Sunmi Oh Sorry Ya MuuMuse Interview

The Resilience & Reign of SUNMI (Interview)

Sunmi Oh Sorry Ya

"I wanted to show people that I can overcome anything, even if it takes some time."

SUNMI debuted as a member of the Wonder Girls in 2007, a girl group that - aside from amassing a string of hits over the years - became the first Korean act ever to appear on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 with "Nobody" in 2009.

It's a feat that cemented the then barely 17-year-old idol's name in the pop history books forever. And yet, she was still only just getting started.

After briefly leaving the group to pursue her studies in 2010, she returned with her successful first step as a soloist with her debut EP in 2014, including her first solo hits, "24 Hours," and the title track, "Full Moon."

She would eventually reunite with the girl group for their long-awaited comeback, making an all-too-brief transformation into an '80s-style retro band for the (still incredible) 2015 Wonder Girls record, REBOOT. The project found the members actively participating in the songwriting process, and provided SUNMI with the confidence to start putting a personal touch on her own music moving forward.

The Wonder Girls, as is sadly the case with most girl groups, disbanded soon after their comeback, and SUNMI went solo once again, this time with "Gashina" in 2017.

Almost instantly, SUNMI established herself as a unique, singular voice in the industry - an impressive feat, especially in a climate largely dominated by girl groups and boy bands.

Her eccentric visuals, emotionally complex lyrical themes, fiercely expressive (and, at times, wondrously wacky) choreography, and of course, her sonic brand of "SUNMI-Pop," inspired by nostalgic elements of disco, electronica and city-pop, solidified her as a top solo act in Korea.

She went on to release smash after smash over the years, growing increasingly involved in the songwriting and production of her music with releases like "Heroine," "Siren," "Noir" and "pporappippam," leading up to last year's "You Can't Sit With Us," off of her latest mini-album, 1/6.

Having attained the status of a veteran in a relentless revolving door of an industry, in which staying power is an increasingly rare trait, the now 29-year-old superstar has more recently assumed the role of a mentor, appearing as a judge ("Master") on last year's Girls Planet 999, the survival competition series in which she helped to whittle down a group of 99 hopefuls into the newest 9-member troupe on the scene, KEP1ER.

And when she's not busy molding future generations of pop superstars, she's continuing to blaze her own path.

For her first release of 2022, the K-pop titan partnered with Spotify as part of their EQUAL initiative in celebration of International Women's Day to release "Oh Sorry Ya," the first song SUNMI's composed with a team of solely women, alongside English production duo LYRE.

Thematically, it's a continuation of her soul-baring English-language cut "Borderline," which was released shortly after disclosing her borderline personality disorder diagnosis on national television in 2020. She describes it as a conversation between the "Old SUNMI" and the "New SUNMI," honoring her own personal growth, from the hurt girl she once was to the resilient superstar that she is today.

I had the honor of speaking with SUNMI upon the release of "Oh Sorry Ya" to discuss the song, her boundary-breaking legacy, both as part of a girl group and as a solo star, her lasting impact on the K-pop industry and beyond, and what's still to come.

"Oh Sorry Ya" is your first release of 2022. Can you talk about the meaning behind the song?

Everyone has their own painful memories and scars. However, through this song, I wanted to tell you that you’ve become much stronger and more resilient while overcoming those barriers.

You describe it as a continuation of your English track "Borderline," and a conversation between "Old SUNMI" and "New SUNMI."

I wondered in what situation I could say “Oh, Sorry Ya.” Suddenly I thought about saying sorry to SUNMI in the lyrics of "Borderline." “New SUNMI” is no longer sick because of “Old SUNMI.” No matter how much “Old SUNMI” tries to hurt, “New SUNMI” has become much stronger.

It's also your first song composed by only women. How was the song's creation process?

The process of finding all-female teams was difficult. Other than that, everything else was very easy. Although we were far away and didn’t even get a chance to see each other, we were very considerate, so everything worked out well.

"Oh Sorry Ya" is part of Spotify's EQUAL Initiative. What does it mean to be involved in that initiative?

First of all, I’m really grateful to Spotify for proposing this project that focuses on producer SUNMI. This is already my second participation in the EQUAL project. I usually make a strong impression as a performer, but Spotify is always more curious about my music. It’s such an honor for me.

"Borderline" came during Mnet's Running Girls, when you very bravely opened up about being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2020. Mental health is still very stigmatized across the world. Why did you decide to go public, and what happened after it became international news? Was it a positive experience?

I was able to take courage because I wanted to show people that I can overcome anything, even if it takes some time. That’s why I released "Borderline." I hope many people listen to this song so that they can share their pain and sympathize with each other. It could’ve been a reckless decision to reveal my weaknesses. However, because I overcame all the process and pain, it was no longer my weakness, and I was able to speak out.

How did the pandemic affect your experience as an artist? Has it affected your new music?

As a singer who gets a lot of energy by communicating with fans on the stage, the pandemic was totally a darkness. I wonder what it means to sing and dance on an empty stage without fans. The communication breakdown due to the pandemic, however, gave me a new experience, such as the Metaverse. Although it’s not as real as the actual energy and atmosphere, it was a completely different type of experience where I could interact with my fans through music.

Ever since your first solo debut, you have created a very distinct style of music, where all your releases sound like SUNMI songs. Not many artists have that. That is very unique to you. How would you describe the "SUNMI-pop" sound?

