2021 Grammy Winners: See The Full List

How long has it been since the 2020 Grammys? The factual answer is about 14 months, but it feels much longer, thanks to the lingering pandemic and the various challenges it’s presented in the past year. Still, the Recording Academy adapted, opening itself up even as it weathered more than a few storms. The 63rd annual ceremony tonight (March 14) will still showcase the best of the best, as far as the institution is concerned.

The lead-up showcased an impressive nine nominations for Beyoncé, with her leading the pack ahead of Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift, and Roddy Ricch, who racked up six nods each. But who took home the show’s biggest honors?

Here are the winners some of the night’s key categories. Find the full list at Grammy.com.

Record of the Year

WINNER: Billie Eilish: “Everything I Wanted”

Beyoncé: “Black Parade”

Black Pumas: “Colors”

DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch: “Rockstar”

Doja Cat: “Say So”

Dua Lipa: “Don’t Start Now”

Post Malone: “Circles”

Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé: “Savage”

Album of the Year

WINNER: Taylor Swift: Folklore

Jhené Aiko: Chilombo

Black Pumas: Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition)

Coldplay: Everyday Life

Jacob Collier: Djesse Vol.3

HAIM: Women in Music Pt. III

Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia

Post Malone: Hollywood’s Bleeding

Song of the Year

WINNER: H.E.R.: “I Can’t Breathe”

Beyoncé: “Black Parade”

Roddy Ricch: “The Box”

Taylor Swift: “Cardigan”

Post Malone: “Circles”

Dua Lipa: “Don’t Start Now”

Billie Eilish: “Everything I Wanted”

JP Saxe ft. Julia Michaels: “If the World Was Ending”

Best New Artist

WINNER: Megan Thee Stallion

Ingrid Andress

Phoebe Bridgers

Chika

Noah Cyrus

D Smoke

Doja Cat

Kaytranada

Best Pop Solo Performance

WINNER: Harry Styles: “Watermelon Sugar”

Justin Bieber: “Yummy”

Doja Cat: “Say So”

Billie Eilish: “Everything I Wanted”

Dua Lipa: “Don’t Start Now”

Taylor Swift: “Cardigan”

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

WINNER: Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande: “Rain on Me”

J Balvin, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny, Tainy: “Un Día (One Day)”

Justin Bieber ft. Quavo: “Intentions”

BTS: “Dynamite”

Taylor Swift ft. Bon Iver: “Exile”

Best Pop Vocal Album

WINNER: Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia

Justin Bieber: Changes

Lady Gaga: Chromatic

Harry Styles: Fine Line

Taylor Swift: Folklore

Best R&B Performance

WINNER: Beyoncé: “Black Parade”

Jhené Aiko ft. John Legend: “Lightning and Thunder”

Jacob Collier: “All I Need”

Brittany Howard: “Goat Head”

Emily King: “See Me”

Best R&B Song

WINNER: Robert Glasper Featuring H.E.R. & Meshell Ndegeocello: “Better Than I Imagined”

Beyoncé: “Black Parade”

Tiana Major9 & EARTHGANG: “Collide”

Chloe x Halle: “Do It”

Skip Marley & H.E.R.: “Slow Down”

Best Progressive R&B Album

WINNER: Thundercat: It Is What It Is

Jhené Aiko: Chilombo

Chloe x Halle: Ungodly Hour

The Free Nationals: Free Nationals

Robert Glasper: Fuck Yo Feelings

Best Rap Performance

WINNER: Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé: “Savage”

Big Sean: “Deep Reverence”

DaBaby: “Bop”

Jack Harlow: “What’s Poppin”

Lil Baby: “The Bigger Picture”

Pop Smoke: “Dior”

Best Melodic Rap Performance

WINNER: Anderson .Paak: “Lockdown”

DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch: “Rockstar”

Drake ft. Lil Durk: “Laugh Now Cry Later”

Roddy Ricch: “The Box”

Travis Scott: “Highest in the Room”

Best Rap Song

WINNER: Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé: “Savage”

Lil Baby: “The Bigger Picture”

Roddy Ricch: “The Box”

Drake ft. Lil Durk: “Laugh Now Cry Later”

DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch: “Rockstar”

Best Rap Album

WINNER: Nas: King’s Disease

D Smoke: Black Habits

Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist: Alfredo

Jay Electronica: A Written Testimony

Royce da 5’9″: The Allegory

Best Alternative Music Album

WINNER: Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Beck: Hyperspace

Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher

Brittany Howard: Jaime

Tame Impala: The Slow Rush

Best Latin Pop or Urban Album

WINNER: Bad Bunny: YHLQMDLG

Camilo: Por Primera Vez

Kany García: Mesa Para Dos

Ricky Martin: Pausa

Debi Nova: 3:33

Best Dance Recording

WINNER: Kaytranada ft. Kali Uchis: “10%”

Diplo & Sidepiece: “On My Mind”

Disclosure, Aminé, and Slowthai: “My High”

