Hilary Duff

Will You Save Us, Hilary Duff?

As Hilary, as Lizzie, as Isabella...it doesn't matter who.

The Earth is on fire. Society has never been more polarized, as corrupt, self-serving political leaders drag us down a disgraceful path to irreversible ruin at breakneck speed. And Lizzie McGuire is officially getting a reboot on Disney+.

Life is a mixed bag, you know?

On Friday evening (August 23), news broke at Disney Plus's D23 Expo event that Hilary Erhard Duff will reprise her role as the titular Lizzie McGuire in a reboot of the original 2001-2004 Disney Channel series, Lizzie McGuire.

But this time, she's older and wiser.

"Lizzie has also grown up, she’s older, she’s wiser," Hilary declared at the event.

"She has a much bigger shoe budget. She has her dream job, the perfect life right now working as an apprentice to a fancy New York City decorator," adding that she also has “the perfect man, who owns a fancy restaurant. She’s getting ready to celebrate her 30th birthday.”

It sounds like Younger basically, although I haven't actually seen Younger. Or maybe a sexless Sex & The City. I'm just assuming.

Regardless! What this news actually means for us - aside from, yes, a brand new series to look forward to - is that Hilary will be thrust back into the spotlight with a role that not only provided us with The Lizzie McGuire Movie's signature song "What Dreams Are Made Of," but also served as the vehicle for her career as a Princess of Pop, beginning with 2002's chart-bottoming Santa Claus Lane all the way up to 2015's still better-than-you-remember Breathe In. Breathe Out., which possibly-maybe inspires Taylor Swift to this day. And, let us never forget, 2007's Dignity - otherwise known as baby Blackout.

As any Little Duffster would know, Hilary basically all but abandoned us after the short-lived success of Breathe In. Breathe Out. to pursue her acting dreams further with her successful TV Land series, as well as a brief, horrifying lapse in taste and judgment. She also got engaged...to her Breathe In. Breathe Out. collaborator Matthew Koma, which I can only assume was done specifically to taunt us.

Naturally, Hilary was hounded with questions about new music following the announcement. And, in typical Duff fashion, she swerved...hard. She didn't say yes. But she also didn't say no.

"I don't know. We haven't gone that far yet, but nothing's off the table...it could happen. Isabella could pop her wig on and come back into her life, I don't know," she gingerly tip-toed around the question with a smile.

It's hard to choose optimism in these trying times. But maybe, just maybe, this is the moment: maybe the nostalgia of being back at home at the Disney studios, and the wig department, and the good will and excitable fanfare surrounding this announcement, will reignite the sparks (REFERENCE) and remind her that it is her calling - nay, her destiny - to be a Main Pop Girl and Make Pop Great Again.

At least one soundtrack contribution? The theme song? Something?! Why not...take a crazy chance?

Hey now, hey now: this, if I remember correctly, is what dreams are made of.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVFe9GVwQPE

Photo credit: RCA Records


Lana Del Rey The Greatest Music Video

'Fuck It I Love You' & 'The Greatest' Video: Lana Del Rey Signs Off for Summer (And Maybe Forever)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrSX_OcpeJg&feature=youtu.be

And if this is it, she's had a ball.

Sorry, #HotGirlSummer: Sad Girl Fall is rapidly approaching.

Lana Del Rey might currently inhabit our world, but it doesn't feel like she actually belongs in it, like a depressed poet-turned-time-traveler with winged eyeliner who accidentally twirled her way into 2019.

And while there's always a heavy dose of nostalgia in her music - it's one of the signature characteristics of a Lana Del Record, like lyrical references to California, beaches, dresses and bad babies - there's a heavy sense of finality to the latest offerings from Norman Fucking Rockwell: "Fuck It I Love You" and, more specifically, "The Greatest," out on Thursday (August 22).

The first song was co-produced by Jack Antonoff, as well as collaborators Andrew Watt and Louis Bell, who've worked with everyone from Post Malone to Rita Ora. It's the trippier of the two, gliding across dreary guitars and tripping drums in the stormy vein of Ultraviolence (and some space-age Honeymoon vibes too), as she reminisces about her substance-fueled origin story and breathily longs for her lover.

"I like to light up the stage with a song / Do shit to keep me turned on / But one day I woke up like 'maybe I'll do it differently' / So I moved to California‚ but it's just a state of mind / It turns out everywhere you go‚ you take yourself‚ that's not a lie," Lana solemnly reflects. Basically, you can take the girl out of New York, but...

