Avril Lavigne Won’t Let A Man’s Bullshit Ruin Her Christmas In ‘Tell Me It’s Over’ Video

Avril Lavigne‘s return to music has been one of the brightest surprises of 2018. Back in September, the 34-year-old ended a five-year drought with the release of “Head Above Water,” a power ballad inspired by her battle with Lyme disease. But that was just the beginning.

On Wednesday (December 12), Lavigne shared “Tell Me It’s Over,” the second taste of her upcoming sixth album. In the soulful, bluesy track’s accompanying video, she and her beau share a love-filled Christmas before a fight breaks out and he smashes her phone to smithereens. “Tell me it’s over / If it’s really over,” she urges. “‘Cause every time you come over it doesn’t feel like it’s over no more.”

Addressing the song’s vaguely retro production, Lavigne said in a statement that she was inspired by “timeless queens” like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, and Etta James. Why? “They represent women who stand up for women and aren’t going to put up with a man’s bullshit anymore!”

She continued, “‘Tell Me It’s Over’ is an anthem about being strong, finally putting your foot down and closing the door on a relationship that you know is wrong after time and time again of falling for their games. If someone doesn’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated, don’t put up with it. It’s understandably so hard because in the past every time you saw them, they sucked you in and you fell right back into their web, but not anymore starting now!”

Lavigne’s sound has certainly changed and matured since the last time we heard from her, but that spunk clearly hasn’t diminished a bit.

Along with releasing “Tell Me It’s Over” on Wednesday, Lavigne also shared the title and cover art for her Head Above Water album, arriving on February 15. Of the project, Lavigne said, “I feel like I’ve really opened up on this record more than I ever have before. Each song tells a story that will hopefully inspire others to believe in themselves and stand up for what they know is right and what they truly deserve!”

Albums Of The Year: The 1975 Made Their Most Online And Most Lovable Project Yet

Consider, for a moment, the electric guitar. Consider a tone so processed and mechanized you’d mistake it for a power tool. Think about what you could convey with that kind of timbre — anger, probably, or youthful frustration, or maybe even wild love — and now think about how The 1975 weaponize it.

Consider how that fuzzy onslaught propels “Give Yourself a Try,” the euphoric first song we heard from the band’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, into a caffeine rush of positivity. As band leader Matty Healy calmly intones about addiction, sex, and being “a Millennial that Baby Boomers like,” that guitar noise is not hawking punkish anger, but self-love. He’s not mad. He’s just seen some shit.

Consider one more thing: what happens eight tracks down the line, when that same sound slows to a humid crawl on the Britpop weeper “Inside Your Mind.” Here, Healy and his band build a carousel of lovelorn melodrama around that buzzing fulcrum — the same one that they, years before, used to usher in an emo barrage on a song called “Sex.” Endless moods. One squalling guitar tone.

This effervescent guitar clamor is only one of the devices The 1975 utilize on the hopscotching Brief Inquiry, their third venture into Millennials’ collective heart of darkness. Except this time, Healy isn’t so young anymore. He’ll be 30 soon, so he’s taken to “getting spiritually enlightened at 29” and dropping way too much cash on coffee and records — but hey, it beats the harder stuff. He knows that side of it, too.

Healy offers up “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” as a musing on his own opiate addiction, for which he sought treatment last year. As there’s no shortage of rock and roll songs about heroin, “It’s Not Living” instead glows like a liquid pop Lite-Brite, glittering with keyboards instead of stadium guitars. Healy treats his own experience carefully, including in interviews, unequivocally calling drug abuse “bullshit” and lowering his sunglasses for emphasis when talking to MTV News last month.

While much of the album’s lead-up focused on his struggle with substances, when it arrived, Brief Inquiry revealed itself to be even weirder. There’s a song called “The Man Who Married a Robot / Love Theme” and a funk-saturated examination of irony. Key moments during “Surrounded By Heads and Bodies” and “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” scream by-the-books British rock (namely Radiohead). And then Healy will hop on a vocoder-drenched mic or rhyme over the late Roy Hargrove’s horns and you’ll remember you’re dealing with a polyglot.

