Beyoncé’s Stirring Performance At Kobe Bryant’s Memorial Was Aimed At The Heavens

As far back as the 1999 remix of Destiny Child‘s “Say My Name,” Beyoncé and Kobe Bryant had a heartwarming friendship that endured through the years. That energy was on display on Monday (February 24) when she opened the memorial service for the late basketball great and his daughter Gianna at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. In her stirring show, she performed both “Halo” and “XO” to honor his memory.

Beyoncé’s two songs came with magnificent vocals featuring an enormous choir and live instruments. With an emotional smile on her face, she prefaced her performance of “XO” with an explanation of why she chose the song. “I’m here because I love Kobe, and this was one of his favorite songs,” she began. “I want you to sing it so loud that he can hear your love,” she continued. The live rendition of “Halo” ended with a roof-shattering drum roll followed by Beyoncé blowing a kiss to the sky.

Later during the program, Alicia Keys also played a song in tribute to Kobe, performing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on a piano while supported by a string quartet. Before she played it, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka explained that it was important to Kobe and his relationship with Vanessa, Billboard reports.

Kobe and Gianna died in a helicopter crash on January 26. That night at the 62nd Grammy Awards, he was honored by Keys, who hosted, with a touching performance featuring Boyz II Men and then again during a tribute to Nipsey Hussle.

Check out Beyoncé’s warm performance of “Halo” up above.

100 Gecs And Charli XCX Join Forces For A Deliriously Fun ‘Ringtone’ Remix

Here’s a nice jolt of energy for your Monday: 100 gecs — the weirdo pop duo of Laura Les and Dylan Brady — have released a remix of their beloved bop “Ringtone” that features Charli XCX, rap force Rico Nasty, and indie pop group Kero Kero Bonito. In other words, it’s one big, ecstatic party.

Charli, a natural fit for the gecs universe, starts the whole thing off with a cute, loved-up verse before tackling the song’s original, earworm-inducing hook: “My boy’s got his own ringtone / It’s the only one I know, it’s the only one I know.” The rest of the remix features bubbly performances from all parties involved, including KKB crooning in AutoTune and Rico blazing over the track’s fuzzy guitars. There’s even a cheeky moment when Laura chimes in, asking, “Wait, Charli, can you sing the chorus again, please?” Just call her “Charli GecsCGecs” from here on out.

In typically surreal style, Dylan and Laura paired the new remix with a visualizer that features the two of them wielding stick puppets of their collaborators. Check it out below.

The “Ringtone” remix launches 1000 gecs & The Tree of Clues, the upcoming remix album of the duo’s visionary 2019 debut, 1000 gecs. The project took shape as the result of a crowd-sourcing experiment, and includes remixes from friends and fans alike, including A.G. Cook’s reworking of “Money Machine” and Injury Reserve’s “745 Sticky.”

Look out for the remix album coming soon, and check out our recent profile of 100 gecs here.

Selena Gomez Put Her Emotions On Full Display In A New Acoustic Session

It started with snapping fingers and cackling voices in the background — you know, signs of people having fun. But once that all cut out, Selena Gomez gripped the microphone at Village Studios in Los Angeles, CA and whisked her self away to an acoustic wonderland with a performance of “Rare.” Soft, simple, and stirring, her indignant middle finger to neglect whispers into your ear as you listen to it and chills you when her eyes meet yours.

The only people that matter in this new world are Gomez, her feathery backup singer, and the lone guitarist who sweetens the deafening surrounding silence. Gomez keeps her eyes closed and presses on gently, drilling into your mind with her cavity-inducing voice. This new rendition of “Rare” is sweet in some places, fierce in others, sharp in its vocal run on the chorus before dissolving into mist in its verses.

On the few occasions that she glances at the camera, it’s like she moonwalking on a fresh carpet and poking you on your elbow while she’s statically potent. The crispness of the moment never gets old and no matter how many times you watch it, closing the tab on the YouTube page leaves you wanting more.

