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Chiara Aurelia Is The Cruel Summer Star With A Flair For ’90s Style


By Kim Hoyos

As with any good thriller, the strength of Cruel Summer — a tangle of lies and secrets that envelops the fictional Texas town of Skylin — is its chilling, nail-biting suspense. Even the actress Chiara Aurelia, who stars as Jeanette, a teen the series follows across three harrowing years, was kept in the dark as filming began. Rather than reveal the ending, producers sprinkled cryptic hints for the actors to puzzle-piece together. With the cast scrambling to decide for themselves what was real and who could be trusted, that curious tension translated to the screen. “I didn’t find out the ending until about a week or two before I received the tenth episode,” Aurelia tells MTV News. “I was so shocked and excited.”

The show takes place in the warm months of 1993, 1994, and 1995, centering high school classmates Jeanette and Kate (Olivia Holt), who see their lives and communities turned upside down. Cruel Summer promises an unexpected ride of loyalty and betrayal from its first episode. Smart but shy, Jeanette feels discarded and underestimated by her peers and family, who treat her like a little girl. Her parents argue, her brother ditches her birthday plans, and though her best friends are steadfast and kind, she feels like an outsider to the town’s tight-knit cliques. But everything changes when the popular, bubbly Kate goes missing; and in her place, sweet wallflower Jeanette begins to bloom. As the perspective shifts between each character, different fragments of the story are revealed, forcing the viewer to question who is right, who is wrong, and the legitimacy of these concepts themselves.

Freeform/Frank Ockenfels

Capturing the twists throughout Cruel Summer would be a challenge for any seasoned actor, but thankfully, Aurelia has some experience with the genre. The 18-year-old actress had her breakout turn in Gerald’s Game, an adaptation of a Stephen King horror novel in which she played the lead’s younger self, and her performance secured wins at the Young Entertainer and BaM Awards. She followed up that success earlier this year when she embodied the small-town mean girl Rose Lord in Amazon’s murder mystery Tell Me Your Secrets. Aurelia has been working toward these projects for years. Growing up between Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Los Angeles, she first began acting at age 4 in pre-school theater programs. She attended the Lee Strasberg Institute to hone her singing and dancing abilities, an experience that was “as much of a normal childhood as physically possible,” she says. Though convincing her family took time, she felt destined for a life in Hollywood and moved to California full-time in 2014.

When the role of Jeanette came to her, Aurelia knew she was ready. “It was such an incredibly unique opportunity and it was like nothing I’d ever seen or read before,” she notes, “especially as someone trying to learn more in this industry and grow in the best hands.” Aurelia says she and her castmates were empowered by the creative team, including executive producer Jessica Biel, to collaborate in the development of their characters. In Jeanette’s case, her internal struggles are reflected externally. As her social status shifts, so does her style, as she begins straightening her hair and wearing trendier clothing. She lies to her parents, replaces her friends, and dates the high school heartthrob, who also happens to be Kate’s ex-boyfriend. But her reign is short-lived; as more details around Kate’s disappearance come to light, her year of parties and popularity is replaced by lawyers and camera crews at her lawn. Aurelia helped define how her character’s journey would render visually, working with the crew to realize what “it was going to feel like off the page.”

To that end, her love of ’90s fashion and aesthetics helped Aurelia immerse herself in the era’s music and lingo. She listened to Alanis Morrisette and The Cranberries between takes and appreciated all the work involved in crafting looks that uniquely defined each year of the show. “The costume designer for this first season was amazing,” she says, noting that she “definitely got [to keep] a couple pairs of pants.” There is not a cell phone in sight throughout Cruel Summer. This detail is in accordance with the time but also amplifies the pitch of anxiety, knowing no one will receive a photo revealing their secrets. Without social media, rumors somehow fly faster, snowballing as they barrel through the town. Period-specific snack wrappers and bedroom posters are strategically placed into the sets to create a realistic backdrop for the actors to play out the highs and lows of the timelines. “There was a shopping mall that we were working in,” Aurelia remembers. “Every single little thing in the mall had to be changed so it looks like we’re basically stepping into a different time period. It’s incredible.”

