Can anyone emote quite like Ben Platt? Known for his emotionally devastating performance in Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway — which earned the singer a Tony, Grammy, and Emmy by the age of 25 — Platt is now baring his own soul to the world with his forthcoming debut album, Sing to Me Instead.
On Friday (February 1), the performer released the first two tracks from his first solo studio release, including its lead single, “Bad Habit.” The piano ballad finds Platt yearning for a former love, the lingering thoughts of whom he can’t seem to kick — like a bad habit. The song builds and ultimately swells to a crescendo of raw emotion and pitch-perfect vocals.
In the video, Platt sits at his piano and belts out the song, before taking a cab to a photo gallery full of snapshots from what appears to be a past relationship. It’s a simple yet deeply intimate look at a young artist shedding his skin for everyone to see.
Platt tells EW that Sing to Me Instead will chart the highs and lows of a relationship, beginning at the end. “As the tracks progress, you go back to the beginning of the relationship and see where the complications come from and what was the good and bad and what brought the singer to this place of feeling this addiction so deeply,” he said. “There’s reveling in the goodness of it and there’s the vindictive break-up of it all; there’s the feeling as it dissolves and trying to hold onto it – all the different stages I created from an amalgam of the relationships I’ve had in my life.”
The second single, “Ease My Mind,” is another piano-driven track, but this one finds the singer-songwriter opening up about an anxiety that only a lover can quell. The powerful song is tinged with R&B and gospel, and if it’s indicative of what else we can expect from the 12-track LP, then we’re definitely in.
Sing to Me Instead drops March 29 from Atlantic Records.
By Trey Alston
One of Nicki Minaj’s longtime strengths has been her willingness to get crazy. Her name is practically synonymous with theatricality. On Friday (February 1), she released a demonic new visual for “Hard White” that shows how much she goes the extra mile with her work. It reaffirms her queen status in the realm of the living, although it’s shot in the realm of the dead.
The visual is made up a mix of dark magical scenery and twisted backdrops. Nicki appears as a witchy figure, wearing a mix of costumes that look both majestic and increasingly terrifying. There’s one scene that looks to be a futuristic throne room where she operates in full control. In others, there are naked, painted people moving demonically. Its title may be “Hard White,” and while white historically has symbolized purity, this lavish, sinister video represents anything but.
In the midst of the frantic movements and simmering flames, Nicki raps about her twisted rule of rap’s domain. “Mirror, mirror, who’s the fairest? / You the motherfucking fairest, Nicki,” she raps, repeating a line delivered by the Evil Queen of the classic film Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs. That bar alone really sells the idea of the song, that a hard-nosed dominating woman emcee is perched upon her throne.
“Hard White” comes from Nicki’s 2018 album, Queen. It’s the fifth single following “Chun-Li,” “Bed,” “Barbie Dreams,” and “Majesty.” She’s getting ready to go on the European leg of The Nicki Wrld Tour with Juice WRLD, who replaced Future as the co-headliner. She dropped the equally captivating video for “Good Form” in November.
Watch the chaos unfold in the video above.
By Trey Alston
In 2017, Lil Peep told XXL that iLoveMakonnen and Fall Out Boy were artists that he listened to while growing up. After his untimely death later that year, any chance at a collaboration between all three parties seemed to wither away. That changed on Thursday (January 31) with the release of “I’ve Been Waiting,” the three-way song that sees a departed artist’s wishes come true.
The funky record finds Lil Peep, iLoveMakonnen, and Fall Out Boy singing about the pain caused by a lover’s actions. It’s upbeat enough to undoubtedly find its way onto the dance floor and it’s a nice departure from Peep’s past sullen works. ILoveMakonnen is one of five producers – the others being Louis Bell, Brenton Duvall, IIVI, and Brian Lee – credited to the song.
iLoveMakonnen, in a recent conversation with XXL, revealed that to make the song happen, he sent the track to the band after conversing with backing vocalist/songwriter/bassist Pete Wentz. iLoveMakonnen told Rolling Stone that he and Peep recorded over the instrumental in 2017. After Lil Peep’s death, Wentz reached out to offer condolences and things went from there. The song should appear on Lil Peep and iLoveMakonnen’s forthcoming collaboration Diamonds, set to drop this year. ILoveMakonnen also appears on two other posthumous Lil Peep records, “Sunlight on Your Skin” and “Falling Down.”
