U.K. Singer Mahalia Is Newly 21, Happily In Love, And Still The ‘Bad Bitch’ You Know

A week before Mahalia’s 21st birthday, she hadn’t yet decided how to celebrate. She would be in Cincinnati that day, she explained to MTV News over the phone, for a stop on Ella Mai’s headlining tour. She was “really, really, really excited” for the month-long U.S. trek to get underway, and that was presently taking priority over her big day — which perhaps makes sense when you consider turning 21 is a bigger deal for Americans than for a U.K. native like herself.

Birthday non-plans aside, Mahalia’s new year is shaping up to be her busiest and buzziest yet — and maybe her happiest as well. In her music, she often vents about heartbreak and shattered relationships; take her 2017 breakout hit “Sober” or the bitingly sarcastic “I Wish I Missed My Ex.” But her most recent single, “Grateful,” shows off another side: one that’s sweet, sensual, elatedly in love, and wholly reflective of her life at the moment (to drive the point home, she recently got the word “grateful” tattooed on her arm).

“I spent a long time writing about the people who hurt me; I guess because I find it easy to draw inspiration from pain,” she explained. “But with [“Grateful”], I am in a situation where I met somebody and — for the first time in ages — I was like, oh my god, I want to write about how much you make me feel good. I just wanted people to see that side of me, as well as the ‘independent woman, bad bitch, no-one-can-fucking-hurt-me’ side.”

That side of Mahalia is what you hear on her other released single of 2019, the defiant “Do Not Disturb,” which finds her reflecting on a relationship that likely ended in a blocked number, and vowing not to give her ex the satisfaction of reaching her again. In it, she sings, “I’m putting myself on do not disturb,” intentionally choosing “myself” instead of “my phone.”

“The phone thing isn’t timeless; saying ‘I’m putting my phone on silent’ in 10 years might not be relevant anymore,” she said. “For me, I was just like, it should be about me saying, you don’t get to contact me, you don’t get to be in my life anymore. I want to take time for myself, basically. I think that was a really important message to convey and for people to sing.”

That’s definitely proven to be true — when she performs the song live, she sees fans screaming the lyrics along with her. It’s still “surprising” to her that people are relating to it in such a fervid way, but perhaps it shouldn’t be. Between “Do Not Disturb” and “Don’t Call Me Up,” a song from her R&B peer Mabel that was also released this year — not to mention, Dua Lipa’s viral smash “New Rules” — a growing number of women in pop are asserting their will to hang up on exes and move on fabulously.

“It’s so universal, right? I used to love screaming, ‘One, don’t pick up the phone / You know he’s only calling cause he’s drunk.’ I used to fucking love singing that in the car because it’s like, we can all relate to that,” Mahalia said. “I remember when Mabel’s ‘Don’t Call Me Up’ dropped just before ‘Do Not Disturb,’ I was like, this is so funny and we are literally all on the exact same wave.

“And I think there’s definitely a thing with women going, ‘No, I’m not just at your disposal,'” she continued. “My whole thing is, I have young girls looking at me going, ‘How do I go through life and be cool?’ And I think for me, it’s just about saying the right message. How do we get young women to grow up in a world where they are inspired to feel strong? And it’s totally not about hating men. It’s just about saying, ‘I need to be in control of my life and myself.'”

Control is something Mahalia has a lot of these days, and she’s spent years working for it. The Leicester, England, native signed a deal with Atlantic Records when she was just 13, and she’s since released one full-length and three EPs, including 2018’s critically adored Seasons. She’s become a magnetic performer who’s toured alongside Ed Sheeran and Mai, and this summer, she’s booked more than a dozen festival dates across the U.S. and Europe. It’s all leading up to her as-yet-untitled debut album, which she says will come around the “end of summer.”

“For me, it was such a slow and steady climb and build,” she said of the journey toward her new release. “It had been seven years being signed and working in the music industry, and I just thought, I can’t spend all this time working towards this and, now that things are taking off, rush an album in six months.

