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Billie Eilish triumphant at 2020 Grammys

The 2020 Grammy Awards took place last night (Sunday 26 January), in a ceremony at the Staples Center in Los Angeles that saw Paradigm-repped Billie Eilish become the second artist ever to take home all four top awards.

Billie Eilish, who performed a rendition of her song ‘When the Party’s Over’ at the event, was crowned the year’s best new artist, as well as winning prizes for album of the year (When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?), and both record and song of the year for ‘Bad Guy’. The 18-year-old, who also won the award for best pop vocal album, is the first woman to achieve a clean sweep of all four major awards.

Lizzo, who led the nominations list with eight in total, took home three awards, for best pop solo performance (‘Truth Hurts’), best traditional R&B performance (‘Jerome’) and best urban contemporary album (Cuz I Love You). The singer, who is represented by Matthew Morgan at WME, opened the ceremony with performances of ‘Cuz I Love You’ and ‘Truth Hurts’.

Other major awards went to Tyler the Creator for best rap album, Anderson Paak for best R&B album, Cage the Elephant for best rock album, Tanya Tucker for best country album, the Chemical Brothers for best dance/electronic album and Alejandro Sanz for best latin pop album.

Paradigm-repped Billie Eilish become the second artist ever to take home all four top awards

Several artists went home without an award, despite multiple nominations. Ariana Grande and H.E.R failed to convert despite appearances in five categories, whereas Lucky Daye, Yola and Thom Yorke missed out on silverware in four categories each.

Performances on the night came from an array of artists, including Ariana Grande, who sang ‘Imagine’ and ‘7 Rings’; Usher, who performed a Prince tribute with Sheila E. and FKA Twigs; best rap album winner Tyler the Creator, who performed ‘Earfquake’; Spanish star Rosalía, winner of best latin rock, urban or alternative album, who sang ‘Juro Que’; and host Alicia Keys, who delivered her own version of Lewis Capaldi’s ‘Someone You Loved’.

Alicia Keys made passing reference to the controversy which has gripped the Recording Academy in the past week, following allegations made by former CEO Deborah Dugan. The Grammys host was also among those on the night to pay tribute to basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

A full list of award winners can be found here.

Photo: © Lars Crommelinck Photography/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)

 


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Lizzo, Billie, Lil Nas X to make Grammys debut

The 62nd annual Grammy Awards are taking place on Sunday (26 January) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, celebrating artists across 33 categories.

Live performances on the night will come from record of the year nominees Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus, as well as K-pop stars BTS, EDM DJ Diplo and singer Mason Ramsey.

Other nominees including Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Bon Iver, Ariana Grande, H.E.R. and Tyler the Creator will also perform on the night.

Over 173 nominations have been put forward for this year’s awards, which has seen its fair share of controversy this year due to allegations levelled by suspended CEO Deborah Dugan. Using data from Rostr, IQ takes a look at the major trends this year’s Grammys.

 


There are some usual suspects among the nominees for a few of the biggest categories. Last year’s best pop vocal album winner Ariana Grande is up for the prize for a fourth time, going up against Taylor Swift, who is on the lookout for her first win in the category after three nominations.

In the best dance album category, the Chemical Brothers are nominated for the sixth time – including two wins – for No Geography, whereas Flume sees his second nomination, following a win in 2017.

Lizzo is the artist with the highest number of nominations, appearing in eight categories, including best new artist, song of the year, album of the year and record of the year. Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X have also fared well, receiving six nominations apiece. Of the top eight most nominated artists, five are women, with H.E.R, Ariana Grande and Yola also appearing in multiple categories.

Overall, however, fewer than one in three nominated artists are women

Overall, however, fewer than one in three nominated artists are women, with male artists making up almost 60% of nominees and 10% comprising acts with a mix of male and female artists. Two award categories – best rap album and best electronic album – consist of purely male artists.

The best pop vocal album and best new artist categories feature predominantly female nominees, 80% and 70% respectively, with best country album (60%) and album of the year (57%) also weighted towards female artists.

Over the past 20 years, more than twice as many nominations have been for male artists than female, with women outnumbering men in just two categories this century – best new artist and best pop vocal album.

Last year’s Grammy Awards, which saw artificial intelligence correctly predict Childish Gambino’s ‘This is America’ song of the year win, with Kacey Musgraves picking up album of the year, Dua Lipa winning best new artist and Ariana Grande taking best pop vocal album.

Photo: Andy Witchger/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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UTA signs “legendary” Yusuf/Cat Stevens

United Talent Agency (UTA) has signed award-winning singer-songwriter Yusuf Islam, commonly known by the stage name Cat Stevens and later Yusuf, for representation in all areas.

The singer joins the UTA roster, which includes artists such as Craig David, Mariah Carey, Ringo Starr and Pink Floyd. Yusuf continues to be managed by Yoriyos Adamos at Catch Bull Management.

