Lil Nas X wants Rihanna and Bad Bunny on a ‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’ remix

Lil Nas X says he wants to feature Rihanna and Bad Bunny on a remix of his hit single ‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’.

The song, which has topped charts and also attracted criticism since its release last month, returned to streaming services this week after it was temporarily removed.

In a series of tweets this week, the rapper asked his fans to check if the track was still available to stream on Apple Music in their respective countries. He then retweeted replies from fans who were unable to stream the song.

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Now, the rapper is already looking ahead to potential remixes for the song. In a new interview on Capital Radio with Roman Kemp, he was asked who his dream collaborators for a ‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’ remix.

“Rihanna and Bad Bunny,” he replied immediately, to which Kemp responded: “It makes me feel like this may already be in the pipeline.”

“I wish!” Lil Nas X said. “What if I ask for it? I don’t want to jinx it.”

Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X CREDIT: Filip Custic/Press

Earlier this month, ‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’ scored Lil Nas X his second UK Number One single. The song has, however, been caught up in controversy since its release, partially due to the religious imagery used in the video. Right-wing voices criticised Lil Nas X for using scenes based on the Garden of Eden and in which he gives the devil a lap dance.

The star has also been accused of copying elements of the video from FKA twigs’ visuals for ‘Cellophane’. Both Lil Nas X and FKA twigs have addressed the claims, with the latter thanking the rapper for acknowledging his inspiration in a conversation with her.

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It was also recently announced that pairs of ‘Satan shoes’ endorsed by Lil Nas X, which allegedly contained a drop of human blood, are to be recalled following a lawsuit from Nike.

The shoes, customised Nike Air Max 97s, were designed without the sportswear giant’s permission upon launch last month.

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ABBA tease forthcoming avatar tour: “It still sounds very much ABBA”

ABBA‘s Björn Ulvaeus has teased the band’s forthcoming avatar tour, promising that it “still sounds very much ABBA.”

Back in 2017, it was announced that the band would reunite in digital form in 2019, performing as “Abbatars” for the first time since they split in 1982.

When the reunion tour was then delayed, the Swedish pop icons announced back in 2018 that they would be sharing two new tracks: ‘I Still Have Faith In You’ and ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’, which was then expanded to five new tracks as a reward to fans waiting for the reunion tour due to COVID-related delays.

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In a new interview with The Times, Ulvaeus discussed how Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad’s vocals were now in a lower pitch – “about one tone lower, perhaps” – but promised that the sound fans would hear on the tour would still be “very much Abba.”

Discussing the process of creating the avatars, Ulvaeus said the band were “photographed from all possible angles” and made to “grimace in front of cameras”.

“They painted dots on our faces, they measured our heads.”

ABBA
ABBA has new music on the way. CREDIT: Press/IMAGES/Getty Images

Back in 2018, Ulvaeus spoke about the direction of the two original new songs, which has now been expanded to five..

“One of them is a pop tune, very danceable,” he said. “The other is more timeless, more reflective, that is all I will say. It is Nordic sad, but happy at the same time.”

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Elsewhere, Ulvaeus has this week slammed the streaming economy, saying that songwriters are “last in line for streaming royalties”.

Writing in The Guardian, Ulvaeus said a new royalties model is needed if the industry is to see any kind of “risk-taking” or “creativity” from artists whose writing, he says, is being affected by the pressures of the “dysfunctional” current model.

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Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus says songwriters are “last in line for streaming royalties”

ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus has said a fairer payment model needs to be in place for songwriters.

Writing in The Guardian, Ulvaeus said a new royalties model is needed if the industry is to see any kind of “risk-taking” or “creativity” from artists whose writing, he says, is being affected by the pressures of the “dysfunctional” current model.

Ulvaeus said: “The dominant currency in streaming is individual songs; data shows that when people use a streaming platform such as Spotify, they search more for songs than they do for artists. That means songwriters are more important than ever – but, if you are a songwriter, the system is dysfunctional.

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“…Streaming has changed everything, but songwriters are last in line for streaming royalties: the system works in such a way that for a million subscriber streams, an independent label artist could earn more than $3,000 (£2,175), whereas the songwriter could expect to earn between $1,200 (£870) and $1,400 (£1,015) and, even then, only if they are the sole songwriter on the track.

“If you co-wrote the song, that money is split between you and your fellow writers. On average, songwriters therefore earn between a third and a half of what artists do. If we live in a “song economy”, that’s unfair: the distribution of royalties needs to change to reflect that.”

