Miley Cyrus Is Bringing A Stripped-Down Unplugged Set To Her Backyard

Throughout 2020, with the live-music industry effectively shut down, artists have taken to livestreaming, recording remotely, and when possible, pumping out show-stopping performances right from home. In Miley Cyrus‘s case, just over a month after hitting the 2020 VMAs with a glamorous, self-referential rendition of new single “Midnight Sky,” she’s heading to the backyard for something very special.

Both glam and au naturale, in a glitzy dress and under a canopy of trees, Cyrus is set to rock the proverbial house for MTV Unplugged Presents Miley Cyrus Backyard Sessions, a new special set to hit MTV on Friday, October 16 at 7/6c. It’ll be an “unplugged” and “stripped back” show, finding her delivering “Midnight Sky” as well as her biggest hits and some select covers.

Taking the stage from just outside of her own home in Los Angeles, Cyrus will channel the connective spirit of the MTV Unplugged series as she also tackles some big covers, including Britney Spears’s “Gimme More” and songs from Pearl Jam, The Cardigans, and more. Miley previously performed a beloved MTV Unplugged set in 2014, centered around her Bangerz era, that also featured a noteworthy medley done side-by-side with Madonna.

The latest show is in keeping with the MTV Unplugged at Home series launched this past spring alongside the #AloneTogether campaign, in an effort to keep people connected even during a time of necessarily isolation.

MTV Unplugged Presents Miley Cyrus Backyard Sessions hits MTV on Friday, October 16 at 7/6c.

Mxmtoon, Social Media’s Savviest Indie-Pop Singer, Is Ready For A Nap

By Sam Manzella

Mxmtoon’s Maia is one of the busiest young women in the indie-pop world, but you wouldn’t know it from a cursory glance at her space. Zooming in for a video call with MTV News from her apartment in Brooklyn, the 20-year-old social media star-turned-pro singer-songwriter readily accepts compliments of her lush surroundings. Cascading houseplants and small trinkets adorn the white shelves on the wall behind her. “I’m an introvert,” she says, “so I’m fine with just hanging out in my room, taking care of my plants.”

The serene setup is a stark contrast to Maia’s jam-packed schedule: She dropped her second EP of 2020, Dusk, on October 1, less than a year after releasing 2019’s Masquerade, her first full-length studio album. She’s been churning out daily 10- to 15-minute episodes of her history-themed podcast, 365 Days With Mxmtoon, since September 14. Twitter, Instagram, Twitch — you name it, Maia uses it, and the digital native’s 4 million combined followers are a captive audience.

Maia (who goes by her first name to have a semblance of privacy in the digital age) describes Dusk as the “sad but beautiful” companion piece to April’s Dawn EP. She wrestles deftly with feelings of loneliness and depression, pairing ukulele and piano instrumentals — both nods to her internet origins as a teen uploading ukulele tutorials to YouTube — with the diaristic lyrics her young fans have come to know and love. “I just wanted to make something that felt like I could progress as an artist but not leave behind my roots,” she says.

Dusk is also an ode to introversion in the time of COVID-19. It might sound counterintuitive while quarantining or social distancing, but for Maia, alone time is a pillar of her self-care routine. “I think the more comfortable we can be in our own company, the easier it is for us to recharge and face the world head-on again,” she says. Most of Dusk was written pre-pandemic, including the cello-laden “Asking for a Friend,” Maia’s personal fave off the new EP. Other tracks like “Show and Tell,” a wistful piano ballad, are unmistakably the product of quarantine (“Waking up each morning / And I’m gazing outside of my windowsill / The world is so wrong, I hope that we’re strong / But I’m still mourning”).

But being alone doesn’t necessarily mean being lonely. Dusk also features “OK on Your Own,” a collaboration with none other than Carly Rae Jepsen. “[Carly and I] Facetimed, and she was like, ‘What do you want me to do on the song?’” Maia remembers. “I was like, ‘You’re literally Carly Rae Jepsen. You can do whatever you want and I will be happy.’ And she was like, ‘OK.’” She points to a shelf that’s slightly out of frame: “I have a little note from her up here, and it says, To Maia, happy release day. XO. Carly. And I look at it and I’m like, ‘What the fuck?’ I just can’t believe it.”

