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Madonna’s MDNA Is the Ultimate Divorce Album

“It wasn’t always perfect, but it wasn’t always bad,” Madonna sings on “Best Friend,” a haunting slow-jam from her 2012 album MDNA. The song is technically only available on the “deluxe” version of the record, but that doesn’t make it any less potent. In fact, of all the tracks on MDNA presumably about Madonna’s divorce from Guy Ritchie—and there are several —”Best Friend” is the most devastating. Not since Ray of Light has Madonna been this transparent in her work. “Your picture’s off my wall, but I’m still waiting for your call,” she continues. “And every man that walks through that door will be compared to you forever more.”

These lyrics are simple, but they perfectly illustrate one of the stages of divorce: grief, mourning the loss of a relationship you thought would last forever. Full disclosure: I’ve never been divorced, but I imagine this is a key step in the healing process. It’s also probably the hardest, which gives “Best Friend” even more resonance.

Couple this with the fact that Madonna is notoriously closed-off. Any sign of vulnerability from her is novel, so for her to release a song like “Best Friend”—with lyrics like “I miss your brain, the way you think; but I don’t miss the way you used to drink”—is jarring, to say the least. It shows no one is immune to the pain of divorce, not even the Queen of Pop.

“Best Friend” is, in many ways, the pinnacle of MDNA, which Rolling Stone dubbed a “disco-fied divorce record” upon its release in March 2012. To be clear, the album makes no direct reference to Ritchie, but it’s obvious he’s the inspiration. It’s the first album Madonna released following her 2008 separation from the British filmmaker, and dozens of its lyrics explicitly discuss marriage.

“There are lyrics in here about custody and prenups and, ‘How’d you end up with all my jack?’ Did you get a lot off your chest there?” journalist Harry Smith asked Madonna in 2012 about MDNA. ” Her response? “Yes, I did.”

That’s certainly an understatement. MDNA is, without a doubt, one of the most poignant divorce albums in contemporary music. It’s EDM-oriented, sure, but Madonna’s always been her most profound in a throbbing nightclub at 3 A.M. Underneath the swirling beats of William Orbit, Benny Benassi, and the other techno maestros who helped craft MDNA is a woman trying to make sense of her marriage ending.

PHOTO: Interscope

On some songs, like “Best Friend,” that takes a somber form, but MDNA explores virtually all the emotional stages of divorce. “Girl Gone Wild,” for example, is a euphoric, four-on-the-floor ode to releasing your inhibitions after years of suppression. “I’ve got that burning hot desire; no one can put out my fire,” Madonna sings before the crashing, sledgehammer chorus kicks in. “I’m like a girl gone wild! A good girl gone wild,” she later exclaims as a pulsating bass-line fully envelopes her.

It’s an unapologetically self-indulgent anthem, filled to the brim with ecstasy, joy, and freedom. At first listen “GGW” may seem like a shallow dance track, but it absolutely reflects the relief in leaving a suffocating relationship. “There were times when I felt incarcerated,” Madonna said in 2015 about her marriage to Ritchie. “I wasn’t really allowed to be myself.” “Girl Gone Wild” is all about reclaiming that identity. “Turn Up the Radio” and “I’m Addicted,” two more exuberant songs on MDNA, evoke this same feeling.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is “Gang Bang,” the album’s second track and perhaps Madonna’s most experimental since “Justify My Love.” Made on the tail-end of top 40’s dubstep craze, Madonna sing-talks here about shooting her lover in the head. “Bang-bang, shot ya dead,” she snarls against a grimy, thumping beat. This is Madonna’s Angry Divorce Song, and it goes there. “I thought it was you, and I loved you the most. But I was just keeping my enemies close,” she says. “Made a decision I will never look back, so how did you end up with all of my jack?” Her disdain is crystal-clear—even when it’s buried in synths.

“Jack” is most likely a reference to the $76 million settlement Ritchie received in his and Madonna’s divorce. They never signed a pre-nuptial agreement—something explored more directly on two other songs. “Gang Bang,” though, is five minutes and 26 seconds of pure rage, climaxing with a gun shot and this controversial statement: “If you’re ‘gonna act like a bitch, then you’re ‘gonna die like a bitch.” The violence is metaphorical, of course, but the anger is real. Madonna confirmed it in 2012 while promoting the song: “Je suis énervé,” she also told Harry Smith. Translation: I am angry.

