Billboard Cover: Camila Cabello Is Miss Movin’ On

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Really proud of how this came out. I met Camila Cabello about the time I started writing with Billboard, late 2014, and was immediately impressed (duh) by both her and her Fifth Harmony bandmates. Then last year I got to write the 5H Billboard cover, which found them on top of the world professionally, but in a heavy shared personal space with much of the enthusiasm and warmth I first saw in them clearly absent. Now, Camila has her spark back, even if her old friends want nothing to do with her, as she plunges headlong into a solo career that seems destined to take off. The supporting cast in this story includes Cabello’s mom Sinu, the ever-adorable Shawn Mendes, producers Pop Wansel and Frank Dukes and Epic Records CEO L.A. Reid. Also, this marks the debut of the magazine’s gorgeous new online features format. Erm, dive in!

Billboard Cover: Musical.ly’s Teenage Revolution

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I’ll level with you. I interviewed 14 people about this Musical.ly app—an international cast of adults (China, Germany, Russia, America), four tween/teen idols, a couple venture capitalists, representatives from three major labels, and my first Billboard cover subject Jason Derulo—and I’m still all “kids these days” about it, plus would have a hard time explaining in fewer than 3,000 words what Musical.ly is and why it has the music and tech industries scrambling for answers. But they are, and the answers are in this story about a lip-synch app turned revolution.

Billboard Cover: The Chainsmokers’ Brotacular Rise

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Someone get National Lampoon on the line—it’s time to reboot Animal House with a fraternity full of tech-savvy DJs. I want points on the deal, not just for the concept, but for this pitch-in-cover-story-form for the movie’s leading men: Drew Taggart (left) and Alex Pall (right) of the Chainsmokers, a pair of (mostly) lovable self-described “frat bro dudes” who are dominating music right now. Their song with Halsey, “Closer,” is breaking chart records, but who are these guys and where did they come from? The answer to that question may reveal a new artist archetype. Read on to learn more, and also to see what Steve Aoki has to say about it.

Complex Profile: Mac Miller Is in Love… With Trees

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Have you ever gotten “contact” caffeinated? Hang with Mac Miller long enough and it’ll happen. The man’s chosen poison these days is eight espresso shots over ice. I get jittery thinking about the fact that he threw back two of those in our time together. Malcolm is a good dude, and he’s working on being an even better one: singing sweet love songs on his solid new Divine Feminine LP, leaving behind the drugs and booze for real this time, and getting outdoors more. Just look at him up there—he couldn’t be happier. Oh, and also, he’s clearly super duper head-over-heels for my former cover subject, Ariana Grande. This is a fun one, and my Complex debut.

Billboard Cover: Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato, BFFs

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It’s not what you think. Those two up there? They might be music’s greatest power couple that isn’t actually a couple. Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato have been best friends since they were tiny tots entering the Disneysphere together, through several tours with the Jonas Brothers, and up to this exact moment in time, which finds them not only slaying arenas, but running a business together. Plus sharing advice about relationships (her to him: “Go get laid,” essentially) and looking out for each other (him on her: “I’m never ever drunk around Demi”). Also, peep the related standalone interviews with Joe Jonas, Island CEO David Massey, and Brad Paisley.

Billboard Cover: Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Year

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I went to Ariana Grande’s home in order to figure out exactly who the big voice with the small frame actually is. Turned out I was out of luck: She had zero decor in her Benedict Canyon digs, and was both perfectly pleasant and personally elusive. But that’s sort of the story. Herein we meet Chairwoman Grande, Ariana from Boca, and a latex-adorned heroine/villain named Super Bunny, all of which dwell behind the Chanel shades seen above. See you at Whole Foods…

Billboard Cover: Surviving Pop with Fifth Harmony

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In which I make Fifth Harmony cry, and try to patch it up with a trip to the froyo shop (spoiler: birthday cake flavor heals all wounds). I had the chance to interview these five for a smaller introductory Billboard piece just 14 months before (among my first for the mag), and now they (we!) are on the cover. RIYL an honest-to-god window into all the weird anguish that comes with being thrust into an ultimately impossible situation—which is to say, a girl group in 2016.

Billboard Cover: Zayn Malik’s Own Direction

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At last, proof that a Zayn Malik does indeed sh-t in the woods (and maybe the One Direction bed a little bit too). What do you do when you quit one of the biggest boy bands the world’s ever seen? You go home, back to Northern England, to steel yourself on mom’s cooking before buying a house in Bel Air and getting to work on your solo alt-R&B career. Also, you go camping with Frank Ocean’s favorite producer and record out among the trees.

Billboard Cover: Lady Gaga Is Woman of the Year

 

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Lady Gaga had me over to her beachside Malibu palace to play some new songs on her old piano and chitchat a lil’ about being crowned Billboard’s Woman of the Year. Click through to read about how she bet big on her own talents, poured her rage into American Horror Story: Hotel, and did whatever it took to save herself from becoming, in her words, a “fashionable robot.” With input from Tony Bennett, Ryan Murphy, Diane Warren, and Matt Bomer.

Billboard Cover: The Rebirth of Justin Bieber

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Justin Bieber took me to church. Literally. It wasn’t part of the plan. All he promised was a 60-minute interview. Instead we talked for 90, went to dinner, then walked over to a Beverly Hills hotel for a sermon. Before you ask, the kid’s all right. He’s working on him, and the music is better than ever, but all that’s in the story, along with input from Big Sean, Skrillex, Scooter, Poo Bear, and, yes, his pastor. Read why, in Justin’s words, he “wouldn’t suggest being a child star.”

Also, peep the photo gallery featuring more awesome shots by Zooey Grossman.