‘American Idol’ Alum Chris Sligh Has COVID-19

Chris Sligh, a finalist in season six of American Idol, is battling with COVID-19-related pneumonia.

The contemporary Christian singer on Monday posted a picture of himself appearing unwell in a medical facility, with the caption, “My world right now. Covid suuuuucks.”

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My world right now. Covid suuuuucks.

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His condition hasn’t improved. “I’ll try to reach out to as many people as I can individually, but publicly let me say thank you for the prayers & kind words,” he writes in a new Instagram post.

“I have Covid that has devolved into pneumonia. Breathing without pain or coughing is difficult & I didn’t get much sleep last night, but hopefully the antibiotics do their work fast.”

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Thank you

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Thanks to his deep run in the 2007 season of Idol, Sligh has enjoyed a notable chart career. His album Empty Me from 2008 peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200, and two other sets (Only You Can Save Me at No. 12, One at No. 29) have impacted the Top 40.

Sligh has entered the Christian AC Songs chart on four occasions, including a No. 7 best for 2008’s “Empty Me.”

A new single “Beyond Our Wildest Dreams” dropped Feb. 28 and a rerecording of “One” is due out Thursday (July 8). In a recent update, Sligh said “One” would be his last single release to the Christian market, with the promise of “more on that to come.”


The 2009 Emmy Awards Experiment That Reshaped Award Shows

The Emmy Awards bucked 60 years of tradition when they announced the nominees for the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards on July 16, 2009. They unveiled seven nominees for each of what are widely seen as their top awards—outstanding comedy series and outstanding drama series. They had usually had five nominees in each of these categories.

Six and a half months later, on Feb. 2, 2010, the Oscars took it even further when they announced the nominees for the 82nd annual Academy Awards. They unveiled 10 nominees for their flagship award, best picture, up from the usual five. They announced 10 nominees the following year as well.

The Tony Awards have a much smaller field of potential nominees, but even they got into the act with their top two awards, best play and best musical. When they announced the nominees for the 68th annual Tony Awards on April 29, 2014, they had five nominees for best play (up from the usual four) for the first time since 1975. Two years later, at the 70th annual Tonys, they had five nominees for best musical for the first time since 1960.

The Grammys finally joined the party when they announced the nominees for the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Dec 7, 2018. They went with eight nominees for each of their big four awards—album, record and song of the year plus best new artist. They had generally had five nominees in each of these categories.

The Emmys and the Oscars have both since tinkered with the number of nominees for their top awards, but neither has dropped as low as five since they went big. Since 2009, the Emmys have announced between six and eight nominees for both outstanding comedy series and outstanding drama series. Since 2011, the Oscars have veered between eight and nine nominees for best picture.

In recent weeks, both of these shows have announced that they’re going to go large in the future. The Emmys have announced that beginning with the upcoming 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards (nominations are due July 28), they’ll have eight nominees for both outstanding comedy series and outstanding drama series. The Oscars have announced that, beginning with the 94th Academy Awards which will be presented in 2022, the best picture category will be set at 10 nominees, rather than a have fluctuating number of nominations.

The Tonys have also tinkered with the number of nominees in their top categories in recent years, but they had five nominees (a lot for them, remember) for best musical at the 2019 Tonys (their most recent show, due to COVID-19) and five nominees for best play at both the 2018 and 2019 shows.

The Grammys are planning to hold at eight nominees in each of their big four categories for the third consecutive year when the nominations for the 63rd annual Grammy Awards are announced later this year.

The move at all four of these awards shows to expand the field of nominees for their top awards is linked to the effort in the past decade to increase diversity and expand the types of projects that tend to get nominated.

Sid Ganis, then president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, made that point when the Oscars’ decision to bump up the number of best picture finalists to 10 was first announced on June 24, 2009. “Having 10 best picture nominees is going to allow academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize. I can’t wait to see what that list of 10 looks like when the nominees are announced in February.”

