See Jonas Brothers React To Halsey’s Surprisingly Soulful ‘Sucker’ Cover

There’s a reason “Sucker” became Jonas Brothersfirst-ever No. 1 hit: it’s a catchy, certified bop. But the band’s comeback smash warps into something much more intense in the capable hands of Halsey, who put her own spin on “Sucker” while visiting BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge on Thursday (June 6).

Halsey’s cover begins with a jazzy intro, complete with a saxophone solo and finger snapping. She sultrily strolls through the verses — even whistling along at one point — then amps up the drama with a growling, belting chorus. It’s a much more soulful version of “Sucker” than what you’ve heard before, and it’s an absolute must-hear.

After seeing Halsey’s cover, Kevin, Joe, and Nick posed a video message for their fellow New Jersey native on Twitter. “Oh my god! Halsey! That was amazing,” they gushed. “Thank you so much for covering ‘Sucker.’ It sounded incredible. You’re the best. We love you!” Along with some heart-eye emojis, she tweeted back, “I love you guys too!!!!! And I love this song! Thank you!!!!!!!!”

Halsey’s version of “Sucker” comes just a week after Jonas Brothers made their own Live Lounge appearance. During that visit, the group covered Lewis Capaldi’s U.K. hit “Someone You Loved,” and the singer-songwriter returned the favor on Thursday by putting yet another new spin on “Sucker.” So, yes, there were not one but two A-list covers of “Sucker” released today — try to keep up!

It’s also worth noting that Halsey didn’t just perform “Sucker” in the Live Lounge — she gave her raging new single “Nightmare” a stripped-back rendition that’s equally as beautiful. Check it out below.

Megan Thee Stallion Isn’t Sorry For A Damn Thing In New Freestyle

Kicking a freestyle for Sway Calloway on his radio show, Sway’s Universe, is something of a rite of passage and a definitive showcase of one’s skills as an emcee. Many a rapper has either been showered with praise or exposed as a lackluster on-the-spot lyricist based on what they piece together when the radio host throws on classic hip-hop beats. Earlier this week, it was rising rhyminatrix Megan Thee Stallion‘s turn to blaze the show with her powerful raps and she didn’t disappoint. It was short but it wasn’t sweet. It was vicious, poisonous, and dominating: three adjectives that describe Megan Thee Stallion’s brand of power-claiming music. She deserves all the praise that she’ll get following this one.

“This is the land of the wolves,” said Sway with a crimson glint in his eyes just before the freestyle kicked off. It was time for Megan to prove herself. Rising to the occasion, she smiled and asked for a piece of paper to spit her gum out. Then, over the course of around sixty seconds, she lashed out continuously with prickly raps and radioactive swagger. Tupac‘s “Hit Em Up” was streamed through her headphones and she began with a fierce statement: “First off, I ain’t sorry for a motherfucking thing.” She attacked the perception of her versus her reality in blunt ways to establish who she is and how she, truly, doesn’t care what you think. Sway was taken aback and reclined into his chair, his hands over his mouth as he stared at the champion in front of him. Megan chuckled. She can do this on any day.

Megan Thee Stallion released Fever last month. The mixtape, that includes the previously released tunes, “Realer” and “Sex Talk,” features guest appearances from Juicy J and DaBaby.

Check out the venomous freestyle up above.

How Blackpink, Red Velvet, And More Are Redefining Womanhood In K-pop

By T.K. Park and Youngdae Kim

When you think of K-pop, the seven young men of BTS most likely come to mind, but the women artists are enjoying a heyday of their own. Red Velvet recently hit seven cities on their first North American tour, while Blackpink took Coachella by storm, mingling backstage with their fans Ariana Grande and Will Smith. Wonder Girls’ Sunmi and Girls’ Generation’s Tiffany have broken free from the girl groups that made them and are now headlining their own U.S. tours. And these women are doing it with confidence, strength, and flair, completely unconcerned with the male gaze — or with anyone else’s gaze for that matter.

The English-language discourse about K-pop idols, and in particular female idols, is still shaped in large part by the 2012 New Yorker article by John Seabrook titled “Factory Girls.” Published in the same year that “Gangnam Style” became a global phenomenon, Seabrook’s article painted a picture of women K-pop idols as carefully-crafted objects, using Girls’ Generation — the most successful K-pop girl group until that point — as the primary focus. It was a familiar story to anyone who had been following K-pop. The artists are recruited in their adolescence, put through a rigorous training regimen, and undergo plastic surgery so that they can execute the vision of their producer: an image of beautiful yet demure Korean women, in contrast to the male idols who more freely deviate from the conventional gender norms.

