Avril Lavigne Makes An Emotionally Charged Comeback With ‘Head Above Water’

After a five-year hiatus, Avril Lavigne is back. The 33-year-old singer — who personified teen angst in the mid-aughts — shared the first single from her forthcoming sixth album on Wednesday (September 19), and it sees her returning mightier than ever.

“Head Above Water” is a power ballad about just that: trying to stay afloat and alive. “Yeah my life is what I’m fighting for / Can’t part the sea / Can’t reach the shore / And my voice becomes the driving force / I won’t let this pull me overboard,” she sings over a steady-building instrumental, sounding simultaneously fearful and fierce.

The song’s life-or-death intensity isn’t just metaphorical — it documents a culminating moment in Lavigne’s years-long struggle with Lyme disease, which has prevented her from touring and recording in recent years. In a statement, Lavigne spoke about the night that inspired the song, saying, “I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die. My mom laid with me in bed and held me. I felt like I was drowning. Under my breath, I prayed ‘God, please help to keep my head above the water.’ In that moment, the song writing of this album began. It was like I tapped into something. It was a very spiritual experience. Lyrics flooded through me from that point on.”

Given that it’s been so long since we’ve heard from Lavigne, and that the reason for her absence is so personal, it makes sense that she’d choose such an emotional song to return with. It recalls Demi Lovato launching her Unbroken era in 2011 with “Skyscraper,” and Kesha making her 2017 comeback with “Praying.” Both of those (very powerful) songs set the stage for a new beginning following tough chapters in their personal lives, and Lavigne is doing the same thing with “Head Above Water.” It’s good to have her back.

Kesha’s Empowering New Song Was Inspired By Bob Dylan And Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Kesha has paid tribute to Bob Dylan in stunning fashion before, but her latest song proves the icon’s influence on her goes deep.

On Wednesday (September 19), the Rainbow singer released “Here Comes the Change,” an empowering folk-pop anthem that recalls ’60s protest tunes like Dylan’s own “The Times They Are a-Changin'” (complete with a harmonica riff!). Kesha’s rallying cry, though, is distinctly 2018, and that’s immediately clear in the track’s accompanying lyric video, which was designed to inspire young people to vote in the midterm elections this November. As for the song itself — which was recorded for the upcoming Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic On the Basis of Sex — it finds Kesha musing, “Is it a crazy thought / That if I had a child / I hope they live to see the day / When everyone’s equal?”

In an essay for Refinery29, Kesha further explained how the song was inspired musically by Dylan and thematically by Ginsburg. She wrote, “I wanted to explore the legacy of political activists in our country throughout the years who have fought for equality and positive change. The message is that the long, proud tradition of American social activism is alive and well. It’s being passed on to the next generation. It will continue to evolve one success at a time, and is as important as ever.”

She continued, “I hope the song and the video reminds you that we don’t all have to loom as large as these heroes to make a difference. We can all vote and speak up for what we believe in. We can all have a positive impact on our shared future.”

On the Basis of Sex hits theaters on December 25. Animals, plan your strategy for Kesha’s Oscar campaign accordingly!

12 Official Lyric Videos That Actually Go Off

The concept of a lyric video has come a long way since the beginning of YouTube, when fan-made lyrics on a black background served as the only option. Once record labels saw the amount of views these videos racked up, some decided to make official versions to be released with their tracks. But not all lyric videos are made equally; some follow the simple format of moving text on a background while others go all-out with storylines and cinematics. Most artists still aren’t on the lyric videos train, but these are some of the best from the artists who’ve embraced them.

“Closer,” The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey

There’s no conversation of lyric videos without discussing “Closer,” which ranks amongst the most-viewed videos on YouTube with over two billion views. Since the song immediately took off with no music video, the lyric video grabbed all the views for months before the main music video was posted.

“Birthday,” Katy Perry

Katy nailed the birthday theme in this lyric video, which shows off cake, candles, sprinkles and frosting. It’s super sweet to match the song’s peppy sound, with endless creativity to put lyrics on every surface imaginable.

