Is the 2021 Song of Summer Already Out? Silk Sonic, Lil Nas X & More Hot Possibilities

Sure, it’s only April, but we can still dream about hotter temperatures along with (we hope) beach parties and family BBQs. And when we think about what songs will be soundtracking those moments, it’s time to start thinking about what could be the Song of the Summer for 2021.

Even though Billboard’s own Song of the Summer chart won’t start up for its annual run on Billboard.com until after Memorial Day, Pop Shop Podcast founder and senior director of music Jason Lipshutz wrote his annual Way-Too-Early Song of the Summer 2021 predictions, so we invited him on to the latest episode to break it all down. Some possibilities include “Leave the Door Open” from Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s new throwback Silk Sonic project as well as Justin Bieber’s latest Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit “Peaches,” which will be a perfect addition to your summer fruit salad.

Of course there’s also Lil Nas X’s brand-new Hot 100 chart-topper “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” or who knows? A future song from Rihanna, Drake or Adele could come out of nowhere.

Listen to our full conversation on the latest Billboard Pop Shop Podcast:

Also on the show, we’ve got chart news on Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” debuting at No. 1 on the Hot 100 as a whopping five albums debut in the top 10 on the Billboard 200, including the new No. 1: Rod Wave’s “SoulFly.” Plus, after a drought of new releases, we’re flush with new music from everyone from Demi Lovato and Lil Tjay to Olivia Rodrigo and a surprise EP from Justin Bieber.

The Billboard Pop Shop Podcast is your one-stop shop for all things pop on Billboard’s weekly charts. You can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard’s deputy editor, digital, Katie Atkinson and senior director of Billboard charts Keith Caulfield every week on the podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast provider. (Click here to listen to the previous edition of the show on Billboard.com.)

First-Ever Radio Globo Quem Awards Will Honor & Celebrate Brazilian Music

Quem magazine and Radio Globo, two of Brazil’s biggest media companies, have joined forces for the first-ever Prêmio Rádio Globo Quem (Radio Globo Quem Awards), Billboard has learned.

The first annual ceremony, taking place in June, will honor and celebrate Brazil’s diverse music scene, including samba, hip-hop, rap, funk and forró, to name a few.

More than 60 artists are expected to be nominated in 16 categories, 11 of which will be based on popular fan votes, such as best collaboration, best fan club and best choreography. Categories such as artist of the year and best new artist will be voted by a special jury. Meanwhile, the awards for most-liked artist of the year and most-liked song of the year will be voted by listeners on the Radio Globo app.

“In the midst of everything we are experiencing, I am very happy to promote an award show that celebrates artists and music, our escape and everyday comfort, without prejudice to genres and styles,” Quem’s editor in chief, Danilo Saraiva, said in a statement. “For this, we are preparing a beautiful, safe, fun and digital event for people to enjoy at home.”

Jonas Vilandez, manager of music business, Radio Globo added: “Celebrating music never hurts. Recognizing the artists who help make our programming, and even at the hands of our listeners, is a huge pleasure. We hope this will be the first edition of many.”

Presented by Smirnoff and Tanqueray, the awards show will not only feature live and in-studio presentations, but also a red carpet with the nominated artists. Radio Globo Quem Awards are scheduled for June 23 via livestream across Quem and Radio Globo’s social accounts.

Bassnectar Accused of Sexual Abuse & Human Trafficking in Lawsuit; DJ Denies Claims

Bassnectar and a variety of companies connected to the electronic music producer have been named in a new lawsuit alleging sexual abuse, grooming, human trafficking, the manufacturing and possession of child pornography and more. His attorney denies all claims.

On Monday the Nashville-based firm Laffey, Bucci & Kent filed of a lawsuit against the producer born Lorin Ashton, his label Amorphous Music, Bassnectar Touring, his management companies Red Light Management and C3 Presents and his charitable organization, Interactive Giving Fund.

The plaintiffs, Rachel Ramsbottom and Alexis Bowling, allege that Ashton sexually abused them as minors. Additionally, the myriad other companies named in the suit are accused of engaging in “a human trafficking venture.”

“While this is just the first two lawsuits that have been filed,” Brian Kent, one of the attorneys involved in the lawsuit, tells Billboard, “I don’t want to definitively say that these are the only two.”

