Taylor Swift Explains How Reputation Was Inspired By Game Of Thrones

The theme of Taylor Swift‘s 2017 album Reputation is jump-out-at-you vicious. Of course, there are Taylor’s lucid love tales, which have become a staple of her artistry, but they’re balanced out by more vengeful, angry songs, the kind that could be made of fire and smoke if it were a dragon shrieking their vocals. It turns out that Swift was inspired by Game of Thronesa show known for its trio of dragons, for Reputation‘s weaponized aesthetic. In a new cover story for Entertainment Weeklythe singer elaborated on which songs were inspired by different aspects of the show. Like all of us, she’s an expert on the land of Westeros.

But here’s the thing: she wasn’t watching it from the beginning. She first tuned into it in 2016. “So much of my imagination was spent on Game of Thrones,” she said. “At the time, I was making Reputation and I didn’t talk about it in interviews, so I didn’t reveal that a lot of the songs were influenced by the show.” What songs, you ask? She delves right into the specifics soon after in the interview. “‘Look What You Made Me Do’ is literally Arya Stark’s kill list. ‘King Of My Heart’ was influenced by Khal Drogo and Daenerys. It’s even got this post-hook of drums – I wanted them to sound like Dothraki drums. ‘I Did Something Bad’ I wrote after Arya and Sansa conspire to kill Littlefinger.”

Swift also revealed that the show influences her approach to storytelling on her albums and through the use of narrative bread crumbs hidden in her music videos. She was also asked about who she thinks will end up taking the Iron Throne once the coming war for the Seven Kingdoms wraps up. “Daenerys, Arya, or Sansa,” she said. “But if I’m being realistic, I think Sansa has the skill set and the ability to delegate and put on a brave face but a stoic demeanor.”

Swift is gearing up for her own takeover of the pop kingdom with the imminent release of her mysterious new album. She dropped the first single, “ME!,” last month. With it, a colorful, Mary-Poppins-In-Easter kind of video that proves the pastel colors of her youngest years are back and front and center.

The Losers’ Club Is All Grown Up In First It: Chapter Two Teaser Trailer

It — adapted from Stephen King’s chilling source material of the same name — became the highest grossing horror film in history. Audiences fell in love with the film’s preteen heroes, known as the Losers’ Club, as they faced puberty, bullies, and, of course, the shape-shifting clown/amorphous evil entity, Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

Chapter One ended while they were kids — victorious, but in a fleeting sense. In the first teaser trailer for the anticipated second half of the story, It: Chapter Two, the Losers’ Club aren’t kids anymore. And they’re back in Derry, and unfortunately so is Pennywise.

The teaser trailer finds Beverly, played by Jessica Chastain, making her return to the city 27 years later and visiting a mysterious older woman. Before long, while waiting for a cup of tea, Beverly sees Pennywise’s creepy smile on the woman’s wall in an older photo, and behind her, the woman dances in her kitchen naked. Beverly gets rushed by the wrinkled skin and the teaser shifts outside of the claustrophobic house to the town itself. The gang’s back in town, and Pennywise is up to its old, murderous tricks — this time attempting to prey on a young girl. The conclusion looks to be bigger, scarier, and bloodier than ever before.

It: Chapter Two also features James McAvoy, Bill Hader,  James Ransone, and others. Bill Skarsgard makes his return as the impossibly scary Pennywise. You’ll be able to hide behind your hands during its scariest scenes when it hits theaters on September 6.

Check out the scary teaser up above.

Charly Bliss Quit Their Day Jobs — Now Their Powerful New Album Finds Them Primed To Break Out

By Emma Madden

The joy that left somewhere between your fifth birthday party and puberty never escaped Charly Bliss’s Eva Hendricks. A super extrovert or “total hambone,” as she describes herself, Hendricks is exactly the person you picture when you listen to Charly Bliss’s strain of invigorating, hot-blooded power pop. Born into an encouraging family in a small arts town, she spent most of her out-of-school hours performing musical theater before she ever picked up a guitar. “I would watch the movie Josie and the Pussycats and imagine myself being in that band,” she says. Her face is mostly mouth when she speaks, spread in a constant grin like she’s delivering life-altering news. “I was obsessed with Michelle Branch and the Dixie Chicks, and I was always trying to convince everyone that we had to start a band, even though none of us knew how to play instruments.”

