‘The Voice’ Crowns Season 18 Winner

(Warning, spoilers follow)

And the winner is…

After an uncharacteristic season which saw NBC’s The Voice send all its contestants home to perform in isolation, one person has been crowned the champion: Team Blake’s Todd Tilghman.

The 41-year-old emerged winner on Tuesday night (May 19) after a fiercely fought final which, for the first time, featured five hopefuls, Toneisha Harris and Tilghman (Team Blake), Micah Iverson (Team Kelly), CammWess (Team Legend) and Thunderstorm Artis (Team Nick), with each performing for America’s vote.

In another first, The Voice finale had a crossover with another NBC brand, Songland, with competitors getting to collaborate with the latter series’ songwriters.

Tilghman, the lead pastor of Cornerstone Church in Meridian, Mississippi, wins $100,000 and a recording contract.

How Brad Paisley Put on a Full Production Arena Show and Kept Everyone Safe (Including Himself)

Last Friday, Brad Paisley and his band played a full production arena show, sponsored by Bud Light Seltzer. It was one of the first shows since the COVID-19 pandemic started earlier this year to feature all the bells and whistles of a regular concert. Beamed online from the Steel Mill, a production space in Nashville where Paisley rehearses his tours, the only thing missing was a live audience.

As Paisley details below, it took tremendous work and extreme attention to every detail to ensure that all safety standards were met, even navigating with precision how he and his guitar tech would switch guitars.

He tells Billboard how the show came together and the possibilities for more live entertainment on the horizon.

Billboard: How did you feel on that stage with the full production and your bandmates around you for the first time in months?

Brad Paisley: I felt great. It was a very inspiring thing to see this entire crew come together in an entirely different way, following protocols we never imagined we’d have to do the jobs that we’re used to doing. Normally we’re talking about an eight-hour process to load in. I think they loaded in on Sunday or Monday…so a [multi-day] process. Walking into [rehearsal] was emotional.

You followed CDC guidelines—taking band and crew members’ temperatures, wearing masks and gloves, staying six-feet apart. The only one you may not have been at least six feet apart from the whole time was your guitar tech when he handed you a guitar.

He is the one person I’ve been around the closest since this began. He’s been my guitar tech for a decade and he operates and runs my studio at the farm so he is around, but he and I have not been in the same space without mask and gloves other than Friday night. He went through the protocols with me before the show Friday. “Here’s how I’m doing this: I’m going to wear rubber gloves when I change the strings. I’m going to use fast-drying 90% alcohol to wipe down the necks of the guitars even though I’m wearing gloves. I’m not taking my mask off. And then I’m going to change the strings a day ahead of time, so they’re going to sit for a day and I’m also going to alcohol it down.”

Alcohol doesn’t really hurt anything cause it dries so fast. You couldn’t put Purell on a guitar because it would be awful, but pure alcohol will go right off. And then when he comes out to hand to me, he’s wearing a masking and gloves. He grabs it by the body. I grab it by the neck. That’s at least four or five feet between us.

We needed that level (of safety). I felt like the pressure was on us to not have five new infections from our little concert. We all felt like we wanted to do this right so that it shows you can because that’s important.

What about the camera crew?

The girl and guy that run the side cameras on my tour were there, but they had taped white boxes on stage left and stage right where they weren’t allowed to leave that area so that I’m not walking through their airspace if I’m playing the guitar. Same with my microphone. I don’t want anyone checking my mic. I turned on the mic myself. It had already been wiped down with alcohol. I was the first one to say ‘check’ into that mic. The same thing with the spare mic. I don’t want anybody talking into it. I don’t know how you would possibly get COVID- 19 out of a microphone.

And then I also loved the way Scott [Scovill] shot it. We had a drone flying around in there shooting it. We could do that because there was no audience. We had cameras everywhere. The scale was very well represented. Everything weird about it disappeared the minute the lights came on and we were playing and then everything weird returned the minute we stopped. No applause. “Okay, fantastic. I’m hoping they like it.”

How hard was it stay six feet away from your bandmates?

We all were well aware that we weren’t going to be leaning against one another and you know kissing somebody’s forehead, it wasn’t going to happen. There was no Bruce Springsteen kissing Clarence [Clemons].

