Little Mix Are Bonafide ‘Goddesses’ On ‘Think About Us’ Remix With Ty Dolla $ign

Ty Dolla $ign is the consummate collaborator; in the past year alone, he’s lent in-demand features to everyone from 2 Chainz to Dinah Jane. And for his latest trick, the chameleonic crooner has added a luxurious verse to a new version of Little Mix‘s latest LM5 single, “Think About Us.”

Released on Thursday night (January 24), the remix came alongside a neon-drenched lyric video that shows Perrie, Jesy, Jade, and Leigh-Anne belting the lovesick lyrics. The song’s minimalist trop-house inflections remain in tract, but Ty provides some extra flavor with bars about “clearing the schedule” for his girl and showering her with designer goods.

“Let me put some drip on you / Vivienne Westwood, let me put Chanel on you / Got you Balenciaga, YSL on you / Girl, you’re a goddess,” he offers, before the girls swoop in with an explosive final chorus.

Besides their new remix, Little Mix have plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks. They’re performing at next month’s BRITs, where they’re nominated for British Group and British Video, for the Nicki Minaj-featuring “Woman Like Me.” On top of that, the group teased a Ty-featuring video for “Think About Us” that arrives on February 1 — check out the teaser below.

Julia Michaels And Selena Gomez Get Real About ‘Anxiety’ On Intimate New Song

There’s no better way for Selena Gomez to return to our earbuds than hand-in-hand with one of her closest friends. The “Bad Liar” singer has been laying low for the past few months after reportedly seeking treatment for her mental health, but on Thursday (January 24), she reemerged on an intimate new song with Julia Michaels.

“Anxiety” is the opening track on Michaels’s new EP, Inner Monologue, Pt. 1, and it sets the tone for the refreshingly candid project. “Feel like I’m always apologizing for feeling like I’m out of my mind when I’m doing just fine,” Michaels and Gomez earnestly sing over a plucking acoustic guitar, detailing how their anxiety affects their relationships. “All my friends, they don’t know what it’s like, what it’s like / They don’t understand why I can’t sleep through the night.”

Fans of Michaels’s breakout hit “Issues” know that she has a blunt, honest approach to songwriting, and that’s here in spades on the stark, relatable, and at times snarky and self-deprecating duet.

On Instagram, Gomez celebrated the release of “Anxiety” by writing, “My sweet soul sister. Julia you have been a huge part of my life. You have taught me how to have courage when I have self doubt. This song is extremely close to my heart as I’ve experienced anxiety and know a lot of my friends do too. You’re never alone if you feel this way. The message is much needed and I really hope you guys like it!”

Michaels, meanwhile, explained how the collab came together during an interview with Beats 1 host Zane Lowe on Thursday. She recalled, “I sent it to Selena and I was like, ‘I think it’d be really awesome to have a song with two women on it that struggle with the same thing that are talking about something other than fighting for a guy’s attention or something like that. It’s almost like a female empowerment song. … It’s us saying, ‘Hey, we have anxiety and we’re OK with it.’ And she was like, ‘I am so into this, I love this so much.'”

Inner Monologue, Pt. 1 is Michaels’s first release since her 2017 EP, Nervous System. Aside from “Anxiety,” the six-song collection also includes a collaboration with Niall Horan, the reflective and bittersweet “What A Time.” Michaels told Lowe that she plans to release another EP, Pt. 2, later this year.

Dua Lipa Suits Up For Battle In New Alita-Inspired ‘Swan Song’ Video

Dua Lipa‘s already-stellar videography — which includes the viral “New Rules,” the instantly GIFable “Electricity,” and more — just got a little more badass.

On Thursday (January 24), the pop princess released the exhilarating visuals for “Swan Song,” her soaring anthem from the upcoming Alita: Battle Angel. Directed by Floria Sigismondi, it places Lipa on the treacherous streets of the film’s fictional Iron City, providing a post-apocalyptic backdrop for the ensuing action. Wearing a heap of silver chains, Lipa tries to outrun a pack of formidable drones, and eventually finds answers by facing herself in a mirror. In her reflection, she sees Alita and copies her nifty martial arts moves, which gives her the strength (not to mention, the cyborg arms) to fight back. Go, Dua, go!