Making his debut in the mid-1960s, Yusuf is best known for songs such as ‘Peace Train’, ‘Moonshadow’ and ‘Morning has Broken’.

Yusuf has recently been recognised with some of the industry’s highest honours

He has recently been recognised with some of the industry’s highest honours, including induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2019.

The singer toured Australia, New Zealand, the UK, United States and Canada in 2017, following the release of his 15th studio album the Laughing Apple, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for best folk album.

In addition to music, Yusuf has been recognised for his humanitarianism, winning the Man of Peace Award at the World Summit of Noble Peace Laureates and currently working on the Peace Train aid project.

 


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Report: Little change for women in music industry

A recent report from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative has documented the prevalence of women in the music industry over seven years, showing that little has changed for women in music and, in some cases, representation has worsened over the years.

The study looks at the gender of content creators across 700 popular songs on the Billboard Hot 100 year-end charts from 2012 to 2018, as well as the gender of Grammy award nominees from the past seven years.

Across all seven years, the report finds that only 22% of artists appearing on the year-end list are female. This figure hit a six-year low in 2017, with negligible improvement in 2018 (17% of artists). In 2018, not one woman in a duo or band appeared on the end-of-year chart.

The story is much the same for songwriters, with only 12% of writers credited on the chart being female. Only 2% of producers were female.

With regards to the Grammys, only 10% of all nominees across five categories over the past seven years have been female. The report also shows that female artists are more likely to be nominated for song of the year or best new artist, than for record or album of the year.

“The music industry is still embarrassingly lopsided when it comes to gender parity”

“The music industry is still embarrassingly lopsided when it comes to gender parity,” says DJ and presenter Annie Mac, recently appointed to head up a new gender equality initiative, the Equalising Music Pledge.

“We are all acutely aware of the enormous contribution women make to this business, and yet there’s still so much work to be done to ensure they’re embraced and championed,” says the DJ.

The pledge is the latest initiative from Smirnoff Equalising Music, a three-year, global campaign to accelerate gender parity in the music industry. The campaign is supported by UK booking outfit Coda Agency, and is endorsed by PRS Foundation’s Keychange Initiative, which encourages festival line-ups to achieve a 50/50 gender balance.

Many artists, executives and music industry professionals have brought attention to the lack of women in the music business over the past year, sparking campaigns and initiatives to address the gender imbalance, such as Smirnoff and Rinse FM’s all-female stage at Wireless festival, the inaugural Women in Live Music awards and the Latin American music associations’ gender equality declaration.

The report is the result of work compiled by the University of Southern California Annenberg Inclusion Initiative  and its founder and director, Professor Stacy Smith. A think tank linked to the USC Annenberg school for communication and journalism, the Inclusion Initiative examines diversity and inclusion across the entertainment industry through original research and sponsored projects.

 


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AI correctly predicts Grammys 2019 song of the year

American data scientists correctly predicted Childish Gambino’s song of the year win at the 61st Grammy Awards, held at Staples Center in Los Angeles last night (10 February).

Using its machine learning platform, Boston, Massachusetts-based DataRobot analysed all Grammy song of the year winners since 1959, identifying common traits – including the genre of the song, amount of profanity, general sentiment, total word count and various audio features derived from Spotify, such as tempo, time signature, key and duration – to determine this year’s most likely victor.

After six minutes, during which the artificial intelligence (AI) generated 140 data models, DataRobot’s Taylor Larkins established the best model, which “performed about 44% better than randomly guessing during my testing period [from 2012–2018],” he explains.

“Machine learning … can have applications well beyond the traditional ones we are used to seeing in fields such as banking or insurance”

This model correctly predicted Gambino’s ‘This is America’ as most likely song of the year candidate, with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s ‘Shallow’, from A Star is Born, as a close runner-up (screenshot courtesy of DataRobot):

DataRobot Grammy 2019 predictions

“With this experiment, we’re demonstrating that machine learning cannot only be fun but can also have applications well beyond the traditional ones we are used to seeing in fields such as banking or insurance,” explains Larkin.

“The music industry could tap into its potential, studying what makes a song successful and understanding why people listen to the songs that they do. With the volume of great music being produced, having quick insights into song popularity could be another tool to help musicians and music producers to refine their expertise.”

Kacey Musgraves won the Grammy for album of the year, for Golden Hour, with Dua Lipa taking home the prize for best new artist. Gaga and Cooper’s ‘Shallow’, meanwhile, won best pop duo/group performance.

See the full list of winners at the Recording Academy website.

 


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Line-up finalised for inaugural Grammy Festival China

The final line-up has been announced for the inaugural Grammy Festival, set to debut in Beijing next month.

Taking the stage at Changyang Music Theme Park in Fangshan, Beijing, on 30 April will be Grammy Award-winners Phoenix, Daya and Macy Gray, as well as 11-time winner Pharrell Willians, along with Grammy nominees OneRepublic, James Bay and Carly Rae Jepsen.

