Still not over Eurovision being canceled this year? Same here. Luckily, 2020 has supplied us with a plethora of Europop bops to hold us over until next year. The latest is Steps’s new single, “Something in Your Eyes.” It’s a crime that the British group never took off in the U.S., but it’s not too late, America! “Something in Your Eyes” has everything you could want in a pop song: ABBA-esque drama, an insanely catchy chorus, and a euphoric key change that will give you chills. We might not be able to dance at G-A-Y just yet, but hit play on this song, close your eyes, and you’ll feel like you’re there on the dance floor. —Chris Rudolph
Billie Eilish released her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, 19 months ago already, and so much has shifted since then. She won all the Grammys. She recorded the new James Bond theme. And now, she even got Glendale to close down the mall for her.
In her extremely DIY new video for “There I Am,” Eilish spends five minutes gallivanting around the deserted Glendale Galleria in California, helping herself to soft pretzels and doughnuts. It’s a familiar haunt; she grew up frequenting the mall as a young teen in the 2010s. Now she runs it, in the vacant clip that evokes Dawn of the Dead‘s suburban post-apocalyptica and plays like a nuclear-fallout version of New Radicals’s beloved late-’90s kids-take-over-the-mall anthem, “You Get What You Give.”
A lot of what I mentioned above is utter projection, but it’s hard not to read between the lines this year, a fraught time plagued by a raging pandemic and nearly 1.3 million people dead around the world. I went to the mall a lot as a kid out of mere boredom, gathering in large groups and walking around drinking frozen sugar drinks without a face covering. Imagine such a luxury now!
In Eilish’s “Therefore I Am,” which she directed, she captures this feeling of estrangement and isolation by wandering around a closed, multi-level, capitalistic expanse maskless and alone, free, yet implicitly haunted by the shuttered shops and eerie emptiness. She’s having a nice time, though, smiling as she lip-synchs to a bouncy pop track in the vein of “All the Good Girls Go to Hell” and repeatedly relays, “I’m not your friend.”
Get lost in the vast post-commercialistic chasms of “Therefore I Am” above.
By Tássia Assis
Though witches have received a positive wash of public relations in recent years, with shows like Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and the rise of #WitchTok, the word itself — “witch” — has historically held negative connotations. It has often been used to attack women whose confidence and intellect defy the norms, from the Salem trials in the late 1600s to accusations hurled at progressive congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez today. But for K-pop girl group GFRIEND, the magical being is less vindictive and more an empowered symbol of individualism, and in her, they have found a generative subject for their latest album, 回:Walpurgis Night, which dropped on Monday (November 9). Calling themselves “modern witches,” the singer Eunha defines the phrase as “a girl who faces her desires genuinely, continues to walk her own path in line with her own standards, and is not bothered by what other people say or think.”
It’s a fitting moniker for GFRIEND’s own story, which has involved a hard-fought journey of self-discovery. Sowon, Yerin, Eunha, SinB, Yuju, and Umji debuted in 2015 under Source Music, now a subsidiary of Big Hit Entertainment. Their discography has been driven by thematic trilogies, as with the popular School trinity, and the sextet has became a standout within the genre for their sharp, synchronized choreographies and nostalgic, whimsical sounds. Beneath imagery as pristine and clear as the glass beads that populate their narrative universe, GFRIEND have always had a cutting edge. Whether it’s their lively personalities, complex dance routines, or shredding guitar solos, they consistently offer more than meets the eye. But now, their intrinsic magic is in plain sight.
回:Walpurgis Night embraces that transition. It’s the final installment of “回” (pinyin /huí/), a trilogy of releases named after the Sino-Korean word for “to spin,” “to return.” Part one, the February collection 回:Labyrinth, saw GFRIEND face tough choices in the melancholy “Crossroads.” It was followed up by the July EP, 回:Song of the Sirens, which led the members into temptation with the hypnotizing “Apple.” Now, after growing and finding confidence through these symbolic trials, as well as through five years of touring and growing close since their debut, Yuju explains that the group is moving “forward to a new path.”