There has been some internal push-pull at the Emmys, Oscars and Tonys to determine just the right number of nominees. Bruce Davis, then executive director at motion picture academy, said in 2011, “A best picture nomination should be an indication of extraordinary merit. If there are only eight pictures that truly earn that honor in a given year, we shouldn’t feel an obligation to round out the number.”

Davis’ reservations notwithstanding, the trend at award shows these days as far as the number of nominees in marquee categories is go big or go home.

Ringo Starr Talks Black Lives Matter & Black Influence on Beatles’ Music During Virtual ‘Big Birthday Show’

While Ringo Starr couldn’t celebrate his birthday with his usual party at the Capitol Records building in Hollywood, the former Beatle brought the fun online on Tuesday (July 7) to celebrate the big 8-0 safely and socially distanced.

Proceeds raised during the show benefited four organizations, including Black Lives Matter Global Network, the David Lynch FoundationMusiCares and WaterAid.

On the Black Lives Matter movement, Starr took some time to note how influential Black music was to creating the Beatles’ sound. “There’s no greater act than any others can make than to stand up and be counted when you see injustice,” he said during the livestream. “I don’t have to tell you that the Beatles’ early set had a lot to do with the influence we found in American artists. We loved listening to Ray Charles, Little Richard is my hero, Stevie Wonder, Sister Rosetta Tharpe–I saw her live at the cabin–and my stepdad’s favorite, Billy Eckstine. The list goes on and on.”

The show also had a number of throwback onstage moments, including a dynamic “Helter Skelter” performance with Ringo’s former bandmate Paul McCartney, who took to social media earlier in the day to wish his pal a happy birthday.

Guitarist Joe WalshGary Clark Jr.Sheryl CrowSheila E., Dave Grohl and Ben Harper also took part in the event, performing Beatles covers at home.

Watch the full “Big Birthday Show” below.

Maluma Talks ‘Extra Special’ 16th No. 1 on Latin Airplay Chart With ‘ADMV’

Maluma’s “ADMV” hits No. 1 on the Latin Airplay chart as the song jumps 4-1 on the July 11 survey. It’s his 16th No. 1 on the all-genre list which dates back to his former three-week leader “Borro Cassette” in November 2015.

“I’m super happy,” Maluma tells Billboard. “This 16th No. 1 is extra special because ‘ADMV’ is a ballad that is very close to my heart and it means a lot at this time when the world is going through so much. It’s also amazing that my first Latin Airplay No. 1 was less than five years ago, so I am so thankful for the fans and everyone at radio that have been so supportive.”

“ADMV” (abbreviation for “Amor de mi vida,” which translates to “love of my life”) marks Maluma’s second No. 1 of the year. He previously landed atop the tally with “Que Pena,” with J Balvin, which ruled Latin Airplay for one week on the Feb. 29-dated chart.

“ADMV” hits No. 1 with 12. 3 million in audience impressions (up 45%) earned in the week ending July 5, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data.

The song was written by Maluma, Edgar Barrera, Vicente Barco, Miky La Sensa and produced by Maluma alongside Barrera.

Maluma breaks away from a tie with Carlos Vives and Wisin for the seventh-most No. 1s since the chart’s inception in 1994. He stands behind Enrique Iglesias who continues at the top with 30 No. 1s, J Balvin with 22, Daddy Yankee (20), Ozuna (19), and Ricky Martin and Romeo Santos, both with 17.

In addition to his new No. 1 on Latin Airplay, Maluma collects his ninth leader on Latin Pop Airplay as “ADMV” hikes 5-1.

Beyond his Latin Airplay and Latin Pop coronation, “ADMV” makes progress on the airplay-, streaming- and sales-based Hot Latin Songs chart, lifting 19-14.

Over on Latin Digital Song Sales, “ADMV” jumps 24-16 (though, with less than 1,000 downloads sold in the week ending July 2).