When I make my own music, I get inspired from the old music that I’ve admired and been impressed with. That’s why my music seems to have a strong retro mood. My music is characterized by dealing with complex emotions. It’s double-sided; sad but exciting, and exciting but sad at the same time.

City-pop/retro disco also feels like a big part of the "Sunmi-pop" sound. Are there any new artists or genres influencing your current music?

Hybrid pop and hyper pop genres are new to me these days. It’s very interesting that completely different compositions and genres come together to make one and only kind of music.

Your songs deal with very complex emotions, and you can really feel that you are heavily involved in the creative process for your releases. Your personality comes through in the music. By REBOOT in 2015, you started to appear as the lyricist and songwriter on almost all the songs. Can you talk about why it was important to you?

Thanks to the experience that I participated in the album REBOOT as a lyricist and songwriter, I now became a solo artist, SUNMI, with a very clear color. Because I’ve been practicing looking into my own sensitivity, emotions, and stories, my character, SUNMI as a solo artist, could be clarified today.

Your last release, "You Can't Sit With Us," featured a fight with zombies in the music video. It is said you trained with the Train to Busan stunt coordinator. What was the experience like? Would you ever act in a horror movie?

It was my first time acting a stunt, so there were many difficulties when training. However, other actors and I worked well together, so I was able to perform well without injury. Horror movies are good, but I want to try action movies. Haha.

Your dance routines are also very memorable. What do you look for when you're creating choreography for your songs?

I try to make choreography easy and direct enough for people to understand what it means even if the language is different.

How do you feel about the Wonder Girls' impact on expanding K-pop into the West?

About a decade has passed since I made a huge challenge in the U.S. as a member of Wonder Girls, and so many things have changed. At that time, people barely knew where Korea was located and even what K-POP was. However, it’s a totally different story now. Not only BTS, but also many K-POP artists are loved all over the world, and many people have become used to consuming not only K-POP itself, but also other Korean content. That’s really amazing.

You've had girl group experience, and solo experience. Is it more difficult to be a solo artist in the K-pop industry?

I can’t say which one is more difficult. But working in a group and as a solo seem to be a little different in areas. For the group, there are many members, and each individual has a relatively short amount of time to be seen on the screen. On the other hand, as a solo, there’s only me for the whole four minutes on the screen. Since every moment and movement is captured, it’s hard to captivate the audience if I don’t excel at first.

You are an icon in the K-pop industry, and helped other artists pave the way, including your participation in Girls Planet 999 last year, where you helped to put together KEP1ER. What was the experience of doing that show?

The responsibilities weigh heavily on me as a master. I knew each of their dreams was so precious, so I had mixed emotions every time. Also, it was a chance for me to look back on my career. I thought I should be a good example / role model for the girls.

Did you give any advice to the KEP1ER girls for their debut as a group?

Rather than advice, I told them to take care of their health. I knew how rapidly the system was running without a break, and the girls seemed to have gone through a really rough time both physically and mentally. I told them, “Let’s meet on the stage later not as a master, but as a reliable colleague, sister or singer.”

You also collaborated with Ed Sheeran and Jessi on a remix of "Shivers," introducing yourself to even more people in the West. How did that come about, and what was the experience like?

Warner Music Korea offered me to be part of Ed Sheeran’s Korean remix of "Shivers." I couldn’t believe it at first because it’s Ed Sheeran! I thought it’s such a wonderful opportunity. It was a more meaningful experience because I worked with my beloved artist, Jessi.

So many rookies cover your songs over the years, including a member of the new group NMIXX. How does that make you feel? Do you have any favorite covers of your music?

Every time I watch the covers, I think this female solo artist, SUNMI, should continue to grow and be a good role model for those friends. So many rookies have covered my songs, and I can’t pick one because every single cover was amazing. "Full Moon" by Sullyoon from NMIXX was so cool, and "Full Moon" by Aisha from EVERGLOW was really impressive.

You also did your first online concert in 2021. Will you be touring again in the future?

I’m planning for my second world tour in the second half of the year.

Are you currently working on a new record?

Since I’m planning for my tour, I might release one more song before the tour.

Your 2019 SUNMI THE 1ST WORLD TOUR [WARNING] was incredible - I was at the New York City show. It was an amazing performance. What was the most interesting or wildest experience you had abroad during that tour?

It was absolutely a shocking and magnificent experience that people in different languages and nations sing along to my songs in Korean. There were also many fans who came to my show with the same outfit and makeup as mine. I always get goosebumps every time they call my name.

If you had the chance to debut again as a solo artist in 2022, would you do anything differently?

I want to try rock. It’s not common for female singers to sing and play the bass at the same time. Haha.


Madonna Frozen Remix Video

Madonna's "Frozen" Remix Gets a Video, a Year After Going Viral

Madonna Frozen Remix Video

Look, you can't blame her for being a little behind schedule.

Madonna, Queen of Pop™, is currently hard at work on a biopic about the life of Madonna, written by Madonna, directed by Madonna, and executive produced by Madonna.

It's been in the works for years at this point, and some script co-writers have come and gone along the way, as the "I'm Going Bananas" chanteuse continues carving out the full story of how she Lived to Tell. (Or, at least, up to the Blonde Ambition Tour.)

