Grimes Delete Forever

'Delete Forever': Grimes Grieves the Friends She's Lost to Drugs

God, everything from Miss Anthropocene looks and sounds so right.

Grimes is due to arrive soon (and, soon enough, so is The Child) with her latest body of work, which promises to be more than worth the wait since 2015's Art Angels, a top album of that year.

Having already supplied several incredible songs from the record - loosely inspired by "the anthropomorphic goddess of climate change," lest we forget - including "So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth," "Violence," "My Name Is Dark" and "4ÆM," the 31-year-old (and/or eternal) singer-songwriter-pixie-goth-fairy-punk-robot-forest-sprite-mage returned on Wednesday (February 12) with perhaps her most shocking move of this whole campaign to date: something more acoustic, called "Delete Forever."

“I mean, the song is pretty...it's a pretty bummer song," she explained to Zane Lowe. (Click here for the full interview.)

"I guess it's kind of about the opioid epidemic, and that kinda thing. I've had quite a few friends actually pass away. In particular one friend, when I was like 18, passed away from complications related to opioid addiction. Artists keep dying and stuff so, I wrote this song on the night Lil Peep died 'cause I just got super triggered by that.”

"It’s about losing friends to the opioid crisis and the self-hatred that arises when the grieving process mimics the behaviors that cost your friends their lives," the press release further clarifies.

The song is indeed a "pretty bummer" song, emphasis on "pretty." Grimes depressingly resigns to a grim fate across a sad guitar strum and a chugging beat: "Always down, I'm not up / Guess it's just my rotten luck / To fill my time with permanent gloom / But I can't see above it / Guess I fucking love it / But oh, I didn't mean to," she sings.

“I think when you’re meant to perform pain for other people’s benefit, that’s when shit starts getting really tricky. People expect you to be this level 10 chaos all the time. It’s really hard to maintain level 10 chaos for people. I think it’s why a lot of artists spiral out of control," she told Zane.

"Lil Peep and Juice WRLD were both artists I really liked. The artists it's happening to specifically feels…a little too on the nose...people who, in my opinion, were best expressing issues of mental health. So to have them die specifically just feels like a weird hopelessness."

Compared to the usual ethereal, semi-unintelligible vocals and everything-and-the-intergalactic-kitchen-sink sound of her usual productions, this is shockingly sparse. There's even a banjo in the mix. (Then again, we should know better than to expect any sort of sound from Grimes, period.)

"It's funny 'cause the finished product is actually basically almost the demo. This was definitely a situation where I took the song...spent like months trying to make the song...like it needs at least one other guitar, you know...and then like right when we were mixing, I was just like literally, went to the 800 files and just like delete, delete, delete, delete, delete, just killing stems," she explained of the song's creation.

"When I was making this song I was trying to be more like, I think I was like, oh, I'm like Patsy Cline or something, like I was trying to be like country or something. But I feel like it ends up having this sort of 'Wonderwall' kind of vibe or something. I feel like there's a reason that song is so popular. Like, that song does rule."

The accompanying video, created with her brother Mac Boucher and frequent video collaborator Neil Hansen, matches the all-conquering vibe of Miss Anthropocene - "a tyrant’s lament as her empire crumbles," as the press release describes the visual. The set-up is simple, but effective: Grimes is sat at her throne, sadly surveying the scorched remains of her kingdom.

"I did everything, I did everything..."

As much as she might feel the fantasy of being a shape-shifting, otherworldly fairy-slash-futuristic cyborg or whatever (which don't get me wrong, I love), there's something quite captivating about this track; a gentle, melancholy, stripped-down reminder that Grimes is devastatingly human like the rest of us - as is everyone around her, often tragically so.

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Hilary Duff Never Let You Go RAC Matthew Koma

'Never Let You Go': Hilary Duff & Matthew Koma Cover Third Eye Blind

This week has already been unpredictable in the best of ways (come through, Parasite), and also full of very oddly specific, early-to-mid '00s nostalgia that ought to have fellow millennials yearning to update their AIM away messages: Kelly Clarkson singing Avril Lavigne ballads. Mandy Moore singing about So Real on her new album. Jessica Simpson making headlines about her life and serving Legally Blonde looks. The Pussycat Dolls popping up on MTV and Times Square billboards. Hilary Duff covering Third Eye Blind.

Wait, sorry. What?! Yes! Sure. But why? Well, there's every good reason.

For one thing, Hilary is a known rock pioneer, from Santa Clause Lane onward. It comes as no surprise that the future "Mr. James Dean" Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee would opt to pay tribute to one of her fellow rock contemporaries from around the time of her own debut.

