Taylor Swift, Rina Sawayama, Mxmtoom & More Celebrate Chinese New Year

Happy Lunar New Year! The holiday officially ushers in the year of the ox starting Friday (Feb. 12), and artists from Taylor Swift to Rina Sawayama are wishing fans a safe celebration.

Swift, who’s on the heels of her own celebration after re-recording her 2008 romantic classic “Love Story,” shared a video message on her Instagram Story. “Hey guys. I just wanted to say happy Chinese New Year. I hope everyone is staying safe and happy, and I’m wishing you all the best,” she said.

Sawayama used her platform to shine a light on the growing number of hate crimes committed against Asian-American communities, especially those targeting elderly individuals, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She shared a GoFundMe page that plans to raise $150,000 for Bay Area, LA and NY organizations committed to empowering the community in various ways.

“Sending u lots of love and a safe and happy Lunar new year,” the Japanese-born British singer-songwriter wrote on Twitter.

Check out the stars’ messages in celebration of Chinese New Year below.

Donald Glover & Phoebe Waller-Bridge Team for ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’ Series

How’s this for a collaboration: Donald Glover and Phoebe Waller-Bridge are uniting for an Amazon series, Mr.& Mrs. Smith. The Atlanta star teased the series, coming to Amazon in 2022, on his Instagram story Friday (Feb. 12).

The project, a reboot of the 2005 New Regency film starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, has quietly been in the works for months and stems from the Fleabag creator’s overall deal with Amazon.Waller-Bridge and Glover will create and star in the series. Francesca Sloane (Atlanta, Fargo) — who is also under an overall deal with Amazon — is also attached as a co-creator and will serve as showrunner. New Regency’s Yariv Milchan and Michael Schaefer will also exec produce, as will Jenny Robins of Wells Street Films.

The updated Mr. & Mrs. Smith marks a teaming of Emmy winners Glover and Waller-Bridge who both have a history of creating and starring in their own material. Glover, who sources say quietly renewed his overall deal with FX Productions last year after drawing interest from Amazon and other outlets, continues to have Atlanta in the works at FX. The series marks Waller-Bridge’s follow-up to Amazon’s Emmy-winning Fleabag.

The original Mr. & Mrs. Smith grossed $487 million worldwide when it was released in 2005. Key to doing reboots is having the original producers involved, which is the case here with New Regency.

This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.

First Country: New Music From Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton, Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, Lily Rose, More

Florida Georgia Line, Life Rolls On

Since breaking through in 2012 with their smash hit “Cruise,” Florida Georgia Line have been a model of consistency in country music, never going more than two-and-a-half years without releasing a new album. Fifth full-length Life Rolls On is the duo’s first that cannot be actively enjoyed by packed arenas and festival crowds upon release, but until the touring industry can overcome the pandemic, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley have offered a balm for tough times, as they toast the simple pleasures on “Life Looks Good” and salute America on “U.S. Stronger.” — JASON LIPSHUTZ

Ryan Hurd with Maren Morris, “Chasing After You”

Hurd and Morris have sung on each other’s records before but this is their first official duet and it’s a beauty. The sultry tune, written by Brinley Addington and Jerry Flowers, perfectly describes the vicissitudes of a burgeoning relationship and the inability to stay away. Bring on a full album of duets!

Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage”

Directed by Todd Stefani, brother of Shelton’s fiance, Gwen Stefani, at Shelton’s Ole Red venue in Tishomingo, Okla., the performance clip of Shelton’s rising hit about being love rich even if money poor is a straight ahead performance clip that will make Shelton and concert fans sorely miss both. As for all those fans seemingly shoulder to shoulder in the video, Shelton said in a statement it’s an optical illusion: “Of course, everyone had to be pre-tested and re-tested and temperature checks and social distance. I’m still amazed by the camerawork and how it looks like Ole Red is packed with people knowing there were just a handful of people actually on site.”

Jameson Rodgers and Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name”

Labelmates Rodgers and Combs assume the roles of beer deliverymen in the video for their hit. It turns out they and their big rig make house calls in this lighthearted clip that matches the song’s feel-good tone. The only remaining question is how much did Miller Lite pay for the product placement?