While Hendricks had seen women represented in pop music, she never quite saw herself in them. “Pop stars are almost like aliens,” she says. “They’re not us. In the best way ever.” It wasn’t until she saw Jenny Lewis fronting Rilo Kiley that it occurred to her that she could make her pussycat pipe dream a reality. Meeting Spencer Fox, a former child actor who voiced The Incredibles’ Dash Parr, was the final push. With Fox’s encouragement, Hendricks began writing songs, and finally picked up the guitar.

Charly Bliss formed soon after, with Fox on lead guitar, Hendricks’s brother Sam on drums, and childhood friend Dan Shure on bass. Their debut album, Guppy, landed in 2017, following several painstaking years trying to find their sound. They went through numerous costume changes — garage-rock band, acoustic Starbucks-core outfit — before landing on the resilient pop, and achingly nostalgic rock that, heading into the upcoming release of their second album, Young Enough, now defines Charly Bliss.

Hendricks was still working in a coffee shop — her “favorite job ever, except for this one” — when her band’s first album came out. “Once that tour for Guppy started, I just felt so bad for my coworkers. I kept calling out for months at a time. I was gonna start to lose friends over how often I was having to leave.” The band was in Las Vegas when Hendricks received the text message from her mother telling her: “You cannot keep doing this. You need to be all in.”

Johnny Nunez/WireImage

The band quit their jobs and began pursuing Charly Bliss full time two weeks into that tour. Now, as they’re preparing for Young Enough, with no day jobs to fall back on, the stakes have never been higher. While Guppy gave the band the opportunity to pursue music full time, Young Enough is the kind of album that could give the band its big break — more fans, bigger venues, an answer on a gameshow. Hendricks is feeling ambitious. “I think all four of us are.” Not ashamed to have high hopes, the band are wanting to push Charly Bliss as far as it will go. “Michelle [Zauner] from Japanese Breakfast always jokes that we’re both super try-hard bands,” Hendricks laughs.

Like Guppy, Young Enough is sorely sentimental but never mawkish. Its highs are earned — “Do you remember walking barefoot against the dark?” Hendricks screams in one such instance. It’s the kind of rush that makes your stomach lurch — like you’re cycling down a tall hill, or about to fall in love.

Hendricks is made of these moments. “Part of it is I have no chill, I’m a super intense person,” she says. “I remember back in high school, I’d become obsessed with one person, and felt like I was madly in love with them. I’d drive around in my car and cry about them, and I remember thinking: No one has ever felt this much, no one knows what this feels like.” That teenage feeling — the one which isolates you in your intensity, as though the whole world’s going down on a sinking ship — has extended into Hendricks’s adult life and Charly Bliss’s latest album.

“If I had to think of one word that totally encompasses all of the lyrical themes of this album, and the process of making it, it would be ‘growth,’” she says.

She call the album’s title track its “lyrical centerpiece,” for that reason. On “Young Enough,” Hendricks refers back to the palmy days of her first love in cinematic detail. “Do you remember walking barefoot against me?” she screams once more, while coming to the grown-up conclusion that despite all of it, it’s better to love well than it is to love hard.

“I think of it as a song that’s about growing up and growing out of buying into the idea that the hardest relationships are the most meaningful,” she says. “Obviously, it was a relationship that would never work for so many reasons, but in comparison to these other experiences that came after, of being with someone who was actually really sinister, and being with someone who was abusive, I’m grateful that that relationship was my blueprint and not something so much darker.”

In conversation, Hendricks still pauses before she shares that she’s been abused and sexually assaulted. She describes the months leading up to the release of “Chatroom,” a song in which she discusses both, as “brutal.”

“It’s something that I’ve been wrestling with for a long time,” she says. “I don’t think that I could have gotten to a place where I could have admitted it to myself, or admitted it to the world and the internet, if it hadn’t have been for other women.”

Hendricks believes that visibility can change the world, just as it’s changed her, whether it was seeing Jenny Lewis in a band, or seeing women tell their stories as part of the #MeToo movement.

“If I felt like I really couldn’t make it out the other end of this, then I hope that I would’ve made that decision to wait until the time felt right,” she says. “I feel really lucky that I have a therapist that I really love.”

As Guppy’s standout song “Ruby” proved, Hendricks’s greatest love songs are to her therapist. Still working with Ruby today, the language of therapy occasionally leaks into Hendricks’s songwriting. “I’m someone who’s very open and I feel like I connect easily with people, and sometimes that means I give a ton of myself, and that’s landed me in some sad situations,” she says. Young Enough is full of lessons learned in hindsight — the importance of setting boundaries; knowing that it’s impossible to truly save someone else; growing old enough to favor stability over intensity.

