Ariana Grande’s Sweetener World Tour Will Help Fans Register To Vote

At concerts, there’s often a lot of downtime. So what better way to take advantage of those twiddling thumbs than to, let’s say, register to vote? Ariana Grande sees the vision. She partnered with nonprofit organization Headcount to enable concertgoers to register to vote during the Sweetener World Tour.

The organization, which helps set up voter registration stations at music events, made the reminder on Twitter yesterday (March 18) to coincide with the date that the tour kicked off in New York. “Together, we designed #thankunextgen, a program to help Ariana’s fans make their voices heard,” the organization tweeted. It made the initial announcement last week. For those already registered to vote and are interested in contributing to the cause, the organization is looking for volunteers on its website to work the booths at these events.

There’s good news for fans that attend the concerts and may not be comfortable giving out their information in this kind of public space. Fans are also able to text ARIANA to 40649 and find out details about registering as to vote as well as volunteering and, for those too young to vote, schedule a reminder on their 18th birthday to register.

Grande joins a long list of artists who have partnered with HeadCount to bring voter registration to their tours. Harry Styles, J. ColeTroy Sivan, and Chance The Rapper, have all worked with the nonprofit organization in the past.

The Sweetener World Tour is setting up to be legendary. It features the endlessly mesmerizing Normani. It would be cool to show up at one of the tour dates drinking her new Starbucks drink, the Cloud Macchiato.

How Thank U, Next Showed The Real Ariana Grande

The memory of Mac Miller looms over Ariana Grande‘s album Thank U, Next, even if he’s only explicitly mentioned once. The album was recorded in the space of a few weeks following the release of Sweetener last August and the September death of Miller, whom Grande dated between 2016 and 2018. She calls to him by his real name on the title track: “Wish I could say thank you to Malcolm / ‘Cause he was an angel.”

In the music space, across all genres, separate narratives exist. The artist creates one via the music itself, and the media creates another. Artists can choose the latter to offer up defining personal details — Janelle Monae declared she was pansexual last year to Rolling Stone, for example — or reveal those directly to fans without the media at all. Where Beyoncé once used a not-so-subtle belly rub at the 2011 VMAs to declare her pregnancy with Blue Ivy, she instead took to Instagram in 2017 to announce her oncoming twins. That same year, rapper iLoveMakonnen came out as gay in a series of (now-deleted) tweets, while Kanye West used the same platform in 2018 to announce a slew of albums and establish a schedule for the impending release window. But there’s a third option, too: Artists can unburden themselves directly through their music. For Grande, the Thank U, Next album (and accompanying Sweetener tour, which kicks off March 18 in Albany, New York) represents a chance to to vent, speak her truth, and confess to missing Miller’s presence while painting the latest chapter of her story.

There’s a fresh fire in her delivery, a confidence that comes from being comfortable enough to express oneself in the parameters of one’s art. She’s always been adept at exploring her feelings and crafting music that’s open and honest — particularly on Sweetener‘s “Breathin” and “No Tears Left to Cry” — but now, in an age of social media-fueled celebrity transparency that finds fans anxious for responses to her most traumatic experiences, she’s working to apply that personal trauma to her music in order to evolve and take command of existing narratives.

Thank U, Next‘s clean pop tries its best to convince the listener of Grande’s newfound freedom spurred by cutting the weight of relationships, but Miller’s memory lingers in the background. Two tunes in particular, “Ghostin” and “In My Head,” establish the late rapper’s presence as more than a one-off mention. “Ghostin” is about sobbing at finality, internalizing the questions that she knows she won’t get an answer to. “I know that it breaks your heart when I cry again / Over him / I know that it breaks your heart when I cry again / ‘Stead of ghostin’ him,” she sings. “In My Head” is angrier and finds the singer yearning for another, more innocent version of a lover before he became tainted.

Neither song necessarily calls Miller out by name, but this personal peek into Ariana’s head reveals a soft, conflicted soul. She’s packing heightened energy here but there’s a melancholy air to the proceedings. In the wake of Miller’s death, these unnamed mentions and coincidences manifest his memory at multiple turns. The instrumental for “Ghostin” is a cousin of Miller’s “2009,” and the singer’s explanation of the song to a fan on Twitter drew potential parallels to her post-Miller doomed relationship with Pete Davidson. On an LP that’s buoyant with radio-ready pop formulas, Miller’s presence stands out. As it plays, you realize that this is the first real look at her psyche since Miller’s death. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s deserved too; the roars of angry fans online that blamed her for Miller’s death in the immediate aftermath led her to disable commenting on her Instagram posts, and she remained quiet about his passing until nine days later. She would then limit her remembrances to Instagram posts and Twitter replies.

