Hannah Lux Davis Talks VMA Nods, ‘Boyfriend,’ And Why ‘Thank U, Next’ Changed Everything

“It’s kind of surreal,” says Hannah Lux Davis, as she reflects on her eight nominations for the MTV Video Music Awards: the most of any director this year. “MTV and the VMAs have been the beacon of all things cool and all my dreams.”

It’s almost two weeks after the nominations were revealed, but you can forgive Davis for not really soaking it in until now — as per usual, she’s been crazy-busy. Just hours before speaking to MTV News, the video for Ariana Grande and Social House‘s “Boyfriend” premiered on YouTube, marking her fifth collaboration with Grande in the past year alone. Their partnership has proved one of pop’s most prosperous — four of Davis’s VMA nods are for the rom-com-inspired “thank u, next,” which became a viral event upon its release in November. The vid made headlines for its oh-so-fetch cameos, shattered Vevo records left and right, and, according to Davis, gave the more than 400 million people who watched it a new perspective on what Grande’s all about.

“It was a shift for Ariana with what she was doing, and it was like the world finally caught up to her and her humor in that moment,” Davis said of the instant classic, which is vying for Video of the Year, Best Pop, Best Direction, and Best Cinematography. “I feel like people kind of had a hunch that she was cool and funny and witty and incredibly comedic and smart, but they didn’t really know until that moment. Everything came in alignment with that song, with that video.”

Less than two months later, Davis and Grande reconvened for the pink-hued “7 rings,” which found Ari dripping in diamonds and drowning in champagne as she flipped “My Favorite Things” into a bad-bitch flex anthem. It’s nominated for Best Editing — a category Davis is particularly proud of, since she’s the lead editor on all her videos — and Best Art Direction, which honors the flossy, glossy set designs she and her team dreamt up.

“The intention behind the art and the world we created in ‘7 Rings’ was this sort of ‘vapor wave’ — just really high-gloss, feminine vapor wave is what we were calling it,” Davis explained. “We painted a whole house pink, and that was a really balls-to-the-wall moment that helped set a tone. And we were really playing into some of Ariana’s iconic things that she’s known for, like the forever-long ponytail. It was fun to play into her extremities in a way.”

Besides Grande, Davis also got to reunite this year with David Guetta, with whom she’s directed a handful of videos, like “Hey Mama” and “Bang My Head.” This time around, she helmed the strikingly neon visual for the Best Dance-nominated “Say My Name,” Guetta’s Latin-EDM collaboration with J Balvin and Bebe Rexha.

“Blacklight has definitely been done before, but this was sort of ‘jungle club’ and had this sophistication to it,” Davis said of the vid. “Blacklight is tricky and it can oftentimes feel dated, so you have to really approach it with a lot of careful consideration, just with the wardrobe and how everything is placed together.”

“Say My Name” was shot three days after Davis directed Grande’s “Breathin,” and it was achieved in just one day by meticulously working around the three artists’ busy schedules. In a case like that, Davis explained, she’s reliant on strong performances that she can continue cutting to — and Rexha, in particular, fully delivered.

“Bebe just brings it on camera,” Davis said. “She’s fearless and she gets that performance for a music video. While some can be timid, she goes for it.”

Timidness is also a non-consideration for an artist like Halsey, who called upon Davis to helm her ambitious “Nightmare,” which the director previously discussed with MTV News upon its debut in May. It’s nominated for Video for Good, a VMA category that’s gone through several iterations; last year, it was called Video With a Message. The gist is the same, though: The award recognizes culturally relevant and impactful videos. “Nightmare,” with its bold, timely message about the universal fury women feel in the face of the patriarchy, does exactly that.

“There’s definitely a strong message that’s very expressive to what Halsey and most women feel in today’s political climate,” Davis said. “And I feel it was done in a way that was aggressive. She didn’t hold back. There’s something to be said about her bravery and putting it out there.”

All of the videos Davis is nominated for this year share one common thread: They were made with artists whom she’d worked with in the past. Building solid relationships with some of today’s biggest stars is something Davis says helps her as a director, and ultimately makes her job “so much sweeter and richer.”

