Niall Horan And Lewis Capaldi Will Meet Ya On Tour — Together

Niall Horan is heading out on tour next year! The former One Direction member has announced the Nice To Meet Ya North American Tour that’s set to kick off in April. It’s set to feature singers Lewis Capaldi (Niall’s best bud so it’s only right) and Fletcher. Tickets go on sale on November 8 so you have plenty of time to calm down and stop hyperventilating.

The first stop of the 17-city tour hits Nashville, TN’s Bridgestone Arena on April 20. It wraps up exactly a month later at San Jose, CA’s SAP Center on May 20. Niall posted a picture of the tour flyer on Twitter, featuring himself and Capaldi in the ultimate BFF pose. “This is so exciting!! I’m going back on the road and this time I’m going with my best friend in the whole wide world @LewisCapaldi and the beautiful @findingfletcher. Can’t wait to get out there again and see you all,” he wrote. Niall also revealed that more dates will be added soon so it’ll be exciting to see just where they will end up next.

Niall’s preparing to release a new album in the near future – we’re just not sure when. He recently released “Nice To Meet Ya” earlier this month. In the accompanying video, he hid the names of four other songs that he will release soon.

Check out Niall and Capaldi’s awesome tour poster up above.

Megan Thee Stallion Is A Blood-Sucking Private Eye In Hottieween

Megan Thee Stallion gets to play a brilliant detective in Megan Thee Stallion P.I. In Hottieween, her new web series in collaboration with YouTube Music that also stars Dave East. Investigating an alleyway slaying, Megan gets to put on her thinking cap and work to solve the whodunnit case. It takes a couple of interesting turns and ends with a cliffhanger ending that all but guarantees that she’s really not going to enjoy Hot Girl Summer next year. Or anything that involves going outside in general.

The clip starts like a slasher flick. A woman gets confronted in the alley by a group of monstrous, half-human beasts and flees into the night. Later, she’s found dead and it’s up to Megan Thee Stallion, Private Investigator, to take the case. With the help of her sidekick, a very Dr. Watson-esque Janine (played by social media comedian Jay Cole) she conducts her investigation, happening to come across Archimedes (East) who attempts to swoon Megan in the middle of a night club. Later, she links up with him to see what he knows about the slaying only to put two and two together and realize that he has something to do with it (she’s much too late for viewers who can recognize the sound of his voice from an earlier police interview). Right when she has her “Aha!” moment, East appears behind her and sinks his vampire-like teeth into her neck for either the biggest hickie of all time or the official welcome letter into the vampiric community.

It ends abruptly after that, being a cliffhanger for the next installment. We can imagine that next summer Megan will avoid going outside like the plague. Also, she’ll probably begin to make songs about hating garlic and comparing breakups to having a silver stake driven through the heart. So much for Hot Girl Summer. It’ll be more like Cool Vampire Coffin.

Watch Megan investigate a grisly crime in her first installment of Hottieween

Ariana Grande Just Shared A Sneak Peek For The Entire Charlie’s Angels Soundtrack

Arianators, get your wings on, because the Charlie’s Angels soundtrack arrives in T-minus three days. Ahead of the star-studded LP‘s release this Friday (November 1), Ariana Grande has generously shared a sneak peek video with teasers for all of the 11 new tracks — and it sounds like the hype is legit.

The sneak peek includes snippets from previously released songs like “How It’s Done,” a party-starting posse cut featuring Kim Petras, Kash Doll, Alma, and Stefflon Don. There’s also Anitta’s slinky “Pantera,” and the Grande-led single “Don’t Call Me Angel” with Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey.

But it’s the snippets of the tracks we haven’t heard that warrant the most excitement. Among the highlights are Grande’s bass-heavy solo cut “How I Look On You,” the soulful stomper “Nobody” featuring Chaka Khan, a remix of Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls,” and “Got Her Own,” a hotly anticipated collab with Grande and her BFF Victoria Monet. And of course, there’s “Bad to You,” which puts Ari, Normani, and Nicki Minaj on the same track for the first time.

Shortly before sharing the bevy of new song snippets, Grande answered a fan’s tweet asking about her favorite part of putting the album together. The singer replied, “Just storytelling in a new way! It’s not my pov or personal album so it’s been cool putting together music that fits the energy of something that isn’t mine. … So grateful.”

The Charlie’s Angels soundtrack, which was co-executive produced by Grande, Savan Kotecha, and Scooter Braun, will arrive on November 1. The Kristen Stewart-starring blockbuster, meanwhile, hits theaters on November 15. Before then, check out the full album sneak peek above.

FLETCHER’s ‘All Love’ Video Is A Mix Of Butterflies, Emptiness, And Glitter Tears

It’s been two months since FLETCHER released her stellar debut EP, you ruined new york city for me, but its vulnerable songs still sting with every listen. Case in point: “All Love,” one of that project’s standout tracks, received the visual treatment on Tuesday (October 29), and it should come with a trigger warning for anyone who’s experienced the torment of unexpectedly running into an ex.