Along with her husband Matthew Koma (who, if you don't know, also produced several songs on Breathe In, Breathe Out), Hilary teamed up with producer RAC for a 2020 version of the American rock band's No. 14 2000 hit.

I can recall the song being inescapable at the time, although I didn't actively listen to it on my Zune - far too straight for me, despite my closet case status at the time. However, it's widely speculated (at least, some parts of the Internet) that the song is about Charlize Theron, which makes it much more queer. And now it's even gayer, thanks to Hilary!

As for the song? Well, it's the same song. But the cute new version basically replaces much of those pesky guitar noises with some far more palatable, breezy, synth-pop beats, as the musical lovebirds and gorgeous newlyweds trade off on the track, which also comes just in time for Valentine's Day. Much better!

The song is also the first taste of new vocals from Hilary since her "Little Lies" cover in 2016 for Younger. And she sounds sweet!

Is this proof that Hilary Duff is making musical moves to save us? Of course, it must be. She'll never let us go.

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Photo Credit: Instagram


Mandy Moore Fifteen Video

'Fifteen': Mandy Moore Reflects on Her 'Candy' Pop Star Days

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5Uzd7El26E

2020 is already quite a year for early '00s pop princess retrospectives: Britney's being honored with a walk-through career retrospective in the form of In The Zone experience in LA (erm, mixed feelings), and Jessica Simpson is currently appearing on every major news network to talk about her music, Newlyweds, and everything in between while promoting her memoir, Open Book.

So, what better time for Mandy Moore to show up and tell her side of the story?

"Fifteen" is an intimate offering from Mandy's upcoming record Silver Landings due out in March, written with Jason Boesel, longtime collaborator Mike Viola and her husband, Taylor Goldsmith.

And yes: it's all about being fifteen, and kicking off her pop star career during those bubblegum "Candy" days.

"Young girl, up early / Wasn’t old enough to drive / Took a trip from Seminole county with her mother side / Next stop, New York City / World was falling at her feet / She thought she was making music, but she was only filling seats," she sings across the gently gliding guitar strings.

It's taken Mandy quite a while to get to this place: an outspoken hater of her own back catalog, she bad-mouthed and apologized for her early pop career for years after taking a sharp left turn with her music into more folksy, singer-songwriter territory with Wild Hope and beyond.

After a few more years, she's gained a different perspective.

"It’s been a full circle journey to embrace who I was as a teenager starting off in this industry and forgive my past self for judging her so harshly. For years, I apologized for the creative output of that time but in the making of this new collection of music, I was able to process so much and have come to have great affection for that young girl, that part of me, because she’s the reason I’m here today," Mandy acknowledged on her Instagram. You know what that is? Growth.

The song itself is lovely, but it's all about the lyricism, as Mandy reflects on how naive she was at the time - and all the life she missed out on while being a teenage pop star locked into the promotional machine.

"Glow sticks, pink cotton candy / A touch a glitter on her lips / Operate for the radio station so they’ll play her biggest hits / Missed prom, missed graduation, no college in the fall / On the road with the boy bands singing for the people in the mall."

There's even a REFERENCE to her debut album thrown in, which ought to send the diehards spiraling: "Somewhere between the demo and the lonely public eye / So real / Real famous, without even knowing why."

Mandy should be proud of herself - for "Fifteen," a great song - but also for pushing through. Regardless of how anyone else feels about her career, or how much we stan "Walk Me Home," "I Wanna Be With You" and "In My Pocket," she's the one who has to reconcile her own feelings about launching to superstardom as a teenager.

Just this week, original meme queen Rebecca Black wrote a heartfelt note to 13-year-old self this week on the 9 year anniversary of "Friday," which was met with an incredible outpouring of love. You never know the extent of how much someone's own fame can haunt and hurt them, for whatever reason, for years and years after the fact.

"Fifteen" is the sound of a very human performer doing the work of pushing past harsh self-judgment for a moment in her life forever sealed into pop culture history.

No regrets, with a few exceptions.

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Janet Jackson Black Diamond Tour Album

'Black Diamond': Janet Jackson Is Releasing a New Album & Going on Tour

As if we needed further evidence that our Queens of Pop are coming back strong in 2020, Janet Jackson is officially hitting the road - and she's bringing an entire new body of work along for the ride.

The "What Have You Done For Me Lately?" icon announced on Monday (February 10) that she's releasing a brand new album this year, called Black Diamond.