Cruel Summer was also a unique opportunity for Aurelia to explore and mold her character’s emotional journey across distinct time periods, which is what excited the actress most about the project from the jump. Each year of Jeanette’s arc was different from the last, and Aurelia carefully considered how each situation would affect the character. “She’s trying to maintain the peace but quickly realizes that [her new friends are not] the people she should have been surrounding herself with,” Aurelia says, “and this is potentially not the right path.” And when these moments felt difficult, the actress found a supportive community in her castmates, with whom she bonded through the five months of production. The crew joked like siblings, cutting the tension of the scenes with lighthearted pranks. “There was a lot of jumping out and screaming in the middle of takes,” she says. “We are actually all like, best, best friends. We’re very, very close.”

Aurelia is less concerned with some nebulous notion of making it and more with exploring her own path, learning what she can from the art form she cherishes. Her favorite part about acting is simply “everything,” she says, and while she’s not ruling out other psychological thrillers, she hopes to further expand her repertoire to other genres. She’s attained level-headed confidence rare for any young adult, let alone one growing up in the spotlight. “The first time you’ve ever read a script for a project that you’re potentially going to work on, there’s something magical and special within that,” she says. “And in your first day on set and even the worst day on set.”





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Here Are The Most Dramatic Moments From The Hills: New Beginnings Season 2 Trailer



“So much stuff has happened” since we last saw The Hills: New Beginnings. And when the iconic group returns to MTV on May 12 for Season 2, viewers will get a first-hand look at how their lives have changed since the Hollywood gang gathered at Spencer and Heidi’s vow renewal on the Season 1 finale.

From surprise smooches to Kristin Cavallari familiar faces, the rest is still unwritten with the Tinseltown pals (evidence in the promo above). Check out these surprising (and dramatic) tidbits from the extensive Season 2 trailer — and do not miss the premiere of The Hills: New Beginnings on May 12 at 9/8c (right after the season premiere of Siesta Key).

  • Audrina reveals that she kissed…Brody

  • Brandon has a new lady

    And he wants to give the relationship “a chance.”

  • Brody isn’t the Brody he wants to be

    He also admits he’s “hurt a lot of people” (with a quick cutaway to his ex Kaitlynn).

  • Caroline is on the scene

    The inaugural look at the newcomer — plus Kaitlynn.

  • Frankie is “trying to restructure his world”

    And he has his wife Jennifer by his side.

  • Heidi is ready to expand the Pratt clan

    But Spencer has some concerns about the timing.

  • Jason has worked “so hard” for his recovery…

    …but someone in the group is questioning if he’s sober or not.

  • Justin Bobby sees kids and a wife in his future

    And he has a heart to heart chat with his dad!

  • Kristin makes an entrance

    It’s the return of K-Cav.



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Your 2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards Nominations Are Here: See The Full List



Every year, the MTV Movie & TV Awards are a huge deal. This year’s show is so huge, though, that it can’t be contained to a single night. The party spans May 16 and May 17 — and this year’s nominees list, covering both scripted and unscripted programs, is likewise appropriately huge.

On the TV side, WandaVision racked up the most noms with five, while Emily in Paris, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and The Boys trail just behind with three each. For film, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm earned three nods, while Judas and the Black Messiah garnered two. Chadwick Boseman was honored with a posthumous Best Performance in a Movie nomination for his work in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, while favorites like Floor is Lava, Tiger King, and more got love in the unscripted categories.

On May 16, MTV will air the 2021 Movie & TV Awards telecast from the Palladium in Los Angeles, honoring the biggest and best in film and television. The following night, May 17, is the inaugural Movie & TV Awards: Unscripted, a celebration of all things reality TV.

The full list of nominees for both is below, and this is just the beginning. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more info on the show, including host and presenter details.

Fan voting for the 2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards is now open at vote.mtv.com and will be until April 30. Until then, check out which of your faves below racked up nominations — then get voting!