The festival – a partnership between Grammys organiser the Recording Academy and local firms Bravo Entertainment and China Music Vision – was announced last August as a new “touring, world-class live music experience”, and follows the partners’ previous collaboration on China’s first Grammy Museum.

“The Grammy Festival in China will bring together Grammy-nominated and Grammy-winning artists with the extraordinary Chinese culture to provide audiences with a unique, unrivalled live music experience,” said Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow at the launch.

“China continues to expand and grow its role as a force in attracting and engaging more artists onto international stages, and we are excited to be a part of that.”

 


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Grammys 2017 live performers see 207% sales bump

Live performances at Sunday’s 59th Grammy Awards generated an instant sales bump, with a 207% increase in downloads of the songs performed on the day of the show, according to initial analysis by Nielsen.

According to the market measurement firm, the songs shown in CBS’s 12 February broadcast sold more than 178,000 downloads that day, compared to 58,000 on 11 February.

“This immediate and impressive reaction proves the unparalleled power of the Grammy Awards to reach a wide audience and engage fans,” David Bakula, senior vice-president of global product leadership and industry insights at Nielsen Music, tells Billboard.

Beyoncé’s ‘Love Drought’ and ‘Sandcastles’, both performed at the Grammys saw the biggest sales bumps – 1,217% and 958%, respectively – with Adele’s ‘Hello’, which opened the awards, recording a 255% increase, selling 6,000 downloads on 12 February vs fewer than 2,000 on Saturday.

“This immediate and impressive reaction proves the unparalleled power of the Grammy Awards to reach a wide audience”

Other big winners included Katy’s Perry’s new single, ‘Chained to the Rhythm’, which rose 128% to 24,000; The Weeknd’s ‘I Feel it Coming’, which jumped 154% to 15,000; Keith Urban’s ‘The Fighter’, which increased 896% to 12,000; Bruno Mars’s ‘That’s What I Like’, which increased 354% to 23,000; and Maren Morris’s ‘Once’, performed with Alicia Keys at the Grammys, which saw a massive 7,430% increase to 6,000 downloads.

Awards-wise, Sunday’s biggest winners included Adele, who swept the major categories over rival Beyoncé; David Bowie, who posthumously won every award for which he was nominated; and Chance the Rapper, who won best new artist and won plaudits for his gospel-influenced performances.

A full list of winners can be viewed on The Recording Academy website, while Billboard has all the performances (ranked by senior editor Joe Lynch from “worst to best”).

 


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More artists added to Grammy concert series

The Recording Academy has announced a fresh batch of artists who will perform at its 5–8 May Grammy Park concerts, the first live events to bear the name of its famous music awards.

The Commodores (pictured) will play the Jazz All-Stars concert, while The X Factor USA winners Alex & Sierra and up-and-coming singer-songwriter Chelsea Chris will perform at the Emerging Artists show and vloggers and social media stars Jake Foushee, Kenny Holland, Carson Lueders, Russ and Sammy Wilk the Social Stages concert.

A joint venture with venue operator Upsilon Ventures, the 10 concerts will take place in Brooklyn, New York, and feature the talents of more than 30 artists collectively honoured with over 40 Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, including seven-time winner Toni Braxton, three-time winner Ne-Yo and Grammy nominees Robin Thicke and Aloe Blacc.

In addition to the paid events (which range between US$35 and, for VIP packages, $175) there are free gigs open to the public, such as a concert featuring emerging artists and jazz ensembles on Saturday 7 May and a gospel concert celebrating the US Mother’s Day the following day.

The concerts will take place in the Kings Theatre, The LeFrak Center at Lakeside and Prospect Park Bandshell.

Toni Braxton, Robin Thicke, Chuck D for first Grammy-branded concerts

The Recording Academy has revealed the details of its upcoming Grammy Park concerts, the first live events to bear the name of its famous music awards.

A joint venture with venue operator Upsilon Ventures, the 10 concerts will take place in Brooklyn, New York, from 5 to 8 May and feature the talents of more than 30 artists collectively honoured with over 40 Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, including seven-time winner Toni Braxton, three-time winner Ne-Yo and Grammy nominees Robin Thicke and Aloe Blacc.

In addition to the paid events (which range between US$35 and, for VIP packages, $175) there are free gigs open to the public, such as a concert featuring emerging artists and jazz ensembles on Saturday 7 May and a gospel concert celebrating Mother’s Day (the American one) the following day.

The concerts will take place in the Kings Theatre, The LeFrak Center at Lakeside and Prospect Park Bandshell.

For a full list of performers (also on the bill are, among other things, a ‘Hip-Hop Groundbreakers’ event with Chuck D and a ‘Latin Mix’ with Natalia Lafourcade, Arturo O’Farrill and Alex Cuba) visit the Grammy Park website.