#Music

Happy Birthday, Madonna! Here Are The LGBT Icon's Studio Albums, Ranked

Today, Madonna is putting the “sex” in sexagenarian. The Queen of Pop is 60. In addition to entertaining and thrilling us for over 30 years, Madonna has been outspoken about LGBTQ+ rights in her work and life since long, long before it was trendy, or even acceptable.

As a birthday tribute, Instinct has ranked all 13 of her albums, from least memorable to most unforgettable.

Note: we are only pulling from studio LPs— no soundtracks, compilations or greatest hits packages.

Here they are. All of Madonna’s albums, ranked.

 

13.  MDNA (2012)

William Orbit, who also produced Ray of Light, has said that MDNA suffered in part because of Madonna’s preoccupation with other business ventures. That checks out: there is very little to connect to here, so unusual when Madonna albums are generally such spirited affairs. MDNA feels like a product, like we’re going through the motions. The LP definitely has its moments: Madonna sounds furious and heartbroken on “Gang Bang” and “Love Spent,” far and away the two best tracks. “Girl Gone Wild” is a lot of fun (it should have been the lead single over the confusing “Give Me All Your Luvin’”), and she sings beautifully on album closer “Falling Free.” There is no such thing as a bad Madonna album; MDNA is the closest thing there is to a lifeless one.

 

12. Hard Candy (2008)

Guest artists on a Madonna record are usually not a good idea; it rarely works. Plain and simple, no one can match Madonna’s spirit and personality, and bringing younger, perhaps trendier stars into the mix comes off as forced. Hard Candy is the first album since Like a Virgin where Madonna doesn’t have a writing and/or producing credit on every song, and it’s kind of an orgy of guest stars. Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, Kanye West and Timbaland bring what you’d expect from them to the table, but as a result this barely feels like a Madonna record. The best tracks (“Give It 2 Me,” “Miles Away,” “Voices”) are the ones where she is front and center, telling us what’s up.

 

11. American Life (2003)

The response to American Life echoed the response Erotica received a decade earlier; it was largely dismissed and didn’t sell many copies. Erotica was misunderstood, overshadowed by the backlash surrounding Madonna’s coffee table book Sex, and has since been reappraised.

It’s still hard to warm up to American Life. The rapping in the lead single is still nails-on-a-chalkboard, and the album never really takes off, only partially committing to a stripped-down singer/songwriter aesthetic. There are moments of brilliance: “Nobody Knows Me” has great spirit, “Mother and Father” has a rousing chorus, and “Die Another Day” is a terrific dance track, just a weird fit for Bond…but ultimately American Life is a downer, and not in a good way.

10. Like a Virgin (1984)

Make no mistake: This is the moment Madonna proved she wasn’t a flash in the pan, and became a pop culture giant.

“Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl” are two of the catchiest, not to mention most iconic tracks in pop music— and they overshadow the rest of the album, which is otherwise mostly filler, save for “Dress You Up” and, to a lesser extent, “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” and “Angel.”

9. Rebel Heart  (2015)

First thing’s first: Lead single Living For Love is one of Madonna’s best tracks ever, and Rebel Heart might have been something like a home run if it were a few tracks shorter. The lyrics on “Heartbreak City” are uninspired and goofy, and the song stops the album dead for a moment. Though it’s not as intrusive as on MDNA and Hard Candy, Rebel Heart suffers from too many cooks in the kitchen, too many trendy references, etc. Madonna, you’re the trendsetter. There’s a lot to appreciate here, though: “Ghost Town” is gorgeous, and folky “Body Shop” sounds so experimental and appealing it’s easy to overlook the fact that it’s one big sex/car repair innuendo.

8. Madonna (1983)

The album that got this whole thing going is, not unlike Like a Virgin, uneven overall but with sky-high highs. “Borderline,” “Everybody,” “Holiday,” “Burning Up,” and “Lucky Star” are essential Madonna, bona fide pop classics. How about the rest of the tracks, though? Do you remember “Think of Me” and “I Know It?”