That’s exactly what happens to the “Undrunk” hitmaker in the Grant Spanier-directed vid, which illustrates a literal retelling of the song’s lyrics. “When you walk in the bar with someone holding hands / Introduce me to her, say I’m just an old friend / And you ask how I’ve been / I say I’m doing fine but I’m fucking lying,” the 25-year-old admits, as we see her cry glittery tears à la Euphoria. Some more conceptual shots — of butterflies, burning flowers, and shattered disco balls — fill out the vid, which comes to a rain-soaked climax when FLETCHER finally works up the courage to confront her ex. See how that plays out in the vid below.

In a statement about her new video, FLETCHER said, “I really wanted to capture the feeling of seeing your ex for the first time with someone new. It’s a mix of butterflies, emptiness, your heart sinking and your stomach on fire all at the same time. At least that’s what it felt like for me. I hated the feeling, but pretended like it was all love.”

The “All Love” video comes after FLETCHER’s recent Spotify Singles session, for which she recorded a cover of Post Malone’s “I Fall Apart.” Check that out right here.

Alone, Together: The Rising Sound Of Self-Love In Pop

Welcome to VOL.UME: LOVE NOW, a new series of stories chronicling how we find and experience romantic connections in the digital age. For the full experience, head to VOLUME.MTV.com.

Ariana Grande had fans confused.

In late 2018, mere months after the release of her sparkling fourth album, Sweetener, her life had quickly changed — her ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller, had fatally overdosed, and her engagement to Pete Davidson had crumbled — and now her music would do the same. Grande first shared the more liberated Thank U, Next album title track in early November. Then things got wild.

“I know they say I move on too fast, but this one gon’ last,” she sings on the track after explicitly name-dropping four ex-beaus. Then, she subtly glides into the line that caught her fans off guard: “‘Cause her name is Ari, and I’m so good with that.” So unexpected was this hard-earned statement celebrating self-love that fans’ first impulse was to play detective to discover who the woman was that Ari loved. “Aubrey” remained the dominant misheard guess, which naturally brought Drake memes; Grande even winked at the confusion in the song’s video, released a few weeks later.

But this wasn’t a ploy, just a simple declaration that her relationship with herself had gotten to a healthy place. “When I felt myself saying, ‘’Cause her name is Ari,’ I knew it was a special line, but part of me was like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s kind of corny,’” she told Billboard. “But the other part of me was like, ‘That’s beautiful, and I need to keep it in.’ I know that once I put something into a song, then it’s real.”

(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)/(Erika Goldring/Getty Images)

While “thank u, next” may have re-lit pop’s self-love torch, the theme has long burned bright in the genre. This past decade saw a sweeping trend toward empowerment pop, anchored by superstar team-ups like Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé’s “Feeling Myself,” noble one-offs like Sara Bareilles’s “Brave,” instantly iconic moments like Kendrick Lamar’s “i,” and gratifying hymns like Hailee Steinfeld’s “Love Myself.” But for years, no one had the game locked down quite like Katy Perry. In the early 2010s, it was the singer’s entire brand, and it ruled the Billboard Hot 100 — from the rousing “Firework” to the cathartic “Part of Me” to the battle anthem “Roar,” all of which hit No. 1. When her first single of 2019 dropped, Perry showcased a more mellowed-out turn that nevertheless brimmed with lived-in wisdom.

Enter Perry’s “Never Really Over” video, which casts the pop star at a spiritual retreat center to deal with the lingering effects of a broken heart. The song’s lyrics point to an acceptance that there might be some false endings before you can really move on, and that once you do, healing takes time: “Thought we kissed goodbye / Thought we meant this time was the last / But I guess it’s never really over.” In the video, they’re rendered potently as group tugs-of-war and coordinated dances in fields of amber sunshine.

Anthems about heartache and exciting new romances will always be pop’s backbone, but championing the self has become one of pop’s biggest themes of 2019.

Director Philippa Price previously told MTV News she pondered the overarching question of the song. “How can I show what you go through in heartbreak in a very visual way?” She relied on Perry herself, who underwent real acupuncture and cupping in the clip, to embody the deeper meaning. “I think she loved the concept behind the video because she seems to be really be working on healing, and she definitely put a lot of personal experience into this world,” Price said. “I think that she really got into it because there’s a lot of things that she’s working on personally that she was able to channel.”

Anthems about heartache and exciting new romances will always be pop’s backbone, but championing the self (especially in the wake of a breakup) has become one of pop’s biggest themes of 2019 — easily found in Lizzo’s swaggering “Truth Hurts,” a rallying ode to liberation that hit No. 1 in September. Beginning with her moment-defining lyrics — “I just took a DNA test / Turns out I’m 100% that bitch” — and flowing through the music video, which concludes with Lizzo literally marrying herself, the inward love flaunted by “Truth Hurts” has proven to be an essential foundation to its staying power. The song first dropped in 2017, after all, and only this year saw a resurgence in part thanks to its placement in Netflix rom-com Someone Great. Lizzo’s empowering message was always there. This year, we were finally ready to hear it.

You can hear a similar message emphatically broadcast on Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Party for One,” a jubilant ode to flying solo whose release predated “thank u, next” by a few days. Jepsen’s chorus even features a similar recognition of loving thyself: “I’ll be the one, if you don’t care about me / Making love to myself, back on my beat.” It ended up a potent tonic; while the rest of Jepsen’s album Dedicated wrestles with love’s inevitable aches of self-doubt and murky boundaries, “Party for One” stands bold as its closer — a reminder that you’re all you need.