“As I’ve got older, I realized that a lot of the time I was putting pressure on myself more than anybody,” she continued. “Even now, finishing this album, it’s like, fuck… I think I’m just putting pressure on myself to make the best record that I can.”

Still, as tracks like “Grateful” prove, Mahalia is finally letting herself exhale. Twenty-one is going to be a good year for her.

12 Essential Eurovision Performances To Prepare You For This Year’s Competition

By Amber Petty

An array of hopeful singers are warming up for their big break in the largest singing competition in the world. No, I’m not talking about the American Idol finale. I’m talking about the only singing competition you need to watch: the Eurovision Song Contest.

With American singing shows, you get a lot of similar (albeit very talented) voices belting out more straightforward pop covers. With Eurovision, you get a singer who starts his song in a piano coffin and a winner whose song is legitimately half chicken noises. The music ranges from dance to pop to rock to strange blends of folk music and house beats. The Eurovision performers themselves are everything from monster-masked punk bands to soulful drag queens. This year, Madonna‘s performing during the interval while all the votes are processed. When Madonna is your time-killing act, you know the show is worth watching.

The Eurovision Song Contest started in 1956 as a way to join Europe in literal and figurative harmony after World War II. The rules are simple: The song has to be under three minutes, not previously released, and sung live. Forty-one countries will compete in the semi-finals, beginning on Tuesday (May 14), but only 26 will make it to the live, three-plus hour Grand Final on Saturday. With a combination of audience voting and selected jury, a Eurovision winner is crowned, and the performer’s country gets the privilege of hosting the contest the following year. Really all you need to know is that a lot of countries participate every year, and there might even be a guy in a horse head dancing on a ladder.

As we get ready for the competition’s grand conclusion in Tel Aviv on May 18, here are some of the defining Eurovision highlights from its past 63 years.

  • Cezar: “It’s My Life” (Romania)

    A singer with heavy eye liner that recalls It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s stage-ready Mac, mostly naked male dancers running around the stage, a gigantic cape, and a falsetto that just keeps going up: Here, you have all the wonder of Eurovision in a single song. It’s something you’d never hear on American radio, yet it’s full of un-ironic spectacle that we should demand from all our live broadcasts. This 2013 performance was the moment I fell in love with Eurovision.

  • Dana: “All Kinds of Everything” (Ireland)

    Devoid of large capes and falsetto, this song is just an 18-year-old girl singing a happy song about “things of the trees.” Though it’s corny, the song provided a beautiful moment of unity. Due to the decades-long conflict taking place within Northern Ireland at the time, it was controversial to have a Northern Irish singer represent the Republic of Ireland in 1970, but the nation put the Troubles aside and the happy ballad brought Ireland its first Eurovision win.

  • Buranovskiye Babushki: “Party for Everybody” (Russia)

    Have you ever wanted to see a bunch of traditionally-dressed Russian babushkas dance and sing about partying around an ancient oven? Your weird wish was granted with Russia’s “Party for Everybody” in 2012. The strange mix of folk music and basic dance beats was a huge hit — these grannies got second place!

  • ABBA: “Waterloo” (Sweden)

    The biggest Eurovision success story, ABBA got their start by winning the 1974 contest with “Waterloo.” The jaunty song about military defeat brought them Sweden’s first win, and ABBA became a worldwide sensation.

  • Céline Dion: “Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi” (Switzerland)

    No, Céline Dion is not from Switzerland, but that didn’t stop her from singing the winning song in 1988. Confusingly, Eurovision rules stipulate that a singer does not have to be from the country they’re representing. (In 1997, the U.K. won with the partially American band Katrina and the Waves.) So why doesn’t every country try to buy off Beyoncé and guarantee a win? At the very least, Céline should make a return. Who doesn’t want to see the Canadian queen belt out some weird dance song in her Met Gala look?

  • Lordi: “Hard Rock Hallelujah” (Finland)

    In case you think Eurovision is all ballads, belting, and Eurodance beats, the competition broke the mold with this 2006 winner. The GWAR-esque band impressed the audience with their gravelly-voiced rock, and the lead singer’s moving wings and pyrotechnic axe probably sealed the deal.

