During Supreme Court oral hearings on Tuesday, a line was drawn between a First Amendment case against a college and Taylor Swift’s high-profile sexual assault case, in which she sought (and won) $1 in damages.
Chike Uzuegbunam argued that Georgia Gwinnett College, a public college in Lawrenceville, Ga., violated his First Amendment rights after being ordered multiple times to stop openly discussing his Christian faith on school grounds. Uzuegbunam’s pursuit of nominal damages — meaning a very small amount if he were to win his case — struck a chord with Justice Elena Kagan, who remembered Swift’s 2017 jury verdict after the pop superstar sued Denver radio DJ David Mueller for groping her backside during a meet-and-greet photo shoot before a concert in 2013.
According to a New York Times play-by-play, the judge invoked Swift’s sexual assault case to support the student’s argument by describing it as “the most famous nominal damages case I know of in recent times.” Kagan then reflected on Swift’s symbolic pursuit of $1, after Mueller sued Swift for defamation in 2015 and she successfully countersued him for assault and battery.
“A few years ago, [Swift] brought a suit against a radio host for sexually assaulting her, and she said, I’m not really interested in your money, I just want $1. And that dollar is going to represent something both to me and to the world of women who have experienced what I’ve experienced,” Kagan recalled of the singer’s argument.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett added, “What Taylor Swift wanted was, you know, vindication of the moral right, the legal right, that sexual assault is reprehensible and wrong.”
But Georgia’s Solicitor General Andrew Pinson, who was arguing on behalf of the state college and was only vaguely familiar with Swift’s case, argued that the student’s nominal damages claim wasn’t legally significant after the school relaxed its strict speech codes in 2017, just one year after Uzuegbunam first brought the suit against it. The revised school policy led to his case being dismissed as moot by a district court judge in 2018. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta affirmed the lower court ruling in 2019, which prompted Uzuegbunam to appeal to the highest court in the land.
The Department of Justice vouched for the student in front of the Supreme Court by saying that the small amount of money he was seeking shouldn’t hinder his legal argument.
A decision in the Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski case is expected by late June.
Finneas returns to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Songwriters chart (dated Jan. 16) for a record 11th total week on top, and for the first time since November 2019, thanks to a pair of writing credits on the latest Billboard Hot 100.
With his latest week at the summit, Finneas passes Roddy Ricch for the most total weeks spent at No. 1, dating to the chart’s June 2019 inception.
“Therefore I Am” by Billie Eilish, Finneas’ sister and co-writer, ranks at No. 14 on the Hot 100. It reached No. 2 in November. Justin Bieber and benny blanco’s “Lonely,” which Finneas co-wrote with the pair, follows at No. 18, after debuting at its No. 14 high in October.
Finneas led the inaugural Hot 100 Songwriters chart dated June 15, 2019, and spent 10 weeks at No. 1 that year. He last ruled the ranking dated Nov. 30, 2019 (in a tie with Eilish).
Eilish, meanwhile, jumps 18-10 on Hot 100 Songwriters. She previously spent four weeks at No. 1.
On the Hot 100 Producers ranking, Joey Moi tallies an eighth week at No. 1, thanks to five production credits on the Hot 100, including on four songs by Morgan Wallen: “More Than My Hometown” (No. 27), “7 Summers” (No. 53), “Somebody’s Problem” (No. 81) and “Still Goin Down” (No. 98). (Plus, Chris Lane’s “Big, Big Plans” ranks at No. 49.)
The weekly Hot 100 Songwriters and Hot 100 Producers charts are based on total points accrued by a songwriter and producer, respectively, for each attributed song that appears on the Hot 100; plus, genre-based songwriter and producer charts follow the same methodology based on corresponding “Hot”-named genre charts. As with Billboard’s yearly recaps, multiple writers or producers split points for each song equally (and the dividing of points will lead to occasional ties on rankings).
The full Hot 100 Songwriters and Hot 100 Producers charts, in addition to the full genre rankings, can be found on Billboard.com.
