Grimes Traverses The Realm Of Light With A Helium Voice In ‘Pretty Dark’

Grimes has released a vibrant new record that apparently won’t be featured on her upcoming album. “Pretty Dark,” despite what its name suggests, is pretty light. She’s also released an accompanying video of her singing the record as swirling computer graphics filter around her. What an…odd way to start the morning. But in this case, odd is good!

“Pretty Dark” sounds like Grimes had her fill of helium gas before recording it. This bubbly record mixes elements of techno and dream pop to create an absolutely otherworldly presence, one where creatures designed by Takashi Murakami prance in eternal green pastures. Grimes’ voice is the rain that wets these fields, its misty nature bringing thick blankets of fog whenever her voice meets the down thump of bass drums. There’s an immersive quality in the tune that becomes clear when you’re jolted back to reality after it ends.

The accompanying video is equal parts selfie footage and good ol’ Grimes’ eccentricity. It’s never as simple as a front-facing singing clip with her, so watching it evolve over time continuously yields new results. The backdrop to her selfie video is initially a pond but over time it evolves into vines, dark water, and rippling pools of psychedelic graphics. Eventually, some gigantic diamonds and a Wonder Woman-like tiara are grafted onto her face. At the end, the production value increases tremendously. We see a mysterious body of water illuminated in purple and red hues while people stand inside of it. It’s a brief image, but an indicator of the otherworldly vibe that the song brings. This is the world that we imagine when listening to this otherworldly record.

In the description for the video, Grimes revealed exactly where the song comes from since it’s not from her long-awaited, oft-delayed album. “This is from an AR musical I’m working on,” she wrote. She also revealed that the song and video were made on Wednesday. That’s a super quick turnaround. She also wrote that she’s finishing her album and will start casually releasing music that’s she worked on. Her last release before this one was the robotic, HANA-assisted “We Appreciate Power” that dropped in November. Grimes’ last full-length LP was 2015’s Art Angels. 

Carly Rae Jepsen Tell Us How Her Cat-Centric ‘Now That I Found You’ Video Came Together

The first thing you’ll likely notice about Carly Rae Jepsen‘s merrily idiosyncratic new video for “Now That I Found You” is that it’s as much her video as it is her co-star’s. And yes, her co-star in this particular clip is a cat. Specifically, he’s an orange Scottish Fold who takes center stage as the object — and in a few pivotal, CGI-assisted scenes, objects (plural) — of her affection.

The bubbly track, which dropped late last month paired with the thundering bass-driven “No Drug Like You,” shines as a counterpoint to 2018’s “Party For One,” an anthem to self-love complete with a downright euphoric video. Here, Jepsen sings, “There’s nothing like this feeling, baby / Now that I found you,” and in the visual, the “you” just happens to be “the most adorable, fluffy, chillest cat ever,” she told MTV News. It was all part of the plan.

“After ‘Party For One’ was such a message of ‘you can have fun with yourself,’ I was a little nervous about just going straight from that into ‘but now that I found, everything’s perfect!'” Jepsen said. “It doesn’t have to mean a love story. It can mean a passion of sorts or a cat-lady obsession. Whatever you want.”

“I still wanted the videos to represent real life in a weird way, and I’m not saying I have 100 cats and I sing to them,” she continued, “but I will say that it felt like a proper progression from ‘Party For One’ that it’s not just about a boy, but it’s about a cat.”

The feline in question, by the way, is Shrampton, who also appeared in Tegan and Sara’s “Stop Desire” in 2016 and indeed had his own crafty table on set. With Jepsen in the vid, Shrampton has a proper blast, tripping out on some catnip (“a late-night idea” meant to evoke the wonderfully cosmic Cats on Synthesizers in Space account), getting immortalized in a painting, and even updating the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s ending with a bit of a twist. The idea originally came from Jepsen herself, who had a new cat pal enter her life around the time she prepared to record the song’s vocals.

“The lyrics were going through my head, and I woke up one morning and I saw the cat and I was still kind of not used to him being in my life,” she said. “‘Waking up next to you every morning’ started playing in my head and I kind of laughed out loud. I was like, that’s what I want this video to be about: just a cat-lady obsession.”

