TIME Music

The 2015 Grammy Nominations Had a Few Surprises After All

Meghan Trainor
Meghan Trainor Jens Kalaene—picture-alliance/dpa/AP

Taylor Swift got nominated for best vocals over Beyoncé?

The record of the year competition? Meghan Trainor is all about that race.

Trainor, the 20-year old star behind this summer’s surprise hit “All About That Bass,” is one of four acts competing in a surprisingly pop-driven field for one of the Grammys’ top prizes, honoring a song’s performance and production. She’s joined by Iggy Azalea (with Charli XCX) for “Fancy,” Sia for “Chandelier,” Taylor Swift for “Shake It Off,” and Sam Smith for “Stay With Me (Darkchild Version).” Nominations in several categories have already been announced, and the album of the year prize is set to be announced tonight.

All five of the record of the year nominees were major chart hits, marking a continuation of last year’s drawing from chart-toppers like “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines.” Before last year’s pop buffet, slightly lower-fi and more rock-driven acts including Bon Iver and the Black Keys managed to get into the race. But it’s the least aggressively poppy of the nominees that has to be considered the frontrunner: Sam Smith has been collecting nominations throughout the announcement period, including best new artist (alongside Iggy Azalea, Bastille, HAIM, and Brandy Clark) and best pop solo performance (alongside John Legend for “All of Me,” Sia for “Chandelier,” Swift for “Shake It Off,” and Pharrell Williams for “Happy”).

Smith’s strength across the nomination field portends a big night, not least because he’s in the mold of recent British R&B-inflected vocalists Amy Winehouse and Adele, both of whom dominated the Grammys. He at least can be considered a frontrunner in the most hilarious category announced so far, best pop vocal album. The field was stretched to six to ensure there’d be room for everyone from Ed Sheeran and Coldplay (the Timberlake-alike x and the breakup record Ghost Stories) to Ariana Grande and Katy Perry (the wildly mixed bags My Everything and Prism) to first-time nominee Miley Cyrus (Bangerz).

It’s fairly surprising, given the pop-driven bent of the record of the year nominees, that “Happy” didn’t find its way in — or, given her historical strength with the awards-giving body, that Beyoncé showed vulnerability by not finding her way into the pop solo performance category for “Pretty Hurts,” the song she submitted. (She has been nominated for best urban contemporary album alongside four artists not named Beyoncé.)

But perhaps the biggest surprise, so far, is that all five of the best new artist nominees, people in a category that famously plays by its own rules, are only on their first album.

TIME Culture

In Free the Nipple Movie, Women Go Topless for Equality

“Someone is definitely getting arrested.”

Censorship matters to Lina Esco, whose new film Free the Nipple tells the story of a group of activists challenging laws by baring their chests in the streets.

For Esco, “It’s not about going topless, it’s about equality.” The movie grew out of a real-life campaign that questions a country that glorifies violence in the media but removes a woman from a flight for breastfeeding her baby. As one of the fictional activists says in the trailer, “Our sexuality has been taken away from us and is essentially being sold back to us.”

The movement got a jump-start when Miley Cyrus, who has faced plenty of censorship herself, tweeted a picture of herself holding a fake nipple last December, accompanied by the hashtag #freethenipple. It’s not lost on Esco that the sensationalism of a bunch of topless women can only help to spread the word about her cause. “If I would have made a movie called ‘Equality,’ and no one was going topless,” she acknowledged to Entertainment Weekly, “nobody would be talking about it.”

Free the Nipple hits theaters on Dec. 12.

TIME Media

Kim Kardashian’s Butt Is an Empty Promise

Kim Kardashian Paper Magazine
Jean-Paul Goude—Paper

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie.

The celebutante's exaggerated behind on the cover of a magazine offers no truth or insight. It only makes us think about how it looks like a glazed Krispy Kreme donut

Last night Paper magazine released two of their latest covers, one featuring Kim Kardashian and the other one featuring an even more famous celebrity: Kim Kardashian’s butt. They were emblazoned with the words “Break the Internet,” and they certainly did. The images instantly shot to the highest currency in today’s media: they were trending. But that’s pretty much all they were. There is nothing behind that butt other than it being a really nice butt. That is the end–pun intended–of it.