Flume ft. Toro y Moi: “The Difference”

Jayda G: “Both of Us”

Best Dance Album

WINNER: Kaytranada: Bubba

Arca: KiCk i

Disclosure: Energy

Baauer: Planet’s Mad

Madeon: Good Faith

Best Music Video

WINNER: Beyoncé, Saint Jhn, and Wizkid ft. Blue Ivy Carter: “Brown Skin Girl” (directors: Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Jenn Nkiru)

Future ft. Drake: “Life Is Good” (director: Julien Christian Lutz)

Anderson .Paak: “Lockdown” (director: Dave Meyers)

Harry Styles: “Adore You” (director: Dave Meyers)

Woodkid: “Goliath” (director: Yoann Lemoine)

Producer of the Year, Non-Classical

WINNER: Andrew Watt

Jack Antonoff

Dan Auerbach

Dave Cobb

Flying Lotus

Bop Shop: Songs From St. Vincent, Chika, Rosé, And More

It’s here! Finally! With her debut single, “On the Ground,” Blackpink‘s Rosé taps into her acoustic roots, but with a modern, edgy twist, perfectly balancing her two worlds. Sonically gorgeous, Rosé challenges herself on this seemingly personal anthem about the ramifications of fame, love lost, and the realization that being humble and present is the most important thing, and that “everything [she] needs is on the ground.” Accompanied by an ultra-glam music video filled with luscious florals, beautiful looks (are we surprised?), and fireworks lighting up the sky, Rosé makes her presence known, proving that she can stand out among any industry competitor. For a solo project as highly anticipated as this one, Rosé does not disappoint. Blackpink is — and I cannot stress this enough — truly in your area. —Sarina Bhutani

Aaliyah Still Sounds Like The Future

By Yasmine Shemesh

An eponymous album marks a major moment in an artist’s career. For women, owning one’s work, body, and artistry can be especially powerful, even political. Throughout Women’s History Month, MTV News is highlighting some of these iconic statements from some of the biggest artists on the globe. This is Self-Titled.

In 2000, while filming scenes in the title role for Queen of the Damned in Australia, Aaliyah finished recording her third album. It had been in the works for a couple years — she reportedly completed most of it in New York before making her on-screen debut in that year’s Romeo Must Die and releasing “Try Again” as the soundtrack’s lead single. But despite the time gap, Aaliyah’s vision for her eponymous album remained clear: to expand the boundaries of her sound.

“She told me specifically what kind of records she wanted,” singer-songwriter Tank, who wrote “I Can Be” and “What If” for Aaliyah, told the music blog YouKnowIGotSoul in 2011. “She kind of wanted a little dangerous, a little sexy, that type of thing.”

Tank, with other co-writers and producers for the album including Static Major, Bud’da, J.Dub, Key Beats, and Playa, hunkered down in Melbourne’s Sing Sing Studios for about a month. Aaliyah, who filmed her scenes as the evil vampire Queen Akasha during the day, joined them in the evenings. When the album was released on July 7, 2001, it debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. It received rave reviews: Vibe called it “the best soul album of the young millennium,” while Spin described Aaliyah as a “musicologist” who creates “meaning outside the lyrics.”

Aaliyah was a continuation of the remarkable way the artist  surpassed herself with each release. While 1994’s Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number bridged her precocious mystique with new jack swing, 1996’s One in a Million highlighted Aaliyah’s hushed tones with thumping, stuttering rhythms in collaboration with creative soul mates Missy Elliott and Timbaland. Aaliyah took all that and fused it into a sophisticated soundscape at the bleeding edge of sonic innovation.

Aaliyah’s forward-thinking musical outlook was representative of the enterprising artist she was — and the icon she so quickly became. As she developed her wide-ranging talent, her magnetic appeal flooded into other arenas: film, where she was cultivating a promising career, and fashion, where her laid-back, sensual style made her a muse for designers like Tommy Hilfiger. He even launched a whole campaign around her wearing baggy jeans with an exposed waistband and bandeau top, the success of which inspired the brand’s women’s line. Importantly, Aaliyah was an inspiration for kids coming of age everywhere who saw glimpses of themselves in her.

Considering the ingenuity of Aaliyah, it’s no wonder. The production was mind-bending, characterized by a cybernated sonic freakiness, and the way Aaliyah pulled humanity out of digitized ones and zeroes is a master class in nuance. “We were trying to do as much as we could and try to put an album together for her to be able to hear and see what she felt,” Bud’da recalled.

Aaliyah’s honeyed falsetto was more robust and urgent than ever as she explored relationship dynamics and intimacy in Timbaland’s twitchy syncopation (“We Need a Resolution,” “More Than a Woman”), desire in shimmering synthesizers (“Rock the Boat”), liberation in swelling staccato (“I Refuse”), and jealousy in glitchy, industrial chaos (“What If”).

“There are a lot of great flavors on the album,” Aaliyah said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s older, it’s edgy, it’s raw, yet it’s a little bit of fun. I want to tell people where I am as a person in my life today.”