But it’s a fleeting emotion. Anger is almost always just a shield for sadness—and that rings true on MDNA, too. Any aggression Madonna feels about her divorce—on this album, at least—is flushed out by melancholia. She’s grieving on “Best Friend”; realizing her mistakes on “I Fucked Up” (“Maybe I should’ve turned silver into gold, but in front of you I was cold”); and wishing for a different outcome on “Love Spent.” That last song uses money—most likely the money Ritchie walked away with in their settlement—as a metaphor for Madonna’s heartache. “I want you to hold me like you hold your money,” she sings. “Hold me in your arms until there’s nothing left.”

Madonna eventually finds peace on “I Don’t Give A,” a song smack-dab in the middle of MDNA, in which she raps most of the words. Cringe factor aside, “I Don’t Give A” shows Madonna reconciling all those aforementioned emotions—rage, grief, relief—and emerging on the other side completely content. “Wake up ex-wife, this is your life,” she sings before lamenting about lawyers, custody agreements, and prenups. Ultimately, however, she decrees, “I’m ‘gonna be OK. I don’t care what the people say.” That’s a conclusion hopefully most people reach after a divorce—no matter how ugly it gets. The song is a kitschy send-off to Madonna’s haters—the ones who thought her split from Ritchie would somehow break her. “‘Gonna live fast and I’m gonna live right,” she says in the chorus. And she’s still doing that in 2018. She survived.

The DNA of MDNA is catharsis—that’s what makes it such a brilliant divorce record. Country albums like Willie Nelson’s Phases and Stages croon about heartbreak, yes, but they’re one-note. Divorce, however, is an amalgamation of feeling: elation, betrayal, depression, numbness, fury—the list goes on and on. Madonna hits all of those points on MDNA and then-some. Truthfully, you’ll finish the album with emotional whiplash—but isn’t that divorce? Isn’t that life? Thankfully, Madonna reached her happy place, and her harrowing journey from darkness to light is something many divorced people can relate to. Who knows? Maybe a few of them even found their salvation exactly where she did: on the dance floor.

Christopher Rosa is the staff entertainment writer for Glamour.

12 Celebrity Couples You Forgot Divorced Each Other

Celebrities marry and divorce at a rate faster than us mere mortals. Why this is remains unclear. What’s cooking in Hollywood that makes so many people want to tie the knot before barely learning their partner’s last name? It happens so often that you may’ve forgotten about a few A-list unions that were short-lived. We all know about Jennifer Garner‘s marriage to Ben Affleck, but did you know she was also married to Scandal heartthrob Scott Foley once upon a time? Or how about Kim Kardashian’s first marriage, which, nope, wasn’t to Kris Humphries? The list goes on. Check out these 12 short-lived celeb marriages you probably forgot all about, then check out Glamour.com’s weeklong series on modern divorce.

Ariana Grande Wrote a Powerful Letter About Manchester in Her New Documentary—Read It Here

Ariana Grande released her long-awaited four-part docuseries for YouTube, Ariana Grande: Dangerous Woman Diaries, this week. In it, the singer gives fans a look into the making of her fourth studio album, Sweetener, never-before-seen highlights from various concert performances, backstage footage from her Dangerous Woman Tour, and special moments from her One Love Manchester tribute concert. (There are even a few brief cameos of her former fiancé, Pete Davidson, peppered throughout the series.)

But perhaps the most impactful few minutes of the docuseries is a sobering moment at the start of episode four, when the singer addresses the terrorist attack on her Manchester performance in May 2017. She does it through a powerful statement to the victims, her fans, and all who felt the heavy weight of violence that day; writing the personal letter herself, the words are a reflective look back at the bombing eight months later.

Grande has openly discussed the events of her Manchester performance before, but this letter feels especially personal and moving. In the statement, she discusses how heavily that horrific night has weighed on her and how she will carry that experience with her “every day for the rest of my life.”

