Getting Ready With Everett Williams for Tom Ford’s LA Fragrance Launch

This week, Saddle Ranch in West Hollywood hosted Tom Ford Beauty’s fragrance launch for Ombré Leather Parfum. The popular TikTok hangout was a perfect environment for the brand’s new Wild West-inspired scent, which pays homage to Ford’s Texas upbringing.

Guests, ranging from Lil Nas X to Sydney Sweeney and Adonis Bosso, attended the celebration, featuring a soundtrack of Dolly Parton and Shania Twain, the bar’s notorious mechanical bull at its center, and “I got bucked by TF” tees handed out as parting gifts.

See on Instagram

Beforehand, PAPER got ready with internet style star Everett Williams, who naturally wore snakeskin print and classic, Americana denim to fit Tom Ford’s theme.

The Tom Ford Brow Definer Is a Lifesaver
Tom Ford Snakeskin Print Shirt
Tom Ford Beauty Lineup
Nothing Better Than Tom Ford Denim
Getting Dressed
Love These Boots
Always Have a Polaroid Shoot

Photography: Nicholas Scarpinato

Chanel’s Advent Calendar Gets Roasted on TikTok

‘Tis the season for advent calendars. And like many other brands out there, French luxury fashion house Chanel dropped theirs in time for the holidays. This was their foray into the world of the traditional holiday gift box, to commemorate 100 years of their signature Chanel No. 5 perfume. And the package, filled with 17 different goodies costs $825. TikTok creator Elise Harmon decided to see if it was worth the hype and the price tag.

Related | A Fast Fashion Dress That Copied A Vintage Chanel Look Is Going Viral

Videos of her opening items from the giant iconic bottle-shaped boxed have gone viral with millions of views — and not for good reasons. Harmon was happy with a couple of items like Chanel Beauty’s hand cream, red lipsticks, and a Chanel No. 5 Christmas tree ornament, but the rest didn’t exactly impress.

Other gifts included in the calendar were stickers, a picture flipbook, a magnet, a keychain, what looked like a small Chanel dustbag, and a string bracelet that included a wax seal-shaped pendant embossed with the Chanel logo that Harmon said was “giving plastic bottle cap.”


Part 5 I am barely hanging on over here y’all

Related | Chanel Is in a Punk Rock State of Mind

She wrote in a separate post, showing her in low spirits while holding the box, “When you try to get festive by buying an advent calendar but are left with shattered hopes and dreams.” In a later video, Harmon alleges that Chanel’s TikTok account blocked her.

Harmon isn’t the only one disappointed by the advent calendar. One YouTuber reviewed the product and called it “THE MOST FRUSTRATING, OVERPRICED $825 STICKER BOOK.” Customers have also flooded the brand’s Instagram comments section, making jokes and questioning their decisions over their holiday product.

Photo via Getty

Wikipedia Is Selling a Slice of Internet History

The collective sum of all human knowledge assembled on the internet (and the bane of any grade school teacher assigning a research paper), Wikipedia has cemented its place in history as the world’s largest and most-read virtual encyclopedia.

Now, you too could potentially own a piece of internet history thanks to a new Christie’s auction. Partnering up with founder Jimmy Wales, The Birth of Wikipedia features two artifacts from the site’s early days with proceeds from the sale going to support the new alternative social media network, WT.Social.

Related | Jack Dorsey Stepping Down as Twitter CEO

The first lot in the auction features the Strawberry Apple iMac that Wales used to create Wikipedia back in 2001. Wales used the computer to monitor and fend off potential web vandals in the site’s early days. As an added bonus, the computer comes complete with its original boxing for peak Y2K nostalgia.

The second is an NFT of the first ever edit made to Wikipedia on January 15, 2001 which reads “Hello, World!” Sporting the same layout and code that the website had back when it first launched, the NFT will apparently have a feature that allows the owner to edit the page and reset a timer.

“It’s been over 20 years since I first typed in the words ‘Hello, World!’ to launch Wikipedia — and even today, I’m still amazed at the size and breadth of what it has become,” Wales says. “I’m so pleased that we have this opportunity to celebrate the work of Wikipedia’s dedicated volunteers, and I hope that the funds raised can both contribute to furthering that effort and to help support my latest project, WT.Social, a decentralized, non-commercial social network free of advertising, tracking, information harvesting and misinformation.”

The Birth of Wikipedia is set to run from December 3 through the 15 via Christie’s.

Photo courtesy of Christie’s

Purple Blush Is Here to Stay

By now, you probably know that blush is 2021’s favorite makeup product.

Thanks to celebrity makeup artists like Ariel Tejada and Ash K Holm, this year saw an influx of blush sculpting the cheeks of your favorite stars. Of course, this trickled its way over to TikTok where beauty creators replicated looks and pushed the blush craze even further.

Now, there’s a budding sub-category within the blush market that’s really taking off. When you think of blush, you most likely picture a rosy pink shade, like Kylie Jenner’s famous Dior blush (that she didn’t actually end up using… we’re not entirely sure).

Related | Fake Eyelashes, Fake Freckles, Real TikTok Beauty

If you’re anything darker than a medium beige, though, rosy pink might not be as flattering on you. Thanks to TikTok, we’re seeing more creators break down blush shades that may not be as popular, but work for various skin tones significantly better than the traditional option.

Burnt orange or red-toned blush shades are beautiful on deep-dark skin tones and dusty rose-colored blush looks incredible on medium-olive skin. Right now, the new craze is purple, which is flattering on many skin tones. In fact, it might actually be the most universal shade of blush.

A few viral purple blushes have dominated TikTok, including Nudestix Moodie Blu, a blue-toned magenta shade. When it comes to purple blush, it seems beauty lovers prefer cream over powder because purple can be such a strong shade and cream makes it easier to blend out.



Reply to @big_bewbz A purple blush?? @Fenty Beauty Drama Cla$$ #makeup #makeupreview #blush #viral



thoughts on purple blush?? 💜🤔 #blush #makeup #beauty #purpleblush



💜✨PURPLE BLUSH SUPREMECY!!!✨💜 @fentybeauty @nudestix #beautytips #beautytutorials #makeup #fentybeauty #nudestix #fyp

Shop a few of our favorite purple blushes, below:

Photo via Getty

Netflix Is Turning a Thanksgiving Text Into a Movie

One of the more wholesome viral memes that ends up rearing its head year at the end of November, an Arizona grandmother who accidentally texted a complete stranger to Thanksgiving has since turned the holiday invite into a six year tradition. Now, the meet-cute is getting its own Netflix movie.

Perhaps taking a page out of A24’s book with Zola, the streaming giant is set to adapt the social media story into its own feature film. The Thanksgiving Text will recount the tale of how an accidental Thanksgiving meal invitation sent via text from Wanda Dench — intended for her grandson — was instead received by high school senior, Jamal Hinton, who decided to join the family meal.

Related | Janicza Bravo on Giving Zola the Movie She Deserved

Hinton has since joined the Denchs for dinner every year following, a tradition that started in 2016. Last year’s reunion was especially poignant given that Dench’s husband, Lonnie, passed away in April due to complications from COVID-19.

Thanksgiving — Jamal Hinton (@Jamal Hinton)

We are all set for year 6! — Jamal Hinton (@Jamal Hinton)

In a joint statement, Dench and Hinton said about their viral tradition getting made into a movie, “We are excited to share our story with the world. We hope it inspires more people to reach out and make connections that they wouldn’t ordinarily make. We are so blessed to find a genuine friendship brought together by God from a mistaken text message.”

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

The Queer Jew Fairy in Stiletto Nails Is More Than Meets the Eye

The first thing one observers is the nails: they’re long — like, well over an inch — square-shaped with a thermal-camera inspired design. I’m not the only one that notices. The barista, too, offers her co-sign. He smiles and thanks her, shyly, before we mosey to a corner seat at Joe Coffee in Union Square (both of us disheartened at what’s become of the former Coffee Shop). We spend about half of our hour+ talking about his early life, but there’s a sense of ennui throughout the conversation. His eyes meander. He’s somewhat vague. Where are you from? “New Jersey suburb,” he states simply. I do manage some contextual clues that inform the young man before me, like how growing up, he and his parents would sing “Chanukah, oh Chanukah” every night of the eight-day Festival of Lights and do a little three-person horah around the house. But little else seems of interest to him.

When I finally shift gears to his work, Matt Bernstein brims with excitement. Alas! “This is the conversation I’m most interested in having,” he tells me, signaling that the story isn’t how he got here, but what he’s doing now that he’s arrived.

I’ve always been struck by Bernstein’s proclivity toward contextualization. For instance, hours after Dan Levy hit the Met Gala red carpet earlier this year in custom Loewe (to a mixed response from “critics” online), Bernstein connected his audience to the reference that many may not have seen or known: artist and prominent AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz and his piece, “F*ck You F*ggot F*cker.” He even included a visual of the work to further connect the dots. How does he know so much — and at such a young age, no less? Meticulous research and an unappeasable appetite for knowledge, particularly queer history, a history not often taught in schools.

With an online presence that is bubbly, ebullient and often ubiquitous (if he’s not popping up on the feed, someone you know is likely reposting him), one might expect Bernstein to be an extrovert. “Despite the social media thing, I value alone time more than anything,” he says. We talk at length about the profile as an art form and his reticence to allow another’s perspective on him to be carved in stone. It’s a legitimate fear that I’m surprised more don’t have in giving themselves over to another to opine on who they are or what they do. Bernstein’s instincts, which belie his youth (he’s 21), have helped him grow and nurture a social following of more than 875k loyalists.

The self-described “queer jew fairy in stiletto nails” is careful not to describe himself as an activist, but understands his role in instigating social change. Bernstein describes his current approach to his social media as his latest era. Two years ago, which he accurately describes as two decades in the world of social media, he was in a different headspace and thus the content was as well. “I feel like I used to function more as a facilitator of gay meme culture than anything else — which is fine, I have no regrets about any of the older content. But I feel like what I’m putting out now is much more in my own voice.”

See on Instagram

As such, when we conclude our initial interview, I scroll to the bottom of his feed to get a sense of the eras that led up to now.

I start, as I often do, by scrolling to the bottom of the feed.

June 16, 2012: First post. The ocean. 1896 likes. The next four years were spent photographing life through the prism of his eyes in an aesthetic best described as Instagram-y: light-drenched, polished, carefully crafted and filtered

March 22, 2016: Forearm outstretched on a sun-soaked bed, baby’s breath in the hand, and a tattoo with the Lorraine Schneider quote, “War is not healthy for children and other living things,” inscribed in black ink. 12,213 likes.

January 21, 2017: A sign held up at the Women’s March that reads: “REAL MEN ARE FEMINISTS.” 22,788 likes.

June 8, 2019: What became Bernstein’s calling card, high-gloss selfies with rainbow makeup and a message painted on the face, the clavicle, the hip bone, etc. This one: “‘STRAIGHT PRIDE’ IS HOMOPHOBIA WITH A VERY THIN VEIL.” And then a series of slides with real stories about the risk queer people face in openly celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride. 48,183 likes. (Variations on the theme followed: “Feminism without queer women is not feminish.” “Gay blood is blood.” “You don’t need to be out to be valid.”)

May 6, 2020: “Bisexuality isn’t 50% gay or 50% straight. It’s 100% bisexual.” The post featured his now-signature slides, this time with more specificity around the visual branding, answering questions like, “What does it mean to bisexual?” while myth-busting common misconceptions like bisexuality being a fetish. 208,102 likes.