Getty Images

Girls’ Generation perform at the KBS Korea-China Music Festival in August 2012

This caricature won a great deal of purchase, in part because it contained a modicum of truth, and also because it fit female K-pop stars into the prevailing U.S. preconception about Asians and women: Asians are supposed to be mechanical, women are meant to be objectified, and therefore it made sense that Asian women pop stars were mechanically objectified.

But even in 2012, this description was not entirely on the mark. It is true enough to say a persistent strain in K-pop’s girl groups involves turning women into an object of male desire — as is the case with female pop artists anywhere. But it is a mistake to think the women of K-pop solely traffick in marketing themselves as manufactured objects of that desire. In truth, even the most “manufactured” K-pop girl groups display a great deal of agency, and their profile evolves as their careers progress.

1990s-2000s: The Dueling Sides of Femininity

Fin.K.L’s “To My Boyfriend,” released in 1998

Objectification and agency formed the current and countercurrent as long as girl groups have existed in the modern K-pop idol scene. For the first generation of K-pop girl groups of the late 1990s, this was partly a function of their reference materials: The girl groups that emulated U.S. artists leaned more toward displaying confidence and independence, while groups that emulated Japanese acts hewed closer to the conventional image of demure Asian women. The latter was the mainstream at first. Influenced by Japanese groups like SPEED, the leading first generation K-pop girl groups, such as S.E.S. and Fin.K.L, established the course that many came to regard as the standard K-pop path for women as an object of male desire: a gaggle of cute girls growing into adorable young women over time. Meanwhile, groups like Baby V.O.X. and Diva, which emulated the hip-hop-based music and images of TLC, formed the countercurrent of women artists with confident and spunky aesthetics.

Girls’ Generation’s “Gee,” released in 2009

The first generation K-pop girl groups’ popularity entered a fallow period around 2003, when idol groups overall lost ground to R&B acts. Then in  2007 Wonder Girls, Kara, and Girls’ Generation debuted, forming the second generation of K-pop girl groups. It was also this generation that perfected the strategy of turning female artists into a carefully-curated product, cultivating what came to be known as “uncle fans” — middle-aged men with disposable income and dubious motives. These are the “factory girls” that Seabrook encountered, as the second-generation girl groups were the first ones that enjoyed meaningful popularity in the U.S. market by appearing on Billboard charts, performing on late night talk shows, and going on nationwide tours.

But not even Girls’ Generation, the archetype of a female K-pop idol group, was content only to project an image of demure young women. From the beginning, Girls’ Generation had a streak of strength and independence that was overshadowed during the peak of their careers but re-discovered later. For example, the lyrics of 2007’s “Into the New World,” the group’s first hit single, showed unflinching resolve: “Don’t wait for any special miracle / The rough road ahead of us is / The unknown future and a wall / We won’t change, we won’t give up.” These words re-emerged as a slogan for the 2016-17 Candlelight Protests that led to the impeachment and removal of then-president Park Geun-hye.

Even in this “peak objectification” period, there were plenty of female K-pop idols that emphasized confidence and agency. 2NE1, debuting in 2009, is a notable example. 2NE1 inherited the spunky image of Baby V.O.X. and Diva, and blended the contemporary hip-hop aesthetics favored by their production company YG Entertainment. The result is a group that consciously rejected the conventional cute-sexy axis in favor of being swag-based alpha girls. Further, the female idols of the first generation would evolve toward being more dominant and in-charge as their careers progressed. Lee Hyo-ri, who began her solo career in 2003 after a successful run in Fin.K.L, did more than merely project an image. By actively participating in the creation of her own music, she was claiming true agency over every aspect of her artistry. This pattern would repeat with other female idols who advanced their careers, like BoA, Tiffany, and Sunmi.

Gain’s “Bloom,” released in 2012

The later part of this period was also characterized by an aggressive marketing of sexuality. Three notable examples — HyunA, Gain, and IU — demonstrate three distinct ways in which women of K-pop sublimated their sexuality into artistry. Provocateur HyunA is the grown-up version of her former group Wonder Girls, maintaining the bright and cheerful atmospherics but with more skin and suggestive dance moves. Gain, on the other hand, does not suggest — she affirmatively expresses her sexuality, making her presentation not about the gaze that she would attract, but about the desire she feels. This is especially evident in the music video of her 2012 single “Bloom” with its jaw-dropping depiction of self-pleasure, making Gain more popular among women than men. IU is arguably the most cerebral of the three, as she relishes the subversive force created by the knowing look behind her girlish face. Like Madonna, IU leverages her feminine charm as a means of control. IU’s seemingly more traditional sexuality is in fact a highly-cultivated device, inducing submission from men to whom she appears to be submissive.