7. True Blue (1986)

True Blue is the highest-selling album by a female artist of the 1980s, and one of the best-selling records of all time. This is when Madonna took the reins and reinvented herself head-to-toe for the first time.

“Live to Tell” is Madonna’s greatest ballad, and maybe even her best song, period. She wrote all of the words herself. Who else could rock a pop song about child neglect?

 

6. Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005)

Madonna got on the horse after the disappointment of American Life but quick, with an all-dance record that has unlimited replay value. The lyrics are often breathtakingly beautiful (“Connect to the sky/ Future lovers ride/ Their ambitions high/ Would you like to try”) and occasionally dopey (“I don’t like cities but I like New York/ Other places make me feel like a dork”).

Truth be told, there’s very little confessing on Confessions. But boy(s) is it a blast.

 

5. Bedtime Stories (1994)

Madonna’s foray into R&B has gotten better with age. This is in many ways Madonna’s softest record, but it displays some of her most effortless, appealing songwriting craft. “Secret” never fails to fill a listener with intrigue. “Human Nature” barely even charted when it was released, but has since become It is just fantastic every time she performs it live. The album closes with tremendous strength: “Sanctuary” and “Bedtime Story” haunt and thrill. “Take a Bow” is one of her most successful ventures into balladry.

 

4. Erotica (1992)

Unfairly dismissed 26 years ago, Erotica now at long last seems to finally be getting some of the respect it deserves. Rolling Stone can pride themselves on getting it right; awarding Erotica one of its only glowing reviews at the time. In fact, RS nailed it, calling this dark, jazz-heavy LP “a post-AIDS album about romance.”

This is Madonna The Artist at her most uncompromising and vital. God knows this thing was ahead of its time. So much of the output of Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Britney Spears,

X-Tina et al. WOULD NOT EXIST WERE IT NOT FOR THIS RECORD.

It’s not like every track is a masterpiece—that’s not the case—but album closer “Secret Garden” sure as hell is. And "Deeper and Deeper" has arguably held up as well or better than "Vogue."

This writer is 28. I was two years old when this was released. Even I say this thing is damn required listening for all the young gays. Know your history.

3. Music (2000)

It’s tempting to tie this with Ray of Light because they’re so connected. That album was the biggest success of Madonna’s career. Two years later, Music is Madonna the musician at her most confident and instinctive. It’s like she went into the studio, said “f*ck it,” and just made noise, just let it rip. I heard the title track for the first time when I was ten years old, and I honestly think that’s when I knew I was gay, even if I wasn’t even sure what gay even meant at the time. That track still feels as funky and fresh as it did 18 years ago. “What It Feels Like For A Girl” has gained all new resonance in light of the #MeToo movement. 

Album closer “Gone” is the song you play for anyone who says Madonna can’t go deep. There’s no artifice; it’s Madonna with a guitar singing about fame, survival and life--straight from her heart and her brain. It’s Madonna at her most haunting.

2. Ray of Light (1998)

Ray of Light is widely considered a pop masterwork these days. After extensive vocal training for the lead role in Evita, Madonna’s pipes were stronger than ever. A sampling of many genres of world music and a bold foray into electronica that’s lyrically fixated on mortality and motherhood, Ray of Light is spiritually deep and musically adventurous.

After ruling the airwaves and the Billboard Hot 100 for 15 years, Madonna finally won her first Grammys, a total of four, for Ray of Light.

Here's a cruel injustice: "Ray of Light" lost Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the Grammys to that goofy, hilarious song from Titanic. Yeesh.

1. Like a Prayer (1989)

One listen nearly three decades after the fact, and it’s undeniable that this is still Madonna’s finest album. This was the moment she silenced critics who questioned her musical talents.

A concise yet eclectic mix, Like a Prayer shows off Madonna’s astonishing versatility: there’s rock (“Like a Prayer”), soul (“Express Yourself”), romantic doo-wop (“Cherish”) and even a children’s lullaby (“Dear Jessie”). And the entire package is a focused, moving and autobiographical take on religion, spirituality, sexuality and growing up.