And, for an artist who has struggled to connect to pop music and the removed nature of stardom, that vulnerability had a perhaps unlikely inspiration: Lorde’s chronicling of brutal breakup on 2017’s Melodrama.

“It felt to me like the most honest expression of what going through [a breakup] feels like, and that’s like therapy,” she says. “When you can articulate those feelings, you immediately feel like someone gets you, and if other people get this music, then they get you, and if this person who wrote this music can get through, then something as lonely as a breakup doesn’t feel as lonely anymore. In a way, it makes the world bigger for you. That’s my favorite thing about how art works.”

Young Enough is out 5/10 via Barsuk/Lucky Number.

Carly Rae Jepsen Asks The Hardest Question Of All On New Song ‘Too Much’

“Is this too much?” Carly Rae Jepsen asks on her new single, released on Thursday (May 9). But even if the lyrics speak to staggering self-consciousness — “Be careful if you’re wanting this touch / ‘Cause if I love you, then I love you too much” — CRJ heads can never have enough.

The slow-burning track new continues along the same languid path laid by previous singles “No Drug Like Me” and “Julien,” though its main concern is one of pesky self-doubt. “Party For One” this is not — instead, “Too Much” is an ode to uncertainty.

Aided by the same production duo behind “No Drug Like Me,” “Too Much” gives CRJ’s neuroses plenty of room to breathe on the sparse verses, ultimately yielding to a pensive trop-pop chorus that preserves the hesitancy of the lyrics. Like “Julien,” the most viscerally grooving 2k19 Jepsen cut, “Too Much” doesn’t build to a massive cathartic refrain, opting instead for a quieter presentation. Naturally, the one thing that’s certain here is that it sounds good.

“Too Much” is the fifth song Jepsen’s put out in advance of Dedicated, her fourth album set to drop on May 17. The singer told MTV News in March how she sifted through hundreds of recorded songs to arrive at a final tracklist for the album, something she also illustrated in a recent Rolling Stone interview.

“I rarely write a song and am like, ‘It’s done!,'” Jepsen said. “It’s sort of my passion and obsession in a way: late at night being like, ‘I found the lyric!’ I envy writers that are like, ‘I just wrote this and put it on the album.’ I’m like, ‘How do you sleep at night?!'”

With only eight days until Dedicated drops, is it wishful thinking to hope we get that intimate NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert before then? Until then, listen to “Too Much” above.

Zayn And Zhavia Ward Recreate A Classic Aladdin Duet

‘A Whole New World’ is a magical duet that was the high point of Aladdin when the animated film came out in 1992. The intertwining romance of the singers’ voices reflected the characters’, Aladdin, and Princess Jasmine, kindling feelings for each other, as well as the exploration of new experiences and realms. With the live action version of Aladdin hitting theaters on May 24, the modern remake of “A Whole New World” has been released. It features Zayn and The Four: Battle for Stardom alumni Zhavia Ward as the infatuated souls, singing their hearts out to a slightly slower, more extravagant rendition. It doesn’t need a genie to capture the magic of the original; it does it all on its own.

This version of ‘A Whole New World’ knocks a bit harder, thanks to the snap of a finger that gives it an extra kick. Zayn’s booming voice gets a soft, emotional delivery that crescendos into a grand, enveloping wind. Ward matches his arc, starting near a whisper. Her escalation to a siren’s roar is magical and, by the end of the song, there won’t be a dry eye in all of the theater. In the accompanying video, the two sides are more realistically cut instead of as a member of royalty and or a commoner on the street. Zayn waltzes through a courtyard and a building with a blank, emotionless mask of a face. His hairdo is a magnificent character of its own, grand and lush, standing on ends. Ward’s beach blonde dreadlocks are striking and cut her as a more valiant counterpart than Zayn. His reserved world, her adventurous one. They’re traversing the gateways created by love and exploring each other’s realms. Whole new worlds.

Zayn released his second studio album Icarus Falls in 2018. It features the previously released songs, “Stand Still” and “Satisfaction.”

Watch the slow-moving video for ‘A Whole New World’ up above.

Kacey Musgraves, The Centaur, Prances Through A Field Of Diamonds In ‘Oh, What A World’ Video

The world inside of Kacey Musgraves‘ TV is a magical place. The country singer takes the viewer’s hand and leads them into a nameless land of strange beauty with countless earthly wonders given unique twists in her new video for ‘Oh, What A World.’ And it’ll take more than one viewing to get the full gist of its intricacies. This new world is a lot like the one we call home, but infinitely more colorful and strange. And it has a distinctly old school feel about it. Before computers, but after Woodstock, kind of old school.