The mellow, ukulele-backed friendship anthem is a point of pride for Maia, who counts CRJ among her personal pop-music heroes. It also cemented her evolution from a YouTuber recording covers and lo-fi originals on GarageBand to a fully fledged recording artist. Maia released and promoted 2018’s Plum Blossom, her first EP, completely independently. By the time her first full-length was in the works, she’d already toured internationally and had a string of viral moments on social media. The internet fame scored her 21 Days With Mxmtoon, a podcast with Spotify documenting her creative process while writing and recording Masquerade. It also landed her a publishing deal with Kobalt Music Group, whom she signed to for administrative and creative support last November.

Maia tweeted flippantly that “OK on Your Own” was “for the girls and the gays,” but there’s some truth to it. She points to similarities between her and Jepsen’s followings: CRJ has “an insanely large LGBTQ+ community of people who love her and think about her as their queen.” Maia herself is openly bisexual, which resonates deeply with her 411,000-plus followers on Twitter. She came out in 2017 during the earlier days of her social-media fame. “I don’t think I’ve experienced many obstacles besides the hate comments where people will be like, ‘It’s so weird, why is she talking about her sexuality?’” she says. “I think the bedroom-pop space, and indie pop too, has been very open and accepting of queer artists.”

If anything, owning her sexual orientation endeared Maia further to her fans, many of whom are also members of the LGBTQ+ community. “I think that was always one of my goals when I started having a platform, to make a space that felt comfortable enough for people to be open about who they are, and for me to be open about who I am too,” she adds. “So I’m thankful I don’t need to shy away from this aspect of who I am.”

Maia is leveraging her platform even more ahead of the presidential election in November. On Twitter, she reminds her 411,000 followers to register to vote; on Twitch, she hosts charitable live-streams for an audience of 97,000. As a bisexual Chinese-American woman born to an immigrant family, Maia feels the current administration’s attacks on civil rights personally. “You look at the news, and when your identity and its validity is constantly being questioned by a guy who’s president and everything, it’s exhausting,” she says. “It’s just terrifying that people’s basic human rights are being threatened and have been under fire for so long.”

What’s next for this self-professed perfectionist? 365 Days of Mxmtoon is ongoing through 2021. Maia also plans to continue streaming herself writing songs and playing video games on Twitch, an imperfect but necessary substitute for connecting with her fans in-person on tour. With Dawn and Dusk out now, though, Maia has one thing on her mind: “Hopefully I’ll get some sleep. That’s my next goal.”

Blackpink’s The Album Has A Song For Every Mood

“Ice Cream” (ft. Selena Gomez)

Listen to it when you’re feeling: flirtatious

Key Lyrics: “Even in the sun, you know I keep it icy / You could take a lick, but it’s too cold to bite me”

Just like the title suggests, the song is sugar, spice, naughty, and nice! But what else would you expect from a track co-written by Ariana Grande and Victoria Monét, among others?  Fittingly, “Ice Cream” makes many light, tasty dessert metaphors: Blackpink are approaching their guys with grown-women energy and are not being shy in their approach of what they want.

Shawn Mendes Gets Very Wet In Soaring New ‘Wonder’ Video

Shawn Mendes‘s Continuum look has finally arrived.

In his new video for “Wonder,” a soaring pop song that keeps rising, Mendes first shows off his quarantine-grown lettuce by peering out the window of a train as a glowing pink horizon beckons. In under a minute, though, he’s standing on top of the zooming vessel, King of the World-ing the shit out of the enterprise. He’s arrived.

The video, directed by Matty Peacock, soundtracks the cloud-high anthem that finds Mendes questioning his place as well as put-upon expectations. “I wonder when I cry into my hands,” he sings, “I’m conditioned to feel like it makes me less of a man.” As he ventures into the big (yet curiously percussion-less choruses), Mendes moves first into a copse of mossy trees to become a man of the woods, then to a sea cliff’s edge to become a wanderer above the sea of fog. And then, oh yeah, there’s the drums.

Mendes ends up wet, naturally, though it’s hard to tell if he’s quite as soaked as he got in his 2018 VMAs performance.

“Wonder” is the title track to Mendes’s upcoming fourth album, set to drop on December 4. (“This is all very exciting,” John Mayer wrote on Instagram, so you know he approves of the long hair.) Ahead of the single drop, Mendes also shared a low-key piano track that serves as the intro to the album, complete with another visual where he hangs out in a tank top.