  • DJ BoBo: “Vampires Are Alive” (Switzerland)

    From its first lyric (“Vampires are alive!”), this song wastes no time. What sounds like a forgotten B-side from Real McCoy is actually DJ BoBo bringing his questionable pitch and enthusiastic dancing to the Eurovision stage. If you ever wondered what Blade would have looked like if it were directed by Batman & Robin-era Joel Schumacher, this is it.

  • Salvador Sobral: “Amar Pelos Dois” (Portugal)

    Instead of awarding one of the crazy, campy numbers, judges gave the 2017 prize to this simple song. With Eurovision, you never know what’s going to win votes, but Salvador Sobral proved that a lovely tune is sometimes all you need.

  • Silvia Night: “Congratulations” (Iceland)

    Every few years, you get a satirical, meta entry, like “We Are the Winners,” where a group of the most fun guys from the accounting firm got together to sing a song about how they should win Eurovision, or “Ireland Douze Points,” where a turkey puppet sang about how Ireland should take the prize. But my favorite in this category is “Congratulations.” Sung by the Ali G-esque comedic character Silvia Night (played by Ágústa Eva Erlendsdóttir), “Congratulations” features lyrics like “The vote is in, I freaking win” and a moment where she answers a phone call from God and says, “What’s up, dog? It’s me, your favorite person in the world!” Sadly, this song never made it past semi-finals, but the actress later went on to voice Elsa in the Icelandic dub of Frozen. So really, she was the winner.

  • Bucks Fizz: “Making Your Mind Up” (United Kingdom)

    The 1981 winner is known more for a costume change than a memorable tune. Halfway through the song, as the band sings, “You wanna see some more,” the male members tear away the female singers’ midi skirts to reveal — slightly shorter skirts! Since then, the tearaway skirt has been mentioned in nearly every article about the competition’s legacy and consistently listed as a shocking moment in Eurovision history. It might not be controversial today, but it illustrates the power of a good costume reveal.

  • Verka Serduchka: “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” (Ukraine)

    This 2007 song seems like nothing more than a campy dance hit. But the lyrics “I want to see Lasha Tumbai” sound a lot like “I want to say Russia goodbye,” which some Russians took to be a political message about the country’s involvement in the Ukraine. Singer Verka Serduchka denied any attack on Russia and said the song was really about churned butter (the Mongolian translation of “lasha tumbai”). If this song sounds familiar, it might be because it prominently appeared in Melissa McCarthy’s Spy.

  • Conchita Wurst: “Rise Like a Phoenix” (Austria)

    In what might be the best Eurovision winner of all time, the bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst sang a song of transformation as digital flaming wings encompassed the stage. With Bond-theme horns and all the drama, this song put all the pageantry, art, and talent of Eurovision in a beautiful three-minute package. What more could you want from a singing competition?

Troye Sivan And Charli XCX Curated Their Own Pride Festival — See The Lineup

After dropping their nostalgic bop “1999” last year, Troye Sivan and Charli XCX are reuniting to make 2019 shine. On Tuesday (May 14), the duo unveiled the lineup for the first annual Go West Fest, a music festival hitting Los Angeles just in time for Pride Month.

Charli and Sivan will co-host and co-headline the June 6 event, which features a killer roster of artists that they curated themselves. Indie-pop icons Allie X and Pussy Riot will join them onstage at L.A.’s The Wiltern, as will Sivan collaborations Carlie Hanson and Leland. The rest of the lineup includes Gia Gunn, Quay Dash, Dorian Electra, and Chika.

Alongside an announcement video on Twitter, Sivan wrote that Go West Fest is “a new kind of pride festival… that celebrates the inclusivity, artistry, music, kinks, merchants, and creativity of the LGBTQ community, while really giving back to our community.”

The Bloom singer added that “everyone’s welcome” at the one-day festival, and that the “whole thing benefits GLAAD and local organizations.”

Charli added in an Instagram Story, “It’s gonna be amazing and I’m so happy to be a part of it with @troyesivan – who has really put so so so much hard work and love into this v special event!!!! EVERYONE IS WELCOME!!!!!”