ABBA in 1975. CREDIT: Chris Walter/WireImage

He continued: “This isn’t about becoming rich. It’s about new songwriters both being able to develop their craft and receive fair remuneration for their work. Before Abba, Benny Andersson and I had a kind of songwriting apprenticeship, nearly 10 years in Sweden where we wrote, apart and together, getting better at what we did.

“You can’t have that time – or the creative freedom you need to improve – without royalties. If you don’t earn enough to support yourself, you have to take on another job, which means you can’t concentrate on the thing you want to do.”

Ulvaeus also said an industry model of “songwriting camps” to write songs “optimised for streaming” is creating “a climate that discourages any kind of risk-taking or creativity, making it even harder for a writer to build on any initial success.”

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He goes on to say he doesn’t think ABBA, who have sold an estimated 385million records worldwide to date, would have been as successful had such a model existed when they started out.

“Certainly, it’s a climate in which Benny [Andersson, songwriting partner] and I wouldn’t have stood a chance,” Ulvaeus explains, adding: “we only ever wrote 13 or 14 finished songs a year, we ruthlessly threw away anything that we thought was mediocre and worked and worked at the ideas we thought were good.”

Last week, Nadine Shah, Tim Burgess, Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and more opened up about the ongoing debate into streaming and artist payments in a series of new interviews. At the moment, MPs are currently examining the economic impact that music streaming is having on artists, record labels and the wider music industry in the inquiry.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Commons Select Committee have been examining the business model since last year and whether or not the model is fair to songwriters and performers via the ‘Economics Of Music Streaming’ inquiry.

The Committee’s inquiry into at “the business models” operated by streaming giants like Spotify is due to be published this spring.

Over £1billion in revenue was generated from 114billion music streams in the UK last year. The inquiry has already noted that despite these figures, “artists can be paid as little as 13% of the income generated”.

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Fever 333 on “performative” activism and Grammys “straight-up not acknowledging The Weeknd”

Fever 333‘s Jason Aalon Butler has said music industry efforts towards racial equality have been “performative”, noting that vital POC artists such as The Weeknd are being ignored.

Butler said in an In Conversation video interview with NME that the influx of awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement including Blackout Tuesday last summer has not been sustained. He cited The Weeknd’s Grammys snub as a particular example of backwards thinking.

When he was asked if there’s been any change in the rock and metal industry since Blackout Tuesday, Butler said: “No, it’s been performative. I haven’t seen any change.

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“People talk so loudly about wanting to change, how they saw the wrong that they were perpetuating for fucking decades. They talked about it, they acknowledged it, then when it came to putting in the work and coming to the table with solutions, a lot of these people are nowhere to be found.”

He continued: “I do not [think it’s changed], especially when the Grammys are straight-up not acknowledging The Weeknd, who just made history on Billboard 100.” Last month, The Weeknd’s hit ‘Blinding Lights’ became the first song to spend a full year on the Billboard Hot 100’s Top 10, Variety reported.

The Weeknd, Super Bowl
The Weeknd at Super Bowl 2021. CREDIT: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for TW

The 2021 Grammy Awards was accused of racial bias, with The Daily Beast claiming that The Weeknd’s snub and his reactionary statement was a “fatal blow to the racist Grammys”.

Butler said the “we weren’t thinking about race” argument is inexcusable in today’s climate.

“We have to think about race now, as we’ve [people of colour] always had to think about that. So when people say ‘I’m not thinking about race’ or ‘I don’t see colour’, that’s ignorant to me. We are now in a position where you have to think about race, because that’s the least you can do when there’s been a bounty of POC cultures that have had to do this their whole lives.”

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Fever 333’s new visualiser for ‘For The Record’ is out now. Their most recent EP, ‘Wrong Generation’ was released last October. Butler also revealed in the NME interview that his band have collaborated on a new song with Papa Roach.

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Taylor Swift makes UK chart history to score third number one album in a year

Taylor Swift has today (April 16) made UK chart history after her re-recorded album ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’, reached number one in the charts.

The Official Charts Company confirmed that Swift had earned her third number one album in under a year (259 days) making her the first artist to have the fastest accumulation of three number one albums ever and the first solo artist to do so in under a year.

Previously, the record for the fastest accumulation of number one albums was held by The Beatles for 54 years. Between 1965-1966, the group had three number one albums with ‘Help!’, ‘Rubber Soul’ and ‘Revolver’.