August 26, 2021: “The ‘L’ in LGBTQ comes first for a reason,” reads a banner atop an image of Bernstein, sans his signature face beat, wearing a crop top featuring the colors of the lesbian flag, his leg kicking up to the sky. 570,538 likes.

See on Instagram

He’s taken on topics like HIV, gay adoption, the openly gay heroes of 9/11 and more, cultivating a community keen to share his easily digestible and platform savvy knowledge. “People have asked what happened to the make-up posts and the honest answer is that the way I want to communicate my ideas has changed,” he says. “The content I’ve made over the better part of 2021 is more aesthetically straightforward, which allows me more time and energy to really focus on my ideas and the points I’m trying to make with each post, which, ultimately, is what I care about most.” He’s even fused this work into a new merch line with 20% of proceeds being donated to Texas Abortion Funds.

Those ideas do not come without trolling. Bernstein’s unabashed flamboyance partnered with the size of his reach make him an easy target for antisemites, homophobes, transphobes and more. On that, Bernstein is key to discuss the dogpiling that can happen online within the queer community, especially with the seemingly never-ending barrage of new “main characters on Twitter” where valid criticism can rapidly spiral into death threats. “Not everything I’ve published on the internet is perfect,” he says. “I would argue none of it is. And I have accepted criticism many times, and will always be happy to do so because I think it’s how we learn. But I don’t invite criticism in the form of people telling me I should choke and die.”

“As someone who also consulted LGBTQ internet creators when I was in the closet, I understand the unique position I’m in to be a source of comfort and hope for people.”

Why does he feel there is so much infighting within the queer community? “I think when it comes to marginalized groups online and specifically LGBTQ+ communities online, there’s so much pain that we all carry with us from our childhoods into adulthood,” Bernstein says. “And while the internet has been an incredible tool in connecting us — and I wouldn’t have come out as early as I did without the internet, and I think a lot of other people feel that way too — we’ve also carried that pain into the spaces of social media. And one of the many ways that manifests is the way a lot of people will lash out at each other, specifically people who aren’t their enemies in the grand scheme. I have done this. You have done this. I think for me it’s coming to terms with the fact that the things that people say about me or about my work are very detached from reality and is more a reflection of that individual.” In other words, it’s not that he ignores it, it’s that he is able to distill the valid from the veiled.

The impact of this work, which leans into the social platform’s aesthetic-mindedness while also, in turn, subverting it, cannot be overstated, particularly for his younger-skewing demy of savvy followers. For some it can be information; for others it’s inspiration. “I was taking a walk last month, and this young person stopped me on the street and told me they had just come out to their mom as nonbinary, and how I had helped them reach that point,” he says. “It made me all gushy. I don’t like to take credit for any of that stuff, but as someone who also consulted LGBTQ internet creators when I was in the closet, I understand the unique position I’m in to be a source of comfort and hope for people. I don’t take that lightly.”

Welcome to “Wear Me Out,” a column by pop culture fiend Evan Ross Katz that takes a look at the week in celebrity dressing. From award shows and movie premieres to grocery store runs, he’ll keep you up to date on what your favorite celebs have recently worn to the biggest and most inconsequential events.

Photos courtesy of Matt Bernstein

We Owe Everything to Bloghouse

The year was 2008, and I showed up to my first day of junior year in a lamé skater dress and a rat’s nest that looked like a giant mushroom on my head. At the time, I was transitioning out of the Warped Tour emo circuit and entering a new era dedicated to copycatting all the “alt” girls I saw in Cobrasnake photos posted on Tumblr, and so my tote bag contained a pack of stolen Parliaments in my pocket, a copy of Eeeee Eee Eeee and an iPod full of Sébastien Tellier, Crystal Castles, Klaxons, Uffie and every MSTRKFT remix under the sun. You name it, and I had the illegal MP3, which is probably something I shouldn’t commit to writing, but, I guess, what’s done is done.

Either way, though, this was a personal watershed moment, heavily colored by “irony,” Cory Kennedy candids and the Vice Do’s and Dont’s column, but I didn’t really know what to call it until Carles, the enigmatic author behind Hipster Runoff, made a post titled “WTF is Blog House?” Granted, with the publication of Lina Abascal’s Never Be Alone Again: How Bloghouse United the Internet and the Dancefloor, we now have a much more comprehensive answer to that question.

For the uninitiated, bloghouse (AKA “bloghaus”) is an umbrella term for a wide-spanning cultural movement that was simultaneously a party scene, a fashion trend and an all-encompassing lifestyle centered on a “very certain kind of dance music,” per Abascal. Lasting from roughly 2006 to 2011, there isn’t a particular sound or sonic signature unique to the genre since you could, technically, classify different bloghouse songs and artists as everything from French touch to nü rave to electroclash.

Rather, it’s probably better to describe the overall vibe of bloghouse, which was chaotic, glitchy, garish, glittery, and almost as neon as American Apparel’s color range. After all, as Abascal clarified, it was “less about the exact sound and more about how you found it” as a subculture that revolved around the online discovery of catchy electronic music during a time when “rock music was getting boring” and “people were just really ready to dance.”

However, it’s also worth noting that no one called it “bloghouse” back then, even if the posthumous moniker is apt for a genre spawned by a “network of independent blogs.” From Stereogum to Gorilla Vs. Bear, these sites would share links of songs and remixes culled from HypeMachine charts and Tumblr posts, which made the once-arduous process of music discovery through hyper-niche forums and expensive record collections a thing of the past. Instead, bloghouse’s use of the internet meant DIY music was simplified to one click on a playlist link or illegally downloaded songshare file — something that predicted our current relationship with the online dissemination of music and culture.

“One of my favorite things about bloghouse is the democratization of it through free access to music online. You were able to become a curator yourself and participate, and I think people were really ready for that,” Abascal said, explaining that this was taking place during a time when more and more people were getting computers and the internet at home. As social media and technology continued to advance throughout the mid- to late-aughts, Abascal reflected on her own experience of being one of the many “listeners who turned into bloggers themselves,” merely because they loved the music and wanted to share it.

“Anyone can log on and be like, ‘Oh, shit, I care about this. Let me find other people that care about this,’ and it connected people from all over,” Abascal continued. “I think the motivations were very pure, which sounds kind of corny because by no means was this a wholesome scene, but I do think that there were elements of it that really were wholesome.”

Similarly, as A-Trak wrote in Never Be Alone Again’s foreward, artists now also had the ability to release songs, quickly and independently, thanks to all of those free MP3s combined with pirated production software, which made everything sound “as good as anything made in an expensive studio.” They also weren’t required to adhere to lengthy release timelines that required record printings and traditional magazine marketing, or even beholden to the creative constraints of contracts and record labels.

Basically, it was an era where things like Girl Talk’s mash-up creations could have actually existed and something that foreshadowed the collaborative, online-based production process of now, as A-Trak also said that artists could “test out our remixes the same day we made them,” solicit instant feedback from friends and, when the “tracks seemed ripe, we sent them to a blog and measured the fans’ reactions in real time.”

He added, “At this speed, we all felt like our tools could finally keep up with our ideas. It facilitated experimentation. Bloghouse broke a ton of rules; it was invigorating.”

Naturally, this level of output from thousands of laptop musicians also bled into party world, one built from the ground up by a group of internet people sans commercial sponsorships or big production companies. Instead, it was a ragtag collection of intimate, sweaty parties in New York, LA, San Francisco and beyond, filled with girls in hot pants and the kind of guys you picture when you think of the term “hipster,” all of which was documented by notorious party photographers like the Cobrasnake. It was huge to be in one of his online photo galleries, after all, as Abascal remembers spending time at these clubs and parties as a teen, hoping to land a coveted spot in one of these slideshows.

However, she also talked about a dark side to the IRL party scene, namely things like the exclusion of female artists by bookers and the blatant exploitation of underaged girls who are “like in the ninth grade” by predators. From being pilfered with booze to being creeped on by powerful older men like the founder of a certain beloved bloghouse-affiliated fashion brand, looking back, Abascal realized that a lot of the stuff happening in dark club corners was extremely “gross” and “very scary,” even if it didn’t seem that way at the time.

“There was some shit at the moment that I didn’t know about or didn’t know that a young person being exploited, so I just didn’t even realize it,” she said. “And now, if you look at these photos and you look at some of these dynamics, it’s not cute. It’s actually a big problem.”

Additionally, she also recalled a “really horrible level of gender inequality that’s sadly reflected in the book,” given that most of bloghouse’s biggest players were men. Because despite “reaching out to so many women,” it became obvious during the research project that “there also weren’t that many,” and that “some of them didn’t want to participate because they were like, ‘This wasn’t a great time in my life.'”

She recalled several women saying, “‘There are people still thriving off this who didn’t treat me well,'” or, “‘The projects I was involved with left a bad taste in my mouth, so I don’t really want to reminisce.'”

Even as we collectively try to move forward, though, it’s no secret that the internet has sped up the cyclical nature of cultural trends, to the point where we’ve already seen the second coming of the mid-aughts’ scene subculture. And according to Abascal, bloghouse itself also appears to be in the rebirth process via TikTok as “indie sleaze,” though she believes its cultural impact goes far beyond neon basics, PBR and bad haircuts.

After all, bloghouse, arguably, predicted the way we currently use the internet to spread culture, especially when it comes to things like quick musical output, a viral track and the way lots of songs and artists bring together older sonic references and iconoclastic production to create something new. And as A-Trak wrote in Never Be Alone Again, the movement’s legacy extends to a lot of music being made today, as you can hear those electro-disco elements, which were so important to bloghouse musical staples like Ed Banger Records, in “practically all current [pop] music.”

However, Abascal said that it’s hard to imagine that “something like bloghouse will ever happen again,” especially given our current relationship to the internet. Because “it wasn’t selfies, or real-time live streaming, or Instagram.” Rather, you “could be like me, a little nobody high school girl” and still participate in this brief yet extremely impactful cultural moment.

“The past few years of creeping nostalgia suggests there was more to the whole thing than a five-year DIY rager whose photographic evidence should be destroyed posthaste,” as Abascal writes in Never Be Alone Again. “Maybe in the midst of all the chaos, something real was happening. Was it cool? Debatable. But was it fascinating? No doubt.”

Welcome to “Internet Explorer,” a column by Sandra Song about everything internet. From meme histories to joke format explainers to collections of some of Twitter’s finest roasts, “Internet Explorer” is here to keep you up-to-date with the web’s current obsessions — no matter how nonsensical or nihilistic.

Photos courtesy of Demian Becerra

Get Your Hands On That Harry Styles Cardigan

Harry Styles knows we all want a piece of him. That’s why the singer is giving everyone the opportunity to purchase his viral patchwork cardigan — to have, and to hold. Well, sort of.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by xydrobe (@xydrobe)

The singer’s iconic piece, or rather, a hyper-realistic digital copy of it, is set to be auctioned off as an NFT for the website Xydrobe, with all proceeds from the sale being donated to the Akt charity that helps out LGBTQ+ youth that live in homeless or hostile environments.

You probably remember the cardigan up for grabs — it took over TikTok last year after Styles wore it during a rehearsal for The Today Show in New York. Everyone wanted to make their own version of it, labeling it the #HarryStylesCardigan, so much so that J.W. Anderson, the label that originally created the piece for its Spring 2020 menswear collection, created a tutorial for people that really wanted to recreate the look.

Leave it to Xydrobe to recreate it better than anyone else. Fashion United reports that the website’s visual effect artists spent over 300 hours creating each piece of the cardigan’s yarn in 3D.

