Omer Fedi Is The Guitar-Pop Prodigy Behind 24kGoldn And Machine Gun Kelly

By Ethan Shanfeld

Behind today’s top hits is a 20-year-old guitar prodigy from Tel Aviv named Omer Fedi. The multi-instrumentalist, producer, and songwriter has topped the Billboard charts and worked with pop royalty from Lil Nas X to Machine Gun Kelly. But just over four years ago, Fedi moved to Los Angeles with no connections to the industry, at a time he could barely speak English, with one singular goal: “I wanna make my friends the biggest artists in the world,” he tells MTV News, casually pacing around his Bel Air home.

Fedi started playing drums before he could walk. His dad was one of the most accomplished and well-respected drummers in Israel, introducing Fedi to music at a very young age. Inspired by Drake Bell from the mid-aughts Nickelodeon series Drake & Josh, Fedi decided to pick up the guitar at age 10. After wandering into a nearby CD store and listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik, he knew that music was the only way forward. Later, Fedi embraced jazz from listening to Steely Dan. He was enthralled by the incorporation of sophisticated chords and distorted riffs in pop music.

At 16, Fedi moved to the states when his dad sought to expand musical opportunities for himself and his son. Fedi enrolled at Calabasas High School and immediately joined the jazz ensemble, where his teachers were astounded by his technical chops. “He was so far ahead of everyone else in terms of his fluency on the instrument and his harmonic ability,” says Tod Cooper, a jazz clinician who volunteered at the school. “Nothing got in his way. He could speak through the instrument.”

Jay Bills

Fedi was a guitar virtuoso; his extraordinary talent would fill school auditoriums for shows normally only attended by performers’ parents. Competing as a high school senior at the 2018 Reno Jazz Festival, Fedi won the single “Outstanding Performer” award in a field of over 9,000 young musicians. The summer after sophomore year, Fedi landed a gig playing guitar at a nearby church, where he met other musicians who invited him to jam sessions. About a year later, one of Fedi’s friends called him with an opportunity to meet Sam Hook, a hit songwriter who was looking to collaborate with a guitar player.

“I had never produced or written a song, but we just started writing together, and soon I’d go to his house every day after school,” Fedi says. Eventually, the pair wrote Ella Mai’s “Naked,” a smooth R&B ballad driven by Fedi’s soulful plucking.

Fedi started spending mornings in classrooms and afternoons at Glenwood Place Recording Studios in Burbank, California. After graduating high school, Fedi linked up with English alt-pop star Yungblud. During one of their sessions, Fedi met former Interscope executive Conor Ambrose, who would later become his manager. “He came in wearing a pink beanie and just sat in the corner of the room,” Ambrose says. “He started playing guitar and everyone literally stopped in their tracks, like this is easily the most talented guitarist we’ve ever seen.”

Later that year, a friend from high school invited Fedi to a USC party. There, he met Golden Landis Von Jones, aka 24kGoldn, then a student trying to make it big as a rapper. They exchanged phone numbers and booked a studio session a week later. Fedi and Goldn’s creative partnership started with writing the emo-influenced Iann Dior song, “18.” They continued making music together, putting out 24kGoldn singles like the moody “Lot to Lose” and seductive “Games on Your Phone.” Both songs are built around Fedi’s carefully crafted guitar melodies.

“We always start from scratch,” Fedi says. “Goldn writes the lyrics — he’s one of the fastest writers of all time — and then we write the music and structure it together.” Fedi helped push Goldn to incorporate rock into his style with “City of Angels,” which pairs an angsty electric guitar progression with a steady drum machine. The song blew up on TikTok and dominated alternative radio for months. The duo continued collaborating on Goldn’s debut EP, Dropped Outta College, and are currently working on the artist’s first studio album, El Dorado.

In late 2019, Fedi performed as a touring guitarist during Goldn’s opening run with Landon Cube, playing a handful of shows across the country. However, when Goldn’s 2020 headline tour plans were thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic, he and Fedi rented an Airbnb in Hollywood to grind out new songs. Though it was on a night off at Dior’s place when they wrote the biggest hit of their careers so far — by accident.

“We didn’t even think about making music,” Fedi says. While Goldn and Dior played Call of Duty, Fedi and producer KBeaZy spontaneously started making beats. “I didn’t even have my guitars, so I took Iann’s guitar, plugged it into the computer, and the first thing I played was the ‘Mood’ guitar riff.” Within five minutes, Fedi and KBeaZy laid down a beat.

