Orville Peck’s Heartbroken Twang, Jessie Ware’s Sultry Banger, And More Songs We Love

Orville Peck’s latest, a Spotify Singles cover of Bronski Beat’s 1984 ballad about a small-town expat, is the flamboyant country crooner at his finest: mournful, melodramatic, and infectiously catchy. The British synth-pop trio’s masterful storytelling finds a kindred spirit in Peck’s soulful vocals. His entire cover is thick with emotion. When Peck sings, “Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away,” you feel restless in your seat; when he belts, “Cry, boy, cowboy, cry,” you feel the phantom prickle of tears in your eyes. It’s Peck’s rodeo, y’all. We’re all just living in it. —Sam Manzella

Ty Dolla $ign Samples Kanye West’s Passing-Train Meme For Clubby New ‘Ego Death’

Yesterday (June 30), Kanye West dropped a bit of a surprise: a new rap song that once again embraced the abrasive edge of his 2010s output. And today (July 1), he’s kept that momentum rolling thanks to a featured appearance on a clubby new track from Ty Dolla $ign that wouldn’t have sounded all the way out of place on 2016’s The Life of Pablo. It’s called “Ego Death,” and it also finds FKA Twigs, Skrillex, and Serpentwithfeet giving life to the song as well.

On his verse, West addresses the Super Bowl halftime show, the Grammys, the value of recognition of achievements against inner worth, and more. It follows Ty’s exploration of the title theme: “Ego death is where you find happiness.”

There’s a lot packed into the four minute of “Ego Death,” including a Queen Latifah sample, a breezy interlude anchored by the lilting vocals of Serpentwithfeet, and a gorgeously spacey outro built around FKA Twigs. West, too, ends his verse with a punch:

All these admirations, likes, and false validations
Feed into our ego, talk-for-something negro
One in four get locked up, your girlfriend get knocked up
Plan B was they Plan A to lower the count of our families
To lower the count on our damn votes

“Every time me and ‘Ye get together, I feel like we just make something great,” Ty told Beats 1 Radio about the collaboration. The pair have previously teamed up for “Real Friends,” “Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2),” and “Everything We Need.”

“I was watching Instagram, and there was some video of ‘Ye walking through Chicago. Then he was like, ‘Hold up. There’s a train going by.’ I thought that was so hard, just seeing him just walking through Chicago by himself,’ Ty continued. “So I sampled that part, and then I went out to Chicago to work on Yandhi with him. Then I played him the record, and he went crazy. Everybody in the room ran out, like, ‘Oh, shit.’ So he came back. He grabbed the little performance mic, and he started beatboxing and just freestyling and shit.”

Listen to the end result on the searing “Ego Death” above.

Ellie Goulding And Lauv Surprise-Drop ‘Slow Grenade’ After Adorable Twitter Exchange

Ellie Goulding is gearing up to release her double-sided album “Brightest Blue” on July 17. Her first LP since 2015’s Delirium, the collection will feature contributions from the likes of Diplo, Swae Lee, and Serpentwithfeet, as well as a posthumous assist from Juice WRLD.

But as the anticipation builds, it seems the “Love Me Like You Do” singer can’t contain her excitement. On Tuesday (June 30), Goulding surprise-released “Slow Grenade,” a collaboration with fellow platinum blonde, the multi-platinum singer-songwriter Lauv.

Beginning with a minimal, repetitive strumming that moves into a clapping beat, Goulding’s lyrics weave a tale about a relationship that sours, then explodes. She makes creative use of the song’s namesake on a thundering chorus: “Slow grenade / It’s blowing up my mistakes,” she sings. “Still got time for me to stop it / It’s like a part of me must want it.”

Lauv joins in on the second verse, responding to Goulding’s internal musings like an opposing force. “Crazy, late nights in the city / Drink until you hate me,” he coos. “Think that we should move on / But we’re too scared of being alone.” The pair join on the bridge, alluding to the difficulty of ending a relationship built upon codependency (“Help me, my God this got messy”) and bringing to mind imagery of parking lot arguments and drunken, public spats (“‘Cause we put on one hell of a show”). With a heartbreak narrative this well-rounded, it’s easy to lose oneself to the pure, pop magic.

Prior to the song’s release, the singers shared a candid interaction on social media. “So I’ve been thinking about releasing one more song before #BrightestBlue comes out. maybe with @lauvsongs?” Goulding tweeted on Monday (June 29), tagging Lauv. To that, Lauv responded excitedly, “yayayayayayayay :)” — permission granted.

