Miley Cyrus on Challenges of ‘Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party’ and Why Pete Davidson Was the Best Co-Host

Miley Cyrus may seem like a go-with-the-flow person, but when it comes to a TV special like NBC’s Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party, she’s all about structure. Because of COVID, which prevented rehearsals and special guest appearances and prompted multiple location changes, the Miami-set live show had its fair share of challenges.

Still, after two difficult pandemic years, Cyrus and co-host Pete Davidson wanted to provide a form of escapism for audiences through live performances by Cyrus, Brandi Carlile, Saweetie and Anitta, among others, and sketches featuring Cyrus and Davidson.

“I think we represented what New Year’s is really about, which is connecting with each other, celebrating the year you’ve had, looking forward to the year that’s going to be,” says Cyrus of the special that drew 6 million linear viewers. “That was challenging, too, because we’d had such a hard two years and it was hard to ask people to reflect with happiness.”

Cyrus talks to THR about the challenges she faced (including a wardrobe malfunction), why Davidson was the perfect co-host and what she plans for the New Year’s Eve special that will ring in 2023.

Why did you want to do a New Year’s Eve special?

We were doing a traditional show at a very untraditional time. [The COVID surge] meant that the creative flexibility had to be at an all-time high because what was most important was the show must go on. We felt that the probability of a show not happening was getting higher and higher by the day. But we had [executive producer] Lorne Michaels, someone who is so used to keeping up in real time. I thought that [the combination of music and comedy] hasn’t really happened on a New Year’s show, [and we merged] into this variety show element where you’re able to talk about the year and the year to come, in a way, with a lightheartedness. We had had a really heavy two years, and we wanted to provide some escapism, but also be responsible and realistic about the kind of show we put on and to encourage people to get together and watch. … It ended up being a night that I’ll always remember as the first time that I was able to do Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party.

At what point did you decide Pete Davidson should be your co-host?

One thing about New Year’s is it’s very romantic. There is the sex appeal to it, and in your dream world you have the ultimate gentleman as a date. We thought that Pete was ideal for that role. There is something about him that’s very classic and his professionalism is off the charts, but there’s also a danger there. And that’s something that we really wanted for New Year’s because there always should be that energy of [not knowing] exactly what’s going to happen. You don’t want it to be a night about counting — that was something that me and Lorne thought was really important. We realized that a lot of shows focus on the 30 seconds before and after midnight, but they don’t think so much about the two hours bookending that moment. We knew that Pete would bring something really unique, because I’ve never watched a New Year’s show that had sketches and comedy in a very improvised way that Pete can do.

How much time did you have to prep for the opening act?

We ended up not even having a full dress rehearsal. We rehearsed it that day, and we wrote this show over text message. There were a lot of reasons why we all couldn’t be sitting around a big writers table like we do at SNL, so it was awesome that we were able to work this all out via FaceTime or text, and sending pictures and songs back and forth. I sent him [the Will Smith song] “Miami” and said, “Would you want to open the show with this?” He had a rewrite within the next day.

Talk to me about “Unrealistic Resolutions.”

We had access to the incredible talent over at SNL through Pete and Lorne. That was also why it was so important to take Lorne’s guidance, because he’s so used to being able to merge music and comedy, and that was something we thought would be a standout moment. It was my favorite moment in the show because it almost looks like a very over-the-top, early 2000s music video. It was important that people felt we were really in Miami because of the past few years [of] seeing people doing concerts from home or over Zoom. We wanted something that we hadn’t seen over the last couple of years.

How much improv actually happens during something like this?

The whole show ended up being a test of improvisation because, again, we barely had any rehearsal time. Everything we had planned ended up being flipped upside down. I’m someone that seems like I’ll go with the wind, and I’m a very flexible person, but when it comes to professionalism and structure, I’d like to be well rehearsed and well prepared, and that just wasn’t possible. Once I accepted the reality, I allowed it to energize me. There was a lot of improv … I definitely had no idea that my outfit was going to break! We said, “You never know what to expect with me and Pete,” and that’s what we delivered.

The coolest thing I’ve witnessed was Lorne Michaels rerouting air traffic. We actually lost our [original] location because of COVID, and we found [the new] location a week before [the show], but it turned out to be near the airport. We were having planes flying overhead every seven minutes, which was not ideal for live music. Lorne Michaels got them to reroute the airplane traffic to allow us to have that silence.

How did you curate your set list?