"Hey U Guys! I’ve heard all your wishes and now from my lips to your ears. I’m working on my new album and going on a brand new World Tour this summer! Both titled ✨ “Black Diamond”. ✨Black Diamonds are the toughest of all the diamonds, the hardest to cut. I see that as the hardest to hurt or destroy. There is a lot that I have endured. I see myself as a Black Diamond in its purest form. I’m a rock, I have ruff edges but I keep moving forward. I want to show you my strength as well as give you strength. I love u guys so much and I’m #SoExcited to share this new era with you. See u soon! #BlackDiamond 🖤💎😘," she wrote on her Instagram.

We love an album concept. ♦️ (Also, can we take a moment to appreciate that she intentionally made a "So Excited" REFERENCE?)

The tour kicks off in Miami this June, and promises to be "an all-new production featuring new music from her highly anticipated, forthcoming album Black Diamond, set for release this year. Performing songs from her 12 multi-platinum albums including a special performance of Rhythm Nation 1814, which recently marked its 30th anniversary." (I have no idea what that last part means, but start practicing the "Rhythm Nation" routine, regardless.) And don't worry, Europe and the rest of the world: more dates will be announced "soon," according to the press release. Click here for all the ticket info.

This news is, of course, incredibly exciting - and somewhat surprising. Her wise, worldly and introspective 2015 studio album Unbreakable felt a bit like the sound of closure. And then, after 2018's joyous, world music-inspired "Made For Now," the promise of a new Janet record suddenly reignited, only to slowly start to fizzle out again. It's nice to know that it's all just been coming together slowly in the background, resulting in a rare and shiny final product at last.

What to expect? Who knows! More Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, hopefully/presumably. The only thing that comes to mind after this announcement is, of course, her No. 5 1987 hit "Diamonds" with Herb Alpert, Jam & Lewis, and Lisa Keith, which is basically peak Control-era brilliance, despite it not actually being on her album.

I'll catch you all out on the road with Janet - sorry, Miss Jackson, if-ya-nasty - this summer. Shine bright like a (black) diamond...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIOubNRSp2c


Dua Lipa Physical

‘Physical’: Dua Lipa Is Putting the Pulse Back in Pop

Introspection and somber reflection regarding the State of Things Today are important elements of modern pop. But in the current climate, which often feels heavy with personal confessionals, anxiety and depression-themed anthems and worldweary political commentary (and, well, that general underlying sense of global tension), finding music that inspires us to get up, get out, and briefly escape our own worlds is every bit as vital, too.

In short: your disco needs you.

Enter Dua Lipa, who's bringing big, bright, euphoric dance floor bangers back into the mainstream in 2020 - and not a millisecond too soon.

As has become abundantly clear, Dua is doing this whole Main Pop Girl thing right. If “Don’t Start Now” wasn’t enough of a disco ball-refracted light sparkling at the end of the largely gloom and doom-filled tunnel that was 2019, the 24-year-old Albanian stunner is back to supply even more unnnff with “Physical,” out Thursday (January 30) - a love-at-first-listen, '80s-leaning synth-y stormer with just a hint of an ominous energy.

“Physical” ticks all the right boxes for a banger from start to finish, kicking off with an instant, eye-raising synth flare that just vaguely recalls Madonna’s “Hung Up" - an already winning move. Dua cooly comes gliding in above the kicking beat, sultry and satisfied with her special someone.

Common love isn't for us. We created something phenomenal. Don't you agree?” she purrs. (Honestly, I have to say I do.)

The song was co-written by Clarence Coffee Jr. of The Monsters and the Strangerz, the same songwriting and production team who just hit it out of the park with Selena Gomez's "Vulnerable," the extremely cool Sarah Hudson, responsible for everything from Jeffree Star's "Beauty Killer" (!) to Katy Perry's "Swish Swish," Koz (who also did a bunch for Dua in the past, including "IDGAF" and "Hotter Than Hell"), as well as the unstoppable Jason Evigan, most crucially of Britney's "Man on the Moon" fame.

Add in a bit of speak-singing before the chorus for good measure: “Who needs to go to sleep when I got you next to me?

The shout-along chorus is nothing short of a rush (do what you will with the poppers twinks, just don't bring them to the meet and greet), providing a brief lyrical nod to Olivia Newton-John’s classic (“Let’s get physical!”) - and maybe even some slight '00s UK dance-pop energy, a la Rachel Stevens' Come & Get It.

A random, favorite line in the second verse: “I don’t wanna live another life, ‘cause this one’s pretty nice.

There's even one hell of a bridge, another rarity in pop these days: “Come on! Hold on! Tell me if you’re ready, come on! Baby, keep on dancing!” It’s the perfect scream-sung, hand clap-happy encouragement to keep you planted on the floor with your friends at 2:53 AM for that one last song.