Are you going to try to do this somewhere else?

I don’t know, going forward I just knew that the pressure was on to do this right so that we didn’t make it to where it shouldn’t happen again. I’m sure there’s something else like this to do somewhere. I don’t think we should do that very thing again because all I could do is add new songs. I think that there’s a way to start looking at what else can you do. The drive-in idea is interesting. It’s also limited. I don’t know what my path is forward at all. I’m open to things. I would do this again for sure in a different setting. Going forward, anything that allows us to still reach people’s, what I want to do, I just want to use this time to reach fans.

How big was your crew versus what you’d normally have?

We were smaller than normal. If we were really doing the concert, there would have been more people than that. But it wasn’t like bare bones. Like I said, we took three days to do something that would have been hours [normally]. For a typical load in, you’d hire a local crew. We didn’t do that. This was all people that work for our company or Moo Productions or maybe Sound Image. You didn’t want more than six or seven people in a certain area. I’ve got three people working in video world at any given time and typically those three are sitting at one folding table and instead they were at three folding tables and each folding table was 10 feet apart. And they had their own area and their own gear set up in front of them so they didn’t have to be around one another. That was by design. We could never get away with that in an arena typically because you need that space. There’s not that much room.

How else did you stay safe?

There was no one was on my bus. Zero. Usually [keyboard player] Kendal Marcy and I would hop on the bus to do the set list. Instead, I sat down with a Sharpie on the bus, I shut the door, I’m in there 30 minutes writing down a little set list. I had to find my own damn paper in the bus, which I have no idea where that kept (laughs). The bus was a safe space.

That’s the issue with touring more than anything. How would we put this on in a venue or drive-ins because, good luck, how would you get your crew there? That’s the big issue. How do you put them on the band bus where four or five of my band depending on the night ride on that. They better be real sure about each other. I can’t let them do that.

Why did you pre-tape the Friday show?

We had to do that from the standpoint of you don’t want to have spent all this production costs and, and then have an Internet blackout as you’re trying to feed the thing live.

Do you think there’s a way to monetize digital shows going forward? 

Absolutely. There’s definitely ways to monetize this right now. Without a doubt. You have to have a delivery service that people trust, the way that they trust Zoom, Instagram, Facebook. And then a way to say, “Look, we’re doing this really cool thing. It’s this much.” You’d have to find the right thing and you have to make it fair. It shouldn’t even approach what a real ticket is because it’s not nearly the same experience. But I like the idea better that companies [sponsor]. I’ve done two different quarantine concerts for Bud Light already. One from my kitchen and another from the Steel Mill, both with incredible production [laughs]. In the kitchen, they did send me a neon Bud Light sign, which I still have up. I won’t forget what Bud Light has done for my fans.

Do you know how many people watched?

Kendal said the aggregate was over a million or two at least. It would have taken a tour to reach those people, maybe two tours. When you play for a million people in one year, that’s a hugely successful year. So you had those eyeballs. Make no mistake, this does not replace the live concert some day. We all know that. Thank goodness that nothing will ever take away that one-on-one experience of going to a venue and watching your favorite artist play music. We have been thrown the test of all tests, haven’t we? This is a stop gap and all of us are doing different things. All of us have a desire to continue to reach people.


Live Entertainment Is Returning Down Under

Live music is about to awaken from its lockdown slumber Down Under.

From next week, Live Nation will test a weekly series of socially distanced concerts and comedy events in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.

The Together Again shows will start next Friday (May 29) and Saturday (May 30) at The Tuning Fork in central Auckland, part of Spark Arena (formerly Vector Arena) with a rotating line-up of local artists and comedians.

The concerts giant is “excited to be welcoming back live events in New Zealand,” comments Live Nation New Zealand chairman Stuart Clumpas in a statement, issued Tuesday (May 19). Supported by Vodafone, the gigs are an “opportunity for us to unite and celebrate the power of live with some of the country’s first socially distanced shows,” he continues.

Performers across the first weekend include award-winning comedian Urzila Carlson alongside Ray O’Leary, Nick Rado (MC), Ruby Esther and singer Hollie Smith.

