Where Is Britney Spears? Britney Spears Podcast

"Where Is Britney Spears?": Britney Podcast Episode

Oh baby baby, have you seen Amy tonight? No, like, literally. Have you? We haven't, either. And it's been...months now.

T. Kyle and I, on the other hand, have just returned from our Indefinite Work Hiatus with the long awaited, highly anticipated - err, by my twelve gay readers - episode of It's Britney, Bitch! (@BritneyPodcast).

From a potential pregnancy to conservatorship drama to chilling with Jayden James playing Fortnite at home on a tiny couch, the Britney Army has reliably spared us no shortage of theories about the whereabouts of the Legendary Miss Britney Spears.

In this latest episode of It's Britney, Bitch!, we dig through the past 13+ weeks for clues as to where she's at right now, her final post on social media to date, her most recent sightings in public, family drama, B10, Danja, the conservatorship and Andrew Wallet’s resignation.

On a brighter-ish (morning star) note, we also tackle what has happened in the past three months, including the announcement of Once Upon a One More Time, RuPaul’s Drag Race tributes, Madame Tussaud’s wax figures, and nostalgic Funko Pop dolls and vinyl releases to tide us over until she screams, shouts and lets it all out once again.

Look: no one said being a Britney fan would be easy.

Listen now on Apple Podcasts and Spotify below - or head to BritneyPodcast.com to listen on other streaming services.


Rosalia J Balvin Con Altura

'Con Altura': Rosalía & J Balvin Take it High With a Reggaeton Party in the Sky

Well, just as I thought...excellence.

Rosalía, one of the brightest stars to break out in 2018, and J Balvin, siempre papi nunca inpapi, are a match made in throwback reggaeton heaven.

Granted, they've linked up once before on the more experimental electronic standout "Brillo" featured on Balvin's Vibras. But this time around, they're really letting loose with a nostalgia-meets-modern #SomethingMoreUrban good time.

Given the thematic heaviness, drama and heightened emotions of the bulk of Rosalía's fantastic El mal querer, it's refreshing to hear and watch the 25-year-old Spanish flamenco revivalist have some unadulterated fun and live it up alongside Daddy Balvin and her constant collaborator/co-producer El Guincho on "Con Altura," Rosalía's personal love letter to the genre. (And of course, Balvin's always down to party.)

“'Con Altura' is an homage to the more classic and original reggaeton: reggaeton playero. When I was younger I loved listening to reggaeton and it could have been natural for me to make a song like this before, but I don’t like to force anything. As a musician I let myself be guided by my intuition in every moment. It wasn’t until a few months ago in a studio in Miami where I started writing in this direction: I proposed to my cowriters that we work with a Dominican sample I found, then Frank Dukes added his own sample, and El Guincho added percussion, and the record was born, a Barcelonan-American-Latin pop vibe," she explains of the song's origins.

"Once the beat was built, I wrote the hook in less than five minutes, and when that happens it’s for a reason. I am very proud of this song and believe in it so much, because there is inspiration in a genre like reggaeton, but in a subjective and personal level, from a place of power and strength. I didn’t hesitate to show the song to my friend Jose (J Balvin) and he loved the track and sent over such a fresh and raw verse. I think all the pieces of this puzzle came together and are there for a purpose. I really hope that everyone who listens to it receives it with the same love with which it was made.”

Ever the artista, Rosalía manages to weave her brand of lyrical cleverness into an infectious, instantly appealing beat that clocks in just under the 3-minute mark. (Don't worry about the length - you'll have it on repeat, regardless.) And that hook? Good luck restraining yourself from adding "CON ALTURA" to the end of every phrase for the next few months.

The colorful music video set high in the sky is only further proof of just how full of pop promise Rosalía truly is, from the visual buffet of '90s-meets-fashion-forward ensembles to the fierce footwork. That spanking move after her name drop towards the end? Oh, we stan. She's only just begun (having her fun), if you will. And while I run the risk of making everything about Britney (and I do), I can't help but love the fact that the video is vaguely giving me 1999 UHA Mikakuto Gummy Candy Japanese commercial vibes.

"Con Altura" will likely dominate through spring - if not even an early contender for Song of Summer '19.

And if you're new to all this, and would like to learn more about Rosalía, check out my chat with her for Paper.