Tickets for Go West Fest go on sale this Friday (May 17) — see ticket info here.

Tierra Whack Strips Away The Theatrics In Raw New Freestyle

Tierra Whack isn’t just a mastermind of pre-recorded music that can overwhelm you with intensely artistic visuals (see last year’s Whack World), she can also mesmerize in spur-of-the-moment doses. Look no further than her recent freestyle on Tim Westwood TV in which she strips the theatrics away to the bare bones for a visceral dose of her lyrical capabilities. You’ll need a fan to cool off after this one.

It’s clear from her stance before the freestyle even starts that it’s going to be a massacre. She stands with her head to the ground and a solemn look on her face in what looks like the greatest Final Fantasy final boss design in history. When she gets the OK from Westwood, she goes on a two-minute tirade of witty remarks and gut-twisting imagery that’ll make you smile, blush, and wince.”You love drama/I love taking trips to Benihana/Swag on Michelle Obama/Book a trip to Ghana,” she raps like Sonic The Hedgehog, lightning fast and clean. Her own smile threatens to break through on occasion but she’s determined to keep things going. And she succeeds as the microphone smokes like the road after the roar of fast tires.

Whack also sat down for a conversation with Westwood where the two talked about the origin of her rap name (which is her real name), losing weight, and much more. One of the most interesting tidbits is that she has a pet potato which she feeds french fries, something that may not seem that super far fetched if you’ve watched her recent video for “Unemployed.”

Whack has had an amazing year thus far. During the span of mid-February to mid-March, a period she referred to as #WhackHistoryMonth, she dropped five songs: “Only Child,” “Clones,” “Gloria,” “Wasteland,” and “Unemployed.” Now, the world waits with held breath for word of a new project. Hopefully, it’s soon.

Watch the freestyle and interview up above.

Lil Nas X Approves Of CupcakKe’s ‘Old Town Road’ Remix: ‘I Love Her’

Lil Uzi may have fled from his interview with Nardwuar the Human Serviette for the second time at Rolling Loud this year, but Lil Nas X held an interesting conversation with the eccentric interviewer. In the brief, entertaining discussion Lil Nas X revealed that he was a fan of CupcakKe‘s “Old Town Hoe,” a clever, x-rated remix of his viral hit, “Old Town Road.” Both Lil Nas X and Nardwuar’s unique brands of awkwardness were on display as they discussed everything from his father’s gospel EP to cowboys in Canada.

The interview was a brief one by Nardwuar’s standards; it lasted a little more than seven minutes. But their conversation was a fast one, jumping to different categories as Lil Nas X offered a smile and shining teeth to each of the Human Serviette’s questions. Nardwuar asked the budding country star about the other variations of his song that have come out, mentioning CupcakKe’s “Old Town Hoe” in particular. Lil Nas X broke into a wide grin and put his thumbs up in support. “CupcakKe is amazing, I love her,” he said, smiling.

CupcakKe released the video for “Old Town Hoe” earlier this week that encouraged viewers to eat their veggies in a very inappropriate way. With Lil Nas X’s seal of approval, it would make for a great storyline if she were to be featured on an official remix. But for now, all we can do is enjoy the differences between the two versions.

Take a look at the amusing conversation up above.

FKA twigs’s Heartbreak Takes the Stage at Stunning Magdalene Performance

In November 2018, FKA twigs invited us to “step back in time.” For the fourth edition of her Instagram-exclusive zine, AVANTgarden, the English artist “hopped in her time machine,” going all the way back to 2003 to track down a rare treasure: a duchesse-satin Dior coat by John Galliano, billowing with sumptuous ruffles. Like Galliano, whose ready-to-wear runway show featured a vivid display of “multicolor Asian-slash-eighteenth-century clothes,” twigs — with stylist Matthew Josephs — brought the coat to unexpected life in AVANTgarden, pairing it with thin, jewel-encrusted sunglasses, and minimalist, kabuki-inspired makeup. The look — just one example of the startling vision she’s exhibited throughout her career — was a reminder of her skill for blending past and present to access something entirely new.