2010s-Present: Redefining Womanhood

The women of K-pop face a unique challenge compared to their male counterparts. Unlike K-pop boy bands whose fandom is mostly women, K-pop girl groups are beloved by men and women alike, with each artist having a different mixture of male and female fans. In the past few years, the women of K-pop became more attuned than ever to the complex gender dynamics of their fans, who are living in the age of #MeToo-era feminism and fluid gender identity. Of course, the more “conventional” K-pop girl groups, such as Twice or IZ*One, continue to remain hugely popular. Yet equally popular are groups like MAMAMOO, who flaunt their sexuality and do it on their own terms, not to meet anyone else’s expectations.

Blackpink’s “DDU-DU DDU-DU,” released in 2018

Blackpink arguably is the leader of the latter group. Fresh from their Coachella debut, Blackpink is this generation’s 2NE1, combining their predecessor’s alpha-girl swag with model-like looks. With more flash, more glam, and more swag, the four women of Blackpink — Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa — dominate the stage like four Beyoncés, totally devoid of any aegyo (cute expressions) that has long characterized K-pop girl groups.

Red Velvet, on the other hand, continues SM Entertainment’s girl-group tradition of cute girls growing into cheery young women. Yet like their predecessor Girls’ Generation, Red Velvet maintains a streak of independence that rejects being mere objects of desire (for example in “Bad Boy,” in which they view the men who refuse to bow to them as a challenge worth conquering.) Further, Red Velvet wears its feminism proudly: The group’s leader Irene recently made waves by saying at a fan meeting that she read Kim Ji-young, Born 1982, Cho Nam-ju’s best-selling feminist novel. Irene’s statement was met with howls of sexist outrage. But Irene and Red Velvet persisted, never apologizing for her belief in gender equality.

LOONA’s “Butterfly,” released in 2019

LOONA presents still another possibility, attracting LGBT fandom with gender fluidity. With its “girl of the month” concept — introducing a new member every month for a calendar year — LOONA initially appeared to be on a similar track as Red Velvet. Yet with songs and music videos that appealed to the aesthetics of same-sex attraction, intricate choreography that puts them on-par with their male counterparts, and an inclusive concept that allows them to represent every girl, LOONA is cultivating an entirely new kind of diverse fanbase.

Where will the female K-pop idols go next? Of course, the previous generation will continue the process of maturing into their own artistry. Taeyeon of Girls’ Generation, for example, is rapidly emerging as a major figure in her own right. But the latest development is suggesting that the women of K-pop are on their way to overcoming the final frontier of idol music: gaining agency over the presentation of their looks, image, and music. With new girl groups such as (G)I-dle featuring women artists who are producing their own music and narrative, that reality doesn’t seem so unlikely. Far from being “factory girls,” the women of K-pop are increasingly charting their own course with greater independence than ever.

Miley Cyrus’s Black Mirror Songs Are Actually Nine Inch Nails Covers, Believe It Or Not

Fresh off the release of her wild EP She Is Coming, Miley Cyrus has taken her talents to Netflix’s Black Mirror, which premiered its fifth season on Wednesday (June 5). In an episode called “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too,” Cyrus plays, appropriately, a popstar named Ashley O who’s plagued by mental demons and whose consciousness is locked inside a robot doll (casual!).

To make Ashley O appear as a legit megastar, the show obviously had to give her some bops to perform, but it turns out that the pink-haired character’s signature songs are actually rewrites of Nine Inch Nails classics. Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker spoke to GQ about the unusual choice, explaining that a casual listen of NIN’s “Head Like a Hole” made him realize how easy it would be to turn Trent Reznor’s tune into dance-pop.

“The idea is that the pop versions of the songs are insanely positive, full of empty affirmations,” Brooker said. “She’s singing ‘I’m on a roll,’ and it struck me as amusing to then reveal that she was singing ‘Head Like a Hole.'”

Listen close during the episode and you’ll also hear a pop-ified version of NIN’s “Right Where It Belongs.” Brooker said he also reworked “Hurt” as “Flirt,” but couldn’t find a place for it in the episode, which is really a shame, because that sounds too unbelievable to be real.

What’s perhaps most surprising about all of this is that Reznor wasn’t only open to the idea, but a fan of Cyrus’s performance, both as an actor and a musician.

“I didn’t question the integrity of how it would be used,” the NIN frontman told GQ. “It was a flattering ask and I thought, yeah, let’s try it, let’s see. … I think the most exciting part was when the music tracks came back. You can’t listen to it without a smile. I put it on in the car with my wife and she was like ‘what the fuck is that?’ It’s just so well done in that style.”