Listen to the late rapper’s dream collaboration above.
By Trey Alston
Lil Baby is one of the biggest stars in rap right now. In 2018 he became a household name thanks to key collaborations with Drake (“Yes Indeed”), Gunna (“Drip Too Hard”), and City Girls (“Season”). On Thursday (January 31), he released a video for “Global” that shows the level of success that comes with making it to this level.
Lil Baby’s latest visual is made up of performance footage, stunning foreign locales, and mesmerized fans. The rapper keeps it simple while showing off what kinds of things he does when he’s not in the booth. At one point, he shows that he’s in the Bahamas; another moment, he’s deep into a performance onstage.
Pretty soon, Lil Baby will have more tour clips to include in future music videos. Yesterday, the rapper announced that he’s heading on tour with City Girls and Blueface for the New Generations Tour. It kicks off in March in Houston and wraps up in Atlanta in April.
“Global” appeared on last year’s Street Gossip EP. The project was one of three that he released last year, along with Harder Than Ever and Drip Harder with Gunna. Check out the world-trekking video for “Global” below.
By Trey Alston
Hats off to Charli XCX for one of the most creative promo stunts ever. Her “1999” single with Troye Sivan is an escapist ode to the turn-of-the-century splendor, so what better way to promote it than by releasing a Charli XCX-themed Tamagotchi digital pet?
You read that right. If you have a Spotify account right now, then you’ll have a chance to get it.
Remember Tamagotchis, by the way? They were just like pets except, well, digital and handheld – and if you forgot to “feed” them, the consequences were much less severe than if they were actually alive, which was relieving.
Charli has kicked off a promo campaign to win the unique award. For a chance at getting it, all you have to do is build a unique 1999-themed playlist on Spotify in one of four categories: Rap Stars, Love Songs, Girls vs. Boys, or Movies. Charli’s team will give the creators of the playlists they like best these unique Tamagotchi pets that come with a serious side of longing for the ’90s again.
Charli released the wild, nostalgic video for “1999” in October and we’re still reeling over the pair’s depiction of famous ’90s figures. Everyone from Eminem and Britney Spears to Steve Jobs and Marilyn Manson were portrayed in that signature pre-Y2K sheen. A new album should be in the works, judging by her busy last year. “1999” was one of four singles, along with “Girls Night Out,” “No Angel,” and “5 in the Morning.” Her last studio album, Pop 2, dropped in 2017.
If Ally Brooke‘s debut solo music video for “Low Key” featuring Tyga is an audition for success, she’s totally got the part.
The former Fifth Harmony member just released the dance-heavy visuals alongside her sultry debut single, which also dropped today (January 31). Flirty and fun, “Low Key” offers Brooke’s long-standing fanbase a glimpse into the Latin-meets-urban-pop genre she’s been mastering in the studio. And with the addition of Tyga, who’s featured on “Like Mariah” off Fifth Harmony’s 2015 album, Reflection, Brooke keeps things familiar while developing her own sound, too.
And just as Brooke reintroduces herself to the world, the “Low Key” video features the San Antonio native literally auditioning with some of the best choreography she’s executed to date. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Brooke shares some major chemistry with her love interest, played by Ricky Alvarez, as she slays look after look in the video.
With a catchy chorus, an eye-catching video, and Tyga’s and Alvarez’s added star power, Brooke has everything she needs for “Low Key” to be a hit. Check it out (and sing the hook non-stop) yourself above.
Ashley Tisdale‘s musical comeback is chugging along in style. After kicking off her long-awaited new era with “Voices In My Head” last year, the 33-year-old has dropped the video for her second new single, “Love Me & Let Me Go.”
“Voices” was inspired by Tisdale’s battle with anxiety, and that theme continues on “Love Me,” as she pleads, “Love me and let me go / Walk away, finally let me breathe / Stop being so obsessed with me.” At first, it sounds like she’s singing to a pesky dude, but she explained to Billboard that the song is actually about her “talking to my anxiety.”
