Rhett Miller played through some classics on Wednesday’s (Sept. 9) installment of his virtual Mighty Song Writers series.
The Old 97’s frontman uploaded the 20-minute clip, featuring covers of songs like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” and “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.”
For the latter, Miller noted that the song was originally written on piano, though he sang it while playing the guitar. He went on to advise young writers that it “doesn’t matter” what medium a song is played on. “You’re creating something that’s an idea and can be performed in many different ways,” he said. “Perhaps you’re writing a poem, but maybe that poem can become a song.”
“Don’t worry too much about the rules,” he concluded.
Watch the full episode below.
Congratulations are in order for Lily Allen and Stranger Things actor David Harbour, who officially tied the knot on Monday (Sept. 7) in Las Vegas!
Their intimate ceremony came a day after the couple obtained a marriage license, People confirmed through court records. And like any two getting hitched in Vegas, their celebration was officiated by none other than an Elvis Presley impersonator.
“In a wedding officiated by the king himself, the people’s princess wed her devoted, low born, but kind credit card holder in a beautiful ceremony lit by the ashen skies courtesy of a burning state miles away in the midst of a global pandemic,” Harbour described the scene of their wedding in an Instagram posted Wednesday (Sept. 9). “Refreshments were served at a small reception following.”
And those refreshments came from In-N-Out, where the married couple and Allen’s daughters, 8-year-old Ethel Mary and 7-year-old Marnie Rose. Jessie Ware, Celeste, Mark Ronson, Jess Glynne and more U.K. musical acts congratulated the lovebirds in the comments section of their wedding day snapshots, which showed off Allen’s vintage ’60s-style Dior dress.
The two started dating in August 2019 before making their red carpet debut together at the 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards in January 2020. Although they never made their engagement public, the “Smile” singer gave everyone a sneaking suspicion when she subtly showed off a sparkling diamond ring on her Instagram in May. “Um… engagement ring??????????????” one fan commented, despite the ring’s placement on her right hand rather than her left hand. And the 35-year-old artist responded with a cheeky reference to Brad Pitt’s iconic line in the 1999 movie Fight Club, “first rule of engagement club………”
Allen previously married builder and decorator Sam Cooper in 2011 and welcomed two girls before finalizing their divorce in 2018.
Relish in the newlywed couple’s pictures below.
In a series amid the coronavirus pandemic, Billboard is asking individuals from all sectors of the music business to share stories of how they work now, with much of the world quarantined at home and unable to take in-person meetings, attend conferences or even go into the office. Submissions for the series can be sent to HowWeWorkNow@Billboard.com. Read the full series here.
This installment is with Alix Kram, Warner Music Artist Services’ vp/head of global retail & licensing.
Alix Kram: I just had my first child. I went on maternity leave in January, a few weeks before my due date. I gave birth in early February and a few weeks later we were on lockdown. It was not at all what I expected in terms of what I envisioned for my maternity leave, you know, but we’re all maintaining.
Before I left on leave, I was doing everything I could to wrap up all my projects, and I think I had a 10-page “While I’m Out” document for my team, in case anything came up. And some colleagues who are moms and have been through it already kept telling me, “You know, nothing changes in three to four months, don’t w
orry about it, everything you’re doing now is going to be exactly the same!” And that, in some ways, couldn’t be further from the truth. [Laughs]
I live in Hell’s Kitchen [in Manhattan], so I’m actually within walking distance of our office. So I envisioned during my leave that my team would come by for lunch sometimes, and we were all excited to do that. Instead, it became that while I was out I would do social check-ins with them, mostly because I was concerned for their wellbeing. In the beginning for everyone it was really concerning. So I got tidbits here and there, because I think for everyone work was kind of a welcome distraction; it certainly was for me, even though I was on leave. So I kept my finger on the pulse of things so that when I came back there wasn’t anything that was too crazy, except for trying to adjust to what was now a fully-remote world.
Luckily, I’ve traveled so much throughout my career that I was kind of used to working from home, but adding a baby into the mix was a totally different curveball. Fortunately for me, I kind of kidnapped my mother right before lockdown and said, “Please come stay with us.” [Laughs] So she’s been here since and has been helping us, which has been tremendous, because it allows me to have time to really focus on work throughout the day. The upside, of course, being that I get to play with the baby between meetings and see her smile and grow, which has been nice.