In a world of moody, mumbly midtempos, we should be grateful that Dua's opted to push the pedal and veer into the fast lane with a much-needed BPM bump.

“Physical,” like "Don't Start Now," exemplifies a concept like Future Nostalgia; joyous escapism, rich with references to the past, that ought to provide the soundtrack for some fond memory-making many years from now. She's getting everything right - and seriously, that album artwork is a complete win.

The whole era's really shaping up to be something phenomenal. Don’t you agree?

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Rina Sawayama Commes des Garcons Like the Boys

'Comme Des Garçons (Like The Boys)': Rina Sawayama Gives Love to the Gays

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dqPKBJ6GvE&feature=emb_title

Rina Sawayama is feeling so confident, and she's got her boys to thank for that.

The rising London-based pop star has kept her fans fed with her fresh, early '00s-meets-future pop sound, which she's continued to refine for years. I first wrote about Rina back in 2016 after discoverinf her smooth and sultry R&B anthem for the lonely digital souls on the Internet, "Where U Are. It's safe to say she's since evolved and made more than a few IRL friends ever since, including her idol and mine, Utada Hikaru.

On Friday (January 17), Rina debuted her latest single, "Comme Des Garçons (Like The Boys)."

The track was crafted alongside Bram Inscore, who's worked extensively with Troye Sivan, as well as Britney's "Heaven on Earth" and "How I Roll" co-penner herself, Nicole Morier. Right off the bat from the song credits alone: gay rights.

The club-ready, strut-friendly cut is described as "about trying to alchemize the confidence of the gay men that have always shown Rina love."

"When I was writing this song I wanted on one hand to lyrically explore the idea of people having to adopt negative male tropes to appear confident, whilst on the other sonically paying homage to the early 2000s dance tracks that made me feel confident. The idea that the socially acceptable version of confidence is in acting 'like the boys', otherwise as a woman you get called a bitch - but in the club, we reclaim the word 'bitch' as a sign of ultimate confidence ('yes bitch', 'work bitch'). I wanted to sit these two together and make a club fashion banger that makes you feeling like THAT bitch whoever you are," she explains. (Funny enough, her idol Hikki's "On & On" tackles some similar territory.)

The springy dance beat and catchy chorus are already enough to satiate the dance-pop loving boys and girls (and everyone in between/outside of the binary), but there are certain elements that strike a chord: there's just something about a cooly spoken list of labels and designers ("Miu Miu, Prada, Mugler") and assuring phrases ("it's gonna be okay / Yeah, you've come a long way") that does the trick to unleash the inner That Bitch™, conjuring early memories of Lady Gaga, L.A.M.B.-era Gwen Stefani and shades of the original blueprints, Madonna's "Vogue" and "Express Yourself."

"Comme des garçons / Like the boys, like the boys / Comme des garçons / I'm so confident..."

That single cover alone deserves plenty of praise: a mighty nude Rina, backed by a massive holy disco ball, standing atop a pile of nude men, a la Kylie's "All the Lovers" music video? It looks like the greatest, gayest retro sci-fi LGBTQ warrior epic - an early contender for best art of 2020, for sure.

Rina Sawayama

But wait, there's more! Along with the song, Rina also announced her debut studio album, SAWAYAMA, dropping on April 17 - and the cover art for her debut is certainly striking.

"The album ultimately is about family and identity. It's about understanding yourself in the context of two opposing cultures (for me British and Japanese), what 'belonging' means when home is an evolving concept, figuring out where you sit comfortably within and awkwardly outside of stereotypes, and ultimately trying to be ok with just being you, warts and all," she says of the upcoming release.

With any luck, Rina (and all her warts) will supply us with one of 2020's most exciting pop debuts. Then again, who needs luck when you have confidence?

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Photo credit: Dirty Hit


Tove Lo Bikini Porn

'Bikini Porn': Tove Lo Shakes Her Disco Tits Around the Desert

Tove Lo's a freak, and that's why we love her.

It's only been a few months since the release of her fourth studio album Sunshine Kitty, but the Swedish singer-songwriter is already set on serving up something new. (Speaking of, did you know she co-wrote Girls Aloud's "Something New"? A God-tier songwriter, truly.)

To kick off the New Year, Tove recruited Billie Eilish's brother and collaborator FINNEAS to produce two new songs: a ballad called “Passion and Pain Taste the Same When I’m Weak," and the PornHub-ready, SEO-friendly bop, "Bikini Porn." (I can already feel Google AdSense sliding into my inbox to tell me that this post is now banned for sexually explicit keywords. Thanks, Tove - you owe me approximately three pennies worth of income.)