"And if I wasn't so fucked up, I think I'd fuck you all the time." Is there a more delightfully Lana Del Lyric than this? How has she managed to consistently keep her foot on my neck lyrically for the past near decade? That's just begging to be a selfie caption in the near future.

Oh, and speaking of selfies: Lana's had a lot of fun in this modern world - the culture is #lit, as you know - but she's burned out and signing off, after all.

Co-written solely with Jack, "The Greatest" is an immediate new favorite in her discography, as romantic and cinematic as the stuff of her debut, but less starry-eyed and vastly more worldweary than the girl she used to be.

This is the ultimate disillusionment anthem, essentially.

Ever the listless drifter, Lana wistfully looks back at the lives she lived before all this - back to New York, back with her friends, back at the bar where the Beach Boys would go. It's kind of the death knell of the pre-social media generation: "Me and my friends‚ we miss rock 'n' roll / I want shit to feel just like it used to," she murmurs.

"I'm facing the greatest / The greatest loss of them all..."

In the song's final moments, she rattles through just some of the insanity of the current State of Things: "Oh, I just missed a fireball / L.A. is in flames‚ it's getting hot / Kanye West is blond and gone / 'Life on Mars' ain't just a song / Oh, the livestream's almost on," she deadpans, alluding to social media oversaturation, David Bowie's ode to daydreaming about less depressing life elsewhere, delusional idol worship and global warming all in one go.

There's plenty more wrong with this country (she addressed gun violence on the fly one week before with "Looking For America"), and you can dwell further on that, or just surrender to getting lost in the song's beautiful piano outro instead. (I suggest the latter, personally.)

A glass half full outlook? Perhaps not - not nearly as much as parts of 2017's socially conscious Lust for Life like "Get Free," anyway. I've never turned to her music for a sunny outlook, anyway. And yet, there she is, all smiles throughout the slightly surreal, slightly campy Rich Lee-directed double video for the two Norman Fucking Rockwell songs.

Is she signing off, for real? Hopefully not. It's doubtful, anyway. She's threatened to do as much in the past. But if this is it, she'd be logging out on a high note.

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Cascada Like The Way I Do

'Like the Way I Do': Cascada Returns to Rescue the Dance Floor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_sfIM0Y9mA

Cascada, the legendary "Everytime We Touch" troupe, is back.

When it comes to German chart-toppers stateside, there are, admittedly, not many that spring to mind. But that barely matters when there's one iconic dance trio that has allowed the nation to dominate on dance floors across the world for well over a decade. Of course, we're talking about Cascada.

Not every Eurodance act has a hit that epitomizes an era, but "Everytime We Touch" - it's a Pop Excellence fact that "every time" must be spelled as one word, just ask Britney - is exactly that: give it a listen, and you'll be transported right back to 2006. Maybe right after you discovered Kelly Osbourne's "One Word" - what a moment we're currently having for mid-'00s electro-pop justice.

If you're cultured, you'll already know that Cascada are far from one-hit wonders: they smashed again stateside years later with that "What Hurts the Most" cover, the heavily Lady Gaga-inspired "Evacuate the Dancefloor" and "Pyromania," and even represented Germany at Eurovision in 2013 with "Glorious."

Granted, their output has slowed considerably to about a single per year - but they've made it clear they're not going anywhere.

Case in point: Natalie Horler and company returned to us on Friday (August 16) with a brand new single, called "Like the Way I Do." And, in keeping with almost all things Cascada, they've only gone and done it again.

One of the genuinely impressive traits of the trio is that their sound has managed to shape-shift along with the musical soundscape at the moment, always sounding reliably on-trend - and then usually driving that sound into the ground. The cover art and music videos? Maybe not quite as impressive. But Queen Natalie still makes the most of a $15 budget, a fashion hat and a furry couch.

"Like the Way I Do" sounds nothing like "Everytime We Touch," nor is it much of a stretch to imagine it shuffled into any of the current Spotify Dance/House playlists. Natalie's voice also sounds as excellent as always, and the lyrics are deceivingly wistful - always a plus when it comes to a dance floor anthem.

We'd evacuated the dance floor for so long, we barely remembered why we were there in the first place. Thank you for returning to us, Cascada.

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Ava Max Torn

'Torn': Ava Max Has Another Dance-Pop Hit on Her Hands

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPyQRtd7hNU

Should Ava Max stay or should she go?

From her global chart-dominating 2018 breakout smash hit "Sweet But Psycho," to that half-bob hairdo, to her latest release, one thing is becoming abundantly clear: Miss Ava Max is one conflicted rising pop princess.

That said, it's working out for her.

