It’s Just Billie Eilish And The Microphone In Moody ‘No Time To Die’ Video

    A quick Billie Eilish 2020 recap: After winning pretty much all the Grammys in January, the 18-year-old pop futurist locked in the coveted gig of singing the latest James Bond film theme. That breathy song, “No Time to Die,” arrived in February, a few months before the film’s originally scheduled release.

    Obviously, a lot has changed since then. The live-music industry has been shut down since March, which means Eilish’s Where Do We Go? World Tour had to cease just as it began. Still, she released “My Future,” a wandering, downbeat anthem for feeling forlorn, and with No Time to Die finally seeing release in November, the title theme has gotten a video. In the clip, which dropped Thursday (October 1), a glamorous Eilish delivers the song to an old-fashioned directional mic in black and white, draping dangling earrings down as she works her way to the song’s belting conclusion.

    There’s something undeniably cinematic about the visual, which is about as simple and scaled back as they come, especially given Eilish’s rich history of metaphorical and CGI-rich videos. No one is putting out cigarettes on her face, injecting her with black liquid, or turning her into an oil-slicked winged demon. It’s just her and the mic, intercut with scenes of the long, anguished, sepia-toned romance between Daniel Craig’s Bond and Léa Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann.

    We also get a good glimpse of Lashana Lynch’s character, Nomi — who will reportedly usher in a new era of female 00 agents — holding a big gun, amid lots of other action sequences.

    As far as we know, Eilish herself isn’t in the new 007 flick, but she’ll soon be joining the celluloid realm on the big screen. A new documentary titled Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry hits theaters and Apple TV+ in February 2021. As you count down the months until then, check out the moody “No Time to Die” video above, then watch Eilish’s interview with MTV News about her visuals below.

    Demi Lovato Is Sifting Through Heartbreak On New Song ‘Still Have Me’

    Last week, the surprising news came out that Demi Lovato and her fiancé of two months Max Ehrich had ended their engagement. The two had gotten together in March, around the time quarantine began, and after Ehrich proposed in July in Malibu, the two shared adorable beach photos expressing their excitement.

    But whatever the reason for their split, Lovato hasn’t directly weighed in — until now. Sort of. On a new single titled “Still Have Me,” Lovato sings her own praises, acknowledging that things may be “a mess” she may be “still broken,” but, as the chorus reminds, “I don’t have much but at least I still have me.”

    Over an electric yet subdued piano rhythm, Lovato sings her heart out on “Still Have Me,” and whether it’s a direct response to her current situation or a retooled version of something she’s had in the works since at least 2019, it’s hard not to see it as a statement of determination, especially when she sings:

    Everything around me shattered
    All the highs are now just low
    But it doesn’t even matter
    Cause I’d rather be alone

    The empowering anthem comes after “Anyone” — and its rousing premiere at the 2020 Grammys earlier this year — as well as singles “I Love Me,” “I’m Ready” (alongside Sam Smith), and the Marshmello collab “OK Not to Be OK,” a tapestry of new music pointing to Lovato’s new path along the path of perseverance and self-actualization.

    Ahead of the song’s release on social media, Lovato wrote, “Music is always there for me.”

    Listen to “Still Have Me” above.

    Jeff Rosenstock Made His Late-Night TV Debut Look Like ‘Chaos Hell’

    On Monday night (September 28), punk icon Jeff Rosenstock made his late-night TV debut by roaring through “Scram!” on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Like his indefatigably sweaty live shows, it was an energetic affair. Backed by his masked-up band, Death Rosenstock, the kinetic front-person shouted, clapped, and perspired through the three-minute rager, with Black Lives Matter written on his face covering. Bassist John DeDomenici was green-screened in, giving the rendition presence a trippy and occasionally unsettling punch. There was even a lightly subliminal message to buy his new album, No Dream. To hear Rosenstock describe it, the three-minute remote performance perfectly fit the hellish year 2020 has been.

    “We live in fucking chaos hell. I want to be honest about us living in chaos hell,” Rosenstock tells MTV News.

    Rosenstock has spent the past five years steadily yet forcefully emerging from the punk underground to become the voice for an anxious, exhausted crowd determined to not let them win. His 2016 and 2018 albums — Worry. and POST-, respectively — became life-affirming salves for expressing fury and weariness in the Trump era, irresistibly hooky and blistered with rage; mere days after he surprise-released No Dream in May, the country (and then the world) exploded into mass demonstrations against police brutality, vigilante violence, and racial injustice.

