How Fireboy DML Captured The Humidity Of Desire In Alluring ‘Tattoo’ Video

Across the music videos he’s anchored over the past year, Nigerian singer Fireboy DML has shown an increasingly wide range of himself, who he can be, and what he wants you to know about where he came from. In the azure clip for “What If I Say,” he’s as charismatic as the deep oceanic vistas the overhead camera captures, and in more cinematic feats like the already iconic “Scatter” and last month’s Aaliyah-recalling “Eli,” the budgets are increased, which means Fireboy can further flex an already dazzling array of styles.

“Tattoo,” his latest video that dropped Wednesday (August 12), adds one more: sexual superstar. It’s distinctly 2020 — one of his co-stars wears a colorful face mask at the outset — and yet it’s singular to Fireboy’s world-spanning brand of artistry. As his soft voice hovers over a squiggly rhythm, his onscreen persona embodies pure desire. “Tattoo is a very sexual song,” he tells MTV News. “The moment I heard the beat, I just knew what I had to do. It just put me in the mood. I was like, let me just go right in and just stay with the falsetto.”

Fireboy said the song typifies his entire approach to Afrobeats, which is to put his own hold around the genre and combine it with the best of silken R&B. “When the song starts, you will be like, ‘Am I listening to Usher, or what is going on?’ But then as the song goes on, you will be like, ‘Oh, this is an Afrobeats artist. What’s the vibe? It’s good.’ I will actually be in the mind space of the listener. That’s basically what ‘Tattoo’ is all about. Just pure desire.”

The three-minute clip paints Fireboy as a top-floor Don Juan, with every woman in his building drawn into his magnetic energy. But that’s only the loose narrative. As ever, the visual is more about mood and aesthetics — in this case, the warm lights of desire as painted through rotating fans and lingering dusk light. “I don’t like to give away too much, because I’m a very private person, but I don’t mind giving out my heart,” he says. “You have to portray different stuff that are not usually seen in Afrobeats videos. I just like to show the African culture, the colors, the fashion, the Black African beauty.”

This is just a taste of what to expect from Apollo, his second album, set to arrive on August 20. In the meantime, spend a few minutes in the humid world of Fireboy DML in the tantalizing “Tattoo” video above.

Juice WRLD Is A Pixelated Angel In Heartfelt New Animated ‘Smile’ Video

Last Friday came with a “Smile.” Juice WRLD‘s latest posthumous release highlighted all the qualities that made him such an endearing presence, including a notable hook brimming with altruism: “I want you to prosper and come proper / Even if it means I ain’t by your side.” With a little help from The Weeknd, “Smile” shines a great brightness. Now, it’s got an animated new video, released on Tuesday (August 11), to keep the celebration going.

In the visually dynamic clip, as created and brought to life by KDC Visions, an animated Juice delivers the song’s message in front of a great purple sky, inside a snow globe, and poignantly with spread-wide angel wings.

While Juice’s presence is a bit reminiscent of the 1996 clip for “Tha Crossroads” from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, The Weeknd — who’s set to perform at this year’s VMAs — appears in character as his After Hours persona in the immediate aftermath of a car wreck. He’s alright, well enough to deliver his verse anyway.

Juice, meanwhile, remains mostly in memories and Polaroids, and by the video ends with a touching moment that’ll mean a lot to the folks he left behind.

Check out the emotional video above. We’ll see if this one goes diamond, like Juice hoped.

Blinding Lights, Indeed: The Weeknd, CNCO, Maluma, And Roddy Ricch Will Perform At The 2020 VMAs

Better grab your shades if you think you can handle these “Blinding Lights.”

That’s right — The Weeknd is bringing a keyed-up, dazzling After Hours performance to the 2020 VMAs. And he’s not alone. CNCO, Maluma, and Roddy Ricch will also hit the stage during the show.

It’s a great year for all of them. The Weeknd racked up six VMA nominations, including Video of the Year and Artist of the Year, for his maniacal “Blinding Lights” visual, while Ricch’s ubiquitous No. 1 hit “The Box” propelled him to three of his own, including Song of the Year. Maluma, meanwhile, is up for Best Latin, while CNCO nabbed a nod in the brand-new Best Quarantine Performance category, as well as one for Best Choreography. This will be the first time on the VMA stage for Ricch and second for The Weeknd, who literally lit the show aflame in 2015.

They all join an already explosive lineup of performers, including the previously announced Doja Cat, J Balvin, and K-pop phenoms BTS, who will mark the TV debut of their upcoming single “Dynamite.” The show will be hosted by Keke Palmer.

