Jorja Smith Talks Admiring Amy Winehouse And Ripping Mos Def Albums From YouTube

At the tail end of a breakout year marked by her critically acclaimed debut album, a Grammy nomination, and a Coachella debut, Jorja Smith added one more accolade to her list: being named MTV’s Push: Artist to Watch for the month of January.

The 21-year-old sat down with MTV News to dissect her serene R&B sound, which was built on a foundation of fiercely honest songwriting and inspiration from some iconic artists. Among them is Amy Winehouse, whom Smith fondly remembers listening to with her parents.

“Whenever I listen to her music, I can imagine being in a room with her and her band playing, and I really love that,” Smith said. “That’s what I like [to do] with my music: to make it sound like you’re in a room with me and I’m playing live.”

Smith’s other key influences include Damian Marley, whom she’s dying to work with someday, and Mos Def, whose album Black on Both Sides she once ripped from YouTube to listen to on long train rides. All three artists helped the English singer find her sound and her songwriting voice, which is something she’s excited to keep honing in 2019.

“The way I want people to perceive me is that I’m honest. I just know I’m me, that’s it,” Smith said.

That honesty shines on songs like “Blue Lights,” a slinky slight against stop-and-frisk policies. Smith said she wrote the song while making a documentary for school about the relationship between grime music and police. While interviewing fellow students, she noticed “they were all like, ‘I hate the police, they’re always after us, they’re always on to us,” she said. “I was like, ‘what have you done?’ and they’re like ‘nothing.’ I was like, ‘OK, that’s interesting.'”

But it isn’t just young people who can relate to her debut album, Lost & Found. In her words, it’s “everyone.”

“My song ‘Teenage Fantasy,’ I wrote that when I was 16 and I was babysitting, and people that are a lot older than me can relate to that,” she said. “So I think I’m quite good at just writing for everyone.”

Check out Smith’s interviews with MTV News above, and see an intimate, exclusive performance of “Blue Lights” below.

Britney Spears’s ‘Domination’ Gets Puts On Hold After Her ‘Indefinite Work Hiatus’

It’s a sad day for those hoping to see Britney Spears “dominate” the stage this year.

On Friday (January 4), the pop star announced that she’s taking an “indefinite work hiatus” while she takes time off to care for her ailing father. That means her Domination residency show in Las Vegas — which was slated to kick off in February at the Park MGM’s Park Theatre — has been postponed indefinitely.

“I don’t even know where to start with this, because this is so tough for me to say,” Spears wrote on Twitter and Instagram, alongside a throwback pic of her and her parents. “I will not be performing my new show Domination. I’ve been looking forward to this show and seeing all of you this year, so doing this breaks my heart. However, it’s important to always put your family first… and that’s the decision I had to make.”

She continued, “A couple of months ago, my father was hospitalized and almost died. We’re all so grateful that he came out of it alive, but he still has a long road ahead of him. I had to make the difficult decision to put my full focus and energy on my family at this time. I hope you all can understand.”

A press release from Spears’s rep further revealed that Jamie was hospitalized two months ago after his colon spontaneously ruptured, resulting in emergency surgery. He is currently recuperating at home and is expected to make a full recovery after “a long, complicated post-operative period.”

The Britney: Domination run of 32 shows — which was originally announced during a splashy event on the Strip back in October — was set to begin on February 13 and run through August 17 (fans can find refund information here). Spears was also rumored to be working on her tenth studio album to coincide with the residency, but the fate of that LP is now also unclear.

The bright side? At least we’ll always have Brit’s jaw-dropping video teasers to remind us of the choreo that awaits us, should Domination ever find its way to the stage. Sigh.

Ariana Grande Is Kris Jenner’s New Favorite Child, Apologies To Kim And Kylie

Just over a month after Ariana Grande‘s “thank u, next” video promptly broke the internet, a new blooper reel/outtakes compilation has arrived to do the same. And if you don’t believe me, just feast your eyes on this beauty of a GIF:

That’s Kris Jenner, momager extraordinaire, busting out yet another scene-stealing dance move while channeling “cool mom” Mrs. George. Turns out, the original “TUN” video gave us only a tiny taste of Kris’s hilarity — in the blooper reel, she dances her sweatsuit-clad butt off some more and turns in a few Mean Girls-referencing lines. “When I was raising Ariana, I always told her that if a guy ever fucks with her, she should just say ‘thank you, next,'” she says at one point. “And if she ever had sex without a condom, she would get chlamydia and die.”

