It’s Dynamite: BTS, Doja Cat, And J Balvin Will Perform At The 2020 VMAs

Are you ready, ARMY?

The 2020 VMAs just got a whole lot more explosive, thanks to the dynamos in BTS. The K-pop group — 2020 nominees for Best Pop, Best K-pop, and Best Choreography — will light up the awards show for the first time ever with an exciting performance of their upcoming new single, “Dynamite.”

And the fun doesn’t stop there: The 2020 VMAs will also feature memorable performances from both Doja Cat, who’s up for PUSH Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Direction, and J Balvin — nominated for Best Collaboration and three times for Best Latin.

This will be the first time on the VMA stage for BTS, marking the TV debut of “Dynamite” (set to drop on August 21), and the first VMA performance for Doja Cat as well. Last year, J Balvin and Bad Bunny made the VMA stage their playground for a cartoonish, whimsical rendition of “Qué Pretendes.” That means, simply, that this year, anything can happen.

The 2020 VMAs are led by Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga in the nominations field with nine nods each, followed closely behind by both Billie Eilish and The Weeknd. See the full list of nominees, and vote for your faves across 15 gender-neutral categories right now, at vma.mtv.com.

The 2020 VMAs will air live at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday, August 30 across MTV’s linear and digital platforms from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, as well as from various iconic locations throughout the five boroughs in New York City. Find everything you need to know at vma.mtv.com.

Taylor Swift’s Folklore Is The Biggest Album Of 2020 So Far

It’s only been a week, but Taylor Swift‘s Folklore album has already become 2020’s biggest album so far.

The intimate LP, which Swift announced just a day before its July 24 release, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, becoming her seventh project to hit the top. Folklore also had the best week of any album since Swift’s 2019 album, Lover.

A couple of interesting tidbits about this milestone from Billboard: With seven No. 1s, Swift is now tied with Janet Jackson for third-most No. 1s among women since the chart began, and going back to 2016, Swift has the three biggest weeks for any album. That includes 2017’s Reputation as well as Lover and Folklore. Swift also now holds the designation of being the only woman on the chart to have seven LPs debut at No. 1; behind her are Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Madonna and Britney Spears, who have six each.

Swift debuted Folklore with a gorgeous video for “Cardigan” that she directed while in quarantine. The album’s more interior, folk-influenced sound and songwriting style was bolstered by production and co-writing work from Aaron Dessner of The National. “I think she was interested in the emotions that she feels in some of the music that I’ve made,” he told Rolling Stone. “So I just sent her a folder of things I’d done recently and was excited about. Hours after, she sent back a fully written version of ‘Cardigan.’ It was like a lightning bolt struck the house.”

Folklore is now 2020’s top-selling album.

Charlotte Lawrence’s ‘Slow Motion’ Is An Emotional Quarantine Snapshot

In February 2020, Charlotte Lawrence was on fire — well, almost. The music video for her bouncy, mischievous song “Joke’s on You” found the 20-year-old singer strutting amid blazing inferno as she laid out a tale of emotional revenge. The tune soundtracked Harley Quinn’s misanthropic adventures in the Birds of Prey blockbuster film, sitting alongside killer cuts from artists like Halsey, Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, and more on its soundtrack.

A month later, she was among the first wave of highly visible virus cases, as she announced her COVID-19 diagnosis on Instagram on March 18. “I am going to be completely fine,” she wrote in a note that scans as quaint nearly five months later. “But many who get it won’t be if too many people get sick too quickly.” She’s since recovered, and she told MTV News that she’s spent these past few months reading, listening to Phoebe Bridgers and Taylor Swift, and learning some intense new choreography.

“I’m not a fucking dancer. I can’t dance,” she said. “I’m 5’10” with, like, flailing arms and legs everywhere.” But that didn’t stop her from working toward a vision — one she realized in the dazzling new “Slow Motion” visual on a team with director Tyler Shields and choreographer Tia Rivera. The trio created and filmed it in quarantine, and it radiates with the kind of spark-plug creative energy of a passion project. It might not have towering fires like “Joke’s on You,” but it has Lawrence’s intensity and a little editing flair.

MTV News caught up with Lawrence to talk “Slow Motion” and quarantine creativity on a recent video call that featured a memorable cameo from her dog Winnie. “She’s more of a star than I am, for real,” Lawrence said. “She radiates star power.” Below, Lawrence unpacks how she made the video and how her song “Everybody Loves You” ended up on the new album from The Chicks.

