Gallant, Skylar Grey, And Jamie N Commons Remade ‘Runaway Train’ With A Video Spotlighting Missing Children

Twenty-five years ago, the Minneapolis rock band Soul Asylum released a socially conscious video for its 1993 hit “Runaway Train” that doubled as activism. In showing images of real missing children, the clip, which received regular rotation on MTV, facilitated in the location of 21 of them. Just imagine what would happen if a similar concept was executed in the age of social media. Well, you don’t have to.

The nonprofit National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has recruited alt-R&B crooner Gallant, electronic-tinged vocalist Skylar Grey, and ragged-throat British singer Jamie N Commons to update the song for 2019. It’s called “Runaway Train 25” and it comes with a new visual that spotlights some of the more than 400,000 kids who are reported missing every year.

As 61 percent of recovered children are found in the state in which they’re reported missing, the new “Runaway Train” video will — in addition to being amplified via social media — show missing kids based on the viewer’s location. This information is updated directly from the NCMEC.

“It’s up to us to help bring home #MissingKids,” Grey wrote on Twitter to accompany the video’s premiere. Pirner, the original songwriter, also told Billboard he’s interested to see how the video update might have such an impact thanks to modern technology.

“If it does have an impact at all, I’m pretty thankful that they thought of involving this song for their rebooting of the concept,” he said. “It’s all with very real intentions and very sincere wanting to help.”

Watch the new version, titled “Runaway Train 25,” above. Learn more about the project and see how you can help at RunawayTrain25.com.

Denzel Curry Is Living Fast And Worrying About The Future On ‘Speedboat’

Denzel Curry dropped TA1300 ten months ago and now it’s time for a new chapter. Enter ZUU, the new album that’s set to drop on May 31 that he’s just announced. Along with the surprise reveal of the around-the-corner-body of work, Curry also released a new song that previews it. “Speedboat” is a unique celebration of the good life and its accompanying “audiovisual” seems to indicate that there’s more trouble that comes with having money than you would expect.

If you’ve ever owned a house cat, you know that they like to walk around and settle on your lap, no matter what you’re doing. If you’re on a laptop, this means that whatever you’re typing will have a jumble of random letters added to it. “Speedboat” sounds like a cat plopped its body on a piano and a beat was built around it. This jumble of notes and its ominous trap drums make it a darkly funny listen. Curry occupies this space and raps about the juxtaposition between a life changed for the better and an existence plagued with fear about making it to see tomorrow. “My dawg didn’t make it to 21, so I gotta make it past 24,” he rap-sings on the chorus.

The visual itself might not technically be considered a music video. It features a man of luxury under surveillance by what appears to be the cops. Over the course of the video, scenes from Bad Boys II are interspersed, featuring the chaotic evisceration of both cars and architecture. It all forms into a visual that seems to show the destruction and dangers of living lavishly. Is it worth it to have a speedboat if all of life’s dangers are suddenly much more likely?

ZUU will also feature the previously released single, “Ricky.” The LP will also feature Rick Ross, Sam Sneak, and more. Curry’s TA1300 follow-up comes quick and it looks like ZUU will take the rapper into a new direction. It’ll be exciting to follow the road.

Watch Sigrid Beautifully Cover A Billie Eilish Deep Cut: ‘What A Tune’

Two of the most critically adored debut pop albums this year have come from Sigrid and Billie Eilish, who, on paper, don’t have much in common besides that fact. The former artist is a Norwegian pop star with a penchant for big, bombastic hooks, while the latter is an L.A. native whose quirky, genre-defying album became a sleeper hit and rose to the top of the charts. But their two worlds have unexpectedly collided this week after Sigrid chose to cover a Billie deep cut during a live session at Swedish station Sveriges Radio.

Flanked by an acoustic guitarist and a backing vocalist, Sigrid served up an extremely faithful rendition of “bellyache,” from Eilish’s 2017 EP, Don’t Smile At Me. The Sucker Punch singer nailed the acoustic-led macabre tale, in which Eilish took on the persona of a psychopath who’d killed her friends and dumped their bodies in the trunk of her car. The original song sounded so sweet that it made you forget it’s about murder, and Sigrid managed to do the same with her stripped-back, honeyed rendition.

“What a tune,” Sigrid said of the original track on Tuesday (May 21) while sharing her own — check it out below.

Both Sigrid and Eilish are due to perform at the U.K.’s Glastonbury Festival in June. Fingers crossed the two artists meet up and make our pop-loving heads explode.