As she shared in a recent throwback Instagram post with co-writers Captain Cuts and producer Ayokay, “Now That I Found You” has its roots in a songwriting camp Jepsen attended in Nicaragua, where attendees stayed in cabanas with built-in studios and could record after mind-clearing surf breaks. Its companion tune, “No Drug Like Me,” meanwhile, got assembled “in the later eve of a session,” inspired by a new love Jepsen was experiencing at the time.

These, along with “Party For One,” are among the hundreds of recorded songs Jepsen’s been working diligently to whittle down to what will become a practical tracklist for her fourth album, due out later in 2019. “If by the end of this year there’s no album out, something went horribly wrong,” she said. This is surely literal music to the ears of fans who’ve had “Cut to the Feeling” on repeat since 2017, thinking it was the first taste of #CRJ4. But in the four years since her last LP, 2015’s EMOTION, she’s been hard at work — writing, recording, and writing some more to try to top herself. “That energy kind of propels me forward to keep trying to beat what I already have [written],” Jepsen said.

Until then, she’s enlisting some help to compile the final version of the album. She organized a listening party for her bandmates and team members, complete with wine and food, where everyone can weigh in and dance to their legs give out to what she’s got lined up so far. Picture a Super Bowl party, but instead of watching dudes crunching each other in a stadium (or a shirtless, meme-ready Adam Levine), everyone’s just grooving out to new Carly Rae Jepsen music. Surely there’s no drug like it.

You might not get an invite to that party (sorry), but in the meantime, you can watch the “Now That I Found You” video above, and catch it today (March 14) on mtvU and MTV Live. If you watch closely, you might even catch Jepsen’s “meow”-branded workout clothes that she had bedazzled specifically for this clip. “It definitely makes the shoot day a lot more enjoyable when it feels like it’s a baby that you’ve kind of birthed and been a part of making,” she said.

ScHoolboy Q Brings The Goofy Charm In Return On ‘Numb Numb Juice’

ScHoolboy Q, the cartoonish glue of T.D.E., spent the better of the last three years popping up for features for artists like 21 Savage and SiR. As time grows, you begin to realize not only how important ScHoolboy Q’s voice is, but how much you miss it. The goofy glaze that blankets each of his words tastes sweet, the way that his lines stick to chaotic, bass-ladened beats like sandpaper place his fans in a candy store whenever he pops up with new content. His unpredictably means that no two songs, or verse, from him sound the same. For the first time since 2016, ScHoolboy Q has released a new solo single, “Numb Numb Juice,” that shows that, like Angela Bassett, the rapper’s technical capabilities are aging flawlessly.

“Let’s get it!,” the song screams at the beginning, the ScHoolboy Q’s famous pinky-up voice setting the stage. From there, the rapper returns to the embrace of the streets, keeping his lines dense, coarse, and berserk as he gives a barrage of threats. There’s three years of energy in the delivery, a pressing urgency, and underlying sense of danger in the cartoonish aesthetic; if his old rap was Scooby Doo, his latest is Samurai Jack. The warped, twisted street anthem ends just shy of two minutes but it’s not surprising; through fast-paced, train-chasing raps, ScHoolboy Q easily fits six minutes of lyricism into the brief period.

ScHoolboy Q’s last studio album Blank Face LP came out in 2016. He released a three-part short film featuring songs from the LP to go along with it. If he did that then, we can’t wait to see what he has coming up. There’s something big – we can taste it.

Listen to the rapper’s energetic return up above.

10 Years Ago, Super Junior’s ‘Sorry, Sorry’ Changed K-pop Forever

By Alexis Hodoyan-Gastelum

On any given day, fans of K-pop groups rally on Twitter to get their faves noticed. Whether that’s trending hashtags to get them onto social media charts or to win actual awards, you can’t escape their passionate presence on your timeline. And though social media has always been an integral part of K-pop fandom, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that K-pop stan Twitter became a force to be reckoned with. K-pop groups regularly dominate Billboard’s social chart, and now even brands stan Loona. But in order to get to that place in the digital space, a lot of ground had to be broken, and it can be traced back to exactly 10 years ago.