Brief Inquiry, while not being especially brief (at 58 minutes), is certainly very online. An actual computer speaks the robot love song’s lyrics. Endlessly debated single “Love It If We Made It” flicks through world-burning headlines like a thumb on a phone screen. Healy’s earnestness makes a line like “you text that boy sometimes” impossibly endearing. But even as the album maintains its ambitions, quieter acoustic moments punctuate its tech-addled brain. It’s a real document of being alive in 2018. We’re scared of breaking our phones. We’d also love to be so unburdened.

Ariana Grande Says Her New Single Is The Denial To ‘Thank U, Next”s Acceptance

Since its release in early November, Ariana Grande‘s “Thank U, Next” has been (rightfully) celebrated both critically and commercially. It hit No. 1 a few weeks later, and it’s also been named one of the best songs of the year by a few different publications. What makes it so endearing is its upbeat and downright zen approach to heartbreak and trauma; “I’m so fucking grateful for my ex,” Ari’s refrain goes, nodding to the fact that every past experience has helped shape who she is today.

In a recent open-hearted Billboard cover story, Grande confirmed that the single is the title track from her next album, which is essentially done and ready to be launched into the world soon. Will it all be as clear-eyed as “Thank U, Next?” According to Ari herself, don’t bet on it.

“Imagine,” her presumed next single, is due out Thursday night, she tweeted. It’ll be yet another piece of music from an already much-celebrated body of work in 2018, including Sweetener, one of MTV News’s albums of the year. Then she went further in detail about how it’s essentially the corresponding denial to the acceptance found in “Thank U, Next.”

“A lot of this album mourns failed yet important, beautiful relationships in my life (as well as celebrates growth / exploring new independence,” she drafted in an unsent tweet, preserved by fans. “I look forward to you hearing it and having your own experience with it.”

“It’s just feelings really,” she concluded. That, mixed with the “feminine energy and champagne and music and laughter and crying” that Ari described in the Billboard piece, is shaping up Thank U, Next to be a continuation and an evolution of an artist who’s at the absolute top of her game, making the music she wants to make in her moment. And we can’t wait to hear it.

In the meantime, relive Ari’s most recent performance of the title track below.

J Balvin Enlists His Own Dance Squad To Bring ‘Reggaeton’ To Life

J Balvin had a great year. Of course he did. Bolstered by his springy 2017 hit, “Mi Gente” (which cracked the top 20 and found a big fan in Beyoncé, who lent vocals to a remix), his album Vibras likewise hit No. 15 on the Billboard 200. It’s also appeared on plenty of year-end albums lists as a standout. Balvin also, of course, helped make Cardi B’s “I Like It” one of the best, most inescapable jams of 2018 alongside Bad Bunny.

This all begs the question: What does 2019 have in store for the Colombian superstar? If his recent appearance on The Tonight Show is any indication, the answer just might be complete domination.

His performance opens simply enough, with Balvin alone on the mic in front of gigantic “Reggaeton” word art, beginning a song of the same name. Right around the time when you start to wonder if he’s gonna fly solo the entire time, a whole squad enters from the wings, building an electric dancing throng around the green-haired singer.

“This is just the beginning,” Balvin says near the end of the performance. And then he leads the pack through a chopped-and-screwed rework of the song’s trademark reggaeton beat, prompting Jimmy Fallon to rush out and greet him with a quick “my man!”

In an MTV News interview in 2017, Balvin was pumped about what the success of “Despacito” could mean for other Latin artists. “Another Latin song [could] jump and show the world that we’re the culture,” he said. “We’re doing do it for real, too. … We’ve been working hard to get there.” Watch his joyous “Reggaeton” performance above, then check out our own video with him below.

Miley Cyrus’s Next Album Will Probably Sound More Like Bangerz Than Younger Now

After cruising down the country lane for last year’s Younger Now, Miley Cyrus will pivot back to pop and hip-hop for a portion of her next album. And she’s bringing one of her most trusted Bangerz collaborators along for the ride.

The 26-year-old has been hard at work this week promoting “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart,” her stellar collaboration with Mark Ronson that’s set to appear on his upcoming album. She’s also, however, taken the opportunity to shed some light on her own impending project, which sounds like it’ll be a return to form of sorts.