SCRIPTED CATEGORIES:

BEST MOVIE

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Judas and the Black Messiah

Promising Young Woman

Soul

To All the Boys: Always and Forever

BEST SHOW

Bridgerton

Cobra Kai

Emily in Paris

The Boys

WandaVision

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MOVIE

Carey Mulligan: Promising Young Woman

Chadwick Boseman: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Daniel Kaluuya: Judas and the Black Messiah

Sacha Baron Cohen: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Zendaya: Malcolm & Marie

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A SHOW

Anya Taylor-Joy: The Queen’s Gambit

Elizabeth Olsen: WandaVision

Elliot Page: The Umbrella Academy

Emma Corrin: The Crown

Michaela Coel: I May Destroy You

BEST HERO

Anthony Mackie: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Gal Gadot: Wonder Woman 1984

Jack Quaid: The Boys

Pedro Pascal: The Mandalorian

Teyonah Parris: WandaVision

BEST KISS

Chase Stokes & Madelyn Cline: Outer Banks

Jodie Comer & Sandra Oh: Killing Eve

Lily Collins & Lucas Bravo: Emily in Paris

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan & Jaren Lewison: Never Have I Ever

Regé-Jean Page & Phoebe Dynevor: Bridgerton

BEST COMEDIC PERFORMANCE

Annie Murphy: Schitt’s Creek

Eric Andre: Bad Trip

Issa Rae: Insecure

Jason Sudeikis: Ted Lasso

Leslie Jones: Coming 2 America

BEST VILLAIN

Aya Cash: The Boys

Ewan McGregor: Birds of Prey

Giancarlo Esposito: The Mandalorian

Kathryn Hahn: WandaVision

Nicholas Hoult: The Great

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE

Antonia Gentry: Ginny & Georgia

Ashley Park: Emily in Paris

Maria Bakalova: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Paul Mescal: Normal People

Regé-Jean Page: Bridgerton

BEST FIGHT

Final Funhouse Fight: Birds of Prey

Finale House Fight: Cobra Kai

Starlight, Queen Maeve, Kimiko vs. Stormfront: The Boys

Wanda vs. Agatha: WandaVision

Final Fight vs. Steppenwolf: Zack Snyder’s Justice League

MOST FRIGHTENED PERFORMANCE

Elisabeth Moss: The Invisible Man

Jurnee Smollett: Lovecraft Country

Simona Brown: Behind Her Eyes

Victoria Pedretti: Scripted The Haunting of Bly Manor

Vince Vaughn: Freaky

BEST DUO

Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo: Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar

Anthony Mackie & Sebastian Stan: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Pedro Pascal & Grogu/Baby Yoda: The Mandalorian

Lily Collins & Ashley Park: Emily in Paris

Sacha Baron Cohen & Maria Bakalova: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

UNSCRIPTED CATEGORIES:

BEST DOCU-REALITY SHOW

Below Deck Mediterranean

Black Ink Crew New York

Bling Empire Unscripted

Jersey Shore Family Vacation

Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta

BEST DATING SHOW

90 Day Fiancé

Ex On The Beach

Love Is Blind

Ready to Love

The Bachelorette

BEST REALITY CAST

90 Day Fiancé

Jersey Shore Family Vacation

Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta

RuPaul’s Drag Race

The Real Housewives of Atlanta

BEST COMPETITION SERIES

Legendary

RuPaul’s Drag Race

The Challenge

The Circle

The Masked Singer

BEST LIFESTYLE SHOW

Deliciousness

Fixer Upper: Welcome Home

Making The Cut

Nailed It!

Queer Eye

BEST NEW UNSCRIPTED SERIES (brought to you by SONIC® Drive-In)

Bling Empire

Cardi Tries

Selena + Chef

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City

VH1 Family Reunion: Love & Hip Hop Edition

BEST TALK / TOPICAL SHOW

A Little Late with Lilly Singh

Red Table Talk

The Breakfast Club

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen

BEST COMEDY / GAME SHOW

Floor Is Lava

Impractical Jokers

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Nick Cannon Presents: Wild ‘N Out

Ridiculousness

BEST HOST

Nicole Byer: Nailed It!