One Love Manchester Benefit Concert

PHOTO: Getty Images

Below, the letter in full:

“I’m writing to you this February 22, 2018.

It’s been eight months since the attack at our show at the Manchester Arena. It’s impossible to know where to start or to know what to say about this part. May 22, 2017, will leave me speechless and filled with questions for the rest of my life. Music is an escape.

Music is the safest thing I’ve ever known. Music—pop music, stan culture—is something that brings people together, introduces them to some of their best friends, and makes them feel like they can be themselves. It is comfort. It is fun. It is expression. It is happiness. It is the last thing that would ever harm someone. It is safe.

When something so opposite and so poisonous takes place in your world that is supposed to be everything but that … it is shocking and heartbreaking in a way that seems impossible to fully recover from.

The spirit of the people of Manchester, the families affected by this horrendous tragedy, and my fans around the world have permanently impacted all of us for the rest of our lives. Their love, strength, and unity showed me, my team, my dancers, band, and entire crew not to be defeated. To continue during the scariest and saddest of times. To not let hate win. But instead, love as loudly as possible, and to appreciate every moment.

The people of Manchester were able to change an event that portrayed the worst of humanity into one that portrayed the most beautiful of humanity. ‘Like a handprint on my heart’ … I think of Manchester constantly and will carry this with me every day for the rest of my life.”

Later in the docuseries, Grande explains why she feels it’s important, now more than ever, to continue to move forward. “Another thing that I’ll take away from this is how important it is to stay present and to appreciate everyone in your life and every single moment that you’re lucky enough to have with them,” the singer says, toward the end of the final episode. “Nothing will ever be able to stop us from doing what we do and doing our jobs because how it makes people feel is the most beautiful thing in the world.”

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How to Get Divorced

After peaking during the 1970s and ’80s, much has been made of the fact that divorce rates are now on the decline, especially among millennials. Still, if you’re thinking about splitting with your spouse, or you’ve already been through a divorce, sunny statistics aren’t exactly useful. Throughout this weeklong series, Glamour.com explores what it means to uncouple in a modern world.

Similar to breastfeeding or dealing with student loans, learning how to get divorced isn’t something most of us know how to do until we absolutely have to do it. We watch breakups play out on TV, in the tabloids, or from the sidelines of our parents and friends’ relationships, but until you’re legally separating from a spouse yourself, the process of divorce can be frustratingly tedious and abstract. Whether your split is acrimonious or decently friendly, though, the objective is the same for every party: Feeling like the slog was worth the time, money, and emotional energy.

“A divorce is like a marathon, not a sprint,” says New York City-based divorce attorney Robert Wallack. “There will be ups and downs, and so it’s important to always remain focused on the end goal—which is getting through the divorce process, and achieving happiness on the other side.”

Whether you’re currently single, happily married, or considering a split: Knowledge is power. To that end, we’ve laid out the process of getting divorced, one step at a time.

Step 1: Decide if you actually want a divorce.

“I’m seeing a trend where younger people are getting divorced earlier in their marriages: two, three, four years in. People aren’t as inclined to try to ‘stick it out’ and make it work nowadays,” Wollock says, chalking it up to the way that, in part, technology has made us think that finding a relationship is as easy as ‘swiping right’ on someone new.

To that end: “One question I ask to everyone who comes into my office is: Are you sure?” says Jacqueline Newman, a New York City-based divorce attorney and the author of Soon To Be Ex: A Guide to You Perfect Divorce & Relaunch. “If you aren’t sure, I’m a big advocate of marriage counseling, because divorce is a very hard think to turn back from: It’s financially exhausting, it’s emotionally exhausting.” If you’re on the fence, then you have to make sure it’s what you really want, even if ultimately the answer is yes.

Step 2: Decide how you want to get divorced.

Many of us might immediately assume that getting divorced means winding up in court but most couples actually don’t. As Newman explains, there are three paths that divorcing couples can take: mediation, collaborative law, and litigation. In mediation, couples work with a neutral party, generally without an attorney, who helps them work out the terms of their separation on their own. (It also tends to be the least expensive way to go.)

