Billie Eilish’s Debut ‘My Future’ Performance Came With A Powerful Message

The 2020 Democratic National Convention is underway and, in addition to moving speeches from numerous politicians and leaders — the Obamas, Kamala Harris, and Bernie Sanders, to name a few — the event has seen its fair share of star-studded performances. Already the stage, which is digital this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, has been held by Billie Porter, Maggie Rogers, and John Legend.

On its third night, the evening of August 19, Billie Eilish took the virtual stage for her live debut of her latest single “My Future,” a somber track about dedicating oneself to personal growth. Joined by her brother and creative partner, Finneas, the show began with Eilish seated at an illuminated piano amidst a purple-lit, forest-like backdrop. Then, the beat — and a light breeze that slowly tussled Eilish dip-dyed locks — picked up, and the colors shifted to a burnt orange.

Prior to the performance, Eilish delivered a passionate speech about the importance of voting in this election, while also declaring her support for Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.

“You don’t need me to tell you things are a mess. Donald Trump is destroying our country and everything we care about,” she said. “We need leaders who will solve problems like climate change and COVID, not deny them. Leaders who will fight against systemic racism and inequality. And that starts by voting for someone who understands how much is at stake. Someone who’s building a team that shares our values.”

“It starts with voting against Donald Trump and for Joe Biden,” she added, before stating powerfully: “Silence is not an option, and we cannot sit this one out. We all have to vote like our lives and the world depend on it because they do. The only way to be certain of the future is to make it ourselves. Please register, please vote.”

This isn’t the first time Eilish has lent her voice to political and human rights issues. She’s previously spoken out in favor of Black Lives Matter protesters, while her “All the Good Girls Go to Hell” music video, which is currently nominated for two VMAs, was a potent metaphor for the preils of the climate crisis.

Cardi B Recorded ‘WAP’ In 2019 But Finished It In Quarantine — Just In Time To Make It A Smash

Every summer needs an anthem. It’s fitting that 2020’s standout, “WAP,” is a globe-quaking No. 1 team-up between Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, is an ode to staying home and having sex. What else is there to do in quarantine?

Well, if you’re Cardi, the answer, apparently, is finish a No. 1 hit about staying home and having sex. That’s what her recording engineer, Evan LaRay Brunson, tells Grammy.com in a new interview about how the song came together.

As Brunson tells it, Cardi had recorded the first verse of “WAP” a year ago before setting it aside to work on other music. After the COVID-19 pandemic effectively shut down the live music industry, Cardi picked the tune back up while staying in a house in California with Brunson and others. All there was to do was sort through ideas. “We had that song since last year. Since COVID-19 happened, we were going over songs, and she was like, ‘I like this,’ Brunson said in the interview. “She caught the vibe again and laid the second verse down.”

Megan got added in April or May, thanks to a tip from Cardi’s stylist, who introduced her to Meg’s stylist. Once they connected, they finalized “WAP” — a few months later, it sits at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. And Cardi’s not done yet. Brunson said there’s a potentially even bigger smash ready to go. “She was like, ‘We’re going to save that until we feel we’re ready for the album to come out,'” he said.

Cardi’s sophomore LP likely contains both of those tracks, two of a completed 15 the pair worked through together. Brunson also pointed to the tone of what’s come from Cardi: “We have two personal ones right now. One is a real R&B one and one is a little more uptempo. Both the songs are really her experience as far as motherhood, being on the shows, wanting to come back, marriage, media pressure on her family, she makes it really personal.”

Before we hear any of them, though, there’s a lot left to ring out of “WAP.” Autumn doesn’t technically start until September 22, which means it’s still time to let the Song of the Summer ring out.

Ariana Grande Will Make It Rain With Lady Gaga At The 2020 VMAs

It’s time to make it rain, with a little help from Ariana Grande.

The global superstar chanteuse will bring her powerhouse vocals to the 2020 VMAs stage alongside her collaborator Lady Gaga. The pair will bring their energetic anthem “Rain on Me” to life for its world-premiere performance — a fitting celebration for the two artists who lead this year’s nominations.

Grande and Gaga garnered the most nods in 2020 with nine each, including seven for “Rain on Me,” a contender for Video of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Collaboration, and more. Billie Eilish and The Weeknd follow close behind with six each. Grande also nabbed two noms for “Stuck With U,” her stay-at-home charity team-up with Justin Bieber.

For this year’s awards show, Grande is just the latest in an already packed slate of performers. BTS will take the stage to mark the TV debut of their upcoming single “Dynamite,” and Miley Cyrus will debut her brand-new single “Midnight Sky” as well. Additionally, fellow global pop talents The Weeknd, Doja Cat, J Balvin, Roddy Ricch, Maluma, and CNCO are all set to perform.