MTV News: Some music videos made in quarantine are looking more and more professionally shot, even when they’ve been scaled down out of necessity. “Slow Motion” is one of those. How did you make it?

Charlotte Lawrence: It’s about a breakup, so then you expect the music video [to be], OK, girl, guy, or whatever it is, going through a breakup. So I was like, how do we shoot a video in quarantine with no budget, no lighting, no extras, no dude or girl — just me — and portray emotion through that? So we started with the idea of this song doesn’t have to be about necessarily losing a partner, but it could maybe be about just losing somebody in general, grief, or losing a friend, or losing something like that. Just that feeling of loss. So I was like, let’s highlight the crazy emotions through the five stages of grief through dance and facial expressions.

MTV News: You mentioned on Instagram that the portion of the video on the staircase was your favorite part. Is that because the moment that it represents is one of your favorites in the song?

Lawrence: That stairs scene was so cool because there are some aspects of the choreography that are pretty and beautiful and still have that light. But then there are some aspects of it that are crazy and messy and not the prettiest and slumped over, a little bit messy, you know what I mean? And I think it portrays the lyrics really well. And I watch it and it’s like, I can feel the emotion from the song.

Tyler Shields is the director, and he filmed the whole thing. And Tia Rivera is the choreographer. And we all did it, just us three collaboratively, together, everything. Every aspect of it we did completely together. Built it, did it, filmed it, just us. And it was just amazing. I’m not a fucking dancer. I can’t dance. I’m 5’10” with, like, flailing arms and legs everywhere. And I just worked my ass off with Tia and got it to the point that I felt like it was as good as I could get it.

MTV News: In March, you announced that you had tested positive for COVID-19. As you moved through that from then until now and recovered, how did you stay positive during that time, when you were in quarantine?

Lawrence: I mean, I was quarantined with somebody who had it a lot worse than I had it. So I think my mindset was very much on taking care of that person. And I wasn’t really focusing on myself, which was kind of a blessing in disguise, even though it was really scary. I was sick, but I knew that I was going to be OK. I mean, I’m 20 years old and I’m young and I’m healthy. And I just took care of my friend for a long time, and it was really scary, but it definitely brought us so much closer, and he’s completely fine now. And we’re very, very close now, and it ended up being OK, but it was just terrifying because it was kind of like at the very beginning of [the coronavirus pandemic] in the [United] States. So we had no idea what anything meant. And it even took us, like, a week to get a test after pleading, can we please have tests? And having to go to the hospital. It was crazy.

After, when I was better and not sick anymore, I felt a lot of inspiration to write and sing and paint and do all these artsy things and keep my mind very creative and very on it. And as time goes on, it’s like, I’m somebody that everything I write, music-wise, lyric-wise, and even like paint, like everything artistically, I have to be authentic with it. It’s very much me and my own thoughts and my own experiences, what I’ve gone through, what I feel in the moment. But when I’m not doing things that inspire me or not really going out or seeing people… I just lose that inspiration. And it’s hard for me to write and keep that alive. So this music video, going back to that, was a huge, huge, amazing experience because I felt like I could really tone in and be as creative as I possibly could after having a little dry stage.

MTV News: Were you listening to anything in particular over the past few months that helped?

Lawrence: Phoebe Bridgers released an album, and I was like, so incredible. I’ve listened to it on repeat. I’m literally her number-one fan. Like, it’s honestly creepy how much I mention her name and her music all the time. And if she sees it, she’s probably like, “This girl is fucking weird,” but I just think she’s such an incredible writer and the best of our generation, for real. I think that she talks like an old poet, and it’s so cool. Obviously, the Taylor [Swift] album came out a few days ago. Incredible and unexpected. I was like, holy shit, you just went the full opposite direction of your last album. And it’s amazing. I think it’s so cool and beautiful. And my two favorite bands, The National and Bon Iver, are involved with the album. On repeat are “Cardigan,” “Exile,” “This Is Me Trying,” “My Tears Ricochet,” and I’ve been loving “Betty.”

MTV News: From what music you’ve been working on while in quarantine, have you found any common themes or any certain kinds of songs that you’re writing more of?