This is not the first time that we have seen Kim Kardashian’s posterior. And it is not the first time that we have seen Kim Kardashian naked on the cover of a magazine. Strangely enough, she suggested back in 2010, the last time she was naked on a cover, that she wouldn’t pose nude again. She already broke that promise once this year, baring it all for British GQ. We had to know that it wouldn’t be true in hind sight (get it?).

The funny thing about Kim’s latest butt-shot is that all it is intended to do is create a frenzy, much like her famous “belfie” (which is a butt selfie for those of you at home who have better things to pay attention to). There is no reason Kim Kardashian wants to show off her ass or #BreakTheInternet other than because she can, she is expected to, and we fall for the trap every damn time.

It’s really provocation for provocation’s sake, the cheapest kind of stunt. Miley Cyrus, pop music’s current firebrand, was naked on the cover of Rolling Stone licking her shoulder. She revealed less physically, but more intellectually. It was that tongue hanging out, a pose she has repeated again and again while twerking. These moves, and, of course her memorable VMA performance with Robin Thicke, made us all think about cultural appropriation, female sexuality, third wave feminism, and what is appropriate behavior for a celebrity with such a large fan base of young women. Kim Kardashian’s butt on Paper magazine only makes us think about how it looks like a glazed Krispy Kreme donut.

Speaking of pop music provocation, this is nothing that Madonna didn’t do better, first, or smarter several decades ago. Everything from writhing around in her wedding dress on the first ever VMAs to her book Sex was pushing the envelope, but it was always with a purpose. It was about freeing herself from the shackles of the Catholic Church and conventional morality and showing the world that women can own their sexuality without being exploited.

And these aren’t the only women. Joan Rivers (RIP) was telling jokes that often raised controversy to show that if we can laugh at the Holocaust or 9/11, we can ease the pain we still feel about it. Sarah Silverman, another brilliant comic whose mouth frequently gets her in trouble, uses her jokes about racism, sexism, and homophobia to show the world how absurd all of those things really are when you examine them closely.

These are all people that think about what effect their actions are going to cause and see some sort of greater good by causing controversy. Kim Kardashian shows off her butt because she knows that people are going to freak out about it. Maybe it’s because Miley grew up forced into a sort of bright-eyed decorum by the suits at Disney that she knows how to rebel against something. Madonna had the Church and Rivers and Silverman have the male-centric world of standup comedy. They all have a barrier that they’re butting (ha!) up against and trying to tear down. What sort of obstacles did Kim, a pretty, rich girl from Beverly Hills, ever have to fight against?

Seriously, though, this is the only social currency she has in the world. I’m not going to break out that old saw that Kim Kardashian has no talent, but she has no occupation like Miley, Madonna, Joan, or Sarah. She has no outlet to express herself and keep herself relevant other than a highly scripted reality show with sinking ratings and her image. Remember, she is a celebrity whose initial fame, after being Paris Hilton’s closet organizer, was predicated on her having a sex tape. Kim Kardashian can only peddle in her body, and her ass is the most valuable part of that body.

Still, we follow it because that is what she does. It’s perfect that she’s married to Kanye West, whose hyperbole are so outrageous that we now just roll our eyes at them. It’s just Kanye being Kanye, much like Kim applying a liberal coat of oil to her derriere and slapping it on a magazine cover is just Kim being Kim. These two are all just provocation and bluster, repeated images that seem to offer us some sort of truth or insight but are really just self serving.

Kim Kardashian’s butt is the biological equivalent of click-bait. We can’t help but pay attention to it, but we’re always upset by the lack of substance. We want there to be something more, some reason or context, some great explanation that tells us what it is like to live in this very day and age, but there is not. Kim Kardashian’s ass is nothing but an empty promise.

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie who lives in New York. His work has appeared in Gawker, VICE, New York magazine, and a few other safe-for-work publications.

Read next: Kim Kardashian’s Butt Might Just Break the Internet Today

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Music

Watch The Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus Cover The Beatles on Conan

Strange can be beautiful

The Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus continued their campaign of weird on Conan last night with a performance of the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.” Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne donned a floor-length metallic cape, from which Cyrus, two minutes in, emerged wearing a tinsel wig and googly eye-adorned bodysuit.