Collaborative law, on the other hand, includes means both parties retaining separate lawyers and contractually agree to openly disclose all documents and information, respect each other, and protect children as much as possible. “If you can’t do mediation, collaborative law is a good way to go if you’re amicable,” says Newman. “You have more control over the schedule, and you can bring a divorce coach, and a child specialist into the mix.” But the drawback is if things break down, and you decide you do want to go to the litigation route, you have to start all over with new attorneys.

Litigation is the most traditional route—and the most expensive and time consuming. You and your spouse usually hire divorce attorneys and duke it out until a settlement is reached—either by you or a judge. That said, litigation doesn’t mean you’re definitely going to wind up in court—and, in fact, most cases don’t go to trial. “They settle at some point, it’s just a question of when and how much you’re going to spend,” says Newman. But you can go to court, maybe even a few times.

If none of the above sounds like something you and your ex are up for, there’s always the “kitchen table option,” where you sit down and figure it out yourselves, says Newman—but she doesn’t recommend it. “It can get complicated, because it’s hard to negotiate. It depends on personality, and the level of anger.” There’s also the online route, which she also doesn’t recommend. Sure, maybe it might be fine if you have no assets, no kids, and nothing to divide. Think of it this way: “You could probably do you own stitches too, by watching a YouTube video. But I wouldn’t recommend it.”

Step 3: Choose representation.

Often, people choose an attorney before they decide how they want to get divorced. Newman urges people to go the process route first—see Step 2—so they decide the path they’re walking down at the outset instead of letting it be determined by whoever they work with. And as for representing yourself? Unless you’re an attorney by trade, it’s not recommended. “It’s extremely important to hire a lawyer that’s knowledgeable, responsive and who you trust,” says Wollack. “In my opinion, there are simply too many unknowns for a layperson to adequately represent himself or herself and end up with a good result.”

Once you’ve made that decision and start working with a lawyer, you’ll typically fill out a statement of net worth, a.k.a. an assessment of your assets, liabilities, budget, and income. At the same time, you might be working to get a custody agreement in place if you have kids (or pets) and making decisions about who is leaving your shared home.

Step 4: Wait. And wait.

How long it takes to get divorced is often a reflection of how complicated your divorce is—and it can last anywhere between a couple of months to years, says Wollack. “Some people don’t realize that divorce can be a really long process. Whether parties litigate or negotiate a settlement out of court, it almost always takes longer than the parties want or expect it to—and it almost always costs more than people plan. They should keep this in mind, otherwise they’ll find themselves getting very frustrated by the process,” he adds.

Step 5: Brace your bank account.

Speaking of costs: It all depends on where you are and the specifics of your circumstances. “On one end of the spectrum are lawyers who take a flat fee to handle an uncontested divorce, and on the other end are lawyers who charge more than $1,000 per hour. Initial retainer fees can range from a few thousand dollars to over $50,000 for larger cases,” says Wollack. “It’s not uncommon for lawyer fees in New York City divorces to total in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. And, I’ve seen fees in some ‘big money’ cases total more than a million dollars.”

This might also be the moment to correct some common-held myths about who pays for what when you’re getting divorced. Sometimes, says Newman, “People think that the person who starts the divorce is the one who should pay for it.” But that’s not how it works, generally. And, it should be stated, coming to the table with dirt on your spouse won’t affect who pays, as judges aren’t usually swayed by the sleuthing you’ve done to uncover your ex’s affair, and it won’t typically help your case. “No need to become an amateur detective,” Newman says—so save your energy.

Step 6: File divorce papers.

Once the terms of your separation agreement have been worked out, you’re onto filing the divorce papers and submitting them to the court. “And then you’re divorced, it’s that easy.” quips Newman.

Divorce, of course, isn’t easy. But, as Wollack points out, there are plenty of positives that can stem from a split. “I’ve seen mothers and fathers become ‘better’ parents since they now have to perform certain duties that they didn’t before—and they no longer have the other parent to fall back on,” he says, “and I’ve also seen parties to a divorce become more independent because they’re forced to take on responsibilities that they might not have had in the past.”

