Justin Bieber Jumping on a Remix of WizKid’s ‘Essence,’ His Personal ‘Song of the Summer’

WizKid announced Thursday (Aug. 12) that Justin Bieber will be featured on a remix of his Afrobeats hit “Essence,” which also features singer Tems.

The Nigerian superstar teased “something special” was coming on his socials before announcing an official remix featuring the Canadian pop star, which is set to drop at midnight ET. “Thank u for letting me jump on the song of the summer,” Bieber wrote on Instagram while sharing a graphic featuring all three artists’ names on top of the song’s title.

“Essence” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in July at No. 82 after the Tems-assisted song was released in October 2020 from Wiz’s album Made in Lagos. The sultry Afrobeats/R&B club jam has been steadily climbing the tally over the last five weeks, rising to its current position of No. 54 in the week ending Aug. 14.

The song could experience a leap on the chart following the Bieber-assisted remix, which happened with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito.” The Latin pop anthem leapt to No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 2017 and remained at the top for 16 weeks, tying the record for longest-running No. 1 song at the time. The watershed movement could translate for the Afrobeats genre with the new version of “Essence.”

Wiz has famously worked with another Canada-born sensation — Drake — on the No. 1 smash “One Dance” in 2016, which also features British singer Kyla.

The remix comes in the same week as Tunji Balogun, who was executive vp of A&R RCA Records for six years and signed WizKid in 2016, being announced as the new CEO/chairman of Def Jam Records, the home of Bieber. Balogun — who was recently named to Billboard’s R&B Hip-Hop Power Players list — will oversee a roster including Bieber, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Rihanna, YG, Big Sean, Logic and Alessia Cara in his new role.

“This is the first time where it feels like a song is competing on the level of a similarly promoted song from Western artists in the pop genre,” Wizkid told Billboard about the legacy of “Essence” in a new interview. “And I hope that’s the lasting influence of the record — that it opens doors for more people with different styles and different textures.”

Stevie Wonder & Common to Perform Together for Stand Up to Cancer Telethon

Stevie Wonder and Common will perform together for the seventh Stand Up to Cancer telethon, with Anthony Anderson, Sofia Vergara and husband-and-wife Ken Jeong and Tran Ho as hosts.

Brittany Howard also will perform on the hourlong special on Aug. 21 (8 p.m. ET), with Matthew McConaughey, Chandra Wilson, Kate del Castillo, Jennifer Garner, MJ Rodriquez, Tony Hale, Jaime Camil and Max Greenfield among the celebrities helping to raise money for cancer research.

Reese Witherspoon and her media entrepreneur husband, Jim Toth, are serving as executive producers.

The event, which is held every other year, will be carried simultaneously and commercial-free on 60-plus U.S. and Canadian broadcast, cable and streaming outlets, including ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. Families who have been affected by the disease, including that of an 11-year-old boy with leukemia, will share their stories.

As prelude to the TV special, the group is holding a weeklong fundraising initiative starting Friday, with celebrities and social media stars “joining forces across social platforms” for the cause, Stand Up to Cancer said.

Since its founding in 2008, Stand Up to Cancer said it has raised more than $600 million for research that has contributed to federal approvals for nine new cancer therapies and 258 clinical trials. In 2017, the organization began developing a health-equity initiative to help underserved communities by increasing the diversity of enrollment in cancer clinical trials and fund research that addresses cancer inequities.

Also known as SU2C, the organization is a division of the charitable Entertainment Industry Foundation. Katie Couric, among its founders, is set to appear on the special.

Walter Yetnikoff Was a Wolf Among ‘Hit Men,’ But That Was His Undoing

A Music King’s Shattering Fall. It was September 1990, and Time magazine’s lead business story related that Walter Yetnikoff had been fired as CBS Records’ chief executive. Then the world’s largest record label, CBS had issued many of the top-selling albums of the 1980s, among them, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA, and George Michael’s Faith. The Time article proposed that the bosses at Sony, CBS Records’ parent company since 1988, were scandalized by the depiction of Yetnikoff as a “crude, tantrum-throwing egomaniac” in Hit Men, my nonfiction account of the music industry, published two months earlier. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal also contended that my book had played a role in Walter’s dismissal. I believed then, and still do, that the claim was overblown. But from that point on, his name and mine became linked, to the displeasure of both of us.