(Luigi Rizzo/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Image)/(Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

But if the sound of 2019 pop has been shaped by self-love and actualization, perhaps Swedish maestro Tove Lo is the one lighting a path for a new crop of emotionally benevolent music. After a rich career mining the dark depths of sex and chemical impulses, the lyricist took  an altruistic turn this year. Instead of self-care, on “Glad He’s Gone,” she’s protecting a friend after watching her endure a romance turned sour. Throughout the song, Tove addresses her friend as “my baby” and says she loves her, in some acts of simple compassion. “He never saw the pretty things in you that I do,” she sings. It’s a logical stepping stone from “thank u, next” and “Party for One,” a perspective so self-aware that it moves on to help others.

In the video, Tove lends a listening ear to her pal even as she endures her own difficult (and humorous) odyssey. She goes to prison, stages a breakout, and assumes a new identity, all the while never hanging up. Co-director Vania Heymann, who helmed the clip with Gal Muggia, drew attention to the bond between Tove and her friend, played by actress Lola Fuchs. “We can tap into not only self-empowerment but also friendship. So we wanted to extend that into the video, how powerful that friendship is and how far you would go for that friendship,” Muggia says. “It’s the difference between talking about being a good friend and doing it.”

It’s a subtle but meaningful shift, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed, either; one astute YouTube commenter may have summed up what’s on the horizon already. “Ariana Grande [sings], ‘Break up with your girlfriend, I’m bored,” it reads. “Tove Lo [sings], ‘Break up with your boyfriend, I’m worried about your mental health.”

Back to VOL.UME: LOVE NOW.

The Internet Is For Lovers

A funny thing happened when MTV News began building this series of stories about love and relationships: Mine ended.

As my four-year companionship reached its sunset, my comfortable cocoon of perspectives on dating, sex, and partnering up completely cracked, thrusting me into terrifyingly unknown territory. In those four years, how we date and find connection has changed entirely. The ever-growing hive of dating apps tailors to any niche desire. Ghosting has a whole squad of bitchin’ friends, like Caspering and Zombie-ing. And there are all sorts of murky laws on how to slide into the DMs, who pays for the Uber, and what it means when someone doesn’t text you but definitely stalks your Stories.

I’ve realized something in the process. While society tends to ladder everything up to finding The One, as if partners and marriage are the solutions to all our problems, I find myself on the opposite side of my relationship status with no greater or fewer questions about life than I did before. Just different ones. In particular, “How are we?” became “Who am I?”

We’re all just trying to feel ourselves out in relation to those around us, and that’s what this package is all about. VOL.UME mines the meaning of dating, having sex, and falling in love for a generation of new adults — from getting hitched to looking for answers in the stars — navigating a culture where everything is framed by a screen.

It’s as Arabelle Sicardi poignantly writes in her fascinating report on the struggles of online dating: “The internet didn’t change the way we meet others — it’s designed it entirely.” This means that while finding romance is potentially just a tap away, the simplicity of swiping left, rejecting someone without really knowing them, is leaving many of us feeling lonelier than ever. For couples who use Insta-fame to make money, business is booming, but sharing your relationship with the world can be an extremely tricky balance. Meanwhile, the sweeping impact of FOSTA/SESTA on the digital landscape makes what you can share, and what kind of work you can do, increasingly limited.

Despite its hangups, social media has fostered a positive spirit of togetherness and inclusivity that informs much of the media and institutions we cherish. The characters of romantic comedies are more authentic and diverse than ever, allowing many of us to see ourselves in the flicks that show love at its most beautiful for the first time. Unlike generations before us, we’re defining marriage for ourselves, and that definition no longer conforms to the cookie-cutter of heteronormativity. Our universal need for self-love is finally reflected in the music we consume, as Lizzo, Ariana Grande, and Tove Lo inspire us to gaze inward before looking outward.

Always remember that the journey to find that love within yourself is hardly a straight path, even for those who seem to have it all figured out. For global superstar Liam Payne, whose dating life has been devoured by tabloids internationally, it meant reconsidering everything he thought he knew about being a partner and a dad. As the One Direction alum’s debut album approaches this December, he’s a man with nothing to hide, discovering joy in the freedom of defining his life on his terms. For rising pop princess Kim Petras, it came when she turned breakup bitterness into the punchy kiss-off anthems that made her album Clarity one of the year’s most exciting debuts.

If there’s one thing you should take away from these stories, it’s that nothing in any relationship — with others, with ourselves — comes without a lot of work. But there is also value in the process of discovering something new and exciting about who you are. With every tap, swipe, and click, a lover’s landscape feels nebulous and ever-changing. It can be hard, but I promise it’s worthwhile. Welcome to VOL.UME.

Back to VOL.UME: LOVE NOW.

25 Songs: For Big Feelings, Breakups, And Bold Moves

Welcome to VOL.UME: LOVE NOW, a new series of stories chronicling how we find and experience romantic connections in the digital age. For the full experience, head to VOLUME.MTV.com.