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Swift’s other album release ‘Folklore’ reached number one last July, while ‘Evermore’ reached the same milestone on December 18.

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift (Picture: Getty)

‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ accumulated just over 21,000 chart sales to become her seventh number one album. The original version of the album reached Number Five in 2008.

Taylor’s other UK Number One albums are: ‘Red’ (2012), ‘1989’ (2014), ‘Reputation’ (2017), ‘Lover’ (2019), ‘Folklore’ (2020), and ‘Evermore’ (2020).

‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ is the first release in Swift’s ongoing battle to regain control of her master recordings that will eventually see her re-record each of her first six albums (everything from her 2006 self-titled debut up to 2017’s ‘Reputation’).

Reviewing ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’, NME said: “On ‘Fifteen’, a tender ballad that depicts raw tangled emotions of first heartbreak, Swift sings: “Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday / But I realised some bigger dreams of mine”.

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“It’s always been one of Swift’s most moving songs, but given everything she’s achieved over the past decade, and the bold steps she’s taking in the music industry, with ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’, this lyric cuts deeper. If only teenage Taylor Swift knew what was to follow.”

In other news, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon has previewed a new song that features Taylor Swift.

According to fans on the Bon Iver Reddit page, the Instagram Live saw Vernon previewing tracks from the next record by Big Red Machine – his side project with The National’s Aaron Dessner, who has worked closely with Swift on her music over the past year.

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Arlo Parks and Headie One to perform at The BRIT Awards 2021

Arlo Parks and Headie One will perform at this year’s BRIT Awards, it has been announced.

The two nominated artists will take to the stage at London’s O2 Arena on Tuesday, May 11, joining the previously announced performers Dua Lipa and Griff on the line-up.

“I’m performing at the @BRITs!!!! Can’t wait to spread sunlight and flower power at The O2 Arena,” wrote Parks on Twitter this evening (April 15).

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“thank you 2 everyone who’s allowed me n my tunes to grow roots in their lives!! THIS IS SO EXCITING IM NERVOUS BUT I CANNOT WAIT.”

The singer-songwriter is up for three BRIT Awards: Female Solo Artist, Breakthrough Artist and Mastercard Album Of The Year for her debut record ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’, which came out in January.

Headie One, meanwhile, shared the news of his upcoming BRITs performance by posting images of himself standing inside and outside of The O2 Arena. “It’s my first live performance in 18 months, couldn’t think of a better place to do it,” he said.

The London rapper is in the running for Male Solo Artist, with two other nods in the British Single category (‘Ain’t It Different’ featuring AJ Tracey & Stormzy and Young T & Bugsey’s ‘Don’t Rush’ on which he appears).

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Speaking upon the nominations being announced last month, Parks said: “All I know is that I wouldn’t be here without my team, my family, every single person who’s played my tunes in their cars, bedrooms, kitchens & living rooms.

“I take none of this for granted I hope you know that. What a moment…all words are escaping me right now except for thank you. From sketchy demos on my £30 mic in my basement to the BRITs – dreams come true.”

The BRIT Awards ceremony was pushed back from its traditional February date due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and will see Jack Whitehall take on presenting duties for the fourth consecutive year.

“We want to make sure that The BRITs delivers the outstanding production levels, superstar performances and live excitement that make it the biggest night in music,” said BPI & BRIT Awards Chief Executive Geoff Taylor.

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Chris Crocker sells ‘Leave Britney Alone’ video as an NFT for $41,000

YouTube star Chris Crocker, who shot to online infamy for their ‘Leave Britney Alone’ viral video, has sold the original clip as an NFT (non-fungible token) to potentially fund their transition.

The 2007 clip, which became one of YouTube’s first-ever viral videos, saw Crocker offering a tearful and passionate defence of Spears in the middle of the singer’s very public breakdown.

The video has now sold to an anonymous buyer online for 18.69 ether, which is roughly equivalent to around $41,000 (£29.7k).

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Speaking to Business Insider, Crocker explained that selling the video was their way of reclaiming the clip after years of relentless mockery and abuse.

“I felt like a lot of people might misconstrue why I wanted to sell it,” Crocker said.

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“But the real reason is because I felt like I took a lot of hits — you know, literal hits,” explaining they had been “physically assaulted at gay clubs” and received death threats.

Crocker added that the money made from the sale would go primarily towards helping their grandmother, but any additional funds will be put towards their gender transition surgery.

“I would absolutely put that towards, like, me being able to become myself”, Crocker said.