I’m not going to pretend that my portrait of Yetnikoff, who succumbed to cancer on Aug. 8 only three days shy of his 88th birthday, was flattering. The Yetnikoff of Hit Men was a wild man — hurling expletives and plates, boozing to excess, cavorting with a bevy of girlfriends he dubbed his “shiksa farm,” and once threatening to punch out Mick Jagger over a contract dispute. (“Hell’s bells,” lawyer and manager Eric Kronfeld exclaimed after reading that account. “What middle-aged record executive wants to get into a fistfight with an artist?”) All of Yetnikoff’s excesses, and a good number of my anecdotes about him, were confirmed in his confessional 2004 memoir Howling at the Moon. Indeed, his self-portrait made my own portrayal of him seem tame, including as it did details I had been unable to nail down, such as cocaine binges and sexual trysts in a room adjoining his 11th floor office at Black Rock, the New York headquarters that housed CBS television, radio and records.

Yetnikoff rose from modest beginnings in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, the son of a laborer who periodically beat him. He edited the law review at Columbia Law School, and after a stint in the army, joined the law firm that represented CBS and its founder and chairman William Paley. CBS Records hired him as a staff attorney in 1961, and he moved steadily up the ranks to run the label’s international division, becoming label president in 1975. Unlike great record men such as Ahmet Ertegun, Clive Davis or Berry Gordy, Yetnikoff had a tin ear for music. But he had perfect pitch when it came to artist relationships. When Michael Jackson swept the 1984 Grammys for Thriller, he grabbed Yetnikoff by the arm and brought him onstage to share in the glory.

The Walter Yetnikoff I met in the late ’80s was bearded and barrel-chested, and chain-smoking Nat Sherman cigarettes, a habit that left his Brooklyn baritone a bit raspy. The beard, I always suspected, was worn to cover a weak chin, but it also accented his ethnicity, which he paraded with pride. He called himself Velvel, Yiddish for “Little Walter,” and dubbed Thomas Wyman, CBS president from 1980 to 1986, “the goy upstairs.” At the conclusion of my first encounter with him, he relayed plans for a new musical genre, “Hasidic rock,” and crooned one of his own compositions, “The Shiksa Shtupping Song.”

When Laurence Tisch — a “landsman,” as Yetnikoff put it, Yiddish for “fellow Jew” — ousted Wyman in September 1986, Yetnikoff was initially delighted. NBC News had recently singled out Yetnikoff for opposing an investigation of alleged organized crime influence in record promotion, and implied he was a cocaine user. Tisch rushed to his defense. A month after he became CBS president, I asked Tisch about the NBC report, and he all but wagged a finger at me. “Walter Yetnikoff is a very honorable man,” he said. “Don’t go by the fact that he’s not wearing a tie and has a beard. Walter is a conservative businessman, and too smart to do anything that would jeopardize the company or himself.”

The honeymoon didn’t last long. By 1987, Yetnikoff was calling the short and bald Tisch “the kike upstairs” and “the Evil Dwarf.” That year, Walter midwifed the sale of CBS Records to Sony for $2 billion, making himself rich in the process, with a sign-on bonus estimated at $20 million. He was gleeful. The last time I saw him, in May 1988, Yetnikoff was standing outside the Titus Theater at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Inside, Tisch was conducting the annual CBS shareholder’s meeting, fielding questions about the sale of the record division. “You know,” Yetnikoff said, noticeably drunk, “in the springtime, life blooms, and the flowers grow, and the grass is green, but dwarfs die in the light of the sun. And it’s sort of early spring. That’s a dream I had.”

Tisch, for his part, had ceased referring to Yetnikoff as “a very honorable man.” In 1991, he asked a reporter for New York magazine, “Did you read that book Hit Men? Do you understand why I sold that business? Would you want to be in that business?” Tisch died in November 2003, a few months before the publication of Howling at the Moon, which vindicated a good deal more his decision to sell — Yetnikoff’s confessed cocaine use at Black Rock could have jeopardized CBS’s federally sanctioned broadcast licenses, which were subject to FCC oversight.