One of the sexiest singles of the year makes a meal out of a simple declaration: “I love the way you read my eyes.” Angel Olsen delivers it, aligning with Mark Ronson on the gauzy “True Blue,” but you might tell it to a lover, say it in the mirror for motivation, or even unholster it as a last-ditch plea. The phrase highlights what might be the key to the whole damn thing: connection.

Thanks to swiping and DMs and selfies, our experiences with love are filtered in the same way as our lives: via screens. But our yearning for organic connection hasn’t evaporated — it’s still right here, in the best music of 2019. It includes crush bops and attraction bangers, heartbreak odes, and celebrations of self. Some are steamy, full of flirting and fun, while others run hot, teeming with desire. A handful are raw, animalistic, and sexual. And naturally, some of them perfectly soundtrack the momentary yet paralyzing hopelessness that flies in after you get dumped. Everything in moderation, you know?

MTV News has curated an essential playlist that captures the key elements of love now — a bold text sent ahead of a late-night rendezvous, the memory of passion imprinted in an old tune, the unexpected relief that accompanies a breakup. They’re here to connect us to each other, and more importantly, to ourselves. You’ll love the way they read your eyes.

01 Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes, “Señorita”

It’s getting hot in here, and you can blame it on Camila and Shawn. For their first collaboration since 2015’s “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” they crank the heat way up, recounting a brief but charged fling born in Miami and fueled by tequila. “Ooh, when your lips undress me, hooked on your tongue” and “You say we’re just friends, but friends don’t know the way you taste” are delivered with a flirty smile, while an entrancing guitar loop ups the tension. —Madeline Roth

02 Megan Thee Stallion, “Sex Talk” 

Not one for conveying affection through batting eyelashes or PDA, Megan Thee Stallion paints an explicit picture of a bedroom meeting that’ll make you sweat. As she breathes, sighs, and moans through the lusty steam and rocky beats of “Sex Talk,” it’s clear Megan means everything she says. Prepare to bite your lip. —Trey Alston

03 BTS ft. Halsey, “Boy With Luv” 

Written for their dedicated fan base, the bubbly lead single off the South Korean supergroup’s Map of the Soul: Persona is about the heart-fluttering feeling of finding joy in the small things. In “Boy With Luv,” BTS asks ever so sweetly, “How’s your day?” without any expectations. —Crystal Bell

04 Post Malone feat. Young Thug, “Goodbyes”

Post Malone’s admission that he can’t let go doesn’t stop him from launching vitriolic directives (“I want you out of my head, I want you out of my bedroom tonight”), but still, he’s tormented. Young Thug’s chaotic vocalizations help sell the drama, and by the end, the pair wave farewell and disappear into the ether before three minutes are up. Maybe Posty’s playing coy: That’s quite a graceful exit after all. —Patrick Hosken

SHANE GRIFFIN

05 Mahalia feat. Burna Boy, “Simmer”

This shining slice of dancehall pop takes its name and sample from Beenie Man’s classic “Who Am I (Sim Simma).” Mahalia’s honeyed vocals are almost trance-inducing. Over a thumping beat, she pleads for her man to take his time to show her some passion: “Cool down, simmer / Cool now, please me.” Her foil is buzzy Nigerian star Burna Boy, who retaliates with his side of the story. Ultimately, it doesn’t sound like they meet in the middle, but the back and forth is sexy, danceable fun. —M.R.

06 Lizzo, “Soulmate”

As a self-love anthem, “Soulmate” is easy to fall for. But the barrier to entry would be much higher if it wasn’t for the radiance of Lizzo herself, who sells every inward compliment with pure delight, and the bounce music behind her. “That’s where I really honestly fell in love with dancing when I was a little kid,” she tells MTV News of the genre. You can hear the sentiment in every clap and feel it in all of Lizzo’s smiling recitations of the title. —P.H.

07 Tyler the Creator feat. Playboi Carti, “Earfquake”

Tyler has come a long way from his days of dissing relationships and spitting in the face of emotion altogether. “Earfquake,” oppositely, finds him pleading in a manic high pitch for another chance, saying anything to keep his partner interested. Playboi Carti slings in for sharp ad-libs that provide further splashes of color into the Seussian atmosphere of Tyler’s most vulnerable anthem. The rapper hasn’t given up on love just yet. —T.A.

08 Chloe x Halle, “Who Knew”

Chloe x Halle make radiant R&B that feeds the soul, and “Who Knew” is no exception. “We started something by mistake / Who would’ve thought that I would feel this way? / This way about you,” the sisters sing to someone previously boxed inside the friend zone. Chloe’s lower register shines, but Halle’s jazzy harmonies swoop in to lift the Anita Baker-esque track to the heavens. —M.R.

09 King Princess, “Prophet” 

Is the smoldering “Prophet” a love song? It depends on how you interpret the subject of King Princess’s soulful refrain, “I can only think about you.” Whether she addresses money, fame, drugs, or sex (all of which are either frankly or obliquely referenced) doesn’t matter as much as how the 20-year-old nimbly navigates the vintage backbeat underneath. She plays bass and guitar on the track, also deploying smoke bombs like “It’s the price of the prodigy you wanna be.” No matter the meaning, “Prophet” ends up a definitive statement. Maybe it’s love; maybe it’s just power. —P.H.

