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Here’s The Very First Look At The Real World Homecoming: New York



The “true story of the original social experiment” is about to return.

The Real World Homecoming New York, premiering on Paramount+ on March 4, will reunite original roommates Becky Blasband, Andre Comeau, Heather B. Gardner, Julie Gentry, Norman Korpi, Eric Nies and Kevin Powell in the Big Apple. And in the trailer, below, the first reality roommates are back together and “being real” — just like they were nearly 30 years ago.

“I can’t believe we’re in the same place,” Kevin states, as we see him embrace Becky.

According to Julie, the cast is “still having the same conversations” they had 29 years ago. Watch the entire extended (and emotional) look for more and stay with MTV News as we celebrate the premiere of The Real World Homecoming: New York on March 4 on Paramount+. Follow Paramount+ on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and subscribe to Paramount+ on YouTube.





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All Eyes On Gus: How Nilsa’s Former Floribama Fling Reacted To Her Pregnancy News


Nilsa shared two big words with her MTV Floribama Shore roomies: “I’m pregnant!” And Gus everyone was shocked.

During the season premiere, Nilly — who is about 10 and a half weeks along with a baby boy — shared the lifechanging news as the Southerners got settled in their new Montana home. But first the mama-to-be confided in her “thot partner.”

“My heart literally hits my vagina — that’s how far it went down in my stomach,” soon-to-be Aunt Aimee declared after her BFF broke the news. “I’m going to be the aunt that teaches this baby how to say f*ck and sh*t and ass.”

The two began to strategize how to tell Candace, Codi, Gus number 1, Jeremiah and Kirk because Nilsa’s lack of drinking would make everyone suspicious in no time (a Floribama roomie can only avoid shots for so long without an excuse). Since Nilsa packed a bunch of pregnancy tests, she decided to use them as a part of her reveal. After she blessed them with her “golden goodness.”

“I’m really hoping that nobody passes out, ahem Gus,” Aimee stated in the confessional about the impending reveal.

Nilsa opted to tell everyone about the baby on night 1, prefacing the announcement by thanking them all for the support they offered when her father unexpectedly passed away earlier in the summer.

“I don’t mean to cry,” Nilsa began as she wiped her eyes. “He loved all of you guys, and I know he would be really excited that we were all doing this again.”

She continued: “I just really want this time to be one that we can all, in a weird way, do it for him. I know we’re going to have little fights and little arguments and bickers and stuff like that, but let’s just remember that life is really short.”

And that’s when she proclaimed that she had a “little gift” for everyone — and told everyone to close their eyes as they picked a (used) pregnancy test out of a basket.

Candace was first to squeal “pregnant!” while Codi screamed “no way.” And then Gus formed words.

“Are you serious?” he asked. “Are you for real?”

Yes, for real. Between choruses of “oh my god!” and “congratulations!” And, as Aimee predicted, Gus “looked like he was going to faint” and needed to sit on the couch.

“I’m happy for her, but there’s a lot of freaking history there,” Gus confessed in a private interview before vintage footage of Gilsa showed their ups and downs. And middles. “There’s four years of good, bad, everything in between.”

Offer your congrats to Nilsa and Gus 2.0 below — and keep watching MTV Floribama Shore every week with the first-ever Floribaby!



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Bop Shop: Songs From Chloe x Halle, Yasmin Williams, Jesswar, And More




This week’s Bop Shop features cuts from Chloe x Halle, Yasmin Williams, Jesswar, NanaBCool, and more.



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The World’s A Little Blurry For Billie Eilish. Director R.J. Cutler Found Clarity


By Dani Blum

Billie Eilish loves The Office so much she sampled dialogue from the show on her debut album, bookending a song about desire with one of the sitcom’s in-jokes. When she first met with filmmaker R.J. Cutler, known for making profiling documentaries like the Anna Wintour-chronicling The September Issue and The World According to Dick Cheney, Eilish said she wanted any movie made about her to seem like the NBC mockumentary sitcom — with a constant, panning camera and the subtle awareness of an audience.

Subsequently, Cutler followed Eilish for a year, across two global tours and the writing and release of her eventually Grammy-sweeping debut, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, which she created with her brother, Finneas. The resulting film, Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry, premieres today on Apple TV+. Throughout its 140 minutes, Cutler captures both the mega-events and the minutiae of Billie’s life making and promoting the album: getting her driver’s license, icing her calves after jumping too hard onstage, hugging Orlando Bloom at Coachella and not recognizing him at first.

“She’s the voice of a generation,” Cutler tells MTV News. We spoke to the director about the filming process and what he learned from spending so much time with the world’s biggest pop star.

MTV News: The film starts a while before she really hit the inflection point of becoming a major star. At what point did you decide you wanted to tell this story?

Cutler: I was invited to meet with Billie and her family, I think it was August of 2018, and the day I met her was the day I thought, let’s do this. It was a really engaging, warm, open meeting and conversation. I think we both felt that it would be great to do a film together and that we enjoy each other’s company. I think the question for me was more, is this something they are sure they want to do? But they were certainly in.

MTV News: What was the dynamic like between you and the family as you were filming? Were you ever worried about people feeling like they needed to perform for the camera?

Cutler: No. Our approach is a very organic approach, you know, I never really worry about people performing for the camera. Billie has only one mode, which is real.

MTV News: There’s a lot of really intimate footage, including the process of Finneas and Billie writing songs. How did that come together? Was there a camera constantly in every room at all times?