And on May 12, at the Park Avenue Armory, as part of Red Bull Music Festival New York and her 10-stop Magdalene tour, FKA twigs pulled us back even further, reaching deeper into her wells of style, choreography, and sound to execute an ambitious, multi-pronged performance on par with her three-night, 2015 takeover, Congregata.

Noam Galai/Getty Images

Though twigs has yet to release a full-length album since 2014’s LP1, the April release of her latest single “Cellophane” hinted at the emergence of her long-awaited follow-up. At Magdalene, she debuted a handful of new songs presumably to be heard on a forthcoming project (and, bringing her to tears, likely inspired by her split with Robert Pattinson). But, in true form, she started the evening with, of all things, a brief round of tap-dancing, while dressed as a monochrome harlequin in pointed, half-oval shades.

In 2019, twigs has reminded us she’s not only talented at folding history’s disparate edges together; she’s capable of completely transforming the constituent parts, using unexpected combinations to devise rich worlds and fantasies: In the video for “Cellophane,” pearl earrings are punched into “gas station dad sunglasses” to suggest a neo-Venetian Columbina mask; on-stage at Magdalene, wielding what appeared to be a jian, she executed a skilled sword routine while her glitchy, ominous strain of electronic R&B thundered in the background.

Her visuals — each edition of AVANTgarden; M3LL155X’s quarter-hour-length video; “Cellophane,” directed by frequent Björk collaborator Andrew Thomas Huang — have blended mediums and broken open seams in time and space to disorient viewers. Culling references from Renaissance-era fashion to contemporary dance, Magdalene is similarly expansive, marrying twigs’s naturalistic and industrial influences in a strange vision of paradise — a line cooing about “the fruit inside of me,” for example, is countered by “Figure 8”’s grinding, digital scream. But always at the center of her myth is love: her stories of broken hearts, insatiable passion, and never-ending romance. During a breakup ballad about the strains of emotional unavailability, she openly wept — “I’m never gonna get up / I’m probably gonna think about you all the time” — and that the opening half of the show found twigs and her troupe of dancers up against banners bearing idyllic cloudscapes was no light touch: Paired with historical symbols of power, honor, wealth, and elegance, twigs elevated her love stories to a heavenly plane of significance.

Eventually, the clouds fell away to reveal a more traditional venue for twigs’s icy, experimental sound: two floors of scaffolding, a club-like facade for her dancers and band members. In the middle of the edifice, there was a pole. After a cameo by A$AP Rocky for a surprise performance of Testing’s “Fukk Sleep,” as well as a selection of new material, she performed a routine to LP1’s “Lights On” that, for anyone in the crowd who still had presence of mind, demanded you to lift your phone and dutifully record.

That the performance of the song — one her most well-known tracks — featured no live vocals underlined Magdalene’s statement of purpose: The visual elements of twigs’s work aren’t mere window dressing for her sound; they are arguably as crucial to understanding her as the music itself.

“The purest me is in the midst of the stage,” she tweeted after Magdalene’s Los Angeles debut.

And Magdalene — like Congregata — heralds new music rather than follows in its footsteps; it seems like no coincidence. Her performances aren’t footnotes or addendums; they’re beginnings of new chapters, introductions to her latest, bold endeavor, pure synthesis for an artist capable of astonishing us in more ways than one.

Kyle Is The Host Of A Chaotic Cartoon Comedy In First Trailer For New Series

Kyle is bringing the magic of Saturday morning cartoons that kids enjoy to adults with his new animated Fuse show, Sugar and Toys. In the first spectacularly nostalgic trailer, Kyle tackles any and everything in a comedic light, poking fun at rappers of the past and present to build a hilarious first look. If you’re a fan of the absurdity of Robot Chicken and the snarky wit of Family Guy, Kyle’s new show will be right up your alley.