“Rare” is the title track for Gomez’s third studio album that dropped in January. Earlier this month, she released the fan-favorite track “Feel Me” after fans clamored for it for more than four years.

Check out Gomez’s breathtaking new acoustic cover of “Rare” up above.

SpongeBob Memes And Childhood Artifacts Inspired Ratboys’s Best Album Yet

In the early 20th century and before, a young “printer’s devil” would help set type and clean the floors in print shops. He learned his trade as all apprentices do, by watching carefully and, eventually, by doing. Julia Steiner, who leads Midwestern band Ratboys, found herself with a unique task not long ago: sorting through decades of memories and artifacts as her parents cleared out her childhood home in Louisville, Kentucky. She’d become the printer’s devil of her own life.

Steiner trekked back to the house she grew up in, down in the Kentucky humidity and sunshine, with trusted Ratboys collaborator Dave Sagan. The two formed the band in the 2010s after meeting at the University of Notre Dame; two albums later, and after dozens of good SpongeBob tweets shared in the van on the way to live gigs, they needed a place to finalize and demo some expansive new songs, just as she’d done in high school. They picked the only room left with a bed in it.

“Logistically it was really easy,” Steiner told MTV News. “No one was there, obviously, because my parents had already moved out, and we camped out in their bedroom, which was kind of funny. It had tall ceilings. We got to just turn up and camp out in that space and try to go out with a bang, as far as just writing some music in that house for one more time.”

The fruits of their excursion burst forth on Printer’s Devil, the adventurous third Ratboys album out this Friday, February 28, via Topshelf Records. (You can hear an advance stream of the album above.) It picks up the folksy yarn from 2017’s GN and knits an entire wardrobe out of it, merging pop-punk and moony ballads with one experimental jam that could easily double its 4:32 runtime and still not overstay its welcome.

That jam is the title track, a spaced-out vision inspired by epics like Wilco’s 10-minute “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” and Cat Power’s 18-minute “Willie Deadwilder.” Steiner said they chased “the idea trying to create more of a meditation or a mantra” and ended up making her favorite song on the album. “We jammed on that little pattern for 20 minutes. I feel like I could play that for an hour. It’s so nice. I’m proud that we were able to write a song like that, that feels intentional but also has a ton of open space and just had space in itself to go where it needs to go.”

Ratboys have visited the jamosphere before, often allotting guitarist Sagan ample real estate on live versions of GN’s airy “Dangerous Visions.” But “Printer’s Devil” feels like a turning point, a statement that finds the group unlocking new horizons for themselves. Instead of cutting ad-hoc vocal takes in a campus chapel or laundry room like they did when Ratboys began, Steiner and Sagan summited the attic of a hollowed-out house, subsequently bailed after 10 minutes without air conditioning, mellowed out over some Kentucky backroad drives, walked around familiar parks, and funneled those simple, powerful moments into their best album yet. “They sound cliché or novel when you just read them on a lyric sheet. But for me it is grounded in real memories that I cherish,” Steiner said.

She opens “Look To” as a little girl “bombing hills in the summertime” and closes the loop on “I Go Out at Night,” a song she began writing as a teenager and finished at her parents’. “Photographs fill my mind,” she sings, “I’m sleeping here for the last time.” Its emotionality lives in the loss, rendered in detail by Sagan’s dreamy fills and Steiner’s specificity of place; its Halloween-themed video finds the four-piece band — Steiner and Sagan, plus Sean Neumann on bass and Marcus Nuccio on drums — haunting the suburbs in their trick-or-treating best. Just one track before, on “Anj,” Steiner lays out a tender ode to a former babysitter who she’s kept in touch with as they’ve both grown older. Musically, it’s a firecracker.