In a statement, Sigismondi explained the connection between Lipa’s video and the action-adventure flick, saying, “While in the film Alita is quite literally on a journey to discover who she is, her story serves as a really powerful allegory for any girl who doesn’t yet know her own power. I wanted to play with that same profound notion by dropping Dua into a facet of Alita’s world and allowing Alita to serve as a surrogate that leads her on a journey to discover she’s stronger than she ever could have imagined.”

“Swan Song” marks Lipa’s first new release of 2019, but probably not her last. The 23-year-old has said she’s hard at work on her sophomore album, telling Rolling Stone last week that she’s “working really hard to get my new album out. … I’m just going to be in the studio making sure that I come back with some fun stuff for everyone.”

How Lauren Jauregui’s ‘More Than That’ Video Is A Celebration For Women, By Women

Half a year after “god is a woman” became part of the cultural vernacular, Lauren Jauregui has taken that concept one step further by embodying a real goddess. The singer-songwriter has been steadily introducing herself to the world as a solo artist, and thus far, she’s given us a pair of singles, “Expectations” and “More Than That,” which hint at her promising star power.

The common thread between those two videos is creative and director Lauren Dunn, whom Jauregui trusted to bring her precise artistic vision to life. For “More Than That,” released last week, that meant chronicling the goddess Aphrodite’s visit to Earth, following her through a strip club to convey a message of female empowerment.

“Aphrodite is the ultimate celebration of femininity and beauty and sexuality in an empowering way,” Dunn told MTV News. “When we think of a strip club, it’s often darkly lit and seedy and secretive and you don’t tell people you’re going. It’s not a place you envision women getting together and going to to celebrate other women.”

In the video, though, Jauregui’s Aphrodite — along with a crowd of entranced women — admire the dancers in front of them and eventually join in on the celebration. Dunn said the video was partially inspired by the Renaissance painting La Primavera, in which the goddess Venus stands among a trio of women dancing around her. Those are the three women flanking Jauregui as she enters the club (aptly titled “Olympus”), and their ethereal wardrobe takes cues from the women’s gowns in the painting.

The dancers, too, had their own feminine approach to what you would wear to pole dance, and the video’s stylist worked with each one of them to pick the outfit that made them feel the most empowered. The result, Dunn said, is seeing exotic dancers in a way we’re not used to.

“The dancers we hired — it’s just amazing to watch them move. It was like magic; you can’t believe the things they can do,” she explained. “We don’t see them in that light as often as we should.”

She added, “Ultimately, it’s just a celebration of women’s power and beauty, in every form. Every body type, every color. Because that’s where real beauty lies, is diversity. Lauren’s life mantra is celebrating women, and we just wanted to literally see these women in a new light.”

Even more impressive, the focus on femininity onscreen was heavily mirrored offscreen. The video’s entire post-production team — including the editor, colorist, and art director, as well as the lead production designer — were all women. Dunn explained, “I would like to say it’s probably intentional that we end up working with women because the energy is there. We sort of brought this thing to life together.”

Besides wardrobe and a diverse cast, the key to the video, Dunn said, was visual design; in other words, creating the world of Aphrodite. The director and her team spared no details, packing the video with symbolism galore. Those stage lights illuminating the dancers? They’re classic theatre lights shaped like shells, one of the most commonly associated symbols of Aphrodite. The pomegranates, wine, and golden apple covering the table in front of Jauregui? They’re all symbols of Aphrodite, too. And the video’s color palette, comprised mostly of seafoam green, rose, and light blue? You guessed it — they’re all colors associated with the goddess.

Some of those symbols can also be seen on the single’s cover art, which recreates the classic painting The Birth of Venus, and which was gorgeously brought to life in the video — though it proved to be a herculean task.

“That was the scariest photo I’ve ever taken,” Dunn said of the cover art, explaining that she used a “really old-school Pentax camera” and soft, low light to pull off the admittedly “risky” shot. She also bought upwards of 500 flowers, which were meticulously arranged around Jauregui in a way that mirrored classic art.

