Lil Nas X’s Montero Has A Song For Every Mood

Listen to it when you’re feeling: anxious.

Key lyric: “Hope my little bit of hope don’t fade away / I’ve been living on an island made from fate / Can’t go running back to home, I can’t facе her face”

By this point, Nas X has established how he has at times destructively internalized doubt, and the effects of that persist here (“Could I be wrong? Was everybody right about me? / Scary things in my head”). Dark, alternative-leaning “Tales of Dominica,” yet again tag-teamed by Fedi and Take a Daytrip, finds Nas X “living in my lowest, it’s safe to say,” but not in the literal sense. From the outside looking in, he’s at his highest. The problem is that he’s terrified of waking up to find it all gone, to be dumped back into the hollowness he grew up in. This song takes a more poetic approach than “Dead Right Now” to addressing his painful family roots, though the message is still loud and clear: He came from a broken home, and after making it out, his biggest fear is ending up alone anyway.

Bop Shop: Songs From Snail Mail, Wonho, Tems, And More

If anyone can get a K-pop stan to even remotely care about sports, it’s Wonho in a football uniform. His new single “Blue,” the title track of his sophomore mini-album Blue Letter, displays the soloist in a completely new light, both sonically and visually. As the start of his new era, “Blue” explores happier, more optimistic themes compared to the darker concepts he explored in his past few releases. “We are young, we are dumb, we’ll just party all night long,” he sings, representing an extremely different state of mind. Accompanied by a lighthearted, campy, sports-themed music video, Wonho turns over a new leaf and enters this comeback with joy, spirit, and confidence. —Sarina Bhutani

After Ed Sheeran’s Math-Symbol Albums Comes ‘Five More Records With A Plan’

A decade ago, Ed Sheeran began a quest. He named his first album + (“Plus”) and his 2014 follow-up x (“Multiply”) as part of a master plan. “‘Multiply’ was called ‘Multiply’ because it made everything that was on ‘Plus’ bigger,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2015. “From the venues to the songs to the radio plays to the sales. I don’t know what the theme on the next album is yet because I haven’t made it.”

That ended up being 2017’s ÷ (“Divide), which, despite its more reductive title, became his biggest yet: It hit No. 1 in the United States and all over Europe, yielded chart-topping singles, and led to the highest-grossing tour of all time. It also made Sheeran a household name — so it makes sense that, after a slight diversion in 2019’s No.6 Collaborations Project, he’s chosen to not call his next album (“Subtract”). Instead, the more harmonious = (“Equals”) will drop in October.

But as Sheeran told MTV News ahead of the 2021 VMAs, don’t count out “Subtract” just yet. “There’s one more album after ‘Equals,'” he told correspondent Dometi Pongo on the red carpet, standing with his label signee Maisie Peters. “And then the mathematics are done.”

While he didn’t explicitly confirm that the final one in the sequence would, in fact, be called , the process of elimination would suggest it. If that’s true, that same EW interview might point toward what we could expect an album called “Subtract” to sound like: “My idea for ‘Subtract’ was to not have anything on it, just be an acoustic record.”

“Equals,” meanwhile, is due to be very much not an acoustic record. Though the singer-songwriter touches on early single “Visiting Hours” might suggest it, fellow = tracks “Bad Habits” and “Shivers” lean very heavily into dance-pop. When he performed “Shivers” at last night’s VMAs, he gripped his acoustic guitar as always, though he did it while backed up with a full band and plenty of pop style.

It seems fair to assume that =, like Sheeran’s preceding albums, will be a mixed bag of ballads and more pop-driven bangers. And if his potential future “Subtract” era brings a return to his folky roots, it’ll also present some real closure. Once the math symbols are through, Sheeran said to MTV News, “then it’s five more records with a plan.”

There’s something extremely satisfying about seeing Sheeran carry out this plan, which could have very easily become a mere gimmick in the vein of Sufjan Stevens’s 50 states project. He’s stuck to his guns through massive life changes — marriage, fatherhood — and it’s given him some great perspective.

“For the whole of ‘Divide,’ I didn’t look back. I was just forward, forward, forward,” he told MTV News. “And then I got to the end of it, and I was like, I wish I’d stopped for a little bit and just been like, ah, this went well.” Spoken like a true balanced equation.

Check out all the winner’s from the 2021 VMAs right here.