Speaking about the sale, JW Anderson’s founder Jonathan Anderson explained why he chose to have the project sold as an NFT. “I think we have had a lot of iconic pieces in the relatively short history of JW Anderson, but the cardigan, in particular, became iconic because of social media,” he said. “It just felt right that this jumper that exploded online should also be recreated as an NFT.”

If you want to get your hands on it, you’ll have to wait until December 12 when the bidding goes live at £10,000.

Photo via Getty/ Anthony Pham

They Made Plastic Out of What?!

As climate change continues to look more and more grim, the need to find environmentally friendly alternatives that are innovative and sustainable grows more and more urgent with each passing day. Now, beyond the typical solar panels or paper straws, some of the newer proposals have been getting, um, more creative.

Scientists in China have devised a new eco-conscious form of plastic made of salmon sperm. As strange as it may sound, apparently you can make a squishy material called hydrogel from a couple strands of DNA combined with a chemical in vegetable oil to bind it all together. It’s unclear why it needs to be extracted from sperm specifically, but they discovered that the gel can be moulded into different shapes and then freeze dried to be made solid.

Related | Unisex Condoms Are Now a Thing

Researchers have already used the hardened gel to make a cup, a puzzle piece and a model of DNA and while they won’t be winning any design awards anytime soon, the new sperm-based plastic is actually biodegradable which is a better alternative than the tons already floating in the pacific ocean. Considering rehydration is needed in order to be recycled, using it as a viable cup option is probably out of the question (not to mention drinking from a cup made out of dried fish semen is a tough sell), though it theoretically could be used for other non-moisture related purposes.

The researchers have already created a cup, puzzle pieces and a DNA molecule from the eco-friendly plastic nn — Euronews Green (@Euronews Green)

Considering how abundant DNA is as a resource, this new hydrogel plastic could prove to be a good alternative… how scientists will collect enough sperm to make mass production possible, though, has yet to be determined.

Photo via Getty

Slayyyter Pulls No Punches

Boys, beware. Your time is over. Broken a heart? We’ll hear. Acted a fool? We’ll know.

There’s a reckoning on your tail, chipping away at your patriarchal seat of power song by song. From Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” to any version — but especially “Taylor’s Version” — of a T Swift album, there’s a proud lineage of female artists lyrically socking their reverse muses in the balls. And it’s only growing stronger. Who better than Slayyyter to take up the mantle with her new single, “Stupid Boy”?

Hot off her debut album Troubled Paradise, the emerging pop star is back with a stripped down dance track that’ll make you want to… well… dance and strip down! And beat the shit out of guys! She’s not alone though, linking up with bounce legend Big Freedia to really show those sleazeballs who’s boss (hint: not them).

Related | Slayyyter Is Back, With Full Choreo

Featuring cautionary lines like “I hate your guts” and “have you ever met my fist,” Slayyyter pulls no punches, calling boys “stupid” roughly 56 times throughout the song’s four-minute runtime. Oh, and by “punches,” I mean that literally, seeing how the accompanying lyric video finds Slayyyter KOing her IRL boyfriend in a WWE-themed nightmare.

PAPER caught up with the busy musician to discuss her experiences with stupid boys, upcoming new music and why it may be time to prescribe hyperpop a xanax.

“Stupid Boy” is obviously about someone you really like.

Sort of… I didn’t really write it though. Like, I wrote my rap verse in it, but my boyfriend helped me write that song. So I guess it could technically be about someone you like. It could be about someone you hate, but it was actually a boy that wrote it.

Where did the inspo come from?

I was working on a bunch of lovey-dovey pop songs and then wanted to make something a little edgier. The producers came up with this beat that was very bare bones and I started reciting this little poem my boyfriend gave me that just was like, “Stupid boy, I hate your guts, blah, blah, blah.” And it kind of just turned into this empowering, kind-of evil “I hate boys” song.

It’s a different sound than your previous stuff with Troubled Paradise. Is this something that you’re moving into?

Not really. I love this song so much. [But] it didn’t really fit into my last element, it doesn’t really fit into my next album. So I wanted to release a one-off and do a cool collab because my next project, I’m going very, very dance-pop.

What was it like working with Big Freedia?

It was really sick… Freedia is so, so cool. And I knew that it would bring this track to the next level to have such a legend featuring on it.

What’s the fun that comes out of a collab?

It’s kind of like marrying two different sounds in two different worlds into something that can be really special. I don’t really do a lot of colalbs just because, this sounds so lame, but I get really nervous to ask people because I’m afraid they’re gonna say “no.” So I was so happy that Freedia was down. That was such a dream come true.

Is pop music like that? Are people snooty when you reach out to them?

At the end of the day, it’s all just a big game. And people want to collab with people who are bigger than them to help them kind of, like, get bigger or whatever. So if you’re a bit of a smaller artist, it’s very rare that someone who’s a lot bigger will be down. So I was really grateful for this collab to come out the way it did.

Related | Slayyyter Made Her Own Cotton Candy

A lot of your songs like “Daddy AF” and “Celebrity” have this irreverent quality. Where does the humor come from?

I guess it just comes from not wanting to take myself all too seriously. I mean, I take pop music very serious. And I love what I do. And I love writing songs. And I love thoughtful songs. But like, it’s also fun just to include certain lyrics and lines that are kind of silly. I think it makes it more magical and more fun. It’s what I love about artists like Doja Cat and Katy Perry.

You mentioned you mainly did the verse, but I still feel like there had to have been some personal inspo for “Stupid Boy.”

Mostly I feel like it embodies that vibe of when you meet someone who you’re attracted to, but you also kind of hate them a little bit. Like “they’re so annoying,” but you want to have a one night stand with them. So I feel like that is definitely the vibe. I don’t know if I can say this, [but] wanting to like hate-fuck someone. Sorry for cursing!

After you release music, do you find that people from your past will message you and ask if the lyrics are about them?

I haven’t really dated a lot of people in my life. So the songs especially from my last album that are specifically about people, like, they for sure know, and I’ve probably told them and stuff, but they don’t dare reach out because that would just be really embarrassing for them…

It kind of harkens back to Taylor Swift. Obviously, there’s a degree of misogyny that comes with criticizing women for putting their own experiences in songs. What are your thoughts about that?

I think it’s so crazy because that’s quite literally the point of songwriting. When you’re really feeling strongly about something or someone or something that’s happened to you, it’s the best way to get it out. The best therapy for it is to write a song about it. I hate the idea of certain songwriting topics being off limits… that is so stupid. Everything about songwriting and what makes music so powerful is that it’s your real experiences that maybe someone else might connect to.

So “Stupid Boy” must have been a really cathartic track then?

Definitely. It’s not really about someone so specific, [just] boys in general. Boys at the club that try to touch you when you’re not really looking for that. Men in general that are disrespectful. I think it’s an empowering anthem of dominating someone, owning your sexuality and telling a man to back off. When I wrote my little verse about the boxing ring, that’s where the whole wrestling idea came from. Girls being fighters against the male gaze, which sounds a little too deep for how silly the song may be, but it really reminded me of women being boxers trying to fight guys off in the club.

What do you think the stupidest things about boys are?

When they think they’re being slick or they think they’re being sly. I feel like women are so smart. And women’s intuition genuinely is one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen, so it’s funny to me when men think that they can get away with stuff.

What inspired that direction for the lyric video?

I am obsessed with WWE Divas. They all go about their careers in such a pop star way. They all have their own style and they have these rhinestone costumes and they have to, like, rehearse their leg movements. So I wanted to do something where I got to live out my fantasy of being one for a day.

When was the first time you realized you could channel your power into music and song?

When I was in high school I started channeling all of my saltiness and hatred for guys that would break my heart into music.

Related | Slayyyter Stars in Parade’s ‘Ice Cream’ Campaign

What are we going to expect on the next project?

It’s very dramatic. A lot of the songs are very theatrical. A little more retro kind of flavor to everything. I’ve been really inspired by Kavinsky and a lot of different electronic pop, like Sebastian. I feel like the next project is me embodying more of a femme fatale persona.

What inspires the shift in directions for each project?

It’s really just phases. Recently, I’ve gotten into this David Lynch film phase where I’m obsessed with all his movies. And I’m obsessed with like, Miami in the ’80s. I’ve gotten so sick with hyperpop. Everyone and their mother is starting to do hyperpop, so I started really deep diving into different older electronic producers and people who were really experimental in the ’90s or early 2000s.

Yeah, I will say hyperpop has gotten so big. Everyone sounds like they’ve fucked a computer.

It’s not that it’s a bad thing. I’m down for anyone to make whatever they want, but when it comes to being in the club that’s not the music I want to dance to. I want to dance to, like, “Hung Up” by Madonna.

So who are you working with on this next album?

The guy behind “Clouds,” his name’s Nicopop. He’s a really amazing producer. I’ve been working with him a bunch on songs. Nate Campany and Kyle Shearer, who did “Letters” on Troubled Paradise… they are amazing. They produce a bunch for Carly Rae Jepsen, they produce a bunch for Caroline Polachek, and all these different artists. I’m doing a bunch of songs with them. I think I’ve made like five or six songs with them that I’m obsessed with that will be on the album.

You touched on it in your song “Celebrity,” but working in pop music is not always as glamorous as people make it out to be. What are some things people get wrong?

I feel like it really is disheartening sometimes. Every single photoshoot you do, every single song you make, there’s this criticism that comes with it all because the stan Twitter accounts and these forums… Just the constant criticism nonstop about what you’re wearing. And if your wig looks fucked up, and all that stuff. So yeah, all that can be pretty annoying. Also with the song leaks. Getting hacked is, like, obviously the worst.

When something happens to you, do you ever optimistically look at it as material for your music?

Oh, for sure. I feel like the best songs I’ve ever written come from me at my worst places. “Clouds” is one of my favorite songs of all time, and I wrote it when I was literally so depressed, wanted to quit music, had imposter syndrome. But I was feeling it so intensely that I was like, “Let me just put it in a song.” And immediately my week turned around. Every heartbreak, anytime someone does me dirty in a little way. I’m always like, “Haha, I’m gonna write a song about.”

Photography and production: Hadriel Gonzalez

Styling: Waina Chancy

Makeup: Caroline Hernandez

Hair: Mary Lee
Production assistant: Matt Ramlochan

Jack Dorsey Stepping Down as Twitter CEO

Jack Dorsey is stepping down as the chief executive officer of Twitter and Square, effective immediately.

Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter in 2006, explained that he believes “the company is ready to move on from its founders,” in a statement issued Monday. He will be replaced by Twitter’s chief technical officer Parag Agrawal.

“My trust in Parag as Twitter’s CEO is deep. His work over the past 10 years has been transformational,” he continued. “I’m deeply grateful for his skill, heart, and soul. It’s his time to lead.”

Related | Twitter’s CEO Asked Azealia Banks to Weave His Beard Hair Into an Amulet

The announcement comes on the heels of an odd tweet posted this past weekend about his “love” for Twitter. Two day later, he publicly shared an internal memo about his resignation, saying that he wanted “you all to know that this was my decision and I own it.”

Dorsey then went on to address the tech industry’s focus on “founder-led” companies, which he believes is “severely limiting and a single point of failure,” before clarifying that he would leave Twitter entirely once his term on the company’s board is over.

“It was a tough one for me, of course. I love this service and company … and all of you so much. I’m really sad … yet really happy,” Dorsey said. “There aren’t many companies that get to this level. And there aren’t many founders that choose their company over their own ego. I know we’ll prove this was the right move.”

Read his tweets below.