“I had to get up on a scissor lift, and I was strapped in and dangling over Lauren,” Dunn recalled. “I had decided I wanted to shoot through some vintage filters, which is why you get that kind of soft glow. I’m leaning over, and you’re hoping your hand doesn’t shake as you fire the shot. Everyone on set was quiet — we had a crew of probably 30 or 40 people and no one was speaking; everybody knew how scary of a moment it was for me. But after we got the shot, I was like, ‘That’s it, I know that’s the one.'”

Drawing inspiration from those famous pieces of artwork was “a very bold thing to do,” Dunn admitted, but she was relieved that fans could immediately identify the references and understand her intentions. Plus, her collaborator — in all her glowing glory — demands nothing less than the best.

“It’s legendary art and you don’t want to not do it justice,” Dunn explained. “But when you’ve got a subject like Lauren, she literally looks like a Renaissance painting brought to life.”

Jauregui is credited as a creative director and co-editor on the video, and Dunn chalked that up to the way the 22-year-old approaches her art and “builds her own world” in her music and her videos.

“She is inspiring because from even writing the song to editing the video with us, she’s so hands-on and has such a vision for who she is,” Dunn said. “She makes such a mood with her music. A lot of great music feels cinematic, and a lot of what she writes has that energy to it.”

What Jauregui’s next video will look like is still anyone’s guess, but fans may be able to look at her last two for clues. Though Dunn said there’s not an explicit connection between “Expectations” and “More Than That,” she did explain, “We used some of the imagery from [“Expectations”] and re-referenced it in a new way [in “More Than That”]. Some of the symbols that are associated with Aphrodite, like doves and roses, we had so much of that in the first video and we wanted to sprinkle some of that in the new one, to sort of keep a through line of the goddess that is Lauren.”

She added, “The narrative has evolved and they each are standalone videos, but we really wanted to have some sort of visual connection that made sense.”

That awesome attention to detail is a testament to how stunningly Jauregui is navigating her debut solo era. And much like those clubgoers stood entranced by her moves in the “More Than That” video, we’ll be watching closely to see what she does next.

Lauv And Troye Sivan, Heartbreak Kings, Are ‘So Tired’ Of Love Songs: Listen

So maybe you assumed that Lauv and Troye Sivan‘s “i’m so tired…” would be some kind of anthem about millennial angst and burnout. But that’s not these guys’ style. Instead, the two singer-songwriters take a page out of Ne-Yo’s playbook by declaring that they’re “so tired” of love songs. So tired, in fact, that you’re going to have to excuse them while they dip out of this party early to go nurse their heartbreak.

Lauv — a mile away from the doe-eyed sweetness of “I Like Me Better” — sets the scene during the opening verse. “Party / Trying my best to meet somebody / But everyone around me’s falling in love … Hate it / Taking a shot ’cause I can’t take it,” the newly single crooner sings over a bed of synths. Sivan chimes in on the second verse, documenting his failed attempts to move on (“Strangers / Killing my lonely nights with strangers”) and even name-checking Lorde’s “Buzzcut Season” and Coldplay’s “Hurts Like Heaven.”

The heartbreak kings join forces on the immediately singalong-friendly hook, lamenting, “I’m so tired of love songs, tired of love songs, tired of love songs, tired of love / Just wanna go home, wanna go home, wanna go home.” It’s the best song about leaving a party since Alessia Cara’s “Here” — but at least these two have each other to commiserate with.

In a press release, Sivan said of the collab, “‘i’m so tired…’ is a heartbreak song about an inescapable person. Lauv is such a great songwriter, and him and I were writing together for his project when the song came about. We ended up creating an accidental duet, and I couldn’t be happier to be on the song.”

Lauv added, “I’ve been a huge fan of Troye’s music and what he does for the world for years, so working with him was an absolute honor. When we wrote ‘i’m so tired…’ he just sounded too good singing it, so I think it was just natural to do the record together.”

Even more exciting, this is Lauv’s last single before he heads back to the studio to record his hotly anticipated debut album. He said, “I figured we’d go out on a heartbroken banger vibe so it’s sad but fun.”

“i’m so tired…” arrives after both Lauv and Sivan teased the collab with a short, nocturnal clip of them perched on an old car. No word yet on whether or not that’s a scene from a possible music video, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed!