“Then Goldn’s sitting on the couch and starts singing, ‘Why you always in a mood?’” Fedi says. “He probably didn’t even know he was singing because he was so focused on the game.”

Fedi heard something in Goldn’s subconscious hook and pleaded with him to pause the game, get off the couch, and record it. “I was like, ‘Goldn, I won’t be your friend if you won’t record this,’” Fedi says.

The song came together like magic and, after its release in July, almost immediately became a smash hit. As of this writing, “Mood” has spent over nine weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, hitting No. 1 on the alternative charts. It has over 300 million Spotify streams and its music video has over 42 million views on YouTube.

“Mood” is grounded by a shuffling hi-hat beat and elevated by a catchy chorus and crooning verses, but the song is built around its euphoric guitar riff. It’s easy to understand why Fedi’s favorite band is Red Hot Chili Peppers: Like John Frusciante, he gives the guitar a distinct voice on everything he writes, so that after just a few notes, songs like “Mood” and “City of Angels” are immediately recognizable. “People know that when they work with me, it’s going to be a guitar-based song,” Fedi says. “Nothing can compete with the feeling of live guitar.”

One of Fedi’s goals is to bring the guitar back to the forefront of pop music. His signature cross-genre sound, evident on songs like The Kid Laroi’s “Go,” seamlessly blends guitar with hip-hop beats. The musician’s most recent creative endeavor was working on Machine Gun Kelly’s No. 1 album, Tickets To My Downfall, full of nostalgic pop-punk bangers. Fedi produced nine tracks on the deluxe album alongside Blink 182’s Travis Barker, one of his idols.

Recently, Fedi has been hanging out at Diplo’s house, making music with Dominic Fike, and playing jazz live from Charlie Puth’s Instagram. He’s also been working on Lil Nas X’s debut album and an exciting remix of “Mood,” coming out within the month. Last November, Fedi was nominated for a Grammy for his work on Ella Mai’s album. The first song he ever wrote was considered for music’s highest honor. But for a kid whose dream is to become “the best of all time,” this is only the beginning.

“I’m really happy and excited about everything that’s happening right now,” Fedi says. “But I try to keep my head down and just make good music.” In many ways, Fedi is the architect behind pop’s new sound. With a keen ear for crafting hooks and the technical training to execute them, no one is better suited to soundtrack the future.

Lous And The Yakuza’s Kate Bush Nod, Hope Tala’s ‘Crazy’ Voice, And More Songs We Love

Rust on gold is physically impossible, but Claud doesn’t care. The nonbinary, indie-pop singer defies the laws of chemistry in their latest cut, a mellow, self-aware take on a doomed relationship with an absolute earworm of a chorus. (“Gold” is their first release under Saddest Factory, Punisher songstress Phoebe Bridgers’s new record label.) “I’m too optimistic when I think that this’ll work out / Without anothеr emotional night where we both break down,” Claud confesses, which — ouch. Too real? Chase the burn with the song’s campy, pastel-hued visuals. —Sam Manzella

Lous And The Yakuza’s Kate Bush Nod, Hope Tala’s ‘Crazy’ Voice, And More Songs We Love

Rust on gold is physically impossible, but Claud doesn’t care. The nonbinary, indie-pop singer defies the laws of chemistry in their latest cut, a mellow, self-aware take on a doomed relationship with an absolute earworm of a chorus. (“Gold” is their first release under Saddest Factory, Punisher songstress Phoebe Bridgers’s new record label.) “I’m too optimistic when I think that this’ll work out / Without anothеr emotional night where we both break down,” Claud confesses, which — ouch. Too real? Chase the burn with the song’s campy, pastel-hued visuals. —Sam Manzella

Beabadoobee Mines Her Own Cosmic Dust

Like a lot of Instagram users her age, 20-year-old Bea Kristi has at least one alt account. Her main, for the confessional guitar music she releases as Beabadoobee (styled lowercase, of course), remains a trove of promo pics, song teases, and bedroom selfies. That frees up her alt to devote prime grid real estate to extremely cute red pandas.

As with plenty of other ideas rooted in comfort and good vibes, Bea’s @redpandadoobee emerged from being stoned and scrolling on her phone. “I’m on the tour bus, and I think I just had the munchies. I was just munching on some food and I just come across this video of this red panda,” she tells MTV News. “So my guitar tech walks in, like, ‘You look like you’re crying,’ and I’m like, yeah, no, these are the cutest things I’ve seen in my life. He leaves for about two hours and he comes back and he’s like, ‘You’ve been in the same spot for two hours, doing the exact same thing.’ I just, for two hours, was staring at red panda videos and pictures, crying. It was an amazing experience in America, on the tour bus, eating some Chips Ahoy!”