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"Con Altura" was released on March 28. (iTunes)


Paloma Mami Fingias

'Fingías' Proves Paloma Mami Is the Next Big Thing in Latin Music

Paloma Mami is It™.

Granted, the 19-year-old Chilean singer already established herself as It™ from the jump last year with just two singles - "Not Steady," her debut single, followed by the already Gold-certified "No te enamores" - but her latest single "Fingías," released on Friday (March 22), just entirely sealed the deal.

After getting her start as a contestant on Chilean talent show Rojo, el color del talento last year - then known as Paloma Castillo (watch a compilation of her performances, including Rihanna's "Man Down"!), Paloma's quickly and impressively established herself as a superstar on the rise by becoming the first-ever Chilean artist of her generation to sign with Sony Music Latin. (See? Making history already.)

Her music is described in the press release for "Fingías" as "urban beats with the chill vibe of an after-party as dawn is about to break" - and that is, indeed, the vibe.

"Fingías" is one of those eternal replay songs - chill, moody, hypnotic and a little sexy-sad all at once - a la Drake's "Hold On, We're Going Home." I cannot get enough of it - it seems to fit every mood, from soundtracking a daytime DJ gig to supplying a calming late night soundtrack. It's already a new favorite of the year, easily.

When you see me with another man, I hope you don’t bite yourself, and that you resolve your issues, as it’s clear that I’m over you,” she cockily declares (in Spanish) along the track. "I thought that it was real / I congratulate you for how well you pretended."

The Matías Vidal-directed video, which was filmed in Chile, only further solidifies her potential to go the distance: she's stunning, for one thing, pulling off both fashion-forward looks and chic classic style while wielding that kind of cocky-cool confidence throughout that only a true star could.

“My music is a more elegant urban style, without references to drugs and sex. It’s smooth and sophisticated but with a strong impact…and that’s the image I intend to project throughout my career," Paloma says of her artistry.

No need to pretend: Paloma Mami's the real deal.

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"Fingías" was released on March 22. (iTunes)


Sky Ferreira Downhill Lullaby

'Downhill Lullaby': The Ghostly Return of Sky Ferreira

"The first song isn’t a pop song...because I really want to make a video for it (& I love it). I’m confident about all of the pop songs on my record so I decided to start with something different," Sky Ferreira wrote earlier in March.

Consider yourselves warned.

The fullest of disclosures: I've been writing about, and wholeheartedly stanning, Sky Ferreira for roughly a decade. I've hid under tables in conference rooms during financial marketing internships to interview her on speakerphone. I've commuted into the city and back to see her perform at showcases well before I was living on my own. "Everything Is Embarrassing" was my favorite song of 2012, and remains one of my favorite songs of all time. Night Time, My Time was my favorite album of 2013. I helped to confirm the title of her eternally delayed second studio album, Masochism, in 2015. She seems to like me. I really like her. I say all this to say: I'm biased as fuck, and I don't think I'm ever going to not like what she does.

"Downhill Lullaby," released on Wednesday (March 27), is the long, long, long awaited return of Sky, after a seemingly endless series of delays and setbacks since 2014, through vast stretches of time when it felt like it might just not ever happen again.

But it did. It's here. And it is, indeed, not a pop song.

Instead, Sky's swerved, as Britney would say, even further into the artsy-fartsy lane, opting to supply #SomethingMoreCinematic.

It's all things ghostly and moody and gothic, diving even deeper into the Night Time, filled with haunting strings and eerie vocals, at times recalling the rawness of Fiona Apple and the densest spaces of Lana Del Rey's Ultraviolence - and, of course, all things David Lynch. ("I walked with the fire" - a Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me reference, perhaps?)

That's what I hear, anyway. And then there's a bunch of musical influences that I've admittedly never heard of and can't speak to: "Here’s what I actually based it off of: George Antheil, Krzysztof Penderecki, Mica Levi & John Cale," she clarified on Twitter on the day of release.

If it sounds like Sky's drowning on the track, there's reason: the inspiration is watery - lakes, specifically.

"Lakes kind of terrify me...in a lake, by yourself, you look at the bottom and it’s murky and still and you can’t really see anything or feel anything—and if you do, it’s fucking terrifying. It always feels like something will grab you and pull you under," she told Pitchfork.