Lorne and I thought that this [should] be the most sophisticated karaoke night anyone’s ever seen. Who doesn’t want to go to karaoke with Brandi Carlile and have her sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart”? We wanted people to do songs that the audience at home can sing along to.

Was there anything you couldn’t pull off given the COVID surge?

Usually, people see me with Billy Idol or Joan Jett or Dolly or Elton — I usually perform with people from another generation that have influenced me and inspired me. Obviously it was a vulnerable time for people to be traveling due to COVID. Some of those iconic, legendary artists weren’t able to make the show. I hope this year I’ll be able to have some of those more classic acts as part of the show.

What were some other challenges?

Originally, we were thinking about close to 1,000 people [in the audience], and we ended up having well under 200 — my friends, my family, Pete had a couple of friends come, Lorne’s team from SNL. We had this space that had the capacity to hold thousands, and we didn’t want it to look really bare at home. But we didn’t want to encourage big get-togethers that were unsafe. Then we had the idea that the show would feel intimate, like a party that you would want to try to get into, and it was that kind of hot ticket. You want people at home to have FOMO, and I think we did that — even in the time where we couldn’t have exactly the ideal party that we wanted to have.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in a June stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Pink Addresses Supporters of Overturning Roe v. Wade: ‘Never F—ing Listen to My Music Again’

P!nk has a very clear message for anyone who supports the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that protected one’s choice to have an abortion: Don’t listen to her music.

The message, which she tweeted Saturday night (June 25), was also aimed at racist followers, and those threatening marriage equality.

“Let’s be clear: if you believe the government belongs in a woman’s uterus, a gay persons business or marriage, or that racism is okay- THEN PLEASE IN THE NAME OF YOUR LORD NEVER F—ING LISTEN TO MY MUSIC AGAIN. AND ALSO F— RIGHT OFF. We good?” the singer wrote.

One Twitter follower caught P!nk’s attention when he replied that he’s “never had an abortion. Also have never been with a woman that aborted my child. My wife & I saved our grandson from deletion by providing our complete support for our son & his girlfriend, best thing we’ve ever done.”

“I’m so glad you HAD THE CHOICE TO DECIDE WHAT WAS RIGHT FOR YOU, SIR. Must be nice,” she said.

And when another follower joked, “I hope her agent survives the stroke,” P!nk was quick to reply.

“I am my agent,” P!nk shot back. “We’re fine.”

See her tweets below. P!nk is among a number of artists reacting to the troubling news on social media this weekend. Some musicians have been taking their reactions to the stage: At Glastonbury on Saturday, Olivia Rodrigo dedicated the Lily Allen song “F— You” to the Supreme Court, “who have showed us that at the end of the day, they truly don’t give a s— about freedom.”

 

5 Things We Learned From Kevin Liles & Al Sharpton’s ‘It’s a New Day’ Conversation

American record label 300 Entertainment and financial services company Nasdaq joined forces on Friday morning (June 24) for a special intimate conversation between legendary music executive Kevin Liles and civil rights activist Al Sharpton.

The event brought people from all over the media industry to the Nasdaq MarketSite in the heart of New York City to hear the gems and knowledge Liles and Sharpton have developed throughout their careers. 300 and Nasdaq treated guests to a complimentary breakfast before activist and former organizer of the Women’s March, Tameka Mallory, opened the event with a moving introduction that reflected on the efforts Kevin Liles and Al Sharpton have put forth in their respective fields.

Despite the early start time, the audience was fully locked into Liles and Sharpton speaking on topics such as uplifting and protecting Black culture, sticking to your beliefs despite outside influences preventing that, Black Music Month, ways to push the needle and more.

Billboard was at the event on Friday morning and compiled a list of five things we learned from the nearly hour-long conversation. Check out the selections below.

They Believe Roe v. Wade Was Overturned Due to Low Voter Turnout In 2016 Presidential Election

Hours before Kevin Liles and Al Sharpton had their conversation, the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that protected women’s rights regarding abortion. Liles and Sharpton wasted no time discussing the controversial move, which they believed wouldn’t have happened if people actually came out to vote in the 2016 presidential election.

As Sharpton said, “The reason why they did us in with Roe v. Wade this morning is Donald Trump put three people on the Supreme Court. It’s just that simple. If Donald Trump had not been president, he couldn’t have done that.”

Liles added, “Because after eight years of [Barack Obama], I knew something wasn’t going to be right, whether we had the right candidate or not. Trump got in office because we did not vote.”