Why BTS and Western Pop’s ‘Asian Explosion’ Are Here To Stay

By Josh Calixto

By now, BTS‘s perpetual success in the U.S. has become a familiar routine: They break a longstanding chart record or two; they win a major award; they make TV appearances on shows that seemed untouchable just a few months ago; they sell out their world stadium tour; they draw comparisons to the Beatles; and they answer red carpet questions about celebrity crushes and their favorite American foods.

It feels strange to think that such accomplishments could so quickly become the norm when you consider how truly unprecedented these moves are. Last year, when a crop of films like Crazy Rich Asians, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Searching, and Bao turned Asian representation into a major topic of conversation in Western media, BTS was rarely (if ever) featured as the centerpiece of the discussion. And yet, it’s difficult to think of many instances in which an Asian recording artist — much less a group of seven Asian men — has ever been presented on American television as an unironic, bona fide force in pop music.

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for SiriusXM

BTS members from left to right: Suga, V, Jin, Jungkook, RM, Jimin, and J-hope

But BTS is a force, and even now, just a year after becoming the first Asian artists to ever top the Billboard 200 albums chart, their influence can already be felt. In 2019, more than 20 Korean pop acts are set to tour the United States, and many of them are performing on massive stages: The four-piece girl group BLACKPINK, like BTS, have drawn tons of buzz with late night TV appearances, YouTube streaming records, and most recently, a performance at Coachella. NCT 127, of the Korean record label SM Entertainment, can be spotted on shows like Good Morning America and The Late Late Show with James Corden. It’s an exciting time to be a K-pop artist (or fan), and it’s clear that what’s happening is a major breakthrough.

“You see the kind of demand that BTS creates, and it influences people to being open to booking more artists like BTS,” Jason Lipshutz, senior director of music at Billboard, tells MTV News. “I think these are all signs that there is more acceptance to incorporating K-pop into major music platforms.”

While this is very much a year of firsts for K-pop, it’s not the first time that artists and sounds from other countries have made their way into the American mainstream. In the 1990s, artists like Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, and Jennifer Lopez set off a “Latin explosion” whose trajectory can be helpful for sussing out the origins and impacts of the “Asian explosion” we’re seeing today. Selena wasn’t the first Latinx artist to break into the mainstream; before her, Ritchie Valens, Carlos Santana, and even Gloria Estefan were bringing new faces to the scene in the same way that PSY, Girls’ Generation, 2NE1, and other Korean acts helped blaze the dirt trail that BTS has paved into a functioning road.

Even with the presence those Latinx artists had carved out, Latin sounds were still too new to be accepted by mainstream audiences as anything other than crossover hits like Gloria Estefan’s “Conga,” whose English lyrics and drum-machine rhythms offered a more American-friendly take on Cuban conga songs. The radio waves were averse to the polka-esque, accordion-based sounds that Selena’s Tejano music brought to the scene, and for the majority of Selena’s career, her success was limited to the Latinx listeners who were already familiar with the genre. Even after Selena’s tragic murder in 1995, when her album Dreaming of You made her the first Latinx artist to top the Billboard 200 albums chart, the only two tracks to register with wider audiences were “Dreaming of You” and “I Could Fall in Love,” two English-language singles that fit more snugly into the pop and R&B textures that defined contemporary radio.

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Singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez photographed inside a nightclub in 1993

Still, Selena’s music and that of artists like Gloria Estefan, Carlos Santana, Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, and Enrique Iglesias ensured that Latin sounds found a home in the American pop music landscape. The reverberations continue to this day, as pop stars like Camila Cabello, Pitbull, Cardi B, and Bad Bunny seamlessly implement Latin elements in their music, while artists like Spanish singer-songwriter Rosalía and reggaeton hitmaker J Balvin — who make music primarily if not entirely in Spanish — are finding success in the States thanks to their predecessors who helped normalize their music for American audiences.

What separates today’s Asian explosion from the Latin explosion of the ’90s is that today, K-pop doesn’t have to drastically reshape its sound to fit the norms that radio and television standards once made a necessity. As pop culture critic Jon Caramanica observed in his New York Times feature on the new generation of pop stars, “pop” is no longer a genre or sound unto itself; it’s a flexible format whose main distinguishing feature is its nebulous, overarching hip-hop influence. “Since they’re all drawing from the same well,” Caramanica writes, “the fact that they might come from different scenes feels like a small quibble at most.”