That journey has led them to Walpurgis Night, the fête after which the album is named, also known as the “festival of the witches” or “second Halloween.” Celebrated throughout Northern and Central Europe, the date marks a moment when the veil between the material and the spiritual worlds is thinner. It is rife with symbolism for the musicians. “It celebrates a new beginning upon welcoming spring and clearing away the remnants of winter with campfires and fireworks,” explains Sowon, the leader of the group.
That spirit is present in the final sequence of the mystical music video for “Apple.” Main dancer SinB is draped in red lace, swaying around a tree on fire, at once the embodiment of the biblical fruit of temptation and a living, luring flame. “Apple” marks the group’s initiation into daring sounds, visuals, and lyrics: “Don’t agonize, let go the timid child / take me, the endless witching hour descends,” they sing while strutting in glamourous black gowns and dark, shimmery makeup. 回:Walpurgis Night represents the outcomes from that surrender. “[This album] tells the story of girls who are able to view themselves purely from their own perspectives, after experiencing a series of choices and temptations,” explains Eunha. “They finally realize their true desires, allow themselves to candidly express them, and support others who walk the same path.”
And that’s where the synthy groove of lead single “Mago” comes in. Named after a cosmogonic Korean goddess, it also means “magician” in various languages, including Spanish and Portuguese. The light, celebratory sound captures the frenetic energy of a mystical festival, according to Yerin, the group’s happy pill. She explains, “We also wanted to come up with music that everyone could have fun and enjoy throughout the difficult times.” The corresponding visual is similarly carefree, with an atmosphere culled straight from ‘70s discotheques and hand-twirling choreography that reminds Sowon of “a witch chanting a spell.”
The frenetic energy of a mystical festival extends throughout 回:Walpurgis Night, from the edgy, rock-tinged “Love Spell,” to the city-pop tune “Three of Cups,” to the bubbly synths of “GRWM.” As performers, they move in unison like an all-powerful coven, bewitching the listener with grace and versatility. But that collaborative practice is apparent in the writing, too, and the witty lyrical references to Tarot cards, incantations, and other magical matters are the product of creative contributions from all members. “We’re still in the process of learning so we have a lot to improve, and the process was difficult,” SinB says. “But we felt so proud to actually see the finished songs that include lyrics that we wrote. It’s a meaningful outcome just to discover the joy of expressing our thoughts and feelings.”
That partnership was tested by the group’s first-ever unit songs, which saw the members split into pairs to craft their own concepts and lyrics from scratch. But this is also where they shine the brightest. SinB is paired with Yerin in “Secret Diary,” a dreamy track that Yerin reveals was “based on the [friendship] I have had with SinB since the trainee years.” The tropical-inspired “Better Me” offers a striking contrast between eldest member Sowon and maknae Umji, who was apprehensive to the project at first. “I was concerned that the stage would look empty with just me and Sowon, but soon realized that it looked way more amazing with dancers.” Closing out the triad is “Night Drive,” a soothing journey highlighting the vocal diversity of Eunha and Yuju, who explains that their rich ranges “helped us in the moments of exchanging stories with each other.”
Across 11 tracks, the name GFRIEND takes on a powerful new layer of meaning, of sisterhood and companionship. That’s their magic: They are girl friends, celebrating their bond and their united power in a world that still insists on witch-hunts. “Since we’ve been together all along, we were able to enjoy more during good times, and quickly overcome the difficulties during hard times. Teamwork is one of the things that we feel confident about,” Umji reflects. “Also, we’re all very responsible, which has allowed us to do our best and continue moving forward. We still learn and get inspired from each other a lot.”
Christmas is only 46 days away, but luckily, you won’t have to wait that long for a gift from Lil Nas X.
Yes, the “Old Town Road” artist and chart-history maker is back, and this time, he’s got more than just the horses in the back. If the trailer for his upcoming new single “Holiday” is any indication, this time, he’s got just about every present in the world, as well as whatever else fits in Santa’s sleigh.
Like Tim Allen popping out a jolly Kris Kringle gut in The Santa Clause, Lil Nas X marks the trailer by adopting a long beard, a trademark red-and-white hat, and those tiny bifocals before hopping on St. Nick’s sled, guided by his reindeer. But where’s Santa himself? Unfortunately, the big man’s been tossed out of an Old West saloon for going a little heavy on the sauce.