The accompanying video illustrates the feeling of breaking free (High School Musical pun not intended) after being “chained to [her] mind.” It opens on the pink-haired singer sitting alone in a blacked-out room, but her surroundings start to brighten up as she reclaims control and repeats, “Let me go, let me go now.” In the dramatic final shot, she recreates the track’s stunning cover art by levitating above the ground, seemingly at peace.
“Love Me & Let Me Go” is the second taste of Tisdale’s third album, Symptoms, which is expected to arrive this year. It marks her first new album since 2009’s Guilty Pleasure, and it’s a much-welcome comeback from the singer-songwriter, who’s giving fans a vulnerable side of herself they’ve never seen before.
By Trey Alston
Earl Sweatshirt has released one of the weirdest yet refreshing videos of his career. Along with the announcement of a tour in support of last year’s Some Rap Songs album, the rapper released an eight-minute experimental film titled Nowhere, Nobody that features snippets of songs from the album. It is, at once, confusing and mystical. We’re still trying to make sense of what we just saw.
Nowhere, Nobody begins with a kids’ basketball game where Earl is the coach, arguing with referees about both bad and missed calls. After heading home, he takes a second to stare at the bust of a statue that sits on his lawn. From there, the bust becomes something of a central character.
There are scenes of baby statues being painted green, Earl cleaning tree branches off another statue, the rapper sitting in a bathtub in deep thought, and another statue being destroyed. It’s heavy stuff and there’s cinematic and symbolic qualities that beg the viewer to look a beneath the surface of what they’re viewing.
The film was directed by Naima Ramos-Chapman and Terence Nance of HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness. It stars Phillips E. Walker, Semere-Ab Etmet Yohannes, Maddox Dutton, Ian Randolph, Aria Williams, Lisa Gains, and LaDiamond Blue.
Earl’s upcoming tour kicks off at the end of March in New Orleans and wraps up in June in London. MIKE, Liv.e, Bbymutha, Black Noi$e, and Na-Kel Smith will be joining him. Hopefully before then, we can get an explanation of what the heck is happening in the film.
By Trey Alston
Billie Eilish surprised the world when she announced her debut studio album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, and unveiled its spooky cover. It looks like that creepy motif will run throughout all the songs, if the single she released on Wednesday (January 30) is any indicator. Eilish dropped the video for “Bury a Friend” and you shouldn’t watch it without a nightlight on and a rosary around your neck.
In the visual, Eilish, with some seriously scary all-black eyes, lurks underneath the bed of a friend before standing and watching him sleep. Throughout the video, hands grip her face and twist her head, and she’s injected with enough needles to make even the bravest people squeamish.
It’s an unsettling accompaniment to the equally hellish, minimalistic song. Eilish’s unique vocal range already makes her music hit differently; the added effect of the video’s spookiness means that “Bury a Friend” will stay with you long after its dark climax.
Eilish’s upcoming album comes out on March 29. It follows her debut EP, Don’t Smile At Me, that dropped in 2017. “Bury a Friend” is a bold indicator of how her album may possibly sound. Make sure you have an exorcist and priest on standby. To get more of her signature minimal style, listen to her contribution to Music Inspired by the Film Roma, “When I Was Older.”
By Trey Alston
The glitz and glam of Lizzo’s performance of “Juice” on Ellen on Tuesday (January 29) will require you to put on some shades before trying to view it. The singer graced Ellen’s audience with the first live television performance of the song – from her upcoming album Cuz I Love You, which she announced Monday – and what a performance it was.
Lizzo’s confidence was on full spectacle at the beginning of the performance as she strode onto the stage in a hot-pink robe and bedazzled corset. She created a magical moment as she made her way through the crowd while rapping and singing, taking the time to drop dance moves on audience members. She then returned to stage to play a flute solo using the aptly named instrument, Sasha Flute.
The sheer mix of funk and energy on screen at any given moment over the course of the near-four minute stage parade amounted to one of Ellen’s best performances of all time. If the YouTube thumbnail looks this good, imagine how it looked live.
“Juice” will appear on Lizzo’s upcoming album Cuz I Love You, due out on April 19. She announced the LP along with plans to launch an accompanying North American tour to kick off during that month. Lizzo released the video for “Juice,” directed by Quinn Wilson, earlier this month and talked to MTV News about how it came together. Find that interview below after you watch her legendary “Juice” performance above.