“We demoed through it two or three different times because we weren’t really sure how to just keep the energy carrying over,” Sagan said. “The lyrics got really intense from verse to verse, and then by the end, you really want to bring the energy up. We were really indecisive on, should this be a chiller song?” The demo is lovely, brimming with that chunky octave riff that gives the song its immediacy, but Sagan said the real magic happened thanks to Nuccio’s explosive drumming.

Printer’s Devil is full of level-up moments like this, sonic embellishments that unify the album and more closely echo the dynamic Ratboys live experience. Unlike the band’s previous LPs, the musicians who played in Ratboys on the road are the same who recorded the album, lending every crunch and chord change added tightness. “We went through this period where we were playing with a bunch of different drummers” — nine, to be exact — “and every time, every lineup was a slightly different sound, too. Sean and Marcus have been there for a long time now, and they’re permanent. We just really wanted to capture that.”

Johnny Fabrizio

Left to right: Dave Sagan, Julia Steiner, Marcus Nuccio, and Sean Neumann

The chemistry also comes from the four also playing in Jupiter Styles, a band fronted by Neumann, and the fact that Steiner, Sagan, and Neumann all live together in Chicago. This allows for being “very attuned to one another’s sense of humor and mood,” Steiner said, and there’s a palpable feeling in both listening to the album and seeing a Ratboys show that these people actually all really like each other — Steiner and Sagan especially. They’ve been a couple for seven years, though they don’t like to make it the focus of the band’s story. There’s also little time for romance when the demands of a tour beckon.

“But at the same time, you have to make space for that away,” Sagan said, prompting Steiner to dig a little deeper: “We’re so lucky because even if we’re not able to express all the different facets of our relationship on the road, we’re still together every day, all day, and that is a huge comfort for me. Honestly, I don’t know if I could go on tour without Dave.”

There aren’t many Ratboys songs about their relationship. “Pretty much none of them. No offense, Dave,” Steiner said. But she writes about different types of love. “Anj” celebrates the symbiotic evolution of a decades-spanning friendship. Meanwhile, “My Hands Grow” probes inward with lines like “I know that it’s hard to feel my love” as images of clouds and blades of grass float by. Printer’s Devil’s love songs are unexpected.

Also unexpected: that two musical partners who linked up in South Bend, Indiana, wouldn’t gravitate toward Pete Buttigieg in the 2020 Presidential election. He was mayor when they lived there, and he even came to a show at a prominent DIY space. They’d see him around town, and they liked him. Steiner said she was excited when he announced his campaign last year, but since then, “things have changed. I feel like he pivoted to the big picture and the wider race a little bit too soon for my taste.”

Instead, Steiner and Sagan played an acoustic set at a Davenport, Iowa, rally in support of Bernie Sanders. After the senator thanked them by name in his preamble, the clip amassed thousands of likes and retweets.

“His plans for health care are so important,” Steiner said. “It’s really hard being a musician, self-employed and having to rely on government health insurance. A lot of young artists are attracted to his campaign for that, but for so many other reasons too.”

“Bernie Sanders is the most famous person I’ve ever met,” Sagan adds.

It’s possible that Printer’s Devil could change that. Ratboys are set for a headlining tour, playing longer sets in bigger rooms to more receptive crowds, and even a few gigs opening for their heroes in Wilco. It all still feels like the exciting beginning of something much greater. Still, Steiner often uses the @Ratboysband Twitter handle to champion her friends’ projects and great SpongeBob moments more than her own band. “I will share those memes on Twitter forever until someone forces me to stop,” she said. She’s just happy to keep playing whenever they can, for whoever will listen.

“It would just go against all of my instincts to suppress any sort of enthusiasm or hype I’m feeling,” she said. “I just want to shout from the mountaintops all the cool stuff that’s going on.” Luckily, Ratboys just made the best album of their career. This time, plenty of others can do the shouting.