Naturally, Lil Nas X has picked up the reins, teasing “Holiday” with Back to the Future Part III-style graphics and font, and even a surprise cameo from star Michael J. Fox himself. (“Whatever you do, Nas,” he warns, seemingly in character as Marty McFly, “don’t go to 2020.”) Christopher Lloyd, who portrayed Doc Brown, even shouted out his best wishes on Twitter: “Always remember @lilnasx, the future is what you make it!” Also, back in 2019, Lil Nas X hyped his then-forthcoming “Old Town Road” video to MTV News by saying “Back to the Future III,” and here we are!
In the tease, “Holiday” thuds along with booming drums and a futuristic funk bass sound, and it’s likely it’ll appear on either his upcoming debut album or its accompanying mixtape — both of which he teased over the summer with an invitation for musicians to submit their beats. As per a tease he threw out on social media in September, the album is set to feature songs called “Call Me By Your Name,” “One of Me,” “Titanic,” and “Don’t Want It.”
In all likelihood, the album will drop in 2021, and as he wrote to a fan on Twitter, he feels like it’s worth the wait for all his hard work: “sorry guys i honestly wanted to just drop the album but then it’s like drop album, 2 singles off it, then album era over ? for something i’ve been working on for 2 years. it’s almost not fair to myself.”
“Holiday” is out this Friday, November 13. Check out the cinematic teaser above.
By not being centrally located in a single city, the 2020 MTV EMA were able to spread the party out all over the world. From Budapest, David Guetta and Raye brought a night-sky, laser-filled rendition of “Let’s Love,” while Maluma steamed up London with a neon-purple medley of “Djadja” and “Hawái.”
The winners list, too, saw artists from across the globe honored and celebrated as the show aired on Sunday (November 8). Heading into the ceremony, Lady Gaga led the nominations by earning six in total, while BTS and Justin Bieber weren’t far behind with five each. During the show, BTS took home four in total — Best Song, Best Group, Biggest Fans, and Best Virtual Live. Gaga walked away with Best Artist and Best US Act, while Bieber won for his star turn in DJ Khaled and Drake’s “Popstar” video.
But amid those nods was also a celebration for the night’s hosts, Little Mix, who ended up nabbing Best Pop, as well as Best UK & Ireland Act, all in addition to performing new single “Sweet Melody.” They thanked their Mixers on Twitter with a quick note: “You all did that!!!”
Find the complete list of EMA winners below, and explore more from the show at ema.mtv.com.
WINNER: DJ Khaled – POPSTAR ft Drake starring Justin Bieber
Billie Eilish – everything i wanted
Cardi B – WAP ft Megan Thee Stallion
Karol G – Tusa ft Nicki Minaj
Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande – Rain On Me
Taylor Swift – The Man
The Weeknd – Blinding Lights
WINNER: Lady Gaga
WINNER: BTS – Dynamite
DaBaby – Rockstar ft Roddy Ricch
Dua Lipa – Don’t Start Now
Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande – Rain On Me
Roddy Ricch – The Box
The Weeknd – Blinding Lights
WINNER: Karol G – Tusa ft Nicki Minaj
BLACKPINK, Selena Gomez – Ice Cream
Cardi B – WAP ft Megan Thee Stallion
DaBaby – Rockstar ft. Roddy Ricch
Justin Bieber – Intentions ft Quavo
Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande – Rain On Me
Sam Smith, Demi Lovato – I’m Ready
WINNER: Little Mix
5 Seconds of Summer
Chloe x Halle
WINNER: Doja Cat
WINNER: Karol G
Best Hip Hop
WINNER: Cardi B
Megan Thee Stallion
WINNER: David Guetta
WINNER: Hayley Williams
Machine Gun Kelly
twenty one pilots
Video for Good
WINNER: H.E.R. – I Can’t Breathe
Anderson .Paak – Lockdown
David Guetta & Sia – Let’s love
Demi Lovato – I Love Me
Jorja Smith – By Any Means
Lil Baby – The Bigger Picture
Best Virtual Live
WINNER: BTS – Bang Bang Con: The Live
J Balvin – Behind The Colores Live Experience
Katy Perry @ Tomorrow Land – Around The World
Little Mix – UNCancelled
Maluma – Papi Juancho Live
Post Malone – Nirvana Tribute
In this intercontinental collaboration, British-Albanian pop-diva Dua Lipa teams up with Belgian singer-songwriter Angèle for their new single, “Fever.” The song encompasses all we love about Dua – a nostalgic, synth-pop, dance-club vibe, but this time with a twist. Similar to Angèle’s past work, especially on her 2018 hit “Tout Oublier,” “Fever” has a more mellow, less aggressive pop sound that is constantly palatable and sonically gorgeous. The lyrics transition effortlessly from English to French and back again, creating a piece of art that can literally transcend borders. The point of music is to connect people. “Fever” does just that. —Sarina Bhutani
You know “Roses,” the song that catapulted Saint Jhn (who styles his name as SAINt JHN) into global renown, thanks to a pitched-up dance remix from Imanbek. But you might not know the voice behind that smash, likely because it’s not actually Saint Jhn’s normal voice.