It’s clear that Mendes, like all of us, is simply waitin’ on the world to change. Find the Wonder album cover below, then watch the video in full above.

Miley’s Disco-Rock Cover, Griselda’s Hypnotic Boom, And More Songs We Love

G Flip is currently single, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to “You and I.” The Aussie singer-songwriter banged out the feels-y pop track in just a few hours during a studio session in London while deeply in love with her ex-girlfriend. That relationship has since ended, but Flip’s epic queer love story lives on, immortalized by her effervescent vocals and soul-baring lyrics (“I would never lie / Now that you are mine / I’ll never cross the line / It’s just you and I, you and I”). 2020, man. —Sam Manzella

Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis, Taylor Swift, And The Trail Of Heartbreak Pop

By Tatiana Tenreyro

Rilo Kiley came into my life when I was 16. I couldn’t have found the California indie-rock band at a more pivotal time. At that age, I was dealing with two terrible relationships back-to-back that broke my spirit, while also feeling like an outsider in high school. Jenny Lewis‘s songwriting helped me find solace; her songs made me feel like she was the cool older friend guiding me through it all, validating my emotions, with songs like “Capturing Moods,” “Go Ahead,” and “Glendora.”

But for the other teenage girls I knew, the musical icon they related to the most was Taylor Swift. At the time, I wrote off Swift, focusing on her imperfections. Her songs comparing herself to the popular cheerleader and wanting a fairytale romance felt infantile, and the slut-shaming in “Better Than Revenge” made me uncomfortable.

But four years ago, I began to realize that Swift and Lewis have far more in common than a certain ex. In 2016, I stumbled upon a playlist Swift made for iTunes from 2010. It’s no longer available online, but it features Rilo Kiley’s “Silver Lining” off the band’s last album, Under the Blacklight. It’s a ballad about finding strength in leaving behind an unhealthy relationship. When I noticed the track in the playlist, everything clicked.

Before Swift emerged as the queen of lovelorn songs, Lewis was telling stories with Rilo Kiley in the same vein. When the band emerged with its 1999 self-titled debut EP, often referred to as The Initial Friend — getting a vinyl release and its streaming debut today (October 2) — Lewis introduced the band as one that would soundtrack teenage woes. The EP was made after the band made its debut onstage in 1998 at L.A.’s now-defunct DIY venue Spaceland. The Kids in the Hall star Dave Foley happened to be in the audience and was so amazed by their set that he insisted on funding their debut EP.

At the time of writing the record, Lewis was just 21: young enough that she could pen songs that’d make teenage girls feel seen, but old enough that she could examine who she was during her teen years from a detached lens. The lyrics feel like a diary entry, raw and emotional, without holding back on revealing her vulnerability.

Having experienced fame at a young age as a child star, appearing in Troop Beverly Hills, The Wizard, and other late ’80s and ’90s staples, Lewis was well aware of what it was like to date famous men with big egos. One of the most recognizable songs off Rilo Kiley’s debut is “Teenage Lovesong,” about Lewis falling in love with a famous boy named Davey (speculated to be Married… with Children‘s David Faustino) and losing her virginity to him, only to have him ditch her. There’s “Teenage Lovesong” DNA in Swift’s iconic “Fifteen,” whether it’s intentional or not. Though the song was written long before Swift began dating famous men, “Fifteen” tells the story of her best friend Abigail, who lost her virginity to an insensitive teenage boy who acted eerily similar to Lewis’s “Davey.”

But the song that every Rilo Kiley fan knows off the band’s debut is “Glendora.” It features some of Lewis’s rawest songwriting, detailing the many ways that the guy she’s crushing on mistreats her. She acknowledges that she should find someone better for her, but she just cannot seem to drop him. I think of Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” as “Glendora”‘s sister song, with the former finding has Swift noting how hot and cold their relationship is. While Lewis takes a more self-aware approach, pointing out that she can’t help victimize herself, Swift sings about being ready to move on, cut ties, and not fall for the same trap again. Swift’s song is famously purported to be written about Jake Gyllenhaal, who also dated Lewis and remained friends with her after their relationship ended back in 2001. (Though it’s rumored that Swift wasn’t happy that Gyllenhaal asked Lewis, his ex, to be his date to the Golden Globes in 2011, Lewis clarified in a tweet that she was already dating Johnathan Rice at the time.)