The Flaming Lips are promoting its recent album, With a Little Help from My Fwends, a tribute to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band featuring guest appearances by Cyrus, My Morning Jacket and Moby, among others. All proceeds from album sales go to an Oklahoma City non-profit that assists low-income and elderly pet owners with veterinary costs and rescues abandoned pets.

The performance itself was a worthy cover, between Cyrus’ echoing, breathy interlude and just the right amount of intergalactic sound effects. The Flaming Lips are known for featuring extraterrestrial themes onstage, and this performance was no exception. It’s refreshing to see Cyrus get through a song without sticking her tongue out or twerking, and the oddball pair sounded quite lovely together.

TIME Books

Sinead O’Connor Will Reveal All in a Memoir

The controversial singer will document her career as well as dishing the "sexual dirt" on former lovers

Irish singer and known rabble-rouser Sinead O’Connor is penning a memoir, her publisher announced on Wednesday.

According to a press release about the still-untitled project, the memoir will cover O’Connor’s early life in Ireland, her breakout and rise to fame, as well as her current career.

The autobiography will presumably include notorious incidents such as the time O’Connor tore up a photograph of Pope John Paul II during a Saturday Night Live appearance in 1992, her subsequent booing in Madison Square Garden during a Bob Dylan tribute concert just days later, and perhaps even her open letter to Miley Cyrus. No matter what, the “Nothing Compares 2 U” singer has already promised that the book will include a lot of juicy details about her personal life.

“I’ve never stopped expressing myself in my music, and now, with a book,” the 47-year-old singer said in a statement. “And I look forward to dishing the sexual dirt on everyone I’ve ever slept with.”

The book, which will be published in the U.S. by Blue Rider Press, is slated for a March 2016 release.

[NYT]

 

TIME Art

Miley Cyrus Is Now a Visual Artist, Too

Her debut collection, aptly titled "Dirty Hippie," was presented at New York Fashion Week during designer Jeremy Scott's show

Miley Cyrus never ceases to amaze. On Wednesday, the 21-year-old pop star debuted her newest artistic venture: an art collection, aptly titled “Dirty Hippie,” as a part of avant-garde designer Jeremy Scott’s New York Fashion Week Show. Models in Scott’s show reportedly wore some of the pieces, which will also be on display at V Magazine‘s New York offices starting on Sept. 11. Details of the collection were also presented in V, whose cover Cyrus graces this month.

The collection features a five-foot-bong, a vibrator with a joint attached to it, and a party hat the singer told V she saw and thought “it might be fun to glue some sh-t onto it.” There is also a piece featuring a pineapple, because Cyrus says the fruits make “yummy c-m.” Sure!

Cyrus is not a formally trained artist, and though the pieces — which the singer has been teasing on her Instagram account — give off a high-DIY-project vibe (mainly because it was a high DIY project), Scott told V that’s what drew him to her work. As for Cyrus, the project was about exploring other artistic avenues so she doesn’t have to “die a pop pop dumb dumb.”

Cyrus’s main inspiration for her work was her fans and her tour, from which many of the pieces (including the vibrator with the joint attached to it) were derived. In the interview, Cyrus said her creations were like therapy, given the rough start she had to 2014.

“At the beginning of this year, I hated 2014 because everything that could go wrong kept going wrong. Being in the hospital, my dog dying…Everything just kept sh-itting on me and sh-tting on me. So then I started taking all of those sh-t things and making them good, and being like, I’m using it. My brother and my friends all said that’s what they felt I was doing. So, that’s how I started making art. I had a bunch of f-cking junk and sh-t, and so instead of letting it be junk and sh-t, I turned it into something that made me happy. “

Welp, so long as she’s happy.

 

TIME celebrity

Jennifer Lawrence Is the Highest-Grossing Action Heroine

Christian Dior : Front Row - Paris Fashion Week : Haute-Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015
Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson attend the Christian Dior show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 7, 2014 in Paris, France. (Rindoff/Dufour--French Select/Getty Images) Rindoff/Dufour—2014 Rindoff/Dufour

Hackers can't keep the starlet down

Sorry photo-hackers, but Jennifer Lawrence is laughing all the way to the bank. The Hunger Games star won the 2015 Guinness World Record for highest-grossing action heroine, thanks to the success of the blockbuster franchise, which has raked in more than $1.52 billion internationally.

