Over a driving house beat akin to Kanye West’s “Fade,” Gomez vents about the struggles of dating: “It’s not what I need, but / I want a boyfriend … Tell me, are there any good ones left?” Her signature breathy and distorted vocals shine here, but it’s the track’s all-too-relatable message that kicks this one up a notch. Earlier this week, the singer explained that it’s “a lighthearted song about falling down and getting back up time and time again in love, but also knowing that you don’t need anyone other than yourself to be happy.” She added that “a boyfriend is nowhere near the top of my list of priorities,” but even so, it’s nice to hear Single Selena effortlessly brush off boys with an eye roll.
Charli XCX wasn’t kidding when she announced that she’s been hard at work on a new album, How I’m Feeling Now. Today (April 9), she’s released the first song from it — the robotic ballad that is “Forever.” It’s about sheer adoration, to the most mechanical degree.
If toasters listened to songs when they made love, “Forever,” would be on their playlist. It unfolds from a harsh opening of boiling synths into a slightly smoother sore throat of a cyborg who’s doing its best impression of a lovestruck human. A robotic wind glosses over this apocalyptic Terminator-like landscape, bringing a sugary presence to the track that sings about its intense infatuation with a partner. It’s Charli if you can’t tell, buried beneath all manner of cords, wires, and flashing buttons.
Charli’s love here is so enviable. She took a dive into the blue with her feelings and now she’s swimming in love, as she knew she would. “I will always love you/ I’ll love you forever/ Even we’re not together/ I will always love you,” she sings with giant, pink, pulsating hearts in her animated eyes. The entire amorous spill will bring a tear to your eye. This is a love that survives being hunkered down together in a quarantine and driving each other crazy. As electrical as “Forever” sounds, it feels extremely human.
It took just two days for Charli to make “Forever.” In a statement, she revealed that she collaborated virtually with frequent collaborators A.G Cook and BJ Burton. “This is a working process that will continue throughout the album, with the entirety of the project being written, recorded, produced and released while in quarantine due to the world pandemic,” it reads.
That project, How I’m Feeling Now, is currently set to arrive on May 15. Last month, she revealed in one of her “self quarantine diary” entries that she was hard at work on completing the LP. “I had one song left to write and then it was all about finishing and production and artwork etc. obviously things have slowed now but I do feel excited to wrap this up and be releasing new music soon, of course only when it’s ready,” she wrote.
Later in that same entry, she gave out some details about what to expect with How I’m Feeling Now. “What can I tell you about this album…. well, there are less collaborations, Chris and I have been talking about reuniting (alongside someone else), it has felt very quick to make, AG [Cook] is involved, I want it to be quite short in comparison to CHARLI, there are a lot of songs about sex and physicality.”
Take a listen to Charli’s robotic new love song “Forever” up above.
Hayley Williams’s newest piece of Petals for Armor is “My Friend,” a loving shoutout to someone that’s been by her side through thick and thin. Its lyric video features her makeup artist, Brian O’Connor, and shows what kind of wacky adventures that they get into together. I think, after seeing this, we’ll all want to grab our best friend and hold them close.
Williams is O’Connor’s ride or die. He triumphantly says so himself in the video’s opening, then referring to her as the Thelma to his Louise. “I’ve seen her from every side,” he says. “Ride or die, over the cliff.” From there, it’s all about the behind-the-scenes fun that they have. Whether it’s in the studio between recording takes, standing in front of a house holding flowers, or making funny faces as they get ready for photoshoots, they are, together, the spitting image of friendship that is so hard to find.
The intensity of Williams’s vocals make this relationship sound even stronger. “My friend,” she elongates on the chorus. “You’ve seen me from every side/ Still down for the ride.” The familiar phrase radiates a warmth as it spills from her tongue. It’s the equivalent of a strong hug, firm handshake, or hearty dap.