Keke Palmer will host the show. See the full list of nominees, and vote for your faves across 15 gender-neutral categories right now, at vma.mtv.com.

The 2020 VMAs will air live at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday, August 30 across MTV’s linear and digital platforms, as well as with several outdoor performances around New York City. Find everything you need to know at vma.mtv.com.

Miley Cyrus Returns To The VMAs For Debut Performance Of ‘Midnight Sky’

Must be something in the water, because Miley Cyrus is back to deliver another iconic performance at the VMAs!

The singer has a rich history at the VMAs, including her turn as a host in 2015, as well as her breathtaking rendition of “Slide Away” at last year’s show. On August 30, the global superstar will make her live debut of “Midnight Sky,” her latest single which dropped just a few days prior. Cyrus’s directional music video for “Mother’s Daughter,” which was inspired by the radical feminist group Femen, is also nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Editing.

This year’s thrilling squad of performers includes Lady Gaga — set to bring her Chromatica album to life — along with BTS, who will take the stage to mark the TV debut of their upcoming single “Dynamite.” Fellow global pop talents The Weeknd, Doja Cat, J Balvin, Roddy Ricch, Maluma, and CNCO are all set to perform as well. Keke Palmer will host the show.

Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande lead this year’s VMA nominations with nine nods each, followed closely behind by Billie Eilish and The Weeknd, who each have six. See the full list of nominees, and vote for your faves across 15 gender-neutral categories right now, at vma.mtv.com.

The 2020 VMAs will air live at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday, August 30 across MTV’s linear and digital platforms, as well as with several outdoor performances around New York City. Find everything you need to know at vma.mtv.com.

Orville Peck’s Subversive Sound: Cruising, Cowboys, And Country

A lonesome highway exit on a cool, black night. Orange lights blur in the rear-view mirror of an 18-wheel rig. His hands on the wheel, your hand in his lap. A romance as transient as a truck stop. That’s the image the mysterious masked singer Orville Peck conjures on “Drive Me Crazy,” a piano-led ballad dusted with the neo-country star’s reverberating, whiskey baritone, divulging a fantasy of two wanderers who find each other — and passion — on the road.

“It’s a trucker love song,” Peck describes, with a laugh. The track, he explains, was written while on a national tour following the March 2019 release of his debut album, Pony. The somber, self-produced breakout collection featured the up-tempo “Turn to Hate” and the hypnotic “Dead of Night.” His lyrics wove decadent tales of outlaws and outsiders (smalltown drag performers, in the case of “Queen of the Rodeo”) while his spaghetti western-inspired visuals often incorporated arresting homoerotic imagery: His “Hope to Die” video referenced the sexually charged illustrations of Jim French and, in one still, Peck appears framed by another man’s bare calves as he purrs about two young bandits on the run. The collection felt at home amidst a greater cultural discourse that called into question the hallmarks of country music — who it’s for and who can make it — that emerged in response to the conflicted reception of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” which released around the same time. Its sleeper success propelled the singer from representation by the indie Sub Pop Records to a major label deal.

Now, backed by Columbia Records, “Drive Me Crazy” has found its way onto Peck’s first collection of new music in over a year, the EP Show Pony, which picks up confidently where Pony left off. “I really tried to write songs from a sincere place, because I think that’s how a country song, especially, should begin,” he says. “And then I usually try and take it from that point to something really bold.” That strategy is apparent in the collection’s six tracks, which slowly grind with grit and gloom, even when describing earnest hopefulness, and crescendo with some of his most accessible work to date. On the EP’s opening track, “Summertime,” for example, the heavy sound of low, lead guitar-plucking betrays the sunshiney lyrical themes of “biding your time and staying hopeful,” as Peck describes in a release, while its music video sees the leather-wearing lone cowboy morph into a literal bouquet. “I’ve tried to find this balance of sincerity and drama,” he says.

The same could be said for Peck’s characteristically old-school style. He appears like a Tom of Finland fashion illustration of the Marlboro Man, often wearing extravagant, brightly colored Nudie-esque suits, as on the May 2020 cover of Attitude, where he appeared opposite Diplo in a powder blue set decorated with embroidered images of handcuffs, whips, and nude cowboys. He is best associated with his signature mask: typically a black leather shroud sewn to a waterfall of fringe, with almond-shaped peepholes that reveal piercing blue eyes. He has over 30 pairs and mostly hand-stitches them himself; though, on one occasion, he appeared courtside at a Miami runway show, stationed beside Kim Kardashian in a Dior-monogrammed veil made custom by the Parisian atelier. On a recent Zoom call, he styles a simpler model (all black with the occasional silver rhinestone) with a cowhide-print vest, a monochromatic shirt unbuttoned just so, and a ten-gallon hat with a massive, upturned rim.