Lawrence: It depends. I’m such a visual person and an experience person. If I have a sad fight with a boyfriend or a crazy whatever with a friend, I can write about it. But when everything’s so continuous and just… it’s just been the same for a long time, especially since I’m supposed to be on tour right now. And we prepared for that. I did a session a day all year, and I don’t need to do any more sessions. You know what I mean? It’s very much like I have all the music prepared for literally like two years. Like, I’m fucking ready. I’ve also been like acting a tiny bit. Like, I’m not an actor at all. I’m not the best, but I’m very extroverted and it’s fun to try and be creative. It’s just been fun to have something to do that’s in a creative light.

MTV News: In the celebratory mode of the past couple weeks, The Chicks recently covered your song “Everybody Loves You” on their new album. You’ve talked in the past about how important that relationship has been with them and how Natalie [Maines] has been a great mentor to you. But how does your song end up on their album?

Lawrence: Man, I couldn’t even tell you how it happened. It happened out of nowhere. I don’t even know how to describe it. She’s my neighbor, Natalie, like actually my next-door neighbor, and is one of my mom’s best friends and has been such an incredible influence and mentor and all-around helper to me since I’ve been a little younger. She heard me sing when I was like 12 or 13 and just took an actual liking to me. And it wasn’t anything my mom was asking her to do. Every time I would see her, she would play me songs. I would play her songs. I would play her half-written songs. She would tell me what to do to finish them. I would play her not fully produced songs. And she would [give] super constructive criticism. She just always helped me out like that.

And I played her “Everybody Loves You” when it came out few years ago, and she just loved it and was like, “This is so beautiful and special.” And whenever we were at a party or at my family’s house and had people over, we would always play it and sing it. That was where my expectations ended, like, Natalie from The Chicks likes my song that much that she knows the words and stuff. Sick. Awesome. And then one day she was just like, “Emily [Strayer] and Martie [Maguire] and I kind of want to cover ‘Everybody Loves You’ because we keep listening to it and we think it’s so incredible.” It doesn’t comprehend in your mind. Like, cover it for what? On Instagram? When they released it, they stripped it just like I had it originally and just did it with Natalie’s voice and the piano, and there’s a little violin solo in there, and I just thought it was so incredible. And I could feel how much she related to that song when she sings it. I think her voice is, I mean, it’s otherworldly.

MTV News: What’s something that you’re optimistic about right now, something that you’re looking forward to?

Lawrence: I’m looking forward to releasing more music. I’m ready. I’ve been sitting on so many fucking songs for so long. I just want people to start hearing it. I have another single coming out in September, and it’s one of my favorite songs. It’s so cool. And I’m about to film the video and it’s going to be — very obviously, we’re still in quarantine — it’ll be the same situation as what I did with Tyler. And I’m excited for Winnie to go to the trainer so she stops shitting at my mom’s house.

Taylor Swift’s Chilly Affair, ‘Paradise’ By Way Of Eric Nam, And More Songs We Love

Ask me which track off of Taylor Swift’s Folklore is my favorite, and you’ll get a different answer depending on the day (or the weather, or the amount of candles I may or may not be burning). Today, it’s “Illicit Affairs,” a slow-building ballad about a secret tryst that is both undeniably Taylor and distinctly Folklore. Prolific producer-sound engineer Jack Antonoff’s influence is there, but Swift’s poignant songwriting dazzles in its own right: “And you wanna scream, don’t call me kid / Don’t call me baby / Look at this godforsaken mess that you’ve made me / You showed me colors you know I can’t see with anyone else.” Chills, mama. Where’s my cardigan? —Sam Manzella

Ambré Is The Director Of Her Own R&B Movie

When she’s not writing songs with her pal Kehlani or collaborating with folks like Ryan Hemsworth and Pell, New Orleans singer-songwriter Ambré is making movies in her head. She builds characters and narratives in the songs she records under her own name, but it all starts with emotion. One of the biggest is love: whispering about it in the moonlight, hiding from it in school bathroom stalls, cruising with it in a nighttime car ride. She makes love its own character in her own coming-of-age story.

Her debut album, Pulp, released in November 2019, undulates with gorgeous, languid R&B that she turns urgent with her lyrics. “Can I practice on you? Can you practice on me, too?” she asks on “Band Practice,” admitting, “Girl, you give me the blues.” At the end of “Free Drugs,” she ties the object of her affection directly to the visuals she loves. “I put the moves on you like you was a GIF,” she sings. “Motion picture when I’m with ya.”