    “Scram!” soundtracks this year, even as it dates back to the POST- era, written about “leftist anarchist types basically fucking up Lindsey Graham’s lunch.” “When Lindsey Graham was out to eat, people would go and be like, ‘Fuck you, Lindsey Graham.’ Then I was like, that’s awesome! Because these people are ruining thousands and thousands of lives with their bigotry, with their racism, with their tricks into keeping the income gap as wide as possible [and] taking advantage of the working class,” Rosenstock says. “Then the other side is basically just like, ‘If you can’t have a polite conversation with us, then we are not going to listen to you.’ It’s just like, what the fuck? Fuck you, man.”

    This year, Rosenstock raised thousands of dollars through Instagram-livestream performances benefitting The Bail Project, the First Nations Development Institute, and various other progressive activist organizations across the United States. With the live-music industry shut down, Death Rosenstock’s joyously deranged ceremonies had to be scaled down to cozier solo livestreams. Jeff yelled his voice hoarse and pounded acoustic guitars. The stave diving and communal moshing were replaced by jokes and emojis in a scrolling chat. “In all of them, the thing that resonated with me was just people goofing off in the chat and people who were happy to see their friends, or people who were happy to talk to their online friends in a way that doesn’t feel permanent, like a comment on a Facebook post or an Instagram post or a Tweet or something that somebody could get back at you for,” he says.

    As live music continues to be experienced through screens, livestreams, and remote performances on Seth Meyers, Rosenstock talks to MTV News about that experience, releasing a set of more mellow material as 2020 Dump, and this chaos-hell year’s potential extraterrestrial silver lining.

    MTV News: This Late Night performance is going to be a way for people that don’t know you to get to know you. What does it mean to get that distinction now at this point in your career?

    Jeff Rosenstock: I don’t really know what any of it means, you know what I mean? It’s just exciting. It’s cool. I know that we’re on it because Seth is a fan, which is a cool thing. It makes me feel like we got to this spot on our own, not because — this is how I imagine it all works: Somebody gives Mr. NBC $50,000 and is like, “Hey, put my band, The Motorcycles, on there,” or something like that. I don’t really know how it works. It was a pleasant surprise that it wasn’t because of anything like that, but it’s because they were just like, “Oh, no. We like your band. We like your music.” That’s a cool thing.

    MTV News: It gives you a chance to introduce yourself in a certain way. How much are you thinking about that when you choose to wear a mask, first of all, and know that it’s going to be a Black Lives Matter mask, and all those considerations?

    Rosenstock: To me, that seemed like the bare minimum you could do, to show awareness of … how necessary it is to hold police accountable for continuously murdering Black people. I feel like that’s the very least I could do, if I’m there, is wear a mask that I wrote “Black Lives Matter” on. I was trying to be really considerate of making it have energy, in a certain way. Just to feel alive and truthful to the moment that we’re in. I feel like I’ve seen people do things that either felt stiff or felt really solemn and reverent to the times that we are living in. I just was hoping that ours felt a little bit more chaotic and energetic.

    Our bass player had to be green-screened in for it. He was like, “Well, do I have to wear a mask? Because I’m not going to be around anybody.” Our keyboard player was like, “You think we fucking wore masks because we want to wear masks? We have to wear masks. You’ve got to wear a mask. Screw you!” I think that I just wanted to be honest to what we’re living in right now. We all got tested beforehand. We all treated it in a really, really safe way, as safe as we possibly could. Then I see performances where people seem to defiantly not be doing that. I’m just like, Jesus fucking Christ, you people.

    MTV News: 2020 has really given people so much time, and you’ve recorded more music. You’ve done a ton of livestreams and raised money. Has staying busy made 2020 feel a bit more bearable for you?

    Rosenstock: I feel happy every time that I get to play a livestream and just get to feel like I’m communicating with people who I would usually see throughout the year. I feel very, very, very, very, very fortunate to be in a position where I can help to raise money for good causes like that. But I don’t know — I think I feel like a lot of people feel, where I wish I was getting more done. I wish I was taking all those online courses or whatever and becoming a better mix engineer. Or I wish I was learning how to build things, since I finally am not living in an apartment. In theory, I could just get a saw and build shit. But it feels really difficult to get it done because there’s just five layers of, I don’t know, neon red-level threat distractions happening all the time. That makes it kind of hard to do it, you know? It makes me happy also when Craig of the Creek episodes air that I had worked on throughout all of this. I’ve always felt lucky to be able to channel negative energy into something that feels like, at the very least, it’s creative.

    MTV News: It’s been about six months of you and other artists doing those livestreams in different capacities instead of playing regular shows. What’s that experience been like?