With "Torn," her latest single released on Monday (August 19), Ava's delivered a winning disco-inspired anthem dedicated to the Great Angst of Indecision.

Equipped with a brief synth flourish unquestionably reminiscent of ABBA's iconic "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)," as sampled in Madonna's equally iconic Confessions On A Dance Floor anthem "Hung Up," the Cirkut-produced track serves up all the drama of a properly good pop song ("You set the rain on fire / I wish the lows were higher / Wish I could stop, stop, stop to save me") and, mercifully, a chorus.

Yes: a real chorus - a sing-along earworm ("Oh no!") - in the middle of this pop drought.

“Love and hate are two of the strongest emotions we feel in relationships. ‘Torn’ explores the struggle between them that everyone can relate to. I’m so excited to share my new single with the world! Keep your eyes peeled for the video coming soon," Ava says of the new song.

Give "Torn" a spin, then give it another: the only thing you won't be, ironically, is torn.

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Photo Credit: Atlantic Records / Lauren Dunn


Normani Motivation

'Motivation': Normani Provides Hope for the New Generation of Pop Stars

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKXSh14svlQ

Finally, the promise of a new pop supreme.

Just last week, I was leaning heavy into my Bitter Aging Gay feelings and bemoaning the demise of the Pop Spectacle - apart from a rare handful of standouts and rising stars, obviously.

Throw down your swords and shady tweets, because it doesn't matter where your allegiance(s) lies: Britney, Gaga, Beyonce, Rihanna, Madonna, Janet, whatever - we can still come together and agree they've all served up larger-than-life, genuinely iconic pop culture moments, which now feel unbelievably few and far between in a sea of #NewMusicFriday, Spotify algorithm-oriented sameness.

Normani has arrived, and she's providing a glimmer of hope for that Main Pop Girl glory of yesteryear.

Following a string of successful collaborations over the past year with acts like Khalid ("Love Lies") and Sam Smith ("Dancing With A Stranger") after breaking free from Fifth (Fourth) Harmony, "Motivation" is Normani's first actual, real solo moment, out on Friday (August 16) - and it does, in fact, feel like a moment. In 2019. Imagine.

More than the song (which we'll get into), the "Motivation" music video is a fiercely confident first statement - a defiant "I'm here, you bitches," while paying homage to the (now vintage) days of early '00s pop. Bey, Brit, J.Lo - you can feel their energy permeating throughout the video, directed by Dave Meyers, a music industry titan who's worked with almost all of our faves.

From the 106 & Park video premiere fantasy opening, to that "Crazy In Love"-esque opening strut, to the "...Baby One More Time"-meets-"Outrageous"-slash-Rolling Stone '99 shoot and "I'm Real" street/basketball court scenes (and that rain-drenched breakdown, of course, is clearly a nod to Legendtina's ahead-of-its-time "Not Myself Tonight"), Normani delivers a thrilling, genuinely impressive burst of choreography (praise be), showcasing her superb talent as a dancer while also providing a glorious tribute to the girls we idolize.

There are at least two memorably incredible moves in particular: That basketball butt bump? The cock-destroying split in the rain?

Normani Basketball GIF

Yes, and yes.

Normani Split GIF

The song itself is a fun and flirty, break-you-off bedroom romp, thematically similar to fellow girl group member-turned-solo star Kelandria Rowlegendary's own song of the same name from 2011. Oh, you didn't think this lifelong Rowland Stone would forget a K.Row reference, did you?

The track was produced by Ilya and co-written by her sweetener tour sis Ariana Grande, which would explain the Ari-ness of it all - and also co-written by Savan Kotecha and the Pop God himself, Max Martin.

I wouldn't say it's quite as massively hook-heavy and scream-singalong-worthy as I might have initially hoped coming from the likes of Max & Co. - but it does get increasingly better with each listen. More importantly - because this culture is visual-dominated, after all - the stellar music video thoroughly sells the song.

As she's already proven in the years leading up to this moment, especially with her awards show performances, Normani is unquestionably a star. That this is only the beginning for her is an incredibly exciting prospect at a time when pop's future was starting to feel a bit bleak.

Get on Normani's level, everybody else.

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Photo Credit: Dennis Leupold


Britney Spears Robyn Piece Of Me Demo

Robyn's Demo of Britney's 'Piece of Me' Surfaces Over a Decade Later

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB-GktiMtZ4

Fun year to be a Britney Spears fan, right? So much fun. What a wonderful year for everybody all around. Are you having fun? Same. Definitely.

Uh, anyway.