She's also making headlines - isn't she always? - this time because of the audition process for the as-of-yet untitled film, as she whittles down a sizable list of hopefuls, including, apparently, like the entire cast of Euphoria, Bebe Rexha (!) and Sky Ferreira (!!!), among others.

The women are reportedly being put through grueling 11-hour-a-day, all-singing and dancing rehearsals with choreographers and Madonna herself to find the right actress to play Her Madgesty. And, if the CW were smart, the entire process would have been greenlit as Madonna Presents: The Search for the Next Material Girl.

But, fear not: Madame X is aware of the Gen Z hype around her Ray of Light masterpiece, "Frozen." (Granted, did that hype begin nearly one year ago, and already come and go? Well, yes, but...anyway.)

Never one to shy away from any form of attention from the general public, the Hard Candy empress enlisted 26-year-old Nigerian singer Fireboy DML to feature on a not-quite-3-minute version of the Sickick remix that swept throughout TikTok towards the end of 2021. The remix itself is fine, if mostly a platform for Fireboy DML. He sounds pretty great.

As we know, M-Dolla is physically incapable of putting down her phone hanging 'round her neck. (Lourdes has tried, we've seen it.) She's been documenting her days, hour by hour, so we pretty much already saw all the looks, poses and angles of the accompanying music video, which arrived on Thursday (March 10). (My thesis, "Filters, Social Media & The Demise of the Modern Pop Star's Mystique" is still in the works.)

It's really more of an interlude visual if anything, and will look great on the big screens during the upcoming NFTMDNA Metaversedonna World Tour. She looks cool and remains the boss, of course - even if her marketing and/or general music strategy at the moment is frustratingly unfocused.

It does sort of beg the question: "Why bother?" But then...bitch, it's Madonna. We should know by now not to expect an Easy Ride.


Mandy Moore In Real Life

'In Real Life': Mandy Moore Is Returning With a New Album

I'm craving me some Che - err, Mandy Moore.

You know who you are. She'll be forever yours. And on May 13, the "Candy" folk-pop princess herself returns.

Two years after the release of her beautiful return Silver Landings, which was unfortunately overshadowed upon its release back in March of 2020 due to...well, more pressing world events, the 37-year-old singer-songwriter-actress extraordinaire is back with a whole new body of work in her pocket: In Real Life.

The album's first single and title track, out on Tuesday (March 8), marks Mandy's first release since welcoming her first child with her husband Taylor Goldsmith, who is also one of her musical collaborators.

Accordingly, we are entering Mandy's Mother-Pop era.

“So much of this record came from future-tripping on the next chapter of my life and what it might look like: what parenthood would feel like, how it would change everything, and all the excitement and trepidation that comes with that. At the same time it was about celebrating and acknowledging where we were at the moment and really trying to be completely present in the everyday—which is maybe the hardest part of the human condition," she says.

The assured return, which kicks off with an unexpected blast of synths, finds Mandy contemplating life now that "the world don't revolve around me," and it's a swirling, gorgeous ode to stepping into the selflessness of parenthood and embracing the present moment.

She sounds as fantastic as ever vocally, the instrumentation is rich, and the lyrics are really lovely and touching, and surprisingly relatable - not just for first-time parents, but to anyone finding their footing in pandemic life: "I've been seeing friends of mine in real life / Going through the motions, spinning wheels, spinning their wheels / Everything is happening in real time / Rising tide is nipping at my heels."

There's a bridge too - yes, thankfully, a bridge in 2022! - and even a moment of belting: "The curtains were drawn, the circus moved on / Once I saw who I was in your eyes / Now each minor key sounds major to me / And everything feels harmonized."

The album was written and recorded alongside her husband Taylor and his brother Griffin from their band Dawes, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of New York indie-pop band Lucius, keyboardist Lee Pardini and bassist Sebastian Steinberg.

It was produced by longtime collaborator Mike Viola, who has worked with her since 2009's Amanda Leigh, and is described as having a 'gloriously unpredictable sound, touched with elements of everything from jangly college-rock to cinematic synth-pop to classic singer/songwriter simplicity." Promising!

There are a few further hints about the upcoming songs in the press release, including the "acoustic-guitar-laced 'Four Moons,' with its heavenly harmonies and hypnotic B3 organ, the wildly glittering 'Little Dreams' and 'In Other Words,' a rhythmically euphoric song where Moore attempts to quantify her love for her son."

“To me it’s all about staying open, staying aware, staying sensitive and empathetic to the people around me. here’s something about expressing myself through lyrics and melody that makes me feel whole, and I see it as a privilege to have that outlet. And even though this album is very specific to me and my experience—there’s songs about my baby, my husband, my father, my friends—I hope everyone’s able to see their own lives in it. I hope they’re able to come along on the journey with me, and put themselves in the driver’s seat," she explains.

At some point during the promotion of Silver Landings, Mandy vowed that she wouldn't be taking another decade off in between albums. It's incredibly encouraging to see that she's made good at that promise, and that she continues to be inspired to make music - very much in her own style, and on her own terms.

The cover art and tracklist for In Real Life are already here too - check it out.

Mandy Moore In Real Life

1. In Real Life
2. Heartlands
3. Little Dreams
4. Just Maybe
5. Living In The In Between
6. In Other Words
7. Four Moons
8. Little Victories
9. Heavy Lifting
10. Brand New Nowhere
11. Every Light

She'll also be heading out on the road this summer on tour - click here for the dates.