“Sorry,” Justin Bieber

The “Sorry” lyric video goes hard on special effects, centered around a young woman (played by Lauren Hudson Petrilli) as she can’t seem to escape the lyrics inside or outside of her home. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve watched this video, I still have no idea how most of these effects were done.

“Life Of The Party,” Shawn Mendes

In 2014, Shawn’s team nailed a total staple of lyrics video in this one: it’s all one continuous shot, with a very slow zoom in on the brooding singer. It comes across as stripped down and natural, a perfect introduction of Shawn to the world at the start of his recording career.

“Quit,” Cashmere Cat featuring Ariana Grande

Ok, now this is a weird one. The “Quit” lyric video is really a lyric video within a lyric video… confusing, right? It’s as if Cashmere Cat’s team made a lyric video, then went on a moving train and played that lyric video alongside flowers. It’s an incredibly dope aesthetic that works for such a cool song.

“Back To You,” Selena Gomez

If you want to see how far video editing has come, watch the three-dimensional “Back To You” lyric video. It takes fancy text movements up a notch, between shots and imagery of 13 Reasons Why, the Netflix series from which the song came.

“Silence,” Marshmello featuring Khalid

The lyrics of “Silence” aren’t just projected onto the wall in the song’s lyric video: visuals are split between the wall and a stack of boxes in front of it. At all times, there are projections on both the wall and the boxes, allowing for more complex visuals instead of just displaying the lyrics.

“Out Loud,” Gabbie Hanna

Gabbie gave “Out Loud” the full treatment, starring solo in the video and clearly feeling every word of the song.

“Miss Movin’ On,” Fifth Harmony

This lyric video might not win any cinematic awards, but it captures a moment in time before Fifth Harmony had dropped their first music video. Since the video features the girls holding hand-drawn sheets of paper with their lyrics, Fifth Harmony was cool enough to sign those sheets and send them to fans.

“Roar,” Katy Perry

Katy really is the queen of lyric videos — so much so that both “Birthday” and “Roar” made this list. Each lyric appears as a text message in the most emoji-filled group chat ever, because every fun friend group sends the lyrics to their anthem from time to time.

“The Middle,” Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey

Though it only went up five days before the official music video, the lyric video for “The Middle” boasts 30 million more views than its music video counterpart. That’s due in part to just how creative the production is in projecting the song’s lyrics in every which way possible.

“Don’t Stop,” 5 Seconds of Summer

Luke, Calum, Michael and Ashton become superheroes in the comic book-themed lyric video for “Don’t Stop.” Not every lyric for the track pops up, but that’s because pictures speak louder than words… especially when it’s pictures of 5SOS.

Robyn Announces A New Album (!) With A Sweet Message To Fans

At the end of July, Robyn bestowed a blessing: her presence, once again, on a new song. “Missing U” was a love letter to fans, who’ve waited eight years for a new full album from her (though she’s released a few EPs since then). Now, there’s even more to celebrate — her upcoming eighth album, called Honey, is due out October 26. Time to dance!

The album is Robyn’s first since Body Talk in 2010, and it reportedly takes its name from the title track, which was featured at the end of a Girls episode during that show’s final season in 2017. Robyn posted a sweet message to fans on Tuesday (September 19) when the album was announced, confirming all the details.

“I really can’t wait for you to hear it,” she says. “It’s a personal album, and there’s so many things that have happened throughout making it that it’s just hard for me to explain it in one go. I think the best way is maybe for you to listen to it.”

When the song “Honey” first aired on Girls, Robyn penned a message detailing its origins on Instagram. “I sent her some music I’m working on and she picked ‘Honey,’ she wrote in 2017. “It wasn’t ready to be released, but we finished this version for her and Girls.”

“Missing U” was paired with a short film detailing Robyn “crashing” a Robyn-themed event in Brooklyn. Fans can sign up for updates and pre-order at Robyn’s site, and if you just want a peek at what certainly looks to be the Honey album artwork, you can check that out over there as well.