In terms of Hallyu (Korean pop culture) history, 2009 was an iconic year. Some would even argue it was a more impactful era in terms of K-pop reaching audiences outside of Korea than 2012’s “Gangnam Style.” According to an unpublished survey collected by Korea Creative Content Agency USA in 2014, the majority of K-pop fans in the States (39.5 percent) started consuming K-pop earlier than 2009, as opposed to 26.8 percent between 2012 and 2013. PSY might have turned himself into a viral phenomenon, but 2009 was a launch pad for a lot of what K-pop is today.

2009 is distinguished by K-pop classics like Girls’ Generation’s “Gee” and Brown Eyed Girls’ “Abracadabra,” as well as the debuts of staple groups like 2NE1 and f(x). The Wonder Girls became the first Korean act to break onto Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart with an English-language version of their 2008 hit “Nobody,” released just a day before they joined the Jonas Brothers on tour in the U.S. Similarly, Hallyu legend BoA’s self-titled U.S. release appeared on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

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The Wonder Girls attend the Teen Choice Awards in 2009

The year also marked a pivotal time in the internet age, which helped the globalization of Korean music. By 2009, YouTube and social media platforms had already started making K-pop content like music videos and choreography videos more accessible to consumers. This accelerated the spread of information — and dance crazes — to the world. One of the first male acts to set off a dance craze on social media was veteran K-pop group Super Junior with their 2009 mega hit “Sorry, Sorry.”

Released first as a digital single and soon followed by an album of the same name and the music video on March 12, “Sorry, Sorry” not only catapulted Super Junior to Hallyu stardom, but it revolutionized K-pop itself.

Right from the start, the song says what it’s all about: dance. Packed with a repetitive chorus, chant-like hooks, and auto-tuned vocals, “Sorry, Sorry” utilized the pop formula of the day to perfection and delivered an earworm. The album debuted at No. 1 on one of South Korea’s most important music charts, and the song topped the charts too. It also reached No. 1 in other countries like Taiwan and Thailand, and it landed in the Top 10 in the Philippines. In Taiwan, “Sorry, Sorry” spent 36 consecutive weeks at No. 1. For a lot of older K-pop fans, “Sorry, Sorry” was an entry point, thanks to the countless flash mobs — a very 2009 trend — and dance covers uploaded online from Malaysia to Indonesia to even a prison in the Philippines.

Sorry, Sorry signaled Super Junior’s coming of age, not only sound-wise, but conceptually. Their sleeker, more sophisticated neutral color palette showed a more mature side to the SM Entertainment group, who made their debut in 2005. They shifted away from the visual kei-inspired concept of previous songs like “Don’t Don” and “U” — a major trend at the time — and instead embraced an aesthetic that would inspire the next decade of K-pop. The focus on the choreography highlighted Super Junior’s strengths in numbers, which helped popularize the idea of larger-sized male groups (think ZE:A, SEVENTEEN, and The Boyz). Not to mention, the virality of a point dance had been something representative of girl groups at the time, but after “Sorry, Sorry,” male groups like SHINee (“Ring Ding Dong”) and 2PM (“Again and Again”) followed suit.

And Super Junior were pioneers in other ways as well. They were the first K-pop group to feature a Chinese national in its ranks, and though he constantly ran into setbacks for being a foreigner and eventually left the group, Hankyung (who now goes by his Chinese name Han Geng) opened doors for all non-Koreans in the idol industry today.

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Super Junior attend the 20th Golden Melody Awards in Taipei in June 2009

Following the steps of their labelmate BoA, who single-handedly opened a path for K-pop in Japan, Super Junior spearheaded K-pop in the Chinese market. They dedicated a specific sub-unit, Super Junior-M, to actively promote in China and sing in Mandarin, adding Zhou Mi and Henry (both ethnically Chinese) to their ranks. Thanks to hits like “Sorry, Sorry” and follow ups like “Bonamana” and “Mr. Simple,” Super Junior dominated the Asian market and even made strides of their own in the West. The group was the first Korean act to win a Teen Choice Award in 2015 for Choice International Artist, and their fans, known as ELF, also won the fandom award. But perhaps more importantly, just last year on their 13th year as a group, Super Junior once again proved they are trailblazers in the global music industry by collaborating with Latinx artists Leslie Grace and Play-N-Skillz on the English-Spanish-Korean banger “Lo Siento” — and with Reik on “Otra Vez” — becoming the first Korean act to enter Latin Billboard charts twice.