Charli XCX Baby

"Baby" Is Charli XCX at Her Sexiest Yet

"I'ma make you my, I'ma make you my / I'ma make you my, I'ma make you my...baby."

It's Charli, baby.

The 29-year-old signed douche wholesaler-slash-pop star is deep into her self-described evil major label sell-your-soul era, with her fifth and final studio album with Atlantic Records, Crash, just days away. (It's out on March 18, to be exact.)

Prior to the release of the record, she's dropped a few ringtone-length bops along the way over the past few months, including the still fantastic "Good Ones" (which still ends far too soon), "New Shapes" with Caroline Polachek and Christine and the Queens, as well as her September interpolating-"Beg For You" with Rina Sawayama.

On Tuesday (March 1), the "Stay Away" chanteuse returned with her fourth cut from the upcoming collection, called "Baby" - and it's an instantly addictive hit.

Nearly two years ago, Charli XCX began discussing what would become Crash in interviews, explaining that it was going to be her most straightforward "pop"-sounding project yet, and that Janet Jackson's music - and music from the '80s in general, including Prince and Martika - served as a major influence.

"Baby" feels like the first really obvious product of that inspiration, especially as it grooves its way into its bouncy chorus, which feels like the product of listening to Prince, Vanity 6 and early Janet. The Minneapolis Sound™ is loud and clear!

It doesn't try too hard to be anything else than what it is: a sleek sex anthem, complete with lusty moans and a yearning "...baby" here and there, but still contains that Charli XCX edge with ample promises to "fuck you up" - in a good way, of course. Or is it?

"You know I'll break your heart / Tear it into tiny pieces / One more falling star / I'll shut you away, but you wanna stay," she ominously declares towards the end, supplying a bit of that True Romance goth grit.

And while "Baby" does still clock in before the 3 minute mark, it also feels like a fully formed song, complete with a bridge. In 2022! Thank God.

She's also really going for it with the accompanying music video, leaning even further into doing Main Pop Girl choreography by delivering a complete dance clip. And she's doing it well! Hip thrusts and hair flips aplenty. Get it, Miss Aitchison.

"'Baby' was actually one of the first songs that came together for this album. I was working on it with Justin Raisen, and we'd done a lot together for my first ever album, True Romance. So it kind of felt cyclical to go back and with him again on what is my final record in my deal with Atlantic," she told Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1.

"But obviously so much has changed, and this song, it was kind of the foundation of the vibe of the album. It's probably the most sexy song I've ever made. It's about sex and sexuality and having good sex and just feeling yourself essentially. I know that that's the tone. I knew that that was the tone I wanted to carry across for the entire record. This kind of hyper-sexualized, feminine power zone was where I was feeling myself going, and 'Baby' was the genesis of this," she continued.

"Also I think that's probably why I wanted to challenge myself on the choreo for this song, which was really, really tough and I have so much respect for dancers, professional dancers, anyone who communicates emotion through dance. It is so hard and challenging, but so rewarding."

Charli's had some very public ups and downs with the Crash campaign thus far, and even though she might not be on social media at the moment - in part thanks to some rather overly critical fans @-ing her with their feedback...touch grass! - hopefully someone's letting her know that she's really done it this time around.

Good work, baby.


Royksopp Impossible Profound Mysteries

"Impossible": Alison Goldfrapp Joins Röyksopp's 'Profound' Return

"See the change arrive, thunder rolling / I can feel it come..."

The boys of Röyksopp just love a good tease.

The Norwegian duo - who declared themselves done with the traditional album format back in 2014 with The Inevitable End - have been teasing something mysterious and profound for months at this point, beginning with the hint that they'd be going back on a promise they once made in the past.

Following a series of uncanny visualizers, artifacts and instrumental tracks with no real explanation, including "(Nothing But) Ashes..." on New Year's Day, followed by "The Ladder," and landing pages with strange symbols and snippets inviting us to "Press 'R'", the electro-pop pioneers at last provided us with something more human-sounding: "Impossible," featuring none other than the instantly familiar voice of the legendary Alison Goldfrapp.

Röyksopp's at their best when tag-teaming with brilliant female vocalists, and of course, this is no exception to their streak.

"You're the world ablaze / You're the space between / Impossible / Perfect dream," Alison alluringly croons on the intriguing and inviting electronic tune, clocking in at a healthy six and a half minutes long (thank you for letting a track breathe in the year 2022) and channeling elements of both acts' synth-filled, atmospheric pasts.

A little dance-y, a little dreamy...it hits the spot just right.

Profound Mysteries

"Impossible" is not only a long overdue pairing of two of the best electronic acts of the noughties and beyond, but a fitting first taste of what's to come: along with the song came an announcement of their new collection, Profound Mysteries, out on April 29 - but don't call it a traditional album.

It's "an expanded creative universe and a prodigious conceptual project" - and also comes with artwork that looks like one of those "name one thing in this photo" optical illusions.

“As human beings, what we don’t know vastly overshadows what we do know. As teenagers, we would discuss our own fascination and preoccupation with the infinite and the impossible – the most profound mysteries of life," the duo said in a statement.

“It’s been great working with the wonderful Svein & Torbjørn from Röyksopp,” Alison said, going on to tease that this collaboration isn't a standalone.