    Rosenstock: I think just because of my personality, five minutes before a livestream, I’m like, oh shit, what songs am I going to play? Oh shit, I didn’t practice any of those songs. Oh shit, I didn’t warm up. Shit, I didn’t realize it was already 6:00. Shit, shit, shit. I haven’t adjusted to being able to do them better. I think of it as a good thing. It still feels like a similar nervous energy to the first time I did it, where it was just, oh, how’s this going to go? I think that’s something that we embrace a lot in our band, when we’re playing a show: that we don’t go into it expecting that it’s going to go well.

    MTV News: It’s cool to hear the more mellow material you released as 2020 Dump songs as a counterpoint to No Dream. Were you nervous about sharing that stuff at all, knowing that they’re more like demos?

    Rosenstock: I tried to not treat them as demos once I knew I was going to put them out because I don’t know what’s going to happen with these songs. I don’t know if, at the end of the day, this is going to feel like, well, this was the most real representation of the song, even though it was something that I recorded at home. I was just thinking a little more about Guided By Voices or old Mountain Goats tapes or Dear Nora, just stuff that. There was a mountain of material. It wasn’t all necessarily beautifully recorded in a studio, all planned out. The way the recordings are, that’s them as they’re being written.

    Nervous to put them out? I guess so. But I’m nervous to put everything out. Two of the songs that are on there were songs I was thinking about for No Dream, but never really figured out. I knew No Dream was going to be a fast record. I couldn’t find the heart in them yet. I couldn’t find where they wanted to go. It didn’t make sense in context of that. Now it’s making sense. But then it’s also — I don’t know if it feels too gloomy, or something. I don’t know. I’m thinking way too much about all of it and I’m trying to not overthink it as much, which is, I think, the point of trying to put them out in this way.

    MTV News: What’s something you’re feeling optimistic about right now?

    Rosenstock: I wish I had a greater, quicker answer. But I think it’s pretty exciting that throughout 2020, because of all the shit that’s been going on, they’ve just been quietly dropping all this stuff that I knew already: verifying that UFOs are real and that there’s alien life and shit.

    I think that a lot more people are understanding that we’ve had the wool pulled over our eyes by the ruling class. I don’t know if that is just the bubble that I exist in. I think that the other edge of that sword is that there’s also a lot more hateful people who are just like, “Yeah, man. I don’t give a fuck about anybody.” But I’m hoping that the things that we’re learning, if we make it through, we’re actually going to be able to take stock of everything and try and treat people better. I think that the enormous show of support for protecting Black and brown lives from police officers, all over the country, all over the world; who are literally being shot at with rubber bullets, literally being gassed, being kettled in, being beaten… I think that’s a very good thing, to see people stand up against all that force, at a time where it feels like everything is just devoid of any sort of hope.

    Although, what if it’s bad alien stuff? That would be the only appropriate way for this year to end — that we found out all this alien shit and surprise, surprise: They hate us, because we’ve wasted our planet. Then they kill us, and then that’s that.

    Bartees Strange Gives In To Lawless Creation

    By Danielle Chelosky

    Over a span of five years, friends and bandmates pulled musician Bartees Cox Jr. aside to tell him, You need to quit those bands you’re in and start your own. “I had multiple friends who were like, dude, what are you doing? You’ve got to focus on your own stuff,” Bartees recalls as we talk on the phone early in September. “I was like, no, it’s not good enough.” He had put himself in a box.

    His main gig was as guitarist and vocalist in a New York-based emo quartet called Stay Inside, founded in 2016 when future bandmate Chris Johns answered Bartees’s Craigslist ad, and they discovered they had the same birthday. “I was like, oh, wow, super cosmic, we’re both Aquariuses,” Bartees says. Along with Vishnu Anantha and Bryn Nieboer, who worked with Bartees at a 3-D printing company, they started churning out noisy, idiosyncratic post-hardcore anthems and played what Bartees considers some of the best shows of his life.

    But in 2020, Bartees stands on his own under the name Bartees Strange. His debut album Live Forever, out October 2 on Memory Music, proves that his friends and bandmates were right; he is at his most powerful when he is in full control of his art, and when he is refusing to be put in a box or categorized as a genre. From the energetic, post-punk essence of “Mustang” to the poignant, acoustic ambiance of “Far,” the album inhabits a multitude of sonic spaces, including rap on infectious tracks like “Kelly Rowland” and “Boomer.” Still, it took a lot to get to this point.