Elsewhere in the field, this year’s VMA nominations are led by Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga, who have nine each, followed closely behind by both Billie Eilish and The Weeknd with six each. 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.

Taylor Swift’s Folklore Alt-Pop Twist Surprised Everyone But Herself

By Carson Mlnarik

Taylor Swift is doing well, in case you haven’t heard. The pop singer declared she’s “on some new shit” on the opening track of her eighth album, Folklore, which dropped with a day’s notice on July 24 and swiftly became the top-selling album of 2020. Swift also became the first artist ever to debut at the top of both the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and the Billboard 200 albums chart — no small feat. That’s partly thanks to the sound of Folklore, an indie-folk record, and her first to be categorized on the Billboard charts and iTunes as “alternative,” that wears its genre on its cardigan sleeve. The 16 songs embody a departure in sound from last year’s big pop odyssey Lover, largely due to The National’s Aaron Dessner, who produced and co-wrote a majority of the album alongside Swift and Jack Antonoff.

Swift sounds different, but lyrically speaking, she is the same. She narrates “The Last Great American Dynasty,” a story about marvelously misunderstood women, but remains as tight-lipped as the track’s production when she weaves herself into the end. The self-referential quips she’s known for (“Bad was the blood of the song in the cab”) are veiled in a quaint bath of acoustics on “Invisible String.” And while tracks like “August” and “Mirrorball” evoke high-school dramatics down to their “highest heels,” she sings with newfound nostalgia and maturity accomplished by the songs’ understated sound.

While Swift’s always been a vocal fan of alternative music — her spirited lip sync of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” for Apple Music is proof enough — her years ruling the pop and country charts did not afford many opportunities for her inner indie kid to shine through. As universally known for planting clues in releases as she is for composing heart-crushing bridges, Swift dropped Folklore without any hint, the unplanned result of the unique global circumstances it was created in. Although the record is unlike anything Swift has done before, especially since it was written and recorded in quarantine, it’s not the first time she’s let her alternative sensibilities shine through. In fact, if you’ve paid attention, she’s been laying the foundation throughout her career.

Though Folklore is in some ways a return to Swift’s folk roots, with the banjos and front porches of “Betty” echoing the “Our Song” days, Swift was already trying alternative songs on for size during her Fearless era in 2008. She transformed rock group Luna Halo’s drum-splitting “Untouchable” into an enchanting bonus track and covered alternative rock group Better Than Ezra’s “Breathless” for a telethon. Although she had the most-awarded country album ever, some of her first collaborations, like Boys Like Girls’s pop rock ballad “Two is Better Than One” and John Mayer’s “Half of My Heart,” eschewed the genre completely. Three years later, when “Mean” — a precursor to the self-assured brashness channeled on “Mad Woman” — was scoring her dual Grammy Awards in country categories, Swift busied herself by inviting folk singer Shawn Colvin and alt mainstays Switchfoot and Jimmy Eat World to perform on the Speak Now tour.

Upon Folklore’s release, “Safe & Sound,” Swift’s 2011 companion track to The Hunger Games, was referenced as its closest sonic sister. However her other soundtrack contribution, “Eyes Open”, a paranoid, 2000s Paramore-reminiscent banger, also highlights alternative rock as an influence within her wheelhouse. It was a mood she continued to evoke recording her “patchwork quilt” fourth record Red, working with Semisonic’s Dan Wilson on fan-favorite tracks “Come Back… Be Here” and “Treacherous,” which he reinterpreted for his own album. Swift snagged Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol and U2 producer Jacknife Lee for “The Last Time,” a duet perhaps unmatched in sheer crippling weight of despondency until Folklore’s “Exile.”

With 1989, she made a conscious decision to leave country, working with producers from pure pop pedigrees, though she specifically sought out the artsy and experimental Imogen Heap to produce the album’s sobering closer “Clean,” recalling the session as “one of the musical highlights of my life.” While the immediate success of “Shake It Off” solidified her glossy new sound, her BBC Radio 1 performance of the track was paired with a stripped-down cover of Vance Joy’s “Riptide,” its bare bones arrangement demonstrating to fans her potential to venture into more intimate, interior territory.