When Aaliyah was released, nothing sounded quite like it. TLC and Destiny’s Child had played with staticky accents on Fanmail and The Writing’s on the Wall, respectively — a trend that Aaliyah herself spurred with One in a Million — but Aaliyah was avant-garde. Weirder, in an electrifying kind of way; as Vibe described: “damn near post-R&B.”

It’s still impossible to fathom what happened next. Just a month after Aaliyah was released, returning home from the Bahamas where she shot the music video for “Rock the Boat,” Aaliyah and eight other passengers lost their lives in a plane crash. She was only 22. The indelible mark she made on contemporary R&B and pop culture, at large, in such a short period of time had been so immediate: Aaliyah stretched the bounds of what R&B could sound like in a way that redefined the genre, while helping inform sonic trends of the early 2000s. Twenty years after the release of the album as well as her tragic death, the force of that impact still reverberates.

It’s not difficult to hear the direct influence Aaliyah made on the generation that followed her. Artists like Kehlani, Tinashe, Ciara, and Rihanna have taken audible cues from Aaliyah’s soft vocal phrasing and left-of-center song qualities. “We owe our chill vibe to her,” Tinashe told Billboard. “People were used to artists belting things out. She brought a new vocal styling that wasn’t represented in R&B. Not everything has to be so uptempo.” Drake is one of Aaliyah’s loudest devotees, sampling her music (“Unforgettable”), referencing her in lyrics (“BedRock”), and rapping to her previously unreleased tracks (“Enough Said”). FKA Twigs channeled Aaliyah outright in “Two Weeks,” pairing her sweet tone against anxious percussion and then paying music video homage to Queen of the Damned in full Queen Akasha regalia.

“The new generation pulls inspiration from Aaliyah, despite not growing up with her, because she was authentic,” Missy Elliott said in 2014. “Her music couldn’t be placed in a category.”

KMazur/WireImage

Indeed, perhaps the best indicator of Aaliyah’s influence is how it has extended into more unexpected musical territories like dubstep — which, bearing in mind the experimental nature of her work, isn’t all that surprising. On “In McDonalds,” electronic maestro Burial pitch-shifted Aaliyah’s “I Refuse” into a whispering siren that cut through enigmatic sparsity. James Blake sampled “Are You That Somebody?” to form the foundation of his airy post-dubstep anthem “CMYK.”

Such a sweeping compass is one reason why Aaliyah’s lack of visibility on streaming platforms feels so glaring. The majority of her catalog isn’t available on any service. Aaliyah and One in a Million can be found on YouTube; there are bootlegs floating around the internet and random songs on Spotify featured on obscure compilations like R&B Divas and Girls of Hip Hop, Vol. 1. The only Aaliyah album currently available to stream is her first, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number, which was written and produced by R. Kelly; in 2019, Kelly faced charges of bribing an Illinois official in order to procure a fake ID for the then-15-year-old Aaliyah in order to marry her. He is currently imprisoned awaiting a trail on charges of racketeering and child pornography.

Journalist Stephen Witt traces the streaming obstacle back to Aaliyah’s uncle, Barry Hankerson, who owns most of her discography through his now-defunct Blackground Records imprint and who seems unwilling to release it. There are also issues with the fact that her three albums were each distributed through different labels.

But with streaming as today’s primary avenue of musical consumption, if Aaliyah’s music isn’t accessible in our all-but-entirely digital era, younger generations who didn’t grow up with it won’t have the chance to truly discover it — no matter who cites Aaliyah as an influence or takes her fashion notes or celebrates the impact she made. As Witt writes, this runs a dangerous risk that Aaliyah will be forgotten. “Nostalgia is cyclical,” he adds, and “if Aaliyah’s catalog isn’t on the right platforms, her music could functionally cease to exist.”

Last summer, it seemed like things started moving along, albeit slowly. Aaliyah’s estate gave a statement saying communication had begun regarding the status of her music and its streaming availability. This January, another statement thanked fans for their patience and support: “We must acknowledge that these matters are not within our control and, unfortunately, take time.”

For those who loved her or still have yet to discover her, hopefully we’re a step closer to having Aaliyah’s music at our fingertips. In the meantime, her voice can still be heard in the musical landscape she helped revolutionize, as well as through the multidimensional trajectory of her legacy — to be sure, a distinction she wanted all along.

“I want people to see me as an entertainer,” Aaliyah considered in a 2001 interview with MTV News. “Someone who can do it all. I want people to look at me as a full-on entertainer.” She paused, then smiled. “And a good person.”

Can TikTok Rule The 2021 Grammys?

By Emilee Lindner

What determines a Grammy-winning tune?

Is it how many weeks a ditty spent on the Billboard Hot 100, how much money it made, or how musically endearing an anonymous group of Recording Academy voters deems it to be? Consider them all. But when it comes to declaring last year’s cream of the crop, TikTok’s impact can’t be ignored.