I think we all feel a little bit tied to our computer screens. But the music industry as a whole is so relationship-based, so trying to pivot that into a virtual world has its upsides and downsides. The upside is I’m seeing people on Zoom and Teams and Video that I would have otherwise just made a quick call to, so you’re kind of breaking that barrier and seeing people in their natural habitats and you sort of create a more personal relationship with them. There’s a lot more effort to create time away from work, or create social interactions, with both clients, brands and partners as well as our team, so I think there’s a more concerted effort there. But other than that, I think communication is more on the side of over-communication than it ever has been before, just because there’s so many different ways you can reach someone. So it hasn’t skipped a beat in that sense.
We released a Grateful Dead/Nike SB collaboration, which had been in the works for some time and was a project I was really involved in and passionate about. I was really excited because I was going to be coming back right when we were going to be planning a pretty major live activation to launch the shoe, which obviously then changed to become more virtual. So that has impacted some of the deals that we do in terms of the marketing aspects of these relationships. When you can’t do a pop-up shop, when you can’t do a meet-and-greet, how do you create value in the digital space? It’s all about the storytelling. We’ve created more of a focus on that aspect, so that in everything we do people understand what brought it together and why it’s important.
Weirdly, things haven’t slowed down at all. There are two parts to my role: one is heading up global retail, which is taking an artist’s merchandise and putting it into stores. Stores have obviously been shuttered for quite some time in most parts of the world, so a lot of those retailers have pivoted online and ramped up and are really eager now that they’re starting to slowly reopen and have their e-com strategies in place to make up for the lost time. So we’ve been really busy on that side. And then on the other side, of brand collaborations and licensing, I think because a lot of artists are not on the road anymore and are at home, there has been a lot more attention brought to these opportunities, whereas before they may have been an afterthought. Now, I think they’re understanding the value of what these relationships can bring from all sides. And because of that, the licensing side has been on fire — which is fantastic, but I wish there were three of me.
We had some things that were in the works that shifted. For example, we have a mobile game with Wiz Khalifa called Wiz Khalifa’s Weed Farm, which has been a massive success for us, and every year on 4/20 — which is the day we released it, for obvious reasons — we celebrate an anniversary for the game by throwing some sort of special tournament or giveaway. And for this year, we pivoted and created a special in-game tournament with Feeding America so that all the gameplay went donation-wise there, and we were able to donate 100,000 meals. All Time Low, for example, always wanted to do a wine, and we did a wine with them last fall that went so well that we launched a Rose called Summer Daze Rose, and they started doing virtual happy hours with the wine on a regular basis and got their fans engaged. Stuff like that has really drummed up excitement for other artists to start participating in projects.
I think on one hand, when everything kind of opens back up again, people are going to be eager to have that in-person interaction. But I think in the long-run people are going to realize that you don’t always need to travel to get something done. That you can sometimes have a more personal conversation through video chat than you could in a busy bar or trying to grab 10 minutes of someone’s time during a trade show or an event. So that will stick around, the value that brings. That’ll probably be the biggest thing that will linger.
The biggest thing while I was on maternity leave was just commending everyone that worked through this time in any role. Because this is an unprecedented event for our generation and in our lifetime, and there’s a lot of emotional duress that comes along with it. So the fact that business has been able to survive and be strong across the board is pretty commendable. Especially working moms! It’s so hard, but it’s also an upside — I definitely wouldn’t have been able to spend so much time with her had we had to go back to the office. That’s one thing that I hope sticks around, that flexibility and being able to work around people’s lives.
DaBaby and Roddy Ricch’s “Rockstar” may have been named Billboard’s Song of the Summer after ruling the Songs of the Summer chart for 13 out of 15 weeks, but it wasn’t the only hot tune we had on repeat the last few months.
Harry Styles’ sweet “Watermelon Sugar” was a staff favorite, as was Benee’s “Supalonely” (appropriate, considering all the social distancing and quarantining we’ve been doing). Below, find out which songs had us dancing and humming during the warm-weather months of 2020, and listen to all the tunes in our playlist.