By 2019, Swift had moved from the trap-infused, snake-guarded Reputation to Lover’s pastel dream-pop butterflies. In this context, Folklore feels especially unanticipated, as both of her previous albums were characterized by public and sonic rebirths with plenty of advance rollout. Her skills in reinvention have even inspired others, like the conceptually acrobatic Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, who cut a dancefloor remix of “Slow Disco” after Swift suggested “a pop version” to mutual pal Antonoff. The connection seemingly led to the trio collaborating on Lover standout “Cruel Summer,” a synth-pop explosion that Clark co-wrote and played guitar on. While Swift’s reimagination of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” for Spotify Singles was not beloved by all, its dreamy banjo-speckled arrangement certainly reaffirmed her roots.

Trading in ad-libs for F-bombs and beat drops for strings, Folklore is a stylistic overhaul that could have been polarizing if it weren’t for the singer’s chameleonic abilities. On “Mirrorball,” its shimmering sixth track, the 30-year-old songwriter compares herself to a disco ball, showing “you every version of yourself.” Although she’s embraced “alternative” as her latest polish, her penchant for shining a light on universal feelings hasn’t changed. Swift noted in her album announcement that “if you make something you love, you should just put it out in the world.” After honing her alternative edge over 14 years of evolution, it’s no wonder we love it, too.

Juice WRLD Would Want You To ‘Smile’ With Latest Posthumous Collab

It has been nearly nine months since the tragic passing of the rapper Juice WRLD at the age of 21, yet the artist, whose meteoric rise was marked by emotionally raw lyrics, continues to drop new music. His posthumous album Legends Never Die, which released in July, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, with features from Halsey, Marshmello, and more.

His latest release arrived on Friday (August 7), a soul-wrenching collaboration with The Weeknd called “Smile.” The tag-teamed track functions as well-wishes to someone they love, even if it means they won’t be in that person’s life. “I’d do anything in my power to see you just smile,” Juice WRLD raps.

In September, Juice WRLD first hinted that he and The Weeknd were collaborating, tweeting, “Me and The Weeknd would make a diamond record…” Nearly one year later, on Tuesday (August 4), The Weeknd teased the new single by sharing Juice’s post, then adding a new tweet, “XO + 999 Thursday Night.”

A corresponding lyric video showed a lone artist, painting two portraits, one depicting Juice WRLD and, the other, The Weeknd. At the end of the clip, both canvases sit side-by-side. Check it out, below.

SG Lewis And Robyn Rattle The Club, Billie Eilish Returns To Earth, And More Songs We Love

With nothing left to prove, Billie Eilish retreated inward with her brother, Finneas, and created one of the downright prettiest songs of the year. “My Future” is, indeed, about her future, and thankfully for us, it traffics in optimism. Jazzy, blue, and lo-fi, the song is completely unexpected, just like the serotonin-releasing percussion that drops at 1:43 —Patrick Hosken

Cardi B And Megan Thee Stallion Deliver An Ass-Filled Summer Blockbuster In ‘WAP’

As movie theaters remain closed (for good reason!), Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion have graciously taken it upon themselves to keep the summer blockbuster alive. It’s not a feature film, but their incredible new video for “WAP,” which dropped today (August 7), is a feat of cinematic vibrance that shouts star power in every frame.

We open on twin fountains bearing the nude likenesses of the two icons and glide into a very wet mansion of ass ornaments as wall decor and Cardi and Meg alternately in a sandy snake pit, a gilded leopard-patterned oasis, a white tiger-printed palace, a purple-and-green striped kids’ birthday party set, and more. And that’s just the first few minutes.

As the pair deliver verses pulling off unequaled looks and incredible choreography, they become superheroes celebrating female sexuality — though if you want the full, explicit version, you’ll have to listen on streaming, as Cardi tweeted. Every parcel of this visual is a banquet, as directed by Colin Tilley, and that’s before any of the cameos. Oh right, the cameos!

Kylie Jenner, Normani, Rosalía, Rubi Rose, Sukihana, and Mulatto all make appearances here, behind certain doors in the mansion. But make no mistake: It’s Cardi and Meg’s show. “She’s so bubbly, she’s quirky like me, she smiles a lot, like me,” Cardi told SiriusXM’s Swaggy Sie about Meg and their initial chemistry, which shines through on the track.

“WAP” is notable, too, for being Meg’s first song to drop after she survived gunshot wounds to both of her feet in July. She addressed the continued emotional fallout of the incident in a new Instagram Live video posted today.

“It’s not fun, bitch,” she said, as captured by Complex. “I just felt very betrayed by a friend. I felt very betrayed by all my friends. I felt very shocked, very scared. But the one thing that y’all need to know about me is I’m not a person who is able to be down for a long time … I don’t like to be victimized. I don’t like to feel like ‘Oh my god, Megan, something’s wrong.’ I like to be upbeat. I like to be happy.”

