Fans Have Already Picked The Sleeper Hit Of Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next

Ariana Grande is capitalizing on her dominating run of the last few months with the release of her fifth studio album, Thank U, Next, today (February 8). As fans pore over the LP and post their reactions to social media, many have decided that “NASA” is the sleeper hit destined to become her next problematic relationship anthem.

“NASA” covers that feeling of having spent too much time with a significant other. Grande sounds slightly annoyed on the tune, singing, “I can’t really miss you if I’m with you / And when I miss you, it’ll change the way I kiss you” on the chorus. Everyone’s familiar with a dull headache that comes from seeing that special someone a little too much. She replicates that simmering anger and anxiety on the feathery tune, showing fans that she, too, gets tired of staring at a lover’s head. On Twitter, fans voiced their appreciation of the bop.

Fans weren’t the only ones gifting the song praise. It appears that NASA itself is feeling the record. The administration tweeted a response to being name-dropped earlier this morning. “Hey @ArianaGrande, we saw ‘NASA’ trending this morning and thought it was about one of our new discoveries. But we realized that you might need some space,” the tweet reads. We now stan an aeronautics administration.

Thank U, Next features “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored, “7 Rings,” and of course, the title track. To hear her perform her latest batch of relationship tunes as well as the crop from last year’s Sweetener, catch her on tour when it kicks off in March.

Stream the entire new album below.

A Guide to Pacific-Trap&B, Pop’s Latest Genre From Ariana Grande, Kehlani, And More

By Da’Shan Smith

Twenty years ago, on February 2, TLC released their signature smash, “No Scrubs.” Set as a guideline to warn ladies about “broke-ass” bustas “sittin’ on the passenger side of their best friend’s ride,” the hit single topped charts of multiple countries, including the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. “No Scrubs” contains a masterful blend of Chilli and T-Boz’s R&B vocals, a pop chorus penned by Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs, Kandi Burruss, and Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, as well as a rap verse from Left Eye. Its video matched Janet and Michael Jackson’s outworldly “Scream” with its futurist ambitions.

Last May, I ended up coining the distinct genre of the “No Scrubs” era (existing in ’90s and early-2000s female R&B) as “Electro-hop&B,” pinpointing these anthems’ intergalactic bounce. At the end of that article I concluded: “With persistent political movements for women’s rights continuing for eternity, and now a sweltering rise of Asian acts and music taking over the Billboard charts, the music industry could see a mainstream resurgence of the subgenre that once championed independent women willing to define their lives on their own terms.”

At the beginning of this year, the mainstream music scene seemed to be fulfilling that prophecy with the release of Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” and Kehlani’s “Nights Like This.” These records not only followed the Electro-hop&B leads of TLC, but also mirrored East Asian undertones present in some ’90s R&B music. At the same time, the discourse and controversy centered around whether or not Grande is benefiting from cultural appropriation (and her infamous tattoo) got me further thinking about cultural fusion in the music industry at large.

“7 Rings” and “Nights Like This” shouldn’t be fully classified as Electro-hop&B records, but rather Pacific-trap&B. Both songs have trap&B styles that align with the Bay Area and Los Angeles, California. Fused into these vibes are sonic and visual influences from various East Asian genres including J-pop of Japan, C-pop of China, and K-pop of Korea. These songs have a trans-Pacific connection, as all four regions border the Pacific Ocean.

This particular blending of genres into a massive one is nothing new to the music scene. The examples extend far and wide in this decade alone, from Far East Movement and Dev’s 2010 hit “Like a G6” to The Weeknd’s “Reminder” or Future’s “Mask Off.” The blending of hip-hop and R&B in K-pop is also evident in the discographies of 2NE1, BLACKPINK, and BTS. Rolling Stone also previously documented how notable songwriters from the R&B scene (such as Teddy Riley and August Rigo) have ventured out to writing camps for some of these artists. The following list of examples are personal picks from eight women who successfully execute the sound of Pacific-trap&B.

  • Ariana Grande, “7 Rings”

    Starting off with an ominous, tick-tocking from a marimba — leading into an interpolation of “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music —“7 Rings” immediately sets a tone for the lavish. Afterwards, the looping of a Japanese shamisen underscores Grande’s “Gimme The Loot” and “Pretty Boy Swag” flow, gloating about what black cards can afford her and her friends. However, it’s the video which caused controversy: From the posh pink trap house (which 2 Chainz would later cosign in the official remix) to Japanese lettering on the single cover as well as some cultural props inside the kitchen. One can only “Imagine” what’s to come on Thank U, Next (particularly on “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored”)…

  • Victoria Monét ft/ Ty Dolla $ign, “Made In China”

    Monét has served as a key songwriter and producer for Grande, from their first collabs on Grande’s Yours Truly and My Everything to her inclusion on the “7 Rings” dream team. When Monét was making her solo start in 2014, she released “Made In China,” a love ode powered by trap hi-hats and the metaphorical meaning of the title. What drives this song is its dramatic roots in native Chinese mandopop, led by Monét’s angelic cooing, a pipa instrument, and electronic synthesizers backed by a verse from L.A.’s own Ty Dolla $ign.