To get to know the actual timbre of his vocals, try “Gorgeous,” a gigantic flex from his upcoming album, While the World Was Burning, due out November 20. Or listen to Saint Jhn, the MTV Push artist for November 2020, tell the story of his upbringing bouncing back and forth between Brooklyn and Guyana and how it left him with plenty of questions about his very self.
“My time spent between Brooklyn and Georgetown, Guyana only sounds sexy. It wasn’t super sexy when I was growing up,” he tells MTV before launching into a stream-of-consciousness encapsulation of why: “Because I had to figure out how to lose my accent, regain my accent, I’m Black, I’m not Spanish, my name is Carlos St. John, they’re confused, I’m not Haitian or African, they don’t know what Guyana is, South America, Spanish-speaking — it was the most confusing time in my life, but it was everything. It made the difference.”
From not having Jordans to being barefoot, buying his first CD — Lloyd Banks’s 2004 debut The Hunger for More — in Downtown Brooklyn and sharing his early childhood raps with friends, Saint Jhn’s origins are just as key to his rise as his work ethic. By 2016, he’d released his version of “Roses” (which he’d originally hoped could be “an idea for Beyoncé”) and opened for Post Malone on the West Coast; a few years later, his vocals on “Brown Skin Girl” mingled right alongside that of Beyoncé herself, as well as her daughter Blue Ivy, and “Roses” had seen its resurgence.
2019 also marked another big milestone for Saint Jhn — occasionally nicknamed “Ghetto Lenny” — when he teamed up with Lenny Kravitz on the extremely sensual cut “Borders.” “Imagine your hero taps you on the shoulder and passes you the baton to keep running,” he told MTV News then. “That’s what it felt like.”
Since then, he’s lined up plenty of special guests for While the World Was Burning, including Lil Uzi Vert, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, DaBaby, Kanye West, 6lack, Kehlani, and more. In addition to “Gorgeous,” ahead of the release, he’s shared the airy “Sucks to Be You,” a track he calls “an autobiographical story” about “how the fractured child became a whole person.”
“On this one, I’d like to introduce myself,” he said. “My name is Saint Jhn, and it was fucked up. It was rough. It was crazy. So let me tell you how I got here.”
Watch Saint Jhn introduce himself to you in both of the MTV Push interviews and performances above.
“I’m gonna keep this very simple,” Lady Gaga said from the podium, addressing the crowd at a drive-in rally for former Vice President Joe Biden in Pittsburgh on Monday night (November 2). “If you believe in Joe Biden and you haven’t already voted, make a plan to get to the polls tomorrow.”
“Right now, it’s time for action, it’s time to muster all of our energy, every ounce of us, every ounce of hope and optimism and enthusiasm, every ounce of fear and frustration and discouragement,” she continued. “Now is the time to show up and vote like this country depends on it, because it does!”