Lil Nas X Was On ‘Cloud 179’ After His Big Night At The VMAs

With the benefit of 12 hours of hindsight, it seems accurate to say that no one had more fun at the 2021 VMAs than Lil Nas X. He went into the night with five nominations and left with three, including the show’s top prize of Video of the Year. He brought his cinematic visions for both “Industry Baby” and “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” to life onstage with a dazzling performance.

And by the time MTV News got ahold of him backstage, LNX was searching very high in the sky for the right description to match his mood. “What does it feel like? I’m on cloud 179,” he told correspondent Dometi Pongo. Without missing a beat, because few understand the value of promotion as well as he does, LNX quickly added some key information in a single breath: “And my album comes out September 17. Everybody go buy my album!”

To that end, his debut, Montero, is set to reveal even more sides of the multitalented artist than we’ve seen since he galloped on the scene in late 2018 with “Old Town Road.” Sometimes I genuinely forget he’s the same dude who gave us the Billboard-disrupting song about “bull-riding and boobies” and a Billy Ray Cyrus career resurgence because he’s spent the years since completely redefining himself at every turn. He even gave “Old Town Road” a quick “I don’t know her” during the interview, playfully mistaking it for Breland’s “My Truck.”

It shows that LNX is on a path of self-revelation, which he will continue to mine on Montero. “This new era is about finding myself, I guess. Covid gave me a lot of time to think about what I want to do in life and how I have to stop caring about what everybody else wanna think about what I gotta do.”

He teased a “banger” coming from him and Kid Cudi in 2022. (“It’s gonna be the song of the year!”) He mentioned how his transcendence of genre across pop, rap, country, and more will all come into play on his debut album. (“It’s all gonna slap, baby.”) And unlike in the “Industry Baby” video and in his performance onstage last night, he did not spontaneously use a shower-dance scene as a climactic show-stopping centerpiece.

But he did speak candidly about making the visual and about what he wanting to accomplish with its symbolism — which finds him a prisoner but still owning every bit of scenery and seemingly pulling all the strings from within. It’s a motif that he pulled from in his ravishing performance as well.

“It’s been a long year for me,” he said. “I’ve had to overcome a lot of internal battles. The prison represented me breaking out of that.”

Check out all the winner’s from the 2021 VMAs right here.

Ozuna Teases New Collab With Megan Thee Stallion And Blackpink

Last night, at the 2021 VMAs, Puerto Rico’s Ozuna turned the entire stage at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center into his own cosmic arcade. To bring his newest single “La Funka” to (far-out) life, the singer enlisted life-size teddy-bear backup dancers and a panoramic view of the moon. It could be read as the scope of the artist’s ambitions.

As he told MTV News ahead of the show, he’s shooting for the stars when it comes to his upcoming collaborations. “DJ Snake, Megan Thee Stallion, Blackpink and Ozuna, coming up next,” Ozuna told correspondent Dometi Pongo on the red carpet. “That’s here! A [news] premiere here!”

Ozuna’s music videos and streaming tracks regularly rack up millions and millions of plays, so a collab single with Megan Thee Stallion, Blackpink, and DJ Snake truly has the potential to break some records. And from his planetary performance last night (September 12), it seems quite possible that’s precisely what he’s going for.

You wouldn’t necessarily know the artist’s sheer global magnitude from his chipper demeanor. He was all smiles as he spoke to MTV News about getting the call to premiere “La Funka” at this year’s show and grinned wide when he recalled his 2018’s smash breakthrough with Selena Gomez, Cardi B, and DJ Snake, “Taki Taki.” “It’s a good time to do the best premiere [and] the best performance,” he said.

“La Funka” is a relentlessly upbeat reggaeton-pop jam, showcasing Ozuna’s golden vocals as he’s made a career out of flexing on tracks with Daddy Yankee, Karol G, and Rosalía, with whom he performed a close-encounter version of “Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi” at the 2019 VMAs. If his past work is any indication, the collab single with DJ Snake, Meg, and Blackpink is set to be a certified banger.

Ozuna’s latest album was 2021’s Los Dioses, which he made with Anuel AA. Since 2017, he’s released a new album every year. The countdown is on until his next single — until then, relive the space fun of his “La Funka” VMAs performance below.

Check out all the winner’s from the 2021 VMAs right here.

Busta Rhymes’s Commanding VMAs Performance Is One Brooklyn Won’t Ever Forget

With the VMAs‘ triumphant live return to Brooklyn, MTV brought out one of the borough’s best, legend himself, Busta Rhymes.