The 2015 Guinness Book of World Records, which comes out Sept. 11, also lists The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as the highest-grossing post-apocalyptic movie, earning more than $854 million worldwide.

But J-Law’s not the only star who set a world record in 2015. Miley Cyrus became the most searched-for pop star on the internet after last year’s twerking at the VMAs, and Shakira became the most “liked” person on Facebook. Beyoncé won for fastest-selling iTunes album, with 828,773 downloads in the first three days. Katy Perry now has the most Twitter followers in the world, with 56 million.

And The Wolf of Wall Street won for most expletives in a movie: the characters curse 687 times, or an average of 3.81 swear words per minute.

 

TIME Music

After Celebrity Photo Hack, Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ Video Looks Even More Provocative

Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj performs at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. Matt Sayles—Invision/AP

The outspoken emcee showed a lot of skin in her "Anaconda" video — but in the wake of the current celebrity photo scandal, her commentary is even more barbed

Pop quiz: What’s the most important scene in Nicki Minaj’s colorful, not-safe-for-work “Anaconda” video? Is it when she gives an overwhelmed Drake an enthusiastic lapdance and slaps his hand away at the last minute, just as he reaches for her body? Or is it when she suggestively brings a banana to her mouth before deciding instead to mince it, slicing it with a knife and chucking it like a piece of trash? Both would be acceptable answers, and they share the same message: You may enjoy what I do, but make no mistake — this isn’t for you.

Minaj is not the first artist to write a song about her butt, nor will she be the last, nor is this even the first time she’s tried to flip the male gaze on its head through a bait-and-switch. (See the stark and violent clip for “Lookin Ass,” a song which makes this point clearly, even if its profanity-heavy lyrics can’t justly be quoted here.) But Minaj’s message seemed quite prescient considering what happened less than two weeks after “Anaconda” premiered: hackers stole a bunch of nude photos from a number of female celebrities and posted them on the Internet.

As others have pointed out, the incident isn’t a “scandal” for stars to be ashamed of, but a crime — and while it may not be sexual assault, it’s certainly meant as a kind of attack. Writing for The Guardian, author Roxane Gay said the theft “is meant to remind women of their place … Don’t step out of line. Don’t do anything to upset or disappoint men who feel entitled to your time, bodies, affection or attention. Your bared body can always be used as a weapon against you.” Stolen photos of private moments like these are meant to shame, which is exactly why I’ve started to see “Anaconda” as not just an supply of endlessly amusing GIFs from one of rap’s most entertaining and talented emcees, but also as an act of self-defense — a pre-emptive strike when it comes to defining the relationship between your body and the public.

Our celebrity culture’s history of sex tapes and “leaked” photos aside, Minaj still had numerous reasons to make a video like this — just look at the past year in pop music. Plenty of ink has been spilled over the racial implications of Miley Cyrus using black female dancers to pull off her hip-hop sexpot makeover. Katy Perry’s mummified dancers looked like racist caricatures. Lily Allen claimed race wasn’t a factor in casting dancers for her controversial “Hard Out Here” video, but race certainly becomes an issue when she sang, “Don’t need to shake my ass for you ‘cause I’ve got a brain” before the camera later cut to a black dancer doing just that. It’s as if Allen wanted to tell you she’s not like those girls, much like the message Taylor Swift sends when she, decked out bling with an exaggerated look of bewilderment on her face, crawls out from underneath a line of twerking of butts in her “Shake It Off” video.

Women of color evidently don’t often get a lot of say in how they appear or what they’re supposed to symbolize in pop culture, so Minaj’s ladies-first Amazonian jungle paradise is significant simply for the fact that it exists. But a market for stolen nudes exists, too, and Minaj might as well continue inoculating herself against it and other exploitive forces by owning her sexuality through her preferred visual medium. Scandals don’t exist in a vacuum; scandals are created when celebrity’s public image is drastically at odds with whatever they’ve been caught doing. That image is shaped in part by the art they make, which is why Jennifer Lawrence (one of the women whose photos were stolen) and her career may not suffer for what’s been shared. “The photos of Lawrence are explicit and nude and NSFW, but there’s nothing to suggest anything darker than the sexual appetites of her characters in Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle,writes Anne Helen Petersen at BuzzFeed. Swap films roles for single covers and music videos, and the same can be true for pop stars.