Justin Bieber Just Became The Youngest Artist To Hit An Impressive Chart Milestone

With the release of his seventh studio album Changes at 25, Justin Bieber has become the youngest solo artist to get seven No. 1 albums on the Billboard Hot 200. It breaks rock legend Elvis Presley’s previous record of 26. Changes also moved over 231,000 album-equivalent units in its first week, making it the third-largest opening of 2020 so far. What a way to celebrate a return!

Another cool achievement of Bieber’s Changes is that it’s his ninth charting project altogether. He’s shooting 9 for 9 so far and he literally couldn’t get any better than that if he tried.

Bieber took to Twitter after finding out the news with a heartfelt, deep, and expressive message dedicated to his fans. It explored the feeling of breaking a record of this magnitude with a careful word choice that could you leave emotional with its thoughtful and tender feeling.

This previous weekend while possibly celebrating this amazing news, Bieber performed “Never Would Have Made It” by Marvin Sapp with Kanye West‘s Sunday Service. He gave a soulful spin on the gospel number that made the entire crowd in attendance roar in unison.

Changes came out on Valentine’s Day and is Bieber’s first album in four years. The LP, all about romance and its many faces, features his return hit “Yummy,” “Intentions” with Quavo, and much more.

BTS Spills Map Of The Soul: 7 Album Details And Gets Real About The Creative Process

So, you’ve spent all day streaming Map of the Soul: 7the latest album from Korean artists BTS, diving into fan theories and learning the “ON” choreography? Well, now it’s time to dive deep into the themes of the record — with the Bangtan Boys themselves. Today (February 21), the members of BTS stopped by MTV’s Fresh Out Live to celebrate the album’s release and talk about what inspired it.

Map of the Soul: 7 marks the fourth studio album from BTS, and it’s the group’s first release since last April’s Map of the Soul: Persona. “As you can see, the title of the album is 7, so we needed at least seven months to work on this album,” RM joked. In actuality, the leader said that the original plan was to release two separate parts of the Map of the Soul series — Ego and Shadow — but that the team decided to “put them together in this album” as a full-length release. This supports the original theory that Map of the Soul was conceived as another creative trilogy, but both “Shadow” and “Ego” are featured on this album as interlude and outro tracks, respectively.

And while he didn’t go into detail as to why they combined the two, he reassured fans that at the end of the day, what matters most to BTS is quality, not quantity. “It took really long, but we put the quality and as much effort as it was going to take.”

With extra time dedicated to the creative process, the group produced some of their most dynamic work to date, including new unit songs (Jimin and V’s “Friends” is a highlight) and solo tracks. “The way we write our solo songs is that we take the emotions that we feel and put them in the lyrics,” vocalist V said, translated to English. “And we try to put them in the songs.”

One of those new songs is the new single “ON,” which youngest member Jungkook revealed to the Fresh Out Live audience is a new spin on their 2013 song “N.O.”

“The name of the track wasn’t ‘ON’ in the beginning, but we came together and we had a meeting trying to decide what we wanted the title track to be and what we wanted to call it,” he said. “Because this was a reboot, we wanted to take our old song ‘N.O’ and turn into ‘ON,’ so I just threw that out, and we really liked it, talked about ‘bring the pain on,’ and we put that into the lyrics — and that’s how we came up with the title track.”

Since the new record is a reflection of their work thus far, members RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook also took the time to reflect on how their music has changed in the seven years since BTS debuted. “I think we have grown as artists,” Suga said, “and as musical trends change, we’ve also tried to follow the trends.” That’s especially apparent on new tracks “Louder Than Bombs” — co-written by Troye Sivan — and rap line cypher “UGH!”

As for what fans (a.k.a. ARMY) can expect from the group’s forthcoming Map of the Soul tour, kicking off in April in Seoul. “We will work hard to prepare a great show for you guys,” vocalist and dancer Jimin said.

Of course, BTS didn’t leave the Fresh Out Live studio without a sweet message for their loyal ARMY. “We’ve been together for seven years now, we want you to know that you are special,” rapper J-Hope said.

“Like I said before,” he concluded, “you know for sure that liking BTS was the best decision ever.”