Since basically nothing about the present is particularly joyous, despite B-Girl's own recent sage words of advice - live in the moment, baby - let's throw it back and dwell on the past instead...which is basically what Britney fans have been doing anyway for the past 1,000+ days since her last studio album, 2016's Glory. (Some even launched a podcast dedicated to everything she's done up until this year - I heard it was pretty good.)

Many (man on the) moons ago, in the year 2007, Britney released a really cool, indie, under-the-radar (REFERENCE) chilly dance record called Blackout at the height of paparazzi fever, during an era Britney scholars loosely refer to as "Rebellionney." (The formal name, of course, being the "rebellion-snippet.mp3" era.)

The world watched, and largely mocked, a once top-of-the-pops princess for her up-and-down (and-up-and-down-and-up-and...) lifestyle, marked by increasingly erratic behavior in the public eye - a Vegas "joke" wedding, an unglamorous, occasionally unflattering UPN reality TV show, two children, club nights with Paris Hilton, a divorce, late night drives to nowhere, British accents, lighters, barefoot gas station sprees, the M&Ms Tour, upskirt shots, a head shave, tattoos, an umbrella attack, photo shoot meltdowns, rehab, streams of consciousness, Remembrances of Who She Is, going to the light and seeing Jesus, and everything in between.

We've seen and heard all that, and - unless you're one of the teens with a Twitter account just joining us on this journey - we all lived through that, too. (Have a listen to the "2007" episode of It's Britney, Bitch! while you're at it for a refresher, anyway.)

At the time, Britney bit back with a still-fierce, still-relevant electro-pop anthem called "Piece Of Me," a musical middle finger to the tabloids, and the public, for criticizing her appearance and her behavior.

What we didn't have until this very moment was the bare bones of the track: the demo, produced by Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg (otherwise known as Bloodshy & Avant) and Klas Ahlund, featuring the Honey-ed guide vocals by none other than the legendary Queen of Swede-Pop herself, Robyn.

While any stan worth their weight in French-only "Anticipating" CD singles knows that Robyn can clearly be heard in the heavily manipulated chorus of the song as-is, we'd never heard the much-rumored Robyn version of the song...until now.

Likely due to the Indefinite Work Hiatus drought, Robyn's "Piece of Me" demo surfaced on Tuesday (August 13).

There aren't any lyrical or vocal surprises to be found here: it's Robyn delivering reliably Robyn-esque vocals for a song which feels like a cross between Robyn's own ahead-of-its-time 2005 record Robyn and the early DNA of what would become her own 2010 opus Body Talk, especially the sassiest of songs, like "Fembot" and "Criminal Intent." At the same time, it's clear that "Piece of Me" was never meant for Robyn: the Britney-related lyrics remain untouched in the demo, including "Oh my God, that Britney's shameless." (She also didn't write the song.)

While the odds of new Britney anything in the next God-knows-how-long seem slim to say the least (nor am I expecting to hear anything from her soon...or possibly ever again, honestly), hearing how "Piece of Me" sounded at its starting point in Sweden before being given the Britney treatment and polished to perfection is still enough of a nostalgic thrill.

Photo credit: Clare Shilland / RCA Records


Kelly Osbourne One Word

Kelly Osbourne's 'One Word' Is Finally on Streaming

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXctSjshB1M

The year was 2005: Mimi was emancipating herself, Gwen Stefani was dressed as a cheerleader teaching the world how to spell "bananas," Kelly Clarkson was leading the pop-rock revolution and so moving on, Lindsay Lohan was feuding with Hilary Duff over Aaron Carter and then with Ashlee Simpson over Wilmer Valderrama, and Britney Spears was beginning to go rogue and have a baby. (For more on that, listen to the "2005" episode of the critically acclaimed It's Britney, Bitch! podcast.)

At the same time, Kelly Osbourne - she of Ozzy and Sharon, mortal enemy of Christina Aguilera, and star of MTV's The Osbournes, which was just closing out a successfully insane three-year run - was making music. Again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdTQmRhYFIg

Kelly's solo endeavors kicked off with her critically "meh"-ed 2002 pop-punk debut Shut Up. The album was re-released a year later as Changes, including her cover of Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach," as memorably performed live at the MTV Movie Awards with that Nikki McKibbin-esque scene haircut, and her mother Sharon displaying the entire spectrum of emotions in the audience.

The album largely tanked, she got dropped, she signed to a new label, and opted to veer into New Wave, dance-rock territory alongside Linda Perry with her underrated follow-up, 2005's Sleeping In The Nothing.