On “Spanish Eyes,” Madonna mourns the loss of friends who died of AIDS, extremely taboo at the time.

The LP’s most poignant moment is “Oh Father.” A lot of gay men have adopted this tearjerker as an anthem for the fathers we love even though they perhaps didn’t really understand us or weren’t really there.

Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments. Long live The Queen of Pop!

Listen: Jack and Joel - Nothing Left

We sat down for a chat a few months back with the iconic Jack and Joel of UK X Factor fame, about music, sexuality and future plans, so its only fitting we come full circle with what they're up to now, and they've only gone and released an absolute BANGER!

'Nothing Left' is a completely self produced, self written tune from the duo, showcasing our favorite gay and ally in the most talented light imaginable! If you're a fan of your epic pop songs, you're sure to body roll at your desk this new music Friday.

 

 

The video drops this Wednesday, which sees the duo in the iconic Camden Drag bar 'Her Upstairs', which has sadly now closed, (sorry, international fish). What a legacy to end on though eh!

Follow Jack and Joel on Twitter!

Madonna Will Release Her Fourteenth Studio Album Later This Year

If you’re as big a Madonna fan as this writer, you may need to sit down for this news:

The Queen of Pop will release a new album sometime in 2018.

She recently sat down with Vogue Italia to chat about her new life in Lisbon with her children, upcoming projects and more. Among the biggest bombs dropped: she announced that her fourteenth LP will be released “by the end of the year.”

Madonna has been living in Portugal for about a year, and she says the music scene there has inspired her deeply, calling it “a nice antidote to what’s going on in the music business now where everything’s so formulaic, and every song has 20 guest artists on it, and everyone sounds the same.”

OMG PREACH, MADONNA.

She continues: “In Alfama [the oldest district of Lisbon], you’ll hear people singing and playing fado music everywhere. There are these weekly sessions called living room sessions which pop up in people’s beautiful homes that are 500 years old, and you walk up the marble steps which are lined with candles into the living room which is also dimly lit with candles, and there’s this rolling, very intimate performance happening where people play, they sing, they recite poetry.”

“It’s like a salon; something which doesn’t really exist in many places anymore – people elsewhere say, ‘Call my manager, this is how much I charge.’ I’m pretty sure in Lisbon people would do these shows and not get paid, they just do them for the love of what they do, and for me, this is glorious and inspiring.”

Madonna’s key collaborator on her new record will be producer Mirwais, who produced Music (one of the best pop albums ever by anyone) and American Life (one of Madonna’s least successful records).

As for her most recent albums. 2012’s MDNA had its moments (“Gang Bang” and “Love Spent” are great) and Rebel Heart might have been a home run if it were three our four tracks shorter.

Madonna also told Vogue Italia she left America for Lisbon to help her son David pursue soccer dreams—and also to get her kids away from Trump. “This isn’t America’s finest hour,” she says.

h/t: NME

Madonna’s Vogue Italia Cover Story

 

We're Loving Robyn's New Single, "Missing U"

Swedish-born hitmaker Robyn is in a class of her own when it comes to contemporary electronic synth pop. Fans and critics adore the way she can create worlds of deep feeling with a bunch of blips and bleeps.

She hasn’t released a solo album since 2010’s acclaimed Body Talk

Well, she just dropped her first single from her upcoming follow-up. It’s called “Missing U,” and it’s a big glorious reminder of what sets her apart.

The new track is an upbeat, synth-heavy track about yearning for someone who’s gone. It arrives days after Robyn released a surprise short film dedicated to her fans (this video is not her new song).

 

“‘Missing U’ is a song about this trippy thing that happens when people disappear, it’s like they become even more clear and you see them everywhere,” says the artist.

The song was written and recorded in Paris and Stockholm, re-teaming Robyn with collaborators Joseph Mount (Metronomy) Klas Åhlund (Charli XCX, Madonna).