Republican Colorado congressman Ken Buck took shots at Madonna and other Hollywood stars on Wednesday (Jan. 13) during a debate about impeaching President Donald Trump on the House floor, blaming not only his Democratic counterparts, but also liberal celebrities for their anti-Trump comments in the past.
“Robert De Niro said that he wanted to punch the president in the face. Madonna thought about blowing up the White House. Kathy … Griffin held up a likeness of the president’s beheaded head. And nothing was said by my colleagues at that point,” Buck said, trying to draw a line between the president being accused of inciting violence during last week’s Capitol attack and celebrities’ previous statements.
In 2017, the Queen of Pop took the stage at the Women’s March on Washington, the day after Trump was inaugurated as president, and made some provocative comments to the crowd, though she finished with a message of love. “Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House. But I know this won’t change anything. We cannot fall into despair,” the “Material Girl” singer said during the March. “As the poet W. H. Auden once wrote on the eve of World War II, we must love one another or die. I choose love. Are you with me? Say this with me: We. Choose. Love.”
Madonna took to Instagram a day after her speech and clarified that she didn’t mean to promote violence with her comment and that acting out of the anger she felt “doesn’t solve anything. And the only way to change things for the better is to do it with love.”
Griffin noted her only takeaway from Buck’s speech was that she and Madonna were being name-dropped, according to her Twitter.
Watch Buck’s statement below.
Latin music produced in 2020 was as experimental as ever, with Bad Bunny delivering a batch of rock en Español-inspired songs on El Último Tour del Mundo and regional Mexican trio Eslabon Armado placing their bets on old-school ballads for a deeper connection with fans.
We predict 2021 will be just as promising, surprising and exciting in terms of trends we’ll see throughout the year. Some of the trends we’ll see thrive this year include tapping into the ’80s and ’90s for inspiration, a more musically rich reggaeton (one that incorporates live instruments), and a continuation of the Argentine trap takeover.
Below, Billboard breaks down five Latin music trends for 2021.
Taking it back
An experimental Bad Bunny felt compelled to tap into the rock en Español vibe — think ’90s Spanish rock or Enanitos Verdes — for his third album of 2020, El Último Tour del Mundo. It was unprecedented, fresh and nostalgic, which was the effect he wanted to have with this ultra-personal album. Bad Bunny wasn’t the only one taking it back. Such was the case for Eslabon Armado, who gave us all the feels with their vintage bolero style regional Mexican ballads featured on Corta Venas. 2021 may be a new year, but artists will travel back in time to find inspiration.
“I think we’re going to hear a lot of different sounds in 2021,” says chart-topping producer and songwriter Edgar Barrera. “What we’ve seen in the American market is that artists such as Dua Lipa and The Weeknd are tapping into the ’80s sound. And Bad Bunny did it on our side when he brought rock back. For someone as big as Bad Bunny to do it, I think he has the power to move the needle and start trends.”
Argentine trap takeover
Five out of the 11 best new artist nominees at the 2020 Latin Grammys were Argentine, a reflection of the emerging talent coming out of Argentina. Four of them — Nicki Nicole, Nathy Peluso, Cazzu and Wos — represent the flourishing trap scene in the country that has exploded locally. Argentine trap producer Duki, whose catalog has earned 44.6 million on-demand U.S. audio streams, was also nominated for best urban fusion/performance at the Latin Grammys.
The genre is likely to be catapulted into the international spotlight in 2021. “I’m very happy with everything that’s happening in Argentina,” says award-winning producer Rafa Arcaute. “These are artists who are writing a lot, exploring new melodies, and they have a certain flow with how they do and say things. I think this movement has a lot of strength that’s distinguishable and noticeable with a lot of relevant personalities that’s marking a generation.”