The world generally remained unreceptive to Kelly and her brand of bratty 'tude, however. The album made slightly even less of a dent than the first, peaking at No. 117 on the Billboard 200 after selling less than 9,000 copies. (Sure, that's not too bad in 2019 standards, but back then, people actually paid for albums. I'll tell you kids all about it one day.)

The subject matter on Sleeping was often dark ("Don't Touch Me While I'm Sleeping," for instance, was about being a victim of date rape) if a blatant cry for help ("Save Me"), although at the height of paparazzi culture and her status as the offspring of rock royalty, none of her issues were taken too seriously by the press. She bounced in and out of rehab for drug and alcohol abuse, and frequently relapsed.

“I drank, I was rude, I said I’d do something and wouldn’t show up. I did what I could to destroy it," she said of sabotaging her own music career in 2009.

We sometimes forget how far society's evolved along as far as what is deemed acceptable to say to another human being: during an appearance on Jonathan Ross that year to promote the album, the host told Kelly that her cover art must have been airbrushed...because she was fat.

"The band that was performing was New Order and they refused to play until he apologized. A lot of it wasn't shown on TV because if they saw what he really said to me, I don't think any parent in the world would ever watch his show again. What he said to me destroyed me for two years," she revealed years later to The Guardian.

In any case, to no one's surprise, in a storm of disappointing sales, rehab and unfavorable press - Kelly was dropped again, and only one single ever came out of her final album to date. That one release also just happens to be...unexpectedly perfect.

"One Word," written and produced by the "Beautiful" legend herself Linda Perry, was treated about as well as the rest of the album when it was released in April of 2005, stalling at an abysmal No. 121 in the United States. (It sounds better to say No. 21 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles Chart, though.) But then, American radio's taste level is rarely on point. The U.K. got it right of course, sending it into the Top 10.

As of this week, "One Word" (and Kelly's entire discography, for that matter) is now available on streaming.

The opening of the song alone is pure drama: the strings, followed by a whoosh of drum hits, French dialogue and '80's-style, Depeche Mode-y synths. Or should I say Visage?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMPR6Ujop4k

"One Word" was quickly accompanied by four more words: "see you in court."

After facing criticism for sounding too similar to the British synth-pop band's 1980 international hit "Fade to Grey," her team eventually forked over royalty rights in a reported out-of-court settlement. If you haven't heard the Visage song, listen to it- this isn't like one of those recent "Dark Horse" bogus copyright lawsuits. Kelly's team was...inspired to say the least, even if I vastly prefer her version.

Beyond the hypnotic (borrowed) sound, it's that monotone delivery and those yearning lyrics - "it's not the way that I want it, it's just the way that I need it, daaaay after daaaay..." - that seals the deal on this detached dance floor odyssey, especially coming from someone known for showcasing anything but restraint in the public eye.

The video is an artsy-fartsy noir feat as well, inspired by 1965's Alphaville by Jean-Luc Godard and directed by the prolific Chris Applebaum, who's directed everything from "Overprotected (Darkchild Remix)" for Britney to Rihanna's "Umbrella."

Life is a mystery, as is this super moody music video, which dives deep into a world of Twilight Zone-y '60's sci-fi, models, strange sets of numbers and shady scientists. It only barely makes sense, and feels a bit too try-hard sophisticated, but those scenes of her sitting in the backseat of that car, as well as that strut down the hallway in that coat flanked by mystery men, stay seared into my brain, nearly 15 years later.

I'm not saying the musical oeuvre of Kelly Osbourne singlehandedly inspired the forthcoming MySpace electro-pop revolution of the mid-to-late aughts, nor did her monotone delivery lend itself to today's overload of breathy half-octave #NewMusicFriday chanteuses, nor did the '60s imagery trigger the retro-pop revival that happened a few years later with acts like Duffy, Amy Winehouse and Adele - but it is cool to consider that she was just slightly ahead of the curve in some respects.

Well before Lady Gaga took a ride on her disco stick, and before Selena Gomezmerizing ASMR-ed her way into pop princessdom, it was Kelly Osbourne providing a most unlikely space-age, emotionless, dark synth-pop dance floor triumph.

Her inner demons, and the outer demons amplifying the voices in her head and enabling her self-destructive action, wouldn't allow her to pursue a music career past the point of her second studio album. But then, there are artists who've been in the game far longer, facing far less criticism, who still don't have one song anyone will want to write about over a decade later.

Despite a short run, Kelly Osbourne still managed to deliver at least one incredible song with just "One Word."

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"One Word" was released on April 19, 2005.