2020 was the year of staying inside, adopting new hobbies, scrolling for hours, and TikTok taught us new ways to move our bodies as we limbered up to the latest dance trend. As screen time soared, so did the spins on viral tracks that would eventually make our collective quarantine memorable. And they weren’t determined by record labels or radio DJs. TikTok choreographers and creators became 2020’s tastemakers, sending songs both new and old soaring up the charts, and it seems as though the Grammys are following their lead.

Sure, there have been hits boosted by internet virality before (Drake’s “In My Feelings” and the Shiggy Challenge, Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles” and the Mannequin Challenge, Katy Perry’s “Swish Swish” and the Backpack Dance). But none of these songs have won a Grammy before. The “Whip/Nae Nae” and the “Dougie” were never considered awards-bait. Will this be the year that changes that? Let’s take a look at the Grammy nominees and their TikTok come-ups.

Roddy Ricch: “The Box”

@charlidameliosorry to break it to you but i have the best manager and dad ever♬ The Box – Roddy Ricch

It’s not the title of Roddy Ricch’s “The Box” that you remember, it’s the intro: a squeaky “eee-err” voiced by Roddy himself. TikTokers turned that sound effect into a phenomenon.

The app’s golden child Charli D’Amelio posted at least six videos of slo-mo “The Box” choreography in January 2020, totalling tens of millions of views. While other dance influencers followed suit, more comedy-inclined users turned “The Box” into skits. In February, TikTokers inexplicably focused on the lyric “I’m a 2020 president candidate.”

There’s no doubt that the masses love Roddy. After all, “The Box” spent 11 weeks at No. 1. At the 2021 Grammys, it’s nominated for three prizes, including Song of the Year. But will the Recording Academy’s taste align with those of the people?

Doja Cat: “Say So”

@yodelinghaley#duet with @yodelinghaley 1 year ago today 🥰🥰 omg time flies♬ Say So – Doja Cat

Also nominated for Song of the Year is Doja Cat’s “Say So.” The disco-pop song wasn’t even released as an official single until after TikToker Haley Sharpe (a.k.a. @yodelinghaley) plucked it from Hot Pink’s B-side and hurled it to viral heights. Rightfully acknowledging TikTok’s impact, Doja remixed the song with Nicki Minaj and sent it to radio. She continued to ride the prolonged success of “Say So” throughout the end of 2020, somehow reinventing the track with each performance.

As TikTok continues to determine fan favorites faster than any focus group could, Doja’s rise coincided with the app’s. “Without this serendipitous timing, she might not have hit No. 1,” Cat Zhang wrote in Pitchfork. Without a No. 1, would Doja have caught the attention of the Recording Academy, whose pop categories almost only ever include Top 40 (and, in this year’s case, Black Pumas)? Doubt it.

Megan Thee Stallion: “Savage”

@keke.janajahNEW DANCE ALERT! 🚨 if u use my dance tag me so i can see🤗 @theestallion #writethelyrics #PlayWithLife #foyou #fyp #foryoupage #newdance #savage♬ Savage – Megan Thee Stallion

Two weeks after dropping the EP Suga, Megan Thee Stallion seemed focused on singles “B.I.T.C.H.” and “Captain Hook.” But TikTok had other plans. After user Keara Wilson’s “Savage” dance caught fire, it became clear which Suga track would come out triumphant.

Of course, TikTok heavyweights D’Amelio, Madi Monroe, and Addison Rae all had their fun with the dance challenge, as did celebrities like Keke Palmer, Tinashe, and even Megan herself. It wasn’t long until Beyoncé took notice. After Beyoncé’s remix, the song went to No. 1, and now, it’s up for Record of the Year, Best Rap Performance, and Best Rap Song.

It’s a synergetic pairing. Not only did Meg bag the collab of a lifetime, but Bey got a ride to three more Grammy nominations, making her the most-nominated artist at the Grammys this year with a total of nine.

Harry Styles: “Watermelon Sugar”

@minidoodlebentleyThere are three kinds of dogs: #TheHighNote #tiktokanimals #ratethings♬ Watermelon Sugar – Harry Styles

Harry Styles’s “Watermelon Sugar” (Grammy-nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance) was released as a promotional single back in 2019, and it took a while for it to pick up steam. Fans shared watermelon-themed photo hacks, makeup tutorials, and fruity recipe ideas. And when it was finally released with an official music video, the song blew up with summer-hungry TikTokers. It’s now Harry’s only No. 1 single. With 1.3 million documented videos using the song (hundreds of thousands of views on each), it’s hard to deny TikTok’s role in its rise — a trajectory that netted him three Grammy nods, including for Best Pop Solo Performance.