She also compared the process of creating the increasingly chaotic track to Fantasia: “You know how all the brooms are making a gigantic mess and the water starts rising and rising and rising and rising? It was sort of like that: Magical, but at the same time, ‘What is going on?’ And then cleaning it all up.”

Is "Downhill Lullaby" a single? Not in the traditional sense. Cannot say it's a "bop," no. Won't be played on radio! It is undeniably a bold choice for a first taste of new, non-feature, non-cover Sky Ferreira music in six years, for sure. And while the production is really gorgeous and intricately crafted (she detailed her maddeningly long approval process for songs in that Pitchfork profile, and it shows), the song plays more like a soundtrack offering than a standalone serving. There will undeniably be some backlash for opting to take the obtuse route after all these years.

But then, there's still Something About Sky that draws me in, even when she's at her most abstract and un-singalong-able.

"Downhill Lullaby" is an intriguing way to begin. I like that she's setting the tone of this record, on her own terms. And besides, she's promised “more poppy” things to come on Mashochism in that same Pitchfork interview: “It’s very big, but also very violent...but not all the songs are super-dark.”

I've waited this long. I can wait even longer for the "more poppy" stuff to surface. I suppose that's the masochist in me.

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"Downhill Lullaby" was released on March 27. (iTunes)

Photo credit: Capitol Records


Louise Stretch Heavy Love

'Stretch': Louise Is Back, and She Wants to Get Physical

Louise is ready to break a sweat.

If you're not of the United Kingdom (and/or are somewhat obsessively into British pop like some of us), you might not already know of Louise Elizabeth Redknapp née Nurding, formerly a member of British girl group Eternal.

After the group released their record-breaking, over one million-selling debut album Always And Forever in 1993, Louise left the group to embark on a solo career - or, as it's more commonly referred to, she "pulled a Geri."

The risk paid off, and Louise went on to release a handful of successful solo albums and a dozen Top 20 UK hits - including "Naked," "Undivided Love," "Arms Around the World" and "2 Faced" - selling over 15 million records worldwide. But after a stalled fourth studio album, Louise effectively stopped releasing music for 16 years...until now, that is.

"Stretch," out on Tuesday (March 26), is the first taste of Louise's forthcoming album Heavy Love, her first album with her new ADA/Warners label deal - and also her first studio album in 18 years. The record will be out on October 18, and boasts work with Clean Bandit, RAYE, Eg White, Sinead Harnett and the prolific Karen Poole.

“Making this album has been a real emotional and honest process for me. It’s been 18 years since I went into a recording studio, and with no expectations I’ve come out with a body of work which I am so proud of," Louise says of the record.

"Stretch" is a sexy serving of breathy, fitness-inspired seduction, stretched (eh heh) across a light and funky beat. (That moan of "stretch" in the chorus is the real highlight, of course.) The song joins a long line of sweat-soaked workout-sex pop anthems a la Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" and Kylie Minogue's "Sexercize." Bend over and touch your toes!

It's also not too far off from something on Selena Gomez's Revival, but with a Holly Valance kind of early '00s campiness. It also evokes Delta Goodrem's sexy 2018 comeback, "Think About You." And if Britney ever decided to come out of Indefinite Work Hiatus and provide an instructional workout CD/DVD series (we miss you, B), this would be a perfect song to add to the soundtrack.

There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of not-so-serious, airy, fluttery pop like this out there at the moment - it's a refreshingly fun listen, and a wonderful return to form after almost two decades out of the game. And of course, on a personal level, I'm ecstatic to have a new song overflowing with potential lyrical captions for my obnoxious #gymprogress selfies.

Now then: bring on the Emancipation of LouLou.

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"Stretch" was released on March 26. (iTunes)

Photo credit: ADA/Warners


Jolin Tsai Life Sucks

'Life Sucks': Jolin Tsai Provides the Anti-#GoodVibesOnly Anthem

Let me tell you something: I cannot stand a #GoodVibesOnly type of person. It's just not realistic. Ignoring the inevitable, unavoidable suffering that comes in this life is just stupid - and, frankly, deeply unhealthy.

I get that positive thinking is a good thing. I've read (parts of) The Secret. Or, well, I've read a summary somewhere. But better, and more emotionally mature, is to embrace the bad moments for what they are - naturally occurring parts of life - and ride them out until you're out from under.