Listen to “Missing You” on YouTube.

 

 

Madonna Graces the Cover of Vogue Italia, and the Photos Are Gorgeous

There’s a lot of excitement buzzing around amongst Madonna fans right now. The Queen of Pop has been teasing new music for months, and she’s about to turn 60 in mid-August.

Well, it’s time to get even more stoked, because Madge is gracing the cover of this month's Vogue Italia. The first sneak peek at the photos is stunning.

 

 

MADONNA by night for @vogueitalia #mertandmarcus #vogueeyewear

A post shared by Mert Alas (@mertalas) on

 

High fashion photographer Mert Atlas shared a glimpse at what’s to come, including several gorgeous shots of Madonna living a country life with her children in Portugal, and savoring the local nightlife.

Madonna moved to Lisbon last year along with her six children. She lives a slower-paced life there—in a palace.

The cover of the mag features Madonna in a black shoulder-less dress and hat gazing at the sky. The title of the issue is “Just One Day Out of Life,” quoting one of the Queen’s most iconic hits. The caption of this image on Instagram reads:

"Countdown to release of our August issue! #JustOneDayOutOfLife We celebrate a legend Madonna Find out about the new life in Lisbon of the Queen of Pop, through #mertandmarcus @mertatkas @macpiggott 's exclusive photographs and an interview by @xercxescook.” 

 

 

M A D O N N A #mertandmarcus @madonna

A post shared by Mert Alas (@mertalas) on

 

 

 

M A D O N N A #mertandmarcus

A post shared by Mert Alas (@mertalas) on

 

Another image shows Madonna vogue-ing in a sundress in a field of flowers.

 

 

She always gives a good face @madonna #mertandmarcus #lisbon

A post shared by Mert Alas (@mertalas) on

 

There’s also an adorable pic of Madonna running through some kind of a garden with her adopted daughters Mercy James, Stella and Esther.

 

 

Girls day out MADONNA and the family FOR @vogueItalia

A post shared by Mert Alas (@mertalas) on

 

And then there’s a dark image of Madonna with a horse, calling to mind the imagery of the first “Equestrian” act of the Confessions Tour.

 

 

M A D N N A #mertandmarcus my inspiration, my friend LOVE YOU @madonna

A post shared by Mert Alas (@mertalas) on

 

For more of the pics, visit Atlas on Instagram.

h/t: Billboard

 

Sad News: Madonna Is Unlikely To Tour Anytime Super Soon

There is nothing quite like a Madonna show. I’ve seen so many of the legends live, and I can honestly say The Queen of Pop’s live performances, in their way, rank up there at the tip-top, along with Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Prince…and not many others. She’s lost none of her stage presence and creativity, and performance art is one of the things she does best.

So it’s a little bit of a bummer that Madonna apparently won’t be going on tour anytime around her upcoming 60th birthday (Aug. 16), according to The Mirror. The Queen is choosing to celebrate the special day by spending time with her family in Portugal, where she now resides in a palace, formerly a boutique hotel. She reportedly intends to throw at least one no-expenses-spared bash.

Madonna isn’t retired by any stretch of the imagination. She has a new record coming out soon, with a lead single called “Beautiful Game.” But due to living a slower pace of life with motherhood as her primary focus, a source says it’s unlikely she’ll be back on stage anytime very soon.

Madonna has six children: Lourdes and Rocco by birth, and she adopted David, Mercy James and twins Stelle and Estere. The Queen originally moved to Lisbon so David, 12, could pursue his football dreams.

“There are going to be quite a few celebrations for Madonna’s 60th, but she has said she wants to be surrounded by her family,” says a source. “What [sic] is what is most important to her and she thinks her house in Portugal will be the perfect place to host.”

Sources say Madonna may even invite Guy Ritchie, father of her son Rocco and adoptive father of David, to the bash.