Miley Cyrus, H.E.R., And More Will Perform On The 2019 Grammys Stage

A few years ago, Miley Cyrus earned her first Grammy nomination, a Best Pop Vocal Album nod for Bangerz. This year, she’s returning to the ceremony — not as a nominee, but as a performer. On Thursday (January 24), the Recording Academy announced Cyrus will take the stage at this year’s ceremony on February 10, along with R&B breakout star H.E.R., Americana singer Brandi Carlile, and — because it’s the Grammys, remember — Red Hot Chili Peppers, who’ll join already announced performer Post Malone. Let the mash-ups begin!

It’s the first time on the Grammys stage for both H.E.R., who racked up an impressive five nominations, and Carlile, who earned six. Cyrus has been plenty busy since she sang with Elton John at last year’s show, paying tribute to Chris Cornell with soaring covers, covering holiday staples with Mark Ronson, releasing her own new music, and, oh yeah, finally getting married to Liam Hemsworth.

RHCP, meanwhile, haven’t released anything since 2016’s The Getaway, the promo cycle for which brought us that fantastic moment where they all (shirtlessly) dreamed of Carpoolifornication Karaoke with James Corden. But by pairing them up with Post Malone, the Grammys may be angling for a similar crossover event as when Posty and 21 Savage lit up the 2018 VMA stage duetting with Aerosmith.

The awards show’s performance roster is already stacked: Camila Cabello, Cardi B, Janelle Monae, Kacey Musgraves, Shawn Mendes, and Dan + Shay were all announced last week, along with Post Malone.

The Grammys love a good mash-up performance, so there are likely more announcements to come before the show hits CBS live on Sunday, February 10 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. Stay tuned to find out Anthony Kiedis and Post Malone will compare tattoos live on the air!

J. Cole Is The ‘Middle Child’ Of Rap’s Generations On First New Song Of 2019

“They act like two legends cannot coexist.”

J. Cole raps this line about 50 seconds into his new song, “Middle Child,” which dropped on Wednesday (January 23), in reference to Drake — specifically about the Rolex Drake gave Cole as a gift when they were perceived as rivals. It’s amid a larger point Cole makes on the song: “But I’d never beef with a n—- for nothin’ / If I smoke a rapper, it’s gon’ be legit.”

That’s essentially the takeaway from “Middle Child,” a horn-heavy triumph where Cole positions himself as the titular son of two vastly different hip-hop eras: the current one, led by rappers like Kodak Black and 21 Savage (who both get shouted out), and the one Cole grew up listening to, represented by Jay-Z (who also gets a nod).

“Middle Child,” produced by T-Minus, is Cole’s first new song of 2019, and on Twitter, he referred to it as “how I’m coming all year.” He also hyped that it’ll be an equally good year for his label, Dreamville, which makes sense given the forthcoming upcoming all-star compilation album called Revenge of the Dreamers III, set to drop sometime later this year.

Cole also had a lovely Twitter interaction with one of the most famous middle children of them all, Frankie Muniz (a.k.a. Malcolm, who was once in the middle).

Listen to “Middle Child” above and get ready for the rest of J. Cole’s 2019.

How MuchDank Won Over A Million Subscribers By Dunking on 6ix9ine and SoundCloud Rap

By Luke Winkie

MuchDank found its muse in Tekashi 6ix9ine. The 22-year-old rapper, who is currently behind bars and facing in life in federal prison on racketeering and firearms charges, and in 2015 pled guilty for use of a child in a sexual performance, came with an explosive combination of ingredients. A catalogue of testy interviews with The Breakfast Club. A Gushers-dyed perm. A peppering of dadaist ink. These pointed to a desperate, uniquely millennial thirst for a very specific type of depressing viral fame. So, as Tekashi scaled the mountain, and made his enemies, and mustered a Trumpian refusal to ever back down, (even as they were hauling him off to court), MuchDank enjoyed an incredible 2019. The YouTube channel currently stands at over one million subscribers, a lot of which is built on the transformative power of making fun of 6ix9ine.