Aminé, “Compensating” (feat. Young Thug)
“The slinky beats on this song, with Aminé’s bouncy bars and ad-libs, always got me shimmying my shoulders. But Thugger literally eating on the beat made me love it that much more.” — Heran Mamo
Benee, “Supalonely” (feat. Gus Dapperton)
“Every year there seems to be at least one song with a retro vibe that breaks through the noise and becomes a radio hit, and this one feels like it checks the boxes for 2020. For one, it’s got a paradoxically uptempo vibe, is catchy as hell, and has a random dude named Gus Dapperton on it. For another, it’s also about being, ahem, super lonely, which seems like a common enough sentiment for #PandemicLife that everyone can relate to it in one way or another. It is truly surprising it didn’t become bigger, but such is the lonely life we lead.” – Dan Rys
“This delightful tune blends classic pop/soul values with a thoroughly contemporary vibe. It joins a long line of songs with sad lyrics set to a bouncy beat. Just one problem: ‘Supalonely’ peaked at No. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100. This shoulda been a top 10 smash. “ — Paul Grein
BLACKPINK, “How You Like That”
“I’m a sucker for sassy, edgy tunes, and this catchy one by BLACKPINK totally stuck with me this summer, despite the fact that K-pop is generally not my jam. Whether I was consciously hitting ‘play’ or subconsciously humming it, I couldn’t escape the song — nor did I want to.” – Anna Chan
“‘Dynamite’ is so instantly grabby and danceable, the first time I heard it I thought, ‘Is this some kind of mad genius lite-funk mind-control experiment from the disco days?'” — Gil Kaufman
“Fresh off his 2019 summer smash ‘No Guidance’ featuring Drake, C. Breezy etched out a new earworm with Thugger a year later. The dance-happy bop not only birthed the #GoCrazyChallenege, but solidified Breezy and Thugger’s status as summertime heavy hitters. “ — Carl Lamarre
Dougie Poole, “Los Angeles”
“I like this strangely sublime song because it’s a new take on the road trip anthem, negotiating ambition and love across a cosmic cross-country journey. It’s breezy yet sophisticated, weird but surprisingly familiar (much of the guitar work feels borrowed from Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”) and perfect for staring directly into the ceiling fan while getting lost in the circular patterns.” – Dave Brooks
Dua Lipa, “Love Is Religion” (The Blessed Madonna Remix)
“Madonna made a cameo on The Blessed Madonna’s remix of Dua Lipa’s ‘Levitating.’ but the real Material Girl homage came via the producer’s Club Future Nostalgia’s edit of ‘Love Is Religion.’ Emotionally deep and deliriously joyful, the track packs serious ‘Like a Prayer’ vibes (The Blessed Madonna called that latter track “among the most perfect records ever made”) and delivered the uplift that, after a seriously hard summer, we were all in need of.” — Katie Bain
Glass Animals, “Heat Waves”
“It’s more or less in the name, but this standout track from the U.K. group’s new album Dreamland is an absolute sizzler. It’s catchy and compellancholy, which is a new word I’ve just invented that means a mix of ‘compelling’ and ‘melancholy.’ The perfect tune for ‘late nights in the middle of June’ and beyond.” – Gab Ginsberg
Gunna, “Dollaz on My Head” (feat. Young Thug)
“During a summer in which we were denied the opportunity to watch Gunna perform ‘Dollaz on My Head’ at hip-hop festivals and his own shows, I settled for head-banging to its beat a countless amount of times while driving around the New Jersey suburbs. I am certainly not cool, but Gunna is, effortlessly; his tossed-off observations have never sounded slicker than on this Mike WiLL Made-It/Myles Harris production, and Young Thug, ever the chameleon, slips into the groove on its back half, providing some bounce to balance out Gunna’s viscous flow.” — Jason Lipshutz
Harry Styles, “Watermelon Sugar”
“A sweet blast of Peter Gabriel-esque power-pop that oozed summer out of every note.” — Ian Drew
“The past few months have been extremely bad for many reasons, but tuning out for a few moments every so often and listening to Harry Styles’ fruit-filled musings has been the closest thing I’ve gotten to a true ‘summer feeling.'” — Josh Glicksman
“From the lyrics that mention summer no fewer than four times to the languid, woozy feel of the song, ‘Watermelon Sugar’ provided the perfect respite from a summer that most of us would rather forget. Add in a mouth-watering video that not only brought the beach into the viewer’s living room but took eating watermelon to a new orgiastic heights and Styles provided peak escapism when we needed it the most.” – Melinda Newman
