deep blue demi

photographed by marvin scott jarrett

read our entire cover story online now!

What better way to say goodbye to January than to read our entire cover story with Demi Lovato online right now? From her aspirations to be the next Oprah to her future memoir and singing career, Lovato opens up about her dreams and her past with writer Kate Williams. So keep reading, folks, this is a good one. 

It's the golden hour in Los Angeles, when the sun sets while palm tree silhouettes blacken against a pink sky. In the more picturesque neighborhoods, every boulevard could belong on a postcard, but the corner of downtown where Demi Lovato is shooting her "Neon Lights" video is not so scenic. Although the streets are lined with no-parking signs, some cars appear to have been left there for months: a station wagon with busted windows, a sedan with the door permanently ajar and long-forgotten clothes piled in the backseat. The air smells like weed, or skunk, or maybe both. But walking through the plastic-sheathed doorway of the brick warehouse where Lovato is filming, all signs of decay vanish. Assistants, cameramen, and stylists swarm over and under electrical wires and through wardrobe rolling racks, while a visibly harried P.A. weaves his way through the crowd balancing a tray of coffees: iced, hot, espresso, and a chocolately concoction topped with whipped cream. At the center of it all, on a mirrored stage, is a camera-ready Lovato. The music blasts, and she begins another take, jumping up and down and pumping her fist to the chorus. Her neon blue hair, fucshia lips, and lime green nails glow under black lights. The director observes the monitors and yells, "Yeah, Demi!" to no one in particular, while backup dancers clap and cheer. When the take wraps, Lovato sticks her tongue out at the camera and pulls a strand of hair out of her lipstick.

Lovato's clan--mom, dad, sisters, family friends--hovers around the set, a swarm of Uggs and Louis Vuitton bags and Texan hospitality. Although chairs abound, Lovato's mom, Dianna De La Garza, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, refuses to sit, seemingly convinced that someone will come along who deserves a seat much more than she does. The group also consists of stepdad Eddie De La Garza, who served as Demi's manager when she was a teen, older sister Dallas Lovato, in a rainbow raver wig and sequins, and 11-year-old younger sister Madison De La Garza, an actress who is on break from filming the new CBS series Bad Teacher, based on the Cameron Diaz movie. Combined, Lovato's immediate family has 1.2 million Twitter followers; everyone but Eddie is verified. 

Lovato walks offstage and swaps her four-inch heels for a pair of flip-flops before heading my way with a publicist. "You're going to make me look really cool, right?" she teases. This exchange is overheard by one of Lovato's friends, who shakes his head in mock disagreement. "Really, she's not," he says, wrapping her in a hug. She groans and returns the embrace.  

"I love all of it, or else I wouldn't do it."

Pleasantries aside, this is not a good time to talk, so Lovato invites me over to her apartment a few days later. In it, there are many things about the modern high-rise that prove she is, as the tabloids say, "just like us": grocery bags half-unpacked in the kitchen, blankets thrown on chairs, pink walls, and an imposing rendering of Marilyn Monroe. There are also many things that prove she is not: an oil painting depicting her appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, a Teen Choice Award in the kitchen, an elevator that deposits guests directly into the foyer. 

"Don't judge me!" Lovato calls from down a dark hallway, then emerges mid-beautification wearing a blue face mask. She flies to New York early in the morning, so she's trying to cram in as much pampering as she can in the few hours she has off. The chiropractic masseuse has just left--I passed her on my way in.

This multitasking is a fact of life. Last March, "Heart Attack," the first single off her fourth album, Demi, debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went double platinum in the U.S. and Canada, establishing Lovato, previously best known for her stints on the Disney Channel, a global tour with the Jonas Brothers, and a well-trodden rehab-to-redemption story line in her personal life, as a musical force. Meanwhile, she's sparring with Simon Cowell as a judge on The X Factor and has a recurring role on Glee. Then there's the capsule collection of nail art for The New Black, and even a recently released book called Staying Strong 365 Days a Year. In February, she will headline her first arena tour. When you've got more than 50 million fans on social media (20 million on Twitter, 25 million on Facebook, 4 million on VEVO, 3 million on Instagram, 500,000 on Keek), you can't start slacking.