The trademark garment may resonate differently based on a viewer’s experience: What reads to one as an update on the Lone Ranger’s classic covering may seem to another to reference the visual language of kink, like a trimmed rendering of a gimp mask. The singer would welcome any speculation; after all, that’s play of wearing a disguise, the limitless projections of the imagination. “I think a lot of stuff these days is really spoon-fed for people, and I hate that,” he says. To that end, Peck won’t reveal much about his personal identity, but he does offer how his background among “DIY independent artists” has influenced his tendency towards subversion. He is also openly gay. “It’s totally drag,” as Peck describes his persona by comparison to another subversive art form. “I always say the country-western star that I aspire to be is a bit of a throwback to a time when you took who you were at your core and blew it up to the most over-the-top level… That’s exactly what a good drag performer is, as well. That’s the drag I love and that’s the artistry I love just across the board.”

Sarah Pfeiffer

Perhaps that theatricality and aptitude for visual storytelling is what resonates so profoundly with Peck’s LGBTQ+ fanbase, in particular, who may feel as if their stories are being written into the genre for the first time in recent history. He likens “Drive Me Crazy” to the narrative ballads of classic country, invoking by name the late, great musical storytellers Tammy Wynette and Bobbie Gentry. He closes Show Pony with a cover of Gentry’s 1970 hit “Fancy,” a dark ballad with the twang of beat poetry that resurged in the ‘90s per a rock-and-roll makeover by Reba McEntire. “I can distinctly remember dancing around my bedroom with a hairbrush, singing all the words to ‘Fancy’ when I was 13 years old,” Peck recalls. Switching up the pronouns, Peck’s take, which he began performing live on tours (he also regularly sings Lana del Ray’s “Norman Fucking Rockwell”), is a sweltering chronicle of fetishization and gender fuckery, as the lyrics paint an image of the deep-voiced, tattooed crooner in a red, velvet-trimmed dress with a “split on the side clean up to my hips.”

Peck called upon the talent of another genre titan, Shania Twain, for his most approachable song yet, “Legends Never Die,” which brings Peck’s sound from the realm of Johnny Cash’s vintage murder ballads to the contemporary pop-country of big trucks and electric guitars. “I have loved Shania my whole life, being a country fan, being a gay kid,” he says. “Cut to a few months [ago], I’m sitting at her ranch in Las Vegas, feeding her horses and hanging out with her and just working on the song.” Peck, who first met Twain at the Grammys in January, wrote the duet with her in mind, and it tributes her icon status. In the visual, Twain appears in a leopard print jumpsuit with fringe bat wings and a glittering gold cowboy hat, an homage to the homemade outfit she wore in her “That Don’t Impress Me Much” music video circa 1997. “It’s still sinking in, to be honest,” he adds. “It’s a dream come true. I’m pinching myself every day about it.”

And though “Legends Never Die” may mark the highest production value of Peck’s music to date, his artistry continues to champion those on the margins. By drawing upon gay iconography in his visuals and lyrics, he seems to point out that these narratives have always existed. “There’s always been subversion in country,” he says. “I’m definitely not the first gay cowboy and I can almost bet I won’t be the last.” The man in the mask can be anyone and everyone — the truck stop lover, the honky-tonk heavyweight — and, as such, Peck hopes the themes at the heart of his work resonate universally. “Country music is about heartbreak, disappointment, loneliness,” he says. “There’s this idea that it’s for well-adjusted, law-abiding citizens, but country music was always about being an outlaw and being different.”

Wonho’s Tearful Return, Orville Peck And Shania Twain’s Legendary Collab, And More Songs We Love

“Vibe” is a catch-all we tend to use when describing sounds, sights, and aesthetics that just feel good, but calling Nilo Blues’s new video for “Nicotiana” anything else would not be fair. The Vietnamese-Chinese hip-hop artist hails from Canada, and his smooth, genre-blending stylings make for a hazy, dreamy listening experience. It’s fitting then that his new single, from his self-titled debut EP out now, romanticizes what he calls his “toxic love story with nicotine” with a tinge of nostalgia. Its moody visual features no shortage of cloudy skies, solo drives, and yes, vibes. —Carson Mlnarik

How Evanescence’s Amy Lee Became A Voice For The Unheard

By Erica Russell

When Evanescence first broke out in 2003, no one really knew what to make of them.