Due to mandatory military enlistments, departures, and other issues, Super Junior’s lineup has been changing for the better part of a decade. The act’s current active members are Leeteuk (real name Park Jeong-su), Kim Heechul, Yesung (Kim Jong-woon), Shindong (Shin Dong-hee), Eunhyuk (Lee Hyuk-jae), Lee Donghae, Choi Siwon, and Kim Ryeowook. Once Cho Kyuhyun wraps up his service in May, Super Junior will have a fixed lineup active for the first time in 10 years.

Nowadays, “Sorry, Sorry” is almost like a rite of passage for newer groups, with everyone from EXO to SEVENTEEN to NCT, and even BTS, GFRIEND, and TWICE — together with Leeteuk, who’s become a favorite on Korean variety shows — covering it. The song is also a frequent pick on competition shows like Produce 101, where all but two members of the winning “Sorry, Sorry” team ended up debuting in the popular temporary group Wanna One.

To celebrate 10 years of Sorry, Sorry and its lasting impact on K-pop today, let’s take a look at some of the standout tracks that made that album so iconic.

Vampire Weekend And Steve Lacy Get Jonah Hill To Follow Them With A Camera In ‘Sunflower’ Video

Vampire Weekend have released a positively New Yorkean video for “Sunflower.” The funky tune and its “Babadoos”‘s and “Babada”‘s has Jonah Hill directing the video adaptation and it holds continuous surprises from the moment it begins until its sudden, humorous ending. It’s something that you have to see to get the full experience.

It’s hard to put into words the brilliance in the video’s subtle elegance. Hill approaches his director’s seat for this one with the same attention to detail evident in his directorial debut mid90s; camera angles are plentiful and they’re often the unexpected ones. The camera continuously zooms around Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig and the Internet’s Steve Lacy – featured on the track – who are taking a leisurely stroll around NYC’s Upper West Side. As the two walk around absentmindedly singing the song’s lyrics, the funky backdrop is at odds with their somewhat blank, befuddled faces.

They wander in and out of stores and settle at New York gourmet market Zabars and Upper West Side’s Barney Greengrass and run into a couple of surprising faces. Hip-hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy makes a sudden appearance soon after the video begins, comedian Jerry Seinfeld shows up later and brings the funny by just sitting there. When he listens to a tv show pitch from a deli store worker at the very end of the visual, it’s played for laughs.

Vampire Weekend’s highly anticipated fourth studio album Father of the Bride comes out on May 3. So far, four of the album’s songs have been released: “Harmony Hall” and “2021” in January and “Sunflower” and “Big Blue” earlier this month.

Check out the Jonah Hill-directed video up above.

The Chainsmokers And 5 Seconds Of Summer Face Off For Duel In ‘Who Do You Love’ Performance

Last night, The Chainsmokers and 5 Seconds Of Summer brought their new collaboration, “Who Do You Love” to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. It was a unique performance that brought together the opposing forces by highlighting the differences in their structure, with them standing opposite each other on stage. Talk about a live experience. If this is a preview of The Chainsmoker’s World War Joy tour, which features 5SOS, that kicks off in September, we can’t wait to see what’s next.

The two bands lined up opposite each other and let the guitar work speak for itself. The vocal work of both bands met in beautiful matrimony as the vocals of the somber, yet somehow vibrant song, soar higher and higher. Drummers Matt McGuire and Ashton Irwin corralled the buoyant voices with powerful percussive work as the steam billowed around the bands’ feet and the lights flashed rapidly. In the span of four minutes, the bands gave the world a brilliant appetizer of what’s kicking off this fall.

In addition to carving up the stage with a striking performance, the two bands played a rousing game of “Musical Beers” with Fallon. After a grueling match, 5 Seconds Of Summer’s guitarist Michael Clifford emerged with the win.

Watch the spectacular performance above.