"I had been in talks to write a book about my story, but I'm not ready. I'm so young, and I haven't finished my journey yet."

Lovato settles into a plush purple velvet chair, and a colorist starts painting her locks with blue and green shades of Manic Panic. "I love all of it, or else I wouldn't do it," she says of her many projects. "I look at my life and think, ‘There's not enough time.' I co-directed my last two videos, and I have this dream of being behind the camera and maybe one day directing my own movie. I want to host my own talk show and be a younger Oprah. I want to write songs for other artists. I want to be an author. I want my own makeup line, and my own skincare line. I want to do a lot more philanthropy work, and for a while there I thought I wanted to go to law school." Law school? She laughs. "Yeah, I love crime dramas. I thought maybe I'd go if I had a kid. You know, part-time law student, part-time new mother? It makes no sense whatsoever." She's also interested in politics. "I like knowing what goes on in the world," she explains. "Most people don't know that about me, and then they're shocked to hear me talk. Like, ‘How do you know that?' Duh--CNN!"

Staying Strong is the reason for tomorrow's trip to New York, where she will promote the book on the talk show circuit. It's a collection of inspirational quotes and daily meditations, inspired in part by her tendency to tweet maxims late at night, such as: "I'd rather feel every kind of emotion than not feel at all."

"People would be like, ‘Are you high?'" she says with a laugh, leaning back in her chair. "But my mind just races--I'm always coming up with quotes or sayings I want to write down. I had been in talks to write a book about my story, but I'm not ready. I'm so young, and I haven't finished my journey yet. But my fans would always ask things like, ‘Once you've tackled your problems, how do you keep working on them?' Part of my recovery was making sure that I started the day off right, so I would read a quote and a passage, and that would set the intention for the day."

By now, Lovato's grappling with eating disorders, depression, self-harm, and addiction are as much a part of her story as the fact that her career started with a role on Barney and Friends alongside Selena Gomez. Post-Barney, she starred in Disney's Camp Rock and Sonny With a Chance after being discovered at an open casting call. She released her first album, Don't Forget, in 2008 and also toured as the opening act for both the Jonas Brothers and Avril Lavigne that same year. In 2010, after having a physical altercation with a backup dancer on a plane returning from Peru, Lovato checked into rehab. 

"My parents tried to control me, but I'd be like, ‘Oh, really, I'm grounded? Well, I pay the bills,'" she says. "They did the best they could. And I think that's why a lot of young stars struggle when they're making the money or providing for their family. My mentality was, ‘Work hard, play hard.' It was hard to listen to the word ‘no.' I wanted to make my own rules. I thought that if I was adult enough to get there, then I could party like an adult," she says. "And obviously, I couldn't."

While at rehab, Lovato was diagnosed as bipolar, and when she moved out, she chose to stay in a sober living facility. From the outset, she's copped to everything on talk shows and in interviews; her first post-rehab tour was the subject of an MTV documentary.  

"It was hard to listen to the word ‘no.' I wanted to make my own rules."

"When I went into rehab, I deleted my Twitter," she says. "I just didn't want to face anything. My parents came to visit, and I asked if people knew yet, and they said, ‘Yeah, it's everywhere.' And they were like, ‘How do you want to handle this? We can say it's a personal time and we don't have to tell them what you're in here for, or we can just be 100 percent honest and show them that you can get through it and other people can get through it, too.'"

Earlier this year, Lovato was given an award in Washington, D.C., as part of National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, and she also partnered with CASTRecovery Services, where she received care, to establish the Lovato Treatment Scholarship to honor her biological father, who passed away in June after suffering for years from mental health and addiction issues. "I went through an entire life without my birth dad because I assumed that he was a bad guy and never took into consideration, even after I went through my stuff, that he was just ill," she says. "And I thought, well, maybe this can save somebody's dad."

But still, she says, "I would like to separate myself from being the girl who overcame her issues, or the Disney chick who ended up in rehab while she was still on Disney. I don't want people to hear my songs on the radio and be like, ‘Oh, that's the girl who cut.' Now I have probably the best relationship between any artist and their fans, because I have no secrets." 