The theory plays out: If there’s one thing that ties together BTS, Cardi B, BLACKPINK, Bad Bunny, and NCT, it’s the fact that they’re all influenced by hip-hop elements that make their music more digestible to a wider audience, language notwithstanding. Some of BTS’s direct influences include Korean hip-hop acts like Epik High, Dynamic Duo, and Seo Taiji and Boys, but they’ve also worn Western influences on their sleeve — listing off Jay-Z, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Gang Starr, and Dr. Dre as influences in the lyrics of their own music. Bang Shi Hyuk, the CEO of BTS’s label Big Hit Entertainment, has also noted the importance of hip-hop and soul in the group’s sound, stating in a 2017 press conference that “even when doing many genres like house, urban, and PBR&B; there’s no change to the fact that it is Black music. The boundaries of music genres are being broken globally. We are also embracing this and making it BTS style.”

Besides its globally appealing influences, K-pop also has another thing going for it: the mountain-moving power of social media. For the most part, and especially when it comes to BTS, this is something that has been well-documented and easy to discern. When the group first appeared on an awards show, it was for their victory as the fan-voted “Top Social Artist” at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards — an accolade they’ve now taken for the third year in a row.

“To me, in terms of looking at ARMY and the intensity that they bring to their fandom, I think that we all could kind of see this coming — that it was going to spill over,” Lipshutz says.

It’s a clear observation in retrospect, but that spilling-over effect has never been a guarantee. To the average onlooker two years ago, it may have seemed impossible for BTS’s rise to occur this quickly, to this extent.

But in the two years since that first “Top Social Artist” victory, progress has remained steady: At this year’s BBMAs, BTS received recognition for their art — and not just their audience — by claiming the award for Top Duo/Group. Meanwhile, other Korean groups continue to view social media as a way of climbing into the Western pop market, and the strategy seems to be working when you note that, currently, seven of the top 10 artists on Billboard’s Social 50 chart are Korean.

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BTS accept the award for Top Duo/Group at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards

According to Lipshutz, streaming and social media platforms have democratized the proliferation of music and made it possible to circumvent even the most established of systemic obstacles, chief among them being the U.S. radio’s general aversion to music with foreign lyrics and sounds. Even in the case of Latin music, Lipshutz says today’s YouTube and social media-driven environment has made it easier for Latinx and Asian artists to succeed without having to drastically change their sound as they had to in the ‘90s.

“The difference between that period and our current period [is] a new level of authenticity, where they’re singing in Spanish, the music is not as English pop-ified, and it’s really striking. You wonder if a song primarily in Spanish, like ‘Mi Gente,’ like ‘Despacito,’ would have really taken off in the late ’90s.”

BTS’s leader Kim Namjoon, known as RM, latched onto this idea in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly by invoking the Latin Grammys, which were founded in 2000 and born of an era where even crossover Latin pop was still considered a separate entity from the majority of mainstream pop: “Latin pop has its own Grammys in America, and it’s quite different. I don’t want to compare, but I think it’s even harder as an Asian group. A Hot 100 and a Grammy nomination, these are our goals. But they’re just goals — we don’t want to change our identity or our genuineness to get the number one.”

For the most part, BTS have downplayed the idea of themselves as be-all-end-all saviors of pop music, but it’s clear that the members realize their status as an influential group with a legacy to build, and they’ve already made moves to support and uplift other Asian artists on their way to the top. Last year, they met with the Indonesian rapper Rich Brian, and promoted the Japanese-British indie pop artist Rina Sawayama. RM provides ongoing music recommendations on their official Twitter account that mostly feature Asian artists and Western artists of color.

What’s happening now is something that Latinx audiences could only have dreamed of in the ’90s. BTS has become successful not because they’ve reshaped their sound to appeal to the average American listener; instead, the average American listener is being encouraged to reshape their preconceived notions about music in order to keep up with the new realities of pop.

“We saw all these little signs that this was going to be a special moment in pop music, and now it’s here,” Lipshutz says. “Now we’ve experienced it.”

As the Latin explosion has already shown us, BTS’s influence will continue to extend to other artists now that the seal has been broken. This is how music changes, this is how art becomes more diverse. Watching Asian pop artists on Saturday Night Live or the Coachella stage has simply become A Thing That Happens. If its normalcy still feels strange, it’s only because we’re still reeling.

Megan Thee Stallion Is A Watchful Guardian Of Houston In ‘Realer’ Video

It’s over, finally. And now, I can breathe. Megan Thee Stallion‘s new video for “Realer” is out today and it can take the air out of your windpipes. There’s plenty of colors, shaking body parts, and fierce faces in a swirling vortex here, so much that by the time that the video ends, you’ll be wide-eyed with shock. Through it all, the authenticity is apparent. There’s nobody quite as real as Megan Thee Stallion. Breathe. 