Walter’s self-portrait was harsher than anything I had written about him, yet long after his tell-all was published, the mention of Hit Men still set him off. In a 2010 interview, he called me “a plagiarist,” claiming I had appropriated passages from a privately recorded tribute to the late Goddard Lieberson “with no attribution.” (Not true: the attribution was in my source notes.) Walter was always swearing to take legal action against all enemies, real or perceived — in 1988, he told journalist Fred Goodman he was contemplating a RICO, or racketeering, complaint against MCA Records — but not once did he threaten me with litigation.

That honor fell to Clive Davis and David Geffen. In late 1989, the unedited manuscript of Hit Men was leaked by someone at Random House, and before long it seemed all the book’s principal subjects had a copy. Davis sicked the prominent trial lawyer Robert Morvillo on me, and among his litany of complaints was my purportedly false and defamatory account of an unfortunate meeting between himself and the 21-year-old Bob Dylan. The Random House lawyer asked to see my source material. I showed her. It was Clive’s 1974 autobiography. Geffen, meanwhile, unleashed his legal bulldog Bertram Fields, and wasted his money, because the disputed passages had already been removed in the course of fact-checking and editing.

Entertainment lawyer Allen Grubman took a different approach, cordially inviting me to his office, where he insisted on serving me chicken soup with kreplach. Grubman wanted some changes to the chapter about him, and handled the matter in his typical fashion, as a friendly negotiation, an approach that never would have occurred to Geffen. Yetnikoff had thrown a lot of clients Grubman’s way, including Bruce Springsteen, and in return he expected absolute fealty and even some groveling — he once got Grubman to beg on his hands and knees to close a record distribution deal. My manuscript included another more egregious example of Grubman’s subservience to Yetnikoff, but I agreed to remove it, simply because it was not an important detail. Beyond that, I said I would change nothing that he couldn’t convince me was nonfactual. “You have this quote here from Walter,” Grubman said. “‘Once I yelled at Allen, and his wife told me he had to take three Valium.’” Not true? “It is true,” Grubman said. “But I wish you’d add I had to take three more Valium when I read your book!”

By the time Hit Men was published, Grubman no longer had reason to fear Yetnikoff, because Yetnikoff was self-destructing. In 1989, Yetnikoff had checked himself into the Hazelden clinic in Minnesota, emerging clean and sober, and remaining so, he maintained, until the end of his life. But sobriety, he wrote in Howling at the Moon, made him a better person only in some ways. “On many other levels,” he said, “I became worse.” In less than a year, Yetnikoff alienated nearly all his closest allies in the business, including David Geffen, whom he had roused to rage with his insults. Bruce Springsteen manager Jon Landau, who called Geffen his “rabbi,” issued a damning statement to Billboard in late August 1990. In it, Landau said he and Springsteen had long enjoyed “a superb professional relationship and a pleasant social one” with Yetnikoff, but for the past two years, “neither Bruce nor I have had a significant conversation with him.”

To this day, I am convinced that Landau’s declaration shook up the brass at Sony far more than Hit Men, and played the decisive role in Yetnikoff’s ousting. Afterward, I asked Landau whether Geffen had prompted him to issue the statement. He denied it, saying of Yetnikoff, “He took a 14-year relationship and trashed it for irrational reasons. I harbored a great deal of emotion, and I don’t feel like I needed any instruction from David or anybody else. I wrote it in consultation with Bruce.”

I don’t know whether Landau ever made peace with Yetnikoff, but I wish I had. Walter may have disliked me, but the feeling was by no means mutual. In 2014, I updated Hit Men’s e-book edition with a new last chapter — excerpted in Billboard — and the additional material was complimentary to Yetnikoff. In the more than two decades since the book had first been published, Walter had taken to heart the 12-step principle to be of service to others, drawing on his experiences as a recovering addict to volunteer at recovery centers around the New York area. And as a star trial witness, he had helped Steve Popovich, the founder of Cleveland International, recover unpaid royalties from Sony on Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell, which had been issued on Popovich’s custom label. True, while helping Popovich, Yetnikoff may have delighted in sticking it to Sony. Whatever his motive, his cross-examination by Sony’s attorney, whom Yetnikoff brilliantly flummoxed, makes for hilarious reading.