SHANE GRIFFIN

10 Bad Bunny and J Balvin, “La Canción”

These Latin pop kings have given us the surprise album of the summer with Oasis, and it’s the tranquil “La Canción” — “The Song” in English — that stands out most. Benito and Balvin brood about memories of lost love, triggered after hearing a certain melody. It’s romantic and reggaetón, stitched together by a lonely trumpet solo that lets you fall right back with them. A great song about the power of a great song. — M.R.

11 Tove Lo, “Glad He’s Gone”

Tove Lo uses dark-rimmed pop to explore our bodies and the elation and detritus created when we bring them together. On the breezy “Glad He’s Gone,” she mines the same territory, though this time it’s to coach a pal through a breakup. A floating guitar guides her comforting words (“Bitch, I love you / He never loved you”) through the warm realization that friendship will always be there, even when your boyfriend bails. —P.H.

12 Carly Rae Jepsen, “Everything He Needs”

Leave it to Carly Rae to flip a quirky show tune into something dazzling. Lifting the hook from a 1980 Popeye cut sung by Shelley Duvall, Jepsen and her co-conspirators hang scores of tinsel around the doe-eyed melody. The music reflects what the lyrics tell — the titular “he” is so enthralled with everything about her — and both combine into a fizzy encapsulation of new love shimmering with glee. —P.H.

13 Mustard feat. Ella Mai and Ty Dolla $ign, “Surface”

Mustard knew what he was doing getting Ella Mai and Ty Dolla $ign back together. The super-producer collaborated with the R&B stalwarts on 2016’s “She Don’t,” but they return glossier than ever on “Surface,” a Mai-starring jam punctuated by a characteristically charming verse from Ty. Mai is raw here, daring her man to “get below the surface,” while Ty assures her, “You’re the only one I want, bae, I’m focused.” And thus, a summer fling is born. —M.R.

14 Julia Michaels, “Falling for Boys”

“Falling for Boys” has all the hallmarks of a Julia Michaels gem, including intimate anecdotes (it begins and ends with her dad wanting to beat up her exes), quirky production (ukulele strumming, twinkling strings, stuttering vocal effects, and a late-arriving hip-hop beat), and self-aware confessionals (“I want, I want, I wanna love me right,” she insists). The pop trendsetter is at her best, turning heartbreak into something beautiful. —M.R.

SHANE GRIFFIN

15 CNCO, “De Cero”

Two minutes into “De Cero,” CNCO’s Joel sings the song’s thesis in English: “Let’s restart and we’ll go far.” His bandmates Zabdiel, Erick, Christopher, and Richard bolster the rest of the track with appeals in Spanish to do the same — forget the heartache and start again. It’s a nice thought, though anyone who’s tried it knows it’s a lot more complicated. Delivered via CNCO’s delicate croons over an energetic reggaeton rhythm, anything seems possible. —P.H.

16 Chance the Rapper feat. Ari Lennox, “I Got You (Always and Forever)”

Ari Lennox, a mid-tempo ’90s beat, and a chorus of heavenly supporting vocals give Chance the Rapper one of his most joyful tunes yet. Lennox’s vivid vocals take center stage in “I Got You (Always and Forever)” as she promises to have a partner’s back. When Chance enters with his nostalgic flow, he questions other people’s understanding of his relationship, proving love is best understood between compatible minds. —T.A.

17 Heize feat. Giriboy, “We Don’t Talk Together” 

South Korean songstress Heize’s latest single is for wallowing in post-breakup feels. Produced by Suga of BTS, this chill track follows a pair of exes struggling to confess their lingering yearning for each other. It’s about emptiness, sure, but the bassline snaps and sparkly composition will have you dancing, which is what you need right now. —C.B.

18 Mae Muller, “Anticlimax”

Telling off an ex has never seemed so effortless. Muller — a London singer-songwriter akin to Lily Allen — rides a grooving beat while speak-singing quietly savage bars like “You don’t have a job and you’re shit in the sack.” Her attitude could easily be mistaken as wrathful, even vengeful, but “Anticlimax” is surprisingly sunny. It’s less “Ring the Alarm” and more about finally realizing your worth. “All you are to me is one big anticlimax,” she confidently coos. You can practically see the eye roll. —M.R.

19 Ari Lennox,: “Up Late”

Ari Lennox’s gutsy soul leads this strong, soothing embrace of intimacy. Bluesy saxophones whisper in the horizon and a tempting hi-hat keeps the pulse flowing, while Lennox immerses herself in a temple of bodily praise — she’s being worshipped. Hands trace circles on the skin as Lennox’s voice rises, cracks, and trembles in ecstasy. This is the divine moment when desire and lust meet. —T.A.

SHANE GRIFFIN

20 Mark Ronson feat. Angel Olsen, “True Blue”

This one’s all about groove — until it’s not. That’s not to say that Ronson, a rhythmic master, ever lets up from the wounded beat (he doesn’t). But by the time Olsen’s purple, plaintive intonations about a lover reading her eyes reach the five-minute mark, the song’s crafty illusion reveals itself: It’s hypnosis. And when the glittering disco ball stops spinning, you’re left woozy and lovesick all the same. —P.H.