“I think Ariana is the perfect example of that,” she said. “We have such a great shorthand now, and we’re able to be more efficient in how we approach a project. That being said, we really try to not repeat ourselves. There’s definitely going to be a through line in the work that her and I do together, [but] we’re always trying to do something that’s different.”

Case in point: “Boyfriend.” Davis and Grande had just come off of the “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” video, and wanted to capture a different kind of house party: one that mixed violence and humor, and that hinged upon a theme of jealousy-fueled revenge fantasies.

“It’s something very universally relatable… like, the guy you’re flirting with every other night is talking to some other girl at a party and you just want to strangle her or knock her out,” Davis said of the vid’s concept. “That’s kind of where it came from: how funny that would be to see those fantasies play out.”

To achieve that on screen, Davis, Grande, and Co. pulled a “thank u, next” and went back to the movie vault for inspiration. They pulled from Dumb and Dumber (for the “ripping a guy’s heart out of his chest” scene), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (for the “destroying a bathroom in a fit of passion” scene), and, yet again, Mean Girls (for the “Ari going apeshit and tackling that girl” scene).

The result is a narrative and visual feast unlike anything Grande’s done recently — there’s comedy, drama, stunts, and plenty of meme-friendly moments, thanks to Ariana and Social House’s Mikey and Scootie. “Boyfriend” marks the sixth Davis-directed visual released this year, but far from the last… there’s already a rumored new Grande project on the way.

But before that, will Davis and Grande take home a Moon Person (or two or three or eight) this year? Find out on August 26, and get voting now!

DRAM And H.E.R. Plunge Into The Waters Of Soul On ‘The Lay Down’

DRAM is back with “The Lay Down,” a new sybaritic, soulful tune that features the celestial caroling of H.E.R. On the back end of the track, there is production from musician Andrew Watt, drums from Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers, bass from Welsh bassist Pino Palladino, and keyboards from Ivan Neville of Dumpstaphunk that bolster the track’s misty atmosphere into something both sexy and explosive. To say that it’s addicting is an understatement.

“The Lay Down,” according to a note that DRAM shared yesterday ahead of the song’s release today, is the beginning of a new chapter that’s focused more on soul and R & B music. “No one’s pouring their heart out, but that pattern stops here!” he wrote about the current state of soul music in general as he introduced the song. “The Lay Down” is soft, gentle, and warm to the touch. Smith’s drums and hi-hats are feeble and crisp while Palladino’s bass and Neville’s keyboards are distinct and perfectly sequenced. H.E.R. dives into the soulful tune with a peaceful plunge, embracing DRAM’s vocals and offering support. At the end, the instruments have an extended breakdown and produce a kaleidoscope of colors in the ears.

DRAM’s debut studio album Big Baby Dram came out in 2016. He revealed to MTV News in May that his forthcoming follow-up LP is “going to be more mature, and sound more grown-up.

Listen to DRAM and H.E.R.’s soulful clash on “The Lay Down” up above.

King Princess Slings Touchdowns And Is A Carnivorous Cake In ‘Prophet’ Video

Blueberry 17! MTV 22! Hut! Hut! Hut! King Princess is a football player, a construction worker, and a cake in her new video for “Prophet.” It’s a wild ride that follows her journey to woo a beautiful woman who keeps popping up wherever she goes, culminating in a wild scene that you simply won’t see coming, even with all of your years in music video prowess. You might not ever look at a birthday cake the same.

King Princess kicks things off as the quarterback of a high school football team. She’s the star player who comes on the field last with her curly hair flowing. She has eyes for no one but the woman in the stands with the camera, watching her every move. Before she can score, King Princess becomes a blazer-wearing singer at a gentleman’s club where, inexplicably, there’s a man with a rabbit face. As she performs, this same woman, who’s a chef at the new establishment, locks eyes with her. It drives King Princess crazy. After switching professions again and becoming the leader of a construction worker group shoveling sugar in their mouths, we see King Princess’s prospective lover making a new dish, smiling at the contents of a baking sheet as it goes in the oven. When it comes out, the delicious treat is then seen to be King Princess as a cake. 

*record scratch*

Yes, King Princess as an edible arrangement, on a table where people take turns pressing steak knives into her vanilla icing. She looks disturbed as the woman that she loves cuts pieces of her cake and shares it with everyone else, eagerly eating the soft skin-like dough. King Princess even eats a piece of her self. It ends on this absurd note, with King Princess simply looking into the camera, flabberghasted.