“I really wanted to create my own world that feels that you could feel the emotions of this world, but [that] sonically, when I close my eyes, it takes me somewhere else,” Ambré told MTV News. Translating those visions to actual music videos and mini-movies is, of course, a whole lot of fun. She’s gotten to hang off motorcycles, in “Fubu,” and let panoramic vistas play out across her face, in “Color Blind.” For “Slip,” her latest single, she’s both lying in the grass, having a smoke, and fencing in golden sunshine.

Perhaps common for a collaborative songwriter, Ambré’s videos are intended to capture an overall mood as hazy, humid portraits of everyday life, rather than vehicles to place herself in the spotlight. When she’s working on music with, say, Kehlani, she said she’s “just a tool” in the larger creative process. “I kind of blend in and be a chameleon with that and take a backseat, but still assist,” she said. It’s the same with her Grammy-winning work on H.E.R.’s 2017 debut — she has the Recording Academy’s award plaque in her home, but if you didn’t know it was there, you might miss it.

“I have it hung up in my stairway. When you walk in my house, it’s on the wall there. But it’s not noticeable, really, which… I think that’s cool,” she said. “I like that.”

Ambré isn’t interested in blockbusters yet, but her scope has gotten bigger. Today (July 31), her debut album gets a reissue, fittingly titled Pulp (Director’s Cut), with her firmly in the director’s chair. Armed with five additional songs that “complete the picture of the story,” Ambré spoke to MTV News about how bringing her visions to life, what she’s been watching lately, and why Kehlani is “fam.”

MTV News: A lot of film influence shines through in your work, as the title of this new Pulp (Director’s Cut) reveals. What have you been watching recently? Any new films or anything that you’ve been exploring?

Ambré: I haven’t been watching that many movies, but I’ve been into [TV] series. But a movie that I saw recently was this blaxploitation film on Amazon. I can’t remember the name of it, though, but it was super fire. I think it was called Uptight. I’ve been watching Insecure on Amazon. I started watching I May Destroy You. Westworld is super good, too. I finished that some weeks ago.

MTV News: Were you always into film and music when you were a kid? Were those kind of your go-to outlets for creativity?

Ambré: Definitely. I used to make little movies on my phone of my brothers and cousins. I used to make them act out my little stories and try to make my own little movies. I used to be in a film club in high school, and anime club. I was a little nerd, but it’s OK. It’s always been a big part of my creativity, and something that inspires me to be creative.

MTV News: I saw you tweeted not that long ago that you thought that we’re all living in The Truman Show right now, and I was curious why you thought that.

Ambré: That’s one of my favorite movies. But the reason why I tweeted that was because — I don’t know, I just had a moment where I was [like], “Wow, this is like some TV shit.” Everything that’s going on in the world right now feels unreal, feels like somebody planned this. Just going out in the world, it feels like everybody’s a robot or something, or actors.

MTV News: There’s definitely a case to be made because of the increasing number of cameras in the world. Not only security cameras, or street surveillance set up by police, but we are all literally carry around cameras with us at all times on our phones.

Ambré: For sure. And we willingly show our lives. So that part, too.

MTV News: Considering Pulp (Director’s Cut), I would imagine that makes you the director, conceptually. What new stuff does the director’s cut hold?

Ambré: Well, sonically, there are some things that were there originally that I ended up having to cut to fit for my first deal. But conceptually, I feel like these songs just kind of paint a fuller picture of what I had already released. There are a few songs with a little bit more bounce and that kind of gives the other songs that balance. I think it just completes the picture of the story that I was trying to tell, and it takes you through the rest of the journey in a different way.

MTV News: As we talked about, you’re a pretty visual person. When you were making Pulp, what were you inspired by? What were you thinking about?

Ambré: During that time, I was obviously watching Pulp Fiction a lot, so I think, subconsciously, that word just kind of stuck in my head. But I was watching a lot of coming-of-age movies. One of the movies that definitely inspired me was Dazed and Confused, which is a movie from the ’90s, but it’s about the ’70s. And I kind of copy a scene of that on one of my single covers where they’re lying on the car, and I was just lying on the ground, or whatever. Just a lot of coming-of-age movies, and just the idea of being young and confused and just kind of on a journey of discovery about yourself, about the world. The Truman Show was also one of those because it has that kind of element, just trying to figure out the world that you have to live in and what that means.

I think the common theme in those films is people are at a young age and they feel like that. But with my project, I wanted to have that energy, but also I feel like we never really lose that. We’re always learning. We’re always trying to figure things out, and I think that’s what life is about. [In the music,] I relate to these emotions, but it takes me somewhere else.