Think about Scooby Doo and Shaggy, Bert and Ernie, Beavis and Butt-Head — “My Friend” is made to cement and celebrate iconic friendships like these. Its bridge is where the festive energy really kicks in: “Who could take your place?/ Who could take mine?/ None could take your place/ None could take mine.” Turn to your best friend, right now, and plant a wet one right on their left cheek.
As awesome as “My Friend” is, it would be perfect for another of Williams’s Sunday Session performances. Last month, she performed “Leave It Alone” with Paramore member Joey Howard while lounging on a couch. I can already imagine a “My Friend” setup: O’Connor doing jumping jacks in the corner while Williams lovingly croons the number with Howard’s help on guitar.
“My Friend” is the eighth song from Petals for Armor that’s set to drop on May 8. In February, she dropped an EP, Petals for Armor I, that contained the first five songs she shared from the forthcoming LP such as “Simmer,” “Leave It Alone,” and “Cinnamon.” Since that dropped, she’s shared both “Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris,” and “Over Yet.”
Check out the loving video for “My Friend” up above.
Rogers started her career as a model at the age of 14. A year later, she became close with A$AP Yams of the A$AP Mob after asking to be his intern on Twitter. “I wanted to A&R and I was inspired by the way [A$AP Yams] went about molding Rocky’s career,” Rogers told Billboard in 2017.
Shortly after, she began to work on music, encouraged by A$AP Yams. One of her first viral big hits was 2013’s “Selfie,” where she dizzyingly slipped bars into breathless spaces. She dropped the heavy-handed “Glen Coco” in 2014 and followed it up with the release of the I’m Not Here. This Isn’t Happening EP in 2015.
Over the years, she’d been building her brand with releases like Ninety (2016), Music 2 Die 2 (2017), and, most recently, In Case I Die First (2019), while racking up tons of industry friends such as Kehlani, Vince Staples, and more.
Rogers talked about dealing with opiate addiction in her music. On her 2016 project Ninety, she rapped, “Demons dancing on me like I’ve been feening / Hard to believe I’ve been 90 days clean.” In a 2018 interview with Pitchfork, she talked about her past substance abuse issues prior to getting out of rehab. “It got to the point where I had to take something just to be able to get on stage and do my job,” she said. “I didn’t like that. That was taking it too far because it stops being fun and starts being because you have to, and that’s when you need to chill.”
In another earlier interview with Vibe, Rogers opened up about how she managed to get over her addiction. “It was hard,” she said. “I had to go away for a minute and I did a detox, but it was a matter of having a really good support system of family and friends.”
Fans, friends, and collaborators around the world took to social media to pay respects to Rogers after her death.
From her cozy London home with some snazzy visual effects, Dua Lipa‘s performance of “Break My Heart” for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon proved that it’s easy to push the wheel from the couch when you’re living in both the future and past. The title of her sophomore LP, Future Nostalgia, makes so much sense.
Lipa’s “Break My Heart” performance felt like a time-traveling trip throughout the 1990s thanks to a grainy filter and city graphics scrolling across the screen. As Lipa sits comfortably on a plush couch and sings the disco-fied tune, dancers behind her, embedded in the background, bring the party to life with funky swaying. The singer didn’t need to get off the couch to make the awesome show into a festive celebration.
Afterwards, Lipa spoke to host Jimmy Fallon about the decision to still release Future Nostalgia during the global coronavirus pandemic. “There was a point where I was feeling a little conflicted and I was like, I’m not sure if I want to put the music out at this time,” she said. “People are suffering and I just don’t know if it feels right.”
“But then, I also thought about the fact that I made this record to get away from any anxieties and pressures of making a second album and not have to think about that,” she continued. “And then I was like, maybe this record could give people a moment to get away from everything and give them some comfort.”
Lipa dropped Future Nostalgia on March 27, a week before its original April 3 release date. When she announced on March 23 that it would be coming early, she told fans, emotionally, “I hope it makes you smile and I hope it makes you dance.”
Later that month, Lipa performed “Don’t Start Now“on Homefest: James Corden’s Late Late Show Special. She was joined remotely by her band, backup singers, and dancers. It was just as futuristically nostalgic as her recent “Break My Heart” performance on Fallon.