  • Kehlani ft/ Ty Dolla $ign, “Nights Like This”

    Kehlani’s music comes a sense of ethereal realness, assisted by candid and vulnerable lyricism. Voyaging into her sophomore era after SweetSexySavage, the Oakland native (and mommy-to-be) continues to lean into the TLC inspirations that propelled her to pop stardom. “Nights Like This” heralds elements of city pop, Tokyo’s jazz fusion, soul, and soft rock subgenre-offshoot of J-pop. This cut is reminiscent of the futuristic vibes on TLC’s FanMail, the parent album of “No Scrubs.” It’s more than likely that while she was touring in Japan last year, Kehlani was highly influenced by the nation’s technoculture, as evident by the robotic music video.

  • Kay Cola, “D.M.T.”

    As an attendee of Kehlani’s majestic baby shower last month, Kay Cola also understands the influence of blending East Asian pop with trap. The songwriter (whose sang in the choir of Eminem’s “Not Afraid,”) has released a few indie mixtapes and EPs discussing the state of lucid dreaming. Back in 2014, she opened up about her love for 2NE1 and being a fan of K-Pop. In 2016, Kay Cola released her alter-ego EP, Lucy, which includes “D.M.T. (Discover My Truth).” The song takes a few cues from the harmony of K-pop, as she discusses a soulmate from “a past life.” Another highlight that hits these tones is “Dear God,” which features her father, Hubert Laws, playing the flute.

  • Jhené Aiko, “Overstimulated”

    On her last album, Trip, Jhené Aiko conceptually taps into healing her soul with the help of hallucinogenic drugs and psychedelia-sonics. As a descendant of multiple ethnicities, Aiko delves into some instrumentation from her Japanese heritage, including wind chimes and bells. Powered by the energetics of trap, “Overstimulated” explores the rushing side effects of her trip, a kokyū violin underscoring this song’s particular journey towards the end.

  • DaniLeigh, “Lil Bebe”

    On the official website of her record label, Def Jam, DaniLeigh describes Aaliyah and Missy Elliott (who have both dabbled in these tones via “More Than A Woman” and “Work It,” respectively) as her “biggest influences,” and her clothing style as “very ’90s driven.” When looking at the music video of “Lil Bebe,” these influences not only come to life in her bodega, sneaker store, barber shop, night club, and apartment — they’re heard on the actual track. DaniLeigh’s vocal delivery possesses a flow that matches the style of K-pop and takes inspiration from another personal fave, Rihanna. Oh, and there’s also a play-on-words remix featuring the actual Lil Baby.

  • Rina Sawayama, “Cyber Stockholm Syndrome”

    As a Japanese-born, emerging indie-pop artist, Rina Sawayama takes the futurism of Pacific-Trap&B into a rave matching the likes of fellow Brit Charli XCX. There’s a digi-tick-tocking underscoring the chorus of “Cyber Stockholm Syndrome,” where she “came here on my own” as the chorus goes. In an interview with The Fader, Sawayama mentions that “Cyber Stockholm Syndrome” explores the duality between pessimism and optimism, as well as anxiety and freedom in the internet age.

  • Lexie Liu, “Nada”

    Lexie Liu revealed to Billboard last month that when she was competing in her native reality competition show, The Rap of China, she was often criticized for pop singing rather than rapping. By the sounds of “Nada” alone, which is acidic and melodic with the help of a TB-303 bass line, her sensual style would be the perfect fit in an American market currently dominated by trap&B. The lyrics of “Nada” are half English and half Mandarin, drawing allusions to NASA spacecrafts and birds flying away from their cages. Liu gloats about hefty pockets, designer clothes, yachts, wraiths, and “flexin’ all day,” bringing everything Pacific-trap&B full circle.

Meek Mill And Drake Think It’s Cool To Crash Cars We Can’t Afford In ‘Going Bad’ Video

A lifetime ago, Meek Mill and Drake were each other’s sneering villains, taunting each other on wax and social media. Seeing them collide, literally and figuratively, in their new video for “Going Bad” can make you emotional, given everything that they have put each other through. The pair, along with video director Kid Art and countless rapper pals, have combined for one of the sleekiest visuals released this year thus far. Check it out below.