“Prophet” is the latest single from King Princess’s forthcoming debut album, Cheap Queen, that is set to drop this fall. In May, she dropped the video for the title track.

Watch King Princess get baked into a cake up above.

Keep ‘Calm’: Taylor Swift Will Perform At The 2019 VMAs

The 2019 VMAs just got a little more lovely.

Three days after the release of her seventh album, Lover, Taylor Swift will hit the MTV stage for her first VMA performance in four years. The pop star is nominated for a whopping 10 awards at this year’s show, split between her whimsical “ME!” and colorful “You Need to Calm Down” videos. That places her at the front of the pack, tied with fellow 10-time 2019 nominee and pop titan, Ariana Grande.

While Swift is keeping the details of her latest VMA moment thoroughly under wraps (apart from it being a “world premiere performance”), her history of VMA domination means it’ll certainly be a must-see spectacle. She made her debut at the 2008 awards show, where she co-hosted the red carpet pre-show and introduced Jonas Brothers’s “Lovebug” performance. The following year, she rolled into the show on a Cinderella horse carriage, performed “You Belong to Me” in the New York City subway, and took home her first Moon Person trophy for Best Female Video.

In the ensuing years, Swift has performed four more times — “Innocent” in 2010, “We Are Never Getting Back Together” in 2012, “Shake It Off” in 2014, and a surprise mash-up of “The Night Is Still Young” and “Bad Blood” with Nicki Minaj in 2015. She also took home six more trophies, including Video of the Year in 2015, for the squad-starring “Bad Blood.”

Clearly, Swift’s VMA track record is the stuff of legend — and it’s far from over. Catch her performance when the show airs live on Monday, August 26, get voting for your faves now, and look out for more announcements soon!

Ariana Grande Is ‘Shaking and Crying’ After Duet With Barbra Streisand

Ariana Grande completely shocked fans on Tuesday night (August 6) when she appeared at Barbra Streisand‘s Chicago concert for a duet that was nothing short of iconic. Together, they took the stage at the United Center and sang a very powerful rendition of Streisand’s “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough),” which she originally recorded with Donna Summer in 1999. And of course, they crushed it.

But if diehard fans of Grande and Streisand had been paying attention, they probably would’ve seen this secret duet coming from a mile away. Why? Because the two got manicures together earlier that day, and Streisand took to Instagram to show off their fresh nails. “Made a new friend…” she wrote before Grande took to the comments with a black heart emoji.

Once the duet actually happened, Streisand took to the social media app yet again to post an adorable photo with the “Boyfriend” songstress. “Secret’s out,” she wrote. “Thank you @arianagrande.” Grande then hit up the comments of the post to express her gratitude for the amazing opportunity. “i’m sobbing,” she said. “love you so much. i cant. get over this. it’s just…. the most special and cherished experience ever. thank you.” She then shared the same photo on her own Instagram, writing, “cherishing this moment forever.”

Grande also hopped on Twitter to fangirl over singing with the music icon, which was a total dream come true for her. “hello shaking and crying,” she tweeted. “thank u @barbrastreisand. don’t have words yet goodbye.” But Grande wasn’t the only one freaking out — fans were, too! “Barbra and Ariana really did Enough is Enough tg last night I’m actually crying,” one fan tweeted about the surprise performance. “They sound so incredible together i NEED an ariana x barbra collab pls.” another person wrote. Yeah, we can definitely get down with that.

James Blake Shows Life’s Messiness (Thanks To Bird Poop) In ‘Can’t Believe The Way We Flow’

Start, stop. Start, stop. Start again, then pause the video when you see the cartoon. You’ll do that a lot watching James Blake‘s new video for “Can’t Believe The Way We Flow” from his fourth studio album Assume Form. It’s like a scrapbook of faces and places, gradually connecting together while bird poop rains from the sky and eggs get scrambled in pans. That’s a wild description, but that’s probably the easiest way to find sense in what’s being presented to viewers. Just keep playing and pausing the video at different points and you’ll see what we mean.