The first clue that Musgraves’ world is not our own: in the opening seconds of the video, television static – normally in a noir filter but this time inexplicably multi-colored – makes a face and starts singing. It’s after the camera zooms into this enchanting entertainment set and is all the preview one needs to know that things are going to get freaky. “Oh, What A World” then turns into a hurricane of colors, with bright purples, pinks, yellows, and blues, swirling in the sky of a foreign land as psychedelic, nonsensical images begin fading in and out. Musgraves herself appears as a magnificent centaur, but it’s fleeting. She’s replaced by cloned hearts of all colors, followed by a platinum mermaid wading through rainbow waters. A smiling frog strums the banjo and a raven nods its head into whiplash on top of a field of mushrooms changing colors. There’s so much going on in this retro and futuristic video that calling it psychedelic doesn’t really do it justice. It’s a maelstrom of funky colors, designed to lead us into a world without sense as we know it. And oh, what a world it is.

Musgraves’ released her fourth studio album Golden Hour in 2018.  It won her Best Country Album and Album of the Year at the 61st Grammy Awards. In February, she released a video for ‘Rainbow‘  that went heavy on the peace, slow-mo, and flowers.

Watch the eye-opening video for ‘Oh, What A World’ up above.

What Will Ariana Grande Do Next? Sweetener Tour Fans Share Their Theories

“I hope she releases a single that leads up to a big album, like she did with thank u, next. And I hope it stays empowering for women and stays honest. Her entire album was centered around herself and where she’s going, and I love how honest she is. I never listen to a song and have to guess what it’s about, I just know.”

“I was just coming here for support. I’ve never seen a female pop artist before; this is my first one, because I’m more into heavy metal. So I actually listened to Ariana’s entire album in the car to prepare myself, and I was bopping to everything. To keep up that flavor is really hard, especially for an artist today — like, we have Cardi B, we have Beyoncé. And even Beyoncé took a break and took a step back, and watch what she made. That’s what Ariana’s going to do.”

First Trailer For HBO’s Watchmen Series Is Here And Everyone Is Wearing Masks

We hope you like Rorschach tests. Because practically everyone in the first teaser trailer for  HBO’s Watchmen series is wearing a ski mask with various ink stains printed onto them.

This glimpse was released today, and it reveals a gritty new world based on the comic of the same name by Alan Moore and Davie Gibbons, published in the 1980s by DC Comics. It doesn’t reveal much, but it looks damn good showing the darkness of the world it takes place in. And Regina King. King makes a grand appearance in the trailer, kicking ass and taking names.

The trailer isn’t long enough to tell us everything about Watchmen, but it does start building a frame for it to fill. There’s a community of masked individuals in a bunker of sorts, then there are policemen wearing scarves, also hiding their identities, hiding in plain sight.

As for what cataclysm turns King into a grimacing, masked menace, that’s for us to find out. Her fists rise and fall rapidly over the course of maybe three seconds. That’s about all to really take away from it. What’s left is a beautiful array of stylish scenes featuring flaming husks flying from the sky, color-changing masks, and a pile of bodies with no context. The string connecting these unsettling threads is a chant of “tick, tock” that grows louder and louder until a crash, followed by a smiling man who says it’s “the end of the world.”

The trailer ends with a wink and the man’s grinning face resuming the chant. “Tick tock, tick tock, tick…”

Watchmen takes place in the same universe as the source comic but will tell a different story. In addition to King, Deadline reports that its cast includes Jeremy Irons, Jean Smart, Don Johnson, Louis Gossett Jr., and more.

Take a look at the eerie trailer up above.

Lil Nas X Tells Us What To Expect From His ‘Old Town Road’ Video

If you can, think back to the first time you heard Lil Nas X‘s “Old Town Road,” which currently sits at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for its fifth consecutive week as the No. 1 song in the country. It simultaneously seems like only a few weeks ago and somehow also six years ago that it first made waves for its backstory.

In March, Billboard removed “Old Town Road” from its Hot Country Songs chart because it didn’t “embrace enough elements of today’s country music.” Very quickly, though, the song exploded; a large part of its success is the 20-year-old Atlanta artist behind it. Lil Nas X made one of the most talked-about songs of the year, thanks in part to dynamic viral marketing he himself put into place — and it still doesn’t even have a proper music video yet.

But as Lil Nas X told MTV News recently, that’s all going to change very soon.