5SOS’s ‘Old Me’ Is Here, Alongside A Barrage Of Cute Childhood Pics

Believe it or not, 5 Seconds of Summer have been a band for almost a decade — time truly flies! — and with their latest single, the guys are reflecting on their topsy-turvy journey thus far.

On Friday (February 21), the Aussie band released “Old Me,” a thoughtful reflection about their youth and everything they went through to become the men they are today. That means, of course, making a ton of mistakes, which Luke Hemmings happily owns up to. “Shout out to the old me and everything he showed me,” he sings on the Post Malone-sounding hook. “Had to fuck it up before I really got to know me.”

To really up the nostalgia factor, “Old Me” arrived alongside a lyric video comprised of childhood photos of Hemmings, Michael Clifford, Calum Hood, and Ashton Irwin. During the song’s chorus, the collage of photos transitions into video footage of their early days as a band, when the guys’ jeans were much tighter and their hair was much longer. If you’re a longtime 5SOS fan, this one will definitely hit home.

In a statement about the new song, Hemmings said, “‘Old Me’ carries a youthful spirit and follows the narrative of a young person’s life growing up, for better or for worse. Every decision we made, whether right or wrong, has led us to the men we are proud to be today. We were thrown into the public eye at a young age and gratefully had each other at a confusing time. Sometimes it’s important we look back in order to appreciate the journey we’ve been on together.”

“Old Me” is the latest taste of 5SOS’s upcoming fourth album, Calm, which arrives on March 27 and features the previously released tracks “No Shame” and “Teeth.”

Greyson Chance Reveals The Real ‘Betrayal’ At The Heart Of His New Song

After 39 seconds of scene-setting baritone, Greyson Chance flips the view: He jumps up to a much higher vocal register on the tender pre-chorus of his adventurous new song “Dancing Next to Me.” If you haven’t paid attention to the career of Chance — a prodigy who first hit viral fame in 2010 thanks to a Lady Gaga piano cover and a signal boost from Ellen DeGeneres — this will come as a wonderful surprise.

But if you pressed play on his silky, raw 2019 re-arrival album Portraits, a collection influenced by Frank Ocean and Bon Iver, you know what Chance’s voice can do. On “Dancing Next to Me,” its power is felt through the meticulous arrangements he handled himself, alongside producer and canny pop brain Teddy Geiger. By the time he sings the title of the song a minute in, you’ve already been taken for a ride.

“I don’t know if we necessarily even thought about the change of tone,” Chance told MTV News. “I think we just went with the vocal because it felt really good. I think we developed a mutual trust in that lane and my ability to know how to go in and create.”

Like so many melodies in the digital age, “Dancing Next to Me” finds its origin in a voice note. Chance woke up one day and went straight to the piano, where he got the bones of the song together and recorded it. Later came Geiger; they connected in person and started working right away. “That was our first day, and that was the first time I met her, and that’s what we started with.” (Much like she did for Shawn Mendes on his more exploratory 2018 LP, Geiger is producing Chance’s upcoming album in full.)

“She asked me about my relationship life and what’s going on there,” Chance said about working with Geiger. He opened up, and the lyrics took shape quickly after that. “The song is really a story about a sense of betrayal from somebody, a sense of them being so present with you in this moment and then when the sun is rising, they’re just gone.”

Portraits found Chance using he/him pronouns in love songs, likening a flame’s classic look to Alex Turner‘s, and even dropping an ex’s initials into a song. The 22-year-old wanted to continue that streak of honesty in his songwriting when he began work on his next album. “All of this shit happened to me,” he said. Specifically, this shit: “I was really tired this summer of being people’s experiments.”

The narrative of the song makes this tension clear. Chance meets a guy, and they hit it off. They dance together, they kiss, and more. It’s fireworks. But then, his partner bolts. The song’s bridge makes the complications clear — as the beat drops out, Chance sings, “I was yours for the weekend, come sunrise it’s time / For you to dodge your feelings, call your girl to deny.”