The iconic rapper — along with his hype man Spliff Star — took to the Barclays Center stage on Sunday night to perform a medley of his biggest hits, including “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See,” “Look at Me Now,” and “Pass the Courvoisier,” all jams that were amplified by extremely memorable music videos. Rhymes had the audience jumping throughout his medley, before ending his fast-rap attack by telling the audience, “Brooklyn, don’t ever forget that!”

John Shearer/MTV VMAs 2021/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS

Rhymes is no stranger to the VMAs. He has been nominated for 16 Moonperson awards over the years; his first nod dates back to 1996, when for his Hype Williams-helmed visual for “Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check” earning a nomination for Breakthrough Video.

Rhymes was just one of the many iconic New Yorkers who hit the stage at this year’s Brooklyn-based VMAs, including surprise appearances from Madonna and Jennifer Lopez, along with a special performance by Alicia Keys and a presentation from Fat Joe.

John Shearer/MTV VMAs 2021/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS

The 2021 VMAs are airing live on MTV from Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Find the full list of winners right here and keep up with all of the night’s biggest VMA moments!

Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Magical’ Year Continues With Best New Artist VMA Win

By Deepa Lakshmin 

“This has been the most magical year of my life,” Olivia Rodrigo said in her first-ever Video Music Awards acceptance speech Sunday night (September 12) at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, dedicating the award to “all of the girls who write songs on their bedroom floor.” She was taking home the Moonperson for Song of the Year for her record-breaking smash hit “Drivers License,” but little did she know she’d be back on stage soon after as the 2021 Best New Artist.

The Sour singer-songwriter and VMA performer has, indeed, had a banner year with numerous chart-topping singles and a debut album that showcases her talent and skill as an artist. Though the LP is packed with coming-of-age stories and teenage memories, the raw authenticity and emotion behind every chorus and bridge have captured the hearts of fans across generations. From the relatable angst of “Brutal” to the catharsis of “Good 4 U” to the bittersweet “Hope Ur Ok,” her music captures the messiness and beauty of being alive, falling in and out of love with others and with yourself. As she told previously told MTV News, Sour reflects a time of her life when “everything that I had that was, like, really awesome and good in my life went really sour.”

Other Best New Artist nominees included The Kid Laroi, Saweetie, 24kGoldn, Giveon, and Polo G — all rising artists making a name for themselves and crafting art that speaks their truth and resonates with millions of fans. The allure of the Best New Artist category is that it’s not just about what the nominees have accomplished already; it’s a testament to the enduring impact their future work could have on the music industry and beyond. Doja Cat, who nabbed Push Best New Artist at the 2020 VMAs, went on to host this year’s awards show and continues to build upon her breakout success.

In her Best New Artist acceptance speech, Rodrigo thanked her fans for helping her get to where she is today, as well as fellow Best New Artist nominee The Kid Laroi: “I want to thank Laroi also, who inspires me every day to be a better artist. I love him so much. I just feel so grateful that I get to write music and make stuff that I love and call it my job, so thank you guys again for letting me do that.”

That’s the dream for countless artists, including the kids with big hearts pouring themselves into songs scrawled in their childhood bedrooms, so it seems fitting to end this with some songwriting advice Rodrigo shared with MTV News earlier this year when she was named the MTV Push artist for May. “I really think that more or less forcing yourself to write a song sometimes is really beneficial,” she said. “I think you can’t rely on those lightning bolts of ideas to strike you all the time.” Take note, songwriters, and maybe someday you’ll have your own magical year.

The 2021 VMAs aired live on MTV from Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Find the full list of winners right here and keep up with all of the night’s biggest VMA moments!

BTS Thanks The ‘Best People In The World,’ Their Fans, After VMAs Win

It’s safe to say that BTS’s leader RM is having a pretty historic birthday. In addition to having people around the globe celebrating “Namjoon Day” on social media, the 27-year-old artist took home two Moonpeople with his fellow BTS members at the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday (September 12) — and the night is far from over.

Introduced by boy-band royalty Nick Lachey of 98 Degrees, AJ McLean of The Backstreet Boys, and Lance Bass of NSYNC, BTS won in the Best K-pop category with their snappy single “Butter.” Since its release in May, the feel-good track has been a shining jewel atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 10 weeks. In a true testament to their strength, BTS has won the Best K-pop category three years in a row since its inception in 2019 — first with their single “Boy With Luv,” then in 2020 with “On,” and now with “Butter.”