Anyway, back to the bikinis and porn.

“Bikini porn (meaning tan lines, I made that up) is a sexy and weird song about letting go of your worries. I’m kinda making fun of myself in a way too. I sent the song to FINNEAS, who I admire so damn much, and asked if he would be down to produce it. He gave it the grit and weirdness and bopness it needed. Such an honor working with him!!” Tove says of the track.

"Grit and weirdness and bopness" are all accurate descriptors for the song, which feels as playful as Billie's "bad guy," Body Talk-era Robyn at her most sexually rambunctious, and maybe even some old-school Peaches. While it may not have the massive choruses of her earliest hits (she opts for a more monotone delivery these days, a la "Cool Girl" and "Disco Tits"), the song's still got all the makings of a Tove track, with substance-fueled horniness, earworm melodies and an underlying melancholy - even when the inspiration comes from joy.

"Basically I wrote this song when I was in a happy place. I’m like 'where am I getting my inspiration from right now?', it’s kind of tricky for me to feel…and so, I was kind of sitting, smashing champagne in the session, it came about. And 'Bikini porn' to me actually means ‘tan lines’, so it’s the kind of reflecting on living in the sun, and the sort of weird life style in LA that can be so dark and so fun, kind of back and forth," she went on to explain on Beats 1.

In short: this is what living in Los Angeles does to people. I absolutely believe it to be true.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhcSy28XDS0

"All I do is drink champagne all day, all day, all day / And I dance around my room naked, oh yeah, naked / Skinny dippin' in the pool with me, with me, with me / Take a day from your life all day, one day, today..."

The music video, shot by Moni Haworth, encapsulates the blissful absurdity of the bop, filmed in Victorville and Hesperia, California. The plot is fairly straightforward: Tove wears bikinis, anywhere and everywhere, then proceeds to gyrate, shimmy, and shake her disco tits until the very end, even to the great annoyance of Billie's brother, who's apparently an Uber driver on the weekends.

Tove's on a mission with her desert twerk tour, dancing in and out of bars, shops and dusty locales. She doesn't seem to mind boldly trekking through town in her bathing suits, although I imagine she must still be finding sand in unholy places.

“This video was very fun and very bizarre to shoot. There was only seven of us in a van as the crew (as opposed to over 100 people in the 'Glad He’s Gone' video) driving around Victorville. Been a while since I did a run and gun shoot, I loved it! Moni is so great at that weird and gritty stuff I love. It’s sexual at times but also just funny and not every shot is meant to be flattering. I think this video is perfect for this song. Also big shout out to Finneas for doing the best cameo ever in this video!!” Tove says.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KfEgyvp6iY

"Passion and Pain Taste the Same When I’m Weak," on the other hand, maneuvers into much more tender musical territory. It actually does sound like the middle ground between the signature whisper-soft vulnerability and ominousness of Billie's music that FINNEAS helps to create, and Tove's own brand of emotional turbulence. "You're gonna get what you're givin' to me," she warns over and over again.

Where this abrupt new kick-start to a potential new era will lead us next? Who knows, but I'd say it's safe to pack a few bikinis for the trip.

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Photo credit: Island Records


Nova Miller Do It To Myself

'Do It To Myself': Sweden's Nova Miller Drives Herself Crazy

Nova Miller and I have an astonishing amount of things in common: we are both beautiful, blonde five octave range-commanding Swedish pop chanteuses, multi-instrumentalists and TikTok-famous teens, and we both know how to drive ourselves fucking crazy.

Well, okay, fine. Maybe just the latter in common.

In any case, I've been watching the singer-songwriter rise (rise up, lotus, rise) for a while now, which is wild. In fact, I was writing about her elsewhere when she was just 13 years old. At this point, an Introduucing... post on MuuMuse is long overdue.

Discovered by none other than Queen Lolene (if you know, you know - fake it 'til you make it, baby), the now 18-year-old Stockholm-born singer has already hustled for years with songs like "Supernova," "Singing in the Rain," "So Good" and "Not Your Number."

And with her latest single, "Do It To Myself," Nova's quite possibly made her best bid for superstardom to date.

Produced by The Monsters and the Strangerz, the same hit-making team behind Zedd's "The Middle" with Maren Morris, and the same duo who just did one of my favorite new songs, "Vulnerable" by Selena Gomez (album review here), the track takes the Zoomer (that's what we're calling Gen Z babes, right?) zoomin' all the way back to 1965 with an intoxicating guitar melody, soaring strings, throwback harmonies and an instantly recognizable sample of The Mamas & The Papas' "California Dreamin'."