    His eclectic musical background helps to explain the diversity of Live Forever. Bartees grew up in Oklahoma around music, surrounded by “church choirs, country music, and hardcore bands,” as the press release puts it, since he was young. “I could hear similarities,” he says about the three. “I always felt like I wanted to show how they were connected to my friends.” His heart, though, belonged to the Midwest emo scene: “When I started rolling around with friends in high school and meeting punks and hardcore kids and people playing thrash, I felt like I fit in somewhere,” he explains because, in the punk community, no one is interested in boxes or limitations — the point is to go against the current, to do something new. “Everyone looked crazy. Everyone had piercings in their face and crazy hair and they were drug addicts and people dealing with shit like I was dealing with shit. No one was staring at me all of the time.”

    Something clicked in the midst of the madness of hardcore. “To see people break form and make sound without really knowing how to use their instruments was really refreshing and showed me how lawless creation could be,” he says. “I fell in love with that.”

    His temptation toward this “lawless creation” contrasted with his previous notion of what he was supposed to be. He worked intense jobs in New York — where he moved in 2016 — felt drained, and ultimately hated himself. This caused tension for years. “I was trying to be this successful, young, smart, Black person that is just kind of a fairytale,” he says. Things were off musically, also: “Brooklyn was an amazing place to play and learn, but I didn’t think anyone was gonna hear my music if I stayed there,” he says. “It’s too noisy. I kept getting distracted. I wanted to play in every band and I want to record every person and produce every little thing. It’s impossible not to get caught up in the rat race.”

    One day, he got to his job in Midtown Manhattan to find it swarmed with police and fire trucks. Two people — a married couple whom Bartees was friendly with because they owned the office next to his — had jumped out the window. “I had just seen them the day before, and then they were dead,” Bartees says. The opening lyrics of the extravagant “Mustang” are his poetic contemplations on this moment: “A man bled out this morning, I’m the antecedent / This was not the first time I fell in my arms.” He translates: “I felt like I hadn’t done enough for someone who passed away. Those feelings go back to when I was very young and losing people who I wish I would’ve been there for.”

    He left New York for Washington, D.C. on a mission. “I started slowly rearranging my life,” he says, giving himself over to that lawless creation and giving up on what he presumed was expected of him. After five years of advice and encouragement, he finally started his own band, Bartees and the Strange Fruit, later to unfurl as Bartees Strange.

    Even before Live Forever’s release, Bartees Strange has become a known quantity. The groundwork was laid earlier this year on his first EP, Say Goodbye to Pretty Boy, a set of covers of songs by ornate indie-rock stalwarts The National. His reverence for the source material blended with a bold reimagining of it, earning praise from frontman Matt Berninger, Hayley Williams, and even more surprisingly, Ryan Reynolds. “Uh, no, I didn’t expect any of that, at all,” Bartees says, bursting into laughter, and then giving the chaser: “Ryan Reynolds sent me a selfie this morning.” He is in a seemingly never-ending state of bewilderment, and reasonably so.

    And it’s not just that Bartees’s National covers are good; they prove something. “I was really trying to assert that the way the music industry exists — that there are so few successful Black rock bands or Black indie bands that have had careers like The National — is a problem, considering our contributions,” he explains. “It’s, like, really fucked up.”

    Julia Leiby

    This idea carries over into Live Forever. On the intense “Mossblerd,” which Bartees describes as the “mission statement of the record,” he reckons with representation in not only the music scene but in life. It’s about the limitations of genres, stressing “how important it is that contributions from Black artists in rock, and other spaces that aren’t stereotypical, are normalized.” But the word genre works on a larger level — “like a stereotype, almost like a role you’ve been assigned,” Bartees says — especially when he raps about the incarceration of his older brother.

    “If you grow up and you live in a poor neighborhood and you’re Black,” says Bartees, “and the only things you’ve seen on TV and the only songs you’ve heard and the only examples you’ve ever seen are poor Black people or crime or horrible news stories — in my mind, they all roll up into a genre.” He laments how his nephew, his older brother’s son, is inevitably falling prey to this cycle that is almost impossible to break: “I see that he’s a brilliant kid and has so much to offer, but he’s only seen what these genres tell him he is. And it limits him.”

    Live Forever is, in many ways, Bartees transcending the boxes he’s been put in. He learned how to engineer and produce to overcome his struggle with bringing his visions to life; he accepted his fate as an artist rather than working a stable, prestigious job that he felt pressured to hold; he is asserting his place in a music scene where he rarely sees representation. “I want to fly close to the sun, too, even if I flame out,” he says. The 11 tracks that make up Live Forever show Bartees in flight; he is free and ambitious, dipping in and out of indie rock, rap, and jazz — exploring as much territory as possible in order to express himself.

    “There are so many things that are so completely uncontrollable,” Bartees says, “but I feel like making this record was an exercise in learning more about who I am. I can build any world I want — whatever music, whatever art, whatever I want to make,” and he adds, “even if it doesn’t fit into a little box.”