21 Ed Sheeran feat. YEBBA, “Best Part of Me”

Whether it’s the somber guitar notes strutting forward, or the moment when the singers make their cases for being at their perceived worst — when “Best Part of Me” comes on, tears are inevitable. Sheeran and YEBBA’s voices twist and swirl, grasping each other tight before unwinding gradually. It’s a slow burn that tells you what true love is. You shouldn’t settle for anything less. —T.A.

22 Clairo, “Sofia”

Clairo says she penned the fuzzy, Strokes-like “Sofia” as an ode to childhood crushes Sofia Coppola and Sofía Vergara. As such, it teems with all the exhilaration and effervescence that accompanies such a discovery — and in the capable hands of producer Rostam and mixer Dave Fridmann, it almost levitates. —P.H.

23 Kim Petras, “Got My Number”

In the kitchen, on the counter, on the bed, and on the floor are four places Kim Petras outlines where the object of her eye can “get it.” On “Got My Number,” she drops her digits (complete with area code) over a cascading neon soundtrack, then quickens the pace with a “Baby, I’ma sex it up for ya.” The song doesn’t even have a bridge; there’s simply no time to waste. —P.H.

24 Lewis Capaldi, “Someone You Loved”

Lewis Capaldi recently turned 23, but he’s an old soul. You see it in his warm, Harry Nilsson-esque everyman charm. And most importantly, you hear the grit on his otherwise gilded voice as he strains on the chorus of his devastating breakout hit “Someone You Loved.” He wails like he’s been through some shit, but he still finds the grace to carry on. That must be what keeps him so young. —P.H.

25 Billie Eilish, “i love you”

This acoustic-led ballad sticks out against the jagged electronic production that fills most of Eilish’s chart-topping debut album, and its penultimate placement on the tracklist brings the whole project to the ledge. “i love you” is breathless and overwhelming, as Billie tries not to be in love; the key lyric here is “I don’t want to.” The song is about “when you fall in love with someone and it’s a drag,” according to brother-producer Finneas O’Connell, but being bummed out has never sounded this enticing. —M.R.

Back to VOL.UME: LOVE NOW.

From Brokenhearted To Bionic, Kim Petras Is Pop’s Baddest Bitch

Welcome to VOL.UME: LOVE NOW, a new series of stories chronicling how we find and experience romantic connections in the digital age. For the full experience, head to VOLUME.MTV.com.

Kim Petras is killin’ it. As the camera clicks away, she lies back on a translucent, inflatable couch, throws her hands up, and kicks her orange heels in the air. With a pouty smile and platinum blond waves, she looks every bit the Barbie Girl; cool, confident, untouchable. And then we hear it: a blasting pop pierces the soundtrack of camera clicks and Madonna hits blaring from the speakers. One of her stilettos punctures a hole in the blow-up sofa, and she yelps, momentarily shocked, before erupting into a fit of giggles. Life in plastic, it’s fantastic.

This is a rare day off from tour rehearsals for the 27-year-old pop star, who, in the week preceding her photoshoot with MTV News, released Turn Off the Light, a full-length follow-up to the Halloween-inspired EP she dropped last year; filmed a music video for one of that album’s standout tracks, the gory stomper “There Will Be Blood”; and hopped onstage during Charli XCX‘s Los Angeles concert for a charismatic duet of “Click.” All the while, she’s continued prepping for the Clarity Tour, her biggest headlining trek to date, in support of her debut album. It’s an “intense” show, she says, and admits she’s nervous about mastering all the tight choreography it demands.

But on this Wednesday morning, Petras is all smiles as she scans the monitor to review the photos for which she’s just posed. She rests her pointy nails on her hips and a grin creeps over her face. “Sick!” she approves. This is how Petras describes most of the things she likes: The royal-blue Balenciaga dress hanging in her dressing room is sick. The mix of Britney Spears and Lady Gaga hits that blares over the speakers is sick. Her loyal fan base, affectionately dubbed the Bunheads, are the sickest of all. It’s also how she characterizes the recording studio in Hawaii where, between breaks on the beach, she channeled her murderous, “straight-psychotic” alter-ego to make Turn Off the Light. (“Hawaii is actually really scary at night,” she insists.) Crafting that music was a true vacation for Petras, both from her Los Angeles home and her own real-life problems. “It’s really freeing to write as an elevated version of myself who goes and kills everybody and is just the baddest bitch out there,” she says proudly.

Writing as different characters is nothing new for Petras, who launched her pop career in 2017 with a batch of bubblegum bops — a collection she refers to as “era one” — that illustrated what she wanted her life to be like. Take her breakout hit “I Don’t Want It At All,” a “bratty, rich-bitch anthem” written while she was sleeping on a futon in a tiny apartment shared with three roommates. But for Clarity, which arrived at the end of June, the intention was different; Petras was ready to “pull back the curtain” and capture her life as it truly was. And, as it stood at the time, she was newly single, totally heartbroken, and “really depressed.”