Megan is a protector of sorts in this cartoonish version of Houston where a “hater” of hers named Ill Will roams causing trouble. Quick to vanquish all threats, Megan and a group of her friends hop into a convertible car weapon and begin cruising. For the length of the video, we follow this ride through a land of rapidly changing colors where we peak into different scenes of the collective dancing, brandishing golden weapons, and looking as fierce as possible. Megan’s fierce raps follow her as she stands front and center throughout the video’s runtime. The dancing here is impeccable. From left to right, up and down, side to side, and around again, bodies shake and roll. The last shot is from behind and the collective of women, led by Megan, turn around and look at the screen fiercely. We’re to assume that through the power of their aggressiveness, Ill Will has been defeated, watching them as he fades away. Megan and her friends have saved the day.

“Realer” appears on Megan’s recently released project Fever that came out on May 17. The 14-track mixtape features Juicy J and DaBaby. Earlier this month, she appeared on a new version of Bhad Bhabie‘s “Bestie.”

Check out the breathtaking video for “Realer” below.

Céline Dion Recreates A Titanic Scene In One-Of-A-Kind ‘Carpool Karaoke’

The “Carpool Karaoke” segment on The Late Late Show With James Corden is an awesome, jubilant treat that never fails to be a highlight of the show. Host James Corden embarks on a trip around town with various pop culture figures and they bond over songs, whether it’s theirs (if they are a musician) or some other classic or contemporary tunes that bring the smiles. Céline Dion rode along with Corden last night in the latest edition of the segment and sung a wide range of hits; from her own to one of Rihanna‘s and a surprising kid’s song that has become extremely popular. In the process of doing this, they paid homage to James Cameron’s classic 1997  film, Titanic. 

Corden picked up an excited looking Dion while riding down the Strip in Las Vegas. After a brief bit of conversation where she gave some details about living in Vegas, the pair began to skedaddle through songs. First, the pair sang “It’s All Coming Back To Me” and then covered bits and pieces of others including Rihanna’s “Work” and the extremely popular children’s song “Baby Shark,” also informally known as “Sicko Mode” for kids 3 and under. The pair hugged and laughed as they performed having the time of their lives.

But perhaps the biggest moment of all came when they performed “My Heart Will Go On,” one of the most popular and important songs from Titanic that has also become one of the biggest of Dion’s career. The pair acted as the lead lovers from the film (with Corden even wearing a Leonardo DiCaprio-esque wig) and reenacted one of the film’s most powerful scenes. This wasn’t just an epic part in the performance. This might go down as perhaps the coolest moment in the segment’s history.

Take a look at the awesome chemistry between Dion and Corden up above.

The Rise of Megan Thee Stallion, In Five Songs

With folded arms, Tina Snow and Megan Thee Stallion walked into the light for an exciting, sensually striking jam, “Big Ole Freak.” The song found its legs via its video; watching it feels like viewing the final battle of Avengers: Endgame and appreciating the culmination of a years-long story. It also plants the seeds for the next chapter.

It’s striking to hear the ferocity of the artist’s softer side (something not previously shown) on the same track. Like a darker, lustier version of Mariah Carey’s “Hypnotize,” it’s immediately evident that things are different for Megan this go around. The fist-clenching boss talk of “Stalli (Freestyle),” and “Freak Nasty” has been refined into a smirking statement of all-encompassing sexuality. This time, she raps not about how she’s better than the rest in bed, but instead chuckles at how she has a man wrapped around her fingers.

Then, thanks to the #BigOleFreakChallenge, her reign really began. Megan, in a cropped white tee and small shorts, kicked off a twerking competition at a gas station (inspired by influencer DJ Duffey) and invited the world to try and outdo her. The challenge, the song, and Megan all grew larger. The song infiltrated streaming-service playlists like Apple Music’s The A List: Hip-Hop and Spotify’s RapCaviar. And months later, the song still sticks around, even through the release of her debut LP, Fever.

Ty Dolla $ign’s New Collab With J. Cole Asks A Partner For Extreme Forgiveness

Ty Dolla $ign has enlisted the delicate rap talents of J. Cole for his new single, “Purple Emoji.” This soulful, sample-driven number is the first single from $ign’s forthcoming untitled studio album. It’s for everyone looking to get a significant other back after doing something wrong and isn’t quite an apology, but it drives home the fact that you need another chance. And the collaboration works thanks to its simultaneously smooth and groovy atmosphere.