Justin Bieber: “Yummy”

@justinbieberYummyyyy♬ Yummy – Justin Bieber

The organic success of “The Box” and “Say So” is mouth-watering for most, but the formula can’t always be manufactured. When Justin Bieber released “Yummy,” his thirst for TikTok fame was all too transparent. He joined the app just to promote the song, attempting to tap into “a generation grown on highly sophisticated, multilayered internet culture” that “can detect bullshit a mile off,” according to Alexis Petridis, Ben Beaumont-Thomas, and Laura Snapes of The Guardian.

However, some fans played along, and “Yummy” soundtracked over 5 million videos. But its success on the app wasn’t user-spawned — Bieber ended up indulging in a paid Chipotle/TikTok integration, which in turn boosted a hashtag. A somewhat less overt strategy can also be pegged to Bieber’s Best Pop Solo Performance competition “Cardigan.” Around the release of Taylor Swift’s Folklore, fans couldn’t help noticing the influx of Swift merch showing up in their favorite influencers’ videos. Coincidence?

DaBaby: “Rockstar” and Dua Lipa: “Don’t Start Now”

Of course, TikTok isn’t directly responsible for the success of every hit song in the past year, but certain Grammy-nominated tracks have resonated with the app’s users. DaBaby and Roddy Ricch’s “Rockstar” (up for Record of the Year, Best Rap Song, and Best Melodic Rap Performance) has a whopping 7.1 million videos on the app, with The Rock, Kane Brown, and Got7 creating their own amped-up clips to the song.

Don’t Start Now” (competing in the Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance categories), was the first release from Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia, and it also had us dancing. Hannah Balanay’s (@thexhan) video for the song — now with 6.6 million likes and 53 million views — not only started a dance trend, but the ever-popular Fortnite promoted the TikTok dance as an “emote,” a kind of victory dance, within the game.

This all points to one thing: The connection between TikTok stardom and the Grammys gold is growing stronger. And when March 14 rolls up, we’ll see if the accolades line up with the ultimate people’s vote — a double tap on a viral vid.

BTS, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, And Everyone Else Who Will Perform At The 2021 Grammys

South Korean superstars BTS lit up the Grammys during Lil Nas X’s unforgettably star-studded “Old Town Road” medley last year. The Recording Academy revealed on Sunday (March 7) that the Bangtan Boys will be headed back for round two, set to hit the stage at the 2021 Grammys along with a host of other dynamite performers.

Though the award show typically rolls out its performer announcements gradually, the Recording Academy did things a little differently this year by announcing them all at once. The lineup is stacked, including Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, and Roddy Ricch, each of whom has six nominations. Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, Bad Bunny, DaBaby, Doja Cat, and Post Malone will also perform.

After being delayed due to coronavirus concerns, it became clear that the broadcast would not look the same as last year’s, which featured performances that literally set the stage ablaze and a red carpet packed with glittering gowns. But that includes some positives, too, with half of the scheduled 22 acts performing at the awards ceremony for the first time, including Harry Styles, Doja Cat, Haim, and Megan Thee Stallion. Though Beyoncé leads in nominations with nine in total, she is not scheduled to perform.

The 63rd Grammys will nonetheless pull off their broadcast despite the ongoing pandemic while observing safety measures. The Recording Academy stated that “artists will be coming together, while still safely apart, to play music for each other as a community and celebrate the music that unites us all.” Hosted by The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah and broadcast from the Los Angeles Convention Center, it all goes down on Sunday, March 14.

Zara Larsson Is Pop’s Poster Girl For Love

By Erica Russell

Love is the “röd tråd” — literally, “red thread,” a Swedish expression meaning throughline — on Zara Larsson’s new album. Whether it’s toxic infatuation, heartache, self-love, or the bliss of burgeoning romance, love serves as the thematic connective tissue at the heart of Poster Girl, the Swedish singer’s sophomore full-length record, out today (March 5).

“Love is this universal thing that people want to listen to and talk about and just surround themselves with, which is completely understandable,” Larsson, 23, tells MTV News. “It’s something most people can relate to emotionally. That’s what music does; it’s why we put on sad songs when we’re sad. You might think it doesn’t make sense, because it makes us even sadder, but by listening to a sad song, at least for me, I feel understood, like someone else out there is really sad, too.”

The album opens with what might be a lyrical manifesto, leaning into Larsson’s love obsession with reckless abandon: “Never thought I would love again / Here I am lost in Love Me Land.”  “I don’t think I’m never not in love,” she says, admitting that she always has a crush on someone and also quite enjoys being the object of someone else’s affection.

Earning adoration has never been much of a challenge for the multi-talented performer. At age 14, Larsson was signed to her first record label in Sweden, just four years after enchanting the public with her powerful, crystalline voice on Talang, a Swedish TV talent show. (She was only 10 when she won the 2008 season.) Not long after, she signed a contract with Epic Records in the United States. In 2017, she released what she considers her debut album, So Good, which included her hit tropical house-influenced single “Lush Life” and the sweeping Clean Bandit collaboration “Symphony.”