Cutler: Billie took a slow burn in the early part of her career. It wasn’t as though she went from “Ocean Eyes” to releasing her first album. They made this very wise decision to take their time. Clearly it worked out. But when it did come time to write the album, it’s clear to me that Billie and Finneas and [their parents] Maggie and Patrick had a sense that something special was going on and that at the very least having some sort of document of the writing process might be valuable. It might be something that they would enjoy reflecting on. They put a GoPro in Finneas’s bedroom, and if there was a moment where Finneas and Billie felt inspired, they would turn it on. I don’t know how long that lasted to be honest, but it certainly lasted long enough for there to be the material that we then worked with and shaped into the material that you see in the film.

And also, we live in a time where everybody’s life is very well-documented. My five-year-old daughter’s entire life is sitting on my iPhone. We were also the beneficiaries of that. In addition to the year of filming that we did, they gave us a lot of material to work with, hundreds and hundreds of hours.

MTV News: There seems to be almost this tension in the film between all these tour shots and this wave of fan devotion, and then it cuts to her in a car somewhere worried about what people are commenting online. I’m curious about how you view the online nature of her fame and how that relates to her music and her persona in general.

Cutler: Well, clearly a part of her audience is the audience that is online, and it’s a big part of managing a career. The stakes are high. I mean, you see a moment in the film where she does an Instagram Live for a minute or two and 300,000 people tune in. What’s Bravo’s rating at three in the afternoon, unadvertised? I don’t know if it’s 300,000.

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But it’s complicated. There are great benefits to that, and there are great burdens. I mean, listen, the first thing Billie says in the film is, “I don’t think of them as my fans. I think of them as part of me.” That’s a very intense thing for an artist. I think part of her growth and what the film is about is how she decides she’s going to live with that.

MTV News: I was also really struck by these figures that pop up throughout the film, like Katy Perry and Justin Bieber, who are offering her advice and guiding her through this. She seems like such a uniquely of-the-moment Gen Z pop star, and at the same time, there are these templates for people who have reached the same level of fame while super young. 

Cutler: In the narrative of the film, there is this moment where it’s as if Coachella is her presentation to the world,  and those who have been presented before come to her. There’s a reason why Justin embraces her. There’s a reason why he welcomes her and he holds her as she cries in his arms. And he says, “Thank you,” to her. He says, “You remind me of why this matters to me,” and he imparts wisdom — “You are great, but you are not greater than anyone else.” It’s almost a crossing of another kind of threshold. In so much of this film, there are universals. Billie is a teenager coming of age. I did that, you did, the guy next door did it. And then there’s the specifics of what it is to be Billie Eilish. She is passing the threshold to this kind of shamanistic stardom. She’s the voice of a generation.

MTV News: There are only a few songs that she performs in full throughout the film, and one is “When the Party’s Over.” Why did you choose to show that song, and what emotional weight do you think it carries?

Cutler: First of all, it’s the song that she calls her audience to be most present for. Second of all, it’s the song that she chooses even above her mother’s counsel [to direct the music video for], which is also a big part of her journey — to stand up and say, I want to be the director of the work that I bring to the world. And third of all, it’s because of the specific nature of that song. It’s similar with the opening song, “Ocean Eyes. It’s so beautiful, it’s almost hypnotic. And you go from that hypnotic state onto this journey, and then we’re going to end at Radio City Music Hall. It’s a small snippet, but it’s very, the real, that final moment. She’s climbed up the side of the wall at Radio City and she’s singing “Ocean Eyes,” and it’s like she’s floating over this audience, singing that very song that brought her to everybody’s attention.



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‘Friends And Family Are All You Got’: The Jersey Shore Gang Finally Decided To Forgive And Forget


All the family vacation feels! (It’s about time.)

Tonight’s Jersey Shore: Family Vacation finale finally saw the crew in a better place after 10 looong months of tension. Only it wasn’t bruschetta that mended fences or even Deena’s faux toast (just kidding!). It was drunk Vinny’s “terrible speech.”

Following raunchy rhetoric of hairy balls, mushroom tattoos, lefty cappuccinos, and Mike’s cockeyed nipples, Vinny emerged (in a bridesmaid dress, no less) to deliver the speech to end all speeches.

Cheesy one-liners included the likes of, “Some people call her the Staten Island dump, but joke’s on them because the Staten Island dump’s been closed for several years and now it’s a beautiful park that people love to go to!”

But… it actually worked.

“A terrible speech broke us apart. But an even more terrible speech brought us back together,” Mike stated.

It wasn’t long (mere minutes, really) before things were pretty much back to normal, with red velvet cake fights and a mobile stripper truck, complete with Ariana the extortionist contortionist.

Fast forward to the day after, when a friendly game of volleyball and Uncle Nino in a Speedo cured any and all lingering hard feelings and hangovers. Even Angelina admitted that JWOWW and Deena “are not mean girls.” See ya, Regina George!

“Right now, boys, we’re sitting back and enjoying the fruits of our labor. We did all that,” Mike said, referencing RSVP’s grand plan to reunite the girls via a sneaky double-booking.

Speaking of Big Daddy Sitch, his and Lauren’s Deena-inspired pregnancy announcement brought out even more poolside fuzzies. Because at the end of the day vacation, it’s not about silly speeches or anonymous notes — it’s about family.