“We were a bit nervous about that line,” Chance admitted, saying he and Geiger fretted over the specificity of it and how it could be heard as “targeting somebody.” Ultimately, he praised Geiger for her tenacity in pushing them to include it in the final version: “That’s the difference between her and a lot of other people. She said, ‘No, fuck it, let’s keep this honest.'”

The “Dancing Next to Me” video spotlights that honesty as well, finding Chance and a would-be lover mingling on and off a dance floor. When he talked to MTV News about the song earlier this month, he’d just finished shooting the video, which ran late because of his own scrupulousness. “You’ll be delighted to know that we were supposed to end around midnight, and of course my ass pushed on until 3:15 or 3:30 in the morning,” he said. “I said, ‘Oh, we need this shot. Oh, let’s keep the light around.’ It was all a mess, but in the best way possible.”

Chance has gotten to flex more of his personality in his recent videos. In November 2019, he released “Boots,” a fuzzed-out bop that found him bare-chested and bloodied in the desert, exhaling smoke and surrounded by a circle of trophies. It’s the kind of energy he’s brought to the entire recording process, an artistic vision inspired by the talismans he’d spy on visits back to his family home in Oklahoma.

“I had a huge obsession this past summer, and going into writing this record, with trophies,” he said. “It can have gold and diamonds and platinum and whatever. It can be laced in the most beautiful things, but what’s interesting is that it all depends on what’s in fine print. You could have the biggest trophy, but at the end of the day, it still says ‘Ninth-place runner up.'”

Chance likened this talk of “beautiful statues” to how he was sometimes viewed both on and off stage by people he was romantically entwined with: “They would come to my show, they would see me, and they would think I was this trophy, that I was always this object.” What makes “Dancing Next to Me” a true moment for him is how it captures what’s real: a narrative with stakes and actual people at the center of it.

Like Chance, those people can be flawed. That’s the whole point of making these songs as honest as possible. “There are nights,” he said, “where the fine print doesn’t look so hot with me.”

Cailin Russo’s New EP Takes Us Into The Thick Of The Drama

Full disclosure: Up until now, the only interview MTV News had done with Cailin Russo was from April 3, 2014, after the singer-songwriter had starred in Justin Bieber’s music videos for “All That Matters” and “Confident.” The article‘s headline read, “Justin Bieber’s Extremely Hot Model ‘Friend,’ Cailin Russo, Shares Helpful Tips On Being Hot.”

Clearly, we were all due for an update.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect: Last week, Russo dropped The Drama, an EP comprised of six songs she wrote in the aftermath of a crumbled four-year relationship. The night of its release, she celebrated with a headlining show in L.A., which marked her longest set to date and her first time performing many of the new songs.

“I literally exploded onstage,” she said to MTV News a few days later. “I was like, ‘I can’t hold it in anymore.’ I walked out in a full wedding gown with this six-foot train and then stripped into a leather bra and panties. It was fucking awesome.”

That stunt, along with the EP title itself, should tell you that Russo does in fact have a flair for the dramatic. It’s in her blood. Her dad, Scott Russo, fronts the punk band Unwritten Law, and Russo grew up going to shows with him and sing-screaming her heart out at Warped Tour; it was what she called “a super privileged, one-of-a-kind life.” Initially, she resisted the idea of pursuing music herself, thinking, “That’s dad’s thing.” But in high school, she started tinkering around in the studio with him and they ended up collaborating on a handful of (mostly unreleased) songs that she wrote and he produced. Around the same time, she fronted a high school band called Super Groupie and got into modeling and Bieber video-starring.

Despite being surrounded by music, though, she never actually intended to be her own artist. “I really struggled with imposter syndrome for a solid couple of years,” the 26-year-old admits. “[It took] up until really this year to fully embrace being an artist and feel an identity in saying that.”