"When it comes to love, I overthink everything too much / Start saying shit I don't even mean / So you don't need to drive me crazy...I'll do that to myself," Nova proudly declares on the wildly relatable, self-dragging, swinging retro-meets-modern pop bop.

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

The song was released back in October of 2019, but sometimes love takes time, and that's what seems to happening here. Nova's also gradually blown up on TikTok with over half a million followers (no laughing matter, especially when you look at all the songs charting after going viral on the platform), and so, it was time to unveil a glossy visual to accompany the '60s-referencing smash-to-be.

The music video finds Nova traveling back well before her time and finding, well, herself performing at the nightclub, serving up a series of vintage, with movement coaching by - hang on tight to your PCD workout DVD - founding Pussycat Doll member and dance industry legend herself, Carmit Bachar. Yes, for real. Legends only, truly.

"First thing I wanna say is HAIR. I was living my best hair life. I had my long silky Cher hair, the Brigitte Bardot bouffant happening, we had the cute vintage Nancy Sinatra flick and some Nova Miller real girl hair going on too," Nova says of the video. And it's true: there's a real hair journey going on throughout the video.

"It gave me space to have fun and showcase the different sides of myself. As people, we have layers and I got to give my layers characters. You won't see any emo Nova though, I'm all about keeping it positive."

Beyond just the song itself being good, Nova also demonstrated her raw talent with an acoustic take on the track in November, where you can really hear how absolutely fantastic her voice is without any production - those JoJo-esque runs, those effortless yelps! - not to mention her guitar skills.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X93H8aXfEh8

"Some of the challenges I face as a new artist are: 'don't look too old, don't look too young, be different!' As a young girl I am discovering and realizing that I am different, I am enough, there is only one me and I'm super grateful to live my dream," she says of finding her own place in the music industry.

As long as she keeps putting those impressive vocal chops to good use and delivering quality bops like "Do It To Myself," she'll have no one else to blame but herself when she properly blows up in due time.

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Photo credit: Janelle Shirtcliff / 300 Entertainment


Julie Bergan Kiss Somebody

Julie Bergan, Norway's Rising Pop Queen, Just Wants to Kiss Somebody

Meet Julie Bergan: she'd love to make out with you.

The 25-year-old Norwegian singer-songwriter first gained recognition through her covers on YouTube in the early '10s performed alongside her music teacher father, which got the interest of local songwriters and producers.

Eventually, she went on to compete in Melodi Grand Prix 2013 to determine the pick for Norway's Eurovision entry that year, which ultimately went on to be Queen Margaret Berger's "I Feed You My Love." (Truly a #NorwegianLegendsOnly competition.)

Since inking a deal with Warner Music Norway that year, Julie's released a consistent string of hits, including a No. 1 record in Norway in 2016 with "Arigato," as well as "Ignite" in 2018 with Alan Walker - plus a Top 10 debut album that year with Turn On the Lights. She also released her first EP late last year called Hard Feelings: Ventricle 1, along with a favorite of mine: the brash, in-your-face "STFU," a Top 20 hit in Norway.

She's also won a bunch of awards, including Artist of the Year at the NRJ Awards Norway back in 2014, and Song of the Year for "STFU" last year. That is all to say: I might be Introduucing... her now, but she's far from brand new on the scene...in Norway, anyway.

Having also played shows alongside superstar acts like Justin Bieber ("If my 14-year-old self knew I was going to open for him, I would’ve died") and Dua Lipa, Julie is now setting her sights on territories beyond just her own home country.

“I can reach out to a broader audience, I can be a better performer and I can sell more tickets. There’s always room for improvement, and I’m hungry to get bigger and better," she says.

And that brings us to "Kiss Somebody," Julie's brand new single with Norwegian EDM duo SEEB, released on January 3 - an uptempo call to arms to, well, kiss somebody.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZd2R2mzKSs

“‘Kiss Somebody’ is a positive message with a positive outlook on the future. Keep moving on, don’t take life too seriously and kiss whoever you want: kiss a guy, kiss a girl, just kiss somebody!” she explains.

The idea of the song came from a studio session with collaborators Skinny Days following a break-up, in which she said: “I don’t want a new boyfriend, I just want to kiss somebody.” SEEB heard an early version of the song in an adjacent studio, and thus, a song was born.

The bright bop is a euphoric, if all-too-brief burst of dance-pop, clocking in at just 2:18. (Soon, songs will only be the length of a TikTok, mark my words.) She's got a strong, urgent voice that's perfect for pop production, and that singalong-ready pre-chorus build really lets her yelp - right before the earworm of a vocoded beat drop. ("Make out with her, make out, make out with him, make out!")