I love twitter

— jack⚡️ (@jack) November 28, 2021

not sure anyone has heard but,

I resigned from Twitter

— jack⚡️ (@jack) November 29, 2021

Photo via Getty / Drew Angerer

Christine Quinn Shuts Down Fake Pregnancy Rumors

Selling Sunset star Christine Quinn is shutting down rumors that she faked her pregnancy.

Since the fourth season of the Netflix reality series aired, people have seen Quinn as she documented parts of the pregnancy on the show. One of the things that caught a lot of people’s attention was how fast she was able to bounce back after giving birth to her son. And online users have reportedly been accusing her of faking everything.

Related | Christine Quinn Is Ready For Her Own ‘Selling Sunset’ Spin-Off

“Why did you fake your pregnancy? It’s totally OK to admit to having a surrogate but don’t set unrealistic expectations for PP moms when you didn’t even carry the baby yourself,” the Instagram user allegedly told Quinn in a since-deleted screenshot she posted. “It’s deceitful and a shame.”

The reality TV personality called the accusation “beyond fucking sick,” and tweeted, “For all yall still mad on pregnancy gate please go look at my ig stories. And apologize. This is seriously so hurtful.”

For all yall still mad on pregnancy gate please go look at my ig stories. And apologize. This is seriously so hurtful. — Christine Quinn (@Christine Quinn)

Related | Chrishell Stause Seems to Be Dating Jason Oppenheim?

In the show, Quinn opened up about her difficult birthing experience which almost cost her life and her child as well. And two months after welcoming her son Christian into the world, she wrote, “Reliving the trauma on Selling Sunset about my birth experience, was one of the most difficult things I have ever done; let alone allowing these very raw, personal moments of my life captured on camera.”

She added, “I am not often publicly vulnerable, as I feel the responsibility to put on a brave face, despite still feeling at the time hopeless, terrified, and to this day traumatized. Both myself, and baby Christian are lucky to be alive.”

Photo via Getty

Bobby Shmurda Wants Adele to Collab on a Stripper Anthem

In what has the potential to be the collab that the world didn’t know it needed, Bobby Shmurda wants to make a strip club anthem with Adele.

Presumably in the midst of tryptophan-induced food comas and his millionth play-through of 30, the Brooklyn rapper took to Twitter to put out his proposal for what his ideal collaboration with the British singer would look like.

While perhaps better known for her heart-wrenching balladry best enjoyed over a glass of chardonnay and a good cry, Shmurda sees the potential in Adele for making a sultry club banger perfect for making it rain and taking it all off.

You Know what the world needs u2026. n#BobbyShmurda & #Adele to make a Strip Club Anthem — Bobby Shmurda (@Bobby Shmurda)

Her voice just make you — Bobby Shmurda (@Bobby Shmurda)

To be fair, Shmurda does have a point. There certainly isn’t a lack of remixes floating out there to serve as a proof of concept, so a stripper anthem isn’t necessarily outside of the realm of plausibility — but Adele may take a little convincing.

In a recent interview with The Telegraph, Adele revealed that she had played her most recent album, 30, for Drake over a year ago adding that “it’s always about how it makes me feel, quality control is my forté, and I can write a song about my own experiences and my own life. People certainly aren’t waiting for a club banger from me.”

Hopefully, for Shmurda’s — and our — sake, she seriously reconsiders.

Photo via Getty/ Astrida Valigorsky

The Day Brands Became Swifties on Twitter

On November 12, Taylor Swift broke records (and possibly Spotify itself) when she dropped the latest of her re-recordings, Red (Taylor’s Version). The album, which is Swift’s fourth No. 1 album in 16 months, features 14 new songs (including a 10-minute version of the powerful ballad “All Too Well”) in addition to 16 from the original album.

Related | The Swifties Who Think Taylor Has ‘Voodoo’ Powers

References to the Red (Taylor’s Version) seemed to be everywhere –– most notably, on brand Twitter accounts. From candies like M&M and Skittles to sports teams like the Kansas City Chiefs (missed opportunity for the Cincinnati Reds), many companies have been using their social platforms to capitalize off Swift’s latest endeavor.

Today might be Red’s favorite day ever. Happy Red! #RedTaylorsVersion

— M&M’S (@mmschocolate) November 12, 2021

SKITTLES Fans Taylor Swift Fans

— SKITTLES (@Skittles) November 12, 2021

Happy Red (Taylor’s Version) Friday, y’all 🚩

— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) November 12, 2021

Swift began rerecording her music to reclaim the rights to her previously released discography after Scooter Braun acquired the masters to her first six studio albums. Anytime someone presses play on an old Swift song, Braun directly profits. Money isn’t the only thing Swift cares about when re-releasing her albums, though; it’s also a clear act of self-empowerment and closure. So now, Swift — and all these companies — are undeniably benefiting.

Some of the companies tweeting for the re-release had explicit brand deals with Swift. Target, who has a history of selling exclusive Swift vinyl, shared a video encouraging people to buy the album at Target specifically. Starbucks also collaborated with Swift for the re-release, selling “Taylor’s Version,” a grande caramel nonfat latte that’s supposedly the singer’s favorite Starbucks drink, alongside a special playlist to boost streams and direct fans to merch.

If we see you sobbing in the parking lot to the 10-minute All Too Well, we’ll look away 🧣 Pick up your Target exclusive vinyl of Red (Taylor’s Version) in stores or online today! #TaylorSwift #RedTaylorsVersion ❤️

— Target (@Target) November 12, 2021

More interesting, though, is how brand Twitters often promote something in an attempt to follow current trends without having any clear financial partnership. Although they originated as cringy attempts to sell products, corporate accounts have become popular in the past few years by humanizing themselves. This way, faceless companies can appear relatable and promote products online, usually without the audience realizing they’re doing so.

We’re all f̶a̶m̶i̶l̶y̶ fans here. #RedTaylorsVersion

— Olive Garden (@olivegarden) November 12, 2021

Knowing “All Too Well” what Po will be listening to all day… ❤️#RedTaylorsVersion

— Teletubbies (@TeletubbiesHQ) November 12, 2021

Q: What comes out tomorrow?
A: #RedTaylorsVersion @taylornation13 @taylorswift13

— Teletubbies (@TeletubbiesHQ) November 11, 2021

Some brands renamed their accounts to “[insert brand name] (Taylor’s Version)” in anticipation of the album. Olive Garden tweeted a picture of someone listening to “Red (Taylor’s Version)” next to breadsticks and marinara, with the text, “We’re all f̶a̶m̶i̶l̶y̶ fans here. #RedTaylorsVersion,” as a play on their slogan. The Teletubbies Twitter also joined in, following previous parodies of Ariana Grande and James Bond. A day before Swift’s Red re-release, they posted a tweet that read, ” Q: What comes out tomorrow?,” with a clip of Po dancing to a voice repeating, “Red, red, red.”

Other brands were a bit more niche with their references to Swift. Many used the red scarf emoji, a clear reference to the scarf Swift lost in “All Too Well.” Panera, Taco Bell and Oreo all tweeted parodies of Swift song lyrics. Domino’s also tweeted for the album release: “I AM ALL TOO UNWELL SO I WILL BE SOBBING AND EATING PIZZA IN BED TODAY,” a clear attempt to empathize with fans while also promoting their pizza business.

Loving you was bread.

— Panera Bread (@panerabread) November 12, 2021


— Taco Bell (@tacobell) November 12, 2021


— OREO Cookie (@Oreo) November 12, 2021


— Domino’s Pizza (@dominos) November 12, 2021

The best came from Sour Patch Kids, who tweeted, “Good morning to everyone except Jake Gyllenhaal… actually where is he I just wanna talk,” paired with a photo of their red Sour Patch Kid. Gyllenhal and his short-lived relationship with Swift is supposedly the impetus for many of the songs on Red, including “All Too Well,” and the re-release has reignited fans’ (and apparently Sour Patch Kids’) hatred of the movie star.

Good morning to everyone except Jake Gyllenhaal… actually where is he I just wanna talk

— SOUR PATCH KIDS (@SourPatchKids) November 12, 2021

Brands aren’t the only ones who have been taking advantage of Swift’s re-release, though. On November 16, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey tweeted, “We must pass the Build Back Better Act and take transformative action to address climate change. We cannot allow this moment to be 2009 again. I was there, I remember it all too well.” His post was accompanied by the title picture of “All Too Well: A Short Film,” only “Build Back Better” replaced “All Too Well,” and ultimately prompted an investigation into whether or not he’s a real Swiftie.

We must pass the Build Back Better Act and take transformative action to address climate change. We cannot allow this moment to be 2009 again. I was there, I remember it all too well.

— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) November 16, 2021

Swift’s impact was clearly felt across social media, much like how Drake’s Certified Lover Boy saw a similar fate. And while brands certainly profited off her re-release, some partnering with Swift and others capitalizing on her momentum, Swift ultimately came out victorious. In its first week, Red (Taylor’s Version) earned 605,000 equivalent album units, including both streams and copies sold, and 26 of the songs from the album appeared on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Photo courtesy of Taylor Swift

@YassifyBot Regrets Being @YassifyBot

A few weeks ago, Denver Adams* never imagined their life would revolve around a Twitter account and a FaceApp Pro subscription. Rather, the art history student behind the viral @YassifyBot account just wanted to see what Charles II’s portrait and Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring would look like with some contour and fake lashes, and, if they’re being completely honest, it would’ve been much better if it had stayed that way.

— Yassify Bot (@YassifyBot) November 13, 2021

— Yassify Bot (@YassifyBot) November 13, 2021

Virality is new territory for Adams as someone who’s always tried to remain off their phone and “touch grass.” However, after getting sick earlier this month, the 22-year-old became bored enough to buy a FaceApp subscription so they could make over-the-top edits to selfies and photos of their friends in a process now known as yassification.” But with only so many images to alter, Adams was inspired by an edit made by Twitter user @baklavalamp to “maximize” their $5 purchase by creating a Twitter account where they pretended to be a bot making use of the app’s AI-driven lip plumper, gender swap and filter option.

be young,
be dope,
be proud

Christopher Meloni Knows Full Well What He’s Doing

When you think of celebrity thirst traps, long-running Law & Order: SVU actor Christopher Meloni may not be the first name that comes to mind but every once in a while, we are reminded that he can in fact get it. Not only does Meloni have a pair of perfectly sculpted yams, but the actor has the well-toned physique to back it up without letting it all get to his head. Still, that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to have a little fun with all the attention.

Related | Christopher Meloni Could Open a Bakery With All That Cake

Meloni poked the bear on Twitter today after a fan asked the actor to post a selfie to which he replied with a photo of his bare, very hairy legs. It’s a cheeky enough response, a little irreverent in its choice of subject matter with a slightly scandalous amount of exposed flesh showing, but when asked to move the camera up a little more (“for science”) Meloni upped the ante with a shot of his right shoulder and upper chest.

The dark, oddly cropped photo shows Meloni’s well-defined shoulders, veiny bicep and bulging pec with a fringe of chest hair in all its glory which left Twitter collectively drooling. Taking the bait, the tweet was soon flooded with very openly thirsty replies and unapologetically horny memes as well as a couple of slightly turned off outliers in the mix. — Chris Meloni (@Chris Meloni)
1637692329 — Chris Meloni (@Chris Meloni)

The collective consensus seems to be that Meloni is indeed implausibly yoked and, scarier still, the actor seems to be fully aware of the power he wields and isn’t afraid to play with his food.