It was a simple message, but delivered by one of the world’s biggest pop stars, it felt big. And just a short time later, Gaga took the piano and brought even more energy to the stage with a characteristically grandiose rendition of both “Shallow” and “You and I.” (You can watch it around 1:24:00 in the video below.)
Between songs, Gaga once again shared both her support for Biden as well as urged everyone there to vote and to spread the word to friends and family about voting. She also mentioned how she used to live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and used to be “engaged to a man from Lancaster, Pennsylvania” — her ex-fiancé, Taylor Kinney — but now, Biden has became her “new Pennsylvania guy.”
The image of Gaga at a piano has become very expected since her more acoustic and stripped-down Joanne era, as well as her Oscar-nominated turn as a singer-songwriter A Star Is Born. But seeing her belt out the crunchy-country tune “You and I,” a single from her 2011 album Born This Way, at just the piano, let her imbue something from the past with new energy.
“I might not always look like you,” Gaga said to conclude her performance, “but I am you. We are each other.”
Election Day is less than 24 hours away, and Lady Gaga is hitting the campaign trail. Tonight (November 2) at 7 p.m. ET, the Chromatica queen will take the stage in Pittsburgh on behalf of former Vice President Joe Biden, complete with a performance sure to rally voters.
“Good morning PENNSYLVANIA! I’m so excited to see you today and SING for you!!!!!!!” she wrote on social media. “I believe in 🎶 YOU & I!!!! Let’s talk about what America looks like with a KINDER President. WE NEED EVERY VOTE❤️ I’m with @JoeBiden —Lets go 24 hrs!!!!! PUSH!!!!!”
Gaga and Biden go way back to his tenure as vice president under Barack Obama, when he introduced her performance of “Til It Happens to You” at the Oscars in 2016. Gaga’s appearance at tonight’s drive-in Biden rally can be viewed at joebiden.com/live.
Meanwhile, 300 miles east across the state of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, Biden’s VP pick, Senator Kamala Harris will invite John Legend to take the stage as well.
In the past few weeks, fellow pop stars have rallied loudly on social media to urge people to head out to the polls. Taylor Swift has thrown her support behind Biden as well, and last week, she leant her song “Only the Young” to a Biden/Harris campaign ad. Ariana Grande, too, has pledged her support for the Biden/Harris ticket as well as urging folks to cast their ballots if they haven’t done so already.
Gaga recently revisited her most iconic looks in a voting PSA, hoping to connect. Check that out below, then tune in to her performance on the Bally rally stage tonight at 7 p.m. ET.
By Lucas Villa
Think of your favorite reggaetón track. Whether it’s a Wisin & Yandel cut from the genre’s 2000s breakthrough, like “Abusadora,” or a contemporary hit, like “Yo Perreo Sola” or “Callaíta,” Tainy has likely had a hand in it. When reggaetón was first rising up, the Puerto Rican producer was working under Luny Tunes, the duo du jour behind the song that lit the fuse for reggaetón, Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina.” In the 15 years since, he’s become the go-to hitmaker for artists like J Balvin, Bad Bunny, and Anuel AA. Last month, on Billboard‘s Latin Producers chart, which ranks the producers with the biggest hits of the week, Tainy had sat at No. 1 for over 50 weeks. Recently, he was awarded Producer of the Year at the Billboard Latin Music Awards for his achievements in that medium.
“That was amazing for me,” he tells MTV News. “That’s the first time [for me] getting an award like that. I’m happy, but I’m back to work to keep it going.”
He’s also won three Latin Grammys, and he’s up for four more at the 2020 show later this month. He’s nominated twice in the Album of the Year category for his work on two of the year’s biggest releases: Bad Bunny’s YHLQMDLG and J Balvin’s Colores. This kind of success has been over a decade in the making.
When Marco “Tainy” Masís was 14, his friend Nely “El Arma Secreta” introduced him to the world of music production. After learning the ropes from Nely, Tainy submitted his music to Luny Tunes, who signed the aspiring producer. After the genre’s global success with “Gasolina,” even non-Latinx acts were wanting in on the movement. In 2006, Paris Hilton commissioned a Luny Tunes remix of “Stars Are Blind” that the duo enlisted Tainy to work on. Boricua reggaetoneros Wisin & Yandel featured on the track. “For me that was crazy because reggaetón was exploding,” he recalls. “Artists from all around the world were noticing what we were doing.”