Madonna last went on tour in 2015, the absolutely amazing Rebel Heart Tour. Before that was 2012’s MDNA Tour.

h/t: The Mirror

Hottie Bobby Newberry Makes His Own Music Out & Proud

Singer/choreographer Bobby Newberry recently dropped his stylish, sexy new music video, "Lit.” And, trust and believe, the video lives up to its title.

The club-friendly track teams Newberry with sexy AF Brazilian rapper Aleff for the track and video who drops his raps in Portuguese. You’ll also spot RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Laganja Estranj working it out in the mix.

Fashion designer Jeremy Scott also brings his own brand of sexy/smooth to the video via clothing from his luxury fashion house, Moschino.

”I wrote the song about when you meet someone and have that instant, undeniable attraction and connection,” Newberry recently told OUT. “They give you that rush that’s almost intoxicating, like taking drugs but you're high on the person. Like butterflies in the stomach, they got you feeling lit.”

The born entertainer has been living his passion for music and movement since his childhood growing up in an underprivileged household in Orange County, California.

Inspired by mega-pop-stars Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson, Newberry taught himself to dance by emulating his idols. Those homemade dance skills earned him a scholarship to Los Angeles’ premiere dance studio, EDGE Performing Arts Center. It was there Newberry met and worked with star choreographers Brian Friedman (SYTYCD, Britney Spears) and Gil Duldulao (Janet Jackson).

The 31-year-old took those experiences and brought it all to bear with his own dance style making him an in-demand choreographer in the industry today for artists like Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliott.

Newberry shares that he’s been writing and recording for seven years now and knew when the time came, he would want to be an artist who’s true to himself.

“I made the decision to be open and talk about guys in my songs and be openly gay because I want to always be an authentic artist, be real,” he recently told HuffPost’s Curtis Wong. “And also to inspire up-and-coming artists so they can do whatever they want and be their authentic selves as well.” 

Newberry's also sporting some serious body. Check out below from his Instagram.

 

 

L E V E L U P

A post shared by Bobby Newberry (@bobbynewberry) on

 

(h/t OUT)

These 10 Pro-LGBTQ Rappers Are Making Rap & Hip Hop A More Accepting Genre

Yesterday, I shared the story of rapper Wiz Khalifa saying a stupid and homophobic comment.

Khalifa shared his thoughts on eating bananas, and said that men who bite directly into the fruit are suspect.

While I intended for the article to simply be, “See what stupid thing this one guy said,” I later realized that I had presented the Rap/Hip Hop world wrong.

As I read the Facebook comments for the article and the comments on the actual Instinct site, I realized that some readers were taking away the message, “Rap is homophobic/Rappers are homophobic,” and that’s simply not true.

As such, I’ve collected the below list of Pro-LGBTQ rappers who are openly supporting gay life and love.


Jay Z & Beyonce (If You Count "Apes**t")

When R&B singer Frank Ocean came out as bisexual in 2012, Jay Z and his wife Beyoncé came forward to praise and support him.

Beyoncé posted a picture of Ocean on her website with the caption, “Be fearless. Be honest. Be generous. Be brave. Be poetic. Be open. Be free. Be yourself. Be in love. Be happy. Be inspiration.” As for Jay Z, he posted an article titled “Thank You, Frank Ocean” on his Life + Time site.

In addition, Jay Z wrote a song titled “Smile” for his 2017 album 4:44 about his mother’s struggle to raise him while living in the closet. He even had his mother feature in the song.

Lastly, Jay Z spoke to CNN back in 2012 when then President Obama shared his support for marriage equality.

“It’s no different than discriminating against blacks,” the rapper said, “It’s discrimination plain and simple. I think it’s the right thing to do, so whether it costs him votes or not – again, it’s not about votes, it’s about people. So whether it costs him votes or not, I think it’s the right thing to do as a human being.”

Kevin Abstract

 

A post shared by r/brockhampton (@rbrockhampton) on

You may not know Kevin Abstract, but give him time and he may just take over the world. The Corpus Christi, Texas native started getting noticed in the music scene around 2015/2016. At the time, we was working as a solo performer who was open about his bisexuality.