Flipp Dinero’s Voice Is Raspy, But He Doesn’t Need Auto-Tune — Unless He’s With T-Pain

Flipp Dinero’s breakout hit “Leave Me Alone” was one of the biggest rap songs of 2018, but by talking to him, you’d assume that it was just another step en route to reaching the genre’s upper echelon. The Brooklyn rapper’s sound is unmistakable. His vocal chords sound like they’re being singed by a twisted dominatrix. Yet as harsh as it sounds, it’s all by design — and authentic too. It’s why “Leave Me Alone” peaked at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and still continues to get prominent playlist placement.

These are bragging words for any artist, but in conversation, Dinero is happy yet humble. This success – the lights, the glamour, the opportunities – isn’t the product of overnight work. “I put out three projects prior to that song,” he says over the phone. “It wasn’t the first to get millions of views either. I’m just glad to be at this point in my career.”

Just two months after “Leave Me Alone”’s September release, it went gold. A month after that, it went platinum. It made Apple Music’s The A List: Hip Hop playlist and Spotify’s famous RapCaviar playlist. Urban rap radio stations played the song over and over. All of this introduced the world to Dinero, a rapper whose low eyes and wide, mischievous grin could give off the appearance of arrogance. In conversation, however, he doesn’t just tell the world how grounded he is — he shows it. “I thank my mother and father, my family and the people that surround me – God, also,” he says about how he remains this relaxed. “I read a lot, I read my Bible faithfully. This helps me stay grounded and keeps me from getting ahead of myself, contributing to my personality as an individual.”

His latest song, “Feelin Like,” released in December, is a little less vibrant than “Leave Me Alone,” choosing to embrace the sanctity of a moment instead of pushing away a lover’s embrace. He practically moans on the chorus with an everlasting cry of “ooh” that extends through harsh 808s and thunderous claps, before adding, “Feelin’ like I fucked up.” You can tell that his eyes are closed while singing it, his head to the sky, arms outstretched with a half-glazed smile on his face. “I was just in the studio having a good time, just freestyling,” he says of the song’s creation. “The only people in the studio were me and my brother Los, my engineer. We were just catching a vibe and I felt that if I put this onto wax, the world would be able to relate to it.”

Both “Feelin Like” and “Leave Me Alone” are the kind of raspy, melodic gems that make Dinero such an interesting character. His voice sounds like he needs to cough, or like he might need a glass of milk and a lozenge, but it isn’t grating, like someone who would be dismissed from an American Idol audition. In rap, that kind of imprecision normally doesn’t fly. It’s been Auto-Tune season for the last 14 years, since T-Pain’s mega R&B hit “I’m Sprung” reintroduced the sound to mainstream music.

“I’ve been offered it a couple of times but I always turn it down,” he says when asked about using it, after a brief pause. “The only time I allowed it was when I was working with my big brother, T-Pain.” He’s referring to “All I Want,” the collaboration from T-Pain’s recently released album, 1UP. “He put Auto-Tune on my voice and that was just because I was working with the legend. That’s the one we kept after cutting three or four tracks. Once we put the beat on, we just went instantly and made it in 20 minutes. We were laughing the whole time.”

Once you get past the rasp, especially when actually listening to how smooth and buttery his voice is on “All I Want” with the additional technical coloring, it’s clear to see that Dinero has the capability to really belt out moving melodies. “I love singing – it’s actually my first passion,” he admits with a slight chuckle. “In this new project that I have coming up, you’ll hear a lot of singing,” though he’s hesitant to reveal new details beyond “a lot of bangers, a lot of melodies.” There’s also going to be more than just singing. “You’re definitely going to hear the versatility because I want to emphasize the differences in my flows,” he says. “I don’t want to be grounded or stagnant; this project is going to be a mixture and melting pot.”

In that mixture should be DJ Khaled, someone who the rapper calls his “brother” and has been in the studio with on more than one occasion. “I learned to grind and stay focused through him,” he says of their relationship.” “I’m an individual who is really focused, but to see someone like that, to stay up and have the energy not to sleep, it’s crazy. He was up until, I kid you not, four or five in the morning. Watching him say ‘Another one!’ made me laugh and I was ready to get back to work.”

DJ Khaled and T-Pain aren’t the only legends he’s been in the studio soaking up game from, as he puts it. And there are a lot of lessons to take away. But when asked if he would give his old self advice based on what he’s learned maneuvering through the industry, he hesitates. “I don’t have a lesson, I have a voice,” he says. It’s wise to not think in the past because while reveling in what should have been done, rap moves on. “Feelin Like” is the latest Dinero cut that will replace “Leave Me Alone.” It’s time to focus on the present. “I just finished bumping 10 songs that I cut in the last two weeks,” he says. “My sound is my face and I have to show my face.”