Check out her awesome “Break My Heart” show up above.
As far as iconic music-video moments go, it’s hard to overlook this one: An astronaut on Mars reaches down to the planet’s sandy surface and uncovers a stone tile emblazoned with Britney Spears‘s face. The ground shakes, and the pop star descends from a platform in a flashy red catsuit as the track’s stabbing synths set in. Then, the music cuts out for a brief moment, as Spears delivers the opening line with a sarcastic snap: “I think I did it again.”
This week, “Oops!… I Did It Again” turns 20 years old — the Mars-set visual premiered on MTV on April 10, 2000. It ushered in Spears’s hotly anticipated second album era; her debut, …Baby One More Time (the girl loves an ellipsis), had taken the pop world by storm the year prior, and Brit wasted no time crafting its follow-up. She had reunited with “Baby” producer Max Martin for another banging single, and this time, the loneliness wasn’t killing her. On “Oops,” she is the one toying with boys’ hearts.
In honor of the video’s 20th anniversary, MTV News spoke to its director, Nigel Dick, about how it came together and what its legacy is now. “Oops” marked the fourth video Dick helmed for Spears, following “…Baby One More Time,” “(You Drive Me) Crazy,” and “Sometimes.” But this was their most ambitious undertaking yet: an intergalactic ride with special effects and early-aughts quirks that established Spears as a pop icon-in-the-making.
“Oops!… I Did It Again” became a stepping stone bridging the schoolgirl-gone-wild look from 1999’s “…Baby One More Time” to the sweaty, python-wielding visage of 2001’s “I’m A Slave 4 U.” Here was Spears hinting at the direction she was headed by announcing that she’s “not that innocent,” though Dick doesn’t remember it being strategized as such.
“Very often, the label rings you up and says, ‘We want to project this artist into a different age group now.’ To my memory, there was no discussion like that at all,” Dick told MTV News. “It was quite simply, ‘Britney’s got a new single. Can you get on the phone with her? She’s got a couple ideas.'”
The two had a brief conversation, during which Spears laid out her vision: “‘I want to be in a red suit, I want to be on Mars, I want there to be a good-looking spaceman, and I do not want a rocket,'” Dick recalls her saying. “And the rest was left up to me.”
The video was shot over three days in March 2000, in Universal City, California. A crew from MTV’s Making the Video was there to capture behind-the-scenes footage, and in a pre-shoot interview, Spears said, “The song is basically about a girl. All these guys fall in love with her, and she just can’t help it. When I meet a guy that I’m seriously attracted to, I get butterflies in my stomach, I get a total brain fart, and I don’t know what to say.”
Once the cameras started rolling, though, Spears was the opposite of the shy, bumbling girl she claimed to be in real life. As Dick told her in Making the Video, “This is Mars. You own Mars, you are the Queen of Mars. This is your city and these are your subjects. You’re here to dazzle them.” To do that, she needed the perfect look.
THE CATSUIT CRISIS
Spears’s skintight, red-hot catsuit was a point of contention in the 24 hours leading up to the video shoot — because, as Dick explained, there was another, supposedly superior costume. “We had picked a gorgeous catsuit, which I loved,” he said. “It was much softer material. It wasn’t shiny. It was more feminine. And of course, the problem now is that it’s been supplanted by this rubber thing, or whatever the material was, which I felt was not very flattering.”
Spears decided the day before the shoot that she wanted a different suit, so she called on designer Michael Bush, who had famously created costumes for Michael Jackson throughout the ’80s and ’90s. Bush actually appears in Making the Video; he has a short conversation with Spears about the look she wants, then promises he’s going to pull an “all-nighter” to complete it.