Lovato catches a glimpse of herself in the window. Her hair has now been totally saturated with dye, and the face mask is dry and cracking. "That," she says, pointing at her reflection, "is frightening." She continues, "The only thing that sucks about being in the public eye is doing some appearances. I don't like award shows. Sometimes, a fan will come up and automatically put their arms around me and I just shut down and start hyperventilating. I don't want to sound like a dick or a diva, but I really do have anxiety problems. If I get stuck in a crowd, I'll start to think, ‘Oh my God, I'm going to die. Something's going to go wrong and someone's going to stab me.' There was a time when people started trying to kiss me, or creeps would buy backstage passes and reach for my face and try to make out with me. That was completely violating, and ever since then, I always fear what someone is going to do when they come up to me." 

Though Lovato has just recently turned 21, she gives off the air of an adult, and in many ways, she has always been one. She remembers wanting her own place at five years old. "I was best friends with my Aunt Lisa, and she had her own apartment, and I liked spending time with her, not my friends at school," she recalls. "So I asked if I could move in with her. My mom was like, ‘What? You're still sucking your thumb, for Christ's sake!'" That same year, Lovato sang in front of others for the first time, and there was no going back. "It wasn't even like it was a revelation or anything. It was just like, ‘This is how it's going to be.'"

"I would like to separate myself from being the girl who overcame her issues, or the Disney chick who ended up in rehab while she was still on Disney."

Her confidence has made her a perfect fit for The X Factor, where she's the youngest judge by 11 years. "It's definitely intimidating," she says. "I was like, ‘What if I sound like an idiot up there?' But my manager was like, ‘They didn't offer it to you because they thought you'd sound like an idiot. You might as well just go for it.' I told myself I was going to just go up there and do me, so that's what I did." 

Now in her second season, Lovato has proved herself the perfect foil to Cowell's carefully honed curmudgeon: faking a British accent when she needs to deliver criticism, and never missing an opportunity to call out their three-decade age difference. "When I first saw Demi a couple of years ago, I thought she'd be interesting to work with because of what she's been through, coming through the whole Disney system, being a bit of a rebel, and also a very marketable artist. People like that are always going to be what I call ‘lippy,'" says Cowell. "One of the things I really like about Demi is that she's been in the business since she was very young, and she has had her ups and downs, but she's always been very open and honest about her experiences and she's turned negatives into positives in both her life and her career. She is one of the most ambitious people I have ever met. She can do whatever she puts her mind to, and most important, she's very talented." And, he adds sarcastically, "She's a total brat." 

Naya Rivera, whom Lovato locked lips with on Glee ("It tasted like talent," Rivera memorably said), echoes Cowell's praise. "We were going through a tough time after having to film that third episode," remembers Rivera, referring to the tribute to Cory Monteith. "So the mood was down, and when she came on it was just like having a new friend and she brought a light and energy to the set."

Lovato is a relentless optimist, and while she doesn't linger too long on her wounds, she is willing to expound a bit on her tattoos. They're found on every part of her body, but she can't, or won't, name an exact number. "It's so confusing, so I just say I don't know," she says, flipping over her wrists to reveal the mantra "Stay Strong." The words were inked over cutting scars. "When I was on the Disney Channel, I wanted to get my nose pierced in the middle, so that I could flip it up during filming, and flip it down at night to let the wild child side come out," she says. "Turns out, I didn't need the nose ring."

Dragonfire can't melt steel memes

I'm not quite ready to talk about the amount of time I wasted hoping Game of Thrones would live up to its drawn out hype with the series finale, but I am ready to dive into all the memery that came out of the disappointment. And I'm not alone: Maisie Williams—aka Arya Stark—summed up what we were all thinking in one single tweet: "just here for the memes."

After Daenerys had almost as lackluster a death as Cersei, dying with a quick stab wound, it was pretty clear that it would all be downhill. But hey, at least she's reunited with her BFFs Missandei and Jorah in the afterlife.

That opened up the question of who exactly would be king or queen of the seven kingdoms. Poor precious Samwell thinks we should try democracy, but it's not Game of Popular Vote, it's Game of Thrones.