One post finds the British singer-songwriter — who’s risen from lo-fi acoustic pop to the rock-star grandeur of her debut, Fake It Flowers in just three years — on a bed with her boyfriend and three photoshopped red pandas acting as their hypothetical children. The caption names them: Yoshimi, Forest, Magdalene — also the title of her LP’s exhilarating final track that finds her manically in love and planning their future together. By the end of the song, Bea’s glee devolves into pure delirium, yelling the three names over a geyser of watery guitar noise. It’s a far cry from “Coffee,” the strummy, whistling jaunt that kicked off her career in 2017 and brought her further global recognition this year thanks to a sample on a Powfu cut that went supersonic on TikTok.

Yet “Yoshimi Forest Magdalene” is a fitting finale for Fake It Flowers (out today), which finds Bea projecting moments from her own life onto a much wider screen and glossing her sound with arena-ready bombast. “It was the band and I in a room together, two drum kits, and just going crazy,” she said. “And I remember doing the vocal and just running around and screaming. Very fun.”

Much has been made about Bea’s sound evolution in such a short time, especially regarding the heavily ’90s alternative and Britpop echoes on standouts like “Worth It” and “Sorry.” That aesthetic, similar to what labelmates and pals The 1975 explored on Notes on a Conditional Form, electrifies the twelve songs on Fake It Flowers, giving Bea a bedrock from which to share her occasionally funny, often offbeat truths. “I’ve had to put up with your shit when you’re / Not even that cute,” she sings on “Dye It Red.” By “Emo Song,” she’s sharing nighttime poetry: “Nobody knows when I was young / I lost myself in cosmic dust.” They’re the kinds of lines with a specific audience, even if she doesn’t name them directly.

“There was an ongoing theme in Fake It Flowers, the idea of everything I was supposed to tell someone but couldn’t. So it’s like a letter I was supposed to send out, but never really sent out. Something I was supposed to tell them, but I couldn’t,” she says. “A lot of things happened when I was a teenager, and I used a lot of things to kind of distract myself, and whether that was bad or good — well, it was mostly bad. I think writing ‘Emo Song’ as a whole just helped me kind of understand myself, understand that part of my life a bit more. That lyric is very special to me.”

Bea, who worked on the album with her three band members and two producers, initially taught herself guitar through YouTube tutorials, beginning with Sixpence None the Richer’s staple “Kiss Me” and graduating to The Cure, The Moldy Peaches, and Elliott Smith. She uses alternate tunings as “little cheat codes” — the low-end rumble of 2019’s “She Plays Bass” helps give the song its lovesick bite — to simplify her playing and songwriting. (“All you need is one finger and a nice tuning to make it sound super complicated.”)

After “Coffee” caught the attention of Dirty Hit Records, she signed with them and released four increasingly intricate EPs in 2018 and 2019; Fake It Flowers feels like the logical next step, louder and deeper without retreading any territory, even as she includes more songs addressed to her boyfriend, the videographer Soren Harrison, to whom she dedicated her entire 2018 EP Loveworm. This time, she employs playful subterfuge, titling one song “Horen Sarrison,” about “the surface level of love,” and singing “I want you to know to know that I’m in love / But I don’t want you to feel comfortable.”

That her sojourn can take her from the warm glow of love to the raw fury found on “Charlie Brown,” a performance she referred to in the lead-up as “proper screamo,” is a marvel, one Bea embraced. “I’ve always wanted to scream on a record. I scream a lot when I’m angry in my bedroom. I remember [producer Pete Robertson] being like, ‘Are you ready?’ And I’m like, dude, I was born ready. I want to scream so badly.” As a Sonic Youth-esque guitar fuse burns up, she screams “throw it away!” with the kind of youthful fury that beckons Gen X, millennial, and Zoomer rock lifers like power cables to a tube amp. It’s exactly why Fake It Flowers is destined to take Bea to the stratosphere — like Soccer Mommy’s “Circle the Drain” and Mxmtoon’s “Bon Iver,” Bea synthesizes ’90s and early-aughts sonic influences (and lyrical shout-outs) with contemporary sensibilities and a social media presence (“gettin this bread,” her Twitter bio reads).