“The video has an amazing storyline. It also fits into what actually happened with the situation,” he said. “The special guests, the acting, the comedy in it — it’s an amazing video. When it comes all together, everybody’s gonna love it.”

Though he couldn’t give too many details away, Lil Nas delivered a simple evocative tease that should hold fans over for a little while anyway: “Back to the Future [Part] III,” he said. Whether that means Lil Nas and Billy Ray Cyrus are gearing up for a Marty McFly/Doc Brown time-travel trip back to the Old West or that the clip simply boasts Michael J. Fox as one of its “special guests,” we’ll have to wait to find out. It should be coming “within a month,” according to the artist.

The recent MTV News conversation with Lil Nas X also covered last year’s Naserati EP, his long-teased upcoming “rock-popish type of song,” the internet prowess that allowed him to take “Old Town Road” as wide as he did (“I learned the ways of how to go viral”), and the live unveiling the song at Stagecoach Festival last month with Cyrus and Diplo.

“The crowd was insane,” he said of the set, which was also his first-ever performance as an artist. “I could barely hear myself. It feels amazing! If I mess up, they’re still going.”

Just this week, Lil Nas also crossed another milestone off his list, making his TV debut and performing “Old Town Road” on Showtime’s Desus & Mero. Naturally, it took place at a barbecue spot, but he’s not trying to be pigeonholed into any one genre or moment. Not trap, not country. Just Lil Nas X.

“A lot of people don’t realize that when I release my album, I’m not gonna ever have one sound,” he said. “And it’s not that I’m confused about what I’m trying to be. It’s that I’m not trying to have that one sound.”

The year isn’t even half over yet — there’s still plenty of time to see what Lil Nas X does yet. Watch his full interview with MTV News above.

Jhene Aiko Chars An Ex With Blue Dragon Flames On ‘Triggered (Freestyle)’

On Game of Thrones‘s fourth episode of season eight, ‘The Last Of The Starks,’ Daenerys Targaryen’s dragon, Rhaegal, soared through the mighty skies towards King’s Landing, roaring with hellish intensity. Euron Greyjoy blindsided the creature, in a surprise move to initiate battle, with a monstrous bolt arrow that struck the flying beast in the breast. It cried out in pain and surprise, a sad song of impending death and confusion. R&B’s softest winged siren, Jhene Aiko, isn’t a fire breathing behemoth that was knocked out of the sky, but on her newest song, “Triggered (Freestyle),” this same, bleeding injury, can be felt in her vocals. She’s hurt. Triggered. Seeing scarlet. And, most importantly, she’s breathing fire. Dracarys. 

Aiko returns to her soft world of cerulean waterfalls and perennial showers on “Triggered.” Each thump of the bass drum makes the rivers ripple and leaves fall off the evergreen trees. But while Aiko treads familiar, heavenly realms, with her atmosphere, her words bring death by a thousand cuts. She flares her reptilian nostrils at an ex-lover while smoke clouds continuously form. “You’d ruin everything, you do it every time/You are my enemy, you are no friend of mind,” she sings, adding “motherfucker” at the end like a final, twisting cut to the aorta. Her eyes are puffy, the outside of her irises are pink, reds forming at the bottom. Her ex staggers back because of this sudden fierceness and she continues. “Don’t know what I’m capable of/Might fuck around and go crazy on cuz/Might fuck around, have to pay me in blood.” This dark magic turns the skies of “Triggered (Freestyle)” from a blithe blue to a nondescript hue of an overripe grape. Lightning sprints through the clouds and thunder booms as she spreads her wings and flies toward the destructive conclusion. “Damn, I’m ’bout to burn this bitch down,” she hisses. Everything goes up in bright, shimmering towers of red and orange.

Before dropping “Triggered (Freestyle),” Aiko explained the circumstances for the song’s creation on Twitter. “One night, I was so deep in my feelings, I was afraid of what I might do,” she wrote. “I didn’t want to revert to the same bad habits that have set me back time and time again. I realized that instead of running away from my emotions…I needed to sit with them, express myself, and say whatever came to mind. It was healing, to say the least…and now I feel a bit more free #triggered.”

Aiko’s fiery return is right on time. Her last release was 2017’s TripIn March, she confirmed her breakup with Big Sean, whom she recorded the joint album Twenty88 in 2016. Could “Triggered (Freestyle)” be about the rapper? We’ll have to sift through the charred ashes left behind in the song’s wake to find out.

Watch the peaceful video up above. Try to stay out of the dragon’s line of sight.