“Being confined in this hotel during COVID makes you feel differently, because 2020’s been like the worst year ever. Friends and family are all you got,” Vinny said. “We’ve had this experience for 10 years, and we feel it falling apart sometimes. So the fact that we were able to save it makes me appreciate it a lot more.”

Us, too, Vin! Us, too. Stay with MTV News for more Jersey Shore: Family Vacation updates!



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Cloud Nothings ‘The Shadow I Remember’ Interview


By Danielle Chelosky

Dylan Baldi has a lot of ground to cover. The leader of prolific Ohio indie rock band Cloud Nothings could be talking about July 2020’s quarantine album The Black Hole Understands; December’s follow-up Life Is Only One Event; one of their 27 live albums all unleashed last year; their seven Bandcamp exclusive EPs released from August 2020 until now; or this month’s new LP, The Shadow I Remember, which drops on February 26.

Or he could be discussing his noseless dog, Lavender, who he adopted with his girlfriend, Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz, around Christmastime. “She’s a one-of-a-kind dog,” Baldi tells MTV News. “People will just stop and be like, ‘Look at this dog,’ and want to be with this dog in a way like no other dog I’ve seen,” he says. “It’s like having a rare Pokemon.”

During Baldi’s lockdown, Lavender has often graced the official Cloud Nothings Twitter account with stealth cameos. And without touring, that social-media presence is one of the few active pieces of the band: “Right now [Cloud Nothings] just feels like it’s a Twitter account that I post stupid stuff to every once in a while,” he jokes. Over the past decade, the project has evolved into a full band after beginning as Baldi’s outlet for songwriting in 2009. These days, when they are more than just an internet persona, Cloud Nothings consists of Baldi on vocals and guitar, TJ Duke on bass and backing vocals, Jayson Gerycz on drums, and Chris Brown on guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals.

“It doesn’t feel like a functioning band at the moment. But throughout [quarantine], we’ve still been able to get stuff done. It just feels like an important, vital part of it — the live show is, I think, how a lot of people come to know us and like us — is missing, and that’s sad.”

Just by listening to the music, you can tell Cloud Nothings are meant to be heard live. The songs have only gotten more complicated and packed with moving parts as their career has progressed, from Attack on Memory’s iconic 10-minute noise crunch “Wasted Days” to the breezy, early The Shadow I Remember single “The Spirit Of.” There is always an intentional culmination at work underneath the loud surface. Patience is necessary, but it’s rewarded. This is all revealed during shows when the members trail off into explosive jam sessions and fans fling their bodies around in violent ecstasy.

And while it’s strange for fans to not be able to attend shows, it’s even more disorienting for musicians to lose the freedom to tour and travel. “My brain and body had gotten pretty used to being somewhere different relatively constantly,” he says. “It’s a very normal thing for me to do, so it’s weird for me to strip that away entirely.” One of the band’s first quarantine ideas was to drop a ton of live records — nearly 30 — of performances all over the globe, from New York to Brussels to Paris. Not many bands can do this while maintaining the integrity of each release; Cloud Nothings, who use shows as an opportunity to experiment every night, can. Without touring, though, they’ve had to make alternate arrangements for making a living.

“Even doing as much as we did, our guitarists paints houses,” Baldi explains. He and Duke have been temporarily working as tech guys for court depositions over Zoom. They’ve also established themselves via Bandcamp’s subscription service. For $5 a month, a Cloud Nothings subscriber gets two exclusive albums a year and an EP every month, as well as 20 percent off merch. “Just by creating all of this stuff, it keeps a dialogue going, at least between us and fans of the band,” he says. “The records, I kind of beat myself up about really trying to make good. This stuff feels low-stakes, but it’s for the true heads.”

Relatedly, in December, one of Baldi’s tweets gained traction and subsequently caused controversy: “your spotify wrapped is basically just a list of artists you owe money to lol.” While Baldi dismisses most of his updates as “shitposts,” he admits there should be a conversation about the issue of streaming services. “If you use Spotify, you could use a different service, or you could do something else. You could! Why don’t you, actually?” he says. “But at the same time, obviously Spotify is an evil company that is to blame for these things. The way they pay artists is cruel and unusual.” The discourse over this tweet centered on exactly this tension. How fair is it to blame consumers when the root of the problem is a corporation? Do consumers have to be held accountable for contributing to what they know is harmful?

Even in the face of this, Baldi is still inspired and optimistic. “You gotta just find the people and things that are doing interesting stuff,” he says, “even within the confines of an industry that doesn’t always bring that to the forefront.” His attitude is that you can get burned out doing anything, that it’s inevitable — and that you can either quit or work through it. Has he considered quitting? “Yeah, but then, like, what would I do, you know?” he quips.

Kat Cade

And so he is promoting The Shadow I Remember, which is old to him at this point. The 11 songs were recorded in Chicago with legendary noise maestro and trusted collaborator Steve Albini, who previously, and notoriously, played Scrabble when working on Attack on Memory. (He played Scrabble again this time, but Baldi understands: “When I take a break, I look at my phone, scroll through pictures of dogs on Instagram. It’s the same thing,” he says.). It perpetuates the fundamental Cloud Nothings philosophy, which Baldi sums up in the press release as his goal of making “a three-minute song to be an epic.” “They can have all these different parts and moving things going on so that nothing ever gets dull but it makes sense in a way so it doesn’t just sound like chaos,” he explains. “There could be a different melody, every instrument’s playing something different, but it all sounds like one cohesive thing.”