And yes, there are guys making out in the music video. Gay rights!

Wasting no time at all, Julie's already performed "Kiss Somebody" live this year over the weekend at Idrettsgallaen, a Norwegian sports awards show. Mercifully, she kept the banana outfit and visor from the music video for the live performance. Vocals and energetic dancing - we love to see and hear it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-BHQxeTuw4

It's 2020, the dawning of a new decade, which means there's no better excuse to go out, find somebody and make out. New beginnings! New mistakes! Listen to Julie Bergan and kiss somebody!

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

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A big thank you to Muuser Calen James for the heads-up about the new tune.

Photo credit: Ida Bjørvik / Warner Music Norway


Masked Singer Nicola Roberts

Excuse Me, Nicola Roberts, I Know That's You on 'The Masked Singer UK'

Something kinda ooooh must be in the water, because legendary '00s-to-early-'10s British girl group members-turned-solo stars keep showing up on reality television competitions as of late.

Before we get into The Masked Singer, I need to get address this first: Alesha "Italians Do It Better" Dixon is, somehow, a judge on the upcoming season of America's Got Talent: Champions, which premieres this week. Alesha Dixon. In America. Yes, it sounds like PopJustice Forum fan-fiction. No, I have no idea how it happened either. But it is, miraculously, real.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kc17Er6qPes

She even did a little "Get To Know" video ahead of the premiere for the American audience, where she references Mis-Teeq (!), "Scandalous" (!!) and vaguely mentions embarking on a solo career with a platinum record (!!!). Like, I know that she's done Britain's Got Talent before, but America?! In this, the year 2020? Trust me: I am not complaining in the least.

In fact, I'm already applying my lipstick, breathing slow, counting from one to ten, and preparing to tune in to see Queen Dixon become America's New Sweetheart. Just imagine: upon being unimpressed by a male contestant, she shrugs and says, simply: "The boy does nothing." Gasp!

But of course, that's not the only dose of British pop perfection impacting our televisions - sorry, tellies - at the moment.

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

The Masked Singer, having now become a global sensation (thank you, South Korea), just premiered in the UK on Saturday night (January 4).

And, after approximately four seconds of the Queen Bee's premiere performance, there is little to no doubt who is behind that pale mask. Gird your Tangled Up loins and graffiti my soul: it's none other than Girls Aloud's resident Rude Ginger Bitch™ herself - Nicola Fucking Roberts.

She sang Sia's "Alive," which is ironic, considering she killed the entire competition with one performance. (LOL at Rita Ora and company pretending to have no idea with their guesses...)

See, the thing about The Masked Singer is that you just can't get away with having a distinct voice. Like, who was Miss Patti Labelle trying to fool last year? It's actually a compliment It means you're distinct! And that voice coming out of the Queen Bee's mask, my friends, is Nicola Robert's signature vibrato - the yelping, the warbling runs and all.

This is obviously a wonderful thing. Not only does she genuinely sound incredible, but Nicola's got a West End debut in the works as as Avril/Mallory in City of Angels alongside Queen Vanessa Williams in March 2020. Of course she's already warming up her chops for her theater run!

There was another dead giveaway that it's the "Beat of My Drum" Dainty Doll diva behind the mask, and that's an unexpected profile in The Guardian, published on Monday (January 6), which I recommend reading. It's way more serious subject matter - and actually quite horrifying compared to all this fluffier stuff, as she opens up about an ex-boyfriend stalking her for five years. Luckily, she's on the other end of it - but it's all further proof that you never really know the extent of what anyone in the public eye is dealing with behind-the-scenes.

Back to silliness: Queen Bee won her face-off and advanced in the competition, and with any luck, she should go all the way to the finale and snatch that crown. (Is it a crown? Mirror ball? I don't know.) Regardless, it will be so incredible to hear a bunch of different Nicola solo performances to kick off this year on the right foot. And if it means giving her the confidence and renewed public interest to release a Cinderella's Eyes follow-up, then we - or, like, whoever is eligible to vote in the UK, I don't know how it works exactly - need to get her to the very end of the competition.

Between this, Cheryl's turn on The Greatest Dancer and last year's RuPaul's Drag Race UK stint, and Queen Nuhdeen getting buddy-buddy with Caitlyn Jenner on I'm a Celeb, I feel my life force returning to me. Perhaps life isn't so cold anymore. Let the power of the Almighty Aloud's combined TV takeover efforts spark the Ten + Eight Years reunion we so desperately need to Save Pop once and for all.