Despite rising on the Billboard Hot 100 and Top 40 charts and scoring five Grammy nominations (including two wins), Evanescence were imperfect outsiders who crashed into the mainstream when popular music just so happened to be at its most polished. The sound of their debut album, Fallen — a distinctive synthesis of sweeping orchestral drama; dark, gothic nu-metal; and big, pop-friendly hooks — was subversive and unexpected. And lead singer Amy Lee, with her commanding, celestial voice and faerie-goth aesthetic (complete with corsets and striped arm warmers) was like no other pop star at the time.

With their dynamic breakout “Bring Me to Life,” rage-fueled rock banger “Going Under,” and somber piano ballad “My Immortal,” hit songs that tackled topics from feeling numb and disconnected to coping with trauma, Lee became a symbol for the post-Y2K outcasts everywhere; the broken kids who couldn’t necessarily relate to many of the songs on the radio but felt seen and heard by the musician’s expressive, alternative style and angst-ridden, soul-baring lyrics.

“We’ve never tried to follow a trend. More the opposite, if anything,” Lee tells MTV News, citing artists such as Björk, Garbage, Veruca Salt, and Tori Amos as personal heroes. “The people who inspired me the most during my formative years were people who weren’t trying to be pretty; who weren’t always showing the perfect, polished version of themselves — it was people who put their heart, opinions, and scars front and center.”

Nearly two decades and four successful albums after the band’s debut, Evanescence’s authenticity still resonates today. “I think there’s something in our music that speaks to people around the world on a deep level,” the 38-year-old musician muses. “I just know that if I write from my heart, about the things I feel are real, I won’t be alone in those feelings. I don’t know the secret to our success, but I believe in touching on things that aren’t often talked about in popular music and questioning the deeper stuff. I want people to know that it’s OK to hurt.”

Having personally experienced the tragedy of loss (her younger sister, Bonnie, died at the age of three in 1987, and her brother Robby passed away in 2018, just 24 at the time), Lee is no stranger to life’s painful moments. She admits she feels a bond with “people who have experienced death, heartbreak, and big challenges in their lives,” and that her yearning to find human connection is what motivated her to start the band in the first place. “It’s funny,” she says, “because I’ve had people ask me, ‘Why is your music so depressing?’ And I’m like, ‘Have you really listened to it? It’s not!’ It’s full of hope.”

Since the release of their self-titled third studio album in 2011, Evanescence embarked on two world tours and countless festivals; experienced a number of lineup changes; dropped a collection of B-sides and rarities (2016’s Lost Whispers); and released an album of orchestral and electronic reworkings of previously released songs (2017’s Synthesis). During it all, Lee collaborated on a soundtrack (2014’s Aftermath), worked on an EP of song covers (2016’s Recover, Vol. 1), and released a children’s album (2016’s Dream Too Much). She also experienced a lot of “big moments” (including the birth of her first child) that forced her “to zoom out and see my life, myself, my time, and our world in a different way, and start asking questions and writing ideas.”

But as the music “started flowing out,” like most of the world, Evanescence (currently composed of Lee, bassist Tim McCord, drummer Will Hunt, and guitarists/backing vocalists Jen Majura and Troy McLawhorn) were plunged into quarantine just as they were preparing to roll out The Bitter Truth, their forthcoming full album of original music in nearly 10 years. Nevertheless, Lee’s “heart was on fire,” ready to share her new perspective with the world, and so instead of postponing the record the band decided it was time to make their comeback — and hopefully inspire their fans to give moving forward in the process.

“The world shifted. We were put into a completely unprecedented situation,” Lee explains. “It’s been so long since we’ve released a fully new album, and if there’s one thing that I want for myself and for the people that follow us, it’s to not give up, you know?” And so, in April, Evanescence released “Wasted on You,” an emotional rock ballad about feeling stuck in limbo, along with an intimate music video composed of footage each band member filmed on their iPhone while at their respective homes during isolation. The clip is nominated for Best Rock at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards, something which Lee says has inspired the group to work even harder.

As the band continues to unveil The Bitter Truth one track at a time, Evanescence’s latest single, “Use My Voice,” may be their most politically charged song to date. The track features collaboration from some of Lee’s rock peers, including Taylor Momsen and Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, as well as friends and family members, such as the musician’s sisters. Lee says the song, which captures the current socio-political zeitgeist of advocacy and activism, and was inspired by how she’s been “feeling about the state of our country,” has been a few years in the making.

“As we were recording it, I was listening back to my own words and started asking myself, ‘What can I do to use my voice? How can we use our platform for good and empower people?’ I believe that this is a very important, revolutionary time,” she shares. “Things are messed up. I’ve never been political publicly — I’ve kept that part of myself private because I see music as a place to get away from our differences and find unity. We need to be unified now more than ever, but I finally feel in my heart that if I’m going to be true to my word. It’s time to use my voice to help promote our future.”