“I’ve been a fan of their music for years and it was a fascinating joy creating ‘Impossible’ together. I truly hope everyone enjoys the track as there’s more to come.”

While we wait for even more to materialize from the Profound Mysteries era - especially if you're just getting into the group - here are 10 songs to know by Röyksopp.


Chanel SloMo Eurovision

Chanel, "SloMo": Spain's Eurovision Entry Is the Moment

Versace...Dior...Gucci...I'm so sorry, sweeties. This year, it's all about Chanel.

Chanel Terrero, that is.

It's hard to believe, but Måneskin's sexy Italian reign is already nearly over, as Eurovision Song Contest 2022 rapidly approaches this May in Turin, Italy.

And now, a new supreme rises...en SloMo.

Following a series of rounds in the first-ever Benidorm Fest, Chanel was officially named Spain's official entry into this year's Eurovision.

It's safe to say that the country is overdue for a win: their only two victories came one after the other in 1968 and 1969. They've also come in last five times in Eurovision history, according to Eurovision World. Not exactly a stellar track record.

But after watching this performance, you'll see why Chanel just might break that losing streak.

First of all, for an international song competition, the cross-cultural credits on the dance-pop bop certainly feel appropriate: the track was crafted by the Amsterdam-based Arjen Thonen (or SWACQ), Brazilian singer-songwriter Ibere Fortes (of Anitta's "Loco"), Estelle's "American Boy" co-writer Keith Harris, Spanish singer-songwriter Leroy Sánchez and Canadian singer-songwriter Maggie Szabo.

It's also a bilingual bop, bouncing between Spanish and English lyrics as Chanel cockily seduces with her Booty Hypnotic™, providing shades of Jennifer Lopez and the fuego of Eleni Foureira while doing so. Go on, take a video - it'll last longer!

"Take a video / Watch it slo mo, mo, mo, mo, mo / Booty hypnotic / Make you want more, more, more, more, more / Voy a bajarlo hasta el suelo, lo, lo, lo, lo / If the way I shake it to this dembow."

The performances are each a gag from start to finish, beginning with the fact that Drag Race España winner Carmen Farala - one of the show's best winners - designed her sparkling Vegas showgirl-glam-matador outfit. (An absolute toot, obviously.)

It's all stellar: the choreography, the energy, the strobe light-filled chorus - and of course, that absolutely jaw-dropping, dopamine-boosting dance break that we so desperately don't get enough of in pop these days.

"SloMo" is the stuff of someone who's already been running the game for years. Except, did I mention this is her...debut?

Kyle Hanagami, the choreography legend behind BLACKPINK, revealed that he worked on the performance, and detailed how it all came together on his Instagram - and just how much of a pro Chanel really is.

"This is Chanel, a brand new artist I am choreographing for in Spain. I saw her on Instagram and she hadn’t even released music. She didn’t have a huge fan base behind her, but she had talent and passion so I reached out to see if I could help in anyway bring her dreams to life. This is the product of her dream. I wanted to show that a group of very talented people could create something truly special as long as there was passion. My friend @leroysanchez wrote this banger of a song, we asked the winner of Drag Race Spain @carmenfarala, to design and make the stunning wardrobe and @district78 created this incredible dance break down for me to choreograph. I am in awe of what we created!" he wrote.

"Congrats @chanelterrero on your first performance EVER!!! If only people knew we put this entire performance together in only three days. I am so proud."

As for our new favorite multi-talented entertainer herself: Chanel originally born in Cuba, but relocated to Olesa de Montserrat in Catalonia when she was four years old. She's a trained dancer, clearly - she also did backup during Shakira's 2010 MTV EMAs performance! - and has since become a TV and movie star, and a theater queen as well, having performed in productions like Mamma Mia! and The Lion King.

And now, we can officially add "Queen of Pop" to her CV.

Here's to an incredible showing in Italy later this year, and the start of a beautiful career in the music industry. Eat it up in SloMo, Chanel. We're rooting for you!


Anitta Boys Don't Cry

"Boys Don't Cry": Anitta Gets Her Quick Kicks With a Banger

"When the girls don't need your love / Who says boys don't cry?"

Anitta!

The beloved Brazilian baddie - our Girl From Rio, the Meiga e Abusada Marvel - is back at it yet again (RT for Brazil!) in 2022, forging ahead in her ongoing quest for multilingual global domination.

And, as of Friday (January 28), she's in Main Pop Girl mode with an (all too brief) English-language, guitar-led, rock-tinged dance-pop banger. That's right: she's a rock chick now, just like Avril. Is there a genre Anitta can't tackle?

She's truly not fooling around this time: the song is stuffed with some of the most major players in pop, including the legendary Max Martin collaborator Rami Yacoub (perhaps you've heard his song "...Baby One More Time" somewhere), Rihanna hit-making singer-songwriter Bibi Bourelly, BURNS (who did Britney's "Make Me..." and much of Lady Gaga's Chromatica) and Sean Douglas, of Demi Lovato's "Heart Attack" fame.

Who needs a man? Not Anitta, that's for damn sure.

The ode to independent living and no-strings-attached fun comes in as short and sweet as a ringtone at a tight 2:15 minutes (do something about this already, Joe Biden!), as Anitta gets her kicks real quick and makes a run for it before the dudes start, inevitably, catching feelings.

