a management agency, and more. “We want JDA to be the Dreamworks of Atlanta by the time we’re done,” Austin says. “[It will] wrap up our story nicely.”