MTV News: So, say you kind of have an idea you want to explore. Is melody the first thing that you start playing with for a song?

Ambré: Yes, usually it’s the melody first. Sometimes, I’ll know what I want to talk about, which is rare. But usually I start with the melody, and then sometimes the words just come out afterward. I don’t really have control over that when it does that. It’s just a channel.

MTV News: Pulp came out last fall. Does what you’re trying to do next feel a little bit different than that, or does it feel like it’s kind of along that same trajectory?

Ambré: I’m in a space where I’m still figuring out where I want to go next, but in my heart of hearts, I feel like I’m kind of moving away from the vibe of Pulp. Obviously, I’m still me, but the things that I’ve been creating lately have been a little bit darker than Pulp and a little bit grittier.

MTV News: You and Kehlani have obviously been tight for years now. When you’re working on something together, I’d imagine that’s a lot of fun, but does it also feel like you’re deepening your connection?

Ambré: Oh, definitely. I mean, regardless if we make music or not, that’s just fam. When we’re in the studio, it’s good times. We enjoy the same type of music. We’re hanging out, we’re listening to our favorite music, and we’re connecting in that way, so when we’re in the studio, we’re [like], “Oh, this is cool. I liked this,” or, “Oh, this is cool. I like this.” It’s really just we’re enjoying the art of music, and then we end up making some stuff.

MTV News: You co-wrote “Water” with her, and you’ve also worked on some other high-profile R&B and R&B-pop releases. What’s it been like to see the reception of those records?

Ambré: Man, I’m just happy to be a part of things that people enjoy that much. I’ve definitely been seeing people that — “Do you know, this is one of my favorite songs of the project?” — for both songs, and I’m [like], “Wow.” I’m just humbled to even be a part of those things. Both artists are, I feel, so talented and they could do it by themselves. So the fact that they allowed me to be in their space and a part of that is really special, and the reception makes it 10 times better.

MTV News: Obviously 2020 has been challenging for a lot of reasons. But what are you feeling optimistic about right now?

Ambré: I’m feeling optimistic about new music. I’m excited. I feel like people probably have been holding onto music for a while, because everything is so up in the air right now. And I think that there’s going to be a surge of music drops, which I’m very excited for. I’m just excited to hear what everybody’s been up to for these past few months.

Billie Eilish Finds Her Personal Power On ‘My Future’

After the breakout success of her debut album When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?Billie Eilish, then a talented newcomer whose delightfully disheveled dye job and slime green style were seemingly at odds with the serene vocals she delivered, was solidified as a star on the rise. Yet, despite her laissez-faire attitude towards press and accolades, she’s become something of an awards show darling, becoming the youngest artist, at 18, to sweep the big four Grammys in January. And on Thurday (July 30), she was nominated for six VMAs, including Video of the Year and Song of the Year.

That same day, independent of the announcement, Eilish dropped “My Future,” her first release since “No Time to Die,” the theme to the now-delayed James Bond film starring Daniel Craig and Rami Malek. The dreamy track, though it starts off slow, almost gloomy, is a powerful ode to self-love and personal power. “I’m in love with my future,” she sings. “Can’t wait to meet her / And I’m in love but not with anybody else / Just want to get to know myself.” From here, the beat kicks up with a peppy, summery beat, as the singer, while supported by cooing backup voices, claps back at the notion that one must be validated by outside affection.

The singer first teased fans with the release on Tuesday (July 28), when she shared an animated image of herself on Instagram, depicting Eilish sitting in a field with her back to the viewer as she stared at a glistening full moon. The picture was pulled from a music video, which was released along with the single. Eilish’s sonic journey towards self-love is reflected in the nature around her: The visuals begin with a rainy scene, eventually giving way to blooming vines that grow to hold the singer in a mid-air grasp.

Earlier this year, Eilish’s Where do We Go? World Tour was postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, the singer has been quarantining with her family, including her brother and fellow VMA nominee Finneas, in Los Angeles, where she has been working on new music (if anyone wondered where “My Future” came from) and showing her support for Black Lives Matter protesters. For Eilish, the future is looking bright.

Your 2020 VMA Nominations Are Here: Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, And The Weeknd Lead The Pack

With the show exactly one month away on Sunday, August 30, the 2020 VMA nominee list is finally here — and it’s massive.

Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga lead the pack with nine noms each, while Billie Eilish and The Weeknd follow closely behind with six each. All four appear in the highly coveted Video of the Year category, which finds Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted” going toe-to-toe with Eminem and Juice WRLD’s “Godzilla,” Future and Drake’s “Life Is Good,” Gaga and Grande’s “Rain on Me,” Taylor Swift’s “The Man,” and The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights.”

In keeping with the year that 2020 has been, the VMAs have introduced two brand-new categories, Best Music Video From Home and Best Quarantine Performance, that spotlight the creative ways artists adapted to the shifting landscape. Voting in each of the 15 gender-neutral categories begins today over at vma.mtv.com.

MTV announced the nominees in its biggest categories via Twitter’s new Voice Tweets feature today (July 30). Last week, MTV unveiled the 17 nominees for PUSH Best New Artist, which have now been whittled down to six.

The 2020 VMAs will air live at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday, August 30 across MTV’s linear and digital platforms from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, as well as from various iconic locations throughout New York City’s five boroughs.

Find the full 2020 VMAs nominees list below.

Video of the Year

Billie Eilish: “Everything I Wanted”

Eminem ft. Juice WRLD: “Godzilla”

Future ft. Drake: “Life Is Good”

Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande: “Rain on Me”

Taylor Swift: “The Man”

The Weeknd: “Blinding Lights”

Artist of the Year

DaBaby

Justin Bieber

Lady Gaga

Megan Thee Stallion

Post Malone

The Weeknd

PUSH Best New Artist

Doja Cat

Jack Harlow

Lewis Capaldi

Roddy Ricch

Tate McRae

Yungblud

Song of the Year

Billie Eilish: “Everything I Wanted”

Doja Cat: “Say So”

Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande: “Rain on Me”

Megan Thee Stallion: “Savage”

Post Malone: “Circles”

Roddy Ricch: “The Box”

Best Collaboration

Ariana Grande & Justin Bieber: “Stuck With U”

Black Eyed Peas ft. J Balvin: “RITMO (Bad Boys for Life)”

Ed Sheeran ft. Khalid: “Beautiful People”

Future ft. Drake: “Life Is Good”

Karol G ft. Nicki Minaj: “Tusa”

Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande: “Rain on Me”

Best Pop

BTS: “On”

Halsey: “You Should Be Sad”

Jonas Brothers: “What a Man Gotta Do”

Justin Bieber ft. Quavo: “Intentions”

Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande: “Rain on Me”

Taylor Swift: “Lover”

Best Hip-Hop

DaBaby: “Bop”

Eminem ft. Juice WRLD: “Godzilla”

Future ft. Drake: “Life Is Good”

Megan Thee Stallion: “Savage”

Roddy Ricch: “The Box”

Travis Scott: “Highest in the Room”

Best R&B

Alicia Keys: “Underdog”

Chloe x Halle: “Do It”

H.E.R. ft. YG: “Slide”

Khalid ft. Summer Walker: “Eleven”

Lizzo: “Cuz I Love You”

The Weeknd: “Blinding Lights”

Best K-Pop

BTS: “On”

EXO: “Obession”

(G)I-DLE: “Oh My God”

Monsta X: “Someone’s Someone”

Red Velvet: “Psycho”

Tomorrow X Together: “9 and Three Quarters (Run Away)”

Best Latin

Anuel AA ft. Daddy Yankee, Ozuna, Karol G, J Balvin: “China”

Bad Bunny: “Yo Perreo Sola”

Black Eyed Peas ft. Ozuna, J. Rey Soul: “Mamacita”

J Balvin: “Amarillo”

Karol G ft. Nicki Minaj: “Tusa”

Maulma ft. J Balvin: “Qué Pena”

Best Rock

Blink-182: “Happy Days”

Coldplay: “Orphans”

Evanescence: “Wasted on You”

Fall Out Boy ft. Wyclef Jean: “Dear Future Self (Hands Up)”

Green Day: “Oh Yeah!”