You can't fully appreciate the good stuff in life without the bad. And Jolin Tsai, Queen of C-Pop™, certainly gets that.

After sliding in just under the wire with one of the best videos (and albums!) of 2018 in the form of Ugly Beauty, the 38-year-old Taiwanese pop icon and tireless LGBTQ warrior returned on Monday (March 11) with an entirely fitting visual for one of the most memorable cuts from the record: "Life Sucks."

The thing about "Life Sucks" is that it's not an entirely woe-is-me anthem as the title might suggest, nor a middle finger to the world. Instead, Jolin wisely demonstrates the art of marinating in misery before building back up again from the depths of depression - all served up on a future bass platter.

Incredibly #relatable frustration and despair provides the fuel for take-off ("Struggle to find love, suffer from loneliness / Struggling to make a living; stay in a job I hate for these small paychecks") before Jolin steers us away from diving too deep into darkness with some real talk: "You fall down, you lie down, be negative, negativity helps, life has its ups and downs / Flush your bad luck down the toilet and forget about it, be negative, embrace your negativity and then cut it out."

It's a self-empowerment anthem, yes...but a far more realistic one.

The video finds us staring down at Jolin, plus a bunch of other people from various walks of life, laying on the ground (or a bed, or a gym mat, or a basketball court, or a boxing ring), all weighed down by their feelings. Eventually, through Jolin's encouraging words, they deliver a synchronized routine before returning back on their feet again - it's essentially Kylie Minogue's "Slow" as seen through the lens of depression. (Legends only.)

Once again, Jolin's nailed the tricky task of balancing socially conscious lyricism with enjoyable, entirely bop-able production. The fact that the video's captioned in a variety of languages only helps to make the message that much more universal. It's Purposeful Pop done right, basically. (Sorry, Katy...)

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh, right: #LiveLaughLove #NoDrama #Smile #Happy #Positivity #Blessed.

Ugly Beauty was released on December 26. (iTunes)

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Dido Still On My Mind

'Still On My Mind': Dido Makes a Warm, Welcome Return (Album Review)

Six years after the release of her last studio album, 2013's Girl Who Got Away, Dido - Ms. Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong, if you're nasty - didn't really need to come back. She's sold over 40 million albums worldwide, and is responsible for co-inventing the concept of a "stan" with Eminem. Frankly, she's set.

But she chose to return, anyway.

Feeling no pressure to compete in today's musical climate ("I didn't have a record deal and no one was waiting for it," she told NPR), Dido decided to dive in once more without limitations or expectations to create Still On My Mind, out on Friday (March 8), a lush return after taking time off to spend with her son Stanley. (Yes, a "Stan" REFERENCE - but not intentionally so.)

The album, co-crafted in its entirety alongside her brother Rollo Armstrong, is a family affair.

"I realized, very clearly that I just didn't really want to do it if it wasn't with him this time," she said to NPR. "I just had a real need to do that and go back to the basics, where I'm just hanging out with my brother and we make some music. It actually didn't take very much time. I would say it's definitely been the easiest record I've ever made."

The record is as personal as working with one's own sibling, thematically speaking: the closer "Have To Stay," for instance, is a short but heartfelt ode to her son, pledging her unconditional love across a relaxing, gently expanding ambient undercurrent. (It's her "My Baby," for those here from the Britney podcast.)

"I'm here as long as you need / When you show you're okay on your own, I'll smile and leave," she humbly pledges.

Aww, Mom.

"I don't tend to look back, but I also don't tend to look forward. I'm very much sort of in-the-moment person and I'm terrible at planning and I'm terrible at looking back," she told NPR.

That said, she does sort of look ahead, beautifully, with the album's introductory track, which is also the one that sold me from the very first play at the end of last year: "Hurricanes."

"Let me not turn away from happiness or pain / Just not to run away, in my heart and in my head / Let me face hurricanes," she vows on the track, which gradually shifts from a soft guitar strum to waves upon waves of stuttering electronica as she soldiers onward into uncharted territory with her love. She's not exactly one to give in during times of trouble. There will be no white flag above her door, one might even say.

The song is overwhelmingly romantic - the line "I wanna see you as you walk through the door, and time will make us some ways less, and some ways more" destroys me - and it remains an arresting standout on the record.