The acoustic-confessional Beabadoobee returns briefly in the album’s penultimate track, “How Was Your Day?,” a charming diary entry she captured on a four-track cassette recorder in Harrison’s garden during quarantine. The song had been written after she wrapped touring earlier this year, but as she went to press record, she tweaked the lyrics to reflect a newfound altruism she’d unearthed in the months at home. “Obviously the song is quite sad, but there’s a sense of hopefulness in it, and it didn’t have that before,” she said. After this particularly hellish year, that hopefulness can sometimes even overcome the weepiness of the chords.

There’s plenty of hope, too, on the @redpandadoobee page — “imagine being a little red panda and being cuddled by an EVEN BIGGER red panda” — as well as in Bea’s plans to meet an actual red panda someday soon. It won’t be this year, as the pandemic shifted a planned gig in Japan and a stop at an animal sanctuary, but she’s got a potential contingency plan. “I know there are red panda sanctuaries in London. I’d have to travel up to see them,” she said. “I don’t think you can go and pet them, though. I want to touch them. I want to hold them in my arm. That’s the goal.”

Beabadoobee Mines Her Own Cosmic Dust

Like a lot of Instagram users her age, 20-year-old Bea Kristi has at least one alt account. Her main, for the confessional guitar music she releases as Beabadoobee (styled lowercase, of course), remains a trove of promo pics, song teases, and bedroom selfies. That frees up her alt to devote prime grid real estate to extremely cute red pandas.

As with plenty of other ideas rooted in comfort and good vibes, Bea’s @redpandadoobee emerged from being stoned and scrolling on her phone. “I’m on the tour bus, and I think I just had the munchies. I was just munching on some food and I just come across this video of this red panda,” she tells MTV News. “So my guitar tech walks in, like, ‘You look like you’re crying,’ and I’m like, yeah, no, these are the cutest things I’ve seen in my life. He leaves for about two hours and he comes back and he’s like, ‘You’ve been in the same spot for two hours, doing the exact same thing.’ I just, for two hours, was staring at red panda videos and pictures, crying. It was an amazing experience in America, on the tour bus, eating some Chips Ahoy!”

One post finds the British singer-songwriter — who’s risen from lo-fi acoustic pop to the rock-star grandeur of her debut, Fake It Flowers in just three years — on a bed with her boyfriend and three photoshopped red pandas acting as their hypothetical children. The caption names them: Yoshimi, Forest, Magdalene — also the title of her LP’s exhilarating final track that finds her manically in love and planning their future together. By the end of the song, Bea’s glee devolves into pure delirium, yelling the three names over a geyser of watery guitar noise. It’s a far cry from “Coffee,” the strummy, whistling jaunt that kicked off her career in 2017 and brought her further global recognition this year thanks to a sample on a Powfu cut that went supersonic on TikTok.

Yet “Yoshimi Forest Magdalene” is a fitting finale for Fake It Flowers (out today), which finds Bea projecting moments from her own life onto a much wider screen and glossing her sound with arena-ready bombast. “It was the band and I in a room together, two drum kits, and just going crazy,” she said. “And I remember doing the vocal and just running around and screaming. Very fun.”

Much has been made about Bea’s sound evolution in such a short time, especially regarding the heavily ’90s alternative and Britpop echoes on standouts like “Worth It” and “Sorry.” That aesthetic, similar to what labelmates and pals The 1975 explored on Notes on a Conditional Form, electrifies the twelve songs on Fake It Flowers, giving Bea a bedrock from which to share her occasionally funny, often offbeat truths. “I’ve had to put up with your shit when you’re / Not even that cute,” she sings on “Dye It Red.” By “Emo Song,” she’s sharing nighttime poetry: “Nobody knows when I was young / I lost myself in cosmic dust.” They’re the kinds of lines with a specific audience, even if she doesn’t name them directly.

“There was an ongoing theme in Fake It Flowers, the idea of everything I was supposed to tell someone but couldn’t. So it’s like a letter I was supposed to send out, but never really sent out. Something I was supposed to tell them, but I couldn’t,” she says. “A lot of things happened when I was a teenager, and I used a lot of things to kind of distract myself, and whether that was bad or good — well, it was mostly bad. I think writing ‘Emo Song’ as a whole just helped me kind of understand myself, understand that part of my life a bit more. That lyric is very special to me.”

Bea, who worked on the album with her three band members and two producers, initially taught herself guitar through YouTube tutorials, beginning with Sixpence None the Richer’s staple “Kiss Me” and graduating to The Cure, The Moldy Peaches, and Elliott Smith. She uses alternate tunings as “little cheat codes” — the low-end rumble of 2019’s “She Plays Bass” helps give the song its lovesick bite — to simplify her playing and songwriting. (“All you need is one finger and a nice tuning to make it sound super complicated.”)