That wasn’t the only sartorial-centric dispute on set. Spears’s other notable outfit from the video is the white cropped turtleneck and asymmetrical skirt she wears while laying on a glowing, spinning circle. Turns out, that all-white ‘fit was another last-minute decision — Dick says that Spears initially wore a much more revealing two-piece that he describes as a “cheap Vegas stripper outfit.” And while it probably wouldn’t be too risqué by 2020 standards, Dick notes that the “Oops!” video was filmed not long after Spears’s then-scandalous Rolling Stone photoshoot, which accompanied a 1999 cover story that invited readers into the underage star’s “heart, mind, and bedroom” (the article opened with cringey descriptions of her “honeyed thigh” and “ample chest”).
Taking that into consideration, Dick and Spears’s team convinced her to reconsider. “We went back to Britney’s trailer,” Dick said, “and looked for something else, and we came up with what you’re seeing in the video now.”
THE MEN OF MARS
“Oops!” is, at heart, a cosmic crush story, so of course there needed to be some dudes pining for the Queen of Mars’s heart. The video featured a gaggle of buff, shirtless guys operating mysterious levers in the background of Brit’s lair — in one cute scene from Making the Video, the pop star giggles, “I don’t know their names but they’re hotties! I don’t mind looking at them!”
The main object of Spears’s affection, though, was the astronaut played by Eli Swanson, an Abercrombie & Fitch-type model who was chosen by Dick and his team from a lineup of hopefuls. But he’s not even the real star of the show, in the director’s opinion.
“I like the guy in the control booth. I love the fact that he’s real. He’s not a super-hunky, spaceman type,” Dick said of the Rivers Cuomo look-alike who speaks to Swanson’s astronaut through a headset. “It’s like, it’s just another day on the job at NASA. Yesterday, he was looking at the Backstreet Boys on Saturn, and today, he’s got Britney on Mars. These are things you come up with and you’re always frightened that the label is going to go, ‘See that guy grooving at the desk? Take him out.’ But it all stayed in.”
BRITNEY’S JACK-ROSE MOMENT
Swanson got his moment to shine during the song’s delightfully dated bridge: a quirky bit of dialogue in which Spears’s boy toy gives her the “heart of the ocean” necklace from Titanic. “But I thought the old lady dropped it into the ocean in the end,” Spears sweetly says. He answers, “Well, baby, I went down and got it for you.” Her response to this impossibly acquired gift of the most symbolically romantic treasure of the late ’90s? “Aw, you shouldn’t have.”
“I’d obviously heard the song before I spoke to Britney about what the video was going to be like,” Dick remembers. “I said to her, ‘Well, hang on, there’s a bit in the middle about the Titanic? What are we going to do about that? Are we supposed to suddenly cut back to 1912?’ And she said, ‘Oh, you’ll think of something.’
“So you throw together this little sequence and nobody ever questioned it,” he continued of Spears and Swanson’s scene. “Everybody just said, ‘Yeah. That’ll work.’ For me, I had no idea why that sequence was in the song at all, but it’s lighthearted and doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
One of the biggest stories from the “Oops!” video, as Spears super-fans surely recall, is the injury she sustained while shooting scenes in the all-white outfit. As legend goes, a piece of the camera hovered above Spears fell on her head — though there are varying degrees of the seriousness of the injury, which Dick is happy to set straight.
“Firstly, nothing like that should ever happen on set,” he said. “I was extremely upset that in a scene like that, where the gear is over Britney’s head, that it was not properly secured. I don’t believe I’ve ever worked with that camera assistant ever again.
“The second thing is, no, the camera did not fall on Britney,” he continued. “If it had, that would have been the end of my career. A part of the camera which fits on the very front, the matte box, was what fell on her because it was not properly secured. And it’s still quite heavy; not to minimize the effect of it. It has threaded screws in the top left and top right corners. I believe one of those hit her in the head.”
Dick said that the medic on set advised Spears to rest in her trailer for a couple hours, to make sure she didn’t have a concussion. The crew powered down, but, “being a trooper,” Dick said, “Britney came back and got on with the work.”