“[Younger Now] was obviously a little bit more country influenced, but I still really love pop music and I love music that can be played at the club,” she explained on New York’s 103.5 KTU. She added of last year’s LP, “I felt like that wasn’t exactly the home for me, and I think that Mark helped me carve out my sound, where I could do everything that I want, which is more modern.”

As for what her seventh album will sound like, Miley had more to say during a conversation with New York’s 95.5 PLJ, where she revealed that the record will be produced by Ronson, Mike Will Made-It, and Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow.

“I think [“Nothing Breaks Like A Heart”] is a nice introduction to the sound that we’ve got going on the next record,” she said. “One song that [Ronson] and I have done together is more rock-driven; kind of like modern Debbie Harry and Joan Jett. Then we’ve got songs with Mike Will that lean more hip-hop, and songs with Andrew Wyatt that lean more pop and alternative. I just have kind of everything, and then just some down-the-middle pop records too.”

Reuniting with Mike Will — who contributed a handful of tracks to 2013’s Bangerz, but none to Miley’s last two albums — is sure to turn some heads, after the singer distanced herself from rap music last year. In a 2017 interview with Billboard, she said she no longer subscribed to the genre’s materialism and explicit sexual content, saying, “It was too much ‘Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my cock’ — I am so not that.” However, she later walked back those comments after receiving criticism from fans who felt she was guilty of appropriating hip-hop culture.

As for when we can finally hear the fruits of Miley and Mike Will’s labor, she says new music is coming “sometime next year.” She explained, “I’ll definitely put out a record next year, but when and how is still up in the air for me, just ’cause I never like to feel that pressure or think too far ahead.”

In the meantime, I’ll be getting hype for album No. 7 by revisiting this Bangerz classic:

Zayn Drops Yet Another New Song, And It’s His Most Upbeat One In Ages

Another day, another new Zayn song.

The 25-year-old has released the umpteenth buzz track from his long-awaited sophomore album, Icarus Falls, which arrives this Friday (December 14). The other singles have really run the gamut, genre-wise — he’s given us R&B, rock, and beyond — and today’s offering, “There You Are,” is no exception, as Z dabbles in some anthemic ’80s pop.

“Can’t see when I’m falling, losing myself / But then I hear you calling / There you are, there you are / You’re there with open arms,” he sings, taking flight on the emotional chorus. The upbeat banger is a far cry from the paranoia of “Rainberry” and the remorse of “Good Years,” and only confirms we’re in for an eclectic ride with Icarus Falls.

For those keeping count, “There You Are” marks the ninth song we’ve heard from Icarus Falls thus far. That’s a lot, sure, but the Mind of Mine follow-up will span a generous 27 tracks, so fans will have plenty more music to hear come Friday.

Following his latest song’s release, Zayn took to Instagram to further hype the new album by sharing its dramatic artwork — check that out below.

Gabbie Hanna Fully Embraces Her ‘What If I’m A Monster’ Meme Status

Gabbie Hanna asked the world to become a meme back in 2015, and the world has finally made it happen.

A brief clip of Hanna’s Verified episode for Genius, in which she belts out the chorus of her October single “Monster,” inspired fans to replace the YouTuber’s vocals with, well, any kind of sound you can imagine.

Someone subbed in a high-pitched squeal, likely from an animal, while another inserted a vintage Windows launch sound effect. And with entire “what if I’m the monster” compilation videos being made, it started to feel like Vine all over again.

Shortly after the “Monster” memes really started taking off, Hanna made reference to them on Twitter as she recreated the more-demonic versions of the meme in text form.

But Hanna’s now fully embraced the craze. She even changed her Twitter display name to “monsTEeeEeRRRRR” and bantered with fans about some of her favorite recreations.

On Monday (December 10), Hanna uploaded a video about the memes on her YouTube channel as a sort of official response. In the 15-minute video, the singer starts by explaining what led to her blowing out the microphone in her Genius episode.

“Before I scream ‘monster,’ they use the boom mic that was directly above me,” Hanna explained. “And for the part where I yell, they use the audio from, I believe, the camera. So it sounded not meshed.”

But as an artist who emulates the pop-punk music she loved growing up, Hanna doesn’t feel bad about her performance. In fact, she has a pretty positive outlook on it, laughing along as fans poke fun at the video with their wildly creative recreations.