After “Coffee” caught the attention of Dirty Hit Records, she signed with them and released four increasingly intricate EPs in 2018 and 2019; Fake It Flowers feels like the logical next step, louder and deeper without retreading any territory, even as she includes more songs addressed to her boyfriend, the videographer Soren Harrison, to whom she dedicated her entire 2018 EP Loveworm. This time, she employs playful subterfuge, titling one song “Horen Sarrison,” about “the surface level of love,” and singing “I want you to know to know that I’m in love / But I don’t want you to feel comfortable.”

That her sojourn can take her from the warm glow of love to the raw fury found on “Charlie Brown,” a performance she referred to in the lead-up as “proper screamo,” is a marvel, one Bea embraced. “I’ve always wanted to scream on a record. I scream a lot when I’m angry in my bedroom. I remember [producer Pete Robertson] being like, ‘Are you ready?’ And I’m like, dude, I was born ready. I want to scream so badly.” As a Sonic Youth-esque guitar fuse burns up, she screams “throw it away!” with the kind of youthful fury that beckons Gen X, millennial, and Zoomer rock lifers like power cables to a tube amp. It’s exactly why Fake It Flowers is destined to take Bea to the stratosphere — like Soccer Mommy’s “Circle the Drain” and Mxmtoon’s “Bon Iver,” Bea synthesizes ’90s and early-aughts sonic influences (and lyrical shout-outs) with contemporary sensibilities and a social media presence (“gettin this bread,” her Twitter bio reads).

The acoustic-confessional Beabadoobee returns briefly in the album’s penultimate track, “How Was Your Day?,” a charming diary entry she captured on a four-track cassette recorder in Harrison’s garden during quarantine. The song had been written after she wrapped touring earlier this year, but as she went to press record, she tweaked the lyrics to reflect a newfound altruism she’d unearthed in the months at home. “Obviously the song is quite sad, but there’s a sense of hopefulness in it, and it didn’t have that before,” she said. After this particularly hellish year, that hopefulness can sometimes even overcome the weepiness of the chords.

There’s plenty of hope, too, on the @redpandadoobee page — “imagine being a little red panda and being cuddled by an EVEN BIGGER red panda” — as well as in Bea’s plans to meet an actual red panda someday soon. It won’t be this year, as the pandemic shifted a planned gig in Japan and a stop at an animal sanctuary, but she’s got a potential contingency plan. “I know there are red panda sanctuaries in London. I’d have to travel up to see them,” she said. “I don’t think you can go and pet them, though. I want to touch them. I want to hold them in my arm. That’s the goal.”

The 2020 MTV EMA Performers Are Here: Sam Smith, Doja Cat, Maluma, And More

Love Goes global at the 2020 EMAs, with a seriously stacked lineup of international superstars set to perform.

That’s right — the “How Do You Sleep?” singer Sam Smith is sure to bring a soulful serenade to the show, following the release of their highly anticipated (and newly renamed) album Love Goes on October 30. And they’re not alone. Maluma, Doja Cat, Zara Larsson, and Yungblud will also take the stage.

It’s a great year for all of them. Smith is also nominated for Best Collaboration for their gold metal-worthy duet with Lemi Lovato, while Yungblud and Doja Cat are both vying for the coveted “Best New” and “Best Push” artist awards. Maluma, who brought the tropics to a New York drive-in for his VMA performance in August, will make his EMA debut, while Swedish pop wunderkind Zara Larsson will return after lighting up the stage in 2016 with her medley of singles “Lush Life” and “Ain’t My Fault.”

In terms of nominations, Lady Gaga continues her Chromatica reign after sweeping the VMAs as the most-nominated artist at the 2020 MTV EMA, racking up seven nods in total. This year’s show adds three new categories for 2020: Best Latin, Video for Good, and Best Virtual Live. The two-hour ceremony will air globally on MTV in 180 countries and territories on Sunday, November 8, 2020. Fan voting is now open at mtvema.com and will last until November 2 at 11:59 p.m. CET.

The 2020 MTV EMA airs globally on MTV in 180 countries and territories on Sunday, November 8, 2020. Find more info at mtvema.com.

The 2020 MTV EMA Performers Are Here: Sam Smith, Doja Cat, Maluma, And More

Love Goes global at the 2020 EMAs, with a seriously stacked lineup of international superstars set to perform.