Kanye West’s Music Finds An Abrasive Edge Again On ‘Wash Us In The Blood’

In a GQ profile earlier this year, editor-in-chief Will Welch broke down some of the projects Kanye West had banked, including a song called “Wash Us in the Blood.” Unlike West’s 2019 output, based nearly entirely around his Jesus Is King gospel album and Sunday Service choir assemblies, it featured, according to Welch, “hard drums and Yeezus-like industrial horror noises that consistently shotgun-fires a rapping, dancing, moshing West across the concrete patio like it’s an arena stage.”

From that description alone, it seemed like “Wash Us in the Blood” could be the sign of West once again embracing the abrasive edges of his critically adored music as he did in the 2010s, even as he continued to explore the terrain of Christian rap. On Tuesday (June 30), “Wash Us in the Blood” arrived, complete with a verse from Travis Scott and a music video featuring clips from protests as well as his own tour performances.

“Wash Us in the Blood” is chaotic, opening with police sirens and warped faces and intercut with footage of West’s own glitched-out face as well as tour shots from the floating stage of his 2016 Saint Pablo Tour, and more. As West revealed on Twitter, “Wash Us in the Blood” features a video directed by collaborator Arthur Jafa (who also designed the cover) and was mixed by Dr. Dre.

It also appears to show brief clips of both Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery; earlier this month, West donated to each of their families, as well as the family of George Floyd. West revealed “Wash Us in the Blood” is from a forthcoming album entitled God’s Country. In that same GQ piece, West was cycling through a 54-song playlist, so it’s possible he’s finalizing the album as we speak.

Watch the “Wash Us in the Blood” video above.

The VMAs Are Returning To Barclays Center — And Hitting All Five Boroughs In New York City

It’s 2020, and the Moon Person is once again touching down in New York City.

Yes, this year’s MTV VMAs will take place at the Barclays Center on Sunday, August 30, MTV announced today (June 29), aided by a quick shout-out from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at his live video briefing. It’s the first time the show has hit the iconic Downtown Brooklyn venue since 2013. But this time, the action isn’t contained just to the arena, or even the borough in which it sits.

For the 2020 show, the VMAs are going wide, featuring performances from various iconic locations throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island, to honor the spirit and resilience of New York.

The 2020 VMAs will be the first event to take place at Barclays Center since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the city. Of course, the virus is still very real, which means an added emphasis and focus on safety. The governor’s announcement came with the note of “limited or no audience.”

“Show producers alongside Barclays Center management have been working closely with state and local officials to implement best practices for everyone involved,” according to a statement. “Among the measures all parties involved have aligned on include extensive social distancing procedures, meaningful capacity limitations and the virtualization of components where possible.”

The 2013 show saw a resigned Moon Person — courtesy of Brooklyn artist Kaws — as well as a entirely Moon Person-centric stage. Seven years later, the 2020 VMAs are shaping up to be a sprawling celebration across some of the biggest landmarks in the Big Apple.

More information will be available as the show date approaches. In the meantime, after a year in New Jersey, welcome (back) to NYC, VMAs.

Watch Miley Cyrus Perform A Beatles Classic For An Empty Football Stadium

It seems like it was just a few weeks ago when artists were delivering humbling live performances from the safety of their living rooms. But during Global Citizen‘s Global Goal: Unite for Our Future livestream event on Saturday (June 27) — a production that featured interviews and live performances from the likes of Chloe x Halle, Christine and the Queens, and Justin Bieber — Miley Cyrus set the bar high for socially distant concerts moving forward.

The singer performed her own Miley-fied take on the Beatles classic, “Help!” An appropriate tune for the event, which was meant to bring attention to the marginalized communities most vulnerable to COVID-19, Cyrus appeared in an empty Rose Bowl football stadium. There, wearing a belly-bearing teal gown — a sparkling outfit inspired, per Vogue, by the Beatles’ original album artwork — she stood within the base of a giant exclamation point, part of a stage spelling out the song’s title.

Accompanied only by a microphone, Cyrus lent a country twang to the rock-and-roll staple. “Help me get my feet back on the ground,” she sang on the refrain, as if pleading to her virtual audience. “Won’t you please, please help me?”

“For me, the magic of performing is sharing and celebrating music together…being surrounding by people and feeling their energy,” she tweeted on Saturday about the show. “I dedicated this performance to everyone who is working tirelessly for testing, treatments and vaccines so all of us can come together in places like this empty stadium…. I can’t wait to be together again.”

Also during Global Citizen’s broadcast, Miley sat on panel that included Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway to discuss the disproportionate toll of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on marginalized communities, as well as the protests that have erupted around the world in the wake of the killings of unarmed Black Americans at the hands of police.

“My generation is hungry for change and is leading that charge in many ways,” she said. “I’ve just been a student, over the last few months and especially over the few weeks in my home country. I’ve been a student of these organizers and being able to learn and educate myself. That’s kind of what my time is filled with at this moment, even through Global Citizen, just educating myself. I think that’s the first step to making change.”

