Bonnie McKee is back with “Mad Mad World,” exclusively premiering today (May 10) on Billboard.
McKee wrote the trop pop-tinged track in the aftermath of the tragic Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in October 2017. “When I went in to the studio after spending the last few days glued to the news, hearing about this terrifying shooting, especially because it was a music-related incident, it was impossible for me not to address it,” she tells Billboard. “There was no way for me to sit down and write a sparkly pop song that day. I was deeply disturbed and needed to express that.”
Despite its heartbreaking inspiration, “Mad Mad World” is about hope. McKee explains that it’s okay to acknowledge that “shit is upside down” these days, but it’s important not to give up. “We all have a responsibility now, more than ever, to pay attention, stand up, and do something about it,” she says. “It’s hard to find a balance of staying plugged in and informed, and protecting your own psyche in a toxic world.”
Meanwhile, McKee is on tour with Kygo, and she sang with the DJ/producer during his headlining Coachella set last month. “That was an awe-inspiring bucket list moment for me. I’ve been attending as a fan for over ten years, always dreaming of being up on that jumbo screen against the desert sky,” McKee says, “So to finally step onto the main stage and have that moment was extremely satisfying, overwhelming, and emotional for me. I burst into tears when I got off stage.”
McKee also met up with Ariana Grande at the fest, sharing a sweet snap of them hanging out backstage. “I’d love to collaborate with Ari,” McKee says, praising the “No Tears Left To Cry” singer for having “one of the best voices in the industry” — meaning, a dream for any songwriter. Halsey, Dua Lipa, Troye Sivan, and Shawn Mendes are also on McKee’s list.
Pink and purple pop ponies! — @arianagrande & me backstage at #Coachella just after we stepped off main stage! So amazing witnessing her debut #notearslefttocry in @kygomusic’s set! Love the song, bb! Pony power! ——– . . . . #pop #ponies #pastelhair #arianagrande #arianators #backstage #popmusic #tropicalhouse #kygo #edm #newmusic #singer #songwriter #coachellafashion #stagelook #girlpower #festivalfashion
Finally, McKee hints at ongoing writing projects with “several big name popstars,” though she can’t name names just yet (“I don’t like to talk about it until I can hear it online with my own two ears, lest I jinx it!”), as well as multiple screenplays and a book that she plans to adapt into a musical. “I’m super inspired to explore [these other sides] of my creativity. I know I can write songs, and now I know I can sing the fuck out of them in front of arenas full of people…so what else can I do?”