When the news broke of Yetnikoff’s death, I received a lot of messages from friends and colleagues, who, like me, were saddened by his passing. I particularly liked the note sent by Adam White, a former editor-in-chief of Billboard and Universal Music Group executive, and a good friend since the Hit Men days: “So adieu, Velvel. I never thought of him as ageless, but was rather surprised. Wonder if he’ll shout at the gatekeeper, whether above or below.”

Britney Spears’ Dad Jamie Spears Agrees to Step Down as Conservator of Her Estate

Britney Spears’ father Jamie Spears has agreed to step away from his role as conservator of her estate just weeks after her new legal team filed a petition to remove him and replace him with a CPA.

After 13 years of widespread scrutiny but little movement, the circumstances surrounding Spears’ conservatorship have rapidly changed in the past two months. It all started when she gave more than 20 minutes of emotional testimony in a June 23 hearing. She told L.A. County Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny she was traumatized but she’s been putting on a brave face for her fans. “I’ve lied and told the whole world I’m OK and I’m happy,” Spears said. “I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive. I don’t feel like I can live a full life.”

During the July 14 hearing in which Mathew Rosengart was approved to replace Samuel D. Ingham as Spears’ attorney, the singer shared additional comments that made clear she wasn’t happy with her father’s involvement and accused him of conservatorship abuse. Later that month, Spears’ legal team filed a petition seeking to appoint Jason Rubin as the successor to the conservator of Spears’ estate. Rubin, whose background includes financial elder abuse litigation and considerable forensic accounting experience, would join Jodi Montgomery who says Spears has asked her to stay on as conservator of her person.

Jamie Spears’ attorney Vivian Thoreen on Thursday filed a response to the petition for his removal. It pushes back on many of the allegations of wrongdoing, and says there are “no factual grounds” for suspending or removing him — but, nonetheless, he agrees it’s time to stop the fight.

“It is highly debatable whether a change in conservator at this time would be in Ms. Spears’ best interests. Nevertheless, even as Mr. Spears is the unremitting target of unjustified attacks, he does not believe that a public battle with his daughter over his continuing service as her conservator would be in her best interests,” writes Thoreen in the filing. “So even though he must contest this unjustified Petition for his removal, Mr. Spears intends to work with the Court and his daughter’s new attorney to prepare for an orderly transition to a new conservator. As the Court has likely surmised, before Ms. Spears’ new attorney arrived, Mr. Spears had already been working on such a transition with Ms. Spears’ former court-appointed counsel, Sam Ingham.”

The filing says Jamie Spears hopes to work with Britney’s new legal team to finalize the pending accounting paperwork and help ensure a smooth transition.

“When these matters are resolved, Mr. Spears will be in a position to step aside. But there are no urgent circumstances justifying Mr. Spears’ immediate suspension,” writes Thoreen. “Regardless of his formal title, Mr. Spears will always be Ms. Spears’ father, he will always love her unconditionally, and he will always look out for her best interests.”

Rosengart on Thursday issued a statement describing Jamie’s decision to step away as “a major victory for Britney Spears and another step toward justice.”

His statement makes clear, though, that the fight isn’t over.

“We are pleased that Mr. Spears and his lawyer have today conceded in a filing that he must be removed. We are disappointed, however, by their ongoing shameful and reprehensible attacks on Ms. Spears and others,” he said. “We look forward to continuing our vigorous investigation into the conduct of Mr. Spears, and others, over the past 13 years, while he reaped millions of dollars from his daughter’s estate, and I look forward to taking Mr. Spears’s sworn deposition in the near future. In the interim, rather than making false accusations and taking cheap shots at his own daughter, Mr. Spears should remain silent and step aside immediately.”

This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.