‘Godfather of Soul’ James Brown Inspired Al Sharpton’s Hairstyle

Kevin Liles had Al Sharpton speak on his close friendship with the legendary James Brown, whom he met through a mutual friend in New York City. Brown’s late son Terry was a fan of Sharpton’s activism, and his death in a car accident was the catalyst that brought Al and James together. The musician was advised to meet with the civil rights activist to set up a show for his son, and the rest was history.

Over time, Brown became a father figure to Al and inspired him to style his hair just like the musician. According to Sharpton’s recollection, Brown told him, “I want you to keep your hair like that as long as I’m alive,” and revealed the singer gave him validation as a man that he never got from his biological father.

James Brown and Elijah Muhammad Were the Only Two Blacks in the ’60s & ’70s to Own a Jet

In the middle of telling a story about flying alongside James Brown in first class because his private jet was getting repaired, Sharpton revealed his good friend was the only Black person other than former Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad with their own plane. Some guests in attendance let out a resounding “Wow!” in shock at hearing no other Black person owned a private jet, but understood why that was the case given how different the world was back in those days.

Russell Simmons’ 1992 ‘Black Enterprise’ Cover Pushed Kevin Liles to Be a Music Executive

Liles is one of the most iconic music executives that helped propel hip-hop into what it is today. He gained recognition as president of Def Jam Recordings and executive vice president of the Island Def Jam Music Group from 1999 to 2004. After spending time with Def Jam, Liles served as EVP of Warner Music Group before venturing out on his own in 2009 and creating 300 Entertainment alongside Lyor Cohen, Roger Gold and Todd Moscowitz.

During their conversation, Liles explained Def Jam founder Russell Simmons was his “James Brown.” If it wasn’t for Simmons’ classic 1992 Black Enterprise cover shoot, Liles wouldn’t have set out to achieve everything he’s done throughout his career.

“I just think about when I saw Russell on the cover of Black Enterprise, and I said, ‘Oh, we can do that? We can have an HBCU hoodie on, sitting on top of a Rolls Royce and they talk about a $34 million rap business. Oh, we can do that, OK … There was nothing I could ever think to do but to learn from them.”

Kevin Liles Preaches the Idea That ‘They Not Us’

Toward the end of the conversation, Liles began breaking down how Simmons sold Def Jam for $140 million, compared to Barry Gordy, who sold Motown for $60 million. Liles then spoke about building a company in eight years and selling it for over $400 million. That tidbit was even more shocking when the music executive said it took 20-plus years to sell Geffen for $340 million.

“Y’all can’t tell me it ain’t possible,” Liles said. “But you have to put in the work. I have this saying that I say all the time, ‘They not us.’ They don’t do what we do. I can say that because they don’t, and they’re not willing to sacrifice.”

He added, “How come you didn’t see any other CEO out there [marching]? ‘Cause they not us, they don’t do what we do.”

Rage Against the Machine Donates $475K to Reproductive Rights Organizations Following Roe v. Wade Ruling

Rage Against the Machine will donate $475,000 to reproductive rights groups in Wisconsin and Illinois, the band announced late Friday night (June 24). The decision comes following the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, which had protected a woman’s choice to have an abortion.

“We are disgusted by the repeal of Roe v. Wade and the devastating impact it will have on tens of millions of people,” Rage Against the Machine noted on Instagram. “Over half of the country (26 states) is likely to ban or seriously restrict abortion very soon, if not immediately, which will have a disproportionate impact on poor, working class and undocumented BIPOC communities.”

They continued: “To date, our fans have raised $475,000.00 from the sale of our charity tickets at Alpine Valley and the United Center. We are donating that money to reproductive rights organizations in Wisconsin and Illinois.”

“Like the many women who have organized sophisticated railroads of resistance to challenge these attacks on our collective reproductive freedom, we must continue to resist,” wrote the band.

In a tweet posted on his own account on Saturday, the band’s Tom Morello opened up about his great-grandparents’ personal experience with having to seek an illegal abortion.

“My great grandmother, Mary Maude Fitzgerald, died from an illegal, unsafe abortion,” Morello wrote on Twitter. “Her widower, Thomas Fitzgerald, an itinerant worker, couldn’t raise their 3 kids alone & sent them off to families that took them as servants. He died alone of TB in a work camp.”