“In the beginning, I was going to make the whole record emo and depressing,” Petras tells MTV News. “Broken” was the first song she wrote for the album. Over an airy trap beat, she spits at her ex, “Pray to God / That she leave you broken, broken / Like you left me broken, broken.” Next was “All I Do Is Cry,” another gloomy trap-pop concoction inspired by Post Malone, Juice WRLD, and Kanye West‘s 808s & Heartbreak, all of which she was listening to on heavy rotation. She was on tour with Troye Sivan at the time, and the routine was the same every night: Put on a happy face, go perform, then get offstage and cry her eyes out. But over time, those breakup songs would become her “bangers,” and the album she was writing started to lighten up.

“Halfway through, I found the fun side of it and the sexy side of it. I was still making sad songs, but it was, ‘I’m still cooler than you even if you cheated on me and fucked me over.’ I think through that, I found the album I wanted to make, which is half-fun, half-sad,” she says. “It’s a very accurate representation of me. It’s like going out with me for a night and then coming back to my apartment and crying over dudes.”

And make no mistake, plenty of tears were involved. “I definitely cry, and I definitely have a hard time closing chapters, which is why I’ve learned a lot of mechanisms to [deal with] a breakup. I know to lock myself in my apartment for a week with a bunch of weed and write a bunch of songs and watch all my favorite movies — First Wives Club, Death Becomes Her — and listen to a lot of Lana Del Rey. And then I move on.” She pauses. “But wait for the next breakup, and it’s going to suck, and I’m going to have forgotten all of this.” (Equally essential: absolutely zero contact with said ex. “I block all of my exes. They’re deleted entirely from my life. But I am hoping he hears the songs when they’re out and he’s just like, ‘Damn it. Fuck that bitch,'” she says with a laugh.)

Newly invigorated, Petras reveled in the rebound and her post-split “horny phase,” which she details in the sexy bops “Do Me,” “Got My Number,” and “Sweet Spot.” Then there’s the Weeknd-esque “Icy,” which has become her Britney Spears “Stronger” moment, on which she confronts her ex and proclaims, “I’m on a higher level.” It’s her most treasured song on the album, her favorite to perform live, and, she believes, one of the best songs she’s ever made. It’s also entirely emblematic of her current mindset. “Sometimes when you’re in relationships, you forget who you are as a person, and you forget all the shit you want to do,” she says. “Once that happened to me, I was just like, ‘OK, I’m going to go so hard on my career, and I’m going to write so many songs. I feel so inspired, and I feel bionic right now.'”

Petras is like this — driven, excited, unabashedly self-assured — for a reason: She’s made it this far, and she’s done it all on her terms. She’s still an independent artist with no major label backing her, and she’s the one who charted her own path from the German countryside to the Hollywood Hills. As a kid growing up in a small town about two hours outside of Cologne, she was unpopular to the point of being suicidal, she says. When she was 16, she basically became Germany’s poster child for transness after appearing in a documentary that chronicled her own operation; it made her a public figure but also an easy target for school bullies. Around the same time, she got a MacBook and started obsessively making beats and writing songs. She learned English by watching Britney Spears interviews online and began thinking of pop stars as not just her idols, but her friends.

“I would just watch Gwen Stefani‘s Love. Angel. Music. Baby. videos and literally think about nothing else,” Petras says. “It was a way for me to escape my life, which I hated, and escape school, which I hated. When I put on my headphones and listened to pop songs, it transported me to somewhere where I wanted to be.”

That place was Los Angeles, where Petras moved at 19 to manifest her pop star dreams. But as she steadily climbed the ladder of the music industry — by working her way in as a songwriter and subsequently scoring a publishing deal — she found it increasingly frustrating trying to separate her art from her identity. “There were a lot of people who were either telling me that I needed to hide being transgender or that I needed to make a big deal out of being transgender,” she says. “A lot of people didn’t think I could ever be lucrative because being transgender is a niche thing in their eyes. I’ve always felt like there was a big wall for me to break through and a lot for me to prove, and there still is.”

In the beginning, Petras shopped around for major label deals but was disgusted by execs who wanted to use her identity as a marketing tool. “A woman really high up at one of the biggest labels ever was like, ‘So are you transgender because it’s trendy right now?'” she says. At the time, Petras would rarely speak up for herself, but that’s certainly not the case anymore — even though doing so can present its own challenges. “It’s been quite difficult, to be honest, because there’s also been backlash whenever I just want it to be about the music. There are trans people being like, ‘Oh, you don’t want to support the trans community.’ And then when I do, people are saying I’m using it. It’s such a balance, which is so hard to figure out. And I’m one of the first people that has to figure it out.”

With the media qualifying her as a trans pop star, Petras’s team intentionally decided to keep her face off the “era one” artwork, opting instead for neon outlines of her head. But with Clarity, everything is out in the open — on the cover and in the music — and Petras’s confidence is at an all-time high. “I always thought I wasn’t interesting enough or pretty enough or a good enough singer,” she admits. “I was always wondering, ‘Is anybody going to want to listen to my shit?’ Like, ‘Who the fuck cares about what this person from the middle of nowhere in Germany has to say?’ I used to feel alone and like a little bit of a freak before I met my fans.”