The newly revealed footage also features bloopers from Troye Sivan and Colleen Ballinger, and even includes an entire deleted scene with Ariana and Jennifer Coolidge, a.k.a. Paulette from Legally Blonde. In it, they recreate one of the most memorable scenes from the 2001 flick, when Paulette confronts her ex and takes back her beloved pooch. It’s an almost shot-for-shot remake of the original scene, but instead of Coolidge saying, “I’m taking the dog, dumbass,” the line is altered to a much more appropriate, “I’m taking the dog. Thank you, next!”

Watch the outtakes video below, and revisit the original “thank u, next” video here.

John Legend Speaks Out About Surviving R. Kelly: ‘I Believe These Women’

Thursday night (January 3), Lifetime premiered its long-awaited documentary series Surviving R. Kelly, where producer Dream Hampton shines a light on the singer’s history of alleged sexual abuse, often against minors. Some of the women interviewed include his ex-wife Andrea Kelly, who revealed to The View in October that Kelly had abused her, and Kitti Jones, who also told her own abuse experiences with Kelly to Megyn Kelly Today in May.

Among those interviewed are musicians Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards — who compared R. Kelly to Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein — and John Legend. Legend followed up his appearance with a series of tweets condemning Kelly and affirming his support for the victims.

“To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn’t feel risky at all. I believe these women and don’t give a fuck about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision,” he wrote.

Hampton discussed with the Detroit Free Press how she had asked other celebrities and musicians to participate in the series, but they declined.

“When it comes to celebrities, it was incredibly difficult to get people who had collaborated with Kelly to come forward. We asked Lady Gaga. We asked Erykah Badu. We asked Celine Dion. We asked Jay-Z. We asked Dave Chappelle,” Hampton said.

The series continues on Friday (January 5) and concludes on Saturday (January 6) at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.

Dua Lipa Embraces Her Inner Battle Angel While Previewing ‘Swan Song’

Dua Lipa‘s sophomore album is expected to drop sometime this year — sadly, it sounds like that Ariana Grande collab didn’t make the cut — but in the meantime, the “One Kiss” and “Electricity” singer is holding fans over with an exciting one-off release.

For her first move of 2019, Lipa contributed a soundtrack cut for the upcoming motion-capture action flick Alita: Battle Angel. The full song doesn’t arrive until January 25, but Lipa has generously shared a snippet of what’s to come. In the behind-the-scenes clip, posted to Instagram on Thursday (January 3), Lipa takes to the studio to belt “Swan Song” in all its epic-sounding glory. “I can’t lie / I’m scared to open my eyes / ‘Cause what if I find nothing at all,” she sings, before taking flight on the chorus. “Hold on tonight / This is not a, this is not a, swan song, swan song / Swan dive / It’s a new life.”

“Swan Song,” which was co-written by Justin Tranter and Lipa herself, is described as an “inspiring and empowering anthem” for Alita: Battle Angel. Lipa previously said in a statement, “I am intrigued at both Alita herself, and the amazing team of creators that came together to make this movie possible. I see a little of myself in her, in both her badass spirit and our shared haircut.”

She added, “Alita is all about empowerment and standing up for who you are, which are two things that resonate with me.”

As if a new Dua song wasn’t exciting enough, it sounds like we’ll also be getting an accompanying video, which will hopefully find the Grammy nominee unleashing her inner battle angel and serving looks while kicking ass. She wrote in another post, “We made a music video too and that was a lot of fun to shoot! Can’t wait for you to see.”

“Swan Song” arrives on January 25, while Alita: Battle Angel hits theaters on February 14.

Blueface Is One Of 2019’s Most Promising Stars — His Producer Tells Us How He Got Here

By Trey Alston

Blueface makes punchline-packed music that’s simultaneously bubbly and morose. There’s a gritty feel to its composition, frequently involving the hyperactive, sensational melodies that make California hip-hop the stuff to vibe to in the club. The 21-year-old Los Angeles rapper and Cash Money West signee has quickly carved out his own space in the field with an offbeat flow that sounds like he’s chasing a train that he just keeps missing. Because of it, he became the viral star to close out the end of 2018, and one to watch rise in the new year. And alongside him is Laudiano — the producer behind the beats for “Respect My Crypn” and “Studio,” two of Blueface’s most important songs — whose proximity gives him insight into the rapper’s rapid rise.

Also based out of L.A., Laudiano has been making beats for two years and has worked with the likes of Drakeo the Ruler, Stunna Girl, and Shoreline Mafia. His connection with Blueface came organically. “I contacted him after I saw his video for ‘Deadlocs,’” Laudiano told MTV News. “I sent him some beats and he emailed me back saying he fucked with them. He shot a video of himself in his car rapping to them and we went from there.”