Elsewhere, she dabbles in different sonic textures, bouncing along on the trap-tinged (!) apology "Still On My Mind," like a warmer take on what Lykke Li's recently done on so sad, so sexy.

For the bop squad thirsting for the album's most uptempo moment(s): "Take You Home" is the album's most dance-y offering, like a hypnotic, slightly melancholy Sophie Ellis-Bextor-meets-Moby cooly sung disco ditty.

"I can sing you a song, take you home, but I can't seem to find my way home," she repeats over and over again - an anthem for those feeling lost at sea, surely.

She veers into bouncier, breezier, almost Ace of Base-esque territory on "Mad Love," and serves up some horn-y trip-hop seduction with the playful "Hell After This" ("If I'm going to Hell after this, I'm gonna enjoy it while I can.") The chorus of "You Don't Need a God," on the other hand, recalls some of the haunting melodies from her past hits.

Speaking of the classics: "Give You Up," with its giant sing-along chorus, feels like one of songs from the album that most closely falls in line with the lineage of prior global smashes like "Thank You."

The sassy and (deservedly) cocky "Friends" is a catchy cut as well, blending Dido's angelic delivery and dreamy production with some rather snappy lines ("I've done a hundred things you've only dreamed / So don’t come crying to me.") For all that attitude, it's misleadingly disarming.

There's a charming mundanity to the lyricism, even when centered around internal and/or external conflict: "All I did today was wake up and watch TV / Another wasted day / But that's alright with me, she sings on the song, co-penned with the genius Guy Sigsworth. "I could stay up all night or go to bed / Oh, neither's right or wrong."

Yes, these are the concerns of a pop star mother who largely keeps to herself. It's undoubtedly true to her experience - and hey, laying around the house doesn't mean Dido can't still evoke profound feelings.

As a woman with an of-the-moment mentality, Dido manages to devastate with the particularly gutting "Some Kind of Love," the record's most poignant ballad. It's a straightforward tale of rediscovering old records laying underneath a bed, playing them again, conjuring all of the memories...and recognizing that, despite the nostalgia, it's never quite the same.

"The songs hadn't changed / Every note just the same / But when she played them once again / All those words, those melodies / Like better days past and gone / Leaving her behind / With the promise of some kind of love."

Gulp.

"I wanted to capture the feeling I still get from listening to music, just that rush like you don’t need anything more than this," she said of the making of Still On My Mind in the album's press release.

Stepping away from the music industry for several years to spend her time at home, Dido's captured the essence of the intimate life she's led since in a simultaneously fresh and familiar collection that nods, but never panders, to modern sounds and recalls, but never replicates, past glories. Above all, it's an escape - if only for this moment.

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Still On My Mind was released on March 8. (iTunes)

Photo credit: Simon Emmett


Anda R.Tee What You Waiting For YGX YG The Black Label BLACKPINK

'What You Waiting For?': Anda Reboots Her Career With a Banger Intended for BLACKPINK

To no one's surprise, K-pop is continuing to deliver quality in 2019.

Today's gem comes from two equally intriguing acts: R.Tee, the DJ and composer hailing from YG's sub-label The Black Label responsible for co-producing BLACKPINK's "Playing With Fire" and "DDU-DU DDU-DU" among other hits, and Anda, formerly known as Andamiro, a newly re-debuting 28-year-old singer now signed to YG's sub-label YGX, of which BIGBANG's Seungri is the CEO. (That's all a lot to process, I know.)

The collaboration's been anticipated for a while now, largely because the song, "What You Waiting For," was being considered for BLACKPINK's upcoming project.

“The members of BLACKPINK supported this single a lot. I wanted to collaborate with an artist I like. I felt this is the way I should release this song," said R.Tee in an interview for YG upon the song's release. “I’ve never seen an artist who emits such powerful energy in the studio. She focused herself in the topic and put in detailed work."

It's no wonder the song was in the running for BLACKPINK: with its fierce attitude and unexpected, utterly nasty beat drop - which a friend of mine accurately described as "an ⏰ in a washing machine" - it absolutely screams BLACKPINK. (Also, the way the beat warps slightly differently with each drop? Genius.

But as we know, BLACKPINK are doing just fine, gracing the cover(s) of Billboard and staging arena tours around the world. It's good to give another YG act a chance to shine. (And also let CL out of the basement one day, maybe. #JusticeForCL)

In the grand tradition of impatient pop anthems, "What You Waiting For?" finds Anda demanding answers, and time is quickly running out. Simply put: Anda's fed up...she's tired of waiting on you. (Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock...)