The Killers: “Caution”

Best Alternative

The 1975: “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)”

All Time Low: “Some Kind of Disaster”

Finneas: “Let’s Fall in Love for the Night”

Lana Del Rey: “Doin’ Time”

Machine Gun Kelly: “Bloody Valentine”

Twenty One Pilots: “Level of Concern”

Best Music Video From Home

5 Seconds of Summer: “Wildflower”

Ariana Grande & Justin Bieber: “Stuck With U”

Blink-182: “Happy Days”

Drake: “Toosie Slide”

John Legend: “Bigger Love”

Twenty One Pilots: “Level of Concern”

Best Quarantine Performance

Chloe x Halle: “Do It (from MTV Prom-Athon)”

CNCO: MTV Unplugged At Home

DJ D-Nice: Club MTV Presents: #DanceTogether

John Legend: #TogetherAtHome Concert Series

Lady Gaga: “Smile” from One World: Together At Home

Post Malone: Nirvana Tribute

Video For Good

Anderson .Paak: “Lockdown”

Billie Eilish: “All the Good Girls Go to Hell”

Demi Lovato: “I Love Me”

H.E.R.: “I Can’t Breathe”

Lil Baby: “The Bigger Picture”

Taylor Swift: “The Man”

The 2020 MTV VMAs will air live on Sunday, August 30 across MTV’s linear and digital platforms. Find everything you need to know at vma.mtv.com.

Kehlani’s ‘Can I’ Video Is A Total Celebration Of Sex Workers

As quarantine has continued, Kehlani has made a habit out of creating vibey, interior, dazzling visuals to complement her new album It Was Good Until It Wasn’t. Her latest, for standout album cut “Can I,” might be her best yet.

In the dynamic new clip directed by the artist herself and Sebastian Sdaigui, Kehlani watches a series of cam shows, some of them as charmingly homemade as it gets. The mood is certainly horny, which matches the song itself (Call me over ’cause I go hard / Sweet lil’ bih, fuck like a porn star,” Kehlani intones), yet even in the dark of desire (or perhaps especially there), the clip is a celebration of sex workers. Kehlan is just an observer here, and the performers are the real stars.

She made sure to shout them out in a note on Instagram promoting the release: “support sex workers!!!! ESPECIALLY BLACK TRANS SEX WORKERS. the most vulnerable. sex workers deserve proper pay, protection, and to exist in their careers without consistent shame & violence.”

“i stand with women, believe women, & i love my friends. if that’s something that turns you off from me or makes you no longer support, bless you forreal you have no reason to have ever supported me in the first place.. i’m not your cup of tea,” Kehlani continued on Twitter.

The video ends with a note penned by writer and activist Da’Shaun Harrison that reads, in full:

SEX WORK is a political term that covers and embraces: street-level prostitution, erotic dancing, camera work, adult film, agency escorting, sensual messages, dominatrix work, and all other occupations through which one sells their sexual(-ized) services to clients. It is a legitimate form of labor that must be decriminalized so as to function as a safe form of work for all sex workers. It is often the lives and livelihoods of those who do street-level work that is impacted by criminalizing policies and cultural stigmatization. Overwhelmingly, those folks are Black trans women, Black cisgender women, and other Black queer and trans people—including youth. Black people—as well as Indigenous people and other people of color—deserve to be able to perform sex work without any limitations or stigmas attached, and this means that everyone must commit to learning from sex workers about sex work and sex workers’ needs.

Notably absent from the clip is rapper Tory Lanez, whose verse is still present. However, Kehlani tweeted today (July 30), in the interest of “full transparency,” that Lanez’s verse will be replaced with a new one on the forthcoming deluxe edition of her album.

Earlier this month, Lanez was arrested and charged with a felony count of carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle after a violent incident that resulted in the hospitalization of Megan Thee Stallion, whom he was with at the time of his arrest. Megan later released a statement saying she was “incredibly grateful to be alive” after being shot in both feet and undergoing surgery to remove the bullets.

Watch the celebratory new video for Kehlani’s “Can I” above.

The Roots Founding Member Malik B. Dead At 47

Malik B., a rapper and founding member of The Roots who appeared on the group’s albums throughout their career as both a pivotal MC and a guest after his departure, has died at age 47. No cause of death has been provided.

The legendary hip-hop group’s official Twitter account posted a statement announcing Malik’s death today (July 29). “We regretfully inform you of the passing of our beloved brother and long time Roots member Malik Abdul Basit,” it read. “May he be remembered for his devotion to Islam and innovation as one of the most gifted MCs of all time. We ask that you please respect his family in our time of mourning.”

Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, The Roots’s primary MC who co-founded the band with drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson in the late 1980s, paid tribute to his former band mate with a lengthy Instagram point. “In friendly competition with you from day one, I always felt as if I possessed only a mere fraction of your true gift and potential,” he wrote in part. “Your steel sharpened my steel as I watched you create cadences from the ether and set them free into the universe to become poetic law, making the English language your bitch.”