Laudiano entered into Blueface’s world, where unorthodox flows and energetic rhymes are the norm. Blueface is, as West Coast legend Ice Cube noted, “an acquired taste.” For every fan that he attracted early on, he pissed off two more who felt that he was making a mockery of rap. But Laudiano has created the perfect atmosphere for this off-kilter style.

When you look at the results, it’s no wonder the pair has established their camaraderie. Blueface released two mixtapes in 2018, Famous Cryp in June, and Two Coccy in September. “Respect My Crypn” appeared on Famous Cryp and outshined the other standouts “Next Big Thing” and “Thotiana” — two tracks that became popular because of meme-able video moments. Laudiano’s beat — an excessively vibrant, fluid thing with a sticky bass drum — plays a large part in the song’s continued success, blending well with Blueface’s signature style, which Laudiano defines as “smooth player and kind of aggressive.”

“When he hops on my beats, I feel like we got our own drip, like we are LeBron James and Dwyane Wade,” he says.

Even Laudiano admits that, if you blink, you’ll miss Blueface’s rise. “The craziest thing has just been how fast everything has happened,” Laudiano says. “Getting a record on the radio was my goal. Power 106 and L.A. Leakers spun ‘Respect My Crypn’ early and it blew my mind.” Since then, everyone wants to capture Blueface’s lightning in a bottle. He exchanged direct messages with Drake on Instagram, with the latter seeming to angle for a collab. In December, Blueface also revealed that he’s been in the studio with Quavo. And then, there are the memes — the mop, the pants, Blueface’s signature fingertip-lick, eyebrow split shtick — the true measures of viral power and reach. Laudiano’s favorite is the one of Blueface’s Crip walk being dubbed over random songs.

Their latest collaboration is the sensual track “Studio.” When Blueface first dropped the snippet in November, it was an indication of a bold new direction. Laudiano’s latest beat challenged Blueface, finding an iciness that didn’t exist in “Respect My Crypn.” The collaboration came about via an Instagram message from Dnyce of League of Starz, a production duo credited for work with Chris Brown, T.I., and 2 Chainz.

“[Dnyce] hit me on Instagram and said we should work,” Laudiano says. “The next day, I made the beat and sent it over to Dnyce to finish it. Shortly after Blueface released the video for ‘Respect My Crypn’ and I wanted to keep the train rolling so I sent him a pack with that beat in it.” Blueface let the success of his hit simmer before surprising the world with the snippet of the new song. “A month later, I seen that video of him singing to the beat, with my beat tag playing in the background,” Laudiano says. “He hit me saying that it was going to be a hit and I agreed.” After being posted on December 14, the official video for the song now has over 4 million views on YouTube, and 1.9 million more on WorldStarHipHop.

Blueface’s ascent looks to continue well into 2019. It’s much too early to talk about his inevitable studio debut, and Laudiano is quiet about it as well, but ready: “I’ve got to be a part of it because ‘Respect My Crypn’ became his biggest song, with ‘Studio’ becoming his fastest growing single thus far,” he says. It’s hard to believe that, just a couple of months ago, Blueface was another hopeful emcee, but Laudiano’s a key that unlocked potential to be explored in the new year. “We just have been going up,” the producer says. “Our songs started on SoundCloud and now, look, we’re on the radio and WorldStar.”

Childish Gambino, Ariana Grande, And Tame Impala Are Your Coachella 2019 Headliners

If you’ve always been a Coachella holdout, wondering if two weekends in the desert for a music festival were really worth shelling out for tickets, travel, and lodging, 2019 might just be the year that convinces you to pull the trigger already. On Wednesday night (January 2), this year’s headliners were revealed, and they’re massive. Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, and Ariana Grande will all lead the fest in April.

It’s a historic moment for Grande, who, Glamour points out, becomes only the fourth female performer to ever headline the festival (after Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Björk). And it makes sense: Her most recent album, Sweetener, reached No. 1, and she’s got another album titled Thank U, Next ready to go at seemingly any moment. It doesn’t seem farfetched to suspect it’ll be out come April.

Grande wrote that she was “humbled and excited as all hell” on social media.

Childish Gambino, too, had quite the year in 2018, and it’s hard to believe that this year’s Coachella will mark nearly a year since his Grammy-nominated (and by April, potentially Grammy-winning) “This Is America” dropped.

Meanwhile, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker — who’s spent the years since their 2015 album Currents collaborating with Rihanna, Travis Scott, and Kanye West — teased “new sounds” for the group on social media.

Other scheduled performers include Janelle Monae, The 1975, Solange, Kid Cudi, Diplo, Bad Bunny, Khalid, J Balvin, Billie Eilish, and so many more. Coachella 2019 begins April 12 and closes out on April 21. You can check out the full poster above — and note that passes go on sale beginning Friday (January 4).