While Anitta previously said the song was inspired by Panic! At The Disco (amazing), the slick track also slides in well between the more top-tier pop servings of the moment: Charli XCX's "Good Ones," The Weeknd's '80s sheen, some of Miley's Plastic Hearts rock energy, plus a touch of Bonnie McKee brand of power pop, armed with an earworm of a chorus that sticks right from the very first play. Ooh baby, baby, you be talkin' tough! (I especially love the second verse: "You start telling me I'm the one...I'm not.")

To further illustrate her point, the Christian Breslauer co-directed music video finds our favorite "Paradinha" princess looking extremely hot (duh), getting stalked by a lifeless man or ten (relatable!), ditching boys at the altar, and making her great escape in high fashion - all while hitting a club or two in the process.

While I don't know exactly what is happening, I like to think she got on the same bus as Ali Rose in Burlesque in the end, and now the two are on the way to become big stars in Los Angeles.

And while yes, it's a too-short tease of a track that could have absolutely done with a proper bridge and final chorus explosion - curse you once again, streaming/TikTok - "Boys Don't Cry" is an instant hit, and some of Anitta's best evidence yet that she's got what it takes to crack the pop industry stateside.


Charli XCX Rina Sawayama Beg For You

Charli XCX & Rina Sawayama Flip September's 'Cry For You' for the LGBTs

"You'll never see me again," Petra Linnea Paula Marklund, the artist formerly known as September, once declared.

Fifteen years and a whole lot of memes later, she's back once again. Sort of. In the cultural conversation. On Gay Twitter, anyway.

Charli XCX, who is currently feeling her evil-illuminati-sell-out-record-label-puppet-Main-Pop-Girl-fantasy ahead of the release of her long-awaited studio album Crash, has (heavily) borrowed from the chorus of the Swedish chanteuse's deeply legendary Gold-selling dance-pop smash for her own track "Beg For You," out Thursday (January 27), co-starring "XS" pop superstar Rina Sawayama. (Hello, LGBTs!)

"Don't you leave me this way / Won't you wait another hour or two? / You know I need you to stay / Don't make me beg for you, 'cause I'll beg for you," the two declare on the Digital Farm Animals-produced cut, flipping the message of the empowering Swedish club kiss-off into a desperate plea to have one more hour or two together. (Yearning for more kisses from someone who isn't giving you the time of day is, canonically, queer.)

Does the track mostly heavily rely on nostalgia for September's "Cry For You," and the excitement of two of the Queer Youth's pop saviors teaming up, rather than necessarily being a revelation in and of itself? Well, yes. Was it mostly already revealed in extended snippet form on TikTok? Well, yes, that too.

And, much like "Good Ones," and the aforementioned ocean breeze-like lover, it also comes and goes just a bit too soon.

Sure, it's a Brave New World of TikTok and streaming and attention spans shorter than goldfish now. But still. They should do a 10-minute extended cover of Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand's "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" next - the LGBTs would eat it up all the same.

"Beg for You" is still a fun time, nonetheless. And lucky for us, Crash is just around the corner now, impacting on March 18.

Charli, Rina...we thank you for your September salute.

@rinasawayamaofficial BEG FOR YOU is coming @charlixcx 😭🤍 here is a little taste because we love u !!!!! are u ready !!!!?? #popmusic #newmusic ♬ Beg For You (feat. Rina Sawayama) - Charli XCX


Grimes Shinigami Eyes

"Shinigami Eyes": Grimes Brings Her Death Note to the Dance Floor

"Are you ready to die? / Got my Shinigami eyes on..."

Well, it's about damn time.

Our favorite Canadian sword-wielding cyber-fairy-space-princess Grimes is back on Wednesday (January 26) - not without a battle - with her brand new single from forthcoming EP Fairies Cum First, a prelude to her album Book 1, "Shinigami Eyes."

It's not exactly new to fans: in fact, she first teased a tantalizing taste of the track showing off her lightsaber skills in the pool almost a year ago, and a snippet of the song lingered in the "Music" section on Instagram Story for months.

However, she...didn't want to release it as The Single. At first, anyway.

"The reason is I was teasing it so long, I was getting in a fight with everybody about which songs are first. I have a problem where I always fight the single, even 'Oblivion' and 'Genesis' back in the day," she said during an Instagram Live session. "I always want to put out my weird songs. This is just the classic Grimes...rigamarole."

Luckily, bullying works (not actual bullying, please do not bully Grimes), which is why fan demand and label pressure eventually convinced her to bring out the track at last.

The Death Note-inspired track is full of signature Grimes-style vocoded angelic goodness drizzled on top of throbbing beats and an ominous undercurrent, co-produced with Illangelo, who also worked on melancholy trance anthem "Player of Games."

For the uninitiated, Death Note is a popular anime from the mid '00s, very generally about a high school student named Light Yagami who discovers a notebook, called a Death Note, that allows him to kill by writing someone's name in the book, gradually thrusting society into absolute chaos. (Basically, a burn book gone very wrong.)

Shinigamis, or Gods of Death, are a race of beings in the series that extend their lives by killing humans using the Death Note. If a human makes contact with a Death Note, the human obtains the power to kill. A human can make a deal with the Shinigami to obtain the power of Shinigami eyes, which allows them to see other people’s names and remaining lifespans. The cost for the eyes is half of the human’s remaining life. (I know, it's a lot of lore - I recommend giving the series a watch on Netflix. It's good.)