“I always wanted to change you, to somehow sophisticate your outlook and make you see that there were far more options than the streets, only to realize that you and the streets were one… and there was no way to separate a man from his true self,” he continued. “My beloved brother M-illitant. I can only hope to have made you as proud as you made me. The world just lost a real one. May Allah pardon you, forgive your sins and grant you the highest level of paradise.”

After Black Thought and Questlove began The Roots in earnest in Philadelphia after meeting in high school, they added Malik, whose potent verses were felt on the earliest Roots albums. “Used to make plots against the herringbone herb / But now all I do: disperse the verb / And like a nerd, I can make you say, ‘He’s superb!'” he raps on 1995’s “Proceed,” a single from the Do You Want More?!!!??! album. In the song’s video, he shares a stage with Black Thought and eventually the rest of the band as they slowly but surely command an entire crowd of listeners.

Malik is also seen in the videos for 1995’s “Distortion to Static” and 1996’s “What They Do (No Subtitles)” and “Clones.” His final words on that song, “I annihilate your type if you violate,” were later sampled by producer The Alchemist and used as the hook for “Annihilation,” a 2000 song from Los Angeles hip-hop group Dilated Peoples.

Though Mailk was no longer part of The Roots after their 1999 Grammy-winning album Things Fall Apart, he continued to appear on the group’s releases, including on “Game Theory” from 2006’s album of the same name and 2008’s Rising Down. On the group’s 2002’s album Phreonology, Black Thought devotes a portion of “Water” to explain how he met Malik and how problems with drugs facilitated his departure from the band. “It was a couple things, lil’ syrup, lil’ pills,” he raps, “instead of riding out on the road, you’d rather chill.” Malik, for his part, said in a 2015 interview that he was never fired from the band, nor did he ever quit.

In his years following his departure from The Roots, Malik continued to make music. He released an album called Street Assault in 2005 and a collaborative album with producer Mr. Green called Unpredictable in 2015.

In that same 2015 interview, Malik spoke about the pair’s decision to release an album together. “How do you know when you time something?” he said. “It’s just a feeling you get.”

Rina Sawayama Says Mercury Prize Eligibility Rules Are Like ‘Border Control’

The British-Japanese singer Rina Sawayama released her debut album, Sawayama, in April. The LP, which had been in the works since 2019, is a collection of gritty electro-metal tracks polished with lyrics that dissects the concept of family — both blood and chosen — to cathartic ends. And with its release, which garnered high praise from critics and fellow artists alike (Elton John called it “the strongest album of the year”), Sawayama had one goal: “I want to win a Mercury Award,” she told her label, Dirty Hit, per Vice.

The Hyundai Mercury Prize, formerly known as the Mercury Prize, is an annual award given to the best British or Irish album of the year. Past winners have included Arctic Monkeys, James Blake, PJ Harvey, and Portishead, and this year’s shortlist, which included Charli XCX and Dua Lipa, was hailed for spotlighting albums by female musicians, a historic win for an industry still largely dominated by men despite shifting norms. Sawayama, however, was not nominated; in fact, she was never eligible in the first place.

This is due to the fact the Hyundai Mercury Prize has restrictive terms and conditions that define Britishness in narrow terms. They stipulate that entrants must have British or Irish nationality, which must be proven by providing documentation of citizenship, such as a passport, to organizers. Though Sawayama has lived in the United Kingdom as a toddler and grew up in London, she was born in Japan, one of a number of countries that do not allow dual citizenship.

The singer falls within a visa category known as indefinite leave to remain, which, in many ways, allows her nearly equal treatment to citizens, sans the opportunity to vote in a general election. Sawayama has lived in the U.K. for 25 years — longer than some nominees, like 24-year-old Dua Lipa, have been alive — and her album was recorded between her home country and Los Angeles.

The singer opened up about the exclusion in an interview with Vice, saying, “It was so heartbreaking.” She noted that she disagrees “with this definition of Britishness. I think I’m really British, and I don’t like just sorting out a symptom of something and leaving the cause to someone else to deal with.”

A spokesperson from British Phonographic Industry responded in a statement to Vice, saying, “Both The BRIT Awards and the Hyundai Mercury Prize aim to be as inclusive as possible within their parameters, and their processes and eligibility criteria are constantly reviewed.”

“If arts awards are creating their own sort of version of border control around their eligibility,” Sawayama added. “I think that’s really problematic.”