In both their music and in an unprecedented time of global uncertainty, Cloud Nothings approach the edge of chaos while still managing to keep it clean and organized. It’s what Baldi has been refining since the beginning. It culminates in their latest 33-minute album and in the simple act of creating and and doing whatever you can — because there is nothing else to do.





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‘Nothing Is As It Seems’: What Will The Security Breach Bring On The Challenge?


So far on Season 36 of The Challenge — and save for some untimely exits from the game — things have been status quo: No Purges, no Mercenaries, no game-ending spider bites.

Well, host TJ Lavin decided on tonight’s episode that the waters had become placid enough and finally pulled the rug out from under the Double Agents. Now, the question remains: What is the Security Breach, and how will it affect the next few critical moments in The Crater?

After a commanding victory in “Black Sand Ops” (but a self-proclaimed bungling of the subsequent Crater vote), Gabby and Devin sought to lengthen their win streak in “Air Lift.” The game challenged partners to grab onto ropes that dangled from a moving helicopter, fall into a designated drop zone in the water below and swim to a target, at which point their time would stop.

TJ told players that the fastest time would win, and while the mission’s difficulty quickly killed Devin and Gabby’s chances of a back-to-back triumph, it made a hero out of Big T. Unexpectedly, she proved to be the day’s fastest swimmer, earning a second victory for CT and herself and the choice to either stay safe from The Crater or voluntarily compete for a Gold Skull.

“Don’t look at me — I’m just as shocked as you are!” CT shouted in the wake of the improbable win. “I can’t believe how good you did!”

“That was quite marvelous, actually,” Big T quietly confirmed.

Quickly, Big T and CT, who’d successfully engineered Tori’s elimination weeks earlier, reassumed their roles as master strategists and sorted through the game’s cast in search of ideal Crater opponents. Convinced a men’s elimination day was coming up, CT said he was eager to steal Josh’s Gold Skull for himself and urged the house to vote accordingly.

“Give me ‘The Goof’ and that’s it!” CT joked-but-didn’t-really-joke. “I think he’s gonna be the easiest to beat.”

Unfortunately for CT, the Big Brother alliance — with a decisive swing vote courtesy of Amber B.’s partner Darrell — successfully protected Josh and, instead, sentenced Devin and Gabby to The Crater.

Still, CT was undeterred from earning his keep, even if it meant sending home Devin, one of few allies he had in the game.

Resigned to the idea that his days were likely numbered, and that it was only a matter of time before CT knocked him out of the game, Devin descended into the Crater like a deflated balloon once the elimination round was activated.

In an instant, though, everything changed. Before TJ could consult with Double Agents CT and Big T about how they planned to approach the looming duel, the Crater erupted into flashing lights and sirens, and the words “Security Breach” appeared across The Crater’s digital scoreboard.

And suddenly, all was quiet among the competitors. What did it mean? Who was at risk, and what were the stakes? What did it mean in the quest for Golden Skulls?

“Does that mean all the fellas are going down?” Cory wondered out loud. “Does that mean all the ladies are going down?”

All TJ was willing to concede was that “nothing is as it seems.”

Suffice it to say, change is coming, but the shape it takes is totally uncertain. Could this mean a reprieve for Gabby and Devin, or are they potentially in even deeper trouble? Could a double elimination be on the docket? Is a Purge on the horizon? Could Ashley join Double Agents for a third time? Share your thoughts, and be sure to check out the next Challenge episode Wednesday!



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Oral History Of The A*Teens, ABBA Cover Band That Defined Y2K Pop


By Brennan Carley

In 1998, Britney Spears traveled to Stockholm to record songs for her debut album, …Baby One More Time, with producers like Max Martin and Rami Yacoub. She was one of many stars at the time who ventured to the Swedish city to capitalize on the words and sounds of its burgeoning pop scene. Months later, at a dance school only a few miles away, a team of record label executives convened to audition a group of 100 teenagers for a project they were calling the “ABBA Teens,” an homage to Sweden’s most popular musical export.

That year, ABBA were celebrating their 25th anniversary as a group, though they hadn’t released new music in nearly two decades. Beloved by an older generation of Swedes, ABBA were known around the world for their outrageous (and tax-evading) costumes, as well as their massive hits like “Dancing Queen” and “Waterloo.” Their songs hadn’t yet been repurposed into a long-running Broadway musical, which later inspired a blockbuster movie franchise starring Meryl Streep. ABBA weren’t, for lack of a better word, cool. But the ABBA Teens were meant to change that by introducing the foursome’s hits to a new wave of music consumers: pop-savvy pre-teens discovering their taste as they came of spending age.

One name change later, the four singers chosen became the A*Teens. Their first album, The ABBA Generation, topped the charts in Sweden and sold over 2 million copies worldwide. But it was their all-originals follow-up, 2001’s Teen Spirit that broke the group in non-Swedish markets. “Bouncing off the Ceiling (Upside Down)” pierced the Billboard Hot 100 and became their biggest hit to date, catapulting the A*Teens from opening act to headliners. They toured the globe. They became Radio Disney mainstays, playing concerts across the United States with other popular early-aughts acts like the Baha Men and Aaron Carter. Teen Spirit went to No. 50 on the U.S. chart, but captured the hearts and attention of young listeners around the world.