Photo credit: Secret Records


Megan Thee Stallion Nicki Minaj Hot Girl Summer

Megan Thee Stallion & Nicki Minaj Supply the 'Hot Girl Summer' We Deserve

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS7cHwAmjV4

"Your actions make you a 'hot girl.' You have to be someone who is like energetic, the life of the party, just really nice, you know what I'm saying? You have to be able to put that confidence in other people and get along with all the girls and just like have a good time. Just unapologetically you. You just have to be lit." - Megan Thee Stallion, Founding Hot Girl

In case you haven't heard by now, it's a hot girl summer. (And after my AC died last month, I learned what it truly means to have a hot girl summer...all too well.)

While mainstream Western pop may be mostly flopping in 2019, female rappers certainly are not, including Saweetie with "My Type" (quite possibly my Song of Summer '19) and 24-year-old, Texas-bred Megan Thee Stallion, Thee Hot Girl, who is having a major moment after the release of her Fever mixtape in May. Her star promptly skyrocketed after her "hot girl" catch phrase went viral - meme culture truly is the key to success these days, after all.

Not only has she become an Internet sensation who seems to be getting on everyone's good side - just last night, she was twerking to the sound of Lizzo's flute, once again going viral - but she also got the attention of her idol, the Harajuku Barbie herself: Miss (Mrs.) Nicki Minaj (Petty?)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ya3AilYXOWw

After the two went live for the first time together on Instagram, engaging in a genuinely adorable conversation about college (Megan's about to graduate from Texas Southern University with a major in Health Administration), Megan quickly spiraled into fangirl mode, twerking to a classic Beam Me Up Scotty-era track, "Slumber Party," as Nicki gleefully chimed in.

Megan then mentioned she was working on a "Hot Girl Summer" track, but she was waiting on someone...hint, hint. You see, Thee Stallion is a smart hot girl: if the entire world is using your catch phrase to caption their selfies, you better capitalize on that SEO, stat.

Cue meltdowns in the comments as the girls giggled amongst themselves.

As it turns out, Nicki wound up writing a verse that same night for Megan's already completed track. The end result, after a brief delay to add the assist from her hero arrived on Friday (August 9) - and it's a strong, hot (duh!) showing from a well-established icon and a rising star, plus a catchy hook from Ty Dolla $ign.

Highlights from the jump include a recurring sample of the City Girls smash "Act Up," (which went viral in its own right, and also shares a producer in Juicy J), as well Megan shouting out her own new catch phrase from the live session: "Don't run from me, friend..."

Honestly, that pre-chorus is the kind of Hot Girl inspiration we needed to hear: "Should I take your love? Should I take that dick? / Got a whole lotta options 'cause you know a bitch poppin' / I'm a hot girl, so you know ain't shit stoppin'."

As an early enthusiast - one of the Ken Barbz, if you will - from all the way back to the Jeffree Star feature and "Itty Bitty Piggy" days (my mixtape Minaj college lip-sync videos will never see light of day until I pass), I want Nicki to stay winning. This was obviously not only a smart decision (like "Me Against The Music," we love a Queen-to-Princess endorsement), but a fun one, too: "Put this pussy on your lip, give a fuck about the dick I get that rrrrrr and then I rrrrr, I grab my shit, and then I dip, ooh!" Never change, Nicki.

Confidence-boosting camaraderie? In the words of one particular businesswoman, socialite, model, singer, actress, fashion designer and DJ: that's hot, girls.

This song is featured on the MuuTunes Spotify playlist. Subscribe!

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Photo credit: 300 Entertainment


Lana Del Rey Looking for America

'Looking for America': Lana Del Rey Reacts to the Latest Mass Shootings With a New Song

What is there even to say anymore about The State of Things in America in 2019?

It's all too sad, too infuriating, too grim - and despite all the helpfully retweeted advice to channel that energy into campaigning and donating and volunteering and voting, I think it's also completely acceptable and healthy to allow time and space to feel however you want to feel - be it depressed, helpless, or just hopeless.

Lana Del Rey is still processing the latest horrific events, plural, over the past weekend - which bring the tally up to 255 mass shootings in 2019 thus far. (There have been more shootings than days in the year.)

And in reaction to the news, she wrote a song, called "Looking for America."

"Hi folks came back early from Montecito with my brother this morning and asked Jack Antonoff to come into town because I had a song on my mind that I wanted to write. Now I know I’m not a politician and I’m not trying to be so excuse me for having an opinion- but in light of all of the mass shootings and the back to back shootings in the last couple of days which really affected me on a cellular level I just wanted to post this video that our engineer Laura took 20 minutes ago. I hope you like it. I’m singing love to the choruses I recorded this morning. I’m going to call it ‘Looking for America,'" she wrote on her Instagram.