As a result, "Shinigami Eyes" is broadly about wielding an all-seeing, all-knowing destructive power, like the Shinigami entering the human world. And, fittingly, the menacing track is all about being in full control and calling the shots. ("We do what I like / Always what I like / Baby, it's a fine time / Shinigami prime time...and you can't say no.")

The concept is further demonstrated in the accompanying visual buffet of a music video, directed by Brthr.

"The music video is about this all-powerful AI who's masquerading as the best pop star of all time, who can alter time and space and has unlimited power and has control of the simulation," Grimes further explained on her IG Live.

Grimes Jennie Blackpink

The clip also casually features BLACKPINK's Jennie (!) looking gorgeous as ever while supplying her best virtual world-traversing bad ass presence, as well as Dorian Electra and artist Ryon Wu.

The music video was also sort of done on the fly: the scenes were shot on something called an XR stage, where the effects are rendering live in the camera. Grimes explained on her Instagram Live that they were figuring out how to make it look good in realtime, and that half of the effects were effectively experiments while learning the technology on the spot.

It's all extremely cool, and one big, bright, chaotic, video game-like sensory overload, similar to the metallic sheen and metaverse-ready futuristic style of aespa, and feels like the natural progression from the medieval-meets-virtual world Grimes has been building out, even prior to Book 1, with Miss Anthropocene's "Violence" through to "Player of Games."

Grimes' trajectory over the past decade - especially in the past three or four years - has been fascinating to watch. While finding her footing as an increasingly public persona (something she's been openly uncomfortable about online), she's also been pushing her visuals to new pop star heights, supplying vibrant looks and choreography and indulging in all of her ultimate nerdy fantasies while pondering the future of music and AI and technology. And radical utopia.

Throughout all of this, the music truly has not faltered. In fact, musically and visually speaking, this current era is already hitting as one of 2022's early highlights.

Book 1 remains one of the year's most anticipated records, and the wait isn't getting any easier. If only we had the Shinigami eyes to know exactly when it's coming...


Lali Disciplina

Lali Is Our Dom, And She's Here to Teach Us Some "Disciplina"

"Atención...firme."

Her name is Dita - err, Lali. She'll be your mistress tonight.

It's been well over a minute since we last heard from Mariana “Lali” Espósito, Argentine Queen of Pop™, following a little hiatus from the music scene.

But she's here now...with a few more whips and chains this time around.

La Lali arrived with her first song in over a year on Wednesday (January 12) with "Disciplina," a dark and sultry, hot and heavy BDSM-themed dance-pop bop armed with a chorus that'll make you want to bend over and assume the position for the Argentinian baddie at once.

There's no beating around the bush on this Dano and Mauro De Tommaso production (although there may be some lashings): this is all about following orders, as Lali commands us to get on our knees from the first few seconds.

"Disciplina / Disciplina / Disciplina (Sub, dom) / Disciplina (Sub, dom)." Oof!

The blood red-hued accompanying music video helps further illustrate the message, as she and a group of willing, cutout-heavy couture dancers start to pull shapes as the temperature rises. And when it comes time for Lali to show us how it's done, she does and then some: that is one fucking fierce dancing queen.

There's no doubt Lali is a student of Britney, as the throbbing tune and searing hot visual supply shades of everything from the "I'm A Slave 4 U" orgies (more BDSM!) to Blackout to "Work Bitch." There's a little Rihanna Rated R dominatrix edge and Miley's "Wrecking Ball" with the giant chain, too.

It hits all the right pop girl iconic visual spots, basically, and is absolutely one of the first major pop bangers of 2022.

“Disciplina” is said to be the first single from her upcoming fifth studio album.

And If Lali plans on having her heel firmly on our necks like this for the rest of the record, it's going to hurt so good.


Royksopp Profound Mysteries

The Mysterious & Profound Return of Röyksopp: 10 Songs to Know

Royksopp Profound Mysteries

Röyksopp's back at last, Röykstans.

Many moons ago, about fifteen years deep into their career, the Norwegian electronic duo announced that they were done releasing full-length records, and that 2014's The Inevitable End would be their final studio album in the traditional sense.

Some people aren't good at keeping their promises. And in this case, that's a very good thing for us.

In the time since that announcement, the duo - individually Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland - continued to collaborate with other artists and work on various projects, as well as sharing bonus tracks, live songs and rarities in the form of their Lost Tapes series, until it suddenly came screeching to a halt at the top of 2021.

"It simply means that we are pausing Lost Tapes for a while," they wrote at the time, "in order for us to focus our efforts on other endeavors. There is no drama related to this decision. Quite the opposite. Let’s just say that we have to go back on a promise we made in the past – but hopefully to some elation."

Exactly one year later, we're here now with what appears to the fruits of those endeavors...and pressing "R."

Röyksopp relaunched their social media accounts just in time for the New Year, along with a landing page on their official website featuring a new interlocked symbol, retitling the page "Profound Mysteries" - presumably an album title.

Clicking on the "R" button leads to several incredible sounding snippets, and as of this month, the duo dropped a brief new song called "(Nothing But) Ashes…" that seemingly ushers in a new era.

There's an accompanying visualizer as well, traveling through a colorful, metallic landscape towards what looks vaguely like an elongated version of Ariana Grande's Dangerous Woman bunny ears. (It's all a bit iamamiwhoami, actually.)