On the surface, things seemed perfect for the foursome, but after the release of their third studio album Pop Til’ You Drop, the group quietly disbanded without much notice. Fans were treated to a Greatest Hits album in 2004 and then… silence. It took until 2006 for a member to acknowledge publicly that the A*Teens were no more; it took many more for the group to reunite as friends, ready to revisit the whiplash six years that changed their lives forever.

While ABBA has seen their own cultural resurgence in recent years due in large part to the success of the star-studded Mamma Mia! movies, the A*Teens’ impact lives on, having given early opportunities to producers and songwriters who went on to work with major talents like Avicii, Zara Larsson, and Lady Gaga. 20 years after the release of Teen Spirit, the album that crystallized that legacy, MTV News Zoomed with each member of the group as well as the creative team who helped shape them into global superstars. (Members of ABBA declined to comment.) This is the oral history of the A*Teens, a teenaged cover band not built to last that somehow overcame all expectations to become one of the most beloved and successful groups of pop’s pre-fab era.

Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance via Getty Images

In 1998, approaching the 25-year anniversary of ABBA’s official formation at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, Stockholm Records began discussing plans to celebrate while injecting new life into the Swedish group’s back catalog.

Ola Håkansson (founder, Stockholm Records): I used to work with Agnetha [Fältskog, from ABBA], so I know the members quite well. I had a company called Stockholm Records and the idea was to try to launch Swedish artists internationally. Niklas was the marketing manager, and he came up with this idea: “What if we do something with the ABBA catalog?”

Niklas Berg (marketing manager, Stockholm Records): We had a concept and we had tour dates, because we were tying it to the anniversary. I bribed this one tour sponsor. I promised them we would be No. 1 on the charts, otherwise they didn’t have to pay for it. I said to my boss, “This must work.”

Anders Johansson (A&R, Stockholm Records): We ended up trying a show school in Stockholm. We started off trying to find kids with a singing background, but a problem we have here with Swedes is that people love being successful but also comfortable. With the recording industry, being comfortable is not a good thing.

Berg: The idea was to have people 10 to 11 years old. But when we started to meet these people, we thought, “Oh you couldn’t put a 10-year-old girl on tour.” When we met Amit, Sara, Dhani, and Marie, we said, “Oh, this is much better,” because they were 14 and 15 years old.

Håkansson: We went down there with a camera and said, “We’re going to put together a group that will sing and dance ABBA music.” They sang a song a cappella. We picked out Marie, Dhani, Sara, and Amit. They could sing and they could move, and they were young and really enthusiastic.

Amit Paul (member, A*Teens): I was brought up in an academic home, but I always had music with me. I was playing the piano when I was 4, and we were always singing. My main passion came through Lasse Kühler’s dance school, where we were discovered. I joined there when I was 13 on a whim. I spent almost all my time, apart from studying, at the dance school. I quit all sports and just did that.

Sara Lumholdt (member, A*Teens): I did the choir there as well, so it was everything from ballet, tap, show dance, jazz, choir, and jitterbug. I wasn’t there for that long before we got the audition.

Dhani Lennevald (member, A*Teens): I started there when I was 7 because my older sister danced and I was like, “I don’t want to play football and hockey. Fuck that. I want to do this.” When I was 14, the head of the school called me and said, “I would like you to come next weekend. We have a little audition.”

Marie Serneholt (member, A*Teens): I’ve known since I was very young that I wanted to entertain. Our dance teacher said a record company wanted to hold a big casting for a secret project. It was just supposed to be an album, and we were going to tour in Sweden for a summer. It was not supposed to be anything bigger.

Lumholdt: There were two different auditions. On the first, I sang “The Rose” by Bette Midler. On the second, I sang “Mamma Mia.” That’s where they teamed us together. They put a song on and they’re like, “OK, dance around, have fun!” They wanted to see chemistry in the group. We had such good fun. No one really knew how big it was going to become.

Håkansson: We put together the group like The Monkees. It was not something we do in Sweden. You can’t do a Monkees here. That’s not the right thing to do.

Serneholt: When we got cast, TV shows like [American] Idol didn’t exist. We were the first group in Sweden that was cast.

Berg: We had really big plans from the start, so we had to discuss with them, “Are you prepared to be famous?” It was a stupid question. Of course they were not prepared.

Håkansson: Radio DJs remembered ABBA. But the young kids, they didn’t have a clue. They heard [A*Teens’] “Mamma Mia,” and they saw this young, nice band and said, “That’s a good thing.” But the guys at the radio said, “This is an ABBA song. I don’t want to play it.” For me, the big challenge was how to persuade the gatekeepers to give it a chance.

Berg: In April of 1999, we released “Mamma Mia,” and it went No. 1 on the chart. I think it sold 225,000 copies just in Sweden.

Lennevald: When we released it, we were called ABBA Teens. The whole concept was supposed to be ABBA, but teens that make more updated versions so the new generation can connect to it. Thanks to growing up in Sweden, you don’t think it’s impossible. “I can do this because ABBA did it.”

Serneholt: I remember when we went to the States, everyone thought that we were the kids of ABBA. A lot of the young kids didn’t know about ABBA. They heard our songs and they thought that these were original songs. They had no idea they were covers.

Berg: The name “ABBA” was owned by the record company at that time. So I talked to a guy and I said, “Could we do this? Because we are not ABBA.” He said, “Yes, but you have to talk to Björn [Ulvaeus from ABBA].” So I had a very short meeting with Björn, and he said, “Yeah, it sounds good. No problem.”