Lily Rose, “Villain”

Newcomer Lily Rose make a striking Big Loud debut with this tune about her willingness to be the bad one in a past relationship if it helps her ex-partner sleep at night. “What they don’t know is I tried to make us work it out/but I couldn’t save it,” she sings in a throaty delivery full of regret. A promising new talent.

Callista Clark, Real to Me

Teenager Clark arrives with confidence and verve on her debut EP for Big Machine. Clark, who co-wrote the five tracks on the set, shines on first single “It’s Cause I Am,” a tune with a Bonnie Raitt swagger, while “Heartbreak Song” and the title track show off her fine voice. “Don’t Need It Anymore” shows a sweet vulnerability. For readers of credits and signs, Nathan Chapman, who worked with a young Taylor Swift, produced the set.

Brad Paisley, “Off Road”

Paisley’s latest entry, complete with one of his usual tasty guitar solos, is about a woman who definitely isn’t taking the beaten path after moving from Tennessee to Malibu. “She didn’t move out here to fail/she’s going to blaze a brand new trail.” Running out of black top may give others pause, but not Paisley’s gal— She can go anywhere/ain’t nothing out of reach,” he sings. But Paisley provides a warning if you plan on riding shotgun, literally or romantically: “You want to love her/I tell you what/ trust me boy/you better buckle up.”

Hannah Dasher, “Left Right”

New Sony Nashville signee Dasher is as country as they come, down to the Dolly Parton-like big hair, and clever wordplay. In this twangy, rollicking tune, she advises a beau if he wants to keep his woman, he better put a ring on it or he’ll be “left right” one morning. “If you want it, you better put a ring on her left right now.”

Emma White, “Thirties”

White issues this empowering salute about life in her 30s and the confidence that comes with entering a new decade. “In my 30s, I finally feel a little more like me… but I’m still learning/giving up on getting it perfect/not chasing anything that’s not worth it,” she sings with a wisdom that only comes with age. Will resonate with anyone who is headed into that seminal decade, is there now, or can reflect back on the self-determination that time brought.

MSG Entertainment Revenue Down 94%, But Things Are Looking Up

Madison Square Garden Entertainment’s (MSGE) revenue in the three months ended Dec. 31 — its fiscal second quarter — was $23.1 million, down 94.1% from the $325.4 million posted in the period a year earlier, the company announced Friday (Feb. 12).

The quarter was the live music business’s third full quarter affected by shut-down orders that bought touring to a standstill. MSGE had just $46.5 million of revenues from April 1 to Dec. 31, 2020, down 94.1% year over year from $787 million.

Although MSGE’s share price fell as much as 6.5% to $94.01 on Friday, investors have faith in live entertainment: Closing at $97.02, MSGE has lost little value since it spun off from MSG’s sports division at $100 on April 9, 2020. Its shares were trading below $70 as recently as Nov. 2 — the beneficiary of a bull market as well as positive news about vaccination rollouts.

MSGE’s $1.45 billion of liquidity on Dec. 31 was helped by a debt sale of $650 million in November and $20.6 million raised from the sale of some its stake in fantasy sports platform DraftKings.com. Its operational cash burn was just $64 million in the quarter and $107 million went to capital expenditures, mainly the construction of its next-generation venue, the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas, that is planned to open in 2023.

In New York, where tours were suspended last March, music venues and concert promoters have reason for optimism: On Wednesday, the state announced that arenas with capacities over 10,000 will start to re-open Feb. 23, 2021 — starting with an NBA game at Barclays Center in Brooklyn — with limited capacities and strict safety requirements. MSGE will begin hosting professional basketball games by the end of February. Events require approval by the state’s Department of Health and will be limited to 10% of capacity, a level that’s “very difficult” to make concerts viable, MSGE president Andy Lustgarten said during the earnings call.

Executive chairman and CEO James Dolan said in a statement the state’s actions are “another important step” to “a return to normal operations,” although he was vague enough to prevent investors from setting expectations. After all, promoters are still cancelling events more than announcing them. And while there is certainly a “pent-up demand for live entertainment,” as Dolan said, how and when that demand will be fulfilled is unknown.