The Zara Larsson who debuted internationally nearly half a decade ago, when she was “still super young” and a little unsure of herself, is very different from the confident pop star she is today. “Because I had a huge label backing me, they had the money for stylists, choreographers, directors, songwriters. And it’s not that they were trying to change me, but for a really long time I felt like I was working for those people. I’m a people pleaser, so I just wanted everyone to be happy. … I had to remind myself that if I want to be authentic, I need to voice my opinions. And I have lots of opinions.”

Another thing that’s changed for Larsson is how she sees herself as an artist. She reveals that when she first started out, she wasn’t “really a songwriting girl, sitting on [her] bed writing poems or lyrics on [her] guitar.” Instead, she focused on mastering her persona and presence as an entertainer: “I would stand in front of my mirror and sing into a fake mic and tell my fake crowd, ‘I can’t hear you! Sing it louder!’”

The older she gets, however, the more Larsson wants to be involved with every facet of her music, hence her songwriting credits on early Poster Girl tracks like “Love Me Land” and “Look What You’ve Done.” She re-recorded nearly every song on the record “two, three, even four or five times” just to get the sound right. “I wanted it to be as good as possible, I’m never really satisfied,” she says. While some lyrics came easily, challenging discourse was sparked during the writing session for “What Happens Here.”

The song about female sexual liberation marks one of the more politically charged moments on the album, as it tackles the sexist societal double standards girls and boys face when it comes to being sexually active, as well as the loaded language embedded in concepts like “giving yourself away.” “I feel like girls think that they’re giving something up when they have sex,” Larsson says. “It’s like, ‘I’m giving you my pussy,’ or ‘I’m letting you have [this part of me],’ and to me, that doesn’t make sense because sex is something that you both participate in. It’s not something that someone can [consensually] take from you.”

The song was inspired by an experience Larsson had with her first-ever boyfriend, back when she was in school. He told her he wouldn’t tell anyone if they had sex, prompting confusion.  “I get that he was trying to be nice, but the core of that is a problem, because whatever I do, I do because I want to do it. If I’m a ‘ho,’ then you’re a ‘ho,’ because we just did the same thing. But as I got older, I realized that the world doesn’t look at it like that. I don’t agree with that.”

Larsson’s feminist perspective (the singer is passionate and outspoken about women’s rights, as well as LGBTQIA+ issues and racial injustice) is splashed across the artwork for Poster Girl. The cover sees Larsson lounging dreamily in a neon-pink bedroom, a glamorous poster of herself pinned up on the wall over her shoulder. It’s a poignant statement of both self-actualization and self-love — a young woman embracing her own power, success, and destiny, in spite of our culture’s insistence that women’s self-admiration is vain or vapid.

Poster Girl was technically finished at the beginning of 2020, but the pandemic caused Larsson and her team to hold off releasing the record, optimistically thinking things would be “back to normal” by last summer. Larsson adjusted to operating remotely and with a much smaller crew in tow, shooting a more “minimalistic” treatment of the “Love Me Land” music video with Vivi Huuska, a director who worked virtually from Finland. (“She looked like Plankton’s wife, Karen, from SpongeBob — just a little face on an iPad,” Larsson shares.)

Like many people, Larsson grappled with the stillness and isolation of quarantine, a struggle amplified by her typically active, travel-heavy schedule as an artist. “I just sat on my couch for all of 2020. It was really cozy the first week but after a while I was like, ‘What’s my purpose?’ I was a little lost in the sauce.” That aimlessness made Larsson realize just how inseparable she’d become with her identity as a musician: “I think a lot of people who work in entertainment went through that. You associate yourself with your work. I thought I was going to be creative and write songs and start producing in quarantine, but I didn’t do that. And then I felt guilty about not doing it.” Larsson’s sister, Hanna, was eventually able to drag the singer out of bed. “She’d be like, ‘Go on a walk!’ I didn’t have anything to do and I really needed a routine.”

Larsson studied at the Royal Swedish Ballet School in Stockholm when she was younger, an experience she credits with helping her develop a sense of discipline. “When you start off doing ballet by the bar, you do the exact same exercises over and over and over again. The only thing that really changes is you add some extra steps. When you’re just starting off, you can’t do ‘Swan Lake’ right away. I learned that you gotta be disciplined and you gotta do the repetitions to be good at something.”

Her command of dance school-learned “body control” is on full display in the music video for latest single “All About Love.” In the clip, Larsson and her real-life boyfriend, Swedish-American dancer Lamin Holmén, perform a mesmerizing dance as Larsson sings about not wanting to ruin the moment by talking about their feelings. The couple’s chemistry is kinetic, bursting offscreen through intricate choreography as the pair entwine and move around each other, ebbing and flowing between moments of tender intimacy and explosive, fiery passion — a visual metaphor, no doubt, for the butterflies-in-your-stomach stage of falling in love.