"I'm ready to give all my love to you / Do you really not know? / Why are you hesitating like this? We both already know / Baby, just put it on me, I'm ready for whatever happens / What the hell are you waiting for?" she urges.

The video ticks all the right boxes: technological turmoil? Tight choreography? Check and check! No, but actually - check that wristwatch choreo. Plus, those brief mirror scenes are giving me BoA "My Name" vibes. I'm sold.

Song aside, Anda is intriguing: from her look (gorgeous!), to the quality of her moves and her voice, especially as she sassily yelps across the bridge leading into the final chorus...I'm more than ready to hear more from her soon. Also, the fact that she's nearly 30 and kicking off her career anew! Hello, let's celebrate that in an era of ageist nonsense.

Now then, what are you waiting for?

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"What You Waiting For?" was released on March 6. (iTunes)


LOONA Butterfly LOOΠΔ

'Butterfly' Is Why 'Stan Loona' Is (Rightfully) a Thing

Log on to Twitter. Actually, don't, it's the Bad Place. But if you do, you'll see that the running joke and/or rallying cry - at least across vasts portions of K-Pop Stan Twitter™, and various pockets of Gay Twitter™ - is "Stan Loona."

Got a problematic politician? A popular Western pop star? Any viral tweet? Look somewhere in their mentions: there's probably someone encouraging readers to spend their time stanning Loona instead. It's been happening for a while. It's even popped up on protest signs.

And indeed, it is the right choice.

There's good reason for their amusingly over-the-top fandom and their incredible sense of humor (and, obviously, passion): they've probably out-hyped any other rookie Korean girl group by far, painstakingly launching member by member - and sub-unit by sub-unit - over the course of two years or so. (If you've not been following along for the ride, here you go.) We've got to know them very well for months before they were even fully Loona. It's been an endless barrages of daily vlogs (so many vlogs), teasers (so many teasers), Grimes "features" (eh...) and...well, just a lot of waiting for them to genuinely pop.

The weird thing with Loona is that they're, like, kind of flopping at home.

Not terribly! But not amazing, either - or at least what the Internet might have you assume. They've still never won a music show in Korea (a big deal), and they've not yet won at any major Korean award shows, either. The only really big title they've won, naturally, was an international victory at the MTV Europe Music Awards. They've bizarrely become most popular, at least on The Internet, everywhere but exactly where they're from. It's kind of wild.

[× ×] for instance, the repackage of their debut mini-album [+ +] which was released on February 19, came in at a modest No. 10 in Korea, compared to the original's No. 2 debut last year. (No. 4 on the US World Chart, of course.) That's not bad, but...it's not BLACKPINK's numbers, either. (And no, I'm not Pitting Women Against Each Other. In theory, they both could win just as hard.)

But also, as much as they need the support (and revenue) to continue on as a unit, fuck the general public for not having taste! Because they've nailed this comeback.

Everything about "Butterfly" is majestic, especially the dancing: it's the best pop choreography of 2019, hands down, and I won't be surprised if it goes down as one of the most intricate routines of the year. (Also, it's another prime example of "Western pop stars should be ashamed of themselves in comparison.") I mean, come on: the way these twelve girls actually emulate a butterfly, hair-flipping and fluttering their arms and flowing sleeves? It's a beautiful display.

The song's beat breakdown is mesmerizing too. I'm never one for a beat drop as a chorus in a pop song usually, but "Butterfly" defies my rules. It's works, as do the cries of "fly like a butterfly!" It's weird, and doesn't quite make sense as a "typical" K-pop lead single. That's probably why it's also stayed with me beyond the usual burnout after 24 hours.

And also, the music video! So subtly meaningful, incorporating all of the different Loona lovers (Orbits) around the world and emphasizing inclusivity and diversity. (All around the world, pretty Orbits...) Also, that cover art is quite literally art. Stunning! Sure I'll join your butterfly cult, girls...

The rest of the repackage is great, too: "Satellite," "Curiosity" (not a Carly Rae Jepsen cover), "Colors" (a fan favorite) and "Where You At." I highly recommend giving the full collection a listen: it's a solid offering of modern K-pop, but it's really the title track ("Butterfly") that makes the girls stand out as having their own unique image/sound/color(s).