Rob Dyrdek: Ridiculousness

RuPaul: RuPaul’s Drag Race

T.J. Lavin: The Challenge

Tiffany Haddish: Kids Say the Darndest Things

BREAKTHROUGH SOCIAL STAR

Addison Rae

Bretman Rock

Charli D’Amelio

Jalaiah Harmon

Rickey Thompson

BEST REAL-LIFE MYSTERY OR CRIME SERIES

Catfish: The TV Show

Evil Lives Here

Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness

Unsolved Mysteries

BEST FIGHT

Chrishell Stause vs. Christine Quinn: Selling Sunset

Jackie Goldschneider vs. Teresa Giudice: The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Kandy Muse vs. Tamisha Iman: RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked

Kourtney Kardashian vs. Kim Kardashian: Keeping Up With The Kardashians

West Law Roach vs. Guest Judge Dominique Jackson: Legendary

BEST INTERNATIONAL REALITY SERIES

Acapulco Shore

Geordie Shore

Love Island (ITV)

¡Nailed it! México

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK



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Megan Thee Stallion and Lil Durk Release ‘Movie:’ Watch



When Megan Thee Stallion and Lil Durk are in business together, they’re unstoppable. The duo released the music video for their fan-favorite collab track “Movie” on Thursday (April 15) and brought the lights, camera, and action with them.

Directed by Mike Ho, Megan and Lil Durk are the life of the party being held at the fictional club Stallions. As cash seems to rain endlessly from heaven above, multiple dancers perform jaw-dropping pole routines, pouring drinks into each other’s mouths, and dancing the night away to the sensual track’s snappy chorus. Intermixed between the festivities, Megan channels the early aughts as she raps with effortless cool and confidence in an orange bikini and sunglasses.

Originally released as part of her debut album Good News last year, the bombastic club anthem’s lyrics take place within a strip club and allow the two artists to take on very different perspectives of the same night: the happy-go-lucky VIP attendee at the club; the powerful, hard-working dancer on stage. They cross paths in the song’s chorus, where Lil Durk raps: “Tell her shake it / Drop her friends off / And take her pants off.” Megan easily counters his proposition with one of her own: “Tell him spend it / You ain’t got no money / Keep your hands off.”

The release of the visual follows the Houston rapper’s star-studded night at the 2021 Grammys last month, which saw her dominate the stage alongside Cardi B with a powerful performance of “WAP” and pick up three wins for Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance, and Best Rap Song. In response to the video’s release, Megan shared a simple message on Instagram: “Thank you my babies for coming to Stallions.” Come again soon.





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Harry Styles Flips His Fins In ‘Little Mermaid’ Photoshoot



Harry Styles is officially ready to be part of your world. A photoshoot of the 27-year-old singer-songwriter dressed as Ariel from The Little Mermaid surfaced online on Friday (April 16) and promptly submerged the internet.

The collection of images — in which Styles raises a glass of champagne while wearing the character’s quintessential bright red wig, seashell bra, and green tail — are from a previously unreleased photoshoot from when Styles hosted Saturday Night Live in November 2019. The promotional images were skipped over in favor of a set of those that featured Styles posing on a huge disco ball, leaping through the air in a leotard, and playing the harp. The fishy pics were left to sink into the dark depths of the sea — until now.

The decision for Styles to channel his inner mermaid makes a lot of sense. Not only does he have a siren tattoo and has described himself as a mermaid in the past, but Styles made headlines a few months prior to hosting SNL due to rumors he was in “early negotiations” for the role of Prince Eric in the upcoming live-action remake of the Disney film. That part has since gone to Jonah Hauer-King, but the memory of Styles’s potential undersea adventure lives on in these photos.

In response to the photoshoot, fans quickly took to Twitter to share their reactions and a slew of hilariously clever memes. “Ariel from The Little Mermaid was spotted crying at the bottom of the sea this morning. According to sources, she is upset because Harry Styles just ended her whole career,” one fan wrote. Others nicknamed him “Hariel,” crafted comprehensive threads casting him as every character in the film, and even photoshopped him on the rocks of his seaside music video for single “Adore You.”

Some fans also floated the idea that Styles wasn’t cast as Prince Eric because he preferred to play Ariel instead. “Remember when we could have got Harry as Prince Eric? He really said: ‘Nah, sorry. Can’t. Busy being Ariel,'” they wrote. Finally, one fan put the entire photoshoot and Styles’s mythological fashion sense into perspective when they said: “why stan normal celebrities when you can stan Harry Styles being a pretty mermaid?”





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Bop Shop: Songs By Taylor Swift, Terry Presume, Kang Daniel, And More




In this weeks edition of Bop Shop MTV News editors pick songs by Taylor Swift, Terry Presume, Grace VanderWaal, Kang Daniel, and more.