Rage Against the Machine’s Public Service Announcement Tour begins on July 9 at Wisconsin’s Alpine Valley Music Theatre. Get ticket information and a full list of tour dates on their website.

 

Olivia Rodrigo Dedicates Lily Allen’s ‘F— You’ to the Supreme Court at Glastonbury

Olivia Rodrigo and Lily Allen joined forces to bring “F— You” to Glastonbury, with a performance dedicated to the U.S. Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that protected a woman’s choice to have an abortion.

The “Drivers License” hitmaker introduced Allen to the stage with love on Saturday (June 25), just before hurling some scathing words at the Supreme Court in front of a crowd of thousands of festivalgoers.

“Someone that I absolutely adore is here today,” Rodrigo announced to the audience. “I think she’s the most incredible songwriter, the most incredible artist, the most incredible person, and I’m so lucky that she’s here singing with me today. Would you guys please give it up for miss Lily Allen?”

With Allen at her side, Rodrigo then addressed the Supreme Court’s decision that now leaves states to decide what a woman can do with her body. (It is expected that abortion will be illegal in at least 16 states moving forward, and if restrictions on abortion are considered, that number goes up to 23 states.)

“I’m devastated and terrified that so many women and so many girls are going to die because of this,” said Rodrigo. “I wanted to dedicate this next song to the five members of the Supreme Court who have showed us that at the end of the day, they truly don’t give a s— about freedom.”

“This song goes out to the justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh. We hate you,” Rodrigo declared, while Allen flipped them off gracefully.

The two sang Allen’s 2009 single “F— You,” from her It’s Not Me, It’s You album.

Below, see Rodrigo’s speech and clips of the duo’s performance of “F— You” uploaded by fans.

 

Mana Shines in L.A. Residency With Nostalgic Run-Through of Their Timeless Rock-en-Espanol Anthems

It’s show number five out of 10 (and counting) for Maná at the Kia Forum in Los Angeles, where the iconic Mexican band is currently playing monthly as part of an ambitious residency.

Billboard hasn’t been to any of the other four shows (which took place in March and April), but on Friday (June 24), it seemed as if Fher, Alex, Sergio and Juan were setting foot for the first time ever at a venue that’s seen them make history over and over again.

At 9:30 p.m. local time, Maná took the stage and their energy was unmatched. Well, maybe the only ones that could match the energy were the fans who patiently waited for the group to appear and, in the meantime, sang along to whatever the house DJ was playing. “You guys came with your batteries charged,” Maná’s frontman, Fher, said. “And we love to see that so many kids are here. It’s great to see all the Mexicans and Latinos here. A huevo!”

For a band that’s been successfully touring for more three decades, it’s only safe to say that the crowd was composed of multigenerational fans: the ones who’ve been following them since “Oye Mi Amor” became an anthem in the ’90s to a new generation of fans that’s discovered their music thanks to re-imagined versions of their biggest hits, which feature artists such as Christian Nodal and Sebastián Yatra. “I’m honestly really happy to be here once again in this celebration. We’re alive after that awful thing we lived through. Cheers to you all,” Fher added.

In November, the chart-topping rockeros announced an unprecedented residency at the Kia Forum, making it the only venue and only city where fans will be able to see the top-selling Latin rock band perform this year. The residency marks the grand return of Maná to the Forum where, in 2019, the group broke the record as the first and only act to sell out seven dates there as part of a single tour since the venue’s reopening in 2014.

Maná's Alex Gonzalez

Maná’s Alex González at the Kia Forum in L.A. on June 24.

Produced by Live Nation, new dates will be added to the residency on a rolling basis until fans stop buying. But even the people sitting nearby were already talking about purchasing tickets to “the next show” — because clearly, fans can’t get enough of Maná.

Maná’s concerts are just that special. When you go to one of their concerts, you don’t go because you expect the typical flashy fireworks, fancy lights or an over-the-top production (that’s not to say the production quality isn’t there). Rather, you go to feel alive — whether it’s through Fher’s delivery of anthems that have marked a generation, Alex’s cathartic drum solo that calls for a standing ovation or Sergio and Juan’s hypnotizing guitar skills. Or maybe you just go to sing “yo te lloré todo un río, ahora llórame un mar” at the top of your lungs and feel communal emotional relief.

Maná

Maná’s Juan Calleros and Sergio Vallín at the Kia Forum in L.A. on June 24.