A month later, there was an article in the Swedish papers saying, “[ABBA’s] Benny Andersson: This is not OK.” And people came to me and said, “Are you stupid? How could you start ABBA without asking ABBA?” In the end, this was the perfect thing to happen because we took so much PR from ABBA that we were No. 1 on the single charts in Sweden. They all started talking about us. And we had to change the name.

Håkansson: A manager came up with the idea of A*Teens and then some dots. [I thought it was] clever, because A is a top grade in the U.S.

Serneholt: The record company felt like there could be a future for this group with original songs. Like, “We have something here.” We changed the name when we released “Super Trooper.”

L. Cohen/WireImage for Geffen Records

In 1999, just one year after their initial auditions, A*Teens released their first album, The ABBA Generation. It debuted at the top of the Swedish charts, going double platinum there and gold in the U.S.

Lumholdt: Marie and I got to go to Varberg, a small city outside Gothenburg, where we had to record the album straight away. This was in December 1998, so it was only eight weeks [after the auditions]. I still have my old folders from back then with all the text and lyrics. We recorded six songs. It was just my and Marie’s voices at first, obviously, because the ABBA songs weren’t featuring much of the boys’ singing.

Serneholt: We didn’t think; we just sang. It had a very different sound to the old ABBA songs, but we just did it. I just sang it, but a lot stronger, because they wanted it to be aggressive.

Paul: That album was really our learning process. By the time we came in, the only thing that was missing on the tracks were our voices. There was zero flexibility.

Lennevald: The ABBA songs were what they were. You don’t want to interfere too much with the creative part of it, because you’re just, like, walking into the museum in Paris and being like, “Oh, Mona Lisa needs to be repainted. I think this needs a little mustache.”

Paul: The international expansion didn’t really start until 1999. That fall, we did a performance in San Francisco in front of the Universal Group managers. It was Aqua, and then it was us, then it was S Club 7. After that, they accepted us and pushed us into the world.

Serneholt: All of a sudden, everyone wanted us. I think we had 300 travel days each year. Every day was planned. That happened so quickly, but I was so thrilled. This was my dream.

Paul: At the first show in Sweden, there were a few thousand people in this town square. Those crowds were growing. Towards the end, it was 10, 15, 17,000 people in the crowd.

Lumholdt: When we were signed up to go tour with *NSYNC, that’s when we were like, “Oh shit, this is big.” We got [Britney Spears’s dance coach] Wade Robson to do our choreography. We were kids having fun, enjoying tour, singing, dancing, traveling. No one really thought of it as a job.

Serneholt: We were sitting on a plane on our way to Chile to perform and they told us, “You guys are really big in South America.” When we landed at the airport, it was like a movie, with thousands of fans. There was a van that was riding next to us with a TV reporter hanging out the window. We had armed security day and night. I got a bit scared, because so many people were trying to grab us. I lost my shoe, and then I saw that a reporter found my shoe and held it up on the news.

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As the A*Teens became a global commodity, the pressure was on for Stockholm Records to strike while the iron was hot. In the middle of touring with acts like *NSYNC, Britney Spears, and Aaron Carter, the band began work on what would become their first all-original album, 2001’s Teen Spirit.

Håkansson: I wanted them to make another ABBA album because there were lots of songs I wanted to record. They said, “No, we want to do this thing,” because they were young. I said, “OK, fine.”

Serneholt: I think we all already knew during the first summer [of 1999] that we were going to get into the studio again to record a new album with original songs.

Johansson: To understand Teen Spirit, you have to take yourself back to Stockholm around that time, 1999 to 2000. Stockholm was booming. Everyone was in town making pop music. [Renowned producer] Denniz Pop had passed away, but Max Martin was taking it to the next level.

Paul: We were a big thing in Sweden at that time. But there wasn’t a lot of room for artistic development. You came into the studio, you delivered, and then you were out again.

Serneholt: It was a lot of fun recording it, even though we did it quite fast. Instantly when you heard “Halfway Around the World” and also “Upside Down,” you knew they were going to be singles.

Johansson: There was a lot of competition out there, so we needed to be quick. I was running around studios because I knew, “If they send that song to Nick Carter for Backstreet Boys, he’ll steal that one.” It was a really good time for pop. People call it a factory — yeah, there was a certain factory mode to it, but I think in a good way.

As far as the writing on that record, I had some briefs that I sent out. There was a camp down in southern Sweden where they came up with “Upside Down” when they played around with the Motown sound. Later on, we had “Halfway Around the World” come in, and then “Sugar Rush,” then “Firefly” — that was Marie and my favorite song. I think we cut about 20 songs.

Lennevald: That was when I started to work a lot with RedOne [who went on to produce Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance,” “Bad Romance,” and more]. We did a song with Savan Kotecha, too, one of the most talented writers I’ve ever met [who went on to work with Ariana Grande].

In 2002, the A*Teens released their third album, Pop ‘til You Drop!, in the U.S. The next year, they put out New Arrival for the international market, which recycled six Pop songs and would become their final studio album. All the while, they toured the world.

Paul: We didn’t have a lot of exposure to sex, drugs, and rock and roll. We were quite contained and protected, and one could say that’s boring, but I’m very grateful for it today. There were a couple of other Swedish acts — I don’t want to mention any names — that were signed to other labels and they were ground down into dust. There was nothing left of them when they came out of it.