Apparently, everyone at this point had totally forgotten about the fact that Jon Snow actually was a Targaryen, and the rightful heir to the throne. All the characters who, up until this point in the season, had been obsessed with this fact totally pretended it never happened, and never considered him for the new ruler because he... killed the mad queen.

So what do they do? Choose the one person who always said they never wanted throne and that he never even wanted anything: Bran Stark. Arya didn't save everyone's ass from the Night King to be disrespected like this!

And, with all his pre-existing knowledge and newfound power, Bran still just chilled in his chair. Arya is going into uncharted waters, no idea what danger lies ahead? Nah, don't share the information you have on it. Jon is sent off to the Watchers on the Wall just as his younger brother gains absolute power? Forget about pardoning him, Bran doesn't care.

And who would've guessed that Ser Brienne of Tarth would just go and become a blogger, writing anonymous glowing messages about the dude that screwed her over. I'm not a huge fan of the editorial decisions she made while finishing Jaime's story, but I am a fan of the memes made out of the scene.

And back to Jon Snow: All this potential, all this hype on his real name, and once he kills Dany he's shipped off to the Night's Watch like a sad, discarded puppy. There's not even a real reason for the Night's Watch anymore, so he's basically just being sent off to be out of sight, out of mind, for the rest of time.

But hey, at least they finally made right with Ghost. The goodest boy in all of the Seven... or, rather, Six Kingdoms deserved all the pats, and he finally got them when he was reunited with Jon in the North. It almost made me forget all the nonsense that happened throughout the rest of the episode... almost.

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Our favorite collections from 2019's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia

It's hard not to love Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, an annual exhibition of some of the best in resort dressing, that has Sydney's various cityscapes and beaches serving as its backdrop. For five days, we hopped all over the Australian city to check out the Resort 2020 collections from some of Australia's most established designers and emerging newcomers through an assortment of runway shows, presentations, and parties. The result? An extravagant display of beach-ready fashion, elevated streetwear, and signature Australian style.

For those of you not familiar with the resort season—sometimes referred to as cruise or holiday—it's the in-between seasonal offerings of summer garb that typically hits stores in time for the winter months (you know, right about when we're ready to take those vacations we've been dreaming about). And while we're gearing up to head into summer over in America, these collections also serve as the perfect inspiration for warm-weather dressing—even if we won't be seeing them hit stores until much later this year.

From Aussie staples like Double Rainbouu and Alice McCall to emerging brands like P.E Nation, we rounded up the best Aussie collections we saw this week. Take a closer look at each of them, below.


Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia kicked off with a bang, the bang being Aje and its glorious Bloomscape collection. Whimsical pieces inspired by the native flora and natural landscape of Australia made their way down the runway, from billowing, sculptural dresses with hand-painted floral prints to rugged, masculine tailoring inspired by the soil, the trees, and the nation's rocky wonders.

Alice McCall

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Alice McCall has been a longtime favorite in the U.S., known for its whimsical and quirky pieces that never skimp on sequins, feathers, and tulle. For Resort 2020, McCall was inspired by the treasures once found in her mother's "dress-up box" of the late '70s, creating her own take on vintage silhouettes but modernizing them and making them new. The result? Romantic, feminine, and glitzy pieces that are sure to turn heads.

Hansen and Gretel

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Good news for anyone who's into the whole sea nymph thing: This trend is not going anywhere, anytime soon, according to label Hansen and Gretel. The Aussie brand's Resort 2020 collection, Venus, celebrated femininity and womanhood while nodding to this very trend with seashell knit crop tops, slinky slips, pastel summer knits, and plenty of shimmery pearlescent fabrics.

Lee Mathew

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Lee Mathews Resort 2020 runway show was a special one: a celebration of the brand's 20th year. And, with that came a retrospective collection taking inspiration from the brand's archives over the past two decades. The collection presented the perfect mix of feminine and tomboyish pieces, mixed and matched and layered with extravagance. Ruffled, tulle skirts were paired with tailored shirting, while in-your-face prints such as polka dots, brush strokes, and bold stripes were used throughout, showing up on flowing silk dresses and structured, oversized shirting and separates.