Lindsay Ell Reveals She’s a Sexual Violence Survivor, Finds Her ‘Voice’ With Emotional New Song

While Lindsay Ell is known for her open, introspective songs, the singer revealed a side of her on Tuesday (July 7) that’s been hidden to her fans for a long time.

In honor of Global Forgiveness Day, the singer released a new song called “make you,” in which she publicly addresses the effects on her life after being raped at 13 years old. “It’s gonna make you hate yourself / When you didn’t hate yourself at all / It’s gonna make you build a fortress / Where you never had a wall,” she sings in the accompanying video, where she’s seen belting the lyrics while sitting cross-legged on the floor.

“Three years ago at a visit to help launch the music program at Youth For Tomorrow, I sat down in a conference room with a few girls aged 12-18 who had all been victims of rape or sex trafficking,” Ell said in a press statement. “I shared my story, they shared their stories, and I was so inspired. Walking out of that room that day I knew the time had come to share my story more widely, otherwise I would be denying myself an opportunity to connect and help other girls or boys, like those in that room. It’s a very difficult thing to do, but an incredibly necessary thing to talk about. We don’t realize how much this stuff is happening in our own community, and that is partly due to not discussing it.”

In conjunction with “make you,” co-written by Brandy Clark, Ell has also launched the Make You Movement, a charitable fund that aims to help organizations that support at-risk youth, domestic abuse and sexual assault survivors by provided funds on an as-needed basis. All proceeds from the song will be donated to the organization. The first partner receiving funds from Make You Movement will be The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

“I believe music has the power to heal. The reason I decided to share my story at this point in my life is that I want it to be able to help a lot of people; and the best way to help people is to not only raise my voice, but to raise money in an effort to raise awareness and understanding,” she said. “I want to support programs that help girls & boys who may have been victims and support safety and prevention programs that aim to keep potential victims safe. Finally writing ‘make you’ has given me the courage to not let my past decide my future, so I am taking action in order to do just that. My hope is that my actions and song will inspire the same in others.”

“make you” will appear on Ell’s upcoming album that explores the seven stages of grief, heart theory, out August 14. Pre-order it here, and watch the “make you” video, which represents the acceptance stage of grief, below.

Universal Music Partners With Indian Hit-Maker Desi Melodies in Push to Grow Market Beyond Bollywood

Universal Music Group is partnering with India’s Desi Melodies, a leader in the recent wave of Punjabi music, in a global distribution deal that underscores the rapid growth in consumption of regional-language content in the emerging market.

The deal announced Tuesday (July 7) will solidify both Universal and Desi Melodies’ position at the forefront of India’s burgeoning non-film music sector, which has been cutting into the overall pie of India’s Bollywood-dominated market.

Universal Music India “continues to be committed to transforming the non-film music market, with the aim of giving Indian music and artists a global platform to find success,” Devraj Sanyal, MD and CEO Universal Music India and South Asia, says in a statement.

Under terms of the multi-year partnership, Universal Music India will exclusively distribute all audio recordings from the Desi Melodies catalog, including past releases and future non-film releases, where rights are retained by the label worldwide. Universal will provide Desi Melodies with global support and distribution for their audio catalog and future releases from UMG partner labels around the world, Universal says in a press release. The first release from the partners is expected later this month.

Founded three years ago in the Punjab region of northern India by lyricist Jaani and filmmaker Arvindr Khaira, Desi Melodies has emerged as a rising player in India’s entertainment industry. The label’s hits include the singles “Filhall,” “Coka” and “Kuch Bhi ho jaaya.” The duo, working with frequent collaborator B Praak, has also produced hit records for other labels and film soundtracks. Desi Melodies has more than 5.5 million subscribers on YouTube.

Desi Melodies is benefitting from a sea change in the growth of regional-language content in India the past few years, which is a result of greater smart-phone penetration, access to lower-cost high-speed internet and the proliferation of streaming platforms, including ones native to India like JioSaavn.