Rose McIver Says She Was Inspired by Meghan Markle While Making the Christmas Prince Sequel

It’s been a stressful year, but at least you can count on Hallmark, Lifetime, and Netflix to come through with the holiday cheer. After all, what’s more relaxing than watching an overworked woman fall in love with a Christmas tree farmer? So decompress with all of our delightful holiday content right here.

When A Christmas Prince debuted on Netflix late last year, it became a cultural phenomenon. The cheery holiday film—it’s about a journalist, Amber, who travels to the fictional country of Aldovia to cover tabloid-magnet Prince Richard—was so ubiquitous at one point that Netflix even made a joke about it: “To the 53 people who’ve watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days,” the streaming platform tweeted, “Who hurt you?”

Sure, A Christmas Prince might have served as emotional catharsis for some; for most, though, it was just a fun, whimsical tale. Well, maybe not so whimsical after Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced their engagement—that only turned the heat up for A Christmas Prince.

So when Netflix announced a sequel to the movie, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, just days before Markle and Prince Harry’s actual royal wedding, no one was really surprised. That didn’t make fans any less excited, of course. The second installment of this series, which follows Amber struggling to maintain her identity while planning her wedding to Richard (sound familiar?), is one of the most-anticipated movies of the season. Rose McIver, who plays Amber, is still taken aback by our culture’s impassioned response to A Christmas Prince. We chatted with her about the film’s cult following and if the sequel took any inspiration from the Duchess of Sussex. Spoiler alert: It did.

This franchise is so huge and popular. When you signed on, did you have even the slightest inclination it would turn into what it has?

Rose McIver: I had absolutely no idea. I find it so hard to predict in general which projects are going to work and which things are going to get an audience. You can be so dedicated and committed to something and it just doesn’t take off. So I’m pretty good now at just being like, I’ll do the best work I can and be pleasantly surprised when it does end up finding an audience like A Christmas Prince did.

What about the story resonated with you and made you sign on?

McIver: I just think it’s a fun, happy Christmas movie. I have every opportunity in my life to do really dark, gritty stories, and this is something that was just fun. It was filming in Romania; I’d never been there before. And it’s the kind of movie that I would put on and do a jigsaw puzzle to myself. So I thought, Let’s see whether it works. Let’s see what happens.

Why do you think that it’s hitting people the way that it is?

McIver: I honestly don’t know. I’m too close to the project to be able to see it. I think right now in the world there’s plenty of access to terrible news. It’s not just that bad things are happening; it’s the fact they’re reported on in the way in which they are. I think sometimes we feel pretty depleted by the state of things as we see them, and this is a chance to escape and believe in a fairytale again and be children. It’s great. I’m glad it’s found an audience.

PHOTO: Netflix

We spoke to the actresses who’ve worked on similar movies for Hallmark, and they agree people are looking for escape now more than ever.

McIver: We’ve reached peak trauma in terms of what we can witness and handle, and I think everybody does need an escape and time to be entertained. Especially when it’s such a familiar story. You know things are gonna work out well, and they do. That’s kind of a nice relief at the moment.

I can’t talk to you about this sequel without mentioning Meghan Markle. Was she an inspiration at all?

McIver: Certainly by the time the second film came around. The first film was in and of itself, I thought. Certainly by the time the royal wedding film came up, I had a great look at this young woman who’s shaking up patriarchy and old-fashioned values and bringing a modern eye to what can be quite a dated regime sometimes. She was an inspiration, and we were all on the edge of our seats watching to see what she’d wear [to her wedding to Prince Harry]. But I had never actually followed royal weddings or anything growing up, so it was new to me. To see the size and the grandeur was pretty incredible.

How much did she come up when you were filming the movie?

McIver: We definitely talked about her. It’s not the same storyline or anything. It was more just a nod to and a recognition that it was very timely at the moment to be making a story about a woman who’s going to be in the royal family who maybe challenges some of the norms.

Did you research Meghan at all? Or were you just following her?

McIver: I just followed her like everyone else. My character wasn’t based on her, so I didn’t do a signifiant amount of research. But I was very curious and followed along with the news to see how things were panning out.