Swift’s approach to writing breakup songs also feels reminiscent of Rilo Kiley’s “Portions for Foxes,” off their third record, More Adventurous. Back in 2008, former USA Today reporter Brian Mansfield had then-18-year-old Swift import the data from her iPod Nano into a flash drive for an interactive feature on what she was listening to, including “Portions for Foxes.” The song came out just two years before Swift debuted as a rising country-pop star with her self-titled record, and it carries the same weight as her breakup anthems. Lewis sings about a relationship falling apart after a partner’s infidelity. His wandering eye is set on a “pretty young thing,” but Lewis can’t easily get rid of her feelings for him. I like to imagine teenage Swift listening to “Portions for Foxes,” finding as much solace in it as I did.

But surprisingly, while Swift’s and Lewis’s approaches to songwriting are similar, their careers went in opposite directions. Lewis, who had been in the limelight since the early ’80s, became an indie darling rather than an arena pop star. With Rilo Kiley, her work with the Watson Twins, and even her stint in The Postal Service, she primarily focused on indie-folk without fully exploring the pop realm until Under the Blacklight. Swift, on the other hand, has never hidden her love for indie, but didn’t experiment with a more indie-folk sound until Lover. This year’s Folklore became an homage to the indie-folk that Swift’s been a longtime fan of, with The National’s Aaron Dessner as co-songwriter and producer. She also includes Lewis’s friend and collaborator, Bon Iver, on “Exile.”

Though Lewis herself isn’t present on the album (even though it would’ve been a perfect match), you can still hear hints of Lewis’s influence on it. In a way, Folklore is Swift’s More Adventurous, Rilo Kiley’s 2004 lush folk/country album. It’s heavily acoustic, featuring Lewis’s most complex songwriting. Lewis introduced new characters who aren’t herself in songs such as “A Man/Me/Then Jim” and “Does He Love You?,” while still making the album feel like a relatable gut punch.

The same can be said for Swift’s Folklore. Swift has always excelled as a songwriter, being one of the few huge pop stars who primarily writes on her own, but the lyrics on Folklore are her most intricate yet. Swift’s songs often feel confessional, with fans speculating about how they tie into her personal life, but Swift shifts away the focus from herself for part of the record onto a fresh crop of characters. There are three songs, “Cardigan,” “August,” and “Betty,” focused on a teenage love triangle, and there’s a revenge ballad about a maligned widow (“Mad Woman”). Like More Adventurous, it’s stripped down, allowing the acoustic guitar and piano to shine rather than relying on Auto-Tuned radio-friendly pop. Folklore is different from anything Swift’s done before, but it still feels so inherently her.

Their careers could not be more different – hell, Lewis was supposed to be opening for Harry Styles this year on tour – but through Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis set the blueprint for who Taylor Swift became to a new generation of young adults who sought to be reminded they’re not alone in their struggles.

Luna Aura’s Noisy Rebirth

Luna Aura had enough.

After a few years tumbling around the pop-music machine in Los Angeles, the writer, singer, and performer born Angela Flores was ready to add some grit. “I walked into a session and was like, ‘I’m going to write a song that I want to write today, and all of you guys, everyone in the room, I don’t care. I want to write something bratty,'” she tells MTV News. “And then it ended up coming out incredible.”

That still-unreleased song, a “Nine Inch Nails-meets-Rage Against the Machine” buzz saw, sparked interest from more alternative-minded producers and put her on the path that led directly to Three Cheers for the American Beauty, her new EP, out Friday (October 2). You can hear its clattering DNA on “Honey,” “English Boys,” and “Crash Dive,” among the other noisy, ferocious tunes that populate the project.

Likewise inspired by the ’90s alt-pop of Garbage and sonically descended from the blown-out brashness of Sleigh Bells, Three Cheers is a screeching motorcycle ride through expectations of gender and cultural norms in America. Its passion comes from producer JT Daly — best known for his work with Pvris and K. Flay — and from 28-year-old Aura herself, whose shaken her religious upbringing in pursuit of her own meaning. “Each song really resembles a different societal pressure that gets put on young women in American culture and fighting against that,” she says.