Several measures will be in place based on public health and safety advice. Among them, the venue will scale down from a capacity of 400 to 100. Gig-goers will be temperature screened on entry and will be expected to observe social distance rules during the show.

Also, staff will wear essential Personal Protective Equipment and table service will be the order of the evening, meaning no queues at the bar.

The concerts are the first since the NZ government last week announced a relaxation on some elements of lockdown, and activated Alert Level Two measures, which caps the number of people allowed to gather in one group at 10, with some exceptions.

Adds Clumpas, “Our staff have been working extremely hard to get the doors open again and we aim to deliver not only a great live experience but also one that adheres to all the extra health and safety precautions and measures that line up with the government advice for events at level two.”

New Zealand’s live music community has been hobbled by the pandemic. According to the I Lost My Gig service, event cancelations and postponements across Australia and New Zealand are having “unprecedented” impacts on the creative industries and have cost $340 million in lost earnings.

NZ’s population of 5 million has about 1,500 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 21 deaths have been linked to COVID-19.


Lorde Updates Fans on ‘F—ing Good’ Music in the Works With Jack Antonoff

Some new Lorde music is finally on the way.

The singer sent an email to her fans on Wednesday (May 19) updating them on her past few months. “I realised the other day it had been a minute since we chatted, and I was missing you. Do you wear your hair long or short now? Did you take your piercings out? You’ll probably be pleased to know my hair is big and long again,” she lightheartedly opened the message, before noting that she has “never felt more spiritually rich, and in touch with the voices that guide. (Yes I’m a f—ing herb. Sue me!!!)”

After some updates about her life in New Zealand and how the pandemic has affected her home country, she revealed that the music making process suffered after the death of her beloved dog, Pearl. “It was summer, a time of year which is usually so clarifying and special to me, but I was grieving hard for Pearl, carrying it everywhere with me,” she wrote. “I found a note in my phone from November which said: I eat a grief sandwich / I wear a grief coat / I see a grief film.”

“I started going back to the studio again in December, just for something to do, and to my surprise, good things came out,” she continued. “Happy, playful things. I felt my melodic muscles flexing and strengthening.”

She went on to explain that she and producer Jack Antonoff would meet up in New Zealand and in Los Angeles to work on music. “A thing started to take shape. And then, of course, the world shut down. We’re still working away — Jack and I FaceTimed for over an hour this morning going over everything. But it’ll take a while longer.”

“I know now how excited I am to get back out there,” she wrote. “I want to eat summer foods in beautiful countries—ice cream and tomatoes and anchovies. I want to use my gift, and watch it grow. Who knows when it’ll be safe to do those things, but I’m craving them, and I wanted you to know.”

The upcoming album, which would follow 2017’s Melodrama, she explained: “Waiting, the thing that felt so pointless and annoying when I was young, is now this kind of delicious activity. In my opinion, the greatest treat I can give you is work that will last ten, twenty, thirty years. And that kind of work takes time. So if you can, I’d like for you to try tuning in to the time spent waiting for something of the highest quality to arrive.”

“Enjoy the sensation as it builds. When the moment comes, our wave will crest super f—ing high.I can tell you, this new thing, it’s got its own colours now. If you know anything about my work, you’ll know what that means.”

“The work is so f—ing good, my friend,” she concluded. “I am truly jazzed for you to hear it.”

See the email via an Instagram fan below.

Miley Cyrus, Swizz Beatz, Timbaland & More Accept Webby Awards With 5-Word Thoughts

The Webby Awards hosted their first ever WFH: Webby From Home celebration on Wednesday (May 19) in honor of the winners announced earlier in the day.

Patton Oswalt hosted the event, which featured the characteristic Webby five-word speeches from the winners. “Stay lit in dark times,” Miley Cyrus, who received the Webby Special Achievement Award from her old Disney pal, Demi Lovato, said.

“What is Miley Cyrus up to? Seriously, though,” Lovato said in her speech. “As we’ve made our way through this unprecedented time, any way to connect and communicate with people to laugh, share stories, sing with friends, any chance for us to come get together joyfully has become vitally important. And my friend Miley has provided an outlet for millions of people to do just that.”