In a November 2018 interview with Billboard, Grande expressed her wish to be freer with her music as a means to establish control, “to drop a record on a Saturday night because you feel like it, and because your heart’s going to explode if you don’t.” That the LP comes so soon after Sweetener – five months and 22 days to be exact – feels like a meaningful way to do this. She also revealed that the entire album was written in a little more than a week and recorded in two. In hip-hop, these kinds of quick-fire releases signal a response to something of personal accord — think Machine Gun Kelly taking aim at Eminem on “Rap Devil” just four days after being dissed on the legendary rapper’s song “Not Alike” in 2018. “My dream has always been to be — obviously not a rapper, but, like, to put out music in the way that a rapper does,” Ariana said.

This method of reclaiming agency has helped artists like Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and Taylor Swift tell their own stories through their own marquee releases. When the world saw surveillance footage of Solange kicking Jay in an elevator at New York’s Standard Hotel in 2014, rumors of infidelity between the Carters rapidly materialized. However, despite the flurry of headlines and speculation, the two never gave an interview or posted about it on social media.

When Lemonade came out two years later, Beyoncé finally wrested control of the conversation: “Sorry,” one of the LP’s biggest singles, spit in the face of apology but also revealed that Jay-Z allegedly cheated on her. A year later, the legendary rapper released 4:44, an album overflowing with open, honest answers, and private revelations about Beyoncé’s health and his own maturity. It also completed the book that Lemonade started, allowing a look into the lives of two famously private artists by taking listeners into their most vulnerable moment.

Taylor Swift, meanwhile, had spent a majority of her career battling her own constructed narrative, one about who she dates and how often. Swift’s 2017 album, Reputation, found her reclaiming that narrative. After a simple 2016 Kim Kardashian tweet called Swift’s side of her ongoing feud with Kanye West into question, her reputation suffered. And what better way to acknowledge this than by drawing a massive, snake-wrapped arrow at it via the name of her sixth album? The snake became integral in Swift’s entire rollout; her merch carried a serpentine theme and her tour itself was devoted to snakes. “A couple of years ago, someone called me a snake on social media, and it caught on,” the singer said when kicking off her tour last year. “I wanted to send a message … that doesn’t have to defeat you. It can strengthen you instead.”

You hear that resolve not just on Reputation, but on Lemonade, 4:44, and Thank U, Next as well. Grande’s ability to power through her own darkness speaks volumes; she mourns on the album, reflects on relationships and pushes for more. Doing this enables her to claim her agency and take control of her narrative. That’s what Thank U, Next is about, down to its title. There’s a reason why it’s a command and not a question.

Billie Eilish Morphs Into An Anime Monster In New ‘You Should See Me In A Crown’ Video

Billie Eilish‘s “you should see me in a crown” arrived a full eight months ago, but she’s breathed new life into it with an appropriately haunting visual from Takashi Murakami.

The new “crown” clip gives Eilish the anime treatment, as she transforms into a spider-like monster that tears through an unsuspecting city. It also incorporates signature elements from both artists, using Eilish’s popular BLOHSH character and merch line, in addition to Murakami’s iconic rainbow flowers.

Eilish explained in a statement, “Murakami is an incredible visionary. It was such an honor to collaborate with him and have our brains and our worlds collide for this video.” The famed Japanese animator — who previously worked with Kanye West and Kid Cudi for their Kids See Ghosts album art — added, “8 months from start to finish, I sprinted throughout the production process with my animation team striving to realize Billie’s vision in an unprecedented way.”

Check out a YouTube clip from the eerie video below, and see the full thing over on Apple Music.

If you’re a fan of the nightmarish undertones of “you should see me in a crown,” rest assured there’s plenty more where that came from. Since the song dropped last summer, Eilish has followed it up with the brooding singles “bury a friend” and “wish you were gay.” The 17-year-old breakout sensation is gearing up to release her debut album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?, on March 29. Expect more spooky vibes on the horizon.

J. Cole Tells Fans That His New Album Could Have Some Features Out Of His ‘Comfort Zone’

When you think of J. Cole, the phrase “platinum with no features” often comes to mind. He’s released five albums so far that have gone platinum, three of those without any additional voices featured. When it comes to rapping and singing, Cole is equally talented at both. But his fans have made “platinum with no features” something cringe-worthy for him to hear so for his next album, Cole may be tempted to include some additional names there. In a cover story with GQthe rapper talked about what the four-word phrase meant to him and what it means going forward.