EXCLUSIVE: King Princess, Charlotte Lawrence, And Kelsey Lu Score V Magazine Covers To Start 2019

Answering the questions “what’s new” and “what’s now,” Magazine features rising artists King Princess, Charlotte Lawrence, and Kelsey Lu on three covers for the publication’s first issue of 2019.

Named the “Discovery Issue,” the 117th issue of kicks off the magazine’s 20th year by amplifying the voices of celebrities set to take over the world, including the three cover stars, each photographed by fashion photography duo Inez & Vinoodh. Paired with their up-close and personal cover photos, the singers were each interviewed by IRL celebrity friends.

V Magazine

King Princess, who rose to fame in 2018 with her fun and clever debut single “1950,” speaks candidly in the issue about fame with Cole Sprouse. “I see so many people that are famous and successful… but they don’t have love or people,” the 20-year-old singer reveals about her own fear of being in the spotlight. “And that scares me more than anything.”

V Magazine

Bonding with best friend and model Kaia Gerber, 18-year-old singer Charlotte Lawrence confesses her most-played song of all time: “Love The Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna. “That will forever be our song,” Lawrence tells Gerber, to which Gerber responds, “You’re the only other person I know who can recite the entire rap verse.”

V Magazine

In conversation with friend and collaborator Dev Hynes, singer, cellist and all-around musician Kelsey Lu gets candid about being scammed in the music industry.

“I started working with someone, and I put most of my trust, and most of my budget, into them. That literally cost me money,” Lu tells Hynes, whom she toured with in 2018. “My lesson was to speak up when that happens.”

The three cover stars are joined by other stars to look out for, human or otherwise, like Charli XCX and Sophia the Robot, in V Magazine’s “The Discovery Issue” hitting newsstands on January 10.

Red Velvet Want You To Be ‘Whoever You Want’ When You Listen To Their Music

On first listen, “RBB (Really Bad Boy)” is a song that really shouldn’t work. It’s a cacophony of sounds, rhythms, shrill ad-libs, complex harmonies, and a whole lot of brass. For a lead single, it’s unapologetically bold and loud — the kind of song that beats you into submission with a powerful “oh my God” straight to your temporal lobes — but that’s what makes it so unabashedly Red Velvet.

Since making their debut in 2014, the Korean quintet has been serving up their distinct flavors with powerhouse vocals and boundless personality from members Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy, and Yeri (who officially joined the group in 2015). When it comes to K-pop, it all starts with a concept, and Red Velvet’s artistic DNA is written into their name: Red signals their vivid pop aesthetic with quirky songs like “Power Up” and “Peek-a-Boo,” while Velvet speaks to their moodier, more sensual R&B side, as demonstrated on this year’s acclaimed single, “Bad Boy” (a.k.a. Billboard‘s No. 1 K-pop song of 2018).

It’s this duality — the constant push and pull between fierce and playful, sweet and soulful — that make Red Velvet such a mellifluous treat, especially in a musical landscape that likes to put female artists in boxes. In K-pop, girl groups are often one or the other: sweet (TWICE) or sexy (MAMAMOO), girls who produce perfect pop confections (Girls’ Generation) or girls with attitude (2NE1). But Red Velvet prove that one concept can’t contain the artistry and multitudes that girl groups really have to offer. With “RBB,” the titular lead single off their latest EP, Red Velvet aren’t playing by anyone’s rules, and that’s the point. “We just wanted to show people our confidence,” vocalist Wendy (who was born in Korea but spent her formative years in Canada) told MTV News about the release.

Though intended as a thematic follow-up to “Bad Boy,” the two songs couldn’t sound any more different. On “Bad Boy,” the women embraced their velvet personas with smooth vocals and a lush girl crush aesthetic; “RBB” is campier by nature but sonically more complex, with tight vocal harmonies and erratic ad-libs from Wendy, Irene, and Seulgi.

“‘Bad Boy’ was loved by so many people, so that’s why we came back with ‘Really Bad Boy,” Wendy said, describing the song as another entry in the “Bad Boy” series. “They’re both talking about bad boys but in different ways. This song is about the girl saying, ‘You can go ahead and seduce me, but you really can’t because I’m going to seduce you.’ So the girl has all the power.”

RBB — the album and the song — has confidence in spades. Each of the five tracks (or six, if you count the English version of “Really Bad Boy”) find the women of Red Velvet in full control; they know exactly what they want on the assertive, bass-heavy bop “Sassy Me,” and give in to temptation on “Taste,” a melodic hip-hop song with a ’90s groove.