In an era when insular viral stars are signed directly from their bedrooms and molded into bankable performers, Aura stands out. She taught herself guitar growing up in a “weird desert dairy farm town” in Arizona and gigged in coffee shops as a teenager. She eventually moved to Los Angeles with a boyfriend, angling for a larger musical ecosystem, and she stuck it out even after their split, though her stupefying experience through the industry ringer — lending her voice to big, anodyne, electro-tinged empower-pop — nearly weakened her resolve. “I had been so used to walking into a session and being [told], ‘We’re going to make something that sounds like this Selena track,’ or always chasing something that had already been done, and I didn’t want to do that anymore,” she says. “I found myself chasing a lot of what other people wanted because I didn’t know who I was.”

Now, Aura owns the edgier raucousness of her latest material as a testament to how far she’s come. “[It’s] reflective of that time in my life when I was like, you know what? Screw everything. I’m not doing what everyone else wants me to do anymore. I’m going to do me.” Below, she tells MTV News how she arrived there.

Provided

MTV News: You’re a performer, and that’s obviously something you haven’t been able to do this year. Do you remember back to the first time you were performing in front of an audience? What that was like?

Luna Aura: I have so many memories of either playing in a coffee shop when I was a teenager, all the way up to playing big festivals where I’m sharing the stage with people like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pink and all of these incredible people. I miss the hell out of it because I feel like a lot of my artistry comes out onstage. It’s been definitely really trying and difficult for me to stay creative and stay in that mode of wanting to make music, knowing that I’m not going to be able to take it onto a stage and really express it in a way that I want to.

But I’ve counteracted that with writing a lot more, and I’ve been writing a lot more for sync, for television and film, and really just honing in on my chops there. I can see a difference. I feel so much more confident now when I walk into a studio with a new producer. I can sit down and I’m just like, I’ve got this. I think I’ve benefited in that way, but I do definitely miss playing live shows so much.

MTV News: As a performer, you eventually came to the realization that it was time to do something different musically. But I imagine in that very long road, there were probably moments where you had to wrestle with that decision, where you knew that you were doing something that you wanted to do, but maybe not in the way that you wanted to do. Is that fair?

Aura: I’m 28 now, so when I came here, I was 21, and it was a very different industry at that time — the Max Martin, Dr. Luke, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift [era]. It was a whole different world in music, versus today, where R&B and hip-hop are king right now. Back then it was that Swedish pop-perfection music. Being so young and not knowing who I was, that was what I was chasing, to be like the next fad. But also I think I was put into a box as a young female, too. A young, attractive female that has a pretty voice — she can only really fit so many places. It didn’t make sense when I would perform live because I would have these really animated, crazy, energetic live performances and the music just did not feel right.

I knew something was off when I realized that about myself. I just took a break for a long time and didn’t really write anything. Just hung out in L.A. and was caught up in a bunch of going out all the time and hanging out with people that I probably shouldn’t have been hanging out with, and I just got to a dark place. That was when this music really started coming out of me because I think I had so much discomfort and so much rage inside of me that just needed to come out. I don’t know what it was. It was like one day I just wanted to just take control of my life because I felt like I was at the mercy of everyone else around me.

MTV News: When you were growing up and first writing songs, were into the kind of noisier rock you’re making now?

Aura: I was lucky enough to have parents that were super open minded about music and let me listen to pretty much anything. I was born in the early ’90s, so I was listening to things like Nine Inch Nails with Rage Against the Machine and Garbage and Hole and all that stuff. I’ve always had an affinity for rock music. The first band I started was a rock band. I had somehow lost my way early on in my early twenties, but I came back to it again.

I’ve had a lot of influences. I listened to a lot of R&B, hip-hop, that kind of stuff growing up as well. I think you can hear that in some of my other side projects that I do, that I write specifically for sync, but I have a lot of different influences. But for sure: I loved [Garbage’s] Shirley Manson and I had a huge crush on Courtney Love for the longest time, I don’t know why. I should have known at that point in my life that there was something going on.

MTV News: The EP’s called Three Cheers for the American Beauty, and a lot of the imagery is centered around pageantry, but it’s tinged with some menace. Could you talk a little bit about the concept behind that?

Aura: At the time that I was writing this EP, I was settling into my own voice and realizing who I was, but I also was ridding myself of all of these past conditions that had been put on me from growing up fairly religious, and just my identity as a female, and what that meant, and what that meant for where I belonged in our society even, in American culture. Each girl that you see in the pageant setting represents a character that embodies that story, and then there are actual short stories that are attached to each of the songs that will eventually come out to make it more of an extensive experience for fans so that they feel like they can be a part of it, and even write some of the stories for some of the girls.