“Going Bad” is all about the feels it gives off. There’s a ton of powerful black faces in the music industry strolling through a luxurious pantheon, although there’s only one woman that appears in the video. Meek and Drake are in the center of the ruckus, of course, with the kind of suave, blank stares associated with being cooler than anyone else. Surrounding them are a number of are members of contemporary hip-hop’s brass – Nipsey Hussle, T.I., Swizz Beatz, and more – who match their stale faces in intensity. It’s never really revealed where exactly they are walking to, but it doesn’t matter. We’re all just really here to see the swaggering stroll, not necessarily where it leads.

The most visually striking part comes when Meek and Drake play chicken with expensive cars and they both lose. From the beginning, both rappers are revealed to be speeding in their respective cars to locations unknown. After Drake’s verse ends, we see what they’re doing – planning to drive full force into each other. Yikes. They collide in a mess of crumpled car metal and tire confetti before Meek begins his verse after a brief interlude, almost like this collision is a “passing the baton” moment. It could signal their inevitable reunion; they avoided each other for so long after beefing in 2015 that they are now back together, physically. Or maybe it’s just a CGI effect that Meek decided would look cool with the whole “boss” motif going on.

“Going Bad” appears on Meek’s 2018 album ChampionshipsHe’s released videos for “Intro” and “Trauma” since its release. This month, he’s embarking on a tour in support of the LP.

10 Years Ago, The Jonas Brothers Were Peak Heartthrobs at Their First Grammys

When the 51st Annual Grammy Awards touched down in Los Angeles on February 8, 2009, Lil Wayne, Coldplay, and Adele were among the evening’s biggest winners. As much applause as they received for their golden trophies, though, it paled in comparison to the deafening shrieks elicited by Grammy rookies Jonas Brothers.

At the time, the trio — Nick, 16, Joe, 19, and Kevin, 21 — were the certified kings of the teen pop world. 2008 had been their breakout year, marked by their hit third album (A Little Bit Longer, which handily debuted at No. 1), a mega-popular Disney Channel Original Movie (Camp Rock, the biggest thing since High School Musical), a Rolling Stone cover, and announcements of future tours, TV shows, and a 3D concert movie. Despite their near ubiquitousness, though, the band had been dismissed by many critics as House of Mouse-generated pop fluff, which made their Grammy nomination for Best New Artist later that year even sweeter.

“When you start in a band as an artist you say, ‘One day, I’ll be nominated for a Grammy.’ It happened, and we’re just so honored,” Nick told MTV News moments after the nomination announcement in December 2008. “As young guys, we know that this is a privilege, and we do appreciate that. We’re grateful.”

Two months later, the brothers would show up at the awards show dressed the part of future Vogue cover stars. They wore sharp designer tuxedos (Burberry and Versace, thankyouverymuch), and their doting mom, Denise, even joined them to brave the onslaught of flashbulbs that followed them down the red carpet.

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About halfway through the ceremony, Kanye West and Estelle took the mic to announce the nominees for Best New Artist: Adele, Duffy, Lady Antebellum, Jazmine Sullivan, and the definite outliers amongst the female-powered group, the JoBros. Adele emerged victorious, but as sad a loss as it was for the group, their big night was only getting started.

The Grammys are known for hosting out-of-left-field collaborations, and JB’s first and only performance on the show was no different — they busted out a medley of their A Little Bit Longer hit “Burnin’ Up” and Stevie Wonder‘s “Superstition,” accompanied by the legend himself. It opened with Wonder singing “Burnin’ Up” into a vocoder, before the trio took over in rollicking fashion.

The performance itself was just crazy enough to work — JB had busted out live renditions of “Superstition” at their own shows, so they clearly knew and loved the classic. Performing it with Wonder is a totally different story, but they tackled it with unbridled energy, as a scarf-wearing Nick and a vest-rocking Joe traded vocals, curly-headed Kevin shredded on guitar, and Nick’s puberty-ridden voice repeatedly called out, “C’mon, Steve-ay!”

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Though the brothers went home empty-handed that night, it was still a win in their book. They told Reuters the week after the show, “There’s a little disappointment, but the performance was a win for us. That was such a perfect opportunity and a perfect collaboration. … We were blown away.”

Jonas Brothers sadly never returned to the show as a group — they disbanded in 2013, though reunion rumors abound — but 10 years later, we’ll always remember the night these heartthrobs burned the Grammys up.