For the uninitiated, the MuchDank methodology is simple: They morph the hottest tracks in our current wave of SoundCloud rap into a lightheaded slurry, laying bare the fundamental absurdity of the bars. Here, for instance, is 6ix9ine’s “BILLY,” with the “RRRAH-RRRAH-RRRAH” part stretched out into apocalyptic extremes. Here is the “FEFE” video, with uncomfortably realistic ice cream sound effects dubbed over the feast. Here is that famous grilling on Hot 97’s infamous Breakfast Club morning show, made even more hallucinogenic by MuchDank’s careful editing. (“I LET MY NUTS HANG.”) If the music industry feels particularly delirious right now, take some solace in knowing that, at the very least, MuchDank is in on the joke.

“[6ix9ine] knew to succeed at the level he is at, he needed to embody the meme he was,” says one of the principle members who makes MuchDank’s videos over email. (To this day, they remain completely anonymous.) “The hair, the tattoos, his humor, and the image he portrayed has made him such a memorable character and it seems that he knew this so he continued to push this to the absolute limit. And, obviously, it worked.”

Two years ago, MuchDank barely existed. The channel was one of the many ghost ships bobbing around YouTube’s crowded seas with a scant 27 subscribers. That changed after they became fascinated by a painfully awkward interaction between Joe Budden, then a host of Complex’s Everyday Struggle, and the Migos. The clip in question is an all-timer, especially if you’re a connoisseur of obtuse rap interviews. The three of them sit on a BET Awards red carpet, shades on, full-drip, while DJ Akademiks is left lost-in-translation as he questions Takeoff about why he didn’t appear on the group’s trajectory-altering hit “Bad & Boujee.” (“Say again? What’d you say?”) But it touched on a fundamental truth: interviewing Migos is a hard job. That was MuchDank’s eureka moment, and they got to work fleshing out a prehistoric incarnation of their craft. The MuchDank-ified version of the exchange was hilarious and weird, and 1.2 million views later, the team had a directive.

“From there we wanted to capitalize on the views and popularity that video gained by creating similar content and gradually adding our own twist with each upload,” he says. “In all honesty, we think this brand of humor resonated with us because we just like stupid shit.”

In the years since, MuchDank has gotten odder and more esoteric — recent highlights include this expert flip of Post Malone’s “Psycho,” and a tribute to Drake’s instant-mantra verse on Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” — but by and large, the success of the channel is attached at the hip with the strange arc of SoundCloud rap as a whole. We live in a world of superstars like Lil Pump, 6ix9ine, Smokepurpp, and Sheck Wes — authentic, mealy-mouthed misfits who are radically redefining what hip-hop is. As the MuchDank creator tells it, a guy like 6ix9ine clearly understood the currency in reforming oneself as a human meme, and in a world where an established star like Kanye is dressing up like a water bottle on SNL and making a regrettable, (but highly bloggable) Trump turn, it certainly feels like that nihilistic ethos has infected the rest of the culture. No one can prove definitively that “Mo Bamba’s” immediately iconic “HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOES,” or “Gucci Gang’s” titular brain-melting refrain were put on this Earth to be memed, but there’s no way that’s not part of the calculus. MuchDank is a necessary reciprocation. The sole force contextualizing the absurdity in the way it ought to be: memes in the time of Lil Xan.

“Memes follow culture, not matter how obscure that culture is. Hip-Hop is now the most-listened to genre of music. Memes are now such a big part of the internet. So it only makes sense to put these two things together,” says the MuchDank creator. “Rappers are definitely starting to notice it. But it’s hard to know how many of these music memes are intentional, by the artist and label, and how many are made on social media by a random person. 6ix9ine for example, was definitely both. He was a meme, but random people also made memes based on his music, appearance & personality. That was probably the key to his success.”

The MuchDank team says they never make videos to “hate on” anyone, and they’ve never received any explicitly negative feedback from any of the rappers they’ve poked fun at. (If anything, the responses have been mostly positive.) The creator tells me that one notable fan the channel has is Logic, which was a relief, because a number of MuchDank videos focus on Logic’s biracial identity and “could be easily taken the wrong way.” But in a recent interview Logic clarified his status: “I love MuchDank dog, I fuck with you MuchDank, you’re hilarious.” This was a relief for the crew. “We’re pleased to hear we didn’t offend him,” he says. “Because that wasn’t the intention.”