MTV News: Given the year 2020 has been, what have you been doing to try to stay positive?

Aura: I’ve been staying really busy writing. A lot of people in the music industry have been doing Zoom sessions now, which is definitely an interesting way to write music with people. There’s ways for someone to connect their audio on their computer with yours, so you’re hearing the song at the same time, but then when you’re writing to it and singing melodies, it’s a little awkward, but you do what you have to do in these times. Especially for artists right now — there’s no playing shows, and artists don’t make money off of music anymore. They make all of their money off of touring and merch. It’s been really difficult for everyone to keep their heads above water. You can see it with venues closing, and we just have no idea what it’s going to look like next year when everything starts opening back up again. But it’s definitely a good time to just keep your head low and be as creative as you can while this is all happening.

It’s Just Billie Eilish And The Microphone In Moody ‘No Time To Die’ Video

A quick Billie Eilish 2020 recap: After winning pretty much all the Grammys in January, the 18-year-old pop futurist locked in the coveted gig of singing the latest James Bond film theme. That breathy song, “No Time to Die,” arrived in February, a few months before the film’s originally scheduled release.

Obviously, a lot has changed since then. The live-music industry has been shut down since March, which means Eilish’s Where Do We Go? World Tour had to cease just as it began. Still, she released “My Future,” a wandering, downbeat anthem for feeling forlorn, and with No Time to Die finally seeing release in November, the title theme has gotten a video. In the clip, which dropped Thursday (October 1), a glamorous Eilish delivers the song to an old-fashioned directional mic in black and white, draping dangling earrings down as she works her way to the song’s belting conclusion.

There’s something undeniably cinematic about the visual, which is about as simple and scaled back as they come, especially given Eilish’s rich history of metaphorical and CGI-rich videos. No one is putting out cigarettes on her face, injecting her with black liquid, or turning her into an oil-slicked winged demon. It’s just her and the mic, intercut with scenes of the long, anguished, sepia-toned romance between Daniel Craig’s Bond and Léa Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann.

We also get a good glimpse of Lashana Lynch’s character, Nomi — who will reportedly usher in a new era of female 00 agents — holding a big gun, amid lots of other action sequences.

As far as we know, Eilish herself isn’t in the new 007 flick, but she’ll soon be joining the celluloid realm on the big screen. A new documentary titled Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry hits theaters and Apple TV+ in February 2021. As you count down the months until then, check out the moody “No Time to Die” video above, then watch Eilish’s interview with MTV News about her visuals below.

Demi Lovato Is Sifting Through Heartbreak On New Song ‘Still Have Me’

Last week, the surprising news came out that Demi Lovato and her fiancé of two months Max Ehrich had ended their engagement. The two had gotten together in March, around the time quarantine began, and after Ehrich proposed in July in Malibu, the two shared adorable beach photos expressing their excitement.

But whatever the reason for their split, Lovato hasn’t directly weighed in — until now. Sort of. On a new single titled “Still Have Me,” Lovato sings her own praises, acknowledging that things may be “a mess” she may be “still broken,” but, as the chorus reminds, “I don’t have much but at least I still have me.”

Over an electric yet subdued piano rhythm, Lovato sings her heart out on “Still Have Me,” and whether it’s a direct response to her current situation or a retooled version of something she’s had in the works since at least 2019, it’s hard not to see it as a statement of determination, especially when she sings:

Everything around me shattered
All the highs are now just low
But it doesn’t even matter
Cause I’d rather be alone

The empowering anthem comes after “Anyone” — and its rousing premiere at the 2020 Grammys earlier this year — as well as singles “I Love Me,” “I’m Ready” (alongside Sam Smith), and the Marshmello collab “OK Not to Be OK,” a tapestry of new music pointing to Lovato’s new path along the path of perseverance and self-actualization.

Ahead of the song’s release on social media, Lovato wrote, “Music is always there for me.”

Listen to “Still Have Me” above.