Meanwhile, he was also forming what would later become “the internet’s first boyband.”

Abstract formed a group of singers, rappers, composers, directors, and more through an online forum. Together, they became the group BROCKHAMPTON, which has toured around the United States, released four albums in the past two years, and gained considerate fame in that short time. All while having the bisexual Kevin Abstract as their leader.

Kanye West

 

A post shared by Kanye West (@kanyewestt_official) on

Say what you will about Kanye (I certainly would), but he’s been a stable supporter of LGBTQ people for some time now.

Kanye West not only supported Frank Ocean when he came out, but he also helped his wife Kim Kardashian accept Caitlyn Jenner after her very public transition.

As for why Kanye supports LGBTQ people, he says it’s because of the time he realized one of his favorite cousins was gay.

“I would use the word ‘f*g’ and always look down upon gays. But then my cousin told me that another one of my cousins was gay, and I loved him. He's one of my favorite cousins. And at that point it was kind of like a turning point when I was like, ‘Yo, this my cousin, I love him and I been discriminating against gays."

Young M.A

 

accurate asf! #PettyWap

A post shared by Young M.A (@youngma) on

The “OOOUUU” rapper gained popularity in the world of Hip Hop without ever having to hide her sexuality. She says she hopes her openness will help young kids be brave and truly themselves.

“I think it was a point where I was just lost, personally and mentally,” she said during an interview with XXL. “I had just lost my brother and I was holding onto this secret of being gay from my family for a long time. It was just a lot of overwhelming stuff that was coming about.”

Macklemore

 

A post shared by Ben Haggerty (@macklemore) on

Macklemore has continued to be a committed ally for the rap industry, black people, and LGBTQ people.

The rapper has participated Black Lives Matter protests, offered support for his fellow rappers, and spoken out for LGBTQ rights. As for why he’s done the latter, he says it’s because he has family who are gay.

“I grew up with two gay uncles on Capitol Hill. I was always around a community of gay people, as a hip hop artist, it's still a taboo issue," Macklemore said in an interview with Music for Marriage Equality. "That is crazy to me. There's so much fear, and so much of it dates back to religion. I think that we have evolved as a society, and this is our time to create the change that is right."

A$AP Rocky

 

A post shared by A$AP Mob (@asapmob) on

The Harlem native is a platinum-selling artist who loves fashion. It was that very fact that led him to realize his mistake in his prior worldview.

“I used to be homophobic, but that’s f**ked up," he told Pitchfork. "I had to look in the mirror and say, ‘All the designers I’m wearing are gay.’”

The rapper then doubled down on his support for LGTBQ people in a conversation with Interview Magazine in 2013, where he shared that the hip hop world needs to get over its negative thoughts on homosexuality.

“So now that I’m here and I’ve got a microphone in my hand and about 6,000 people watching me, I need to tell them how I feel,” he said. “For instance, one big issue in hip hop is the gay thing. It’s 2013, and it’s a shame that, to this day, that topic still gets people all excited. It’s crazy. And it makes me upset that this topic even matters when it comes to hip hop, because it makes it seem like everybody in hip hop is small-minded or stupid — and that’s not the case.”

He added:  “We’ve got people like Jay-Z. We’ve got people like Kanye. We’ve got people like me. We’re all prime examples of people who don’t think like that. I treat everybody equal, and so I want to be sure that my listeners and my followers do the same if they’re gonna represent me. And if I’m gonna represent them, then I also want to do it in a good way.”

Azealia Banks

 

A post shared by Azealia Banks (@azealiabanks) on

You can say what you want about Azealia Banks’s social media presence, but the rapper has helped LGBTQ representation by being openly bisexual.

In fact, it was through Twitter that Banks came out. In 2015, critics were calling Banks a homophobe for using the slur “f****ts” on Twitter. She then responded by saying,

 “For f***’s sake, just give the Azealia banks is a homophobe thing a rest because I’m not," she tweeted. "I have a transgender sibling. My whole life is gay. All of my friends are gay, I am bisexual…. So please… Stop.”