PHOTO: Netflix

Did being a part of this movie inform your perception on what it’s like to have a relationship that’s so public? Like Meghan Markle’s?

McIver: A relationship can be hard at many times but even harder when you’re scrutinized by everybody around you. I’m very grateful that I don’t have a relationship that’s crazy out there in the public eye or anything. I think those people are up for a very challenging journey.

What do you hope people take away from this sequel?

McIver: I hope people feel a little moment of relief from some of their day-to-day madness and wave of traumatic news we’re experiencing all the time. I hope it’s a chance for people to sit down, watch it with loved ones, have a laugh, have a couple of eggnog shots, and take a load off.

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding is now streaming on Netflix.

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The Possession Of Hannah Grace’s Shay Mitchell Was Freaked Out By Her Contortionist Co-Star

In a way, Kirby Johnson is her own movie special effect. An actress/gymnast/model/contortionist, she can mold her body into some very surprising shapes, and it’s work that can be quite freaky. Few in the world might know this better now than Shay Mitchell, the star of the new horror film The Possession Of Hannah Grace, as she got a front row seat to just how scary Johnson’s special talent can be. She recently told me,

With The Possession Of Hannah Grace arriving in theaters this Friday, I recently had the chance to sit down with Shay Mitchell to talk about her work on the film, and first subject discussed was about what it was like sharing a set with Kirby Johnson. Mitchell’s character sees Johnson do some pretty crazy things in the movie (she plays a possessed/undead corpse, after all), and apparently the performance was more than enough to slightly unnerve her even when the cameras weren’t rolling.

In the Diederik Van Rooijen-directed film, Kirby Johnson plays the titular Hannah Grace, who we meet at the start of the film at the center of an exorcism. The whole thing goes horribly wrong, leaving the young woman dead, and it’s how she winds up crossing paths with Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell). Hannah’s body is delivered to a morgue the first night that Megan is working the graveyard shift as an attendant, and it becomes very clear very quickly that while Hannah’s body might be seriously disfigured and not breathing, that doesn’t mean that she’s not insanely dangerous.

Fortunately, because The Possession Of Hannah Grace is a horror movie it actually made sense for Shay Mitchell to be a bit afraid of Kirby Johnson, as wound up adding a bit of extra realism to the actresses’ performance. That being said, even in between calls of “Cut” and “Action” Mitchell still found herself feeling uncomfortable around Johnson when she was decked out in her full prosthetic makeup. She explained,

And when you go see The Possession Of Hannah Grace you’ll definitely have a better understanding.

To hear all about Shay Mitchell’s creepy experience working alongside Kirby Johnson, be sure to click play on the video interview below — and take note that the room we’re in is not just a well-dressed hotel suite. We actually filmed the interview in a real morgue! Enjoy!

Mary Poppins Returns Has Screened, Here’s What People Are Saying

Things are clearly looking very good for Mary Poppins Returns, and it won’t be too much longer before audiences get to form their own opinions on the new Disney-produced sequel. Co-starring Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Dick Van Dyke, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson, the new movie is set to make its way into theaters on December 19th – and be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for a whole lot more of our coverage.

Meek Mill And Drake Go Bar For Bar On New Song ‘Going Bad’: Listen

In the biggest plot twist of Meek Mill‘s Championships era, he and Drake have officially buried the hatchet the way they know best: through music.

The two MCs, of course, were embroiled in an ugly beef back in 2015, when Meek accused Drake of using a ghostwriter. The claim escalated into a full-on feud that played out over multiple dis tracks, but none of that matters now. Meek performed on Drake’s Three Amigos Tour in September, and now the two have reunited for their third collaboration on wax. On Friday (November 30), Meek’s Championships arrived, and track No. 9, “Going Bad,” features him and Drake going bar for bar yet again, following previous team-ups “Amen” and “R.I.C.O.”

Drizzy opens the three-minute cut by comparing himself to Don Corleone and bragging that he’s “got more slaps than the Beatles,” which he’s technically not wrong about. Meek steps up halfway through to tout their super rare and surprising reunion, even referencing one of the 6 God’s blistering dis tracks by rapping, “Me and Drizzy back to back, it’s getting scary.” Later, he adds, “DC, OVO, we back again, we goin’ plat’.”