A factor in MSGE’s favor is a local footprint that subjects it to fewer regulations and road blocks than a promoter that must route national tours through multiple, uneven state and city restrictions. Then again, such imbalances in entertainment can hurt a regional promoter that relies on artists that conduct national tours — without national touring, the U.S. live music business will be hamstrung.

Kelly Clarkson Brings Back a ‘Voice’ Classic by Covering This Christina Aguilera & Blake Shelton Duet

It’s been nine years since Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton performed “Just a Fool” on The Voice when they were both coaches. On Friday (Feb. 12), Kelly Clarkson took the stage of her own talk show to pull off the duet all on her own.

She stripped down the country-pop ballad on the dimly lit stage with only The Kelly Clarkson Show’s musical director Jason Halbert playing the piano. Clarkson powered through Aguilera’s first verse before taking on the swelling chorus.

“I, I had my heart set on you/ But nothin’ else hurts like you do/ Who knew that love was so cruel/ I waited and waited so long/ For someone who’ll never come home/ It’s my fault to think you’d be true/ I’m just a fool,” she sang while hitting the high note in the titular line.

“Just a Fool” was featured on Aguilera’s seventh album Lotus from 2012. Aguilera and Shelton promoted the song by performing it live on The Voice during its third season on Nov. 19, 2012.

Watch her Kellyoke cover of “Just a Fool” below.

Harry Connick Jr. Goes It ‘Alone’ for Faith-Inspired New Album: Watch ‘Amazing Grace’

We’ve all had a lot of time to ourselves over the past year — even Harry Connick Jr.

The Grammy-winning musician decided to take that spare time and retreat to his in-home studio for a brand-new album, Alone With My Faith, that he put together almost entirely on his own.

“I was able to go deep within myself as a musician and a man, uninterrupted by the normalcies of collaboration or human interaction,” Connick wrote in a personal statement about his new project. “It was a sort of ‘musical isolation chamber,’ a silent retreat, the silence only broken by the sound of my own voice, the instruments I played and the occasional microphone I inadvertently knocked over, as I’m not the most graceful recording engineer that ever lived!”

Connick sang every part, played every instrument and arranged every song on the album, out March 19 via Universal Music’s Verve and Capitol CMG. Up first is his stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace,” along with a music video directed by Connick’s 24-year-old daughter Georgia.

In addition to “Amazing Grace,” some other familiar spiritual titles on the track list include “How Great Thou Art,” “Because He Lives,” “Be Not Afraid” and “The Old Rugged Cross,” mixed in with some Connick originals.

“Besides the familiar, traditional songs, I wrote and recorded new music that tells the story of my experience during the lockdown,” he adds in his personal note. “I, like most of us, felt joy, sadness, doubt, conviction, melancholy and inspiration – all the emotions that faith, or lack thereof, can elicit. Even though many of the songs are Christian, my hope is that they will resonate with people of all faiths, as it gives me great comfort to know that faith is an immeasurably beautiful gift that, with its universal spirit, can help bring us together in the most arduous of times.”

Below, find the video and full track list:

Alone With My Faith track list:

Alone With My Faith
Because He Lives
Be Not Afraid
Benevolent Man
Amazing Grace
The Old Rugged Cross
How Great Thou Art
God and My Gospel
Old Time Religion
All These Miracles
Look Who I Found
Thank You for Waiting (For Me)
Panis Angelicus

Which Taylor Swift Re-Recorded Album Are You Most Looking Forward To? Vote!

Taylor Swift announced Thursday that Fearless is the first of six albums she’ll be re-recording — but which one are you dying to hear?

Those albums — which were released between 2006 and 2017 by Big Machine Label Group, which Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings purchased in its entirety (including Swift’s master recordings) in June 2019 — include her self-titled debut, FearlessSpeak NowRed1989 and Reputation.

The country-pop crossover star is only one of two female artists (along with Adele) to win album of the year at the Grammy Awards twice for her solo recordings, earning the major accolade in 2010 for Fearless and again in 2015 for 1989.

Taylor Swift not only launched Swift’s career, but also solidified her status as a country star. But the global sensation expanded from her signature sound later on in her discography, developing a synth-pop template for 1989 and delving deeper into dark electropop production for Reputation.

So which re-recorded T-Swift album are you excited to go back to? Vote below!