Photo via Getty/ Theo Wargo

Sister Sister: Munera and Anisa Recap ‘Charli Vs. Dixie’

This article is a sponsored collaboration between Snapchat and PAPER

This past week, Snapchat dropped its newest original series, Charli Vs. Dixie, in which social media superstars Dixie and Charli D’Amelio go head-to-head in a series of off-the-wall challenges to donate money to charity, getting some help from their famous friends along the way. In turn, it only made sense that PAPER team up with Munera Ahmed (AKA @iconiccpinkk on TikTok) and her younger sister Anisa to host The Scroll Stopping Thirty Second Sister Showdown Post Show, to recap their favorite moments from each episode.

Related | Dixie and Charli D’Amelio Go Full Family Feud for Charity

We’re five episodes into the 10-part showdown showcase, and so far the D’Amelio sisters have modeled gowns they made from loofahs and shower curtains for Gigi Gorgeous, whacked open a watermelon with a sledgehammer, and suffered through their parents Heidi and Marc’s dramatic reading of Charli’s most recent text messages. It was tame, but you could say the scenario was still pretty… dicey. And let’s not forget the bake-off to make the perfect birthday cake for Kenzie Ziegler in episode three, which earned Dixie her first win. As the Ahmed sisters say: “I like my sibling rivalry with sprinkles on top!”

New episodes of Charli Vs. Dixie will air every other day from now until December 1 (catch up here!). It’s a pretty perfect viewing if you happen to find yourself at home with your family this Thanksgiving, which is also a great time of year to give back; in Charli Vs. Dixie, the sisters donate their winning portions of the $50,000 prize to the charity of their choice, with Dixie playing for the mental health organization Active Minds, and Charli for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Put that post-feast family tension to good use!

The Time Has Come to Discuss Hilary Duff’s ‘Dignity’

A Hilary Duff-aissance was inevitable. “With Love,” a single off her fifth album Dignity, has gone viral on TikTok for the lackluster (or interpretive, depending on who you ask) choreography Duff deployed when performing the song live. Chock-full of robotic arm movements, it’s an accessible dance for the rhythmically challenged (and perhaps a brilliant deconstruction of pop star expectations in the wake of dancing Britney Spears-alikes that flooded the market of the time).

Related | Inside Lindsay Lohan’s Enduring Cult of Celebrity

A woman of many firsts, Duff was the Disney pop star prototype and the reason Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez exist. Her second (first non-Christmas) album, Metamorphosis, went No. 1 on the Billboard 200, leading the pop-rock charge among the Radio Disney contingent. Dignity marked yet another often duplicated first: it was the first pop-rock to dance-pop transition by a Disney starlet, which would become a common way to signify said star’s impending adulthood (see: Cyrus’ “Can’t Be Tamed,” Lovato’s “Neon Lights” and subsequent album Confident).


##duet with @yungdaddycack HERE YOU GOOOOOOOO!

♬ original sound – Devin Santiago

The “good girl gone bad” is a common trope in pop stardom, but Duff put particular sonic borders on the Before and After. Her pop-rock era signified tweenaged innocence and accessibility (“So Yesterday” or “Why Not”), a side effect of our cultural associations of acoustic guitar sounds with rawness or authenticity. Dignity was a dance-pop transition into the mature world of moral complexity, partying and sex, and Duff’s music and public image often began to reflect these themes.

Dignity was arguably the first time we saw a born and bred multimedia Disney star (Spears and Christina Aguilera excluded, given they were not banner stars for the network nor did they pursue their music careers under the Disney umbrella) make the public transition into adulthood. Her evolution from child star to entertainment industry young adult was smooth, as Duff largely evaded the scandals and vices her successors would bear.

Released just months before Spears’ Blackout in 2007, Dignity similarly defines electro-pop’s revival and the pop stars that would emulate Duff’s path. The fizzy, edgy brand of production deployed on Dignity would become the standard in following years, and you can hear it in everything from mainstream efforts like Lady Gaga’s The Fame to more cult projects like Heidi Montag’s Superficial.

Largely co-written by Duff and frequent collaborator Kara DioGuardi (Google her credits to see a list of generation-shaping hits), Dignity reflects a 20-year-old confused about the difficulties of love, cautious about the risks of vulnerability and a desire to “not be like other girls.” Duff’s brand of apple pie Americana had always been the most geared towards “relatability” among her peers. To those who couldn’t relate, she may have come off as more banal than her contemporaries in her tween days, as an idol parents could co-sign. This is the girl who memorably screamed “I want a bra!” on Lizzie McGuire, reflecting the eagerness of many a tween to grow into adult bodies and modes of expression. Dignity questions what happens when you get there.

Related | In Bed With Perez Hilton, Per His Request

In Duff’s case, this included her fear and frustration towards a real-life stalker who was eventually sentenced to four months in jail for the crime. She channeled these feelings into Dignity’s “Between You and Me,” which sees Duff make the attempt to navigate an inflated case of toxic masculinity, managing the creep’s insistence by assuring him that it’s not him, it’s her. Then there’s “Dreamer,” bumping up the tempo as Duff’s lyrical content gets darker and she describes specific examples of her stalker’s one-sided obsession.

The title track is a biting critique of the celebutante-ification of mid-aughts Hollywood, taking to task some of her tabloid-happy counterparts: “You’d show up to the opening of an envelope,” she sings. “It’s not news when you get a new bag.” The “dignity” in question implies levels of class that are not compatible with the proto-influencer industry. Our concept of “famous for being famous” was likely baffling to a product of Disney’s rigorous studio system multimedia development. Aside from being a general shot at party girls of the era, the song is rumored to be about Nicole Richie, who had hooked up with Duff’s recent ex, Joel Madden (who Richie would end up marrying).

Unlike many of her contemporaries, Duff didn’t fall into the misogyny-fueled trap of solely railing on the “other woman.” She was an equal opportunity subtweeter, honing in on Madden with “Danger,” which comes out swinging: “Were you born in ’74? Oh no.” Duff and Madden’s relationship began when she was 16 and he was 24, and as Abby Schreiber reported in a 2015 reflection on the relationship, “several Google searches focusing on articles published during the time in question — roughly 2002-2006 (just to give the results a wide berth) — turned up very few hits that made any reference to things like ‘underage’ or ‘illegal.'” The cultural ambivalence for underage celebrity relationships at the time and (the still relevant) lack of protection for young women in Hollywood makes lyrics like, “It may be wrong to get to know you more/ But I’m not sure,” that much more crushing.

Dignity should be remembered as a pop hallmark, expressing emotional depth while subverting the perception that dance music is vapid, but Duff’s legacy has overall suffered from its lack of controversy. Meanwhile, her contemporaries faced very public struggles to admit that our culture rewards disaster, and this phenomenon peaked in the mid-2000s with tabloid culture serving us celebrity breakdowns on a platter. Of course, these “rewards” are distributed only to the press and bad actors who profit off the star’s descent.

And it isn’t like Duff didn’t have ample opportunities for Hollywood scandaling, from her feud with Lindsay Lohan over Aaron Carter (yes, seriously) to her feud with Paris Hilton to her feud with Faye Dunaway. But notable in all of these conflicts is Duff’s prevailing “dignity.” She was the one cheated on, the one pushed, the one snarked at, never causing a ruckus unless provoked, taking her job as teen idol very seriously. “Burned,” with orchestral-level grandiosity and anxious violins that sound like her own take on a Bond theme, reflects on the isolation that this perfectionism and protectionism brought: unlike the other girls, Duff “made [herself] left out.”

Emblematic of her legacy is how “With Love,” Duff’s highest-ever charting single, is a club song solely focused on begging a partner for their honesty in an emotionally developed way. A plea not based on cheating or any pre-established dishonesty, it’s born from her desire to be treated like an adult, to hear the hard truths and to be held accountable for her shortcomings. She wasn’t like other girls, so who needed dexterous, energetic, fluid choreography? While some Gen Z TikTokers celebrate Duff for her out of context, lackluster dance moves, commenting “go on girl, give us nothing,” the singer’s Dignity era gave us so much more than a kick-ball-change. And if I carried pop on my back, I’d be a bit low energy too.

Photos via Getty

The ‘House of Gucci’ Tour Has Gifted Us So Many Gaga-Isms

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta is an actress. As she makes her way across the world in the name of Gucci, some unforgettable Gaga-isms have come about, the best of which include her Italian-Russian accent for the role of Patrizia Reggiani. We gathered a few of the instantly iconic moments from Mother Monster’s House of Gucci press tour for your viewing pleasure:

Me in fourth grade biology class: 

this press tour is the gift that keeps on giving. love that unhinged woman 😭

— Alex (@alexandermaIIoy) November 19, 2021 She girlbossed the hell out of this line:

me at a party with complete strangers that I wandered into off the street talking about Gone Girl (2014) dir. David Fincher

— coleman spilde (@colemanjspilde) November 11, 2021 A method actress… in her Juilliard era:

— mediafilm (@cravemedia_) November 4, 2021 The end of this fully takes me out:

Salma Hayek telling Lady gaga that she thinks her mom is hot 😭😂

— Sacha / Lady Gaga (@HausOfSacha) November 17, 2021 I don’t remember this scene from “Girls” (2012):

Please enjoy this video of Lady Gaga running away from Adam Driver as he pretends to step on her dress, on loop

— Gaga Daily (@gagadaily) November 22, 2021 …Her commitment to those platform shoes: 

VIDEO: Lady Gaga arrives at House of Gucci Q&A Panel in LA (Nov. 22)

— Lady Gaga Now ☕️🥄 (@ladygaganownet) November 22, 2021

Photo via Getty

Spotify Removes the Shuffle Button for ’30’

The shuffle button is an easy way to switch things up while listening to a playlist, but Adele doesn’t want it anywhere near her latest album, 30.

The singer released her fourth studio album across streaming platforms Friday, with all 12 heartbreaking tracks available for people to listen to all #SadGirlFall long. But following its release she made a unique request, which was to remove the default shuffle feature for the record — and Spotify obliged.

Related | Adele’s Prized Possession Is a Framed Piece of Céline Dion’s Gum

Adele thanked the streaming platform for granting her this one ask. “This was the only request I had in our ever-changing industry! We don’t create albums with so much care and thought into our tracklisting for no reason,” she tweeted. “Our art tells a story and our stories should be listened to as we intended. Thank you Spotify for listening”

Spotify replied to her tweet saying, “Anything for you.”

Anything for you 🙏✨

— Spotify (@Spotify) November 21, 2021

So now, anyone who wants to listen to the full album straight will have to listen to it in its proper order, the way the artist carefully curated it to be. And, honestly, no complaints here.

Photo via Getty

Prentiss Drops Dystopian ‘hey prentiss’ Music Video

With a Justin Bieber co-sign at age 14, Jackson, Mississippi’s Prentiss is well on his way to becoming the local breakout you can’t ignore. The teen artist, who’s found a place in the growing hyperpop scene alongside friends like glaive, arrives today with the title track off his debut EP, hey prentiss, and a dystopian Daniel Jordan K-directed music video.

“hey prentiss” follows Prentiss’ lead single, “i will wait,” both of which have been released through Cinematic Music Group, the label famous for launching rap legends, from Nipsey Hussle to Joey Bada$$. With his cute, high-pitched voice and blissfully naive lyrics, Prentiss certainly stands out in their lineup, but the industry’s already lining up his potential.

“From the first time I talked to Prentiss I knew this kid was gonna be a star,” Cinematic Music Group CEO Jonnyshipes says of his decision to sign Prentiss. “The sky is the limit, and I can’t wait for the world to get to know him more in the next few months and beyond. Stay tuned.”

Below, watch the PAPER premiere of “hey prentiss,” ahead of Prentiss’ EP drop at the top of next year.