Wardrobe disagreements and minor injury aside, Dick remembers the “Oops!” video as a fun three days, even when it came time for Spears to face her fears and hop into a harness for the spinning sequence. “That was a bit of a tense moment,” Dick conceded. “You need time to practice with that stuff when you’re wearing the magic outfit and you’ve got a harness on under your red Mars suit and whatnot.”
Throughout it all, though, Dick describes Spears as a consummate professional and a passionate dancer who didn’t slack when it came to executing choreographer Tina Landon’s intense routine.
“She rehearsed for like, five days. And it wasn’t, ‘Oh, we’ll show up at two in the afternoon, have a couple of lattes, and then we’ll do a bit of dancing,'” Dick said. “They were there at 10 in the morning, and I would go and see a run-through at five at night. They looked like hell because they’d been sweating all day, their hair is ratty, their T-shirts have stained. I mean, it’s fucking hard work. It’s Olympic-level athletics at that stage.”
Not only that, but Spears did it all in that tight latex suit — and she apparently still remembers how tricky it was. In an Instagram post commemorating the 20th anniversary of the song’s release last month, Spears shared a behind-the-scenes photo from the “Oops!” video on Instagram and wrote, “I remember that red suit was so freaking hot… but the dance was fun. And it made the shoot fly by!”
“OOPS!” LIVES ON
A few years back, an uncut version of Spears’s close-ups from the “Oops!” video started making the rounds on YouTube. One upload of the vid boasts over 23 million views, and it shows Spears performing the entirety of the song from just the waist up. It may as well be in the dictionary under “charisma.”
“The thing you have to remember is, you can’t fake that,” Dick said. “All the videos I did for her, I felt captured something magic about her. I think the beauty, in inverted commas, of Britney was that she truly was the girl next door. She obviously had this great passion for dancing and she seemed so happy all the time, which is why I think people loved her so much.
“People’s perception of a video being charismatic, wonderful, whatever, comes later,” he continued. “Many times I’ve been asked on set, ‘Are we making an award-winning, iconic video here?’ And my response is always, ‘I haven’t got a fucking clue.’ You do the best work you can on the day, and people’s perception of it then develops, and all you can do is sit back and watch.”
“Oops!… I Did It Again” went on to become a TRL staple and earn four VMA nominations, while the song itself secured a coveted Grammy nod. Twenty years later, it’s still a charisma-fueled, fan-favorite video that ushered Spears into the new millennium while capsulizing her growth as an artist and as a woman. That is just so typically Brit.
Hot off the release of his fourth album, Colores, J Balvin has dropped another eye-catching video. This time, it’s the moody “Gris” that’s gotten the visual treatment from Balvin and his go-to director, Colin Tilley. As the track’s title suggests, this one is 50-plus shades of gray — but not in the sexual way.
Balvin spirals from heartbreak in the surreal, cinematic clip, during which he isolates himself in his room (timely!) while reminiscing about better days with his ex. But he’s not alone — different critters keep filling his bedroom, from slithering snakes to crawling scorpions, and even a giant elephant. Meanwhile, his surroundings constantly change; one minute, he’s rapping in front of a burning house, and the next, he’s singing underwater and struggling to stay afloat. At one point, he dangles from a streetlamp while a humpback whale swims down a city block. It all culminates in an earthquake that literally tears his world apart. See it all go down in the video below.
“Gris” is the fifth Colores track to receive a Tilley-directed video, following “Amarillo,” “Blanco,” “Morado,” and “Rojo.” The Colombian superstar recently said that he plans to drop videos from each of the colorful concept album’s 10 tracks, which means there are five more to go. Expect more eye-popping vids ahead!
“Does anyone know what day it is? Is it Tuesday or Wednesday? Or Sunday?” Payne asks, only half-joking about the all-too-relatable query so many of us have asked while spending all our time at home.
“These days feel like between Christmas and New Year’s Eve,” Alesso agrees. “You don’t know which day it is and you’re just waiting for something.”