That’s right — the “How Do You Sleep?” singer Sam Smith is sure to bring a soulful serenade to the show, following the release of their highly anticipated (and newly renamed) album Love Goes on October 30. And they’re not alone. Maluma, Doja Cat, Zara Larsson, and Yungblud will also take the stage.

It’s a great year for all of them. Smith is also nominated for Best Collaboration for their gold metal-worthy duet with Lemi Lovato, while Yungblud and Doja Cat are both vying for the coveted “Best New” and “Best Push” artist awards. Maluma, who brought the tropics to a New York drive-in for his VMA performance in August, will make his EMA debut, while Swedish pop wunderkind Zara Larsson will return after lighting up the stage in 2016 with her medley of singles “Lush Life” and “Ain’t My Fault.”

In terms of nominations, Lady Gaga continues her Chromatica reign after sweeping the VMAs as the most-nominated artist at the 2020 MTV EMA, racking up seven nods in total. This year’s show adds three new categories for 2020: Best Latin, Video for Good, and Best Virtual Live. The two-hour ceremony will air globally on MTV in 180 countries and territories on Sunday, November 8, 2020. Fan voting is now open at mtvema.com and will last until November 2 at 11:59 p.m. CET.

The 2020 MTV EMA airs globally on MTV in 180 countries and territories on Sunday, November 8, 2020. Find more info at mtvema.com.

Demi Lovato Slams The ‘Commander In Chief’ With A Powerful Protest Anthem

In the road toward the 2016 election, YG and Nipsey Hussle had the viral dis track, “FDT,” or “Fuck Donald Trump.” Now, with less than a month before Election Day 2020 and early voting already underway, pop superstar Demi Lovato has released her own protest song, “Commander in Chief.” And like the rappers before her, she doesn’t mince words.

In the somber new track, which surprise-dropped Tuesday evening (October 13), Lovato takes aim at the president, referencing his response to the coronavirus pandemic, the fires that have ravaged the West Coast, and racial injustice in the United States. “Commander in Chief, honestly / If I did the things you do, I couldn’t sleep,” she sings on the refrain. “Seriously, do you even know the truth? / We’re in a state of crisis, people are dying / While you line your pockets deep / Commander in Chief / How does it feel to still be able to breathe?”

Speaking with CNN, Lovato explained the importance of using her platform to shed light on political issues. “There’s been so many times that I’ve wanted to write the President a letter or sit down with him and ask him these questions,” Lovato said. “And then I thought, I don’t really actually want to do that and I thought one way that I could do that is writing a song and releasing it for the whole world to hear and then he has to answer those questions to everyone and not just me.”

Writing in response to a fan who suggested incorporating her politics might isolate some fans, the “Cool for the Summer” singer explained that she understood the potential career risks associated with speaking up. “This is my response to anyone who wants to silence me,” she wrote in an Instagram Story.

“You do understand as a celebrity I have a right to political views as well?” she added, in a comment that was shared as an Instagram Story. “Or did you forget that we aren’t just around to entertain people for our entire lives…that we are citizens of the same country and we are humans with opinions as well? The difference between me and the type of artist you WANT and EXPECT me to be (but I’m sorry honey that will never BE me 😂) I literally don’t care if this ruins my career. This isn’t about that. My career isn’t about that. I made a piece of art that stands for something I believe in. And I’m putting it out even at the risk of losing fans. I’ll take integrity in my work over sales any day. As mochas I would like to be sad that I disappointed you, I’m too busy being bummed that you expect me, a queer Hispanic woman, to silence my views/beliefs in order to please my audience i.e. your family. 🙁”

The corresponding music video for “Commander in Chief” is slated for release Wednesday (October 14) at 8 p.m. PT, or 11 p.m. ET.

Demi Lovato Slams The ‘Commander In Chief’ With A Powerful Protest Anthem

In the road toward the 2016 election, YG and Nipsey Hussle had the viral dis track, “FDT,” or “Fuck Donald Trump.” Now, with less than a month before Election Day 2020 and early voting already underway, pop superstar Demi Lovato has released her own protest song, “Commander in Chief.” And like the rappers before her, she doesn’t mince words.

In the somber new track, which surprise-dropped Tuesday evening (October 13), Lovato takes aim at the president, referencing his response to the coronavirus pandemic, the fires that have ravaged the West Coast, and racial injustice in the United States. “Commander in Chief, honestly / If I did the things you do, I couldn’t sleep,” she sings on the refrain. “Seriously, do you even know the truth? / We’re in a state of crisis, people are dying / While you line your pockets deep / Commander in Chief / How does it feel to still be able to breathe?”