Reba McEntire to Host Livestream to Announce 2021 Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees

Reba McEntire will host a livestream on Monday, Aug. 16, in which the 2021 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees will be announced. McEntire was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, which is widely considered the ultimate validation for a country music performer, in 2011.

The Country Music Association has livestreamed the Country Music Hall of Fame inductee announcements since 2015. Other livestream hosts have included Brenda Lee, Vince Gill, Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, and WSM’s Bill Cody. (Lee, Gill and Brooks have all been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame; Yearwood is still waiting for the call.)

Inductees are selected in three categories: modern era artists (20+ years after first achieving national prominence), veterans era artists (40+ years after first achieving national prominence) and a third category that rotates between recording and/or touring musicians; songwriters; and non-performers.

Last year’s inductees were Marty Stuart, Hank Williams Jr. and songwriter Dean Dillon. The 2019 inductees were Brooks & Dunn, Ray Stevens and record producer and label executive Jerry Bradley.

McEntire has co-hosted the last two CMA Awards telecasts. She co-hosted the 2019 show with Carrie Underwood and Dolly Parton and the 2020 show with Darius Rucker. She also hosted or cohosted the show for three years running from 1990-92.

McEntire has received 51 CMA Awards nominations. Among female artists, only Miranda Lambert has amassed more nods – 55, plus two more as a member of Pistol Annies. McEntire is a six-time CMA winner. She was the first artist to win four times for female vocalist of the year (1984-87). In 1986, she became the fourth woman to win for entertainer of the year, following Loretta Lynn (1972), Dolly Parton (1978) and Barbara Mandrell (1980-81).

The livestream announcement on Monday, Aug. 16, will begin promptly at 10 a.m. CT here.

NEEDTOBREATHE Adds Fifth Top Christian Albums No. 1 With ‘Into the Mystery’

NEEDTOBREATHE rolls up its fifth No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart (dated Aug. 14) as Into the Mystery bounds in at the summit.

In the tracking week ending Aug. 5, the set earned 13,000 equivalent album units, with 9,000 in album sales, according to MRC Data.

All five of NEEDTOBREATHE’s Top Christian Albums No. 1s have started atop the list, among 12 top 10s. The new LP concurrently opens at No. 9 on Top Rock Albums, where it’s the band’s seventh top 10.

Mystery is the eighth studio LP for NEEDTOBREATHE, which formed in 1998 in Seneca, S.C. It follows previous studio full-length Out of Body, which arrived in the penthouse last September. In between, Live From the Woods Vol. 2 hit No. 6 on Top Christian Albums this May.

Concurrently, lead Mystery single “Survival,” featuring Drew and Ellie Holcomb, reached No. 21 on Christian Airplay in April and No. 26 on the airplay-, sales- and streaming-based Hot Christian Songs list in May.

On Sept. 7 in St. Louis, NEEDTOBREATHE is set to embark on a 38-city tour with supporting acts Switchfoot and The New Respects.

Chris Stapleton Covers Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’: Listen

Chris Stapleton is the latest artist to put his own spin on Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” after he shared his cover of the heavy metal band’s hit on Thursday (Aug. 12).

“Nothing Else Matters” is from the band’s self-titled 1991 album (better known as “The Black Album”), and the song peaked at No. 11 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Airplay chart. The accompanying music video recently reached 1 billion views on YouTube.

“The Black Album” is celebrating its 30th anniversary Thursday (Aug. 12), and on Sept. 10, a star-studded covers album titled The Metallica Blacklist will be released via Blackened Recordings. Miley Cyrus is among the 53 musicians included in the set, which will include her version of “Nothing Else Matters,” also featuring Elton John, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, frequent collaborator Watt and Metallica’s very own bassist Robert Trujillo. Phoebe Bridgers also contributed a cover of “Nothing Else Matters.”

The country singer stated that 100% of proceeds from his version of the song, which will also be featured on The Metallica Blacklist, will benefit Metallica’s nonprofit All Within My Hands Foundation and his and wife Morgane’s own charitable fund Outlaw State of Kind. Proceeds from the new Metallica-inspired Blacklist merch bearing Stapleton’s namesake will also benefit OSOK.

Listen to Stapleton’s cover of “Nothing Else Matters” below.