There’s a lot going on in “Can’t Believe The Way We Flow” that opens your eyes, but perhaps its most shocking initial move is to show us a shiny leather jumpsuit that looks like it’s straight out of a horror movie. James Blake, who’s in the video for no more than five seconds, makes a quiet first appearance, sitting on a bench, pondering the intricacies of the universe. He looks up to the sky and gets bird pooped drizzled on his brow like caramel sauce on french vanilla ice cream, and then we’re taken into this vast Rolodex of spaces and faces.

The leather jumpsuit worn by an unidentified elderly man, an exotic dancer lacing up her heels, lovers saying their goodbyes for the day in the doorway while one holds a cat – these scenes and more are snapshots of the energy that exists within the world. Like a storm, faces begin swirling and flying in front of the camera at blinding speeds as if propelled by wind, showing an entire community of people. We’re eventually shown faces coming together for kisses and other kinds of embraces. It’s energy connecting to synthesize new beginnings and it’s beautiful to watch. The bird poop manifests itself again at the end, quite possibly even grosser than before. But it’s all in the magically realistic world that Blake has prepared for us.

Assume Form came out in January. The LP features the previously released tunes “Barefoot In The Park,” with Rosalía, and “Mile High” with Travis Scott.

Take a look at James Blake’s “Can’t Believe The Way We Flow” video up above.

Post Malone Reflects On His Imaginary Wife’s Infidelity With An Irish Folk Song On Fallon

Last night, Post Malone joined Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon for a night of celebration and a brief interview about his upcoming Posty Fest. The high point of the night was a joint performance from the two as they gave a rousing, clapping rendition of  “Seven Drunken Nights,” an Irish folk song most famously performed and released by The Dubliners in 1967. Armed with a glass of beer, the rapper and host led the crowd in the hilarious number.

Post Malone took a sip from his cup to start things off as Fallon began his sad verse in a jovial tone. Fallon came home to find another man’s pipe in the place of his, confusing him. “I said to her/ ‘Will you kindly tell to me/ who owns the pipe up on the chair/ where my old pipe should be,'” he sung, signaling the gigantic clapping chorus from Post Malone and the band. “Oh you’re drunk, you’re drunk, You silly old fool/ Still you cannot see?,” they sing, before attempting to explain the pipe’s existence. Post Malone went next with a similar situation, finding the existence of another man’s boots where his should be, under his bed. And then after that, Fallon found another man’s head. They continue to drink, smile, and laugh at these potentially marriage-shattering discoveries as the audience joins in on the celebration.

Later, after a game of Beer Pong, Post Malone revealed that this year’s Posty Fest will take place on November 2 in Dallas, TX. While he didn’t announce any artists yet, it should be expected that it will be massive. Last year’s Posty Fest brought out both Travis Scott and Tyler, The Creator. In September, Post Malone will be heading out on tour with Swae Lee.

Watch Post Malone and Jimmy Fallon sing “Seven Drunken Nights” up above.

Ari Lennox Serves Sexy Looks Like Free Samples At The Mall In ‘BMO’ Video

Ari Lennox has released the highly-anticipated video for “BMO,” the hit song from debut studio album Shea Butter Baby. It’s every bit as sensual, artistic, and moisturized as you could ever imagine. Her tantalizing demeanor and wordplay combine with creative sets and wardrobe combinations to deliver one hell of an instance of sexy cinema. You won’t be able to get her fierce, icy glaze, from the comfort of her bathtub, out of your head.

Lennox serves looks like they’re free samples at your local mall. Whether it’s from her couch in a plush white jacket, rubbing her shoulders as more of her shining skin sneaks into view, or wearing a sinful red sash and lingerie in front of a crystallized wall, she practically melts your viewing screen in the process. These looks and the serving of them make up “BMO”‘s runtime. As the lip-biting number thumps in the background, Lennox sings the number in an amorous trance. You might want to open a window. She dons a furry orange peacoat and serenades a man on a couch who can’t even sit up straight because he’s so hooked on her scent, her beauty, and her sex appeal. This guy is us for the length of the runtime. When it’s over, you’ll have to look for your jaw on the floor. Hopefully, it didn’t scuttle off too far.

Lennox’s Shea Butter Baby came out in May. Last month, she appeared on both “Self Love” with Bas and Baby Rose and “Got Me” with Omen, Ty Dolla $ign, and Dreezy from Dreamville Records’ compilation album Revenge Of The Dreamers III.