Jeff Rosenstock Made His Late-Night TV Debut Look Like ‘Chaos Hell’

On Monday night (September 28), punk icon Jeff Rosenstock made his late-night TV debut by roaring through “Scram!” on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Like his indefatigably sweaty live shows, it was an energetic affair. Backed by his masked-up band, Death Rosenstock, the kinetic front-person shouted, clapped, and perspired through the three-minute rager, with Black Lives Matter written on his face covering. Bassist John DeDomenici was green-screened in, giving the rendition presence a trippy and occasionally unsettling punch. There was even a lightly subliminal message to buy his new album, No Dream. To hear Rosenstock describe it, the three-minute remote performance perfectly fit the hellish year 2020 has been.

“We live in fucking chaos hell. I want to be honest about us living in chaos hell,” Rosenstock tells MTV News.

Rosenstock has spent the past five years steadily yet forcefully emerging from the punk underground to become the voice for an anxious, exhausted crowd determined to not let them win. His 2016 and 2018 albums — Worry. and POST-, respectively — became life-affirming salves for expressing fury and weariness in the Trump era, irresistibly hooky and blistered with rage; mere days after he surprise-released No Dream in May, the country (and then the world) exploded into mass demonstrations against police brutality, vigilante violence, and racial injustice.

“Scram!” soundtracks this year, even as it dates back to the POST- era, written about “leftist anarchist types basically fucking up Lindsey Graham’s lunch.” “When Lindsey Graham was out to eat, people would go and be like, ‘Fuck you, Lindsey Graham.’ Then I was like, that’s awesome! Because these people are ruining thousands and thousands of lives with their bigotry, with their racism, with their tricks into keeping the income gap as wide as possible [and] taking advantage of the working class,” Rosenstock says. “Then the other side is basically just like, ‘If you can’t have a polite conversation with us, then we are not going to listen to you.’ It’s just like, what the fuck? Fuck you, man.”

This year, Rosenstock raised thousands of dollars through Instagram-livestream performances benefitting The Bail Project, the First Nations Development Institute, and various other progressive activist organizations across the United States. With the live-music industry shut down, Death Rosenstock’s joyously deranged ceremonies had to be scaled down to cozier solo livestreams. Jeff yelled his voice hoarse and pounded acoustic guitars. The stave diving and communal moshing were replaced by jokes and emojis in a scrolling chat. “In all of them, the thing that resonated with me was just people goofing off in the chat and people who were happy to see their friends, or people who were happy to talk to their online friends in a way that doesn’t feel permanent, like a comment on a Facebook post or an Instagram post or a Tweet or something that somebody could get back at you for,” he says.

As live music continues to be experienced through screens, livestreams, and remote performances on Seth Meyers, Rosenstock talks to MTV News about that experience, releasing a set of more mellow material as 2020 Dump, and this chaos-hell year’s potential extraterrestrial silver lining.

MTV News: This Late Night performance is going to be a way for people that don’t know you to get to know you. What does it mean to get that distinction now at this point in your career?

Jeff Rosenstock: I don’t really know what any of it means, you know what I mean? It’s just exciting. It’s cool. I know that we’re on it because Seth is a fan, which is a cool thing. It makes me feel like we got to this spot on our own, not because — this is how I imagine it all works: Somebody gives Mr. NBC $50,000 and is like, “Hey, put my band, The Motorcycles, on there,” or something like that. I don’t really know how it works. It was a pleasant surprise that it wasn’t because of anything like that, but it’s because they were just like, “Oh, no. We like your band. We like your music.” That’s a cool thing.

MTV News: It gives you a chance to introduce yourself in a certain way. How much are you thinking about that when you choose to wear a mask, first of all, and know that it’s going to be a Black Lives Matter mask, and all those considerations?

Rosenstock: To me, that seemed like the bare minimum you could do, to show awareness of … how necessary it is to hold police accountable for continuously murdering Black people. I feel like that’s the very least I could do, if I’m there, is wear a mask that I wrote “Black Lives Matter” on. I was trying to be really considerate of making it have energy, in a certain way. Just to feel alive and truthful to the moment that we’re in. I feel like I’ve seen people do things that either felt stiff or felt really solemn and reverent to the times that we are living in. I just was hoping that ours felt a little bit more chaotic and energetic.

Our bass player had to be green-screened in for it. He was like, “Well, do I have to wear a mask? Because I’m not going to be around anybody.” Our keyboard player was like, “You think we fucking wore masks because we want to wear masks? We have to wear masks. You’ve got to wear a mask. Screw you!” I think that I just wanted to be honest to what we’re living in right now. We all got tested beforehand. We all treated it in a really, really safe way, as safe as we possibly could. Then I see performances where people seem to defiantly not be doing that. I’m just like, Jesus fucking Christ, you people.