Neither Red Light Management nor C3 Presents — a management and production company behind events including Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza — responded to Billboard’s requests for comment. The suit also alleges that Ashton used his Interactive Giving Fund charitable organization “to target, recruit and ultimately victimize young girls, like Plaintiffs, for sexual exploitation.”

The complaint alleges that Ashton met both defendants via Twitter when they were underage high school students. “After performances, Bassnectar would invite these underage girls to his hotel room and demand that the girls shower so that they were ‘clean,'” the complaint says. “He would then have sex with them, requiring the sex to be unprotected, without a condom, and would provide large sums of cash and other items of value in exchange.”

The complaint continues that Ashton required the defendants to keep these relationships secret, that he requested they send him sexually explicit photos and that he controlled their lives including who they were allowed to see and what they could wear, among other allegations.

“These outrageous claims — which were clearly designed for the media, rather than for the courts — are completely without merit, and we eagerly look forward to proving so,” Ashton’s attorney, Mitchell Schuster, says in a statement provided to Billboard.

This lawsuit comes nine months after Ashton announced he was “stepping back” from his career after a wave of sexual misconduct allegations surfaced, many of them via the anonymously run Instagram page @evidenceagainstbassnectar.”

“I am stepping down from my position of power and privilege in this community because I want to take responsibility and accountability,” Ashton said in his July 2020 statement. “I feel intense compassion for anyone I may have hurt. I truly hope you allow me a chance to work together toward healing.” He went to say that the “rumors” are “untrue,” adding that “I realize some of my past actions have caused pain, and I am deeply sorry.”

The complaint continues that when these allegations came to light in the summer of 2020, Ashton reached out to both defendants to tell them he would “always love” them and to offer them money in an effort to keep them from speaking out. Bowling alleges that the head of Interactive Giving Fund also contacted her and pressured her against disclosing any information publicly.

Kent notes that both Ramsbottom and Bowling chose to have their names publicly listed in lieu of using aliases.

“By having the strength and courage to have their names be public,” he says, “they hope other individuals who’ve had similar experiences will have the strength and courage to follow them. Secondly, they want to hold people accountable, and they feel that having their identities out there will help to do so.”

Republic Records Forms New Arab Music-Focused Label With The Weeknd Manager Sal Slaiby

Universal Music Group’s Republic Records and The Weeknd manager Wassim “Sal” Slaiby are joining forces to launch a Middle Eastern music record label.

The new label, to be named Universal Arabic Music, will focus on discovering and championing artists and sounds from the Middle East and North Africa, a region with vast potential as a music market, based on its population of about 500 million, that has traditionally been plagued by rampant piracy.

Slaiby, who has been pushing on other fronts to boost the profile of Middle Eastern music, founded the new label and will serve as CEO. “It’s been my dream to highlight the talent and culture of Arabic music on a global level with partners that I trust and admire,” he said in a press release.

The label, unveiled on Tuesday by Slaiby, UMG Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge and Republic Records founder and CEO Monte Lipman, will seek to give Middle Eastern music — both from the region and from the diaspora around the world — a more global platform to reach the widest possible audience.

Slaiby, a refugee or the Lebanese Civil War who immigrated to Canada at 15, has dramatically raised his profile in the music industry in the past few years. In addition to managing The Weeknd, who had the top song on the Billboard Hot 100 last year with “Blinding Lights,” he also manages Moroccan-born French Montana, Doja Cat and several other artists, producers and songwriters.

The new label is building a team of experts who speak Arabic and have a deep understanding of Arabic music and culture, the partners say. The team will work alongside UMG’s labels in the U.S., U.K., Brazil, France, Germany, Australia, Mexico — as well as with UMG’s existing operations in the MENA region.

The global audience for Arabic music is growing rapidly, in part due to its rising popularity across social media channels and among the large Arabic diasporas around the world.

Social media is helping to build awareness of new Arabic artists and songs in the U.S., Brazil, France, Turkey and across Latin America, where there are large Arabic communities, Universal says. Brazil, for example, has the highest concentration of Arabs outside the Middle East, with an estimated 15 million Brazilians of Arab ancestry, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics.

“The cultural importance of music from the MENA region crossing boundaries and reaching all corners of the world is long overdue,” Republic’s Lipman said in a press release.