After The Inevitable End comes...the inevitable comeback, and I couldn't be happier.


Back in December, the duo dropped a perfectly curated "Introduction to Röyksopp" playlist on Spotify and YouTube, which I highly recommend digging into.

Here are just a few of my own suggestions, most of which are included in their playlist...

"What Else Is There?"

The duo shines brightest when it comes to collaborations with incredible women in music, and "What Else Is There?" with Karin Dreijer from The Knife is among one of their greatest achievements. The song harnesses Karin's unique vocals across a classic, contemplative Röyksopp electronic pulse. The album that this comes from - The Understanding - is an all-time favorite, desert island, must have album.

"Only This Moment"

Goddess Kate Havnevik lends her heavenly voice to "Only This Moment," an utterly sublime, tragic, romantic, deeply dramatic ode to the varying emotions of an intense romantic relationship. "Voices within me mix reason with lust but I'll try to accept it and not make it worse, 'cause I know I might lose it by taking the chance, but love without pain isn't really romance." Close to perfection, indeed. At one point, I strongly considered a tattoo of the single art. (The MuuMuse stans might already know just how personal this song is for me...)

"I Had This Thing"

In another world, this is a stone-cold dance floor classic known 'round the world, on the level of a "Dancing On My Own." Crying at the discotheque is an understatement: Röyksopp's knack for crafting emotional electronica reaches staggering new heights on this ode to an end of a relationship, which feels like the end of the world, as captured in the accompanying music video. Jamie Irrepressible's trembling vocals, the surging pulse, the increasingly urgent cries of "I never meant to let you go." I have openly wept to this song on the streets of New York City, and I will surely do it again.

"Running to the Sea"

An absolute masterpiece from their (then) final album, through and through. The talented Susanne Sundfør leads the way through a gradually expands from a simple piano through a bed of synthesizers and celestial sounds as it builds, and builds, and builds to ecstatic heights.

"Never Ever"

A few years later, the trio teamed up again for a more joyous dance floor celebration, in the form of "Never Ever." Among other things, it contains a stuttering beat breakdown two-thirds into the track that is nothing short of absolute catharsis and love-drunk euphoria. "Never ever gonna let you go now..."

"Monument"

Robyn and Röyksopp go together like Janet and Jam & Lewis. "Monument" is perhaps their most epic offering from their Do It Again EP, expanding out into the cosmos and providing plenty of introspection and existentialism along the way.

"Do It Again"

Again, it's a perfect sonic pairing. And sorely underrated, at that. They do it again and again, quite literally.

"Vision One"

This track is an absolutely wild crossover event, which will only be meaningful to an extremely niche audience: it was originally released as "Sing a Song" by Japanese singer Eri Nobuchika, produced by the iconic Shinichi Osawa. It was later covered/recreated as a sorta collapse-of-civilization anthem with the talented Anneli Drecker for Junior.

"The Girl & The Robot"

Did I mention that Robyn and Röyksopp work together often? Years before their EP, the three crafted Junior banger "The Girl And The Robot," a perfect blend of Body Talk-era robo-minded dance-pop Robyn and Röyksopp's beats and bleeps of the era.

"Were You Ever Wanted"

Speaking of Swedish goddesses! Imagine crafting so many smashes that this Lykke Li-assisted drifting, dreamy banger is just lingering in the bonus track drawer. The song was performed live over the years, and was a Japan only-exclusive for Junior.

And that's just scratching the surface, really. Whether you're doing a refresh or discovering for the first time, go ahead and take a deep dive into their discography immediately as we await the Profound Mysteries that lie ahead in 2022.


Let Them It's All Love Tom Aspaul

"Let Them (It's All Love)": Tom Aspaul Kicks Off a New Era

Tom Aspaul Let Them It's All Love

"You think everybody's out to get you / It's all love...

It's a new year, and a new chapter for Tom Aspaul.

Famously, we do not stan men in this house, but Tom is a rare exception to the rule, from the early "Indiana" days all the way to 2020's gorgeous, gay dance floor triumph, Black Country Disco and beyond. (Also, Buttmas.)

Also, he's referenced Romanian Queens of Pop Inna and Alexandra Stan as specific inspirations for his new single, so what choice do we really have now but to stan?

Ahead of his sophomore album due out later this year, the indie dance-pop prince is starting 2022 right with "Let Them (It's All Love)," released on New Year's Eve (December 31).

Crafted by Tom alongside longtime collaborator Gil Lewis, the late '90s-early '00s Europop-inspired banger was penned mid-2020 lockdown, and carries all the tension, paranoia, overthinking and reprioritizing that's come with the pandemic era.

"As soon as I finished writing 'Let Them' - I knew it was the first single," Tom says.

"It has that classic futuristic, icy, electronic late 90s sound I was craving for on the album. Lyrically it deals with the fall-out from Black Country Disco - how I've been struggling in almost complete isolation up in the Midlands and how I've lost/made friends along the way. It's a bit of a self-soothing anthem, you've just got to just let people go! It's all love - no matter how scary it is to do it! There's a real hands-in-the-air moment that comes at the end of the song, I cannot wait to perform it live.”

If there were ever a time for an uplifting tune about nurturing the relationships that serve us and letting go of the ones that don't, it's right now, in the middle of resolution season. Let them go! It's all love, baby.