Keep in mind, this doesn’t excuse her social media persona or use of anti-gay slurs, but she’s helped create visibility for LGBTQ people in the industry.

Chance the Rapper & Taylor Bennett

This brother duo are also widely supportive of LGBTQ life and people. The main reason being that younger brother Taylor Bennett came out as bisexual on his 21st birthday.

"Growing up I've always felt indifferent about my sexuality & being attracted 2 one sex & today I would like to openly come out to my fans," Taylor wrote on Twitter. "I do recognize myself as a bisexual male & do & have always openly supported the gay community & will keep doing so in 2017. #ThankYou."

Taylor’s older brother Chance, real name Chancelor, then shared that he had no idea about his brother’s sexuality before his coming out, but he expressed his total support afterwards.

“We honestly didn’t talk about it until after he put it out on Twitter… so I think it’s cool he could tell everyone via the Internet and kind of blunt the impact,” said the Grammy-winning rapper to Inquirer.net, “I think what he did was stronger than most people.”

He added, “I kinda just stepped back and… admired him.”


These are just a few of the pro-LGBTQ rappers out there.

While certainly there is still an air of toxic masculinity and homophobia in the musical genre, artists like the ones above are paving the way to change that mentality.

Let's Talk About Olly Alexander and His Sexy, Button-Pushing New Photos

Lead singer of red-hot British pop group Years and Years, 27-year-old Olly Alexander is, in some ways, breaking ground. He isn’t the first openly gay pop star, but he’s owning his sexuality and judiciously pushing buttons in a way that calls to mind some of the best, and most successful pop icons before him.

He’s Paper Magazine’s latest cover boy. The photos are sexy AF.

Question: Is this the first photo shoot ever to be wardrobed by both Versace and Nasty Pig? The pics feature Alexander and a male model in various states of undress. We only see the model from the neck down, and Alexander straddles his thigh in one shot, rests his head there in another.

It’s a fun and insightful interview, too. Alexander discusses his influences (Madonna and Whitney Houston, among others), and homophobia in the music industry and beyond.

Years and Years’ critically well-received second album Palo Santo is out now. A few years ago they released their first record, Communion. On the new record, Alexander sings, innuendo-free, about sex with men.

In the interview, Alexander makes a point that he couldn’t have written the songs in Palo Alto as they are a few years ago. So this means, maybe, boys can sing explicitly about liking boys now. All eyes are on Alexander to see where he takes it from here.

Before fronting Years and Years, Alexander was an actor, appearing in Gaspar Noe’s film Enter the Void and TV’s Penny Dreadful and Skins.

Check out more of the interview, and Olly in a jockstrap, at Paper.

Madonna Plays God Herself in Ariana Grande's "God Is A Woman" Music Video.

For many of us, myself included, Madonna has been the voice of God for a really long time already. Well now that’s literally the case.

Ariana Grande just dropped the video for her new single “God Is a Woman,” the follow-up to “No Tears Left to Cry” and the second single off of her upcoming album Sweetener, due Aug. 17. The big surprise here is a cameo by The Queen of Pop, in voice only.

Madge appears at the 2 minutes 24 seconds mark, reading a passage from Ezekiel made famous by Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction:

“And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my sisters. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.”

It’s a genuinely striking video, too. Grande walks through the cosmos, bathes in pastel paint, dons a stormtrooper helmet, recreates the Sistine Chapel ceiling and literally has insults thrown at her. At one point, she sports a silver bra that calls to mind the structure of Madonna’s iconic Jean-Paul Gaultier contraptions from the Blonde Ambition and MDNA tours.

It was only a matter of time before Grande and Madonna collaborated like this. They’ve been sharing love and good vibes on social media for years. Madonna had Grande onstage with her on the Rebel Heart Tour, and Grande performed at an event for Madge’s Raising Malawi charity.

Watch the God Is a Woman video here on YouTube.

h/t: People

Pages