Cyrus, who has leveraged the platform of her nonprofit, the Happy Hippie Foundation, to amplify the voices of Black activists on the ground, recognized the power of young voices. “Young people are using their voices every day to demand that change, and especially now in this activism, even though change is taking time, we want it to lead to lasting change,” she added. “And something that has been in my mind was wanting to go back to normal, but this new normal of ‘We don’t want to go back to the way things were before. We want to go to a more improved, inspired way of life.'”

Chloe x Halle Take On Chloe x Halle In Resplendent BET Awards Dance-Off

As two early cuts on Chloe x Halle‘s latest endearing collection Ungodly Hour, “Forgive Me” and “Do It” capture the album’s essential R&B vibe — a deep, rich sonic warmth complete with the sister’s lilting voices floating on top. It’s a mood that the pair put on full display in a dazzling, Destiny’s Child-referencing medley during the (virtual) BET Awards Sunday night (June 28), where each song got its own moment.

And then Chloe x Halle squared off in a winner-take-all dance-off against none other than… Chloe x Halle. The twist, of course, is that both win.

“Forgive Me” opened with them delivering the smooth tune in shiny black dresses with magnificently high-pointed shoulders, close to nature inside a barn. A dirt floor grounded them, and plants surrounded them. As always, their movements stayed in sync, including motioning the sign of the cross when singing the title phrase. But right as you thought the dusty sepia light shining down on them would never end, the scene completely shifted.

For “Do It,” they made a hard pivot, opting instead for a vivid late-’90s R&B video chic in a red-walled room. The sisters found themselves in pristinely white outfits, complete with low-rise baggy pants, in complete contrast to their shiny black dresses. They moved in sync here too, of course, as they pointed to and sang at each other, their blood harmonies rising higher and higher.

Before long, though, both Chloe x Halles were in competition with each other, sending dance moves back and forth as they faced off side by side. The good news about the stunning dance-off is that there are no losers in this battle.

Chloe x Halle told MTV News earlier this month about how they dreamed up the song “Do It” with Victoria Monét. “It was just a party,” Halle said. “It was a great collaboration, and it turned into something beautiful.”

“I love how, in the moment, we were just making good music,” Chloe added. “We weren’t making anything saying, like, ‘Oh, this has to be our first song’ or ‘This has to be a hit.’ We were just making music that made us feel good.”

The performance harnessed the energy of the “Do It” video, something Chloe also mentioned. “We got to articulate our vision in wanting to show who we are growing into as young women,” her said.

You can see that further growth in their BET Awards medley performance. Watch it in full above.

Chloe x Halle Take On Chloe x Halle In Resplendent BET Awards Dance-Off

As two early cuts on Chloe x Halle‘s latest endearing collection Ungodly Hour, “Forgive Me” and “Do It” capture the album’s essential R&B vibe — a deep, rich sonic warmth complete with the sister’s lilting voices floating on top. It’s a mood that the pair put on full display in a dazzling, Destiny’s Child-referencing medley during the (virtual) BET Awards Sunday night (June 28), where each song got its own moment.

And then Chloe x Halle squared off in a winner-take-all dance-off against none other than… Chloe x Halle. The twist, of course, is that both win.

“Forgive Me” opened with them delivering the smooth tune in shiny black dresses with magnificently high-pointed shoulders, close to nature inside a barn. A dirt floor grounded them, and plants surrounded them. As always, their movements stayed in sync, including motioning the sign of the cross when singing the title phrase. But right as you thought the dusty sepia light shining down on them would never end, the scene completely shifted.

For “Do It,” they made a hard pivot, opting instead for a vivid late-’90s R&B video chic in a red-walled room. The sisters found themselves in pristinely white outfits, complete with low-rise baggy pants, in complete contrast to their shiny black dresses. They moved in sync here too, of course, as they pointed to and sang at each other, their blood harmonies rising higher and higher.

Before long, though, both Chloe x Halles were in competition with each other, sending dance moves back and forth as they faced off side by side. The good news about the stunning dance-off is that there are no losers in this battle.

Chloe x Halle told MTV News earlier this month about how they dreamed up the song “Do It” with Victoria Monét. “It was just a party,” Halle said. “It was a great collaboration, and it turned into something beautiful.”

“I love how, in the moment, we were just making good music,” Chloe added. “We weren’t making anything saying, like, ‘Oh, this has to be our first song’ or ‘This has to be a hit.’ We were just making music that made us feel good.”

The performance harnessed the energy of the “Do It” video, something Chloe also mentioned. “We got to articulate our vision in wanting to show who we are growing into as young women,” her said.