Speaking with CNN, Lovato explained the importance of using her platform to shed light on political issues. “There’s been so many times that I’ve wanted to write the President a letter or sit down with him and ask him these questions,” Lovato said. “And then I thought, I don’t really actually want to do that and I thought one way that I could do that is writing a song and releasing it for the whole world to hear and then he has to answer those questions to everyone and not just me.”

Writing in response to a fan who suggested incorporating her politics might isolate some fans, the “Cool for the Summer” singer explained that she understood the potential career risks associated with speaking up. “This is my response to anyone who wants to silence me,” she wrote in an Instagram Story.

“You do understand as a celebrity I have a right to political views as well?” she added, in a comment that was shared as an Instagram Story. “Or did you forget that we aren’t just around to entertain people for our entire lives…that we are citizens of the same country and we are humans with opinions as well? The difference between me and the type of artist you WANT and EXPECT me to be (but I’m sorry honey that will never BE me 😂) I literally don’t care if this ruins my career. This isn’t about that. My career isn’t about that. I made a piece of art that stands for something I believe in. And I’m putting it out even at the risk of losing fans. I’ll take integrity in my work over sales any day. As mochas I would like to be sad that I disappointed you, I’m too busy being bummed that you expect me, a queer Hispanic woman, to silence my views/beliefs in order to please my audience i.e. your family. 🙁”

The corresponding music video for “Commander in Chief” is slated for release Wednesday (October 14) at 8 p.m. PT, or 11 p.m. ET.

Ava Max Powered Through Heaven And Hell With Pasta And Late-Night Dancing

What is Ava Max going as for Halloween this year? “Something hellish. I feel hellish, as you can tell,” she said to MTV News on a recent Zoom call. “I’m wearing all black. I’ve been wearing all black the last two weeks a lot.”

Of course, feeling hellish is only half of Max’s story. On the “Sweet But Psycho” singer’s energetic debut album, Heaven & Hell, she’s both angel and devil, as asymmetrical as her trademark hairstyle. Max split the LP into its two titular parts after dreaming up the concept en route to the 2019 VMAs, where she performed during the red-carpet pre-show. She finished the ethereal opening track, “H.E.A.V.E.N.,” during quarantine earlier this year with producer and collaborator Cirkut. And to listen to Heaven & Hell is to discover not divine highs and evil lows, but a steady stream of uptempo electro-pop that could power an hourlong cycling class, a much-needed solo dance session, and just getting shit done.

That’s by design, too. “I try and make it super empowering, each song, and motivating, but I also want there to be a story, but then I also want you to be able to dance to it,” she said. “But then on top of that, I want it to be weird and theatrical. So I feel like, personally I like to have my cake and eat it, too.”

She dropped Heaven & Hell in September; by October 2, her biggest song (and so far, her signature song), “Sweet But Psycho” had reached the staggering milestone of 1 billion streams on Spotify. It’s all part of the long tail of Max’s success that began when she was a teenager chasing pop success. Now, thanks to a smash hit and a conceptually bold debut album, she’s getting comfortable showing off the various parts of herself. And she can’t wait for Halloween candy: “Snickers, Smarties, and maybe a Ring Pop. I love a Ring Pop. Let’s be real.”

MTV News talked to Max about Heaven & Hell, where she’ll keep her streaming-milestone plaque, and why chestnuts have the key to her heart.

MTV News: “Sweet But Psycho” just hit a billion streams on Spotify, which is insane. I feel like our brains can’t even fathom what a billion of anything is.

Ava Max: It’s insane to me, too. I’m like, really? You guys streamed that song 1 billion times? It’s funny, because my dad was hearing a lot of songs before I released “Sweet But Psycho.” He was like, “Ah, that song, we’ll see. It’s super pop.” At the time, there was not any pop. So my dad was like, “I don’t know.” He liked my slower songs that I never release, actually, that he’s like, “Oh, those will probably do better.” Now I hit a billion. I was like, “Dad, look. There are a billion.”

MTV News: I know the RIAA will send you a Gold or a Platinum record. Does Spotify send you any fun care package when that happens?

Max: I think they’re sending me a plaque, which I just got told. So that’s really cool.

MTV News: Where do you think you’ll put it? A place of prominence?

Max: Probably over my shoes in my closet. OK, so I don’t like to show off like that. I wouldn’t put it where people would see. It’s only for me privately, because I feel so awkward showing off my plaques. You know what I mean? My mom has them in her hallway in her house. Then every time I go, I’m like, that’s so awkward. I don’t know. I’m more of a private person. I talk about myself all day long in interviews. I don’t want to talk about myself when my friends come over. “Oh, look at that plaque!” Oh, no. I don’t want to see my face anywhere in my house.