“Find in self, love for others,” Swizz Beatz said when accepting his Crush the Internet award, which he won with Timbaland for their Verzuz series. “Timbaland and Swizz Beatz haven’t just created some of the most bangin’ music of our times, they’ve also spent their careers uplifting other artists, which is why they created Verzuz,” Jill Scott said when presenting the duo with the honor.

“Verzuz, buy for the artists,” Timbaland concluded with his five-word speech.

See the post below.

Noah Cyrus’ Song ‘Young & Sad’ Recalls Her Difficult Childhood as ‘Miley Cyrus’ Little Sister’

Noah Cyrus spoke candidly with Apple Music’s Rebecca Judd today (May 19) about her new EP The End of Everything and its themes, including growing up in her sister Miley Cyrus’ shadow.

The project’s fifth track, “Young & Sad,” delves into the younger Cyrus’ main struggles under the spotlight and the pressures to present herself, with a poignant second verse about her star sibling: “My sister’s like sunshine/ Always bringing good light/ Wherever she will go/ And I was born to rain clouds/ When they blew the flame out/ Blessed in our shadows.”

“I speak about my body dysmorphia and I speak about my struggles growing up as the world saw it as ‘Miley Cyrus’ little sister,’ Cyrus said in the Apple Music interview. “No one would choose to be called somebody else’s little sister and I used this…. So it’s like when you’re seeing somebody and you’re like, ‘Oh, you’re so and so’s brother, right?’ But you know who they are. You’ve been talking to them already. There’s a difference. It’s not, ‘I know you, but aren’t you also so and so’s little brother?’ It would be, ‘Your Miley Cyrus’ little sister. You’re Hannah Montana’s little sister.'”

She continued: “It wouldn’t be a question, it’d be a statement when they came up to me. Hannah Montana came out in 2006 or 2007. So that up until I made my own name, which was the reasoning why. And it really stripped me of my identity as a little kid. And that’s what it felt like. Because it felt like no one gives a… about me, myself.”

Just last Friday (May 15), the 20-year-old artist broke down in tears during an Instagram Live Q&A session about The End of Everything. “I think just the message of the second verse, being born in the family I was in, everybody gave me such a hard time for having a hard time being Miley’s little sister,” Cyrus explained about “Young & Sad” at the time. “But I always felt like I was that person that no one gave a sh– about due to what people said to me online.”

Listen to her entire Apple Music interview here.

Bad Bunny’s ‘Las Que No Iban a Salir’ Takes Over Hot Latin Songs Chart

Bad Bunny’s Las Que No Iban a Salir takes over the Hot Latin Songs chart, as all 10 tracks debut on the May 23 survey. With the 10 debuts, his total number of career hits on the list now climbs to 93. Daddy Yankee remains in second place with 75.

The 10 debuts joins 10 holdover titles from Bad Bunny on Hot Latin Songs chart, the fourth time Bad Bunny has claimed 20 concurrent hits on the list — and all four have occurred in 2020. (Only Ozuna has ever placed more songs on the chart at one time, with 21 on the Sept. 8, 2018-dated chart.)

The Hot Latin Songs chart blends airplay, digital sales, and streaming data. Bad Bunny’s 10 debuts were mostly on the strength of streaming activity as he collected 46 million on-demand audio streams for the album’s songs.

Of the 20 songs he places, 10 are debuts from the new album and 10 are holdovers from his own YHLQMDLG. “Bye, Me Fui,” the new album’s third track, leads the pack, opening at No. 6. The only other new track arriving in the chart’s top 10 is “Como Se Siente” (Remix)” with Jhay Cortez, landing at No. 10. Originally a Cortez solo song which appeared on his Famouz Reloaded album released Jan. 24, the remix, with Bad Bunny, was released May 10.

Meanwhile, “Yo Perreo Sola,” one of YHLQMDLG’s singles, continues solidly at No. 2 in its seventh consecutive week.

Beyond his Hot Latin Songs takeover, Bad Bunny also commands the Latin Streaming Songs chart placing a total of 20 songs in the 25-deep chart, nine off Las Que No Iban a Salir.

Notably, Bad Bunny’s 93 career entries date back to only 2016 through his collaboration on Mambo Kingz & DJ Luan’s “Tú No Vive Así,” which also features Arcangel.