Johansson: We saw that with people that we toured with. You saw it with Nick Carter. You saw it with Aaron Carter, with Beyoncé with the breakup of Destiny’s Child. And Britney, of course — we did a bunch of tours with her.

Paul: It wasn’t that she didn’t want to hang out with us. It was that there was physically no time. The way that they worked her was insane.

Lennevald: One time, me, Marie, and Sara were in Beverly Center on a day off in 2003. We walked around and then we just saw, far away, a big group of people shouting and taking pictures. We went into a store and then five minutes later, these two big guys came inside. We turned around and in came Britney. Then she saw us and was like, “…A*Teens?!” We were like, “Britney fucking recognizes us! This is amazing!”

Paul: I had braces at the time. We were touring, then I came home, and I would have two weeks for being in the studio, for doing the exams that I needed to do for high school, and for getting my braces tightened.

Lumholdt: Marie and I got feedback on our website about what we were wearing and what we look like. We didn’t have Facebook. We didn’t have social media. We had comments on our website. People were discussing whether or not we had eating disorders. Are we gaining weight? All of a sudden, it wasn’t just having fun being on tour. It just went straight from joyful to, quickly, something else.

Scott Harrison/Liaison

In 2004, the band released Greatest Hits, which contained only one new song, a cover of Nick Kamen’s “I Promised Myself.” The band quietly went on hiatus. The A*Teens’ breakup was officially announced in 2006, two years after they parted ways privately.

Lennevald: With Greatest Hits, we were all like, “Isn’t it time to move on — maybe?” We had such beautiful success. Are we really going to be that band that just forces things out? It came naturally to us to take a break.

Paul: We didn’t really grow our relationships [within the group]. We missed those years in the basement, growing together. There were some different visions, and some different incentives, and different goals.

Lumholdt: We were still doing really well. The record company didn’t want us to stop. I don’t think our parents really wanted us to stop, either — we as teenagers said, “We don’t want to do this anymore.” That didn’t come from anywhere except us. We were the ones who sat down and said, “We can’t lie anymore. We can’t pretend that we’re having a great time. Slowly, the magazines are going to realize that we’re not the same crazy, fun, happy teenagers that we were three years ago.” That’s when we decided we couldn’t go on.

Paul: This passive-aggressive silent breakup, it’s a really Swedish conflict-avoiding way of dealing with it.

Serneholt: We got to be part of the music industry when it was really blooming, and you would sell records. But we also were part of the record industry going down. You could feel at the end that it’s not as fun working in this industry. It had changed a lot.

Johansson: By the third album, it was pretty clear that they wanted to go do other things. Times were changing. [Justin] Timberlake was teaming up with Pharrell and Timbaland. The sounds were so different. As in every big trend, it’s pretty clear once it passes the expiration date.

Lennevald: There wasn’t ever a fight. In that way, A*Teens must have been the most boring band ever. People really wanted to angle it like, “Oh yeah, they’re splitting up. They’re arguing.” We’re like, “No, it’s fine. Call it quitting, or that we’re taking a break.”

Paul: It was such an intense period. Getting spit out on the other end was interesting. I refer to it as the best and the worst time of my life.

Serneholt: I lived with my parents and I didn’t move out until a few years after we ended A*Teens, when I was 25. I just wanted to land a little bit and spend time with my family because we were away so much.

Lumholdt: We were four kids that had grown apart within six years. We started off being best friends, but there wasn’t any time for us to be creative. We were a product. We performed, we interviewed, we did what we needed to do to get the CDs and tours sold and booked. That’s it.

Paul: Coming out of that whole thing was… There were so many gifts. Now that I have two kids, it’s a different life. The last few years, [A*Teens] has been starting to come up again and I’ve been dealing with it. Some of the imprints that it’s made on me as an individual have started to feel urgent to look at it.

Lumholdt: When we finished, I wasn’t ill, but I had really bad health. I was only 20 and I had the body of a 45-year-old. It was a lot of work, travel, and bad eating habits. My God, we ate McDonald’s I-don’t-know-how-many times a week. I had to write my will and testament in the same week as I got my health checked and it was kind of like, “Wait, what? I’m 20 years old and I’m dying.” [Afterwards,] I got a dog. I got my own apartment. I moved away from the city. I had to push the stop button.

Håkansson: I think that they should have done another. We had another fantastic record that we could do with ABBA songs. But I think when they look back, they say, “This was a fantastic experience.” It was a good ending of the story for me as well.

Wiebke Langefeld/picture alliance via Getty Images

After parting ways, all four members eventually returned to music, but only one remains in the industry today.

Lumholdt: I went to Los Angeles. I tried to do [music with the stage name] Sara Love, which was a really fun journey. A lot of those songs, they’re still my favorites, and they’re unreleased. I went to Stockholm Records with my demos. They didn’t want it because it was like Lady Gaga, and that was before Lady Gaga was famous. I came up with [the song] “Glamour Bitch,” and they were like, “No, it’s never going to work.”

I had a great record — 10 amazing songs. I would definitely release them if I would find them because that’s the problem now: I don’t even know where they are. I tried again in 2012, for Melodifestivalen [Sweden’s version of Eurovision]. It wasn’t just me singing on the stage; it was more for proving that I was worthy of being a part of the pop group.

I didn’t have any interest in doing more. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. But I’m really happy I got the opportunity because if I wouldn’t have done that, I would probably not be as confident and comfortable as I am today. That made me realize that I’ve done my part. I don’t need to do more music. I don’t need to prove anything.