Furthermore, also, and then, too: the live music show performances have continued to improve and impress each time - the lush lighting, the outfits, the synchronized fluttering. It's all really, really excellent.

In short, I'm not entirely sure what the ladies of Loona need to do to get it to really take off in their home country, mainly because I'm...not Korean. I have no idea if their imagery isn't connecting, or if their agency just isn't getting them the visibility with marketing and performances that they need. (BlockBerry Creative isn't part of The Big 3, after all.) Or maybe LOOΠΔ isn't SEO friendly. Are they not seeing all the Loona memes?! Maybe Kim Chi needs to tweet about them more. Or there need to be more Buzzfeed articles about them being billionaire lesbians getting married. I don't know. I DON'T KNOW.

But I do know that their potential still exists. Perhaps they just need to kick off that Japanese debut already, followed by a Western crossover effort. Is it time for the girls to go global rather than worrying about domestic domination?

Whatever they do, they deserve to fly...like...well, a butterfly. (Wing! Wing! Wing!)

Anyway, stan Loona.

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"Butterfly" was released on February 19. (iTunes)

Photo credit: Blockberry Creative


Sunmi Noir

'Noir': Sunmi Shows the Dark Side of Stunting for the Gram

Sunmi, formerly of the Wonder Girls (still too soon, gone but never forgotten), has rapidly become one of my new favorite K-pop soloists over the past two years, thanks to one-two-three punch of "Gashina," "Heroine" and "Siren" - and it appears she's just going to keep the love (and likes - more on that in a moment!) coming this year with her delightfully dark new offering, "Noir."

There's always been a sort of weird, creepy, Audition-esque energy to Sunmi's releases, whether it be extreme obsession or loneliness or vengeance of some kind. In this case, it's attention - or rather, the all-too-real emptiness of social media validation. Hold on...okay, sorry, I was taking a selfie.

"Noir" itself is a slower, smoother number with that signature haunting, dramatic Sunmi energy cooked up alongside EL CAPITXN, otherwise known as Jang Yijeong, a former History member who also works with the boys of BTS. At this point, as I've seen some of her fans argue in the comments, she's becoming her own genre. I have to agree. It's a Sunmi Song™.

Sunmi Noir

"I've already seen this before, I feel so high..."

The accompanying video requires no explanation or translation, as the message is universal: anything for the 'Gram, right?

The dead-faced diva finds herself in an array of increasingly horrifying situations: sat in front of a birthday cake gone aflame, playing a knife game gone bloody (but who needs fingers, anyway?) Feeling nothing, but documenting everything, Sunmi gobbles down heart-shaped pills (likes!) and live-streams each creepy scenario, flipping on a fake smile for the sake of digital love while remaining eerily emotionless in the presence of IRL horrors.

Sunmi Noir

"We are in noir, now you and I don't exist..."

It's very...

Pearl RuPaul

Granted, Sunmi's far from the first to tackle the darker side of social media. Miss Jolin Tsai just recently vomited reaction emojis into a sink while skewering society's obsession with her "Ugly Beauty," and the emptiness of digital interaction has been called into question all the way back to Janet Jackson's "Empty."

But it's not like the topic has become any less relevant in 2019, as our lives increasingly become shaped by pixelized interactions - and it's always interesting to see this kind of messaging being presented in K-pop, an industry that is typically characterized by shiny, flaw-free pop perfection meticulously crafted for prime "perfect" presentation. She really is a fascinating standout in an overstuffed market.

So please, watch Sunmi's latest masterpiece below - and of course, don't forget to like, comment, share, subscribe, hashtag and follow. Or else, did it even really happen?

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"Noir" was released on March 4. (iTunes)


Emma Bunton My Happy Place Baby Please Don't Stop

'Baby Please Don't Stop': The Breezy Return of Emma Bunton

There are things you think you'll never get a chance to say again in your lifetime. "Baby Spice is back with new music" is certainly one of them. Or, well, was.

Mercifully, the status of another Emma Bunton solo record is no longer just a "Maybe." (Eh heh, see what I did there?)