Bondi Born

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Resort 2020 saw Bondi Born, the ever-chic sustainable swimwear line based in Sydney, debut its first full resort capsule collection. The brand saw its sustainably produced fabrics take the form of knotted and bow-adorned swimwear, breezy seaside dresses and separates, and clean, simple eveningwear—all stunningly timeless, surpassing fashion trends and to be worn for seasons to come.

Double Rainbouu

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

In just a few short years, everybody's favorite Hawaiian shirt brand Double Rainbouu has grown beyond its playful shirting assortment with apparel, accessories, and more. For Resort 2020, design duo Mike Nolan and Toby Jones were inspired by the hippie travelers of the '60s and '70s, and a utopia where all creatures live together harmoniously. Set in Sydney's gorgeous Chinese Garden of Friendship, the brand's show featured model "tourists" who wore worldly prints, hippie tie-dyes, and plenty of linen alongside colorful zebra prints, sporty polos, chambray jumpsuits, and classic hoodies, making for a playfully diverse, yet wearable, collection.

P.E Nation

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

This season saw emerging Aussie label P.E. Nation present its first solo runway show, Physical Education, for Resort 2020. The brand took its signature spin on sporty '90s activewear and elevated it, incorporating bold, oversized silhouettes, denim, and all of the bold neons we covet. Bonus? The brand announced a killer new collab with Speedo, presenting its vintage-inspired swimwear at the very end of the show. Even bigger bonus? The brand's been upping its sustainability efforts, debuting its first-ever recycled active set, using recycled yarns and organic cotton. It will also be moving to biodegradable packaging by July.

Leo & Lin

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

One of our favorite collection this season came courtesy of Leo & Lin. Celebrating the designer's love of history, the romantic "Imperial" collection was a nod at both ancient Rome and the Victorian era, which saw sweeping, bulb-sleeved and high-necked floral dresses and suiting walking alongside flowing, draped Roman-inspired frocks. A modern flair was also sprinkled in, seen in the form of vinyl trench coats and fishnet fabrics.

Ten Pieces

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

One of the most buzzed about shows this season was Ten Pieces, the contemporary sportswear collection born from the collaboration between founders Maurice Terzini and Lucy Hinckfuss and designer Allan Marshall. For Resort 2020, Terzini was inspired by his time as a teen in Italy in the late '70s and the disco freak era. A bit punky, a bit hippie, and set in the drained pool of Sydney's iconic Icebergs Club with Bondi Beach as its backdrop, the collection's sporty streetwear pieces—unisex, and meant to be mixed, matched, and layered to its wearer's delight—felt more apt for the beach than a bustling city.

Photo by Ari Perilstein/Getty Images for ASCAP

"It makes my ears fucking steam out of my head"

Billie Eilish isn't taking Alabama's abortion ban lightly. Speaking to Variety, the singer said that she has "no words for the bitches in the fucking White House." She continued: "Honestly, I can't even look at my phone," because the news is always so distressing.

Eilish doesn't call out any legislators specifically, but she doesn't have to in order to get her point across, namely, that it's outrageous that people don't get to have control over their own bodies. "It's so unbelievable," Eilish said. "It makes me, like, red. It makes my ears fucking steam out of my head. Women should say, should do, and feel, and be exactly what they want."

"There should be nobody else telling them how to live their life, how to do shit…" she continued. "It just makes me so mad that if I start talking about it, I won't stop." Eilish did conclude though with this simple, powerful statement: "Men should not make women's choices—that's all I have to say."

If you want to help the people who will be affected by the restrictive abortion bans that the "bitches in the fucking White House" are doing nothing about, these organizations could use your help.

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We talk to the pop star about her past, present, and future—and why she spoke out against R. Kelly

JoJo has been through it. Any casual music listener who lived through the 2000s knows what I'm talking about. The singer shot to instant stardom in 2004 with iconic hit "Leave (Get Out)" and released two albums, a self-titled debut and The High Road, which ended up being a fitting description of the journey she was forced to take.