“I love to dance at my shows, but now we don’t have shows,” she says. “So I was like, ‘You know what? I’ll put [dance] in my ‘Love Me Land’ and ‘Talk About Love’ videos, so people can still see that.” Above all else, Larsson considers herself a performer and, with a handful of European shows already scheduled for the summer months ahead, she’s looking forward to getting onstage and in front of her fans once again. In the meantime, there’s Poster Girl. “Even if only two people bought [my new] album, I’d be like, ‘Good for you,’ because it’s a great fucking album. I can’t believe I’ve been in the industry this long and I’m just coming out with my second album, but I’m really proud of it.”

Bop Shop: Songs From Japanese Breakfast, Tinashe, Ava Max, And More

After suffering a family tragedy in 2019, Wild Belle singer Natalie Bergman retreated to a monastery in New Mexico’s Chama Valley, spending weeks in silence. Bergman’s stay there inspired her upcoming solo debut album, Mercy , including the latest single, “Shine Your Light on Me.” The hypnotic hymn wraps around you like a warm desert wind, serving as a psychedelic prayer for a more hopeful future. “I’ve been lost in the desert, won’t you lead me to green pastures?” Bergman sings, asking a higher power for help during dark times — something I think we can all relate to after this past year. —Chris Rudolph

Jesswar Transformed Her Anger At Being Overlooked Into ‘Venom’

By Sam Manzella

From the very first verse of Jesswar’s “Venom,” we know she didn’t come to play. The rising Fijian-Aussie rapper lets the poison flow, pairing fierce beats with slick rhymes that extol her excellence. But this unapologetic self-assuredness didn’t always come so easily. Zooming with MTV News from her new digs on scenic Yugambeh/Kombumerri land, Jesswar recalls her first foray into making and performing music as a 16-year-old living in Brisbane. “It started as me working through my own problems with music,” she says. “And then I just started playing with some bands. I was fully not confident at all. It took me a while to get up and even talk in front of people.”

Those early years of practice served Jesswar well. Today, her charisma and confidence are contagious, even through a computer screen from halfway around the world. She’s proudly claimed space for herself, a Pasifika woman of color, in a scene still dominated by men, fashioning the anger she felt at being patronized by her male peers and industry gatekeepers into her bop-filled debut EP, Tropixx, out today (March 5). MTV News caught up with Jesswar to talk about honoring her heritage, including members of her community in her music videos, and finally putting her years-in-the-making EP out into the world.

MTV News: You’re Fijian-Australian, and I know you’re super proud of your heritage. What does being Fijian mean to you?

Jesswar: It’s my identity. It’s in my blood; it’s in my bones. I always want to represent my culture no matter what, especially living here in Australia. It gives me strength, and I feel proud of it. As I go on in life, I never want to feel ashamed of who I am. So [being Fijian] influences a lot of my day-to-day life, my personal life, my music and art, and just who I am as a person.

MTV News: Were you raised in Fiji, or did you grow up in Australia?

Jesswar: I spent most of my life here in Australia, so I haven’t been back to Fiji in quite a while. At times, I do feel far away from my culture. That’s why I always want to represent it. It’s in my blood, so I never want to forget it, and I want to show other Pasifika artists or Pacific Islanders that you can be proud of your culture.

MTV News: What’s the hip-hop scene like in Australia?

Jesswar: It’s growing and changing, especially in the South Pacific and Asia Pacific. I feel like it started out small and it’s just sort of getting its legs. There’s a lot more people who are diverse and people of color working in the industry. It’s changed a lot from a year ago to 10 years ago. And now, you’re seeing artists even have the chance to take their craft internationally as well, which is really beautiful. The scene is male-dominated, but there are some amazing female rappers there. Tkay Maidza, Sophiegrophy — there are so many.

MTV News: Your new EP, Tropixx, was three years in the making. How are you feeling about releasing it into the world?

Jesswar: It was such a personal experience. So it’s interesting to see it be so public as well, but it feels good. I’m trying to get used to the way it is — releasing music again, that schedule. I was living a quieter, more undercover life before this. But it feels good because I’ve held on to these songs for so long. Three years? That’s wild. I just can’t wait to release the next project after this because I’ve listened to these songs all thousands of times.

James Hornsby and Georgia Wallace

MTV News: Is it strange promoting new music in a pandemic? I’m not sure what it’s like right now in Australia, but in New York, in-person concerts are basically nonexistent.

Jesswar: It’s very strange. We played this one show where squares are painted on the floor. And the security guard sort of briefed me, like, “If anyone goes outside of the square, you sort of have to stop them or the show gets shut down.” But in some places like New Zealand, they’re having complete, full-on music festivals. Like, thousands of people.

MTV News: Your first single, “Savage,” dropped in 2017. How has your sound changed since then?

Jesswar: Even outside of music, I’ve evolved so much. With your artistry, how you are in that moment of time definitely influences the music. When I released that song in 2017, I had no plans to [make a music video]. I was just going to put it on SoundCloud. It was a song that we played at our pre-games, you know? It was pretty amazing how I got approached to make a video clip for that and put it online. I listen to it now and I just sound… I don’t know. I feel like I was really cheeky. You can definitely tell I had a lot more years in me to grow and evolve and get better at my craft. I feel like in “Savage,” I was saying punchlines just to be cheeky because I could.