Tainy kept that momentum for reggaetón going well into the following decades, including stepping out from behind the boards as a listed artist on recent hits. This summer, Tainy aligned British pop star Dua Lipa with J Balvin and Bad Bunny on “Un Día (One Day)” and reworked the iconic SpongeBob Squarepants theme song on “Agua” with Balvin.
Like Luny Tunes did with him, Tainy is hoping to nurture the next generation of talent with his Neon16 label. The imprint’s new release is “Falta,” with Dominican-American rapper DaniLeigh, Tainy, and new signee Kris Floyd, which dropped on October 30. “It’s one of my favorite tracks,” he says. “Kris Floyd killed it. DaniLeigh killed it. They combined their voices so well.” With his latest cut out in the world, Tainy talked to MTV News about the reggaetón music movement and the biggest hits of his career.
MTV News: You have the unique perspective of working in reggaetón from its 2000s breakthrough to now. How has the scene changed over the years?
Tainy: The genre was still, like, evolving when I started and finding its way. I think now we have something more stable. You know the sound around the world. You know what reggaetón is. Now you have different sub-genres beneath it. It’s a lot more structured now. It’s now seeing where it can keep going. Before there was a lot of backlash, as in any other genre, that this wasn’t music, that this was something people would not respect musically. It needed time to evolve and be perfected, like us as producers, the sound, the quality, and everything.
MTV News: You produced Justin Bieber’s “Habitual” for his Changes album this year. What was it like to do something outside of reggaetón?
Tainy: I’ve always wanted to work with Justin. He gave me the opportunity to send in some music and he ended up liking the initial instrumental idea that I had. If you listen to the project, it’s all in that same R&B vibe. Who knows? Maybe eventually we can do something like reggaetón with more movement. It’s another goal for me to be able to work with artists of that caliber. I try to grow as a producer and not get locked in that you’re just this reggaetón producer. I’m a fan of a lot of types of music. I want to see if I can add this to my repertoire of things that I can do and people that I can work with. Little by little I’ve gotten these chances with songs like “Habitual” and [Cardi B’s] “I Like It,” which is not a reggaetón song, and it was successful.
MTV News: Why did you start listing yourself as an artist on some of your recent songs?
Tainy: Me, as a producer and fan of music, I’m starting to create different ideas and things that I want to do. It’s not necessarily what an artist is asking from me at the moment. This is one opportunity where I can say to an artist, “Yo, come into my world and see what I want to do music-wise.” Now it’s about what I want to do at this stage in my life and my career, what I want to transmit with my music.
MTV News: A big hit with your name on it is “Agua” with J Balvin. What was it like to remake the SpongeBob Squarepants theme?
Tainy: At the beginning it was a lot of pressure because everybody knows SpongeBob. Everybody knows the theme song, so you don’t want to mess it up. As soon as I had the files and I was in the studio and in my zone, everything just started flowing naturally. It was a really fun experience creating the music and knowing that J Balvin would be the one to transmit that energy of the song. He was super hyped and into it.
MTV News: This summer you also bridged pop and reggaetón with Dua Lipa, J Balvin, and Bad Bunny on “Un Día (One Day).” What was that experience like?
Tainy: It’s something I want to keep doing, merging genres and merging sounds. Seeing what else we can create. What else can be done that’s not predictable. This beat on “Un Día” has a different vibe where you can feel the movement of a reggaetón song, but the same time, it can still feel pop. It can feel mellow. Combining those worlds of Dua Lipa, Balvin, and Bad Bunny, to me that’s everything. As a producer, to have artists like that on one track is amazing.
MTV News: What do you see for the future of reggaetón music?
Tainy: I never thought reggaetón would be exactly where it is right now, so I could never know where else could this keep going. What I know is that I’m going to keep trying to expand and keep pushing the boundaries of what we’re doing. I don’t want to stay comfortable with where reggaetón is. I’m going to keep pushing the envelope.