In the cover story, Cole revealed that he initially thought highly of fans’ defense of him using the phrase. He then says that things changed after the first time. “But the second or third time, I was like, ‘All right, it’s almost embarrassing now.” He then makes the tease for the future. “Like, ‘All right, man y’all gonna make me put a feature on the album just so this shit can stop.” It’s a funny quip that could come back to haunt fans who have used the four-word phrase to tease fans of other artists about their favorite’s capabilities. Instead of distancing himself from his peers, Cole has revealed that he’ll definitely work alongside them.

Elsewhere in the interview, Cole also talks about his frustration at why his song “1985 (Intro to the Fall Off)” was misunderstood. “They say, ‘Oh, finger-wagging,’ because they think I’m like, ‘You little rapper,” he says. “But I’ll play that for somebody that’s a deeply invested or deeply rooted hip-hop fan, or somebody that just knows me, or knows the climate of what’s going on, and they hear that and they go, ‘Whoa, I see what you just did there. Bro, do you know what you just did? You just put your arm around this dude and walked him. Instead of attacking him, you put your arm around him on some little-bro shit.”

Last month, J. Cole released a video for “Middle Child” that showcased the commercialization of the black body. He’s currently working with the roster of Dreamville Records to prepare Revenge of the Dreamers III.

Meek Mill Looks Back On His Legal Journey In New Docuseries Trailer

Meek Mill has released the first teaser trailer for Free Meek, his upcoming docuseries set to air via Amazon. At a recent sold-out show during Philadelphia’s city hall-designated “Meek Mill Weekend,” the rapper shared the teaser with fans first before making it available on YouTube for all. Based on what’s been shown so far, it looks like the series will take a look at the rapper’s legal history to talk about the criminal justice system and his fight for freedom following his November 2017 arrest.

The minute-long trailer is made up of interviews and concert and studio footage. One of the phrases shown in the trailer is “investigates the truth” and it shows pictures of the mugshot from the rapper’s 2007 arrest, suggesting that it will examine the circumstances and discrepancies in the official report and Meek’s story and evidence. It also shows footage of the #FreeMeek protests that occurred in 2017 following probation violations. The trailer does a great job of building the anticipation for the full body of work by showcasing quick clips of his legal timeline and involving people speaking on the cases, including the rapper himself, who is pictured sitting down explaining his side of the story.

Free Meek is executive-produced by Jay-Z, Eli Holzman, Paul and Isaac Solotaroff, and Aaron Seidman. It will consist of six episodes and air sometime later this year.

Take a look at the teaser trailer above.

Blackpink Are Eyeing A Comeback For Late March, So Prepare For New Music

Blackpink are about to unleash new music with an upcoming mini album.

The South Korean girl group, one of the hottest acts in K-pop right now, announced they will be dropping new tracks at the end of March. They’ve yet to reveal a title or concept for the album, but that’s all the more reason for Blinks around the world to get excited.

A Blackpink representative reported to Naver, “While we can’t yet reveal the exact comeback date, it’s true that we are filming the music video for the new song this week.” Honestly, there’s never been a more exciting time to be a Blink, and given the girls’ aesthetic-laden videos for hits like “As If It’s Your Last” and “Whistle,” we can’t wait to see what Jennie, Jisoo, Rosé, and Lisa have planned for us.

Though the group has been hitting the American talk show circuit with their first-ever performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, this will be their first new music release in nine months. Previously, they dropped their full-length Japanese album BLACKPINK IN YOUR AREA back in 2018, which spawned bangers like “Boombayah” and “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du.”

They also continued their hotly anticipated U.S. takeover with their morning show debut on Good Morning America back in February.

With the new songs on the way, Blackpink is going to be hitting the global market hard. The girls have a jam-packed schedule over the next few months, as they’ll be descending upon Coachella this April and then heading out on their first North American tour on April 17. They’ll begin in Los Angeles, and then travel to Chicago, Newark, and Atlanta — and Blinks have their hammers ready.

If you’re still new to Blackpink, make sure you brush up on everything there is to know about the group before it’s time to memorize another set of fan chants.

We suggest starting with “Whistle” to get those Blink juices flowing again.

Logic And 21 Collaborators Turn A Gas Station Into A Stage In ‘Do What You Love’ Video

Last year, Logic and Joseph Gordon-Levitt made a bold, one-of-a-kind announcement: through Gordon-Levitt’s online creative collaboration platform HITRECORD, the pair were looking for writers, musicians, and vocalists to contribute to “Do What You Love,” a record with Logic’s vocals that they wanted to turn into a worldwide, collaborative effort. On Friday, they released an official video at South by Southwest for the tune featuring a myriad of collaborators, frolicking and having a good time.