Twelve long years since Em-in-the-place (who likes it in your face) released her fabulously French pop-influenced Life In Mono, the Spice Girl with objectively the strongest, most consistent and timeless track record of solo music returned on Wednesday (February 27) with "Baby Please Don't Stop," the first taste of her upcoming record, My Happy Place.

To be honest, it still doesn't feel real.

The song was written by Emma alongside Paul Barry and Patrick Mascall and, once again, finds Emma indulging in her sweet spot: swinging '60s pop.

As a result, in many ways, it feels as though Emma's never missed a beat over a decade later: the song could easily be squeezed into the track list of 2004's Free Me, her best record - and arguably the best Spice solo album, period.

A chart smash? Perhaps not in 2019. But then again, who knows? That's always been the beauty of Solo Emma: she's never sounded thirsty for radio relevance. It all feels so effortless, breezy and right - this sound is just so her.

My Happy Place - out April 12 - is a ten song collection produced by Metrophonic which features several duets, including one with Robbie Williams (!) on a new version of "2 Become 1" (!!), as well as Will Young (!) on "I Only Want To Be With You." There's even a duet with her own fiancé, Jade Jones: "You're All I Need to Get By." The Spice Girls' very own Sonny & Cher, ladies and gentlemen.

The album is also largely a covers affair, although there's another new song on the way alongside "Baby Please Don't Stop" called "Too Many Teardrops," which promises to be "another slice of sensual sixties pop."

“The reason I called the album My Happy Place is because my happy place is with my family, with my friends, listening to music and being in the studio. All those things came together on this album. While recording it my kids came to the studio, my friends came down, my mum listened to every song over and over again. Being in the studio I just feel so happy. As you get older you feel more confident because actually your priorities change, and my family have become my focus, but this album is like the icing on the cake. Being able to write, record and perform is definitely that extra sprinkle of magic," Emma explained of the album.

Truthfully, after watching the "Baby Please Don't Stop" music video filled with friends and family and a visibly fulfilled Emma front and center, that mission statement becomes abundantly (a-bunton-ly) clear: this is exactly where Emma's meant to be.

And while we already know that the Spice Reunion Tour is officially a go (sans one) later this year, it's genuinely a delight to see her back in action again in her own right.

Just one request: Baby (Spice), please don't stop.

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"Baby Please Don't Stop" was released on February 27. (iTunes)


Carly Rae Jepsen Now That I Found You No Drug Like Me

'Now That I Found You' & 'No Drug Like Me': Carly Rae Jepsen Provides Another Pop Fix

The year is 2019, and Carly Rae Jepsen, born Slayly Raemacculate Jepselegend Of The North, has returned to us on Wednesday (February 27) with not one, but two new Carly Rae Jams to inject directly into our veins and carry us through these most trying of times: "Now That I Found You" - sadly not a Britney cover - and "No Drug Like Me."

According to the press release, both of the songs - along with last year's "Party For One," I can only assume - will be featured on Carly's post-E·MO·TION record, due for release sometime later this year.

“'Now That I Found You' is about the high you get when a new love starts to change your life. It’s like the rush, rush, rush is better than any drug," Carly explains of the first, saccharine-sweet cut, produced by Captain Cuts, the same LA songwriting and production team behind "Party For One."

The track is essentially classic, if not by-the-numbers CRJ euphoria: it's breathlessly smitten, urgent and earnest, a la "Cut to the Feeling" or "I Really Like You," stretching all the way back to the days of "Curiosity" and "Call Me Maybe."

"No Drug Like Me," however, veers more towards "Warm Blood" and "All That" territory in its seductive, '80s synth-y and slightly ghostly goodness - and is, thus, more intriguing.

"Which leads me to ‘No Drug Like Me,' which is a promise I made to love in general. That when the good stuff lands my way I’ll always try to be vulnerable and brave and show all of myself - if you make me feel in love then I’ll blossom for you," she explained of the song, produced by John Hill (of Bionic fame, most importantly) and Jordan Palmer.

As for that disco record she's teased since 2016? Three songs in, and that concept remains nowhere to be seen or heard. It's a more of the same moment, to be honest. (E·MO·TION Side C?)

That said, it's really nothing short of a miracle that Carly's maintained her sparkly electro-pop demeanor through these most moody of years. And for that, we remain grateful.

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"Now That I Found You / No Drug Like Me" was released on February 27. (iTunes)

Photo credit: School Boy Records / Interscope