For fans of the British singer and the superstar DJ, the wait for their hotly anticipated collaboration, “Midnight,” was the one gnawing at them. After several days of teases and snippets, the track arrived on Wednesday (April 8), marking the perfect marriage of Payne’s confident vocal flow and Alesso’s buoyant dance production. On it, Payne begs a partner to “stay till the morning, stay for a while.” “I just wanna lay here, fall into midnight / And fall right into you,” he belts, before the beat drops and Alesso’s lush synths swoop in.
“The song has this really positive message of overcoming things in a relationship. It’s actually funny that it fits so well with the time right now — we’re all overcoming something bigger together,” Payne told MTV News. “This song’s about that kind of adversity in a relationship and going that step further. You never thought you were going to get as far as you did, and here you are. It’s very uplifting.”
Impressively, Payne and Alesso even managed to make a music video for “Midnight” while self-quarantining at home. Last month, they filmed their parts from their respective home bases: Payne on the rooftop terrace of his apartment in London, and Alesso in his recording studio in Los Angeles. It’s an intimate look at the artists in their element, and the clip beautifully blends the two scenes to show how they’re standing together in isolation.
“Alesso was saying to me yesterday about the way the video feels really organic because we’re just doing what we do. It was nice not having a huge crew around because people are always telling you how to perform and all,” Payne admitted. “We both just got to put ourselves into it, which you don’t get the opportunity to do very much. I quite enjoyed it.”
Making the song, both artists contended, was an equally smooth and intimate process. Rather than simply emailing his vocals in, Payne flew to Alesso’s native Sweden to record the song, and Alesso said he was immediately sold after hearing the first cut.
“There’s something so great when you are in the studio and it just turns out the way you want it. It’s those moments that you’ll remember forever. He completely took the record to another level,” Alesso said of his collaborator. “Just his vocal performance… This song was perfect for him. It’s a strong chord that you have to carry through the whole song and he completely nailed it.”
“When I first heard the song and I heard the chorus, I was like, ‘Oh my God, my throat’s going to drop off.’ It’s so high,” Payne chimed in. “I don’t ever seem to pick the easy songs; that’s my biggest problem in life at the moment.”
Now that “Midnight” and its accompanying video are out, Alesso and Payne’s next responsibility is to choose a winner for the track’s official fan remix. In March, Alesso put the call out for fans to send in recordings of themselves singing a portion of the chorus, and one of them will be handpicked for a remix that will blend their vocals and Payne’s.
“It’s definitely going to be a tough choice,” Alesso said. “You really, really see how there’s so many talented people out there. I think we’ve already collected our favorites, but they keep coming in everyday. It’s actually beautiful to see how creative people become during these times. We’ll pick someone who makes it their own version and gives you a new feeling to the song.”
In the meantime, both artists are focused on channeling their own creativity at home by experimenting and getting outside of their comfort zones.
“I feel like I’m working more creatively than ever before, actually,” Payne said. “I’ve been painting and sketching, and it’s been quite fun to mess around with things I wouldn’t usually get the chance to. And I’ve got so many beats coming through for different things and trying to write melodies. It’s a good way to get out of your own head for a little bit, and an outlet to put your feelings down.”
“The same for me,” Alesso said. “Mostly music of course, but I’ve also been practicing playing drums and I’m YouTubing every day. “I’ve never been home this much, and I noticed there’s a lot of things that I wanted to explore creatively and now I have time to do that.”
Until we hear all that music Alesso’s making and all the artwork Payne is whipping up, see their video for “Midnight” — which made its broadcast premiere on MTV Live, mtvU, and MTV International — above.
Ari Lennox‘s new video for “Bussit” is about feeling dolled-up and sexy enough to take over the entire world. The fun starts in a salon and ends surrounded by friends, eager to head out and into the city where each person will steal the hearts of every person that looks their way. From the “Director’s Cut” edition of Revenge Of The Dreamers 3, that dropped last year, “Bussit”‘s video is sensual, moisturized fun that involves an extremely nice-looking salon.