In the meantime, here’s “Missing U” again. Be sure to turn it way up and dance around on your bed, the way young people do.

Lana Del Rey’s ‘Venice Bitch’ Is A Shredding Psychedelic Journey Through The Soul

Last week, Lana Del Rey unveiled the first look at a new era via “Mariners Apartment Complex,” a moody meditation paired with a black-and-white video of swirling ocean. And Tuesday (September 18), on Beats 1 Radio, Lana revealed that song will be featured on an upcoming new album called Norman Fucking Rockwell, which is a hilarious and also really incredible title for a Lana Del Rey album.

She also premiered another new track called “Venice Bitch” that pans out over nearly 10 minutes and wraps the summer up with tiny melodic flourishes and subtle miniature orchestrations before turning into a vat of melting psychedelia. It’s cool.

“End of summer, some people just want to drive around for 10 minutes, get lost in some electric guitar,” she said before the song played.

“Venice Beach” comes from her collaboration with Jack Antonoff, who produced the album and worked with Lana throughout 2018. She described joint writing sessions where Antonoff would “play chords for hours” on the piano. “He would play me five chords in a row that would end up becoming a new song each time,” she said in the interview. “I would legitimately ask him, ‘Are you sure I’m allowed to have this?’ … He was like, ‘No, I’ve been dying to meet you and give you this.'”

After a few minutes, “Venice Bitch” twists and turns itself into something like the kind of rainy, mystic, blissed-out days you might have under the docks if you skipped school. It’s a different kind of sensory experience from Lana, whose last album, 2017’s Lust for Life, was about as rhythmic and downbeat as she’s ever been. Now, with “Venice Bitch” name-dropping “Crimson and Clover” and “Mariners Apartment Complex” channeling “Wicked Game,” it sounds like we’re all in on some serious smoked-out, top-down L.A. ennui. Welcome to autumn.

You can listen to the “Venice Bitch” interview and hear more about the songwriting process right here.

Kanye’s New YANDHI Project Looks A Lot Like Yeezus 2

Early Monday morning (September 17), Kanye West‘s Twitter contained two very puzzling items: the word “YANDHI” (written on a Post-It note under Adam Driver’s name, suggesting the two would pair up for an upcoming Saturday Night Live episode), and an image of a bare MiniDisc without any context.

It wasn’t unlike when his 2013 album Yeezus dropped, complete with its artwork of a naked CD with a red sticker on it. Naturally, this caused people to begin speculating that Yeezus 2 was on its way. And then, the details came in — Kanye will indeed perform on SNL on September 29 (with Driver hosting), and that same day, he’ll also launch a project called YANDHI.

Kanye has also changed his social media avatars to a white screen, meaning he could be prepping the beginning of a new era. If YANDHI is indeed a full album, it would be Kanye’s third this year, after Ye, which debuted in June at Kanye’s star-studded Wyoming ranch blowout, and his Kid Cudi collaboaration, Kids See Ghosts. Two weeks ago, Kanye also dropped the new song “I Love It” with Lil Pump, complete with a music video that’s already been parodied for its ridiculousness.

But the news doesn’t stop there! Kanye also took the stage with Chance the Rapper on Monday night to confirm that yes, they are indeed making a joint album together — as they’ve been teasing for weeks now — and it’s called Good Ass Job (a title Kanye’s been teasing for years).

This is a lot to take in, so now’s might be a good time to throw on some music (maybe “Good Ass Intro” or “Ultralight Beam“) and mull it over for a while. And, you know, consider turning on notifications for Kanye’s and Chance’s tweets.

Noah Cyrus And Lil Xan’s ‘Live Or Die’ Video Immortalizes Their Doomed Romance

Two weeks after Noah Cyrus and Lil Xan very publicly and messily announced their breakup, we’ve gotten an unexpected reminder of their fleeting summer fling.