Nine Inch Nails seem to be legitimately stoked about the new episode, because the band has released a limited-edition T-shirt featuring “the iconic lyrics of Ashley O,” per a description on their website. Check that out below.

Meek Mill Crafts A Heartbreaking Tale Of A Father And Son In ‘Oodles O’Noodles Babies’ Video

Meek Mill‘s new video for ‘Oodles O’Noodles Babies’ is a heartbreaking look at the cyclical nature of how struggle leads to incarceration. The symbolism’s heavy in the video that he released earlier today (June 5) and the emotions run high. Following the story will leave you emotionally raw.

“Oodles O’ Noodles Babies” is a cinematic tale of struggle. In 2006, a kid cooks on the stove while his parents argue in the background, presumably, about money. This leads to the father partaking in a robbery, then having his accomplice rat him out, leaving him to go to prison. The kid grows up without a father. Years later, the kid, now an adult, becomes the parent of a similar situation. His child cooks his noodles, meanwhile, the parents are engaged in an argument. The father, needing money, shoots someone, then goes to jail. Then the cycle continues. The incarcerated father and his son, now in jail with him, meet and pass jumpsuits. It shows that the cycle will sadly continue.

“Oodles O’ Noodles Babies” appears on Meek’s 2018 album ChampionshipsThe LP also features the Drake-assisted “Going Bad” and “Trauma.” Meek was recently granted a new appellate court hearing in Philadelphia to advocate for his 2008 conviction of gun and drug charges to be overturned.

Watch the heart-breaking video for “Oodles O’Noodles Babies” up above.

Future Preps Us For The Future With ‘Save Me’ New Music Tease

The return of Future is almost here. The rapper took to Instagram to announce that he’s dropping something on Friday. Whether it’s an album or just a song, it’s not clear. But what is crystal clear is that in addition to the summer of the Hot Girl and the season of the City Girls, Future’s period is now here.

Future’s surprise Instagram post outlined the surprise announcement. “Title: SAVE ME Artist: Future Hendrix Date of Release: June 7777777,” the post reads. The picture itself is of a distorted cover featuring a messy mix of blacks, whites, and oranges. There’s a roughly drawn cross and a picture of a mysterious woman in black and white. Taken together, it looks demonic. This must be the dark realm that Future needs saving from.

A return for Future implies that he’s been gone for a while, but, in truth, he hasn’t been missing in action for that long. He released his seventh studio album, The Wizrd, in January. Before that? He released Wrld on Drugs with Juice Wrld and Beast Mode 2 in 2018.

That New Mac Miller Documentary Isn’t Happening After All

When filmmaker C.J. Wallis revealed a plan to make a definitive documentary about Mac Miller yesterday, the world grew excited. Wallis was to commemorate the late rapper’s life and achievements by interviewing his family and friends but it looks like that won’t happen, at least right now. Wallis took to Twitter and revealed that Miller’s estate, shortly after his announcement, had halted the movie’s production.

Wallis posted four lengthy tweets explaining the situation and his wish to respect the family. After hearing back from the family, he wrote that he and his team “immediately complied as the last thing we’d want is to negatively impact anyone involved, quite the opposite.” He ended with an optimistic hope for its release in the future. “The outpouring of support for the doc and that it was us trying to make one was humbling, and in time perhaps we will get to see it through. For now, we have hours of incredible music and that’s always been more than enough.”

In February, Cardi B shared her Grammy award for Best Rap Album with Miller. His final album, Swimming, had been nominated against her debut LP, Invasion of Privacy

Rihanna Has Work Work Worked Her Way To A $600 Million Empire

Rihanna works harder than the chorus of her 2016 collaboration with Drake, “Work.” She’s young, 31 years old, and, according to Forbes, she’s the richest female musician in the world with an empire worth more than $600 million. That’s a lot of zeroes. This comes fresh off the news that Jay-Z is rap’s first billionaire. Rihanna is well on her way to becoming the first in R & B.

Rihanna’s has an empire of immense proportions, with Forbes reporting that her $600 million cumulative fortune across her efforts surpassing that of Madonna ($570 million), Celine Dion ($450 million) and Beyoncé ($400 million). A large part of Rih’s fortune comes from her partnership with LVMH that resulted in Fenty Beauty, the makeup line that has become extremely successful; it reportedly made $100 million in its first few weeks and now sits at more than $570 million in sales. She’s also unveiled her new fashion luxury house with LVMH, Fenty, that was shown to the public on May 22. Her empire is undoubtedly going to grow even larger.

With so much going on, it’s hard to imagine that Rihanna has time to work on new music. But she recently revealed that she’s working on a reggae album and that Drake won’t be on it. And it’ll probably be named R9. 