Following a few poppy R&B cuts she released in 2017, like “September Rose” and “Pink Sand,” The Drama is the first fully formed taste of what Cailin Russo the artist can do. She made the EP all throughout 2018, after quitting the self-fronted band Russo and reverting to solo music. It began as something else entirely — she initially conceived it as a conceptual project about Hollywood called Nectar City. And then, well, shit happened.

“My relationship started crumbling, and I started writing about it,” she recalls. “I was at this party in L.A. with my other ex-boyfriend — my follow-up ex-boyfriend — and the name The Drama just hit me like a fucking puck in the head. I was like, ‘That is the way to encapsulate four years of my relationship,’ and that’s what The Drama is about.'”

The first song she wrote was the driving, defiant “No Time,” which, ironically enough, is the kiss-off track that closes the EP; on it, Russo declares, “I move on quickly, and you ain’t coming with me.”

“I caught my ex doing some weird, shady shit, and then I wrote this poem at the dog park, and it was ‘No Time,'” she explained. “I was like, ‘Oh, this would be a fun pop song. This is like a Taylor Swift song.’ And then we ended up making it into some hardcore rock song.

“And then, after a series of events post-‘No Time,’ I was still in the same relationship and I was really going nuts,” she continued. “I ended up doing something super out of character and super fucked up. So I wrote a second poem, ‘Declaration.'”

“Declaration” became “part one” of The Drama: the opening track and the admonition that lets listeners know off the bat that Russo is flawed but forthright. “This is a declaration of a fuck up,” Russo sings over fuzzy guitars and a pulsating beat. “And I don’t expect a single teardrop / Whoa, I am ashamed.”

“I carry a lot of guilt. It’s like, ‘I fucked up’ before you hear the rest of the story,” Russo says of the shockingly self-aware song. “Even though now, I feel otherwise, because I don’t think I have to be as hard on myself as I was. But at the time I was very much, ‘This is where I want this story to start. I don’t want you to think that the other guy’s a bad guy,’ you know?” She pauses. “Now, I’m like, ‘fuck you’ to that guy. I’m a fucking angel.”

Throughout the rest of The Drama, Russo continues holding a mirror up to herself with undressed lyrics, grungy aesthetics, and a razor-sharp voice. She playfully considers a love that’s too good to be true on “Sicko,” reminisces on an ex who let her disappear on “Fade,” and reckons with her newfound freedom on “Good Bad Decisions.” The EP’s only loose thread is also one of its high points: the deliciously campy “You Touch Me, I Touch You Back,” a sexy slice of Thriller-esque pop that you might hear in a horror movie (or on Euphoria, which is Russo’s ultimate dream).

One of her key collaborators on The Drama was producer Chris Coady, best known for his work with Beach House and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The latter band’s influence is all over “You Touch Me,” which Russo admits is “totally not cohesive” to the rest of the project, but which succeeds in showing us yet another facet of the sound that she herself is still cultivating. The EP gives us one chapter of her life and, moving forward, she wants to drop a few one-off singles and then work on a full album that captures the “liberation” she’s currently feeling.

“I think The Drama is such a beautiful foundation for what’s to come,” Russo says. “It’s the ’80s, hard, synth shit, but I don’t think that’s my sound. I think it’s just the beginning.”

Bop Shop: Songs From Iyla, Tobe Nwigwe, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, And More

In 2018, rising R&B star Iyla was a cautious lover on breakout single “Juice,” wherein over bouncy synths she accepts a new lover (“Oh no, you might be the one,” she coos). But “Strings,” the standout from her new EP, Other Ways to Vent, feels like its twisted sister: Now she’s being played like a puppet. Through a skittering, schizophrenic production (by Kadis, her mainstay producer) she both floats with airy consideration and dives into rage-by-the-syllable sass (“Why you over there lookin’ like a snack when I’m the whole dinner?” she demands), somehow unhinged and unbothered at the same damn time. —Terron Moore