You've won one of these shows once before. You've got this, Nicola!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_BG3n1q5KU


Nina Nesbitt Gabrielle Aplin Miss You 2

Gabrielle Aplin & Nina Nesbitt's 'Miss You 2' Is the First Great New (Old) Pop Song of 2020

I'm Barbara Walters, and this...is 2020.

This year is all about a fresh start, new beginnings and Classic Blue. So, what better way to kick off the New Year than by dusting off a four-year-old song and re-releasing it with a little makeover? (Look, it worked for Lizzo.)

Gabrielle Aplin is an English singer-songwriter who's popped up on my radar (on my ray-duh) more than a few times over the years, including a scattering of songs that have wound up on MuuTunes, including last year's "Like You Say You Do," a sturdy slice of solid upbeat pop. (Oh, you're not subscribed to my weekly playlist? What a perfect time to do so.)

Nina Nesbitt, similarly, is a Scottish singer-songwriter who's also caught my attention multiple times over the years, including last year's The Sun Will Come Up, the Seasons Will Change with songs like "Colder" and "Loyal to Me," which I described as the new "New Rules" fuckboy anthem at the time.

Much to the delight of their fans, and singer-songwriter crossover enthusiasts everywhere, the two have come together on "Miss You 2," a reworked 2020 version of Gabrielle's 2016 viral hit "Miss You," which admittedly I had initially...missed. (See what I did there?)

Other people did not miss it - including up-and-coming indie artist Taylor Swift, who added it to her "Songs Taylor Loves" playlist at the time.

The concept of "Miss You 2" is basically, you know, missing you. 

It's got all the makings of a pop hit (yes, even for a second time around): the dreamy electronic beats and piano pop chords, and if the instant earworm of those "nah-nah-naaah-nah"-s don't hook you, that chorus ("Oh God, I miss you too...") surely will.

It's a no-brainer, really.

“I’m so happy to have Nina on ‘Miss You 2.' I’ve known her for a long time, we came through as artists around the same time. We have been on both sides of an ever-changing industry and both decided to independently take control of our careers and success. The initial release of ‘Miss You’ feels like the start of that for me, and I’m thrilled that Nina has added her voice to a new version of one of my favourite songs of mine," Gabrielle says of their collaboration.

“I’m so excited to be featuring on Gabrielle’s new version of ‘Miss You 2’. We have known each other for a long time and one of my first ever gigs was supporting her at a show in 2011. I’ve always been a big fan of her work and I’m so happy we’ve finally had the chance to collaborate" added Nina.

The song's release comes just ahead of the release of Gabrielle's third studio album Dear Happy, out on January 17.

Here's to discovering much more great music to come in 2020 - even when it's not, like, actually all that new.

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

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Photo credit: Wilful Publicity


Kylie Minogue Album 2020

Kylie Minogue Says Her New Music Will Be 'Like Grown-Up Disco'

I've had a theory for a couple weeks now that Mariah Carey scoring her rightful No. 1 with "All I Want for Christmas Is You" would cosmically right the wrongs that have plagued pop (and also the world) for years, and that all things would fall into place in this dawning of a new decade.

And now, would you look at that? It's only Queen Kylie Minogue herself promising a return to the dance floor.

On Monday (December 22), while everyone was busy rushing around to buy last minute Christmas gifts, The Guardian published an interview between Kylie and Alan Carr ahead of her Secret Night special on Christmas Day. (Whatever it turns out to be, we're not worthy.)

Amid banter about Glastonbury and the upcoming special, Kylie dropped a most incredible nugget of information out of the blue - or, should I say, into the blue...

"This year, with Glastonbury, with this TV show, it’s marking this point in time, but what’s great is what’s happening next. I’m really jazzed about [the music] to come. I think it’s going to be getting back on the dancefloor, like grown-up disco; that’s where I want it to be. Shimmery."

"Dancefloor." "Grown-up disco." "Shimmery."

My heart.

Look: we're all very happy that Kylie got to feel her Dolly Parton fantasy for an album cycle with Golden. But now, it seems one thing's (got to be) certain: mama is coming back home.

She also confirmed that it'll be coming sooner rather than later: "A rest will definitely do me the world of good! After that I’ll mostly be writing and prepping for the next album. It’s been such an inspiring year and I think that both me and my audience are ready for some new music. Let’s see where the journey takes us next!" she told Channel 4 in an interview ahead of her Secret Night.

Consider 2020 officially Highly Anticipated. (And that applies to you too, Rihanna: drop R9 before that next Fenty Beauty highlighter set.)

Kylie, you already know what to do...

Your disco needs...YOU.

Photo credit: YouTube