The Middle East and North Africa region, ranked 29th in the world, grew by 38% last year in total recorded music revenues, to $63.4 million, according to IFPI. Of that, streaming represented 93% of the total.

The new label could also help address a supply and demand issue that industry executives in the Middle East have recently highlighted. While consumers in the region have shown a strong preference for consuming Arabic-language music, only a tiny percentage of songs on music streaming platforms like Anghami, which recently went public on the Nasdaq, are actually Arab music.

Anghami co-founder Eddy Maroun told Billboard last month that of the streamer’s 57 million songs, only 1% is Arab music, even though 50% of the music consumed on the platform is Arabic-language music. “We need to create more content,” Maroun said.

As part of its launch on Tuesday, Universal Arab Music said it had signed 17-year-old Jordanian singer-songwriter Issam Alnajjar, whose debut single “Hadel Ahbek” drew over 3 billion views on TikTok and peaked at No. 14 on Billboard’s World Digital Song Sales chart. The song has also topped Spotify’s Viral Global and U.S. Charts and Shazam’s Top 200 Global Chart, Universal says.

Slaiby also discovered and developed 19-year-old Palestinian-Chilean singer/songwriter Elyanna, who first gained traction after posting covers on Soundcloud. Last year, the now California-based singer released her self-titled debut EP and breakout hit “Ana Lahale” featuring Canadian-Lebanese artist Massari. (Elyanna signed to indie label Empire last year.)

Slaiby, who lives in Los Angeles, also serves as head of international partnerships for Anghami, which is based in Abu Dhabi. The new Arab label’s music will be available on all the streaming services available to other UMG labels, a Universal spokesperson says.

Like other major labels, Universal has been pushing deeper into the MENA region in the past few years. Universal’s regional headquarters is in Dubai, and the label opened an office in Morocco last year to expand its North African footprint.

Everything We Know About ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ So Far

On Nov. 11, 2008, a then-18-year-old Taylor Swift released her blockbuster sophomore album Fearless, which would go on to earn the country-pop singer her first No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart, where it spent 11 nonconsecutive weeks at the top.

Fearless also led Billboard’s Top Country Albums tally for 35 weeks, the second-longest run by a woman and the fifth-lengthiest overall. It became the best-selling album of 2009, gained diamond certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and scored Swift her first album of the year win at the 2010 Grammy Awards.

Now, 13 years later (very on brand for her), on Friday, Swifties will stay up late and relive the magic behind the LP that first hinted at the 31-year-old superstar’s remarkable crossover from country to pop when she releases Fearless (Taylor’s Version), her first re-recorded album of six. “I’m counting down the minutes til we can all jump into this brave world together, filled with equal parts nostalgia and brand newness. Head first, Fearless,” she wrote on Twitter while announcing the track list on April 3.

There will be something old, something new, something borrowed and maybe something blue on the latest edition of Fearless, but before Romeo even kneels to the ground and pulls out a ring like on “Love Story (Taylor’s Version),” the first re-recorded song she released from the upcoming album, Billboard has you covered on everything we know so far about Fearless (Taylor’s Version).

Release Date

Fearless (Taylor’s Version) will be released on April 9, 2021, via Republic Records. She hinted at the specific date via strange capitalizations in her letter to fans on Feb. 11 about traveling back in time to re-record Fearless.

“When I think back on the Fearless album and all that you turned it into, a completely involuntary smile creeps across my face. This was the musical era in which so many inside jokes were created between us, so many hugs exchanged and hands touched, so many unbreakable bonds formed. So before I say anything else, let me just say that it was a real honor to get to be a teenager alongside you,” she wrote. “This process has been more fulfilling and emotional than I could’ve imagined and has made me even more determined to re-record all of my music. I hope you’ll like this first outing as much as I liked traveling back in time to recreate it.”

New Collabs

The first song she released “From the Vault” was “You All Over Me,” featuring Maren Morris, on March 26. The song was written back in 2008 during the sessions for Swift’s Fearless album. The rest of the “From the Vault” offerings give Swift the freedom to “experiment, play, and even include some of my favorite artists,” she wrote on Twitter while announcing their collab.

“You All Over Me” earned Swift her 25th top 10 hit on the Hot Country Songs chart (dated April 10) and Morris her seventh top 10 with its No. 6 debut. Her first offering from Fearless (Taylor’s Version) that she released on Feb. 12, “Love Story (Taylor’s Version),” marked the singer’s first No. 1 debut on the airplay-, sales- and streaming-based tally dated Feb. 27.