A rollicking non-partisan protest song about the importance of standing up for what you believe in, “Use My Voice” serves as the official song for HeadCount’s 2020 voting-registration PSA, for which Lee is the spokesperson. The timely campaign — which promotes a user-friendly website on which people can learn about the government officials up for election, find their local polling stations, and register to vote in just minutes — is more critical than ever during an election year that will take place amid a global pandemic, as well as controversy surrounding voting by mail.

“I think there are a lot of unheard voices in our country right now, and they deserve to be heard — all of them,” Lee says. “I just want to encourage people to vote. I heard that nearly half of [voting age] Americans don’t vote. It’s a big number. We need to get out there and make a change, so more people can get their voices heard.”

“Use My Voice” is also significant for Lee on a more personal level, considering how fiercely she’s had to fight to use hers throughout her career. In 2005, the musician sued her band’s former manager for financial and sexual misconduct, and in 2014, she sued Wind-Up Records for more than $1 million in unpaid royalties. Many have tried to either silence or speak for Lee — from her label forcing a male vocalist on “Bring Me to Life,” to 50 Cent nearly interrupting her Best New Artist acceptance speech at the 2003 Grammys — and music industry-wide sexism has repeatedly marginalized her among her male rock peers.

But Lee is resilient. Her music undoubtedly paved the way for the edgy, nu-metal/pop embraced by artists such as Rina Sawayama, Grimes, and Poppy today, and stars like Halsey and Taylor Momsen count themselves as longtime admirers. Just as Lee inspired Evanescence fans to embrace their inner truths and speak up for themselves nearly 20 years ago, nothing can quiet her down.

“No matter who’s standing around you telling you that it’s not as important as somebody else’s voice, your voice does matter. You have to have a strong constitution to say, ‘This is my voice and you’re not gonna take it away from me.’ Sure, you can still respect other people and nod your head and say, ‘Cool, thanks for your opinion,’ while standing up for yourself. But we can’t be silenced. We just can’t.”

How Best Coast Updated ‘Boyfriend’ To Be An Inclusive Anthem, 10 Years Later

During the summer of 2010 — the “Summer of Summer,” as it’s retroactively been dubbed — few songs sounded as much like the season as Best Coast‘s honeyed “Boyfriend.” These two-and-a-half minutes of hazy surf-pop breezed by in a rush of oceanic sun, with singer Bethany Cosentino seemingly pining for a guy with the innocent charm of a middle-school crush. “One day I’ll make him mine and we’ll be together all the time,” she sings. “We’ll sit and watch the sunrise and gaze into each other’s eyes.”

The aura of romance and liberated love that reside in Cosentino’s gliding chorus didn’t just define summer; they also led the song to become an unexpected LGBTQ+ anthem over the past decade. Fans had misheard (and celebrated) its main hook as “I wish she was my boyfriend” and used it to soundtrack wedding proposals and custom playlists. “This album literally helped & healed me through the toughest time of my life when I was outed & kicked out of my home at the age of 18,” a fan named Lauren tweeted during Pride Month.

But in June, Cosentino revealed the song’s painful backstory on Twitter. “‘Boyfriend’ is honestly about a co-dependent, addictive, unhealthy obsession with someone so I will GLADLY hand it over to the LGBTQ+ community to make it their own. For real,” she wrote. “Take it. It belongs to you now.”

“To watch people take it and turn it into this song that they’ve used in terms of proposing to their boyfriends, proposing to their girlfriends, helping them come to terms with their own sexual identity… I’m truly like, thank God that you guys took this and made it your own, because I hate it,” Cosentino told MTV News with a laugh. “That really makes me just feel really good, to know that something that I created that came from … an unhealthy place has been taken and transformed into something that is really positive and healthy for people.”

When she performs the song now with Best Coast’s other half, the multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno, she channels that positivity. You can hear it on a livestream celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Crazy For You, the album “Boyfriend” kicks off, tonight (August 14) via Seated, as well as on an updated version of the song where Cosentino uses inclusive language. “I wish she was my girlfriend,” she sings, also using the word “partner” as well as they and them pronouns. The song was a 24-hour exclusive on August 7 for charity; Best Coast raised over $2,000 directly for the Trevor Project.

“It’s truly a bummer song,” Cosentino said. “But when I think of it now from this place of people using it as an anthem for themselves and for their sexuality, and for their songs that they put on playlists for their partners and things like this, this song has a whole new meaning for me.”