During our conversation, Petras repeatedly makes two points, with different variations but always with the same conviction: Making pop music is her “purpose, and her fans fuel her confidence. Her love for them is so strong that she’s even broken all pop star etiquette by becoming friends with them — a bunch have her phone number, and she texts them about how school is going or about what music they’re into. Recently, Petras even sent one of her fans a rough cut of her “Icy” video to get his opinion; it’s a testament to their mutual trust that it hasn’t leaked online. “Maybe I shouldn’t have done that,” she says, “but all my fans are so talented, and they just get it.”

She maintains that it’s because of her fans she has the life she always dreamed of, and she’s determined to impress them and make them proud. Today, that means slaying this photoshoot — and an inflatable couch or two. “I really want to kill every look that we’ve got. I’m just trying to stay focused and remind myself to arch, to breathe, to look like I’m not trying…” She pauses and reconsiders. “I feel like I’ve got my angles down. I got this.”

Photographed by Clare Gillen

Styled by Matthew Mazur

Hair by Iggy Rosales

Makeup by Gilbert Soliz

Set Design by Haley Appell

Photo Assistant: Julian Tuzzeo

Stylist Assistant: Diego Lawler

Back to VOL.UME: LOVE NOW.

Kanye West Gets Closer To The Skies In ‘Airpool Karaoke’ With James Corden

Kanye West joined James Corden for a special edition of ‘Carpool Karaoke’ that took place in an Airplane: ‘Airpool Karaoke.’ The rapper and producer brought the church to their flight, also delving into a discussion about Jesus Is King and how years in marriage are much longer than regular human ones. Add in a spectacular choir and you have the recipe for a truly unique Carpool Karaoke experience, not just because it’s, you know, in a plane. The sacred vibes are out of this world.

It starts with Corden’s plane, Flight 808 (this is the perfect opportunity to slowly stare at the camera like Jim from The Office) to Los Angeles, being canceled. He calls Kanye to see if he can high a ride with him to which Kanye happily obliges. Corden joins him on a crowded plane of unassuming people who don’t seem to notice that a grinning Kanye is sitting directly in the midst of them. It’s soon revealed that this group of people is Kanye’s Sunday Service choir who join him in preaching the gospel through music and, led by choir leader Jason White, they sing a number of gospel-themed selections and one of Kanye’s biggest songs.

The particular tune is “Jesus Walks” to which the rapper gives an exciting and emotional performance. He rocks in his chair back and forth and matches the choir’s intense live chants, fueling him to louder and greater heights throughout the show. Elsewhere, the choir performs rousing selections, with one of the biggest being a hallowed rendition of Ginuwine‘s “So Anxious.” It transmutes the soulful energy of Ginuwine’s R&B classic into something holy, powerful, and awesome; so much so that Kanye couldn’t stop grinning throughout the rendition.

Between these holy performances, Kanye had a great discussion about Jesus Is King, starting with the Sunday Service events that preceded the album’s rollout. “It’s something that I felt like I needed to do that God put on my heart and now he keeps taking me to new levels and taking us to new levels that we didn’t imagine before,” he said, referring to the accompanying choir.

Kanye also talked a bit about marriage, saying that God is using him to “show off” how cool it is. He also says that years in marriage are a lot longer than regular ones and makes a cool note to Corden: he wants seven kids. “The richest thing you can have is as many kids as possible,” he says.

Watch the nearly 20-minute special edition of Carpool Karaoke up and get into the holy spirit up above.

King Princess Tweaked Lady Gaga’s ‘Speechless’ To Make It Even More Emotional

Ahh, King Princess… the (cheap) queen of putting us deep in our feelings. Fresh off the release of her stellar debut album, the “1950” singer appeared on BBC Radio 1’s Chillest Show with Phil Taggart, where she took a seat at the piano bench for a pair of intimate performances. First, she gorgeously pared back the Cheap Queen cut “Ain’t Together,” but it was her cover performance that has really left us speechless.

The 20-year-old decided to put her own spin on Lady Gaga’s “Speechless,” from 2009’s The Fame Monster. Gaga’s original version was written about her dad after he had undergone heart surgery, but KP’s softer, more shattered rendition zeroes in on the feeling of loving a person who turns out to be someone you never really knew. She repeatedly tweaks the lyric “I’ll never talk again” to “I’ll never love again,” and notably changes the song’s pronouns; where Gaga normally sings, “Oh boy, you’ve left me speechless,” KP changes the object of the song to “girl.”

The cover is heartbreaking in its quietness, and a total stunner; just four-plus minutes of King Princess and her piano. Check it out below, and see her performance of “Ain’t Together” here.

King Princess’s “Speechless” cover comes after proving her status as a Little Monster on more than one occasion. Last year, she covered “Joanne” alongside her label boss and frequent collaborator, Mark Ronson, who’s also worked with Gaga a number of times. And last fall, KP talked up her love of the pop icon in an Interview Magazine conversation with Ronson.

“She’s the first pop star that I had really witnessed in that way,” King Princess said of Gaga. “When I was younger, I would stay up and wait for her videos to drop. She was different — not afraid to be gross and funny and sexy, all at the same time. She championed the queers, like an extension of Madonna and Tina Turner and all these people who support the gay community without being a direct part of it. For me, she was the closest thing to having a gay icon.”