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Anti-Trans Bills May Cost 45,000 Youth Gender-Affirming Health Care



On April 6, Arkansas became the first state to pass legislation that would ban transgender youth from receiving gender-affirming care, despite the bill being vetoed by the state’s governor who called it “over broad” and “extreme.” A study by UCLA’s Williams Institute published on Tuesday (April 13) reported that, with a wave of transphobic legislation spreading across the country this year, at least 45,100 trans children are at risk of losing access to their health care.

The study reported that in 2021 alone 21 states introduced bills that attempt to thwart trans youth from receiving gender-affirming care, even though a Trevor Project study last year showed that it has been shown to “improve mental health” among trans and nonbinary minors. In addition to Arkansas, there are currently nine other states that are considering prohibiting it: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Most of the bills introduced in these states would make it illegal for medical providers to provide such care, like hormone therapy, to trans people under the age of 18.

Speaking at a Zoom event, actress and activist Laverne Cox condemned the Arkansas bill, saying: “Any decision about the health care, about trans youth, should be between that trans youth, their parent, and their doctor. The government should have no place with these decisions.”

The issues stretch beyond those who are receiving care, too. In Texas, parents who support their child’s transition could face up to 10 years in prison and even have their custody revoked. Other bills, as in Alabama, include measures that could penalize teachers who don’t inform parents about information “related to a minor’s perception that his or her gender is inconsistent with his or her sex,” which has the potential to endanger children by outing them to families that are not welcoming or educated about LGBTQ+ issues. Meanwhile, multiple bills target trans athletes, like those in Arizona and in Texas, which would prohibit trans students to play on sports teams that do not reflect the gender they were assigned at birth. Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi have already signed similar laws into effect.

In response to the surge of anti-trans legislation this year, over 1,500 parents of trans children banded together with the Human Rights Campaign’s Parents for Transgender Equality National Council to release a letter on April 12 that demands politicians stand up and vote against transphobic bills in their states. “Transgender kids all across the country are listening to what you say and watching what you do. The act of writing bills like this, holding hearings, and later casting votes sends a direct message to them: ‘You aren’t real to us. We don’t believe you when you tell us who you are,’” the parents wrote. “Transgender folks are so tired, tired of fighting for their existence. And parents like us are tired of begging you to see our kids and treat them as full and equal members of society.”

The letter also maintains that transgender children “deserve the ability to play organized sports” and have access to medically necessary care, like all other children. “Legislators must realize the seriousness of this issue and remember that they were elected to lead — not call into question whether certain children have the right to exist, to be happy, or to live authentically,” they wrote.



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‘The Tide Will Turn’: Siesta Key Is Returning For A Brand-New Season



As the old saying goes, “All that glitters isn’t gold.”

MTV’s hit series, Siesta Key, is making its highly anticipated return on May 12, leading into the new season of The Hills: New Beginnings for a night of back-to-back season premieres. There are “no secrets” in Sarasota — and in the first look below, “the tide will turn.”

Between Juliette and Kelsey hustling to launch their businesses, Brandon embarking on life with his son, Chloe recentering her energy, and Madisson’s nuptials on the horizon, life on the Key continues to keep everyone on their toes.

“Things will never be the same again,” Kelsey warns in the drama-filled video above.

Who is back in Siesta after a surprising exit? And who is ready to walk away from it all? Watch the extended sneak peek, stay with MTV News for more updates and do not miss Siesta Key premiering on May 12 at 8/7c, followed by The Hills: New Beginnings at 9/8c!



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Challenge Final: Can Kaycee Convince Fessy To Keep Fighting For The Win?


The Double Agents final mission kicking off on the precipice of a wild windstorm was no coincidence. Kaycee — one of the presumed Challenge front-runners — has so far borne the brunt of the storm. And as the last leg of Season 36 commences, the question lingers: Can she survive the hurricane?

After Kyle’s elimination from the game at the hands of Fessy and the cementing of the final four Double Agents teams, the game’s remaining eight players met host TJ Lavin at the base of an Icelandic footrace for the final mission. Raging winds littered the course with airborne sand and brush, and as the players set off onto the first leg — a three-mile race to an inaugural checkpoint — they struggled to stay upright.

“We have never done a final at the tail end of a hurricane, but there’s a first for everything,” TJ said.