The decade-long journey of “Boyfriend” reveals that an artist’s intent is just one factor that plays into a creative work’s reception, especially in an age of social media-boosted fan edits and wish-fulfillment remixes. It’s also a good example of an artist celebrating this pivot and leaning into a better understanding of themselves that comes with time and growth. That’s something Cosentino’s friend, former tour mate, and livestream guest Hayley Williams knows well.

The duo became pals in 2012, and five years later, Best Coast and Paramore shared a North American 2017 trek, including a Nashville stop where Williams and Cosentino sang “Boyfriend” together onstage. “That tour, I think, really bonded us in a way, because we were both going through breakups, and we were both dealing with just unpacking a lot of trauma and things that you realize at the time you didn’t think were super bad and unhealthy,” Cosentino said. “But in hindsight, you’re like, oh fuck. I think that just experiencing that time with her was really powerful.”

In 2018, while performing with her band, Paramore, Williams announced they’d be effectively retiring “Misery Business,” a signature song, from their live set. At the heart of the decision was a line in its second verse — “Once a whore, you’re nothing more” — that, as she’d grown into her own feminism in the decade since the song’s release, she no longer felt comfortable singing. “I know it’s one of the band’s biggest songs but it shouldn’t be used to promote anything having to do with female empowerment or solidarity,” she wrote on Instagram earlier this year, when Spotify included the song on a “Women in Rock” playlist.

The ease of social media allows artists to explain why “growth and progression,” as Williams wrote, can lead to a reevaluation of their work. Cosentino understands, and even after 11 years on Twitter, she still rides for being able to spread positivity via the platform, even as she deeply knows its faults. “You can put information out there so quickly and it can reach all these people,” she said. “You also can find out very quickly who you know is a piece of shit and has horrible ideas and politics.”

There’s a third option: Tweets can spark genuine dialogue between artists and fans, especially as fans reach out in earnest with specific questions. One such fan referenced “Misery Business” in a July tweet directed at John Darnielle, who’s been the voice behind The Mountain Goats for nearly 30 years. His 1994 song “Going to Georgia” is a fan favorite, fiercely beloved for its compelling mini-narrative about a guy with a gun showing up to see an unexplored “you” character and the soaring drama in Darnielle’s vocal delivery. But he’s since disavowed it, saying the song glamorizes toxic masculinity — a conclusion the tweeter named Christie asked him to reexamine.

“Hey @mountain_goats as a woman and feminist going to georgia is a super cool song, one of your coolest in fact, and you should re-avow it,” the fan wrote. “Same to @yelyahwilliams with misery business.”

Darnielle responded with candor, as he’s often done when previously asked about the song on Tumblr or when fans request it at live shows. “Yeah I mean you’d have to’ve had my experience of some of the the bro-iest of bros sharing their reactions to it over a period of twenty years to really see it from my POV,” he tweeted. “I get where you’re coming from but you see how our perspectives are necessarily different, yeah?”

“I don’t play ‘Going to Georgia’ anymore because I can’t really reconcile how buoyant it is with how much I dislike its narrator,” he previously elaborated. “When I wrote it, I enjoyed that tension, but I was more of an aesthete then and now I think more with my gut. My gut tells me the whole deal with ‘Going to Georgia’ is bogus, so that’s that.”

Time moves on, and signifiers change. “Misery Business” and “Going to Georgia” get retired; “Boyfriend” becomes an LGBTQ+ anthem. Meanwhile, some remain constant. Snacks — Cosentino’s beloved fluffy orange cat and Crazy For You cover star — remains Best Coast’s mascot well into his golden years. He’s even got his own merch, naturally, as she’s had him for 12 years and counting.

“He has some health issues and stuff, but this is the most time I’ve ever spent with him,” Cosentino said of the past five months. Best Coast had a 2020 tour lined up in support of their 2020 album, Always Tomorrow, and they did play a brief run of shows before COVID-19 shut down the music industry. But the open schedule has had its benefits, ones that recall those balmy days of summer 2010. “It’s nice to just sit around with Snacks and watch TV the way that it was in the early days. He’s the best.”

Little Mix Explain How Many Champagne Bottles It Took To Write ‘Holiday’

In this age of self-isolation and quarantine, it’s never been more important to check in on each other and to connect. This goes for artists, too, who have been social distancing alongside us: livestreaming concerts and hangouts, creating their own talk shows, and… well, that’s what we want them to tell us, with Remote Access.

Jade Thirlwall has taken a sip of her water bottle and cracked up the rest of her group, Little Mix. This is no ordinary water bottle. It’s simply massive, larger than a Nalgene and roughly the size of Thirlwall’s entire head, a fact that becomes clear when she holds it next to her face. It also, somehow, looks a bit lopsided, and it’s missing a cap. Cue the laughter.