MTV News: Your album Heaven & Hell is split between those two concepts. Where did that idea come from?

Max: Heaven & Hell, for me, it just made sense, because everything I’ve been through in my life has been heaven and hell. Everything in between has been up and downs: relationships, careers. I think nothing is ever perfect, or 100 percent amazing, or 100 percent bad. I think it’s all a mixture. It just made sense to me for what we go through as humans. It’s nothing religious, because I’m a very spiritual person. It’s more so just about the emotions we go through in life. For instance, my album came out two weeks ago, and then two days after my album came out, my grandpa passed. So it was very hard to celebrate my album because of that. It’s crazy, because I was talking about it so much, and it happened to me. I felt like I was living in heaven, but also hell, because I was so sad about my grandpa’s passing. It was the craziest feeling of emotions. It’s exactly what I talk about. It’s life. So that’s why Heaven & Hell, for me, is the perfect album title for my big album.

MTV News: I know this has been a hard year, and, obviously, it sounds like it just got a lot harder. I’m sorry to hear that. Is there stuff that you have been really coming back to, musically, to help?

Max: Well, when my album came out, I really liked listening to upbeat, empowering music, but then, I don’t know, when I’m in a sad mood sometimes, it takes me a minute, because music makes me think of all the memories, and it makes me cry even more. I mean, I think it depends. Now, music is helping me, but initially, the first few days, I have to be in quiet. But now, I definitely need to listen to upbeat music. Anything like Beyoncé, Destiny’s Child — something to get me feeling motivated, because I know that’s what my grandpa would have wanted.

MTV News: Do have anything you could say, or any pointers you could give, to people who still want to just dance to your album, even though they can’t dance in clubs or with people right now?

Max: Turn off your lights and dance in the dark. I like the nighttime. I’m a night owl. So I dance in the nighttime. But it’s a workout album, too. I love to workout to upbeat music. That’s why I made such motivating, empowering songs, because I personally feel like I go even harder working out, or even doing little things, I don’t know, cooking a meal. I like to put on music. I think as long as I’m putting out empowering music, I think it helps with all those things. Dancing, working out, creating your goals for the future.

MTV News: You mentioned cooking. Is that something you did a lot with some found time in quarantine? Because you, unfortunately, weren’t able to tour and do things like that?

Max: The beginning of quarantine, I did not [order from] Postmates because I was so terrified. I cooked every single meal. I’m not even kidding you. I told my mom, I’m like, I give you kudos, because my wrists were hurting. I was cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My niece would come over, I would make her food, and then I’d be like, wow, moms do so much. That was just cooking. That wasn’t even cleaning up babies, which I don’t have. I’m like, imagine being a mom. Kudos to moms. I just clap for all moms out there. Because the cooking was hard all day.

MTV News: Did you have a signature dish you made?

Max: Tacos. I love tacos. I was making a lot of tacos. I was making a lot of pasta. I was making a lot of really comforting food. Let’s just say my jeans did not fit at the beginning of quarantine.

MTV News: Were you bingeing any TV shows? Did you see any movies that you were like, “I need this in my life?”

Max: I regret watching Tiger King. I regret that, because everyone was watching Tiger King. Do you remember at the beginning? I was just like, no, I’m not going to watch it. Finally, I watched it. It was bad. I mean, I did not like it. Yes, it was a good show. Right? But it was just like, I don’t want to see them mistreating tigers. I just didn’t like the whole anger thing. I remember getting a headache after watching that. Other than that, I loved Dead to Me with Christina Applegate. Another one I watched was Little Fires Everywhere with Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon. Oh my god! I love small-town dramas. Can you tell?

MTV News: What are you excited for in the rest of 2020?

Max: I am excited for the holidays. Is that weird? I’m excited to spend time with my family, roast some marshmallows by the fire, eat some chestnuts. A lot of people don’t know this, but chestnuts are one of my favorite foods.

MTV News: Chestnuts roasting on an open fire?

Max: Not even kidding you. It’s an Albanian thing, too. Albanians love to make chestnuts during the wintertime. We can turn into a chestnut if we eat too many. It’s full of carbs. But anyway, I’m also excited because I’m finishing the deluxe [edition of Heaven & Hell], and I’m really, really excited for everyone to hear these records as well. It’s just a lot of music. I promise you guys there will be no shortage of music.