There’s sort of a basic PR lesson behind showing a lot of skin: the more of yourself you expose, the harder it is for someone to in turn expose you. The more you try and keep a lid on your personal life, the more dramatic and shocking a privacy violation can seem to outside observers. (Just think of all the Instagrams someone like Rihanna or Miley Cyrus have posted that would make headlines if they came from Beyoncé’s squeaky-clean account.)

But “Anaconda” isn’t about avoiding big controversies by hiding among smaller, lesser “offenses” — it’s about recognizing that your image is your weapon as much as anybody else’s, and you can use it or lose it. Look how often successful women’s bodies have been used to knock them down a peg while perpetrators see dollar signs; look how often pop stars use other women’s bodies, sometimes removed from the head and human they’re apart of, to make a point or define themselves against another artist. If Nicki Minaj doesn’t go out of her way to control who sees what and on what terms, someone else is going to. Why shouldn’t she be the one to profit?

TIME Crime

The Homeless Man Miley Cyrus Brought to the VMAs Turned Himself in to Police

My Friend's Place representative Jesse accepts Video of the Year (on behalf of Miley Cyrus) for 'Wrecking Ball' onstage during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on Aug. 24, 2014 in Inglewood, Calif.
My Friend's Place representative Jesse accepts Video of the Year (on behalf of Miley Cyrus) for 'Wrecking Ball' onstage during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on Aug. 24, 2014 in Inglewood, Calif. Kevin Winter—Getty Images

Jesse Helt gained unwanted police attention after the wanted youth accepted Miley Cyrus' award for music video of the year

The homeless youth Miley Cyrus brought with her to MTV’s Video Music Awards last weekend turned himself in to Oregon police late Thursday night. Jesse Helt, 22, had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for violating his probation.

Cyrus had Helt accept her music video of the year award for “Wrecking Ball” in order to raise awareness for homeless youth. However, Helt’s appearance on the VMAs resulted raised flags among police in Oregon, where Helt is actually from.

Helt arrived in jail with 10% of his $25,000 bail, Sheriff Bob Wolfe told the Statesman Journal. In a Monday interview, Helt’s mother said that Cyrus had given Helt enough cash to visit home.

[Statesman Journal]

TIME celebrity

Cops Want to Arrest the Homeless Youth Who Accepted Miley Cyrus’ VMA

2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Backstage And Audience
Miley Cyrus attend the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards MTV/MTV1415—Getty Images for MTV

Oregon police are looking to arrest 22-year-old Jesse Helt

Taking a page out of Marlon Brando’s award show/advocacy playbook, singer Miley Cyrus made headlines at the MTV VMAs Sunday not for twerking, but for sending a homeless youth on stage to accept her award for Music Video of the Year on her behalf.

While Cyrus certainly raised awareness for homelessness and a Los Angeles-based organization called My Friend’s Place, she also unintentionally drew some negative attention on her date. As the spotlight turned towards Jesse Helt, Cyrus’ 22-year-old friend who left home and found himself living on the streets as he pursued a modeling career, it was discovered there’s a warrant out for his arrest in Oregon.

Helt pleaded guilty and served 30 days in jail for criminal mischief and criminal trespass in 2010, the Associated Press reports. A warrant was put out for his arrest in November 2011 when he violated his probation.

“He doesn’t make himself available to community supervision, and he takes off,” Polk County Director of Community Corrections Martin Silbernagel told the AP.

Helt’s mother told the Oregonian Monday that Cyrus had given her son money that he was using to travel home to visit his family. Police told Helt’s mother they are looking for her son with the intention of arresting him.

Here’s an excerpt from Helt’s emotional speech during Sunday night’s show:

I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now. I know, because I am one of those people.

I have survived in shelters all over this city. The music industry will make over $7 billion this year, and outside these doors are 54,000 human beings who have no place to call home.

 

[AP]

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