MTV News: You previously said that writing “Venom,” a single off Tropixx, was self-care for you. Can you tell me more about that?

Jesswar: While writing this project, I was going through a pretty rough time personally in my life. I was being overlooked and talked down to a lot. So writing this project was a complete retaliation to that treatment. I feel like through that anger and rage, I found a calmness. Now I can look back on that and be like, oh, I’m really glad I got that [anger] out.

MTV News: It’s so interesting, writing about anger as a woman. The world doesn’t want you to express your anger.

Jesswar: One-hundred percent. But it feels so good! Everything I say in that song is a timestamp for me at that moment in my life. Sometimes I can listen to a song, and I’ll go back to exactly where I was living, what I was wearing — I remember all that. But I think it’s good to remember that because now, I feel much more calm and much more steady in my life.

MTV News: What about “Medusa”? The visuals for that song in particular are stunning.

Jesswar: “Medusa” was written in that same sort of vein as “Venom,” and the video was made in that sense as well. Except when I was making “Medusa,” there were so many powerful women around me — and there still are — who I was watching just absolutely kill it with success. We had heaps of people from my community come through [for the music video]. We hand-painted all the jackets and all the jewelry. We were just trying to make do with what we had. And some of those women I’ve known since I was in high school. That was where I got a lot of my inspiration from, too. Maybe not so much from people who are famous, but more so people who I know in my day-to-day life. And seeing that really inspired me because I was like, “I can do this, too.” I made the song for us in a way, and the video as well.

Watch Miley Cyrus Bring Her Raw Power To The Super Bowl Tailgate

Over the past few years, Miley Cyrus has established herself as a queen of covers. No one else in the mainstream pop realm has done what she has, reclaiming her energy through the lens of the past and making it new. On Plastic Hearts, that meant including her takes on “Zombie” and “Heart of Glass” as well as invited Billy Idol and Joan Jett to sing with her.

On Sunday (February 7) ahead of Super Bowl LV, Miley once again cemented her status, bringing out Idol for a super-charged “Night Crawling” in front of a vaccinated crowd of 7,500 frontline workers. As part of the TikTok Tailgate party ahead of the kickoff, Miley and Idol naturally segued into Idol’s own “White Wedding” in the sunshine of Tampa, Florida.

Cyrus brought her spirit via her cheerleader outfit, a look she teased on Instagram in the lead-up to the pregame celebration. “Been working my ass off on this set list! I think you’re gonna DIG IT! ☠️,” she wrote in the caption.

That lengthy setlist included plenty of Plastic Hearts cuts and — of course — several covers. She kicked off with Toni Basil’s “Mickey” (fitting given her outfit) and also belted out cuts from Dolly Parton and Nine Inch Nails, alongside her 2018 Mark Ronson collab “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart.”

By the time she wrapped, she’d also welcomed another guest to the stage — Jett herself, who sang with Cyrus on “Bad Reputation” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” in addition to their Plastic Hearts team-up, “Bad Karma.” Cyrus finished by covering Bikini Kill and even bringing it back to 2013 with “We Can’t Stop.” All this, and she can still absolutely nail a tune from Hole or Chris Cornell when called upon, too. What can’t Miley sing?

Check out Miley’s performances and get ready for the Super Bowl halftime show later tonight, featuring a sure-to-be-dynamic performance from The Weeknd.

Cardi B Gets It ‘Up’ In Supremely Sexy New Video

2020 is dead, long live 2021! Cardi B dropped her latest music video for her new single “Up” at midnight on Friday (February 5), and with it, a eulogy for a bum year. The follow-up to the record-breaking smash collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion, “WAP“, which released seven months prior in August, she’s put the past behind her and is looking toward the sky — or at least toward an album release, set to arrive in the coming months.

“Up” is a bumping bop that riffs from the catchy refrain: “If it’s up, then it’s up, then it’s up, then it’s stuck.” The video kicks off with Cardi twerking in a graveyard over a crypt marked “R.I.P. 2020” in full, chandelier crystal-encrusted funeral attire, complete with a fishnet veil and signature red-bottom shoes. From there, the visuals whip through a dizzying montage of sex and glamour. At one moment, Cardi’s ghost-riding as the blinged-out trophy on the hood of a Bentley. In another scene, she’s whipping out a vibrator in a pearly, all-girl ménage à trois inside the mouth of an oyster. In Cardi’s quintessentially provocative fashion, there are some truly mind-boggling WTF moments, too: Are those barbie doll heads really singing from inside her curls?

Ahead of the video’s release, Cardi said in a YouTube livestream, that she hoped the song would sound more “hood” than previous releases. “I wanted to do something more gangsta, more cocky,” she said, per Rolling Stone. And things are already looking for the rapper this year: In just hours after its release, the “Up” video had already topped 3 million streams on YouTube alone.