“Purple Emoji”‘s sampled voices in the background clash with the drums nicely and it’s a surefire head knocker. It’s outside of $ign’s typical sound and it works because of that, giving a taste of unpredictability that keeps you interested throughout. J. Cole gives a quick and meaningful verse as the two practically beg for forgiveness. $ign said some things he didn’t mean (as we all do) during an argument and J. Cole recognizes everything that his significant other has done for him. There’s no resolution in the song but we can imagine that this somber, saccharine ode makes even the angriest of partners feel a bit better.

Ty Dolla $ign’s last studio album was MihTy, his collaboration with Jeremih. His last solo effort was 2017’s Beach House 3Last month, $ign appeared on “When I Lie (Remix)” from For The Throne: Music Inspired By The HBO Series Game Of Thrones.

Listen to the win-you-back song of the summer “Purple Emoji” up above.

Rihanna Doesn’t Know The Name Of Her Album Yet — But She Feels Like It Might Be R9

Rihanna is busy preparing her new fashion house with Louis Vuitton, Fenty, to launch. New music might be a little later down the pipeline, but there’s good news: something is in the tank. Possibly a new studio album. In a new interview with T: The New York Times Style Magazine, the singer begrudgingly revealed a few details about new music by responding to a couple of questions. It’s not much to go on, but it allows fans to sort through rumors and begin morphing expectations for it thanks to words from her own lips.

In the midst of a lengthy discussion about everything related to Fenty fashion, Rihanna took some time to clarify a couple of details about her new music. First, it is true that she’s working on a reggae album. She’s not collaborating with Lady Gaga at the moment, even if the latter following her on Instagram caused fans to believe that something in the works (although she isn’t against it). She isn’t working with Drake for her next album. The biggest bombshell? She doesn’t know the name of the album yet or when it’s coming out. Heavy blows to the Rihanna Navy that have been anticipating the forthcoming LP. But any news is better than none, so now fans can begin to prepare accordingly.

Soon after providing some details about the new LP in the interview, Rihanna does reveal that she’s contemplating the name R9“I’m about to call it that probably, ’cause they have haunted me with this ‘R9, R9, when is R9 coming out?’ she said. How will I accept another name after that’s been burned into my skull?”

Rihanna‘s Fenty fashion house was announced earlier this month. it’s the first from-scratch brand that LVMH has launched since Christian Lacroix in 1987. Last month, her film with Donald Glover, Guava Island, live-streamed during Coachella before being released on Amazon Prime.

DJ Khaled Gives The Spotlight Over To Cardi B And Salt Bae In Explosive New Videos

DJ Khaled had a busy weekend. In addition to dropping Father of Asahd, his eleventh studio album, Khaled spent all day Friday releasing brand-new, expensive, star-crammed videos for the album’s tracks “Higher,” “Just Us,” “Celebrate,” “Jealous,” and “Holy Mountain.” And because Khaled wouldn’t be Khaled without his trademark penchant for dogged self-promotion, there’s even more: “You Stay,” featuring Meek Mill, J Balvin, Lil Baby, and Jeremih, dropped on Saturday morning (May 18).

The prototypically glamorous clip finds the crew luxuriating at a mansion in expensive suits, smoking cigars, surrounded by women, and having their meals personally prepared for them by none other than Turkish butcher Nusret Gökçe – better known as Salt Bae. At one point, he slices a prime cut of beef, sprinkles it with salt, and flips it directly into Khaled’s mouth. Luxury, man.

In addition to the grandeur, the colors of the “You Stay” vid are rich and vibrant, especially in the tailored attire of Khaled’s guests. As directed by Eif Rivera (with assists from Khaled himself and Ivan Berrios), “You Stay” is an ode to feeling good and looking even better.

Khaled, naturally, is not done. Monday (May 20), he also unveiled the fiery clip for “Wish Wish,” the explosive Cardi B and 21 Savage collab that finds the pair reunited for the first time since “Bartier Cardi.”

“Wish Wish” is likewise the vision of Rivera and Khaled, but for this clip, Khaled wisely cedes the spotlight to Cardi herself, who is rendered in a haze of flames and twirling motorcycles. 21 is here, too, and it’s nice to see him — especially in one of his first videos since his immigration trouble earlier this year.

Father of Asahd has 15 tracks, and so far, we’ve got videos for more than half of them. (Check out Khaled’s recent Saturday Night Live appearances for even more.) It’s still early, but it’s entirely possible there’s — you guessed it — another one on the way.

Watch the new videos for “You Stay” and “Wish Wish” above.