Soon after, Blackground Records refrained from releasing JoJo's third album, resulting in a near decade-long period when she could only put out infrequent singles and mixtapes. She filed a lawsuit against the label in 2013, claiming that her contract was no longer valid under New York law, and when she was freed, her albums were taken off iTunes and streaming services, denying JoJo and her collaborators future earnings and disabling fans from accessing their beloved music. She was finally able to release her third album, Mad Love, in 2016, but there was still a huge part of her career that virtually disappeared—until she took matters into her own hands.

Late last year—on her 28th birthday, no less—JoJo surprised us by revealing that she re-recorded her first two albums and released them online for fans to enjoy once again. It was both the end of a chapter that needed to be closed long ago, and one of the most powerful moves by an artist in the music industry, especially a woman like JoJo who has dealt with a level of power struggles and politics we could only imagine. Below, she opens up about the process of this remarkable venture, her newfound freedom, and her next step.

How did you decide that re-recording these two albums was the right move?
My options were pretty limited. Since I had gotten out of that contract with Blackground, I just realized that I didn't want to reopen anything by trying to have any interaction with them. So I saw what my legal options were and that was to completely recreate these albums and basically cover myself.

How long did that process take? Take me through the process of basically putting everything back together.
My managers and I had been talking about it because we saw it in my comments on Twitter and Instagram a lot, and I just hate feeling helpless. When I saw that there was this demand from my fans of wanting to listen to the first two albums, we called my lawyer and saw what could be done legally from that perspective, and then we just started to brainstorm as to how we could recreate the tracks. I came to the conclusion that what my fans wanted was the nostalgia of the first two albums, of how they found it in 2004 and 2006, so we tried to keep it pretty true to that. The process took, I would say, nine months, from the first phone call to calling my musical directors and have them start the recreation of the tracks, sending them the YouTube link so they could refer back to the original songs, because that's what we had. I didn't have a physical copy of the first two albums.

Were there any songs that you were especially emotional about or ones you connected with when you revisited them?
I definitely got emotional re-cutting a lot of them, particularly "Keep On Keeping On," which I wrote when I was 12. That was one of the first songs that I ever recorded that I had written completely by myself. Just to go back and take in the lyrics that I had written then, it's just still a message that I need to hear. It was just emotional being like, Damn, my little 12-year-old self was an old soul. It was emotional redoing all of them for different reasons because I remembered those sessions so vividly. Especially with remaking "Leave (Get Out)," "Too Little, Too Late," and "Baby It's You," I was definitely freaking myself out with trying to stay true to them but also realizing that I'm a grown person now. I was intimidated by having to hit some of the notes that I hit when I was 12 and 14, like on "Too Little, Too Late," because I'm a different singer, your voice changes as you grow. That made me a little bit anxious [but] I just did it.

You recently spoke out about R. Kelly on Twitter and said you heard stories when you were younger and that people you worked with were also working with him. How did hearing this affect you at such a young age?
To be honest, the way that it was being spoken about in the studio normalized it. I'm looking back on it and realizing how perverse the stories that I was hearing were, about how he'd always have young girls around, how he'd be waiting outside of high schools or he'd be hanging out at the McDonald's. I didn't realize since I was so, so young how very much fucked up that is. He really was just in plain sight being a predator. I was such a huge fan of his. I mean his music is incredible, but at this point, there's just no fucking way to separate him from his crime, and it's just wild. It's just wild that he got away with it for so long, but I think we're in a new era of accountability and transparency and I just think it's definitely about time. But in my comment section, it was like, "Okay, so if you've heard these stories, then why didn't you come forward or say something?" I was a kid when I heard these stories, and I certainly didn't know what to do. I didn't even know how to follow that thought all the way through.

I wanted to talk about the new album you're currently working on. Is there a the direction you're going for?
I want to go back to what comes naturally to me which is R&B, but I think I could care less about genres. I just want to make dope music and release it, whether it's all in one album, one song at a time, however that may be. I'm being super choosy and making a bunch of songs and then narrowing it down from there. I've never been more excited about the music that I'm making. It feels really great, and I think a part of that has to do with closing that chapter of the first two albums, with anything that I did from that time of my career. Now I can move forward and just really be challenged and keep growing and breaking myself down and putting myself back together with the help of my collaborators. It's interesting.