Earlier this week, Meek reflected on his beef with Drake in an interview with Vulture, saying, “I was just out of control at that point in my life. Getting high and doing whatever I wanted how I wanted to do it. In front of the world, not behind the scenes. I don’t know his writing situation or how he really carried it. I just jumped out of anger and what I thought was the truth at the time.”

Elsewhere on Championships, Meek briefly references the feud again, on the Jay-Z- and Rick Ross-featuring “What’s Free”: “Is we beefin’ or rappin’, I might just pop up with Drizzy like, ‘What’s Free?'”

In addition to those two star-studded collabs, Championships also features guest appearances by Cardi B, Future, Young Thug, 21 Savage, Fabolous, and more. The album marks Meek’s first full-length project since his release from prison in April, and he’ll continue celebrating his wins on a U.S. tour early next year. Maybe Drake will return the favor and cameo at one of those shows? Seems only fair.

How This Is Us’ Fall Finale Proves Season 3 Can Be Saved

Warning! The following contains spoilers regarding This Is Us Season 3. Read at your own risk!

Mandy Moore teased ahead of This Is Us Season 3 that it would be its “most ambitious” yet, and after the first month of episodes, I felt the show got lost in its ambition. The story was jumping every which direction, there were few if any tear-jerking scenes, and Randall’s plotline felt like a mess. Then the fall finale happened, and I’m somewhat confident the back half of Season 3 of This Is Us could be its greatest yet.

And not just because it featured the massive twist that Nicky Pearson is alive in the present day, either. Granted, that twist was one of the biggest audiences have seen in 2018, but it also explained why so much of Season 3 was dedicated to Jack’s time in Vietnam. Sure, the season needed to feature America’s favorite dad somehow. Was dedicating a whole arc to his relationship with a character we only briefly met in Season 2 the right call?

I’ll answer that question with a resounding yes now that we know Nicky Pearson is not only alive but living in Pennsylvania. Now the event that felt like an inevitable crawl to an outcome This Is Us fans were expecting has been turned on its head and made relevant in the present day. Nicky’s story and what went down between him and Jack gives the arc a fresh new direction to explore whatever happened between the two brothers.

It’s a story that ends in Nicky being away from Jack and the Pearson family, with the mystery being why that happened. Did Jack believe his brother died in Vietnam or was that what he led his family to believe? The latter isn’t too much of a stretch, as Jack had cut his father out of his life in his adult years. Learning he did that with Nicky as well despite their closeness has to have a great story.

It’s the promise of a satisfying arc that, initially, just seemed like a way to include Jack and work war stories into This Is Us. The arc hasn’t been bad, but it’s certainly felt a bit out of place compared to past storylines and other episodes. Bringing the story into the present rectifies that, and leaves the opportunity to further shake up the family dynamic with Nicky’s potential inclusion.

Speaking of shake-ups, This Is Us‘ fall finale finally made sense of what has been a downright confusing season for Randall Pearson. Randall’s obsessive search for a purpose had him running for city council in the Philadelphia area, just on the heels of a season that ended with him purchasing and running a run-down projects building. Meanwhile, problems were building on the home front, and for whatever reason, This Is Us had Randall skate on while his family suffered.

This Is Us did a great job at playing its cards close to the chest as I let out a small yelp of joy when Beth finally confronted Randall about the election during the fall finale. The wife let him know the writing was on the wall, and with his being so far behind in the polls it was time to close up shop and focus on the issues happening with her, Deja, and Tess.

It was a moment that felt like the audience was about to get lovable Randall Pearson back, and that stereotypical display of shared couple’s strength This Is Us so often shows. This time, however, Dan Fogelman flipped the script and Randall refused to abandon his hopeless campaign even at the expense of his family. It was a heel turn that felt like a gut punch, as one of This Is Us‘ strongest couples ended the episode at an impasse.