"I'm still looking for my own version of America / One without the gun, where the flag can freely fly / No bombs in the sky, only fireworks when you and I collide / It's just a dream I had in mind," she sings. (Full lyrics down below.)

Beyond just being a beautiful, classically wistful, hauntingly sung Lana song about less worrisome days gone by while longing for a more peaceful future (which almost surely won't make the track list of her newly announced studio album Norman Fucking Rockwell, sadly), it falls in line with the direction in which Lana's been heading thematically since 2017's Lust For Life, which showcased a noticeably political shift in lyricism in a time of Trump.

While Lana's fully aware of the potential repercussions of speaking out in any capacity on social media ("excuse me for having an opinion") and, God forbid, getting canceled for an unfavorable take - please, by all means, show me a human being with an entirely unproblematic track record, you ever-so-saintly keyboard warriors - she's nonetheless using her platform as an artist to address the gun violence crisis plaguing this increasingly divided country.

She's not alone in her concern, either: Madonna also just released a song and video about it in June. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.

Music is a crucial escape, and that includes Lana's nostalgic brand of Americana, but in these moments especially, it's kind of impossible to pretend everything's fine in the present. Life isn't all Bugatti Veyrons and bikinis - but it should be.

Of course, merely fantasizing about an idyllic America isn't enough. We need to do something. But until then - if there's ever a then - a girl can dream.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=em1pHFTvK1s

UPDATE: The studio version of "Looking for America" was released on Friday (August 9).

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Alice Chater Tonight

'Tonight': Alice Chater Keeps on Dancing Till the World Ends

About over a year ago, I posed a very simple question: Is Alice Chater going to save pop?

I was half-kidding, because the concept of "saving pop" is largely subjective, and there's plenty of good music coming out all the time. But I was also half-not kidding, because there's a very real void in the music industry - the Western music industry, anyway. We've largely moved away from the singing-dancing spectacle of yesteryear and into a kind of...Xanax-pop zone. Pop stars do not have to dance to be entertaining, obviously - nor do they even really need to sing live, without naming any names - but there's a certain larger-than-life factor missing from so many of today's crop of Spotify playlist bop-providing pop stars.

This isn't meant to be a stan war, or even shade really, because I fully understand that each generation will have their own style, but growing up on Britney, on Christina, on Rihanna, on J.Lo, on Beyonce, on Gaga - whoever your legends are, really - I feel like I've come to expect something...a little different. And yes, I'm fully aware I'm already a grandfather shaking my cane at Twitter: "back in my day, we watched Darrin's Dance Grooves just to keep up with our faves, and we liked it."

But Alice - Ms. Chater, if you're nasty - reminds me of an exciting, not-so-distant era.

On Friday (August 2), Alice released her latest song: "Tonight," produced by Mark Ralph (Years & Years, Clean Bandit) and co-written by Alice and Martin Terefe on "the day after a major event in London."

“We were reflecting on life, and thinking about what we'd want to do if this was our last day on earth. I was like, ‘I'd want to be with the person I love, and live my life to the absolute fullest until the very last second.’ And that’s really where the song came from,” says Alice.

Appropriately, the accompanying music video is apocalyptic - a theme accompanying many pop visuals, from B's "Till The World Ends" to Ariana Grande's found-footage horror-style "One Last Time," which I loved as a concept (admittedly as a found-footage horror movie lover), although I think everyone else hated it. Anyway.

“This video is my version of a coven. We hired this big mansion to film in, and the video shows me and my witches doing ouija boards and spells and full-on choreography in different rooms. We’re all wearing very high-fashion, Vogue-style outfits, so it’s probably not like any coven you’ve seen before!” she explains.

It's as simple as that, really: a witchy girl gang casting spells in an "If U Seek Amy"/"Slumber Party" mansion until that civilization-decimating meteor decides to circle back. Or the one that's coming next week!

But it's not simple at all: Alice is serving in this music video, firing on all cylinders as a pop star on the rise - the vocals (she's a Legend X stan, so you already know she's a belter), the moves, the lewks - and the effort is quite palpable ...and appreciated.

The slight hint of comedy with the Chater News Network at the start is a solid touch as well ("we are well and truly...fucked"), but she's strictly business when it comes to serving up a stylish spectacle, bolstered by an explosive chorus (finally, some ummmph in a song), ferocious choreography and clever visuals (the dancers wrapping their legs all around her like a dress - yes.)