You can see that further growth in their BET Awards medley performance. Watch it in full above.

Megan Thee Stallion Went Full Freedom-Fighting Road Warrior In Her BET Awards Medley

Megan Thee Stallion‘s “quarantine girl summer” is turning out to be the hottest season of all. The Houston rapper had her first No. 1 single, as well as an EP reach the top 10. It was all capped on Sunday (June 28), when she delivered a sexy (and political) performance for the socially distant BET Awards.

Megan’s pre-recorded performance began with her newest single, “Girls in the Hood,” which released on Friday (June 26). She appeared out of a Mad Max fantasy: Rolling up in a desert scene on the back of a stripped-down motorbike, she wore knee-high lace-up boots and an S&M bralette decked out with silver O-rings; her shoulders were covered with red and black feathers, while her long hair streamed behind. As the lyrics to her newest single suggest: “I’m a hot girl / I do hot shit / Spend his income / On my outfit.”

While lonesome oil cans sat in the background and graffiti-kissed train cars whizzed by, Megan and her crew of dancing, road-warrior vixens finished the song, then hopped onto skull-decorated four-wheelers, resetting the scene. The rapper segued into her hit single, “Savage.”

Standing atop a structure of metal bars and flimsy netting, Megan twerked before a Black fist, while a sign at the structure’s base read, “Black Lives Matter.” Though Beyoncé, whose addition made the “Savage” remix a breakout hit, didn’t join the performance itself, her disembodied voice sang its part. Megan finished out the performance ghost-riding a deconstructed sports bar, which appeared as a metallic peacock driven by a masked chauffeur. The whole performance read as some afrofuturist apocalypse; the revolution was already here, and in this landscape, freedom and music reign.

Prior to taking the stage, Megan accepted the award for best female hip-hop artist. She is also up for best collaboration, video of the year, album of the year, and viewer’s choice award; she tied Roddy Rich for second-most nominations, with five nods, trailing Drake, with six.

Kesha Offers Comfort And Hope With Powerful ‘Rainbow’ For Stonewall Day

Kesha kicked off 2020 by dropping an eclectic collection of bombastic dance-pop and folk-tinged ballads. Indeed, High Road, her fourth album, featured collaborations with artists as diverse as Big Freedia, Brian Wilson, Sturgill Simpson, and even her former dollar-sign Ke$ha persona. “I’ll just keep on doing what I do best,” she sings on “Shadow,” before specifying what, exactly, that is: “Pissing off people who wanna be pissed.”

It’s the same kind of energy she brought to a colorful virtual performance during Pride Live’s Stonewall Day — glamorous pink and purple eye shadow, a rainbow backdrop, and, fittingly, her essential 2017 piano song “Rainbow.” Instead of full-on bombast, though, Kesha let the powerful words speak for themselves: “When the winds are howling strong / And you think you can’t go on, hold tight, sweetheart / You’ll find a rainbow, rainbow, baby.”

As she sang, a gorgeous panoply of rainbow light washed over Kesha, bathing the scene in different colors. In April, Kesha gave another virtual performance of “Rainbow” for Global Citizen’s One World: Together At Home telecast, opting for a tender rendition of “Rainbow” at the piano. Unlike that one, though, the Stonewall Day rendition found her only singing, really tapping into her words and delivering them with gusto.

It’s the same kind of love she showed as she emotionally introduced the song. “I’m so emotional to be here today to perform in honor of the Ally Coalition, the Ruth Ellis Center, and LGBTQ youth on Stonewall Day,” she said. “I really do believe that you’re the future. You inspire me with your energy, your heart, your voices, and the way you take action.”

Back in 2013, Kesha told Seventeen magazine about the nature of attraction for her personally. “I don’t love just men. I love people,” she said. “It’s not about a gender. It’s just about the spirit that exudes from that other person you’re with.” She expanded on those thoughts in 2017 with Attitude, saying, “I never hid [my bisexuality] from anybody. I never had a moment of feeling I had to come out about it.”

Since then, she’s vocally supported and advocated for the LGBTQ+ community, including in 2016, when she spoke out for Vevo’s Why I Vote campaign. “Using your voice and your truth and standing up and talking about what you believe in and voting is your power,” she said.

It’s a message she echoed in her Stonewall Day preamble. “If you’re 18, you better be voting in November. You need to,” she said. “And if you’re not 18 yet, make sure people know you matter. You’re going to change the world.” She then dedicated “Rainbow” to, well, you.

Experience Kesha’s performance above, and find out more about Stonewall Day — a fundraiser for LGBTQ+ advocacy groups — and how to contribute right here. Stream the entire show via Logo’s YouTube and Facebook pages.