Robyn Brings A Peaceful Groove To Colbert With ‘Ever Again’ Performance

Robyn was last night’s musical guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and she brought the funk – the warm, fuzzy kind that warrants slow bopping to the music while stepping from side to side. The singer performed “Ever Again” from her album Honey that came out in October. She kept it simple and focused on the music, giving an authentic, nostalgic experienced revolving solely around her feathery voice.

The stage was bathed in warm red lights that cast Robyn’s skin in an orange glow. When she began singing, the room grew at ease. She swayed as she sang, casually bopping to the subtle groove of “Ever Again,” keeping her energy muted while creating the atmosphere for the audience looking to the disco for nostalgia. She didn’t need lavish stage sets or extravagant dance routines to win over the audience; her performance’s simplicity made it magical.

The rollout for Honey is still in full effect; since its release, Robyn has released videos for “Send It To Me Immediately” and the LP’s title track. She’s currently in the midst of a tour in support of the album that wraps up in April.

Check out the smooth performance up above.

Kendrick Lamar’s New Profile Pic Has Fans Speculating About A New Album

It is a truth universally known that when a famous artist abruptly blacks out their social media profiles, it (possibly) means something’s brewing. We’ve seen it before with the likes of Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus, and now the latest rumors revolve around Kendrick Lamar.

As noted by the fan account @DailyRapFacts, the Compton MC has blacked out his profile picture and header on Twitter. The last time he did that was in March 2017, just before kicking off the DAMN. era with the loosie “The Heart, Pt. 4.” You can see where this is going: fans are now speculating that a new Kendrick project is imminent.

Making things more interesting, Kendrick’s TDE comrade Schoolboy Q hinted that he has some kind of a surprise coming on Wednesday (March 13), and he’s updated his own profile pic with a plain yellow shade. As another fan account noted, one of the first songs Kendrick and Q collaborated on was called “Birds & The Beez,” leading some fans to theorize that the two have a joint album on the way.

Of course, all of this is just wild speculation, and Kendrick’s profile revamp could just be his way of showing support for TDE’s other projects. That’s a strategy we’ve seen from the label time and time again — even now, SZA, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul are among the TDE signees who have changed their pics to the cover of Zacari’s debut project, which is due out on March 15. But, given that Kendrick and Schoolboy are the only two not flying the Zacari flag online, there just might be something to the rumor that Zacari isn’t the only TDE artist dropping new music soon. Stay tuned…

Tierra Whack Swats Away Wannabe Daters With Shaq-Like Efficiency On ‘Wasteland’

At this point, new releases from Tierra Whack are becoming as certain as death and taxes. Her latest tune, during what she calls #whackhistorymonth, is “Wasteland.” It’s her fourth release in the last four weeks and it might be the biggest and boldest one yet.

Each of Tierra Whack’s songs opens up portals to new dimensions. This one’s no different. The track’s slight presence of church organ and honey sweet melodies open up a gateway to a relaxing, summer’s meadow that stretches to infinity. Her rap stick like warm putty as she slinks between slurred words with an electric jolt here and there when she emphasizes phrases. The effect is striking. It’s disorientating, yet peaceful. She raps and sings about the perils of being attractive and single. No, you can’t take her on a date. No, she’s not in the city, she’s in Los Angeles. Her Rolodex of ways to deny unsuitable suitors is impressive. “Can’t be seen with you/you don’t match my fly” she says at one point; “I came here alone/got a boy at home,” she raps at another. There’s no use shooting your shot. It’ll airball every time.

First came “Only Child” and “CLONES” during February’s last two weeks respectively, then “Gloria” that dropped in the first week of March. Now with “Wasteland”‘s fresh release, the anticipation for a new project is higher than ever. The excellent Whack World can only hold the globe over for so long. All of this new music practically screams that we’re getting a fresh project from Whack in the near future. This time, it looks like it’ll be made up of full songs too.

Listen to the soft, saccharine tune up above.