The teaser trailer for Sugar and Toys looks and sounds like a cereal commercial, only instead of having jokes written for kids, it tackles all things rap in a variety of formats. There’s traditional cartoon animation, then there’s what looks like claymation. Kyle hosts the show and appears in both human and animated forms, and the crux of the show’s hilarious setups gets revealed; a Lego version of FX’s Atlanta? A hologram of Tupac getting hit by a car? Someone collecting rappers with the word ‘Lil’ in their moniker like they’re collector toys? This looks to be a unique treat.

Sugar and Toys will premiere on Fuse on June 9 at 11 PM EST. In addition to hip-hop, the show will have social commentary. It’s produced by Carl Jones and Brian Ash from The Boondocks and Black Dynamite so you know that it’ll be a rousing treat.

CupcakKe Encourages You To Eat Your Veggies In ‘Old Town Hoe’ Video

CupcakKe has released the video for her own unique spin on Lil Nas X’s viral hit, “Old Town Road.” The yeehawt-and-heavy visual for “Old Town Hoe” features enough corn on the cob and phallic lollipops to make your grandmother put her hands to her wide-open mouth and say “Oh my!” before excusing herself from the room. But, as usual, there’s a heart-warming element to the rapper’s raunchiness that wins you over. She’s having good fun.

CupcakKe’s private puns and x-rated plays on words are always chuckle-worthy, but, here, she’s really in her bag. She flips Billy Ray Cyrusremix refrain, “take my horse to the old town road” and “I got the horses in the back” in explicit ways that’ll make you cackle at the wittiness. The video is equally as over-the-top as the on-brand song. CupcaKKe and her amorous crew wear leather jackets and bandana-patterned shirts along with the Lil Nas X signature hats, that he’s (jokingly) being forced to wear, as they eat corn on the cob and lollipops. It’s a weird combination for their teeth, but that’s a story for another day.

CupcakKe has been adventurous with her artistry this year. In March, she was a hardcore rapper sending threats on “Bird Box.” In February, she cosplayed as a tired mermaid in the video for “Squidward’s Nose.”

Watch the video for “Old Town Hoe” up above.

Kanye West And Kim Kardashian’s Fourth Child Is Here And ‘He’s Perfect’

Imagine the smile on Kanye West‘s face right now. Not the one from that viral clip of him at the Met Gala. A ginormous, massive entity that’s swallowed his face and massive cheeks. Even bigger than the one that you’re thinking of at this moment. It probably matches the wide-eyed grin and tears streaming from Kim Kardashian‘s face since their surrogate mother has given birth to the couple’s fourth child.

Kim took to Twitter earlier today (May 10) to tell the world about her new son’s arrival. “He’s here and he’s perfect!” she tweeted. “He’s also Chicago’s twin lol I’m sure he will change a lot but now he looks just like her,” she wrote later. Page Six reports that the child was born on Thursday (May 9) and weighed six pounds and nine ounces.

The couple’s newest addition joins their children North, Saint, and Chicago West. Now that Kim has new motherly duties to attend to, she may be taking a step back from helping to free inmates who were convicted of non-violent drug offenses.

Bop Shop: Songs From Ari Lennox, Denzel Curry, Crumb, Alvvays, And More

What separates Ari Lennox from the bevy of modern female R&B singers is largely that her voice, which she’s previously described as “imperfect,” doesn’t sacrifice sharpness to produce soul. There’s raw, lusty power hiding within, which makes her odes to the different faces of romance feel more urban and realer than many of her peers. Her debut studio album, Shea Butter Baby, works because of its blue-faced soul, its tender embrace, and its rougher edge. And one of its highlights is album opener, “Chicago Boy.”

Confidence is sexy. Here, as the song begins, a long, confident trumpet recedes for a smooth, Don Cornelius level of soul to wash over. Lennox finds the source – a man in a CVS whose essence she downs like moonshine. Lust in her eyes, she sings with urgency, desperate to make plans with him. As the tension heats up, the trumpet returns. But it’s not actually an instrument: It’s her voice. It cuts through the soft soul and turns the plea into an urgent request. Under the night sky, “Chicago Boy” hangs like fresh a fresh evening haze, a reminder of vivid attraction and hungry lust. It’s steamy. It’s sexy. And it sounds genuine. —Trey Alston