And to think, all this without the massive budget that comes with being the biggest pop star in the world. Yet.

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Photo credit: Virgin EMI Records


Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell

'Norman Fucking Rockwell' Is Officially Coming, You Little Bitch

Lana Del Rey It's Coming You Little Bitch

Lana Del Rey - Queen of Coney Island, Watcher of the Boys, and bad baby by our heavenly side - is coming back for more.

Of course she's coming, you little bitch.

On Wednesday (July 31), LDR announced the long-awaited release date, cover art and track listing for her forthcoming sixth (!) studio album Norman Fucking Rockwell (yes, it's really called that), which is set to include her previously released singles "Mariners Apartment Complex," "Venice Bitch", her Sublime cover "Doin' Time" (one of the Songs of Summer '19) and the succinctly titled "Hope Is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman like Me to Have – But I Have It."

The album arrives on August 30 and features 14 tracks, including "Fuck It I Love You" and "The Greatest," two new tracks she just announced while on the set of an impending "double video" shot by Rich Lee alongside shirtless bodybuilder Brad Swanick.

She's also teased snippets of several upcoming songs in the past year, including "Happiness Is a Butterfly" and "Cinnamon Girl." She premiered "How to Disappear" live at an Apple event last year. Plus, it seems one of my favorite unreleased songs is finally getting polished off and seeing the light of Lana Del Day: "Next Best American Record."

The music was recorded alongside Jack Antonoff, engineer Laura Sisk, Zach Dawes (Mini Mansions, Kimbra) and longtime collaborator and music legend Rick Nowels.

"I was in a little bit of a lighter mood because he was so funny," Lana said of working with Jack earlier this year.

"So the title track is called 'Norman Fucking Rockwell,' and it’s kind of about this guy who is such a genius artist but he thinks he’s the shit and he knows it and he won’t shut up talking about it. So often I ended up with these creative types or whatever and, you know, they just go on and on about themselves, and I’m like, 'Yeah, yeah.' But there’s a little bit of merit to it also. They are so good. I just like the title track so much that I was like, OK, I definitely want the record to also be called that."

But don't expect the mood to be too light: during a live stream at the beginning of the year, she described the album as “deeply introspective, thoughtful sad girl shit." Sold.

The pop art-themed album artwork was shot by her sister, Chuck Grant, and co-stars Duke Nicholson, the grandson of Jack Nicholson, who recently made his big screen debut in Us.

That's a lot of information to process at once, right? But you already know: when it Lana Del Rains, it pours.

Over Hot Girl Summer? As @INDIEWASHERE declared: Sad Girl Autumn, here we come.

1. "Norman Fucking Rockwell"
2. "Mariners Apartment Complex"
3. "Venice Bitch"
4. "Fuck It, I Love You"
5. "Doin' Time"
6. "Love Song"
7. "Cinnamon Girl"
8. "How to Disappear"
9. "California"
10. "The Next Best American Record"
11. "The Greatest"
12. "Bartender"
13. "Happiness is a Butterfly"
14. "Hope Is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman like Me to Have – but I Have It"


Carly Rae Jepsen Gryffn OMG

'OMG': Oh My God, It's Carly Rae Jepsen & Gryffin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO3nxLD_iAQ

Oh my God: Carly Rae Jepsen, born Carly Raemmaculate Jepselegend of the North, has already returned to us with something new, just a few months after the release of her last studio album, Dedicated.

"OMG" - which, spoiler alert, is not a cover of the Usher song - is Carly's collabo released on Wednesday (July 31) with 31-year-old LA-based producer Gryffin, and serves as the latest offering from his forthcoming debut, Gravity.

The song's about when you're in like with someone, but then you're like: wait, am I in love? OMG.

"Oh my god, I think I might love you / 'Cause I only liked a lot of things before I knew the way I love it when you touch me now..."

In typical Carly fashion, it's a swoon-y, earnest and E•MO•TIONal offering - essentially the heart eyes emoji in song form, backed by springy, bop-able beats that build up and drop in a way that would likely go down well with an EDM festival-leaning crowd.

“'OMG' was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had in making a record. Getting to work with Carly Rae Jepsen was such an honor as I’ve been a big fan of her work for a long time and I’m so happy with how the track seamlessly blends both of our styles. I hope everybody loves it as much as we do and feels the fun, summery energy of the record," Gryffin says.

"Gryffin is a kindred spirit in the way he thinks about music, I'm grateful to be a part of this song," Carly says.

CRJ is here for U now with "OMG," bb. TTYL.

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Photo credit: Geffen Records