What are you most excited about in music today?

Music is fire, I love music. 2021 was an insane wave of underground music and 2022 is just gonna reach new levels. I mess with a lot of different sounds, so I never really know what I’m gonna make next, but it’s exciting.

What do you think this new music says about you as an artist? How is it reflective of where you’re at now?

Well I’m 14, so I’m not really reflecting yet — just kinda vibing. It’s my first project, so it shows how much I’ve changed since my earlier music. I’ve started exploring different sounds, teaching myself how to produce and learning new instruments.

How has your relationship with music changed now that it’s a career?

I just do it more, I guess? Well my manager tells me when I need to finish something and that’s different.

Talk through the concept for your “hey prentiss” video. What did you want it to look like and who’d you work with?

The director, Daniel Jordan K, and the crew at Overcast came up with the concept of creating a dystopian planet, which sounded like a vibe to me. They filmed me in a never-ending spiral staircase and it was super trippy. My scarf was also fire.

How do you react to the public’s obsession with your age? Does that impact the way you approach music?

I don’t really care. I just make music because it’s what I love, but If other people think it’s tight, that’s cool.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far navigating the music industry?

People are always gonna assume things about you, so you just gotta do you.

What has been the biggest challenge in creating your debut EP?

Being patient and waiting to put things out — music videos, songs etc. Sometimes I just wanna drop things on Soundcloud and call it a day.

On a Friday night in Jackson, Mississippi, what’re you doing?

I’m probably either making music, at a football game or just riding around the city with my friends listening to music. There isn’t a ton to do out here, so we stay busy creatively.

Photography: Malik Miller


‘Tis the Season for Brittany Broski, Sarah Schauer’s  ‘Night of BS’

Thanks to Ms. Rona, going out still feels like a gamble. But never fear because our favorite entertainers are still out here bravely making virtual content in a scary new world. So while going to the club or the theater may seem a little scary right now, here’s PAPER’s ongoing guide to the latest livestreams — featuring comedians, actors, musicians and more.

Related | The Big Business of Being Brittany Broski

Who: For one night only, comedians Brittany Broski and Sarah Schauer — AKA your two favorite roommates/ internet personalities — are convening in their shared living space for a special holiday edition of their hilarious “A Night of BS” show.

When: The show can be streamed via Looped on December 15, starting at 6 PM PST and 9 PM EST.

Why Watch: With Brittany and Sarah in the mix, “A Night of BS: Holiday Edition” is bound to be an uproarious time. That said, as “two of Santa’s dishonorably discharged elves,” the duo will, obviously, have a lot to say about the holiday-related issues you care about, such as elf unions, mall Santas and more. Not to mention a super serious debate on whether God is real — all for a starting rate of $15!

However, it’s just not your average livestream as the online event will features an interactive livestream, co-viewing suites and a virtual meet-and-greet for the “real believers.” And even better? Brittany will also be making a big announcement during this “Night of BS” and, trust us, it’s probably the best gift you’ll receive this entire holiday season.

Photo courtesy of LOOPED

#GorillaGlueGirl Tessica Brown Has a Rap Song Called ‘Ma Hair’

#GorillaGlueGirl Tessica Brown is moving into music.

Earlier this year, the 40-year-old went viral for using industrial-grade adhesive on her hair after running out of her normal styling product. However, TMZ is now reporting that Brown has used the traumatic incident as lyrical inspiration for her debut rap single called “Ma Hair,” which drops Friday.

Related | IDK, I Trust #GorillaGlueGirl Tessica Brown With My Hair

The song — which includes audio samples from her original TikTok — was recorded last month with independent music producer Phil Valley. Not only that, but Brown also said she wanted Nicki Minaj to appear on the track, though the outlet said Minaj never returned their call.

Even without a superstar feature, though, Brown is still doing pretty well for herself. After posting about her hair mishap, she underwent a four-hour surgery to remove the glue. The procedure, which usually costs $12,000, was successfully performed by Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Obeng, for free and, since then, Brown has been living her best glue-free life. In fact, she even launched “Forever Hair,” her own line of haircare products that was developed with professionals and consists of edge-control, hairspray and hair-growth oil to achieve a sleek ponytail look.

Until she drops “Ma Hair” though, you can watch the TikTok that started it all below.


Stiff where????? Ma hair 🤬🤬

♬ original sound – Tessica Brown

Photo via TikTok / @im_d_ollady

Somehow, Hair Tinsel Is Back in Style

Every year, there seems to be a fresh new set of holiday beauty trends that take social media by storm. Last year it was cat-eye nails, this year it’s hair tinsel.

Although it’s not “new” by any means; hair tinsel actually made its debut in the ’90s, then again in the 2010s and now it’s back in full force for the holiday season. TikTok is alive with the trend, giving My Little Pony a run for its money.


My hair tinsel after the shower🎆 #hairtinsel #fairyhair #SoundcoreGoForGold #fyp

Unlike the iconic feather extensions, which were a heinous crime against fashion (Kesha we’re looking at you…), hair tinsel is way more versatile and has stood the test of time — cosigned by the like of Beyoncé and Kacey Musgraves.

See on Instagram

Also known as “fairy hair,” tinsel is relatively simple to install and costs no more than $20 to DIY. You can also get it done at most salons that are well-equipped with other types of extensions. The glittery locks are something out of a holiday Pinterest board and will give you the most luxurious-looking hair for every party this season.

See on Instagram

You can find many of the kits on Amazon, but there are a few things to note: First, look for a package with many color options. Most come in packs of 10-15 different colored tinsel — just make sure you’re taking your actual hair color into consideration if you want it to blend well. For example, brunettes should look for brown tinsel, blondes look for silver tinsel, etc. Of course, you can also do whatever color you think is cute, or will match a specific outfit and makeup look.

You also want to make sure that your tinsel comes with the right tools — you’ll need a pair of pliers, a metal loop tool and extension beads (keep in mind that the extension beads need to be the same color as your roots to blend). We recommend ordering the tinsel and the tools separately, that way you can ensure you have everything you need without compromising on colors.

Most importantly: make sure the tinsel you purchase is heat resistant so that it doesn’t melt if you try to go over it with a styling tool.

There are a few different ways to install the glittery locks, but it’s essentially as simple as taking the tinsel, tying it to an extension bead and securing the bead to your hair with a pair of pliers by squishing it (sounds weird, I know). It can get tricky when moving to the back of your head, so we recommend just doing six to eight beads per row, spaced about half an inch apart with three to five rows on each side of your head.

Check out the tutorial, below, from our Snapchat show, SNATCHURAL, as I break down step-by-step how to install the tinsel.

Photo via Getty

Chrissy Teigen Totally Missed the Point of ‘Squid Game’

Anyone that’s seen Squid Game — and odds are you have, given it’s one of the most-watched shows in recent memory — will no doubt be aware that the Netflix show portrays a Hunger Games-style competition where cash-strapped contestants compete for a large prize by playing children’s games with an extremely lethal twist, all for the amusement of the upper class. The show is a dark dystopian look at the cruelties of capitalism and the extremes it can be pushed to; it’s a timely and well-crafted message that has already netted the show a second season. It’s just a shame that it all went over Chrissy Teigen’s head.

In what is spectacular display of laughable tone-deafness or a Elon Musk-level of cynicism, Teigen invited a gaggle of her celebrity friends over to her multi-million dollar Beverly Hills Mansion for a Squid Game-themed party. In a post on Instagram, Teigen can be seen cosplaying as the giant robot girl from the “Red Light, Green Light” game with guests donning the green tracksuits, the wait staff wearing the pink and black-masked guard outfits and the house made up to look like the show’s set.

Related | Vans Are Selling Out Thanks To ‘Squid Game’

“Where do I even begin!! What an absolutely epic night. My dream came true of watching my friends fight to the death!” Teigen gushed. Obviously no one actually died at this dinner party (otherwise the tone of this article would be dramatically different) but it did include a dunk tank, games of musical chairs, hide and seek and pin the tail on the donkey. The night’s grand prize winner got “flights to Napa and dinner at French Laundry for two” with the confetti shower and oversized check to proved it.

And while one could be reasonably forgiven for dressing up as your favorite Squid Game character for Halloween or even an entertaining theme party, because we all know you wrote Katniss fanfic back in the day, Teigen does have sort of a history of not being able to read the room. Teigen made a reputation on social media for being quick to clap back and add her two cents but has since come under fire for cyberbullying accusations from multiple people as well as having her live-in maid dress up as a plague doctor in the midst of a deadly global pandemic.

See on Instagram

Photo via Instagram

Jake Gyllenhaal, Taylor Swift and a Cat Named Ms. FluffleStiltskin

Even though it only lasted three-ish months when it happened over a decade ago, Taylor Swift’s brief romantic relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal is back in the public eye thanks to the singer-songwriter’s recent re-issue of Red. The new 10-minute version of “All Too Well,” which is rumored to be about the actor, is bringing back some past drama including a scarf that he still may or may not have in his position and a cat named Ms. FluffleStiltskin.

There has long been speculation around whether or not Gyllenhaal is the owner of the Persian cat behind the Instagram account @ms.flufflestiltskin and, to be fair to all the conspiracy theorists, the actor has never outright denied it. In a 2019 interview, Gyllenhaal revealed that he has actually “met Fluff” and admitted that “she’s amazing” with an actual wink to the camera. A lot of other theories think the cat might belong to Gyllenhaal’s girlfriend Jeanne Cadieu or even his sister Maggie for that matter but more in-depth investigations have narrowed the squished face feline’s owner down to most likely a man.

Related | Is Jake Gyllenhaal Sweating Taylor Swift’s ‘Red’ Re-Release?

According to W Magazine all signs seem to point to music producer Bryan Ling being the cat’s likely owner who’s been tagged in a few posts and is allegedly close friends with Jake Gyllenhaal which would actually explain a lot if true. And in fairness, Ms. FluffleStiltskin’s posts don’t really read in Gyllenhaal’s voice.

But we suspect that Ms. FluffleStiltskin would like to live in world where Jake Gyllenhaal is her owner too, with comments on the recent resurfaced Taylor drama like “MEOUCH — y’all need to clam [sic] down and stop cyber bullying.” Perhaps noticing a spike in activity on the Instagram account, Ms. FluffleStiltskin even took time to point out the absurdity surrounding the whole situation, “so let me see if I have this straight.. humans use the internet to send me messages thinking that I’m Jake’s cat but they don’t use the same internet to figure out that Jake doesn’t have a cat… Not gonna lie, starting to fear for this species.”

See on Instagram

Swift’s own cats, Meredith Grey, Olivia Benson and Benjamin Button, have yet to comment.

Photo via Instagram

Meet Our New Best Friend Valtteri Bottas

For those of you uncultured idiots who don’t know, Valtteri Bottas is a 32-year-old Formula 1 driver from Finland. He’s a Virgo (makes sense) and has been driving in F1 since 2013. Just last weekend, he finished third in the Autódromo José Carlos Pace AKA the Interlagos circuit in São Paulo, Brazil. It’s a massive achievement for any driver, though seeing BOT on the podium isn’t surprising; With 66 podium appearances and 10 wins, his skill as a driver are unquestionable.

Below, we spoke with Bottas just before the Brazilian Grand Prix about racing (obviously), his upcoming move from Mercedes to Alfa Romeo, TikTok and more. It’s all very hot.

So, you’re currently in Brazil. Do you have positive memories here?