Keith Urban contributed to two of the new songs, “duetting on That’s When and singing harmonies on We Were Happy,” Swift wrote while announcing the entire track list on Twitter. “I was his opening act during the Fearless album era and his music has inspired me endlessly.”

Full Track List

Swift’s forthcoming album includes re-recordings of the original 19 songs from the platinum edition of Fearless and “Today Was a Fairytale,” which she wrote and recorded for the 2010 star-studded rom-com Valentine’s Day. Six never-before-released “From the Vault” songs are added to the mix: “You All Over Me,” featuring Morris; “Mr. Perfectly Fine;” “We Were Happy;” “That’s When,” featuring Urban; “Don’t You” and “Bye Bye Baby.” The dancefloor-ready “Elvira Remix” of “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” is included as a bonus track, bringing the total number of songs to 27.

A day prior to unveiling the entire track list, Swift challenged fans to decode the new song titles with a crytic teaser clip full of Easter eggs just in time for the Easter holiday. “The vault door is about to be as unhinged as you’ll think I am after you watch this video,” she tweeted. “Level: Expert. Happy decoding!”

Reason Why She’s Re-Recording Fearless 

Swift announced her intention to re-record her first six albums — released between 2006 and 2017 by Big Machine Label Group — in 2019, following the acquisition of her master recordings by Scooter Braun. Swift had tried to buy back her masters for years prior to the sale, and began re-recording her back catalog last November. Read here for a full timeline of the sale of Swift’s catalog and how in 17 months, ownership over her first six albums has changed hands twice.

“It’s going to be fun, because it’ll feel like regaining a freedom and taking back what’s mine,” Swift told Billboard in 2019 of rerecording her catalog. “When I created [these songs], I didn’t know what they would grow up to be. Going back in and knowing that it meant something to people is actually a really beautiful way to celebrate what the fans have done for my music.”

Florida Georgia Line Lands 15th No. 1 on Country Airplay Chart With ‘Long Live’

Florida Georgia Line earn their 15th No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart as “Long Live” rises 3-1 on the April 10-dated list, up 9% to 28.3 million impressions, according to MRC Data.

The tandem of Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard pass Rascal Flatts for the second-most leaders among duos and groups in the chart’s 31-year history, after Brooks & Dunn’s 20. Among all acts, Kenny Chesney leads with 31 No. 1s.

“Live,” which Hubbard and Kelley wrote with Corey Crowder, David Garcia and Josh Miller, marks FGL’s first Country Airplay leader since “Simple” in October 2018. In between, the act hit a No. 2 high with “I Love My Country” last September.

FGL first led Country Airplay with their debut single “Cruise” for three frames in December 2012. Helped by its pop crossover success, the song dominated the multi-metric Hot Country Songs chart for 24 weeks.

Meanwhile, Hubbard’s duet with Tim McGraw, “Undivided,” his first solo single, ranks at No. 20 on Country Airplay (11 million, up 6%).

Missy Elliott, OutKast & More: Which of Our Top 10 2001 Jams Is Your Favorite? Vote!

The year 2001 saw superproducers Timbaland and The Neptunes expanding hip-hop into mainstream pop and a pair of robots from France breaking ground on the international EDM scene. But which massive hit are you still bumping a decade later?

Billboard let Missy Elliott and Timbaland’s freak flags fly at No. 1 with “Get Ur Freak On” on our 100 greatest songs of 2001 list. On Tuesday (April 6), Elliott recalled on Twitter how the lead single from her 2001 album Miss E… So Addictive almost didn’t make the cut“My album ‘So Addictive’ was completed & be4 turning it in I told Tim i feel like I’m missing something. He said no ‘You good’ I said No pls I need 1 more,” she tweeted. “He was over me but he got on the ASR10 hit a key and I said F— thats it! It was ‘Get UR Freak On.'”

Next up on the list is Atlanta-based duo OutKast, who brought Southern rap to mainstream pop with their career-first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit “Ms. Jackson,” which flaunts André 3000 and Big Boi’s brotherly yin-and-yang chemistry.

But which Billboard-selected 2001 hit is still your favorite in 2021? Vote from our top 10 picks below!