“This is what happens when you bring over 20 people from across the globe having never met in person to collaborate on a song” is the text that prefaces what’s going on at the beginning of the video. Logic and Gordon-Levitt pull up to a gas station in the middle of nowhere in a spooky purple van, dubbed the Mystery Machine like the Scooby Doo gang’s infamous transport vehicle. After a brief debate about who’s going to get the gas because neither feels like doing it, Logic gets out and opens the back of the van, freeing the enormous group of talented musicians. As they hold their instruments and airplay, these collaborators connected through HITRECORD trade smiles as Logic raps about the importance of doing what you love. A second rapper and singer get their turn to shine with some powerhouse performances that rock the gas station. In the end, Logic does end up getting someone else to pump the gas for him. But if we’re talking about sheer common sense, it probably would have expended less energy getting the gas himself instead of putting on an entire show. We like this version better.

The process behind this complex collaboration is captured in Band Together with Logica YouTube Originals film executive-produced by Gordon-Levitt that follows Logic’s journey to create this song as well as what his creative process is. In addition to creating songs with online collaborators, the rapper is preparing to release his first book, Supermarket, on March 26.

Check out the happy video up above.

Teyana Taylor Gets Married To A$AP Rocky In Throwback ‘Issues/Hold On’ Video

As long as we’ve had love, we’ve had to play its game. Think of playing it as purchasing a lottery ticket: You hope for the best, but chances are, it might not turn out well. What happens when you lose so much that you fear to play again? Teyana Taylor answers this question in her new video for “Issues/Hold On.” In the new clip, which dropped Friday (March 15), we follow her apparent marriage to A$AP Rocky in what appears to be the 1970s. It’s a beautiful, cinematic affair — directed by Teyana “Spike Lee” Taylor herself, as the credits reveal — that shows the path to victory in love that we can all learn from. Be persistent.

“Issues/Hold On” is a myriad of afros, platform shoes, and those gigantic records that go to outdated players we no longer know the names of. Cupid has stricken Taylor and Rocky, who peck each other on the lips like nervous fifth graders and smash buttercream icing on each other’s faces while the blinding whites of their teeth shine through the mess. This is the honeymoon phase where losing isn’t on both players minds, just love and how it will stretch eternally. But things change soon enough. Rocky is revealed to be a little flirtatious, and Taylor flips out on him.

Things eventually return back to normal. Taylor’s upset, but she gets over it. Maybe she’s thinking too hard about laughs. After all, laughs are preferable to frowns. But there’s always the threat of infidelity, that another woman will find the warmth in Rocky’s smile that attracted Taylor to him in the first place. Eventually, Rocky is caught chatting a lady up again, and Taylor gets indignant nearly immediately.

As the song plays in the background of this film’s most vulnerable moments, we hear Taylor’s thoughts. She’s hesitant, fiercely protective of what’s hers. As the video’s final scene shows, though, it can all be forgiven — sometimes it just takes a little sex.

Taylor’s K.T.S.E. dropped last year; she released the visual for “Gonna Love Me” with Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah, Method Man, and Raekwon in December and dropped “WTP” in January. Check out the streamy, nostalgic new video above.

Iggy Azalea And A Bunch Of Drag Race Faves Party At A Funeral In ‘Sally Walker’ Video

Independence is looking damn good on Iggy Azalea.

Last year, the Aussie rapper exited her deal with Island Records to record as an independent artist, and now, she’s given us the first taste of what she’s been working on. On Friday (March 15), Iggy dropped “Sally Walker,” an unexpected spin on the kiddie anthem “Little Sally Walker” that repurposes the lyrics to encourage her girls to “go on, do your thang.”

In the accompanying clip — which was shot in Atlanta and directed by Colin Tilley — Iggy slays at, of all places, a funeral. It’s a morbid but stylish affair that’s just crazy enough to work, especially since the pack of mourners includes RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants Shea Couleé, Mayhem Miller, and Miss Vanjie, as well as beauty guru James Charles. There’s blood, hearses, and gravestones, but also plenty of twerking, latex, and fierce choreo performed on a cemetery lawn.

And just when the “Money“-esque piano line begins to get lodged inside your brain, Iggy switches it up and concludes the video by previewing a hype new song called “Started” that finds her boasting, “I started from the bottom and now I’m rich … You started out hating, now you love my drip.”

“Sally Walker” is the lead single off Iggy’s forthcoming album, In My Defense, which will mark her first release under her joint venture with Empire. In January, she hyped up the project by tweeting, “I’m really proud of my album. It shits on 95% of everything I’ve ever made & its only half done.” She added, “#InMyDefense really is that album that’s gonna make you wanna say fuck you to your own reflection for ever doubting you.”