And that wasn’t the only warning TJ gave. After informing the game’s players that only first- and second-place finishers would earn cash (the winners would split $900,000, while runners-up would split $100,000), he revealed that the first day’s last-place finishers would be immediately expunged from the game.

For Nany, who struggled to keep a pace, there was tremendous pressure to make Leroy proud. Her partner, who said he was retiring after Double Agents, hadn’t won a Challenge in a decade of trying. And when she watched Team CT and Amber reach the first checkpoint first, Team Fessy and Kaycee reach it second and Team Cory and Kam reach it third, she knew she had to up the ante.

“I know how bad Leroy wants this win…and if I’m the reason he gets eliminated on the first day, I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself,” Nany said.

Conversely, Amber, the game’s lone remaining rookie, exceeded expectations. Not only did she win the first run by a longshot, but she also beat the game’s other seven players in the first checkpoint.

“This is why I came here to this Challenge,” Amber said. “I’m gonna put my body through everything to make it.”

But for Amber’s fellow Big Brother alumna Kaycee, the next leg of the game would prove to be a body-breaker. At some point during a two-mile race along a coastline, Kaycee took a tumble, landed on her back and injured her knee. Historically invincible on The Challenge, her screams and tears were especially shocking, and as she struggled to move, she and Fessy watched their comfortable second-place standing disappear.

“Everything I went through this whole entire game I’m thinking about as I’m laying here with my knee out of my socket,” Kaycee said through tears.

She struggled to get upright and eventually managed to get back on her feet, but when she arrived with Fessy at the next checkpoint — a feast of fish eyes, sheep face, and more stomach-churning snacks — Kaycee encountered another heartbreak: Her partner’s evident surrender.

Yes, while Kaycee insisted on continuing the race, face soaked with spillover from her specialty blood cocktail, she noticed that Fessy had basically thrown in the towel. She pleaded with him through sobs to keep fighting, but Fessy — who said he saw the writing on the wall — essentially admitted defeat.

“I wonder if Kaycee has any regret right now about having Fessy as a partner,” Leroy, a longtime skeptic of Fessy, said. “I would be f*cking pissed.”

It’s only a matter of time before TJ reveals the first team to be expelled from the Double Agents final mission. Can Kaycee pull out the ultimate underdog story and rise above her injury? Or are her knee and her partner’s apparent forfeiture too much to overcome? Find out what happens when The Challenge finale continues Wednesday!



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Rina Sawayama and Elton John Sing ‘Chosen Family:’ Watch



The friendship between artists Rina Sawayama and Elton John spans genres and generations, proving that those different talents and experiences make for one hell of a collaboration. The duo released a poignant new version of Sawayama’s single “Chosen Family” on Wednesday (April 13) that celebrates finding love and acceptance within one’s friendship circle, or chosen family.

The song, which originally appeared on her 2020 debut album Sawayama, was reworked from its atmospheric, electronica into a smooth, heartwarming duet featuring vocal and piano accompaniment by John. Its music video spotlights the two as they perform before a blue background and sing the LGBTQ+ anthem’s powerful lyrics: “We don’t need to be related to relate / We don’t need to share genes or a surname / You are / You are / My chosen family.”

Speaking with Zane Lowe on New Music Daily, Sawayama described the song as a love letter to her friends. “It was just really my genuine feelings towards my friends,” she said. “I think it speaks of pure and true love for me, there’s nothing weird about it; it’s just a straight-up love song to my friends.”

Sawayama shared in a statement that working alongside John on the track was “a special experience” that she would never forget. “I got shivers when I heard his voice through the monitor and became emotional when he added the piano parts,” she said. “Elton has been such a huge supporter from before the album, and when we finally met to record this song we clicked from the get-go. I hope people can hear the magic!”

John echoed that magical sentiment, telling Lowe that the track is “exactly what we need to be saying right now” and that Sawayama is a true star. “To be honest with you, I was just so blown away not by just her music but by her attitude, her confidence, her demeanor — everything about her has star written all over it,” he said.

At the end of the interview with Lowe, Rina hinted that she’s currently in the process of writing a new album. “It’s really painful to write an album in lockdown, that’s the honest truth,” she said. “The UK’s been under lockdown since December and things are just starting to lift. I’m kind of ready for that challenge. But it’s still painful.”



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