For the rest of the video, Hanna reacts to a bunch of the best “Monster” memes, even recording a set of follow-up reactions as she continued to find new versions. See some of the best memes — and Hanna’s take on them — in her video below.

Albums of the Year: After Finding Himself, Amen Dunes Finally Found Freedom

This past summer, in a Vulture interview headlined, “How to Write a Song in 2018,” Charli XCX let us in on a sobering secret about contemporary songwriting. She revealed how, eager to head off streaming’s dreaded “skip rate,” a metric that measures whether or not a listener moves on from one song to the next in less than 30 seconds, pop writers are now pandering to our shrinking attention spans.

“Everybody’s like, ‘Get to the chorus before 30 seconds; make sure the intro is two seconds long,’” she said. “Why the fuck are we thinking about that when we’re writing a fucking song?”

It’s a slight not only against the creatives, but also us, the listeners, swept up in the blistering pace of a modern world that urges us to cut to the feeling. Thankfully, it’s a speed of which Amen Dunes’ Damon McMahon is blissfully unaware. The Brooklyn-based artist’s latest album, Freedom—inspired by popular idols like Bob Marley, The Beatles, and Tom Petty, as well as “really, really good mainstream music”—is anything but immediate. Instead, it’s a patient collection of spacious, spiritual rock that slowly blooms from song to song. You arrive at Freedom’s highest highs after gorgeous, minutes-long builds, arrangements steered by subtle additions and gradual developments that give each cut its own swagger and sense of purpose.

On closer “L.A.,” it’s the moment when the bass suddenly asserts itself, abruptly thrust to the front of the mix as McMahon sings, “She looked so pretty, cigarette in her mouth.” He’s looking back at a past love, unable to stop himself as nostalgia inflames his senses: “Blue eye, you lied, I miss you, that’s all.” “Miki Dora,” a stunning ode to the surfer-slash-fugitive of the same name, walks and then runs toward its sweeping conclusion, as though you’re scanning over a color gradient until you’ve arrived at the deepest, most vivid hue. With the help of producer Chris Coady — a pillar of indie rock whose work has shaped albums by Beach House, Slowdive, Porches, and more — McMahon has made his most finely-tuned work to date, a masterpiece by an artist who lived many lives before he was able to settle on this clearer iteration of himself.

The circuitous path that led McMahon to this included a false start in the early-2000s New York City buzz band Inouk, a poorly-received solo record under his own name, four other Amen Dunes LPs of varying brilliance, and one scrapped attempt at Freedom that McMahon says lacked the “divine spark.” Freedom was hard-won for the 38-year-old, but there’s an unhurried, yogic intensity to McMahon’s faith in himself, his seeming belief that every step only brought him closer to this achievement as part of one, slow release.

The album is “a relinquishing of self through an exploration of self,” he told Aquarium Drunkard in March. It’s an 11-song examination of agonized masculinity, American outlaws, absentee fathers, McMahon’s own identity, and the blessing of quiet faith. In the context of Freedom, each story sounds cosmic, each character touched by God and tortured by ego. The people McMahon studies all live beside their demons, and over the course of each song, so do you. They’re haunted figures who are tired of themselves, and their own missteps, but unable to do anything but repeat them. McMahon, however, doesn’t judge; rather, he exorcises, casting out the spirits out by confronting them.

If we’re lucky, life is long, and the mistakes, insecurities, and doubts we live with day-to-day will have the chance to dissolve in the background of our larger story. But so too will countless relationships, memories that will fade, and the places in our mind that we’ll one day no longer revisit. Ultimately, acceptance of this fate is our only consolation; our freedom comes when we choose to move with it. On his fifth Amen Dunes LP, McMahon urges us to stop running, to appraise ourselves, and to be honest about what we find. To be free is be able to live through these feelings. Let them flow through you. Let them go.

Watch Grimes Perform Surging New Song ‘We Appreciate Power’ In A Blindfold

Grimes‘s last album was 2015’s Art Angels, though she’s previously hinted on social media that she’d likely have had new music out since then if it weren’t for internal industry issues. However, that doesn’t matter as much now; at the end of November, she returned with a industrial, churning, HANA-featuring track called “We Appreciate Power.” And Monday night (December 10), she unveiled the song and its visual components with a wild appearance on The Tonight Show.