MTV News: 2020 has really given people so much time, and you’ve recorded more music. You’ve done a ton of livestreams and raised money. Has staying busy made 2020 feel a bit more bearable for you?

Rosenstock: I feel happy every time that I get to play a livestream and just get to feel like I’m communicating with people who I would usually see throughout the year. I feel very, very, very, very, very fortunate to be in a position where I can help to raise money for good causes like that. But I don’t know — I think I feel like a lot of people feel, where I wish I was getting more done. I wish I was taking all those online courses or whatever and becoming a better mix engineer. Or I wish I was learning how to build things, since I finally am not living in an apartment. In theory, I could just get a saw and build shit. But it feels really difficult to get it done because there’s just five layers of, I don’t know, neon red-level threat distractions happening all the time. That makes it kind of hard to do it, you know? It makes me happy also when Craig of the Creek episodes air that I had worked on throughout all of this. I’ve always felt lucky to be able to channel negative energy into something that feels like, at the very least, it’s creative.

MTV News: It’s been about six months of you and other artists doing those livestreams in different capacities instead of playing regular shows. What’s that experience been like?

Rosenstock: I think just because of my personality, five minutes before a livestream, I’m like, oh shit, what songs am I going to play? Oh shit, I didn’t practice any of those songs. Oh shit, I didn’t warm up. Shit, I didn’t realize it was already 6:00. Shit, shit, shit. I haven’t adjusted to being able to do them better. I think of it as a good thing. It still feels like a similar nervous energy to the first time I did it, where it was just, oh, how’s this going to go? I think that’s something that we embrace a lot in our band, when we’re playing a show: that we don’t go into it expecting that it’s going to go well.

MTV News: It’s cool to hear the more mellow material you released as 2020 Dump songs as a counterpoint to No Dream. Were you nervous about sharing that stuff at all, knowing that they’re more like demos?

Rosenstock: I tried to not treat them as demos once I knew I was going to put them out because I don’t know what’s going to happen with these songs. I don’t know if, at the end of the day, this is going to feel like, well, this was the most real representation of the song, even though it was something that I recorded at home. I was just thinking a little more about Guided By Voices or old Mountain Goats tapes or Dear Nora, just stuff that. There was a mountain of material. It wasn’t all necessarily beautifully recorded in a studio, all planned out. The way the recordings are, that’s them as they’re being written.

Nervous to put them out? I guess so. But I’m nervous to put everything out. Two of the songs that are on there were songs I was thinking about for No Dream, but never really figured out. I knew No Dream was going to be a fast record. I couldn’t find the heart in them yet. I couldn’t find where they wanted to go. It didn’t make sense in context of that. Now it’s making sense. But then it’s also — I don’t know if it feels too gloomy, or something. I don’t know. I’m thinking way too much about all of it and I’m trying to not overthink it as much, which is, I think, the point of trying to put them out in this way.

MTV News: What’s something you’re feeling optimistic about right now?

Rosenstock: I wish I had a greater, quicker answer. But I think it’s pretty exciting that throughout 2020, because of all the shit that’s been going on, they’ve just been quietly dropping all this stuff that I knew already: verifying that UFOs are real and that there’s alien life and shit.

I think that a lot more people are understanding that we’ve had the wool pulled over our eyes by the ruling class. I don’t know if that is just the bubble that I exist in. I think that the other edge of that sword is that there’s also a lot more hateful people who are just like, “Yeah, man. I don’t give a fuck about anybody.” But I’m hoping that the things that we’re learning, if we make it through, we’re actually going to be able to take stock of everything and try and treat people better. I think that the enormous show of support for protecting Black and brown lives from police officers, all over the country, all over the world; who are literally being shot at with rubber bullets, literally being gassed, being kettled in, being beaten… I think that’s a very good thing, to see people stand up against all that force, at a time where it feels like everything is just devoid of any sort of hope.

Although, what if it’s bad alien stuff? That would be the only appropriate way for this year to end — that we found out all this alien shit and surprise, surprise: They hate us, because we’ve wasted our planet. Then they kill us, and then that’s that.