Lennevald: Because I had been in the studio experimenting with producers, I thought it was so much fun. I was the biggest Justin Timberlake fan. That was the direction I wanted to go. Anders came to me and was like, “We have this opportunity with Sony. They’re going to release MP3 players trying to fight with the iPod.” That’s how long ago it was. “Let’s put out a single with them that comes with the first 10,000 units.” We found a song called “Girl Talk.” I wasn’t super happy about it, but Anders was like, “This is such a good opportunity for you for the exposure.”

Since then, I’ve started working with different artists. Carl Falk and I did the Stories album with Avicii in 2015. We went to L.A. and helped him finish it. By then, I had started developing an artist called Sandro Cavazza. Sandro sang on two songs on Stories. It was just such a great moment for us as music creators. I’m working on my own music now, too, as Dhani, and I have another project called DHARC. That’s all coming this year.

Paul: I joined business school. I jumped straight into that. After a couple of years, I ended up going back into the studio and recording my own thing and, frankly, getting a classical lesson in what it is the record companies actually do. Coming in thinking it’s all about the art, and coming out thinking, “OK, the art’s done but nobody cares.” That was an extremely painful process and also a fantastic learning experience. The songs A Key Of Mine that I released, I’m super proud of them.

Serneholt: I would have probably never gotten the opportunity to do something solo if it wasn’t for A*Teens. I got in contact with [songwriter] Jörgen Elofsson, because I knew what he had done for other artists [like Britney and Céline Dion]. I was hoping to get one song from him, but he really believed in me and wanted to make the whole project together. He made the whole Enjoy the Ride album for me.

I did the solo record, but then I got approached to do TV as a presenter. I’ve been doing that for the past 10 years. The last music I released was in 2012, when I was part of Melodifestivalen. I don’t really miss it. I love to entertain, and I get to entertain when I do what I do now.

Though they’ve never reunited as A*Teens, all four members have kept in touch, meeting for important life moments and the occasional dinner in Stockholm when their calendars align.

Serneholt: I have the A*Teens dolls still. I have some T-shirts from when it says “ABBA Teens,” the really early ones. That was so weird that we had dolls.

Lennevald: We said, “Let’s meet twice a year.” But that never happened. But we have a group chat on WhatsApp to be like, “OK, guys, when can you meet?” Now everybody has kids except me.

Johansson: [I said to them in the beginning,] “If you want to do this for a long time, you have to be best friends. You don’t have to be best friends all the time, but you really have to get along and complement each other.” I’m actually really proud when I’m looking at the four individuals today because they’re really good people.

Paul: In Sweden we say, “You don’t become a prophet in your own country.” ABBA was big, but if you compare it to the United Kingdom’s response to ABBA, Sweden was nothing. There was barely any interest at all. I think we started the revival. We came up alongside this whole Mamma Mia! musical and movies, and then it took off again. I think we laid the groundwork.

Håkansson: I remember every nice thing. I think it was a really fun time to do it. And I think they were absolutely fantastic as people and as artists.

Paul: Sara and I have always had a close bond. I went to her wedding. Every now and then, we all do group dinners, but it’s infrequent. On a spiritual level, on a fundamental level, I feel very close to Sara, and both Marie and Dhani. They’re very dear to me. I love them.

ryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance via Getty Images

Lumholdt: I love the thought of reuniting. I would say yes. If someone gave me a phone call and said, Hey, we want a reunion tour,” I’ll be like, “Fuck yeah.”

Lennevald: It just depends on the actual occasion, you know? If it’s for a good cause, then I would do it too, in a heartbeat.

Paul: If it is for charity, for the planet, for the world? In a minute, I’d be there.

Serneholt: If we were asked to present an award, of course I would be up for that.

Lennevald: From the A*Teens, I learned you can do anything. When we were rehearsing for the Britney tour, we were standing there with the biggest people in the business and I came from a small little dance school in Stockholm — like, what? There must be 1 billion people that can sing and dance better than I can, but it’s not about that. It’s about working hard.





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The Challenge To Feature Iconic All-Stars On Brand-New Paramount+ Series



Welcome back, Mark, Trishelle, Syrus, Beth, Ruthie and Big Easy.

The Challenge: All Stars, coming soon to ViacomCBS’ highly anticipated streaming service Paramount+, will feature 22 of the most iconic, bold, and fierce Challenge players to compete on MTV’s long-running series. The men and women will hail from The Real World and Road Rules, and these recognizable names have been selected to return for a second chance at the ultimate competition.

The players have history, but when relationships are the key to survival in this game, will these legends be able to form new bonds and alliances? Or will their pasts lead to their demise? With $500,0000 and their legacies on the line, which of these All Stars will prove they are still the best of the best?

In the teaser video above, six monikers are etched on a Challenge helmet. There are champions, finalists and, of course, veterans. Now we need the rest of the lineup…

And speaking of Real World‘s sister show: Road Rules is also returning to Paramount+ — with a new roaster of Road Warriors.

More on RR: These strangers will be abandoned in a far-flung location and stripped of their modern day luxuries by beginning a restricted life in an RV, traveling from location to location. They will be guided by a set of clues, odd jobs, and missions for money. If they last to the end of the trip, they walk away “rewarded…handsomely” with a life-changing prize.

Stay with MTV News for more updates about The Challenge: All Stars and Road Rules, coming soon to Paramount+!



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