“We try to not prey on the person but more so make the situation weird and awkward or perpetuate an existing joke,” explains MuchDank further. “With the Logic video we were attempting to take the meme that Logic always talks about his race and push it to the point of absurdity. The joke was never about what Logic’s race is.”

In fact, the MuchDank creator tells me that occasionally they’ve been contacted by various labels and PR firms looking to have their artists featured in one of their videos. Generally, MuchDank declines those opportunities, but they’ll sometimes accept if they think the “video they’re proposing has the potential to be cool,” and also because it means they won’t have to worry about any copyright issues with the source material for the clip. (They also tell me that they never accept payment for any of these collaborations: “I’m not really sure why we don’t. But I think a big factor is that we come from a time on YouTube when making money and ‘selling out’ just wasn’t cool.”)

It is strange to think that music industry executives would look to a meme channel — which has built an entire empire on making rappers look silly — as a way to elevate the stature of their clients, but MuchDank tells me that that’s never been a concern for the label heads that reach out. “They’ve never straight up mentioned if they like or want their clients to be memed on,” he says. “But they’ve never been against, so I guess that’s what they’re looking for.”

The music industry is a fossil that’s never been able to keep up with the internet; independent rappers have clearly realized this, and creators like MuchDank have stepped up to provide a madcap commentary that follows a certain demented logic in the millennium’s frazzled state of being. In 2019, the only way to stay on top is to make sure you’re being made fun of the most.

Lil Wayne’s ‘Don’t Cry’ Video Features Camels, Thrones, And An XXXTentacion Tribute

Wednesday (January 23) would have been XXXTentacion‘s 21st birthday, had he not been fatally shot last summer. The controversial rapper left some unreleased music behind, including the Lil Wayne collaboration “Don’t Cry,” from September’s long-awaited Tha Carter V. Now, Wayne has given the somber track a post-apocalyptic video featuring a spiky throne, a chill camel, and lots of sage.

The video, directed by Jay and Georgio Rodriguez, opens on Wayne in a snowy desert, rocking Louis Vuitton pajamas and posting up beside a camel and a couple belly dancers. The scene then moves to a dark castle straight out of Game of Thrones, where Weezy rocks another eclectic outfit while peacefully sitting atop his throne. Fittingly, the video also incorporates raw footage of X performing onstage alongside his posthumous vocals, and comes to a chilling close when the crowd breaks into a “Long Live X” chant.

“Don’t Cry” was put together after XXXTentacion’s death last summer, reportedly without Wayne having met or even heard of the polarizing rapper. That was just one of a handful of collaborations from the chart-topping Tha Carter V, which also boasted features from Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Snoop Dogg, Ashanti, and more. “Don’t Cry” is now only the second cut from that album to get the visual treatment, so here’s hoping Weezy has even more cinematic vids in the vault.

Watch A Completely Liberated Maggie Rogers Tear Up Her Song ‘Burning’ On Colbert

At the end of last week, Maggie Rogers released her debut album, Heard It In a Past Life, a big-hearted blend of her patented earthy electronic music that doesn’t shy away from exploring the complex emotions of its creator. One of the final songs on the album, “Burning,” in particular finds Rogers joyously shouting a cathartic refrain in its chorus: “I’m in love, I’m alive, I’m burning.”

It feels good to sing along to that on the record. You can just imagine how powerful it feels for Rogers herself to sing it in front of hundreds (or thousands) of fans — or to bring the message to The Late Show, as she did on Tuesday night (January 22) for a spirited performance with help from bandleader Jon Batiste.

Clad in a mustard jacket and pants, Rogers sings and wobbles around the stage with sheer freedom and ebullience, echoing the song’s sentiment. At the song’s emotional height, she whips off her jacket like she’s finally unburdening herself of some immense weight. It rules.

On Twitter, she shared that the performance was one of her favorites lately — no minor feat, considering she hit Saturday Night Live just two months ago. “I can feel myself growing,” she wrote. “More and more sinking into my feet.”

You can hear this kind of gleeful confidence all over Heard It In a Past Life too, even in the record’s quieter and more contemplative moments. Watch the full dynamic clip above.