SM Entertainment

Red Velvet members from left to right: Yeri, Wendy, Irene, Joy, and Seulgi

For Red Velvet, the message of RBB was clear: “You can be whoever you want.” And each track is meant to empower and embolden the listener. “There’s confidence in every song,” Wendy said. “We tried to show people that you can be whoever you want if you just have confidence.” As for which songs bring out their own confidence, Red Velvet unanimously pick “Sassy Me” as an album highlight.

“I like all the songs,” Wendy clarified, before jokingly adding, “because they’re our songs.”

That self-assertiveness and swagger also extended to the recording process. “You have to have confidence while recording because whoever is listening to it has to feel it, too,” Wendy said. “So we tried our best to have a lot of confidence.” Though, it wasn’t always easy, especially when it came time to sing in English.

In December, Red Velvet released an entirely English version of “RBB” — complete with its own music video — for their fans all over the world. “We performed an English version of ‘Bad Boy’ at KCON, just the first verse, and lots of people loved it,” Wendy said, noting how when it came time to prepare for their next comeback, or new release, the group wanted to “give this love back” with an English track. “We know that we’re getting lots of love from people in the U.S.,” she added.

But recording in English had its own challenges for the group. “English isn’t anyone’s first language, and the only one who can speak English in the group is Wendy,” vocalist and dancer Seulgi said, via an interpreter. “So in terms of getting the pronunciation and the nuances right, we got a lot of help from the people around us.”

“The demo was in English,” she added. “So musically, we tried to express ourselves the way that we heard it [on the demo].”

For rapper and vocalist Joy, the hardest part was figuring out which words needed more emphasis. “The pronunciation is a bit sharper in Korean,” she said. “So we had to really think about which syllables to focus on.” (And in case you were wondering, yes, even Wendy has had “oh my God” stuck in her head for weeks.)

As K-pop and Korean artists gain visibility and credibility in U.S., the cultural barriers that once prevented these global artists from cracking the Western market are being shattered one milestone at a time. Releasing bilingual songs, or separate English versions, is becoming increasingly popular for K-pop acts, and Red Velvet’s global approach to music is paying off. This February, the group will bring their RedMare world tour to the States. The five-city trek across the U.S. — including two sold-out stops in Los Angeles — is a major flex for a Korean girl group. In fact, the last K-pop girl group to tour in the U.S. was Apink in 2016.

“If you listen to all of Red Velvet’s albums you can tell that Red Velvet is a group that has a lot to offer,” leader Irene said. And arguably it’s this variety that appeals most to the masses, transcending language altogether. With their distinct vocal charms and tight harmonies, no two Red Velvet songs sound the same — and while “RBB” may be a divisive entry in the group’s discography, you can’t say it isn’t 100 percent them. Which other group is going to serve horror movie visuals and turn a classic B-movie scream into a perfectly pitched whistle note?

Perhaps Wendy put it best when she said, “The more you listen to our songs, the more you won’t be able to resist.”

Lana Del Rey’s New Song Title Is So Long It Won’t Fit Here

Lana Del Rey didn’t let 2018 escape without pointing us in the direction of her next creative endeavor: a Jack Antonoff-produced album called Norman Fucking Rockwell that features two atmospheric new songs. The first, “Mariners Apartment Complex,” was a gauzy, Mazzy Star-type slow burn with an excellent hook (Lana singing “I’m your man” in deep Leonard Cohen breaths), and the second was a 10-minute acid odyssey called “Venice Bitch.”

Next week, she’s planning to release her third NFR single, and from what she shared on social media late Tuesday night (January 1), it’ll be just as moody. It’s called “Hope Is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman Like Me to Have — But I Have It.” (Almost as long as I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It!)

It’s hard to hear much past Lana’s lyrics here, so there’s no confirmation yet whether this will be a rainy-day walk by the crags or a psychedelic journey like the previous two songs. But one standout moment is that she rhymes “debutantes” with “white yachts,” which seems right.

Her accompanying caption reveals a plan to release the song on January 9. Lana also revealed she’d “finished a short book of poetry I’ve been writing over the last 13 months that I’ll be putting out later.” She also alerted fans that she’d have to miss some upcoming shows that will presumably be announced soon.

“In the meantime though I’d like to apologize in advance for upcoming cancellations of shows you’ll be hearing about,” she wrote. “I wish I could fulfill those obligations but I won’t be able to.”

Still, with Norman Fucking Rockwell, a new poetry book, “Hope Is a Dangerous Thing…,” and potential new vlogger energy all on the horizon, 2019 is already shaping up to be Lana’s year. Check out the song’s clip in the IG post above.