Is your attitude about freedom influenced by the music climate and streaming today? The music world has changed so much since when you debuted.
I guess, but I think, for me, freedom is more of the mental and emotional state. I do think that artists have so many more choices now, whether to be independent, or to do a joint venture like I've done with Warner Bros, or sign to a major but on their terms. I think that there is a lot more flexibility and freedom for us, much of which we've demanded and some that the industry has just had to adapt to. But even when I got off of my former label and knew that I was able to move forward and release music, for many different reasons, I still didn't feel that freedom. I think I was in such a fighter mode that I still felt like I needed to fight things, whether it was myself or... mostly myself.

It's being really hateful toward myself and dealing with a lot of that. For me, this freedom that I'm feeling is just stepping into a new perspective of not recognizing things as obstacles but knocking on them as opportunities, and I think for those who are fortunate enough to be able to get some type of control over their mind, I'm trying to try to do that and to feel as free as possible. I'm excited.

Photo courtesy of HBO.

We made it

It's finally over. We had a great run—even if the eighth season felt more like a PowerPoint presentation of the show than an actual narrative. But perhaps the most frustrating thing about the show was that it left plenty of plot threads dangling. Still, some of the conclusions that the show left us with were shocking in their own right. Let's revisit.

Spoilers ahead...

Cersei actually being dead

I didn't want to believe it, but it's true. Cersei Lannister, the ruthless Queen that everyone sought to overthrow, is dead. Last week, she and her brother-lover Jaime held each other tight in the bowels of the Red Keep as rocks and bricks fell on top of them. I thought that Jaime would die, once again protecting Cersei, and that she would survive the collapse. This would have provided an opportunity for her to be personally killed by list-obsessed Arya Stark or a power hungry Daenerys Targaryen. But no, Cersei did not survive and I was shocked to see her dead face when it was uncovered by Tyrion.

Jon killing Daenerys

Cersei wasn't the only person whose death came under unexpected circumstances. Daenerys' long, epic journey came to an end at the hands of Jon (also known as Aegon Targaryen, and her nephew-lover). Despite following Daenerys all season, Jon was convinced that she had to go after a little pep talk from Tyrion. And so, what else would a Stark do, other than carrying out a death sentence himself? Jon did it with a blade through Dany's heart. At least it wasn't in her back.

Drogon killing the Iron Throne

If there is one character my heart absolutely breaks for, it's Drogon. Daenerys' death left the dragon motherless and brotherless. He took his grief out on the thing that drove her to the very end, the Iron Throne itself. Drogon melted it into boiling liquid metal before flying away with his mother's body.

Bran becoming King

Since the beginning of the show, viewers have made wagers on who would eventually take the Iron Throne for themselves. Through most of the series, Bran, who hasn't been able to walk since the first episode, was an extremely unlikely candidate. But alas, he was the King when the show ended, and he made a comment that seemed to suggest that he'd known this was his destiny. In other words, he let everyone battle it out while he sat and minded his business, knowing it was all for him to come out on top. A shady queen feels like a more fitting title.

Arya heading "West"

I get it, Arya has already been a free spirit and non-conformist. I also understand that she sent most of Game of Thrones motivated by revenge and with no more to be served, there was little left for her in Westeros. But to send her off exploring the world also felt... odd. Arya said goodbye to her siblings, setting her intentions on sailing to see what's "west of Westeros," so that she can find out what's there. It felt way too soon to assume that she wouldn't still be needed in her homeland, but Arya never was one to stick close to home.

Jon and Ghost reuniting

At the end of the fourth episode fans were furious when Jon Snow prepared to head South with Daenerys, bidding fond farewells to friends and fellow soldiers, but not bothering to pet his direwolf. The show runners said the reason for the impersonal sendoff was that interactions with the direwolves cost too much money to pull off and there wasn't enough budget. So we were all surprised to see Jon and Ghost reunite in the final episode when Jon was once against sent to Castle Black. It was a silver lining in an otherwise dreary episode.