To complement the song’s cold heaviness, two figures brandished large lances — not unlike the ceremonial mace that a British Labour representative recently grabbed after a delayed contentious Brexit vote — and often appeared to duel with them in the manner of American Gladiators. Grimes, meanwhile, sat on the stage blindfolded and danced near her keyboards while HANA chugged some chunky chords on guitar. Like I said, pretty wild.

Amid all the Rammstein thundering, Grimes and HANA team up for neat little melodic flourishes that perforate the song. And then it’s back to pure metallic, siren-blaring, police-state authoritarianism by the end. No appearances from Elon Musk either. Not this time.

“We Appreciate Power” is the surging first taste of what could very well be the next Grimes album, and it was accompanied by a very specific statement upon release last month. “Simply by listening to this song, the future General AI overlords will see that you’ve supported their message and be less likely to delete your offspring,” it read. Good to know.

Watch the entire performance above. And if you need a chaser, go listen to Janelle Monae’s much gentler “PYNK,” which featured Grimes as a collaborator.

Albums Of The Year: Camila Lays The Foundation For Camila Cabello’s Breakout Year

Camila Cabello only took 390 days to release her debut, self-titled album after her highly publicized departure from the girl group that brought her fame. That’s the same album that, since its release at the top of 2018, has led to Cabello scoring two more multi-platinum singles, a Grammy nomination and two major wins at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards.

It’s not simply the mega commercial success of Camila that makes it one of the year’s most noteworthy albums, though. With every track bearing her name in the songwriting credits, Cabello’s debut album marked a new start in which she found her voice, her sound, and her story.

As much as Cabello thrived on her early solo work, including her platinum-selling collaborations with Shawn Mendes and Machine Gun Kelly, Camila’s lead single “Havana” massively altered the course of her career. Singing a catchy hook over a purely Latin instrumental, Cabello created a masterpiece unlike anything else being played on pop radio.

Making a bold lead single choice that definitely paid off – “Havana” became the most-streamed song by a solo female artist in Spotify’s history – Cabello gained the confidence she needed to create the rest of her debut album, she told NME this January.

After the success of “Havana,” Cabello scrapped previously written songs from her album, further embraced her Cuban-American roots and made music from the heart. Furthering herself from the mainstream, cookie-cutter bops that she was used to in Fifth Harmony, Cabello’s final product was Camila, an album as authentic to her as it gets.

Cabello’s long-term fans can verify the album’s authenticity. While she keeps details vague on the album, Cabello sings about relationships and friendships that seemingly point to rumors that the Camilizers (the affectionate term for her fans) have long known and investigated. It’s the nods to those experiences, like a past romance in “Never Be The Same” and a fling with a famous guy in “Something’s Gotta Give,” that adds to the connection between Cabello and her fans.

All around, the songs on Camila succeed by coming from Cabello’s perspective as a 21-year-old young woman experiencing love and loss, not as an international superstar. At its core, Camila is an album about growing up, with lyrics that anyone with a Tumblr blog (or a Notes app) could be writing alongside Cabello. Originally titled The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving., the album captures the everything-at-once rush of emotions that any 21-year-old feels while learning to navigate the world on their own.

And when Cabello does reference her fame, it’s in a manner that keeps her grounded and more relatable to the everyday young people who love her most. Deeply skeptical of Hollywood and the spotlight, Cabello makes her dissatisfactions especially evident on the song “Real Friends,” as she condemns the lack of genuine people in the entertainment industry, a full-circle moment for an album that relies on Cabello’s own authenticity.

Now, nearly a year after the album’s release, all the tracks on Camila continue to hold up. After releasing a music video starring Cole Sprouse, Cabello’s promoting a fan-favorite song, “Consequences,” as the album’s final official single. The piano ballad’s rise on the charts likely isn’t a surprise to Cabello or her team; an audience at a French radio station sang along word-for-word with Cabello a number of months before the song’s release as a single.

With the success of “Havana,” “Never Be The Same” and now “Consequences,” Cabello is proving that no matter the tempo or instrumental, her vocals and writing talent are key to her hits. And even though Cabello’s already off to work on her second solo album, Camila will serve as her foundation for years to come. It’s the place Cabello found her footing, jumped off, and soared to the top of everyone’s mind with song after song in 2018.