Punjabi, Tamil and Telegu are the dominant languages for regional-language content in India, which now accounts for more than 30% of all of consumption on streaming services there. Punjabi tracks are contributing 12% of all regional music streams, the same proportion as Tamil and Telugu tunes put together, according to a KPMG report. Acts like Badshah and Guru Randhawa helped Punjabi overtake English as the second most-played language on the platform.

On streaming service Gaana, the consumption of regional music now contributes to about a third of all the streams on the platform. And on JioSaavn, a surge in demand for regional music led to a fall in international music’s share from 25% in 2018 to only half that in 2019.

While the majority Tamil and Telugu songs come from movie soundtracks, most Punjabi plays are of non-film pop and hip-hop. As a result, the share of Bollywood music, India’s dominant musical genre, has been shrinking as a percentage of India’s overall streams. Bollywood music’s portion of the pie slipped from as much as 70% in mid-2016 to a little over 50% in early 2019, while international music fell to 18%, KPMG found.

India is the 15th biggest market in the world for recorded music, with streaming accounting for 73% of all sales. Overall industry revenues rose by 19% in 2019 to total $181 million, according to IFPI’s 2020 Global Market report.

For Universal, the Desi Melodies distribution deal is the latest in a series of strategic label launches in India by the major. In 2018, UMI launched VYRL Originals, India’s first dedicated non-film label. It has released more than 50 singles from a roster of 20 artists that includes Mithoon, Vishal Mishra and Arjun Kanungo. Last year Universal formed a “multi-channel partnership” with Mass Appeal, the New York-based content company co-owned by Nas. Mass Appeal India’s signings include hip-hop star DIVINE.

Jeff Ament Says Pivoting to the Positive After Pearl Jam’s Tour Cancellation Led to Solo EP ‘American Death Squad’

Pearl Jam co-founder and bassist Jeff Ament chatted with Hanuman Welch on the latest episode of Apple Music’s ALT CTRL Tuesday (July 7) about how the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the grunge rockers from hitting the road but presented no roadblocks for his solo career path.

Ament released his surprise solo EP American Death Squad on June 26, a five-song quarantine compilation that came three months after Pearl Jam’s 11th studio album Gigaton. The Seattle-based rock band prepared to promote Gigaton during its spring tour, and according to Ament, that preparation took a lot of work that he didn’t want to waste once the gig was officially up.

“Well, I mean, as I’ve gotten older, you have to do a bit of training leading up and do like a tour season, and so there’s a lot of energy going into rehearsals and working out and just getting mentally ready to leave your household, and so I felt like when we pulled the plug on it, I felt like I had all this energy,” he told Welch over FaceTime. “And that first week, just all the anxiety of watching the news and stuff, my wife and I were just saying, ‘We got to pivot this into something positive. We only have so much life left, so let’s just figure out a way to do some things that we’ve always wanted to do.'”

On top of hiking with his wife Pandora Andre-Beatty, the 57-year-old musician trekked to the studio and set out to write lyrics and lay down melodies every day. And the inspiration, as much as he spent time getting away from it, came from what he saw on the TV — the destruction of human life in the wake of coronavirus and what he described in a press release earlier as “the ineptitude of our leadership or as named here, the American Death Squad.”

“I just started waking up early in the morning and going in the studio, and then it turned into, ‘Okay, I’m going to try to write a song every day. I’m going to try to finish it. I’m going to lay drums down. I’m going to get the instrumentation, figure out the arrangement, write lyrics, and do a rough mix,'” he recalled of his quaran(rou)tine. “After about a week, it sort of felt like I got into this really great groove with it, and then it lasted like two months. I just kept writing, kept writing, kept writing. These were some of the first songs that came out of that bunch, and they were probably some most anxious of the songs, so.”

Listen to Ament’s Apple Music interview below.