“Mostly because I’m a sucker for Harry Styles dressed in Gucci on the beach. Who isn’t?” – Mia Nazareno
“It’s such a feel-good, carefree, and quite relaxing song.” – Quinton McMillan
“Harry Styles says ‘summer’ six times in ‘Watermelon Sugar,’ so it’s taking the crown for me. Also, the breezy melody and music video will have me wishing for berries and that summer feelin’ well into fall and winter.” — Rania Aniftos
Jayda G, “Both of Us”
“I’m convinced that this airy, blissed-out house earworm from Canadian producer-DJ Jayda G works for any occasion. I had it on loop all summer, whether I was working, working out, hanging at home in quarantine or doing what it was clearly meant for — dancing.” — Tatiana Cirisano
Jowell y Randy with J Balvin, “Anaranjado”
“Jowell y Randy are keeping perreo and old-school reggaeton alive one song at a time — and ‘Anaranjado’ is proof of that. The slowed-down contemporary urban tune in collaboration with J Balvin is both captivating and sensual, perfect for dedicating to that special someone and dancing to it all summer long.” — Jessica Roiz
“Because no better hit could soundtrack this messy summer with a motto that reminds us to be thankful for what we do have. ” – Lyndsey Havens
Morgan Wallen, “7 Summers”
“A great country track that peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100.” — Thom Duffy
Phoebe Bridgers, “Kyoto”
“‘Kyoto’ came out in April but really picked up play for me during this mess of a summer, as it was the perfect high-low combo: an upbeat rocker (with trumpet and pocket piano!) coupled with darkly funny lines like ‘I’m gonna kill you/ If you don’t beat me to it.’ It is the perfect time for a sardonic Song of the Summer.” — Christine Werthman
Renee Blair, “Heatin’ Up My Summer”
“I’ve already expressed my appreciation once on Billboard for how this ‘Carly Rae-goes-country banger’ saved me the trouble of having to pretend to engage in a traditional summer myself. Now, though, I’m also realizing that while its sound is low-stakes warm-weather, its tone is actually more Summer 2020-appropriate — frustrated, yearning, and seemingly unsure of how much of its anxiousness is based on real life and how much is just going on in Renee Blair’s own head.”
– Andrew Unterberger
Rina Sawayama, “Comme des Garcons (Like the Boys)”
“Rina Sawayama’s ‘Comme des Garcons (Like the Boys)’ was my go-to summer 2020 dance jam (and therefore, my song of the summer): With chilly Chicago house grooves, a disco veneer and a touch of electrocrash attitude, it’ll get you moving, but it’s laid-back enough that you’re not going to embarrass yourself on the tiled dance floor of Club Kitchen (where the acoustics are decent but the lighting is terrible). ” – Joe Lynch
“To this day, I still don’t know what TKN stands for, but it sure stuck with me all summer long thanks to an easy-to-remember chorus and the song’s irresistible fusion of reggaeton, dembow and trap.” — Griselda Flores
Shamir, “On My Own”
“Putting aside the on-the-nose theme of isolation while living through a global pandemic, ‘On My Own’ was the hazy, guitar-filled jam that I needed this summer. Shamir’s crystal-clear vocals and deep-cutting songwriting just made for a deeply satisfying experience every time I pressed play on this song.” – Stephen Daw
Taylor Swift, “The Last Great American Dynasty”
“Despite Folklore’s general evocation of chillier seasons, ‘The Last Great American Dynasty’ gives off a more summery-vibe. (Perhaps it’s because the famed Holiday House was the site of Swift’s Instagram-friendly Fourth of July parties.) As for why it was on repeat? I like to imagine myself having a marvelous time ruining everything.” – Denise Warner
Looks like K-pop fans really enjoyed the sweet ride BTS took them on in their “IONIQ: I’m On it” video.
They picked BTS’ video promo in partnership with Hyundai over BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez’s “Ice Cream” animated dance performance treat after voting in a poll posted to Billboard last Wednesday (Sept. 2).
BTS won with 76.85% of the poll with their sleek scenic visual that showed the boys defying gravity at different spots they individually jetted off to with the South Korean car manufacturer’s new electric vehicle brand IONIQ.
The ARMY can download the “IONIQ: I’m On It” jingle for free on Hyundai’s website, but they can follow in the boy band’s footsteps by also becoming winners. The Hyundai Lifestyle Instagram launched a special sweepstake yesterday (Sept. 8) for an exclusive few to take home the limited-edition cassette-designed Mp3 player that was featured in the video.
See the final results of the K-pop videos poll below.