Watch the sinfully sexy “BMO” video up above.

Björk Tattoos Alien Life Into Your Brain With Endlessly Haunting ‘Losss’ Video

Björk practically dares you to make sense of her wondrous and frightfully strange artistry. She’s released a video for “Losss” from her 2017 album, UtopiaDesigned for the multiple screen viewing of her Cornucopia theatrical live show, “Losss” is alien, alarming, symbiotic, skin-raising, creepy-crawly, trypophobic, and, above all things, stunning. It’s a one of a kind, immersive experience that exists on the fringes of reality and is hard to imagine that it takes place on this planet, let alone in the solar system.

It’s hard to describe “Losss” with words. There’s a darkness to it, somewhere between peaceful and nightmarish. Perhaps it’s on the bottom of the seafloor that remains undiscovered in some places, home to another world of life that isn’t meant to be seen by mortal eyes. Its piercing timbre melts into your ears as what we see on-screen crawls onto our skin. Two identical, symbiotic, otherworldly creatures push and pull in a tangle of each other’s strings, their faces mutating in bubbling white and red puffs. It’s disgusting but addictive and haunting to watch.

These faces change, but the words coming out do not. They’re singing “Losss”‘s soothing chants while nearly kissing each other. These faces grow fur on them and expand into vaguely human faces, before turning into wolven fur and pearls. They morph again into a mouth that looks like a cross between a butterfly and a fish. Eventually, the two creatures return to the initial forms that they took and float around each other before coming together for eternity.

In the bio for the video on YouTube, Björk elaborated on what the video about, but she didn’t give any specifics as to what it means. “We based it on the conversations between our inner optimist and pessimist, when I recorded this I tried to sing in a deeper tone for one of them and if you listen on headphones it will match the imagery.”

Watch the peculiar, mind-boggling, and simply indescribable video for ‘Losss’ up above.

Camila Cabello Says Her Upcoming Album Is ‘A Million Times better’ Than Her Last

Fans of Camila Cabello are desperate for more details about her upcoming album. Sure, her collaboration with Shawn Mendes on “Señorita” offered a taste of the sexy, sultry direction the singer might be going in, but Cabello’s lived a lot of life since the release of her 2018 self-titled debut. And thanks to her recent interview with Variety, it sounds like her personal transformation will be quite obvious on her next release.

“As a songwriter, I grew a lot,” Cabello told the outlet. “It’s a million times better than my first album.” And if you’re wondering why that might be, it probably has a little something to do with the former Fifth Harmony member’s decision to “say yes more” and not let her fears and anxieties get in the way of life-changing experiences. “I can be a little bit Miranda, but I’m trying to be Carrie in the sense that I love experiences,” she said, referencing Sex and the City. “I’m a romantic; I’m emotional. But I think through stuff a lot.” And while it would be easier for her to hide away inside her home, she seems thankful for the Camila who “takes the other Camila by the hand and just fucking drags her,” which is what’s been happening for the past couple years.

For Cabello, the two years since writing her debut album have been completely transformative, and that’s partially because she’s become more confident in herself and her songwriting ability. “Before, if I was unsure about something, I’d send it to everybody I knew,” she said. “And I’ve learned that when you’re unsure, that’s your time to really look inward and, as Oprah says, ‘get quiet.’ The answer is always waiting for you. But if it’s too loud in your head or you’re running around fucking flailing asking other people, you’re never gonna hear it.”

It also can’t hurt that she’s no longer writing songs about her “crushes from afar.” Instead, she’s been writing about actual real-life romances that she’s experienced firsthand — something she wasn’t fully able to do while writing the last one. “Falling in love is like an infinite amount of levels and layers and angles,” she said. “I fell in love and just opened up. Everything was written in present moment.”

And speaking of the “present moment,” fans would love to know more about what’s going on between Cabello and her “Señorita” collaborator — especially after the paparazzi photos that only continue to fuel rumors that they’re more than just friends. Unfortunately, she didn’t address any such rumors, but she did briefly mention working with Mendes, telling Variety, “I’ve known Shawn for such a long time, and it’s so much fun getting to work and do things with somebody who means a lot to you.” Here’s to hoping her new music will finally provide some answers.