Urban meets tropical
Daddy Yankee and Marc Anthony’s unprecedented collaboration “De Vuelta Pa’ La Vuelta,” which deftly incorporates elements of urban with salsa, turned heads in 2020 and kicked off the new year topping the Tropical Airplay chart. Sergio George, the track’s producer, says the collaboration between these two genres has the potential to start a movement in 2021, but in order to make an urban-infused salsa hit, it has to be done right, he warns. “To avoid what’s happening with reggaeton and the saturation of it, an urban/salsa collaboration has to be done by people who know and respect the genres,” George says. “It’s gotta be honest and real in order to be done right. These guys personify both cultures, they know all about the genre and its key players, it takes people like that to really make a good song. I do believe that Marc and Daddy Yankee started a movement that we’ll see play out this year.”
Reggaeton with a twist
Reggaeton artists will have to find a way to remain relevant and innovative in order to stand out in a crowded field of experimental emerging artists. Unpredictability will be key in 2021.
“Without a doubt, urban music is dominating. We feel that an urban, less tropical and more alternative, would be cool,” say producers Andres Torres and Mauricio Rengifo. “We both like punk rock and we see that many artists are incorporating electric guitars and drums. In the U.S., we see artists such as Machine Gun Kelly have this rock and urban fusion and I think it would be another wing for Latin music. We’re working with that vision right now, trying out urban music with more instruments.”
Barrera echoes Torres and Rengifo. “More urban artists will start searching for a new sound instead of leaning on the same base of sounds we’ve been using these past years. Reggaeton is here to stay, it’s not a trend anymore, but this year, we’ll start seeing how its artists will start incorporating live musicians to the production.”
More Spanglish collaborations
A highlight of 2020 was hearing The Weeknd sing in Spanish next to superstar Maluma in “Hawái.” The pairing between the Canadian and the Colombian artists wasn’t the only bilingual collaboration that was born during quarantine. In fact, last year we saw unprecedented collaborations between artists such as Banda MS and Snoop Dogg, David Bisbal and Carrie Underwood, Rosalía and Travis Scott, and the Spanish singer with The Weeknd too for a reimagined version of “Blinding Lights.”
The ever-growing trend is a reflection of an open musical landscape, as Epic Records executive vp/head of A&R Ezekiel Lewis puts it. “I think as you see more collaborations between artists from different genres and backgrounds, genres are being thrown out of the window,” Lewis previously told Billboard. “I’m seeing more than ever that music breaks down barriers, it brings people together that might not otherwise be together. And, I think that what we can learn from this is that there are not many differences between us and we in general share a common affinity for a great melody and something that makes us all feel good. We all need a soundtrack to our lives.”
The pop star will provide honest testimonies about what led to her near-fatal overdose and what she’s discovered about herself in the aftermath, as well as her musical journey over the last three years. Initial production for the Dancing With the Devil docuseries began during her Tell Me You Love Me World Tour in 2018.
“It’s been two years since I came face-to-face with the darkest point in my life, and now I’m ready to share my story with the world,” Lovato said in a press statement. “For the first time, you’ll be able to see my chronicle of struggle and ongoing healing from my point of view. I’m grateful that I was able to take this journey to face my past head-on and finally share it with the world.”
The first two episodes of the four-part docuseries will premiere for free March 23 on Lovato’s YouTube channel. The next episodes will be released weekly on the following two Tuesdays. This follows her incredibly vulnerable 2017 YouTube Originals documentary Simply Complicated, which has garnered more than 35 million views on the platform so far.
Dancing With the Devil is directed and executive produced by Michael D. Ratner and produced by Ratner’s OBB Pictures and SB Projects.
“Demi’s willingness to explore the darkest elements of her life is going to leave the audience with a complete understanding of everything she’s been through and ultimately where she is going,” Ratner said in a statement. “Demi stands for empowerment, and this documentary is going to answer the many questions that have been out there — providing a real window into the life of one of the biggest stars in the world, who is simply a human being.”
Scott Ratner, Kfir Goldberg and Miranda Sherman are also credited as executive producers for OBB Pictures. Scooter Braun, Allison Kaye and Scott Manson executive produce for SB Projects. Co-executive producers on the project include Andy Mininger and Arlen Konopaki for OBB Pictures; Jen McDaniels, Scott Marcus and James Shin for SB Projects; and Hannah Lux Davis. Marc Ambrose serves as producer.
See Lovato’s announcement below.