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An NFT, as NME‘s Mark Beaumont explained recently in a blog, is a form of cryptocurrency asset. Most cryptocurrencies are fungible (or ‘spendable’) tokens; you can exchange them for other cryptocurrencies or spend them on goods where they’re accepted.

“Non-fungible tokens act like digital gold bars, rare trading cards or paintings kept in safe storage – they’re kept on the blockchain (basically a Cloud for financial assets, but where everyone with an account keeps a note of what you own) in your name but you can only sell or trade them as collectibles,” he wrote.

However, they are not without controversy – it was revealed recently that the sale of the digital items can have a huge effect on climate change.

Elsewhere, Elon Musk recently announced plans to release a song about NFTs as an NFT.

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Hear Rina Sawayama’s heartfelt new Elton John-featuring version of ‘Chosen Family’

Rina Sawayama has released a new version of her song ‘Chosen Family’, which features Elton John as a special guest.

The track originally featured on the artist’s debut album ‘Sawayama’, which came out back in April 2020.

The new rendition of ‘Chosen Family’ arrived on Wednesday (April 14), with the track premiering on Zane Lowe’s Apple Music show before a video premiere. The simple clip shows John playing ‘Chosen Family’ on the piano as they both sing the heartfelt track together, trading off on verses and dueting on the choruses together.

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Watch it below:

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“It was such a joy and honour to rework ‘Chosen Family’ with the legendary Elton John,” Sawayama said in a statement. “The song means so much to both of us, and recording it together was such a special experience I will never forget. I got shivers when I heard his voice through the monitor and became emotional when he added the piano parts.

“Elton has been such a huge supporter from before the album, and when we finally met to record this song we clicked from the get go. I hope people can hear the magic!”

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John – who in June 2020 called ‘Sawayama’ his favourite album of the year – joined Sawayama for a chat before the collaboration dropped. “This song stands out to me because it’s such a song about what the world seems to need at the moment,” he said of ‘Chosen Family’.

“About coming together, compassion for gay people – and for people in general. It’s about kindness and I just thought it’s such a beautiful lyric and a great melody.” Watch their conversation below:

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Sawayama will tour in the UK in November – you can see her upcoming tour dates below, and read about what other gigs and tours NME is looking forward to in the autumn here.

November
9 – Albert Hall, Manchester
11 – Beckett Students’ Union, Leeds
13 – SWG3 TV Studio, Glasgow
15 – Institute, Birmingham
16 – Electric Brixton, London – SOLD OUT
17 – Roundhouse, London – SOLD OUT

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Watch Taylor Swift try to convince Stephen Colbert ‘Hey Stephen’ isn’t about him

Taylor Swift appeared on the most recent episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, ostensibly to discuss ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’, her newly-released re-recording of her 2008 album.

As she appeared onscreen, however, Colbert immediately questioned whether album track ‘Hey Stephen’ was written about him, which Swift denied. This served as the setup for an extended joke in which Swift reveals she knows numerous incredibly specific details about Colbert’s life and career.

Swift goes on to display a mood board that she says originally inspired the song, which is covered in images of the late night personality. At long last, she says the song was inspired by novelist Stephen King.

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Watch the humorous exchange below:

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Swift released ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ last Friday (April 9) as the first step in her efforts to reclaim ownership of her first six studio records, spanning 2006’s self-titled up to 2017’s ‘Reputation’.

It comes after Scooter Braun made a $300million acquisition of Swift’s former label Big Machine Label Group, with the sale including the recorded masters of the pop star’s earlier LPs.

Swift once again teamed up with her collaborators Jack Antonoff and The National’s Aaron Dessner – who both worked on last year’s ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’ – for the project, while also bringing in the musicians involved in the original ‘Fearless’ as well as her touring band.

Earlier this week, Swift opened up about her “the same but better” approach to re-recording ‘Fearless’.

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“In terms of production, I really wanted to stay very loyal to the initial melodies that I had thought of for these songs,” the singer-songwriter told People.

“We kept all the same parts that I initially dreamed up for these songs. But if there was any way that we could improve upon the sonic quality, we did.”

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Soft Cell reunite to record their first album in 20 years

Soft Cell have confirmed that they are working on their first new album in 20 years.

The synth-pop duo, comprised of Marc Almond and Dave Ball, are busy at work on what will be their first new music since 2002’s acclaimed LP ‘Cruelty Without Beauty’.

The new album also comes as a surprise to fans who attended what was supposed to be their final gig at London’s O2 Arena in 2018.