“Well, the thing is,” she explains via video over Zoom as Perrie Edwards and Leigh-Anne Pinnock look on in separate windows. “It arrived and it smelled, so I put it in the dishwasher, and it deformed, so now the lid doesn’t fit on.”

Though fourth member Jesy Nelson couldn’t join because of a dead battery, the scene is still a preview of Little Mix’s camaraderie, energy they’ve largely had to keep alive in a WhatsApp group chat this year. 2020 saw the longest stretch of time the four had ever been apart since the group formed nine years ago, and it was tough, especially considering the summer tour plans the group had to scrap.

Luckily, they’ve since reunited in person for some work. They filmed both a lyric video for new song “Holiday” — which found them all at the same shoot, but not on camera together due to social distancing guidelines — and the song’s forthcoming official visual. When they talk to MTV News, the trio are apart again, but still enjoying a laugh. Below, they tell us about their long-deserved time off, the playlists that have kept them afloat since March, and what they’ve learned as they near 10 years of Little Mix.

MTV News: Everyone’s still riding high on the excitement from “Holiday,” so can you talk a little bit about how the song came together?

Perrie Edwards: It was the three of us with [producer] Kamille, and we’re at the studio, and I think we wrote, like, six songs in one session, didn’t we? I think the reason it just kept going is because we just kept ordering champagne. We were just loving life, and Kamille loves champagne in the studio, doesn’t she?

We were just thinking, oh gosh, it’s like, what can we write about, we feel good… Then we just started writing about how boys can make you feel like a holiday, and then that’s how it came about. It just literally fell into place. It was so much fun to write. Obviously we were getting lit, so it was even more fun.

MTV News: About how many bottles of champagne do you think you went through?

Edwards: Well, I’m a lightweight, so one glass was enough for me. Maybe three [bottles].

Leigh-Anne Pinnock: Yeah, it was a couple.

Edwards: But there was, like, six or seven of us in the studio.

MTV News: What were the logistics behind filming the “Holiday” lyric video? I assume everybody filmed parts separately. What was that experience like?

Jade Thirlwall: At that point, we were allowed to go back to work, but we had to all be socially distant and couldn’t stand next to each other on camera, all that sort of thing. So yeah, it was really bizarre actually. But I guess everyone is just having to get used to it, aren’t they? Was that our first day back at work?

Edwards: No. Our first day back was the actual “Holiday” music video, which was even more weird and bizarre.

Thirlwall: Well, we are content queens. We like to serve content in all different formats, so for the lyric video, we thought, here’s another little video for you: us standing in front of the curtain with a blue and pink light.

Pinnock: Have some of that.

Edwards: Fantastic. You thought we were done? No, no. There’s more to come.

MTV News: Personally speaking, what’s the best actual holiday that you’ve ever been on?

Thirlwall: I’m not going to lie, I feel like I would probably quite enjoy a holiday by myself.

Pinnock: Really?

Edwards: Really?

Thirlwall: Yeah. Because… I don’t know. I feel like I’m a bit of a wanderer. When we’re on the road and we’ve got a day off in whatever city or country we’re in, just leave me at the hotel by myself. I’ll have a book or whatever and I’ll just be wandering. I just like finding out about new places. I went to Thailand in January, actually, with two friends, but I do admire those people that just sort of go traveling by themselves.

Pinnock: Would you be able to just go up to people and talk to them, random people?

Edwards: [concerned] No! She’d get kidnapped!

Thirlwall: You know what, actually? I think it was in Austria: I was wandering around by myself and a man asked if I wanted to go in his ice cream van.

Pinnock: Jade!

Edwards: You’ve got to be really careful, Jade. You can’t just gallivant on your own.

MTV News: This is the first summer in some time that you actually weren’t able to perform and go on tour, even though there were plans to do that. How have you all spent the summer instead?

Thirlwall: I try not to think about it too much because, if I thought a lot about the fact that I should be on the road right now doing what I love the most, that’s not going to do anything for my mind.

Pinnock: But also, we know it’s coming. We know tour is coming. So at least we’ve got something to look forward to. It’s in the pipeline, yeah, so it’s not like it’s completely canceled. We will make it to tour.

Edwards: And also there’s so much going on in the world right now, so it would be kind of selfish of us to feel a certain way, because everybody’s going through it. The whole world is on lockdown and the whole world is missing out on things that they wanted to do, like weddings and stuff like that. It’s just a lot. Everybody’s going through a lot right now. We’re just excited for it to end, so we can get back to normality.