I’ve never won here. I’ve had pole position, I think, and some good results. It’s normally not been the best but that doesn’t mean it can’t be good this weekend. That’s the beauty of Formula 1, you just never know what the weekend’s gonna bring in front of you. I’m optimistic for this weekend.

The season is coming to a close. How would you describe it so far?

It’s been quite intense. In my years with Mercedes it is probably the closest battle with another team. So, you know, every race has been a challenge to even try and get to the podium, versus, in some previous years it was easier. I feel like it’s been good from my side. A bit unlucky, with a few issues and engine penalties. Some crashes. It’s not been the cleanest season but performance-wise, not too bad.

How has your relationship with racing changed over the years? If 2021 Valtteri were in a conversation with Valtteri in, let’s say, 2014 what would he say?

I would just tell myself at that time to not take things too seriously and try and stress a bit less. I know it’s easy to say.

Do you feel more stressed this season or earlier in your F1 career?

It’s always dependent on the situation. Quite often for me the stress is contract related. You know, when there’s no knowledge of anything long term, then for sure it can be stressful. In 2014 when I was still young, I would say I was actually less stressed.

You’re definitely still young. What’s the best part of your job?

Being able to drive the world’s fastest cars around the best tracks against the best drivers on the best teams. We also get to travel a lot, we’ve been really fortunate, especially in COVID. Not many people have been able to go anywhere but we’ve still been able to make it happen. I’ve had this opportunity to visit many cool places, meet new people and learn about different cultures.

After the Austin GP, you kind of hung out in America for a bit. Did you have a favorite place or favorite thing you did?

It’s hard to choose between Napa Valley and Wyoming. Napa, obviously because I’m a big wine lover. So I was in heaven. But Wyoming has the nature. It was really amazing seeing all the wildlife and getting that fresh air.

I don’t know if you know this or not, but you’re moving to a new team next year. What are you most looking forward to with Alfa Romeo?

The responsibility. This is the first team that’s ever given me trust in terms of a multi-year contract. So being able to work together long term is a good feeling. I’m definitely ready to be in a lead role. And, you know, a change of scenery, with completely new people around and things to learn. I feel like change is good.

Change is definitely good. What are you gonna miss the most about Mercedes?

The people I got to know really well and those moments together with them. The winning moments and winning the championship together as a team. So many good memories.

Have you had an opportunity to give a few words of advice to George Russell?

I haven’t really, he’s never asked haha. Honestly I don’t think I need to give any; he’s a smart young driver and he’s gonna have a really supportive and strong team. One thing maybe I would say is it’s good to give yourself a bit of time. I expected immediately when I joined the team to be the champion with every race, then it didn’t happen. It was quite hard to accept. I’d tell him to give himself time to learn and adjust. Don’t be too harsh on yourself in the early years.

That’s good advice for anyone. On the other end of that, have you heard anything from Kimi Räikkönen at all? From one Finn leaving Alfa to one joining, has he given you any advice?

He said it’s really nice. He told me I’m for sure gonna enjoy working with the team. They’re pretty straightforward and efficient and whatever a driver requests, normally the response is really good. Even though the years Kimi has been there were not maybe the most successful in terms of results, he’s only really said positive things.

That’s good. That’s a lot of words from Kimi. So. Making a bit of a pivot, you have been absolutely crushing it this season on the track, in my opinion, but you’ve also been crushing it on TikTok as the official Mercedes TikTok admin. Is there any chance of you making your own TikTok?

I’ve been thinking about it. Mercedes has been doing that stuff quite a bit and I’ve never been on TikTok myself personally, so I think I should. I probably should. Wait for it. I’ll try and do something.

You get a great response from the fans. So you should definitely consider that. Okay, you have to explain the carrot drink.

Okay. I can explain to you, but don’t tell anyone. So I think it was last year when COVID really happened and I was in Finland for a couple of months. I think my girlfriend posted the picture of me on her stories. It was actually a gin tonic with a carrot in it. That gin, one of the botanicals in it is carrot or something. So it actually works really well and they recommend having it with the carrot. So she posted the picture and it became a bit of a thing. Now we make that joke again to see who had seen that thing a long time ago and who hasn’t. Just to create a bit of discussion

Okay, great. So you don’t just like have a glass of water or coffee with a carrot in it.

No, it’s actually a drink called Arctic Blue. It’s a Finnish tonic served with a carrot.


Admin face reveal! 😱😂 #VB77 #ValtteriBottas #Mercedes #MercedesF1 #Admin #FaceReveal #FYP

♬ Domino Lovers Challenge – stilestefanbae

I was gonna ask about Finland. So say that I have a weekend in Finland. What should I do?

Okay, you would obviously fly to Helsinki, the capital, see that quickly. In the summer there’s so many islands in front of Helsinki. You can go for lunch in one of the islands, it’s very green. So that’s nice, but then I would quickly move upwards. The Southern middle of Finland is just full of beautiful lakes, you get these quiet places. Then I would move up to the very, very north of Finland to Lapland. You see the real Arctic Finland and the nature and the quietness and the wildlife. If you go in the winter, you have a great chance of seeing the Northern lights as well. It’s quite a unique experience. So yeah, from bottom all the way to the top.

Yeah, I think I could do that all in one weekend. Speaking of Lapland I hear that you’re building an ice fortress of privacy up there. Can you talk to me about that?

I found this place a few years ago in the very north of Finland. It’s close to the border of Finland, Sweden and Norway. It’s a tiny quiet town with beautiful nature, pure air and wildlife. I can disconnect so well up there. So I decided to build something there. It’s like a kind of treehouse, I call it the Arctic Treehouse and it should be ready for Christmas. It’s completely a hideaway place to escape when I need to.

So it’s not for entertaining people or, parties or anything like that?

No. It has only one bedroom for that reason. No guests.

I mean, people will still try to crash on your couch, so maybe you don’t need a couch either, but that’s a good idea.

Photos courtesy of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

PinkPantheress Is 2021’s Most Bewitching Breakout

In an age of hyper-heighted anxieties — from political to digital, environmental to technological — many are turning toward nostalgia to find some semblance of solace. It’s perhaps why the most resonant artist to break out of obscurity this year is PinkPantheress, whose ephemeral, D’n’B-sampling music has become the unofficial soundtrack for disillusioned, chronically online millennials and Gen Z teens desperate to feel something, anything, in this otherwise numb world.

The 20-year-old UK film student-turned-producer and singer, known only as PinkPantheress, dropped her first track, “Just a Waste,” on TikTok at the very top of 2021. With 1 million followers and counting to date, she’s captivated the platform, becoming one of its most successful musicians thanks to her refreshingly new, yet comfortingly familiar brand of ultra-emotive breakbeat alt-pop.

Related | Charli and Dixie Want You to Be Happy

PinkPantheress’ songs are like bubbles: Effervescent, sentimental and fleeting. Each one pops into a burst of glistening shimmer the moment you try to capture or define it, and suddenly you’re frantically chasing after the next little bubble in her discography. It’s no wonder her blissed-out music has gone mega-viral and has been used in millions and millions of TikToks in the 10 months since she first appeared on the app, including videos from top creators like Charli D’Amelio and Bella Poarch, subsequently landing her record deals with Parlophone and Elektra.

Many of PinkPantheress’ musical influences look as though they were pulled off a playlist from a mid-2000s iPod left buried in someone’s childhood dresser. There’s the lilted talk-sing narratives of Lily Allen, who the artist cites as a major lyrical inspiration, plus the chill, experimental electronica of Frou Frou and Dido; the anxious, teen-friendly alt-rock of My Chemical Romance, Linkin Park and Blink-182, and the theatrical pop-punk melodies of Panic! At the Disco; and, of course, flourishes of the requisite UK garage/ dance subgenres, from 2-step to D’n’B and jungle music. The latter influence is most noticeable in PinkPantheress’ work, but she says she’s “definitely not a D’n’B artist” and rather prefers to simply call herself “an alternative pop artist,” even if she’s clearly shifting the pop paradigm into uncharted waters.

Born in 2001, PinkPantheress was just a kid when the music she references was popular in the clubs, so even her own evanescent affinity for the era is less a direct recollection and more like musical déjà vu diffused through a modern, personal lens. “I wasn’t necessarily at my prime when these things were coming out, but I was still alive and I remember it being a cooler time, to be honest,” she says. “My cousins and my parents did show me a lot of that stuff when I was younger, and with the internet it’s really easy to research a lot of the past.”

In turn, PinkPantheress’ own music presents as a dreamy hybrid of disparate genres and styles that’s at once warm and chilly. Her wispy, fluttery bedroom pop vocals float above racing, stuttering drum and bass breakbeats; she weaves cinema-grade youth-afflicted despair into intricate emo melodies and sets them atop whirling, high-octane samples from the likes of Crystal Waters and Just Jack.

Her hit single “Pain,” with its 101 million-plus streams on Spotify, samples British electronic act Sweet Female Attitude’s 2000 garage classic, “Flowers,” while PinkPantheress reminisces wistfully about an ex-lover over looping beats. On one of her other breakthroughs, “Break It Off,” she samples D’n’B pioneer Adam F’s seminal 1997 genre smash “Circles,” interpolating the track with sugary, achy lyrics about heartbreak: “But I’m so used to saying I’m fine/ And then something that you did to hurt me worse/ It comes to me,” she sings on the lounge-y track, which went wildly viral on TikTok earlier this year.

Sampling, unfortunately, is a bit like roulette: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. One of the casualties of PinkPantheress’ preference for chopped and screwed production is her fan favorite debut, “Just a Waste.” The swirling nu-disco track’s genius sample of Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” proved too difficult to clear legally, resulting in its sudden, devastating removal from Spotify in early September. This was a “tragic” blow for PinkPantheress, who counted the track as one of her favorites. “I don’t think I’ll try to revisit that song though,” she says. “It’s hard to clear any Michael Jackson, and I don’t want to change it or anything because it won’t be up to par with the original, so I don’t even want to try, either. RIP.”

PinkPantheress’ breezy music is not so much tenderly recycled or inferential like our current wave of pop punk-inspired hits by the likes of Olivia Rodrigo and Mod Sun, but it’s not quite an homage, such as hyerpop’s relationship to early 2000s trance-pop, either. A more appropriate description might be “repurposed.” Like a well-loved vintage gem picked up from the thrift shop, dismantled and redesigned into something new yet vaguely evocative, PinkPantheress is reminiscent of a fleeting era while sounding unlike anything we’ve heard before.

And her work is resonating with a lot of people, not just the kids on TikTok. Over the past few months, PinkPantheress has been co-signed by the likes of Billie Eilish, Grimes, Caroline Polachek, Kehlani, Bella Hadid, Lil Yachty, Madison Beer, Skrillex and Willow Smith, the latter whom PinkPantheress excitedly calls herself a “big fan of.” PinkPantheress has been covered by Giveon and Coldplay, and sampled by London rapper Central Cree, while she herself landed a feature on GoldLink‘s new album over the summer.

Hailing from Bath, England, PinkPantheress was just 13 when she saw Paramore perform at the Reading Festival in 2014, a euphoric live music experience that eventually inspired her to pursue music as a hobby. In her early teens, she and some friends started a Paramore and My Chemical Romance cover band, just for fun. While in high school, she began dabbling with GarageBand and writing lyrics for a musician friend, before making the revelation that she could make music for herself.

“I wrote for my friend a lot and then I ended up writing for myself after a while,” PinkPantheress says. “I was at home and figured I might as well give it a try, just because it was more convenient for me to record at home as opposed to having to constantly be with my friend for her to record. So yeah, I just decided to do it myself.”