Sabrina Carpenter Takes Us Inside Her Most Confessional Song Yet

By Lauren Rearick

It took only one performance of “Exhale” for a fan to show Sabrina Carpenter a tattoo inspired by the song, which speaks openly of the singer’s experience with anxiety. She hadn’t even released the track’s recording; for the time being, it was just a song she sang live, as a comedown at the end of her set. And as she tells MTV News, the tattoo served as a reminder of the impact music can make in all respects — and especially when it comes to decreasing continued stigma surrounding mental health conditions.

On May 17, in the midst of Mental Health Month, Sabrina released “Exhale,” ahead of her forthcoming album, Singular: Act II. Although the release of the song touches on her emotions surrounding anxiety, its arrival wasn’t specifically tied to the month of mental health awareness. Fortunately, Sabrina says the timing was perfect, and a song that she had been nervous about sharing made its way into the world at the exact right time.

The Girl Meets World actor explained to MTV News that the track was her attempt of describing what anxiety feels like for her. “Anxiety is a very hard topic to put in a bubble,” she said. “I don’t think you know what it is because it is a thousand questions that you can’t answer. Sometimes it feels like you can’t breathe; you don’t know where to start, you don’t know where to begin to start feeling better and to start healing yourself.”

So at a recent recording session, she began to put down thoughts, that turned into lyrics like, “Who put the baby in charge? / It’s already hard to buy all the parts and learn to use them. / Who put the world on my back and not in my hands?” For the accompanying video, Sabrina is seated in a field, and she sings of wanting just a minute to collect herself, asking, “Can I exhale for a minute? / Can I get this out in the open? / Can I sit down for a second? / Can I breathe?”

As on the of the 40 million American adults diagnosed with anxiety, Sabrina is still doing her best to understand what method of self-care and treatment work for her. “It’s hard because sometimes you want to talk, other times you don’t want to talk to anybody,” she said. “It’s about doing things that keep yourself close to yourself, because at certain points I feel very far away from myself.” She credited baths and taking a moment to sit and breathe, as she does in the video, as two forms of self-care that have helped her.

Prior to the release of this song, Sabrina had called anxiety her “biggest struggle,” but she shied away from singing about it. “I never wanted anybody to feel like I was complaining… I have so many things to be grateful for,” she told MTV News. But she credits a switch in thinking with helping her open up when she needs to. “It’s taking that second to remind yourself that just because you have so much to be grateful for doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you’re internally struggling with.”

Perhaps due in part to social media, the singer noted, there has been a change in how others are more willing to speak and listen about the impact of mental health conditions, and she thinks that’s a good sign for increasing dialogue going forward. “There’s so many things that I never realized people are going through because we keep certain things personal, and then we share other things,” she said. “I’m constantly reminded that you don’t know what other people are going through, regardless of what their life looks like.”

There’s no telling what the future might hold for Sabrina and her musical endeavors, but she sees “Exhale” as sharing a small piece of herself with fans. “They’re brave enough to come up to me at meet-and-greets and tell me exactly what they’re feeling without hesitation,” she said. “I wanted to do the same thing for them. It was a hard song to perform, but getting to give it to them, and them having it as their own…makes me feel a lot better.”

Kesha Paints A Picture Of A World Without ‘Rich, White, Straight, Men’

Kesha visualizes a new world that’s much different from than unfair one that we live in. On Sunday, she plotted out that this fresh planet with a surprise release, “Rich, White, Straight, Men.” Her bold new world is peaceful and, most importantly, fair. To the backdrop of animated, carnivalesque pop, Kesha spills about the possibilities where the people in the song’s title don’t exist. What she lists off sounds like a welcome alternative and one that would benefit us all.

“Rich, White, Straight, Men” is about who rules the world. What would happen if they weren’t there? Kesha sings about this with fire in her eyes, happily listing the ways that it would be better. “If you are a lady and you do your lady work/Then you will make as many dollars as the boys/Not just two thirds,” she energetically hisses. In a magically creative twist, she invokes “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” for a necessary message about romance: “Twinkle, twinkle little star/How I wish the world was different/Where who you love and who you are/Was nobody’s fucking business.” It helps that the oblong pop production sounds like a distorted fairy tale from another world, the dimension that Kesha is singing from. It’s a truly one-of-a-kind listen that exposes the problems that we have in this world.

Kesha is due to release another album soon. Her last was 2017’s Rainbow. Last year, she released the video for “Here Comes The Change” in which she pays homage to several Civil Rights era icons.

Listen to the dreamy new Earth on “Rich, White, Straight, Men,” up above.