Lennox’s hair and nail salon has to be the nicest place in any town that you’ve ever been in. Fresh flowers and bold interior design let you know that she has the best tastes in all of the land. Instead of crunching numbers or working on someone’s hair, she’s wearing the furriest pink coat that you’ll ever see as she sits in her chair and sings the seductive tune. Some surrounding friends join her and roll their bodies in unison.
Switching scenes, Lennox joins a large group of ladies in another room for the second verse. Everyone’s wearing shimmering dresses as they have some fun while flapping fluffy fans back and forth in the air. They continue to vibe as a collective as the beat melts into cool water. It’s a cheery scene that’ll make you want to hit the salon, or barbershop, when everything goes back to normal. Hopefully, that’s soon.
Last month, Lennox shared the Shea Butter Baby Remix EP that features a new version of “BMO” with Doja Cat rapidly rapping her ass off. The project also has new versions of “I Been” with Smino and “Facetime” with singer Durand Bernarr. She dropped the original LP in 2019.
Lennox recently revealed to Ebro Darden and Zane Lowe of Apple Music that she’s been in the lab cooking something musical up during the global coronavirus pandemic. “With everything that’s happening, we want to put music out,” she said. “I don’t know, I want to give a little happiness to the world.”
Take a look at Lennox’s dreamy new video for “Bussit” up above.
The performance begins with a roar, as Soyeon, 21-year-old leader of Korean girl group (G)I-DLE, turns to the crowd and lets out a guttural cry. Her small frame is hidden behind her own unrivaled bravado, and her gaze pierces the camera. “Beware, with rough claws,” she warns in Korean. “I pave ways no one has gone before.” As the stage rises beneath her, the rapper’s formidable flow intensifies until it culminates in a dominant declaration: “I’m a queen.” Then, she smiles.
For the emerging band (G)I-DLE, barely two years old, this staggering moment was their televised coronation. Their moody and percussive performance of “Lion” on the live finale of the competition series Queendom boosted their provocative image globally, and it exemplified what soulful vocalist Yuqi refers to as the “(G)I-DLE genre,” a bold aesthetic that is loosely defined as “whatever they want it to be.” At the end of the choreography, before the six women strut across the stage to take their seats atop actual thrones, sultry singer Soojin exhales the final word: “I’m a lion, I’m a queen, nobody can handle me.”
Onstage, (G)I-DLE appears fully without restraints, and that feeling extends to “Oh My God,” the group’s latest single off their third EP, I Trust. One of the five total tracks on the release written and composed by Soyeon, “Oh My God” is a dark, trap-infused song with lyrics that riff on contrasts — light and dark, purity and sin — to communicate the the idea that true divinity comes from knowing and trusting yourself. “Believing in ourselves is a kind of confidence that only (G)I-DLE can portray,” Soyeon tells MTV News from a conference room in Seoul, South Korea, where she’s joined by her members at a large table.
They are her muses: Miyeon with her powerful voice and temperate composure; Minnie with her sweet, airy tone and charming pluck; confident Yuqi, bursting with energy and humor; quiet storm Soojin with her empathy and grace; and youngest member Shuhua, whose ethereal strength inspired the untamed ferocity of “Lion.” One of the reasons their music is so distinct and assertive, Minnie says, is because the group control much of the process: Their music is by and about themselves. Minnie, who is from Thailand, wrote last year’s funky “Blow Your Mind,” and Beijing-born Yuqi has been working on her own compositions from the group’s designated studio inside CUBE Entertainment. “It’s not easy, especially for us as foreigners,” Minnie says. “That’s why I respect Soyeon because she produces everything, sometimes in a very short amount of time.”
“Our strong point is that we’re different individuals,” she explains. “So we try to put out the strong, unique points of each of us through our songs. Soyeon knows us the best, so she tries to give us the perfect part for each of us. That’s the reason it comes out good every time.” She pauses and smiles, “And this time, it’s also very good!”