MTV News: Before you got back together to do the “Holiday” video, was that the longest amount of time since the group started that you hadn’t really been together?

Edwards: Yes. It was awful. It was bittersweet. It was nice to have time off for the first time ever in our lives — we’ve never had that much time off — but not being with the girls just made me feel… I think we all said it. We’d message constantly. Like, guys, this is why we depend on each other so much because when we’re not together, it feels weird. We’d go through things individually and we just want our girls there, and not being able to see each other and comfort each other in the way that we always do just felt really shitty. Felt like I lost a limb.

Thirlwall: I felt like I had a breakup or something. You know, when you’re sitting and you see something funny, you’d be like, the girls would find that really funny.

Pinnock: Yeah!

Edwards: Yes!

MTV News: Have you all had a go-to soundtrack that you’ve been listening to? 

Thirlwall: I’ve been making a lot of playlists in quarantine. I’ve got one called “Gag,” lots of gag-worthy fantastic pop songs, that helped me get through. I’ve got one that I called “It’s Cool to Cry” playlist. It’s filled with songs that make me cry.

Edwards: I like that.

Pinnock: I feel like I get an album and I just rinse the hell out of it. I just rinse, rinse, rinse for months and then I move on to something else and then rinse that for months.

Edwards: I’ve been trying so hard not to listen to our new album too much because I do really overdo it sometimes. But I’ve hammered it already.

Pinnock: I’ve hammered, too, and that’s the ballad and the slow one.

Edwards: Really? That’s probably because you’ve lived with the rest of it for so long now. Because they’re the newest, maybe?

Pinnock: It’s because I love slow jams. Anything slow, don’t I?

Edwards: I tell you what: Harry Styles’s album is absolutely addictive. I’ve been addicted to it since it came out, but I’m still addicted now. It just never gets old.

MTV News: What were some of the things you did to flex your creativity over the past few months?

Thirlwall: It’s been nice to do things that you wouldn’t usually have time for.

Edwards: Like TikTok! I feel like we were all addicted to TikTok and we did so many of them and then, because they’re so hard to do, I was like, right, I’m bored of that now as well.

Pinnock: They take so long!

Edwards: It takes 10 hours to record a 30-second, 15-second clip. Not I, even if you’re in lockdown.

Pinnock: You know that wipe one? “Wipe, wipe, wipe it down.” I really wanted to try but I thought, you know what? That’s just long. Who’s got time? I ain’t.

MTV News: Next year, it’ll be 10 years since Little Mix was formed. When you think about where you started until now, what do you reflect on?

Thirlwall: I actually still can’t believe that, as a girl band and as a pop girl band, we’ve lasted 10 years. That’s literally unheard of. I think it’s all right to blow your trumpet now and again. I think we should be really proud of ourselves for that. We’ve managed to reach a decade and we’ve always —up until a few years ago — we were always kind of the underdog. No one expected us to win The X Factor. No one expected us to be around for a long time. I just think it’s incredible, really.

Lady Gaga Will Bring Chromatica To Life With A 2020 VMAs Performance

Are you ready for Chromatica to take over the 2020 VMAs?

If you’re not, prepare yourself: Lady Gaga will bring her No. 1 album to life on the awards show stage with an exciting performance. She shared the news in a captivatingly strange video posted to social media showing herself in a bathrobe and slides, sipping a drink… and also wearing a wonderfully large and extraterrestrial mask over her face.

“I’ve been at home dreaming of #Chromatica, and it’s finally time to take off for the first live performance,” she wrote.

Along with collaborator Ariana Grande, Gaga leads the VMA nominations field with nine, including seven for their pulsating collaboration, “Rain on Me.” This year, Gaga joins an already packed slate of performers. BTS will take the stage, marking the TV debut of their upcoming single “Dynamite,” and fellow global pop talents The Weeknd, Doja Cat, J Balvin, Roddy Ricch, Maluma, and CNCO are all set to perform as well. Keke Palmer will host the show.

It’s Gaga’s first time back on the VMAs performance stage since 2013, when she stripped down to a clamshell bikini for a suped-up rendition of the electro-pop “Applause.” This year also marks a decade since her biggest VMA night ever; in 2010 — the same year she debuted her famous meat dress — she walked away with seven trophies, including one for Video of the Year.

After Gaga and Grande, this year’s VMA nominations are led by both Billie Eilish and The Weeknd, who each have six nods. See the full list of nominees, and vote for your faves across 15 gender-neutral categories right now, at vma.mtv.com.

The 2020 VMAs will air live at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday, August 30 across MTV’s linear and digital platforms, as well as with several outdoor performances around New York City. Find everything you need to know at vma.mtv.com.