See, brief as their romance was, the 18-year-old singer and 22-year-old rapper managed to be quite the productive couple, recording and releasing the mellow, synth-heavy collab “Live or Die” in August. And on Monday (September 17), they unceremoniously leaked the track’s accompanying video, which immortalizes their doomed love in one very shadowy clip.

Cyrus co-directed the vid alongside Tony Corella, and it finds Xoah in happier times; cuddling and kissing by a fireplace as a spotlight illuminates their moves. Meanwhile, they pledge their loyalty to one another by promising, “When you lay by my side / I see the whole world through your eyes / Ride or die, you and I.” Sure, it’s pretty awkward to watch now, but just pretend you’re seeing it *without* the prior knowledge of knowing these two might’ve broken up over an X-rated Charlie Puth meme.

In happier news, Noah is gearing up for the release of her debut EP, Good Cry, which arrives on September 21. Xan, meanwhile, may or may not be quitting music altogether, so cherish “Live or Die” while you can.

Lennon Stella Dropped “Bad” And It Deserves Your Undivided Attention

Preparing to drop the first music video of her solo career, Lennon Stella set high expectations. With the instantly-catchy single “Bad,” FINALLY out now, the rising queen is delivering.

Pop music stans had reason to believe Lennon would impress. She appeared on Nashville for years with her sister, Maisy Stella, and dropped “Bad” as a demo in July after being signed to RECORDS & Columbia Records. With the song’s official release last night, Lennon already has fans vouching for her.

Along with the single drop, Lennon released the “Bad” music video, which reflects the song’s storyline of an unfaithful boyfriend. She wishes that he would’ve treated her “bad, bad, bad,” so that the breakup wouldn’t leave her “twice as sad.” But seeing how much Lennon thrives in the video, it’s clear that boyfriend is missing out.

Just an hour after the video went live, fans on YouTube cherished this moment Lennon gets huge.

Don’t be late to the Lennon Stella is Famous party. Watch the video for “Bad” and obsess over how much it bops below.

5SOS Rock Glittery Eye Shadow And Transform Into Skeletons In ‘Valentine’ Video

5 Seconds of Summer‘s new single may be called “Valentine,” but its accompanying visual is much more Halloween-esque than anything related to V Day.

5SOS drummer Ashton Irwin gets co-directing credit — alongside Andy DeLuca — on the stark, artsy vid, which hit YouTube on Thursday (September 13). It basically looks like the Queen II album cover come to life, with a few psychedelic touches thrown in, including eerie shots of desserts and instruments. Irwin, Luke Hemmings, Michael Clifford, and Calum Hood bare their bones (literally) as dancing skeletons, and there are a lot of close-ups of the guys’ mouths and eyes. That’s great news for anyone who ever wanted to see Hemmings rock glittery gold eyeshadow, which he handily pulls off.

Check out the spooky, groovy vid below, and consider yourself properly prepped for Halloween season.

“Valentine” is the latest single off of 5SOS’s chart-topping third album, Youngblood. The Aussie band recently kicked off the North American leg of its Meet You There tour, which continues through mid-October before hitting Europe. Here’s hoping they resurrect those skeleton costumes at least once on stage this fall.

Estelle and Mistah F.A.B. Are Living Their Best Lives On ‘TRL’

Decades of talent walked into the TRL studio in Times Square this morning, as Estelle and Mistah F.A.B. sat down with host Sway Calloway.

First up, Mistah F.A.B.–who Sway calls one of the best freestyle rappers right now–proved that exact title. In the first ever Flash Freestyle, Sway dropped words and phrases for Mistah F.A.B. to include in his impromptu bars, which he executed with perfection. Mistah F.A.B. wound up shouting out Serena Williams, Colin Kaepernick and incorporating some Bay Area slang.

After Flash Freestyle, Estelle came through ten years after dropping her major hit with Kanye West, “American Boy.” The singer is still going strong, just releasing her second independent album Lovers Rock, a name which points to the rocky relationship of her parents throughout her life. See how Estelle glows talking about the music she’s making now below. TRL airs on weekdays at 8:00am ET.