“With ‘Oh My God’ we want to present a genre of our own,” Soyeon adds, though she would rather the sound speak for itself than spell it out in words. Because Soyeon, who once rapped “break the cage of prejudice / how dare someone stop me and control me” knows better than anyone: Once when you define something, it defines you — it boxes you in. And (G)I-DLE aren’t about labels. There’s a freedom to Soyeon’s process; she likes to experiment with rhythms and melodies from various musical backgrounds. Their debut track, “Latata,” was pure trop-pop seduction, while follow-up singles further expanded the group’s diverse sound: to the sultry house of “Hann” to the Latin snaps and horns on “Senorita” to the ’90s boom-bap of “Uh-Oh.” In many ways, “Oh My God” is the natural evolution of their trendy sound, building on the seething tension of “Lion” and adding a slow, simmering drop primed for the Western market, like a cozy sonic and thematic companion to Ariana Grande’s “God Is a Woman.”
The corresponding visual adds another layer of intrigue with haunting, cinematic images depicting heaven, hell, and purgatory. Inspired by isekai anime (a subgenre of Japanese animation in which a character is transported between worlds), Soyeon explains that the imagery represents love in its many forms, a notion made more powerful by the unexpected use of female pronouns. “Oh my god, she took me to the sky,” Soyeon cries out on the hook, while she writhes within a mass of bodies cloaked in white and tainted in black ink. “Oh my god, she showed me all the stars,” Minnie concludes. It leaves viewers wondering to whom are they referring — to themselves or to love itself, a common motif across (G)I-IDLE’s discography — but Soyeon will leave it to the fans to interpret.
“I didn’t want to limit that ‘she’ to a certain being or a certain definition,” she says. “So it’s open to anything. I believe that all kinds of love are valuable and must be respected. That’s why I don’t want to limit ‘she’ to something specific.”
At first listen, Yuqi couldn’t quite grasp the concept either. She listened to an early demo and “didn’t understand it.” But she believed in the song’s potential because she believes in Soyeon. “I trust her,” the vocalist says, smiling at Soyeon across the table before erupting into a fit of giggles. Miyeon softly agrees. She recalls the anticipation of listening to “Oh My God” for the first time: “I couldn’t wait to see what Soyeon would do this time.” It was a new sound for (G)I-DLE, and Soyeon was particularly nervous about the hook. It’s not a typical pop chorus exploding with uptempo beats and bright melodies; she was worried listeners would find it anticlimactic. But Miyeon thinks the mesmerizing hook is what makes the song so fresh. Soojin loves the “addictive” pre chorus, the way it intoxicates and builds. “When I listened to the song with the hook, I thought that it was great, especially the lyrics,” Soojin adds.
“Now that it’s complete,” Yuqi says confidently, “I know it’s going to be a hit — not only in Korea, but all over the world.”
A new partnership with Republic Records in the United States will help propel them towards that goal. I Trust marks their official debut in the American market, and the group recorded an English version of the track for the album as a gift to their international fans, known as Neverland. In addition to “Oh My God” and “Lion,” the EP also includes the flirty, bass-heavy B-side “Luv U” and the broody, EDM-synth track “Maybe.” Each toils with a different emotion in relationship to love, with “Luv U” depicting the fizziness of new passion and “Maybe” reflecting on a toxic fling turned sour.
“With I Trust we wanted to convey a process of self-trust, the process in which we come to believe in ourselves, which leads to self-confidence as well,” Soyeon says. “We did this concept because we wanted to do it. There’s no right time or wrong time for girl groups to do anything. We can do whatever we want, whenever we want to do it.”
It’s that tenacity that solidifies (G)I-DLE as a formidable group eager to claim the global throne. And on I Trust, they’ve never sounded more confident. That unwavering belief in themselves, bolstered by their experience on Queendom, is the (G)I-DLE genre. They don’t ask for permission, and they don’t seek forgiveness — they simply exist. “We always do the kind of music that we want to do,” Soyeon says.
“In our group, we have the same goal,” Yuqi adds. “I believe that if you don’t want to have regrets, then you have to do something that you like and something that you really want to do.”