“In reality, Los Angeles is just another city of our Mexico chingón,” Fher offered. “Thanks to your hard work and your culture, you’ve earned this city. This city belongs to the Mexicans and all the Latinos that live here.”

Maná played for two hours singing back-to-back hits, such as “Como Te Deseo,” “Rayando el Sol,” “Me Vale” and “De Pies a Cabeza.” While they performed for the majority of the time at the main stage, they had a makeshift second stage toward the other end of the venue where they sang a medley of “Te Solté la Rienda,” “El Reloj Cucú,” “Te Lloré un Río” and “Eres Mi Religión.”

Maná’s residency at the Kia Forum continues with upcoming shows in July and September. Check here for dates. Below, see the band’s June 24 set list — but, as Fher previously told Billboard, no two days will be the same during the residency.

“Como Te Deseo”
“De Pies a Cabeza”
“Corazón Espinado”
“Labios Compartidos”
“Dónde Jugarán los Niños?”
“Cachito”
“Vivir Sin Aire”
“Bendita Tu Luz”
“Mariposa Traicionera”
“Oye Mi Amor”
“El Rey”
“Como un Perro Enloquecido”
“Me Vale”
“Te Solté la Rienda”
“El Reloj Cucú”
“Te Lloré un Río”
“Eres Mi Religión”
“En El Muelle de San Blas”
“Clavado en Un Bar”
“Rayando el Sol”

Learn to Be a Star: 5 New Latin Acts Get a Shot With Help From Art House Academy and Universal Latin

Marquee producer Julio Reyes Copello (Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Alejandro Sanz) is an educator at heart. Sit with him in his studio and he’ll enthusiastically walk you through the fine points of recording, arrangement and technology.

The Colombian-born Reyes Copello, who has long mentored up and coming talent from in and out of the studio, has now formalized his second passion with Art House Academy, a music performance, production and sound engineering school launched in partnership with Abbey Road Studios and housed in Reyes Copello’s Miami studio.

On June 23, the program presented its first batch of “graduating” performers: 21-year old Colombian pop songstress Ela; 17-year-old singer/songwriter Joaquina; Riza, a 25-year-old Filipino/Cuban R&B singer; Teo Bok, an 18-year-old half Italian, half German pop singer who is fluent in Spanish, and singer songwriter Paola, winner of The Voice Kids in 2013.

All have distinct musical styles but boast impressive vocals and stage presence. Each performed one song for a room packed with family and industry VIPs, including Jesús López, the chairman/CEO of Universal Music Latin America & Iberian Penninsula, and Universal Music Latino president Angel Kaminsky, who have partnered with Reyes Copello to release their music commercially via Universal Music Latino.

“At least one of these five kids with talent will become a big star,” said López during a pre-show chat with Reyes Copello. “Not all of them. Because this business is not just about talent.”

The notion of connecting the dots between education and chops and the hardcore reality and challenge of real-life music business are what led Reyes Copello to seek out the Abbey Road franchise, which was developed at Abbey Road studios and is built on a hands-on curriculum created by producers and engineers, and awards a one-year diploma in music production and sound engineering.

Reyes, who believes in mentorship, wanted to create a boutique program that also took advantage of his many connections and clients, including sessions with the many artists who record in the studio. Students learn both in the recording studios and in an upstairs classroom where each of 15 gleaming new desks comes equipped with an Apple desktop computer.

“I didn’t want classes of 100 people. I designed a format for 10 songwriters and producers and and five artists,” says Reyes Copello. “Each artist has to release en EP at the end of their year.”

But what to do so those EPs don’t get lost in the fray of thousands of releases?

“I have to admit I prayed to God for help, and he sent me Jesus,” quips Reyes Copello, motioning to López.

Arthouse Academy

Art House Academy students surrounded by Universal Music Latin staff and executives at Art House Studios

“Universal’s involvement is the result of our long friendship, and Julio’s love for education is something I’ve heard him espouse for 20 years,” says López. The partnership further made sense because Abbey Road is part of the Universal family.

“I think those of us who work in the music business have social responsibility. And although I create trends, my goal is that with the help of Julio and my team we can show that what seems impossible is possible.”

Although each artist will have their individual contract, López says the music will be released and marketed as part of a single project to further raise awareness and traction, with Kaminsky helming the releases.

As far as advice for the budding stars, López says: “Believe in yourself. That’s it. What works for one person may not work for another. When you have faith in yourself and you have a team that supports that faith, you have success. Believe in yourself.”