Watch the show-stopping “WAP” video above — then listen to Cardi and go stream the uncensored version.

Keke Palmer Will Host The 2020 VMAs, With A Little Help From True Jackson

Stop the presses! Keke Palmer will be your host for the 2020 VMAs.

The actress and performer shared the news on Thursday (August 6) via a “FaceTime call” between her and True Jackson, VP — excuse me, True Jackson, CEO — where Palmer asked for a little styling help ahead of, as she said, “summer’s biggest stage with the world’s biggest artists.”

The clip found Palmer’s enthusiasm off the charts as she cataloged her excitement for landing the hosting gig. “I need a look that says: Snack! Sticky! Thick!” In order to pull that off, of course, Jackson had to enlist the (offscreen) help of old pals Lulu and Ryan, a move that caused Palmer to quickly burst into song.

After she locks down an appropriately iconic look — following her stunning glow at last year’s show — Palmer will emcee the exhilarating event, which will feature the VMA performance debut of BTS, taking the stage to unveil their upcoming single “Dynamite.” Doja Cat and J Balvin are also slated to perform, and others are due to be announced later.

The 2020 VMA nominations are led by Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga with nine nods each, followed closely behind by both Billie Eilish and The Weeknd, who have six each. 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 from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, as well as from various iconic locations throughout the five boroughs in New York City. Find everything you need to know at vma.mtv.com.

Dua Lipa’s New Remix Album Features Missy Elliott, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, And More

Earlier this year, Dua Lipa‘s jubilantly dancey second album, Future Nostalgia, was a cause for celebration. And it still is! Lipa herself is celebrating by readying a full remix album, fittingly titled Club Future Nostalgia, that she plans to release quite soon, on August 21.

The album won’t just feature new versions of Future Nostalgia‘s tracks — she’s also enlisted help from Missy Elliott, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Mark Ronson, and more to help reimagine the cuts. As Lipa wrote on Instagram to announce the release, “ALL FUTURE NOSTALGIA TRACKS N THEN SUM REMIXED BY UR FAVES AND MANY MANY MORE SURPRISES!!!”

Before that, DJ and producer The Blessed Madonna will helm a remix of “Levitating” that’s set to feature Elliott and Madonna, due out on August 14. Stefani will appear on a new cut of Lipa’s song “Physical” remixed by Ronson.

It’s exactly the kind of news that might make one bummed out that these new tracks (and the old ones) can’t be celebrated properly at loud volumes inside sweaty clubs. But then again, any room can easily become a club, as long as Future Nostalgia is playing.

While you wait for Club Future Nostalgia, here’s a pair of “Hallucinate” remixes from Paul Woolford and Tensnake, respectively. Enjoy those below.

John Legend Pays Tribute To John Lewis With A Moving Performance From The Edmund Pettus Bridge Via Green Screen

When civil rights icon Representative John Lewis died on July 17 at age 80, tributes rolled in from politicians, activists, actors, musicians, and more. President Barack Obama wrote, “He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise. And through the decades, he not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice, but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example.” Personal and intimate remembrances also rolled in from Ava DuVernay, who tweeted, “What warmth and wisdom he leaves behind for us”; Viola Davis, who wrote, “Thank you for your service, for your commitment to change and your courage”; and Ice Cube, who said wrote, “I’ve always admired your courage.”

It was all very fitting for a man who’d devoted his life to fight for civil rights for all, harkening back to his organizing and protesting efforts in the mid-century American South, where he helped lead the March 7, 1965 march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery to demand voting rights. That kind of spirit can’t die: “[Young people] must continue to dream and never, ever give up on trying to fulfill or make their dream become a living reality,” he told MTV News in 2015.

That’s exactly the spirit celebrities like John Legend paid tribute to during an hourlong special titled John Lewis: Celebrating a Hero, which aired Tuesday night (August 4) on CBS and across ViacomCBS platforms. Legend called Lewis “a warrior for justice” on Twitter after his passing and wrote, “Thank you for loving us so much that you devoted and risked your life to bring us closer to freedom.”

For the Celebrating a Hero special, Legend performed the Oscar-winning song “Glory” alongside his co-collaborator Common viewed through important archive footage, and via a virtual performance that took place on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. Both utilized a green screen to perform the stirring ode they penned for the 2014 film Selma, as directed by DuVernay.

The special also featured Yolanda Adams, Jon Batiste, Common, Jennifer Hudson, Trevor Noah, and more paying tribute to Lewis’s life and work. Check out some of the highlights above.