Ariana Grande Is Mrs. Steal Your Man (Or Woman?) In ‘Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored’ Video

Happy thank u, next day! Ariana Grande‘s fifth album arrived into the world on Friday (February 8), just in time to gloss over all that drama concerning her scrapped Grammys performance. Ever the generous queen, Ari also shared the video for the album’s closing track: the iconically titled “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.”

As previously teased, the trippy clip stars Riverdale hunk Charles Melton, who has his eyes fixed on Grande… but his hands all over model Ariel Yasmine, who’s styled to look exactly like the singer, sky-high ponytail and all. When the scene moves from a nightclub to a house party, Grande does a little Single White Female-inspired makeover by ditching her platinum wig and attempting to steal Melton away. Or is it actually the girl she was after the whole time? You’ll have to wait until the steamy makeout-in-a-pool scene at the end to decide for yourself. Let the theories begin.

As for the song itself, it finds Ari back in “7 Rings“-esque boss mode, lusting over some glossy pop-trap beats and stirring up all the drama: “Break up with your girlfriend / Yeah, yeah, ’cause I’m bored / You can hit it in the mornin’ / Yeah, yeah, like it’s yours.”

Ariana Grande Defends Her Decision To Walk Away From The Grammys

Earlier this week, a report from Variety spilled the news that Ariana Grande would be skipping out on the 2019 Grammys — not just for a performance, but for attending the ceremony altogether — after a disagreement with producers. The report alleged that Grande and the show’s staff agreed to a medley performance of her No. 1 hit “7 Rings” and another song, but that the singer pulled out when producers insisted they’d get to choose the second song.

These types of last-minute disputes often get chalked up to timing or resource constraints when insiders finally go on the record and discuss them. That’s precisely what Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich did in an AP interview on Thursday (February 7), saying that Grande “felt it was too late for her to pull something together.” Grande, however, had a much different perspective.

In a series of tweets, she defended her decision to walk away and called out Ehrlich for lying. “I can pull together a performance over night and you know that, Ken,” she wrote. “It was when my creativity & self expression was stifled by you, that I decided not to attend.”

Grande elaborated on what exactly happened, saying she offered three songs for the performance (that were presumably turned down by producers). “It’s about collaboration. It’s about feeling supported,” she wrote. “It’s about art and honesty. Not politics. Not doing favors or playing games. It’s just a game y’all.. and I’m sorry but that’s not what music is to me.”

Perhaps most tellingly, Grande also tweeted that she “passed a Grammys bus with my face on it typing those,” referring to how this year’s ceremony had been hyped and advertised with her likeness.

Even if Grande won’t be at this Sunday’s Grammys, she’ll certainly be very busy for the next 72 hours. Her fifth album, Thank U, Next, drops at midnight, and she’s been rolling out teasers all day on social media. Fans also believe the album’s final track, “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored,” will hit ahead of the album’s actual release — a theory supported by a visual teaser Grande tweeted shortly after her Grammys statements.

With an appearance on the Grammys stage or not, it’s clear that this will be the weekend of Ariana Grande. Check out the album’s latest teaser below.

Khalid Teams Up With Disclosure For Adorable Ode To Young Love ‘Talk’

Regardless of what stage of a relationship you’re in, or even if you’re in one or not, Khalid and Disclosure‘s new tune, “Talk,” will give you butterflies. This ode to fresh, fast-moving relationships puts you into a special frame of mind, where when you see that literal or imaginative your heart begins to flutter. It’s almost impossible to contain the smile on your face by the end of the track. Check out the romantic ballad below.

Khalid gets a chance to explore the absurd highs and lows of his vocal range on “Talk” thanks to the funky backdrop courtesy of Disclosure (in addition to producing, they are also credited as co-writers). Khalid pleads to a partner, but there’s no negative connotation to it. He’s grasping for an understanding of the relationship’s trajectory and what to look out for because he’s never went this far emotionally. “I’ve never felt like this before / I apologize if I’m movin’ too far / Can’t we just talk? Can’t we just talk? / Figure out where we’re going,” he sings on the chorus. You just want to pinch his cheek.

“Talk” is the first single from Khalid’s upcoming album that’s set to drop in April. In October, he shared the Suncity EP that featured “Better.” He released his debut studio LP, American Teen, in 2017.

Julia Michaels And A Niall Horan Lookalike Are In Relationship Purgatory In ‘What A Time’ Video

Last month, Julia Michaels revealed news of her split with fellow singer Lauv. Now, she’s released the video for new song “What a Time,” and it looks like the memory of a relationship’s good times stings harder after it ends. If the parallels are not intentional, it’s still hard to ignore how the video echoes reality.