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Speaking to the Daily Star, instrumentalist Dave Ball said: “Before the O2 show, Marc and I hadn’t seen each other in about 15 years. In the years between, we’ve started to sound mature. The new songs are still catchy, but a lot more worldly-wise.”

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Opening up on what fans can expect from the record, which is set to arrive in 2022, Ball said: “We haven’t tried to write another ‘Tainted Love’. Maybe we should!

“But it’d be inappropriate for two 60-something men to try to write bouncy little pop numbers. That doesn’t mean we’ve become miserable, and it’s not heavy industrial music either. I’d say the songs are sounding quite minimal, melodic and bass-driven.”

He added: “I’m really pleased with how it’s coming along, it’s sounding great.”

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Soft Cell’s last new material came with the track ‘Northern Lights’, which was released in August 2018.

The duo have released five studio albums, with the most recent being their 2002 reunion record ‘Cruelty Without Beauty’.

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Moby discusses Natalie Portman dating controversy, says it became hard to ignore

Moby has discussed the controversy behind his claims that he once dated Natalie Portman  in a new interview.

Back in 2019, an excerpt from Moby’s book, Then It Fell Apart, heard the musician recount taking the actor for a drink and, later, kissing her while visiting her at Harvard.

Soon after, Portman refuted the musician’s claims that she was involved in a romantic relationship with him, saying she found it “disturbing” that false stories were being used to promote the book.

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After days of criticism and reflection, Moby apologised “to Natalie, as well as the other people I wrote about in Then It Fell Apart without telling them beforehand”.

Asked about the scandal in a new interview with The Guardian, Moby said: “You know, you’re asking me to open up such a can of worms… There’s no good way to answer: one option is terrible, the other is really terrible.”

He added: “So if we were playing chess right now, this is the part where I’d pick up my phone and pretend I’ve got an emergency call.”

Moby
Moby. CREDIT: Travis Schneider

Going on to discuss the negative press he received at the time, he said: “If you talk to my managers or people I work with, I only have one iron-clad rule, which is: don’t send me press links or reviews because I don’t read any of it.

“When the lunacy was happening a couple of years ago, I took refuge in my ignorance. Obviously it became hard to ignore, especially when I had the tabloids camped outside my door. But I guess I realised that if everyone in the world hates me I can still wake up in my same comfortable bed every morning and go hiking.”

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He was also asked whether he regretted his behaviour around Portman. “A part of me wishes I could spend the next two hours deconstructing the whole thing,” he said, “but there’s levels of complexity and nuance that I really can’t go into.”

He concluded: “There is a part of me in hindsight that wishes I hadn’t written the book. But then, sales figures indicate that not that many people actually read it.”

Moby will release his new album ‘Reprise’, a new orchestral reimagining of some of his past hits, on May 28. It will be accompanied by a documentary entitled Moby Doc, which will take a close look at his struggles with addiction and depression; he hopes it will help counter any “misrepresentation” of who he really is.

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Grimes shows off new full back tattoo of “beautiful alien scars”

Grimes has shown off a new tattoo that covers her entire back, which she says features “beautiful alien scars”.

The singer and producer revealed the new piece of art, which was done by tattoo artist Tweakt and designed by Grimes and artist Nusi Quero, on Instagram.

“Don’t have a good pic cuz it hurts too much and I need to sleep,” she wrote to caption the photo of the tattoo. “It’ll be red for a few weeks, but gna be beautiful alien scars.”

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See the new tattoo below:

In other news, Grimes has shared footage of her and Elon Musk’s first child X AE A-XII making what she calls “super fire” music.

Last month (March 18), Grimes celebrated her birthday, and in an Instagram post about the day, shared a video of X making a loop on a portable synthesiser. “Did you make a loop? You’re so smart!” Grimes says to her son in the clip.

In the post’s caption, she wrote: “Lil X made a loop on my keyboard? Prob an accident but tbh he played a super fire set just now.”

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Elsewhere, Grimes has reportedly signed to Columbia Records. A report claims that she’s made the switch to a major label, leaving 4AD, the label she released her most successful projects to date, ‘Visions’ (2012), ‘Art Angels’ (2015) and ‘Miss Anthropocene’ (2020).

In 2018, Grimes hit out at 4AD, promising that ‘Miss Anthropocene’ would be her “final album for my shit label” and looked forward to its follow-up, which she said would be “my first album on a label of my choosing which im crazy stoked about”. She later apologised for the message.

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