Although they couldn’t be present at the show, the group recorded an acceptance speech that began with them performing a short snippet of the song. “Thanks for this honor,” J-Hope said. “Sorry we couldn’t be there, but hopefully next time we will.”

Youngest member Jungkook revealed that the group feels “so blessed” and “grateful” for all of the love and support their fanbase, Army, has given them over the last year. Vocalist V seemed to share the same sentiment, adding: “Shout out to Army, the best people in the world!” Eldest member Jin wrapped up their speech by promising to keep bringing the “great music and performances” that BTS is known for around the globe.

In addition to winning Best K-pop, the group also won Group of the Year, receiving 25 million votes online. In a similar fashion to Best K-pop, this is BTS’s third year in a row winning the category. “Thank you, VMAs for the Group of the Year award!” Jimin said.

“Army, this is all possible thanks to you guys,” RM shared. “Although we can’t meet in person, we feel your love every minute and second.” Member Suga added: “We love you and we miss you.”

Machine Gun Kelly Lays Flowers On A Fiery Grave At The VMAs

At last year’s MTV VMAs, Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker turned the pre-show into a pink-hued pop-punk battlefield. This year, the pink is back, the battle is internal, and the whole thing has been moved to the main stage — or in this case, the main grave.

As the pair tore through the more downbeat, melancholy “Papercuts,” a decidedly wounded MGK literally clawed his way through a bed of dirt — a fitting physicalization of the lyrics, which find the artist dancing on his own grave. 2020 was the conflict. 2021 is the recovery.

Jamie McCarthy/MTV VMAs 2021/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS

It’s become custom for Barker to muscle up MGK’s sound, and on the kit, he brought his patented powerful (but in this case, restrained) energy that complemented the raw emotion in MGK’s vocals. Every time he hit a drum, a large flame shot up. It was pretty cool!

MGK sang to a cadre of costumed flower-minions, who circled in and began moshing around the stage, a nice nod to the fury brought by these “Papercuts.” By the end, everyone was on the ground. Same. Oh, also MGK smashed his pink guitar. We’ll see what the discourse around this moment is like.

Naturally, to introduce the performance, the ladies in MGK’s and Barker’s respective lives paired up to call them their “future baby daddies.” Yes, Megan Fox and Kourtney Kardashian were there, and their intro was a moment.

This year, MGK also won Best Alternative for his Blackbear collaboration, “My Ex’s Best Friend.” He’s no stranger to the VMAs stage, having torn up last year’s pre-show and racked up a win in the same category last year for “Bloody Valentine.”

The 2021 VMAs are airing live on MTV from Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Find the full list of winners right here and keep up with all of the night’s biggest VMA moments!

Lil Nas X Tops The 2021 VMAs With Video Of The Year Win

You can call Lil Nas X by your name, or you can call him your 2021 Video of the Year winner.

The “power bottom rapper” took home the top honor at the 2021 Video Music Awards on Sunday (September 12) for his fiery, unapologetically queer “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” visuals. He beat out some stiff competition to do so, including Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion (“WAP”), Doja Cat and SZA (“Kiss Me Me”), The Weeknd (“Save Your Tears”), Drake and DJ Khaled (“Popstar”), and Ed Sheeran (“Bad Habits”).

“First, I want to say thank you to the gay agenda,” Nas X said in his acceptance speech after dancing his way to the podium. “Let’s go, gay agenda! … I love you guys so much. I will not take this for granted.”

It was truly a night to remember for Nas X. Earlier that evening, the 22-year-old rapper transformed the VMAs stage into the Montero State Prison for a mash-up of “Montero” and “Industry Baby,” his collab with fellow rapper Jack Harlow. The show-stealing set saw Nas X get steamy in the prison showers in a pile of all-male backup dancers. The costuming was minimal but effective, with Nas X stripping down to a pair of rhinestoned-encrusted pink boxers.

Video of the Year wasn’t his only win of the evening, either. Nas X also nabbed Best Direction and Best Visual Effects for a total of three wins from five nominations.

Between the 2021 and 2019 VMAs, he now has five Moonperson trophies to his name — and all before his debut album, Montero, drops on Friday (September 17). Take that, homophobes!

John Shearer/MTV VMAs 2021/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS

The 2021 VMAs are airing live on MTV from Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Find the full list of winners right here and keep up with all of the night’s biggest VMA moments!