The video for “What a Time” creates its mood from Michaels’ collection of a thousand frowns, each one slightly different than the next. And even though Niall Horan (who sings on the track) isn’t here in the video, she sits with a Horan lookalike in a house overrun by dying plants — a clear metaphor for the quality of a previous relationship. Once, it bloomed, and now, it doesn’t.

Michaels remains expressive throughout and showcases her sorrow, but the same can’t be said about the faux Niall. His face remains in an unwavering blank stare that, when placed next to Michaels’ watery-eyed sadness, looks kind of hilarious. From beginning to end, there’s no change. Go ahead and check.

“What a Time” appears on Michaels’ latest EP, Inner Monologue Part 1. The six-track record also features the Selena Gomez-assisted “Anxiety.” She had an eventful 2018, releasing “Heaven” for Fifty Shades Freed, “In This Place” for Ralph Breaks The Internet, “Jump” in collaboration with Trippie Redd, and of course, “There’s No Way” with former lovebird Lauv.

Watch the “What a Time” video above and try to figure out where the heck the real Niall is.

Alicia Keys Gets A Grammys Pep Talk In Updated ‘Shallow’ Cover With James Corden

When done correctly, song parodies can be great tributes to the original work. Thanks to Alicia Keys and James Corden, A Star Is Born‘s star track now has one of the best out there – and it’s all about the Grammys.

Keys joined Corden on The Late Late Show on Wednesday night (February 6), treating viewers to a hilarious parody of A Star Is Born’s “Shallow,” complete with rewritten lyrics about the 2019 Grammys. With the songstress seated at the piano, she belted out one of the funniest versions of the song we’ve heard so far, thanks to a little help from Corden himself.

The song swapped in lyrics about Keys asking Corden for advice hosting the show, which he has done twice now. She’ll be taking over hosting duties for this year’s show, during which Lady Gaga will be performing the hit A Star Is Born tune. This pitch-perfect duet set the stage quite well for Sunday’s big event and offered plenty of giggles as well.

“Tell me something, Keys, I hear you’re set to host this year’s Grammys,” Corden sang, taking the place of Bradley Cooper’s trademark Jackson Maine croon. Keys responded, “Didn’t you host it twice? Maybe you could give me some advice.”

Keys even went in on her own run much like Gaga’s in the middle of the song, belting out and harmonizing along with Corden, throwing in a smidge of her hit “Girl On Fire” for a bit of a remix.

“Comfy shoes. After four hours, you’ll find yourself drinking cheap booze,” Corden joked. “Try not to be scared. Act like you’ve been there.”

“You know I’ve won 15 times,” Keys sang back with a grin, much to the crowd’s delight. She’s not just flexin’ – Keys won her first few Grammys in 2001 with “Fallin’,” which took Song of the Year, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and Best R&B Song that year. Her debut album, Songs In A Minor, took Best R&B Album, and she’s been racking up the awards ever since.

This clip is definitely one of the best ways to get us amped for the Grammys (as if we weren’t already). We can’t wait to see Alicia Keys totally kill it as host. Luckily, there are only a few days left until the biggest night in music.

5 Seconds Of Summer And The Chainsmokers Have Made Your New Spring Breakup Anthem

This morning, two of pop music’s biggest forces collided for the Big Bang of sad-song team-ups. 5 Seconds of Summer and The Chainsmokers have unveiled their first collaboration, “Who Do You Love?” after teasing the impending release on Twitter earlier this week. It’s the first taste of spring after Punxsutawney Phil told the world about his missing shadow this year and it sounds like it’s time to put the bubble coats away. Check out the lyric video below, featuring those bright colors associated with our warmer months.

“Who Do You Love?” is a record that lulls you in with its relaxing, mid-tempo backdrop, courtesy of The Chainsmokers, that brings forth the thick smell in the air of April showers. But it’s a feint.

The atmosphere may be cheery, but 5SOS’ vocals are actually about a sneaky partner who’s raising up a ton of red flags with their actions. “Who do you love, do you love now? / I wanna know the truth / Who do you love, do you love now? I know it’s someone new,” Luke Hemmings and Ashton Irwin of 5SOS sing with a pleading conviction. By the end of the song, you start to feel bad for the guys.

The Chainsmokers released their second studio album, Sick Boy, in December, featuring the previously released “Beach House” about, well, listening to Beach House. The LP also features “You Owe Me,” “Everybody Hates Me,” and the title track. 5SOS released their third studio album, Youngblood, in June.

They also seem to be in the midst of some kind of collective heartbreak. Before the release of “Who Do You Love?” this morning, they released “Lie To Me” in January. It might be time for the band to break out the Ben & Jerry’s and marathon some rom-coms. Maybe try The Notebook?