At the time, the artist says she was making “generic pop, less drum and bass and not as quick [BPM]” as her current music. It wasn’t until PinkPantheress went off to university in London, where she’s currently studying, that she hit her musical stride in the comfort of her own space, resulting in the heavenly frenetic soundscapes and airy, clipped vocals fans are now familiar with. “It was actually quite easy to record in my [dorm] room because it was basically my own small flat,” she says. “I didn’t need to be conscious of making noise the same way I had to be while at home with my parents.”

Much of the intrigue surrounding PinkPantheress has been rooted in her near-anonymity online. Partly due to her self-professed shyness and desire for privacy, she didn’t reveal her face until August of 2021 — more than eight months after first blowing up on TikTok. Even then the image she shared — a somewhat blurry, unassuming Instagram snapshot of her posing in what appeared to be her dorm room — was hardly the shiny, polished promo pic of a newly signed superstar. PinkPantheress’ parents didn’t know about her music until things really began “popping off,” and at the time of publishing, her real name and identity remain unknown, a mystery to even the most adept web sleuths. But for now, she prefers it that way.

“I’m still quite shy,” she says. “I don’t really know how I decide what to put out there or not. I just do it when it feels right. Specifically, if I like a picture, then I suppose I’ll share it. But I try to be as less visual as possible when it comes to myself as an artist because I prefer the music to do the job.”

PinkPantheress didn’t drop her first music video until September with “Just for Me.” Prior to its release, the singer had only shared ambiguous visualisers on her YouTube, none of which showed her face. True to the artist’s secretive and enigmatic approach to self-promotion, the fuzzy music video for the Mura Masa-produced hyper-ballad wasn’t even posted to her official YouTube page. Instead, it was uploaded to a cryptic secondary account under the name “PP_ROCKSXX,” as if the video had been ripped from TV and illegally re-uploaded by a fan account in the early 2000s.

Directed by LAUZZA, a London-based director specializing in video production for underground UK artists, the “Just for Me” video indeed looks like it was plucked straight from MTV’s early morning music video block back in 2003. Featuring fisheye lens cutaways, aughties emo fashion and the stark, post-Y2K flair you might expect from a Cooler Kids or Anna Nalick video of the same era, her purposefully low-res clip is indicative of the transient throwback atmosphere that PinkPantheress has woven into her otherwise future-facing music.

“I’m just doing it as slowly as I can,” she says of releasing visuals at her own pace. “I’m trying to have as much control over it as I can. I work with my friend [LAUZZA] a lot for the videos just because he understands the visual stuff I’m trying to go for. It’s the small things like that, which ensure everything I have out is as true to myself as possible.”

PinkPantheress’ diaristic, detailed lyrics are often steeped in angst, inspired no doubt by her lasting love for My Chemical Romance. She sings about turning herself over to romantic apathy on the entrancing “Noticed I cried,” and feeling abandoned by friends and family on the Towa Tei-esque “Passion.” “I think my songs are quite dark in terms of the lyrics, but then the instrumentation used is quite violin-y and dark in itself,” she admits, adding that she never really writes from personal experience, but rather tries to step “in the shoes of other people.”

The artwork for her debut project, a glossy 10-track mixtape called to hell with it (released October 15), sees PinkPantheress posing dramatically in front of a white picket-fenced house in the middle of the night, as lightning strikes in the background. A haunting visual, it’s inspired by the rich, saturated photography of David LaChapelle and sinister, suburban tableaux of Gregory Crewdson.

“I quite like American-looking spooky things, and surreal, dramatic pictures. I’m a big fan of darker stuff,” the singer says, citing Twilight and horror films such as Saw, The Conjuring and Battle Royale as visual influences. “I really like the theatrical kind of drama. It inspires me because I enjoy how it looks, but then I also like how it can apply to my own aesthetic and lyrics.”

Still, there’s underlying humor to PinkPantheress: she’s quippy on social media, if not sparse; she’s not precious about her undying emo phase or her unironic love of ’90s and ’00s pop culture (her official website is designed as a spoof on defunct MySpace profiles, complete with glitchy GIFs and pixelated mirror selfies); and when it comes to her signature short track lengths (her longest song, “Nineteen,” clocks in at just 2:33), PinkPantheress is totally self-aware — but she also doesn’t feel any pressure to make longer songs (that’s what the replay button is for).

“I’m definitely in on the joke,” she says, laughing in reference to the many memes fans have made about her micro-length songs. (Even her mixtape plays at just under 19 minutes, which has become a joke that bathroom breaks should be held off until after her concert, lest you risk missing the entire set.) “It could seem like I’m being pressured to make longer songs, but I kind of just see it as, ‘Well, you’re getting the music one way or another, so…’ If people were saying the songs were bad and too short, then I’d be like, ‘Oh, God…’ But they’re saying they’re good. And I don’t know, I like them that way.”

With her very first live performance now under her belt — her October 28 gig at The Pickle Factory in London sold out in seconds, according to many an aggrieved fan on Twitter — and more shows scheduled for November, as well as a brand new fashion campaign for Heaven by Marc Jacobs, PinkPantheress seems to be finally emerging from her protective shell.

It’s almost inevitable that her virtual life as the world’s most elusive rising pop star and her offline, IRL identity will align — eventually. PinkPantheress’ songs may be quick in BPM and length, but don’t expect her to rush into fully blowing her cover just yet. “It does feel like quite a relief,” she says. “I know a lot of people are curious about who I am, so I think it’s good to let things out there in more doses, but not too much. I think at some point my music and my life offline will end up colliding — and yeah, I hope they do.”

Photography: Aidan Zamiri
Styling: Milena Agbaba
Beauty direction: Karla Quiñonez Leon
Nails: Chiara Ballisai (using OPI)
Production: Yasser Abubeker
Production supervisor: Celeste Doig
Photo assistant: Arthur Comely, Anna Sophia John
Styling assistant: Nancy Rosshunt

Makeup assistant: Becky Lory

Australian TikToker Wrongly Pronounced Dead After Astroworld

An Australian TikToker said she was wrongly pronounced dead after Travis Scott’s Astroworld.

Last week, Amelyun Nguyen went viral after posting a TikTok featuring screenshots of posts making the false claim. According to the 17-year-old, she had no idea how the rumor started. However, Nguyen said she was “the first to be announced dead” after the Houston, Texas festival.

Related | TikTok Speaks Out Against Astroworld Conspiracy Videos

“I was honestly very confused and was wondering how people found my pictures,” Nguyen recently told BuzzFeed News, revealing that she found out about her own “passing” through an Instagram post. She also said that one TikTok about her “death” was commented on by someone saying they knew her, which Nguyen publicly refuted. Even so, the commenter continued to double down on the claim.

“I am not a Travis Scott fan, before and after the incident,” she said. She also went on to say the support she’s received on her own TikTok refuting the claim has made her “feel so much better about the whole false death accusations.”

Nguyen added, “I told my close mutuals and we all had a good laugh.”


woke up and the world pronounced me dead

♬ Cricket Sound – Sound Effects

The tragedy was the result of a crowd crush during Scott’s headlining set. So far, the horrifying incident has claimed the lives of 10 people. Initially, eight people were confirmed dead but, since then, two more concertgoers have died: 22-year-old student Bharti Shahani and 9-year-old Ezra Blount.

Meanwhile, dozens were taken to the hospital for their injuries, while hundreds of fans were treated at a field hospital. Scott is also currently facing over 100 lawsuits as a result.

Misinformation has continued to run rampant following the incident, with TikTok trying to take down hundreds of conspiracy videos accusing Scott of performing some sort of satanic ritual.

Read Nguyen’s entire interview with BuzzFeed News here.

Photos via TikTok / @amelynguyen

Soirée Is the Netflix Watch Party of Porn

We all knew the pandemic would redefine the way we think about and approach sex, intimacy and relationships. However, it also highlighted how we could use technology to teledildonics bridge physical gaps and Zoom to help with our social needs. Something that’s been less talked about though is how to tackle the emotional issues that come with being separated from your partner — and this is where Angie Rowntree’s Soirée comes in.

A pioneer of the ethical porn and porn for women, Rowntree owns an adult entertainment studio called Sssh, which specializes in ethically shot, women-led porn that prioritizes female desire. So during lockdown, Rowntree began working on Soirée, a new project that allows two people to virtually engage with the company’s pre-existing library of content, and it even comes with a video chat module on the side.

“When COVID hit, we were getting a lot of people saying that they felt really lonely and isolated,” as Rowntree explained. “And this was my solution to it.”

Technically though, the seedlings for Soirée were planted in 1999 when Rowntree introduced an ongoing Sssh member survey about what they wanted to see. This means that everything you see on Sssh — feature films, audio stories, guided masturbation, podcasts and more — is the product of an actual member request. Granted, this is easy enough for Sssh as a company that produces its own content, films its own movies and, to keep up with member demand, leases a curated collection that tackles a diverse variety of genres and kinks.

“We are always looking for what compliments the site and what are the members looking for. We always ask, ‘Do they want this?,'” she said. And what do they tend to like? Fleshed out narratives, tenderness, female-focused play, real orgasms and that “first penetrative thrust.”

Related | People Are Identifying As Digisexual. Here’s What That Means.

After all, Sssh differs from mainstream sites like Pornhub in the sense that it focuses on storytelling, meaning the platform has films incorporating genres like horror and science fiction, as well as topics like superheroes, magic and witchcraft.

“A lot of the requests are also heavily influenced by what’s happening in the media and what our members see on TV, so then they’re requesting it here,” Rowntree said. “They want a lot of story-driven movies, that’s the kind of movies I love to shoot.”

Not only that, but as Rowntree noted, Sssh and Soirée are important counterbalances to these mainstreams sites because of how their bite-sized, penetrative sex-focused content ends up allowing adult users to finally get the sex education they need and deserve. As such, Sssh and Soirée are also filled with educational content about sex and sexual practices, such as shibari.

Additionally, Soirée also gives you the ability to also share and discuss its podcasts, instructionals or educational videos with friends as well, which Rowntree explained can even create deeper friendships since you’re bonding over shared experiences when it comes to discussing intimate topics like edging and masturbation.

“In this case, tech is actually bringing you closer together,” Rowntree said, mentioning that in beta-testing she ended up talking for hours with “friends I hadn’t spoken to in 10 years.”

Related | Learn Shibari From Your Phone

She continued, “We just sat here and talked about the beauty of it. It was almost like we were really connecting in a way you don’t usually have tech. I just thought, ‘My god, this is literally the coolest thing ever.”

While some would argue that you could just replicate the experience via FaceTime, Rowntree said that Soirée is “just a lot more elegant” than “seeing you on my phone I’m holding up with a [selfie] stick.” Not to mention much more sensual than sitting with your partner and watching Pornhub together on a laptop.

As for the timeliness critique, Rowntree explained that, even if we’re no longer in lockdown, things like travel and long-distance relationships will always exist. So while phone sex is great, the need for an emotional connection forged over an intimate, sensual experience will never go away, whether your partner is on a business trip, on a sabbatical or in the military. And what will make Soirée even better, she said, was its forthcoming foray into sex toy pairing.

Until then, though, Rowntree’s just happy to help support couples separated by distance in more ways than one, saying that Soirée is trying to “connect you through a shared experience.” And that sounds pretty nice to us.

Welcome to “Sex with Sandra,” a column by Sandra Song about the ever-changing face of sexuality. Whether it be spotlight features on sex work activists, deep dives into hyper-niche fetishes, or overviews on current legislation and policy, “Sex with Sandra” is dedicated to examining some of the biggest sex-related discussions happening on the Internet right now.

Photo via Getty