Much like the Nicky twist, This Is Us quickly followed the scene with a flash-forward that appeared to imply Randall and Beth aren’t together in the future. To think, there’s been all this speculation about the status of Kate and future Toby when there’s a possibility that Beth and Randall aren’t together? Again, the fall finale came through with another interesting question and the tease that this season’s back half may be the end of Beth and Randall.

Randall and Nicky’s developments were so significant that the revelation that “Her” has been Rebecca Pearson was really buried in the mix. This Is Us should be thankful for that, by the way, considering the reveal that the already old present-day mother is the one the family is gathering around in the future isn’t the most exciting theory fans have come up with.

That said, the official reveal that everyone is headed to see Rebecca is another plus towards the rest of Season 3, as this big meeting of the family will inevitably reveal all the answers we’ve been craving. It’s a mystery that, despite This Is Us dipping in its ratings to a series low recently, audiences still seem invested in learning about as the NBC drama remains one the most popular shows in the key demographic.

Of course, the incredible fall finale doesn’t necessarily guarantee This Is Us will stick the landing and deliver an exceptional rest of the season. It does, however, show that the series hasn’t lost its direction, and that there was a clear reason for why this season has played out the way it has. The fall finale proved there are a few important and interesting stories to tell in Season 3, it just took a while to properly set them up.

Viewers will get a chance to see how This Is Us follows up on that crazy fall finale when new episodes pick back up Tuesday, January 9 at 9:00 p.m. ET. For a look at what’s left to watch on television before that or a look ahead at what other shows are coming in 2019, visit CinemaBlend’s fall and midseason premiere guides. Be sure to stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest and greatest in TV news.

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Is Legacies Already Planning On Bringing In More Originals Characters?

Spoilers ahead for the November 29 episode of Legacies on The CW.

The Vampire Diaries franchise just keeps on going. Although the original series and initial spinoff The Originals are both over and done with, a second spinoff hit the airwaves this fall. Legacies features characters who were a big deal on both of its parent shows, with The Originals‘ Hope at the forefront of the action. Legacies took Hope out of New Orleans and away from any surviving Mikaelsons to enroll her in the Salvatore Boarding School for the Young and Gifted.

At first, all signs seemed to point toward Legacies sticking around the basic area of the school and focusing on its own cast of main characters rather than pulling in guest stars from the earlier two shows. Even the stars of the series aren’t exactly experts on The Vampire Diaries and The Originals. For all we knew, we wouldn’t get more connections to previous shows than the occasional Easter egg.

Well, in the weeks since the premiere, we had a major character from The Vampire Diaries pop up, and we learned that there are some significant treats ahead for fans of The Originals who are tuning in to Legacies. Now, a twist from the latest episode of Legacies has us wondering if the show is already preparing to incorporate some Originals characters. Here’s why.

Hope Mikaelson spent most of the November 29 episode trying to find a way for Landon to stick around at the Salvatore School, despite a whole lot of the student body wanting him gone. It came down to a vote by the council, which was comprised of one Witch, Vampire, and Werewolf representative. Hope declared that she deserved a place on the council thanks to her status as a Tribrid, and as the only one of her kind, she didn’t have any competition in a vote.

Ultimately, the council voted for Landon to leave the school, but Hope walked him to the bus stop to reveal that she voted for him to stay and to give him a bit of… well, hope for the future. She gave him a bus ticket to New Orleans and explained that a friend of her family was expecting him and was willing to help him find his mysterious birth mother. And that’s not all! Hope also gave Landon a bracelet with a button that would summon her to him if he needs her help.

Assuming Landon does make it to New Orleans and begins to work with Hope’s family friend (who she unfortunately did not name), he has the means to bring her into their story. All it could take is a press of a bracelet button, and Hope could be whisked to NOLA to hang out with her love interest and the folks she left behind on The Originals.

We’ll have to wait and see. The trailer for next week’s episode looks like it will focus more on the Saltzmans than Hope, as it seems to feature the long-dead Jo coming back in the flesh. The odds are that this Jo is a monster of some sort rather than the twins’ biological mom somehow resurrecting after all these years, but it should still be a wild ride. Perhaps it will also lead to more information about where the twins’ adoptive mom is! Surely the time has come for some details about Caroline. Only time will tell.