Eminem Challenges Beyonce for U.K. Albums Chart Title

Shady’s back, and he wants another U.K. No. 1.

Eminem could get what he wants with Curtain Call 2 (via Interscope), which dropped last Friday (Aug. 5) and is well-placed for a run to the chart summit.

Based on midweek sales and streaming data, Curtain Call 2 is the U.K.’s No. 2 album, less than 100 combined units behind the leader, Beyonce’s Renaissance (Columbia/Parkwood Entertainment), the Official Charts Company reports.

Curtain Call 2 is the sequel to Em’s 2005 career retrospective Curtain Call: The Hits, which remains in the Top 20 after 512 weeks on the chart, a stretch that has included five weeks at No. 1.

With Curtain Call 2, the Detroit hip-hop star can extend on his record ten U.K. No. 1 albums to his name, all consecutive, dating back to 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP. No other act in U.K. chart history has ruled the chart with as many album titles in a row.

Meanwhile, Beyonce’s Renaissance leads the Official Chart Update, and is on track for a second week at No. 1, while Calvin Harris is chasing a fifth Top 5 album, with Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 (Columbia), opening at No. 5 on the chart blast.

ABBA’s Gold: Greatest Hits (Polydor) is on the rise following news of a 30th anniversary edition. Gold is slated for the reissue treatment Sept. 23 in several new formats, including special 2LP picture disc. The Swedish superstars’ hits compilation has lived on the chart for a record 1,057 weeks.

Further down the list, metal group Dub War could bag their first U.K. Top 20 with Westgate Under Fire (Earache), their third studio album. It’s new at No. 12 on the midweek chart.

Finally, Neil Young and Promise of the Real is set to start at No. 14 with Noise & Flowers (Reprise), recorded during their 2019 European tour, while U.S. ska outfit The Interrupters could impact the chart for the first time with In the Wild (Hellcat), their fourth studio album. It’s new at No. 17 on the chart update.

The Official U.K. Albums Chart is published late Friday.

Billboard Expands in Asia With Launch of Billboard China

Billboard is expanding its global footprint in Asia. On Monday (Aug. 9), Billboard announced the launch of Billboard China along with plans for its rollout.

“We are thrilled to announce the launch of the Billboard brand in China,” Billboard President Mike Van said in a press release announcing the news. “We look forward to providing a platform for Chinese musicians to share their art and unique sound amongst a global audience. Today marks the beginning of another exciting chapter in Billboard’s evolution and we are eager to witness the proliferation of new artists shaping pop culture.”

Billboard China adds to the list of the publication’s international editions and music content in Asia, following Billboard Japan and Billboard Korea. Per the press release, Billboard will work closely with local industry partners in China to develop offerings geared toward Chinese music fans. The new edition will additionally aid in bringing global pop music to Chinese fans and expose Chinese artists and music to an international audience.

Billboard China will also launch with the Master Collection, which will serve as a bank of resources from industry leaders such as music critics, producers and artists to deliver a professional perspective on Chinese music.

The first official cover story for Billboard China is set to be published and unveiled later this week and will be shared on Billboard‘s website and social media accounts; the feature story — in addition to a teaser video and portrait pictures — will be shared on Chinese microblogging website Weibo, which has a reported 582 million users.

Elton John & Britney Spears’ ‘Hold Me Closer’ Is Produced by Andrew Watt: Exclusive

Britney Spears and Elton John‘s highly anticipated collaboration “Hold Me Closer” is produced by Grammy winner Andrew WattBillboard has learned from multiple sources. The news comes a year after Watt took home the Grammy for producer of the year, non-classical at the 2021 ceremony.

The collab was first rumored to be a “Tiny Dancer” duet, but when Elton John confirmed the team-up with Spears on Monday (Aug. 8) in an Instagram post, he revealed that the song’s title is actually “Hold Me Closer,” a lyric from the singer/songwriter’s 1972 classic. The song’s release date has yet to be announced.

Billboard has not yet confirmed if any other producers or songwriters contributed to “Hold Me Closer.”

While “Hold Me Closer” marks Watt’s first time working with Spears, the songwriter and producer previously worked with John on six songs from the singer’s 2021 collaboration album The Lockdown Sessions, including a new version of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” with Miley Cyrus, Yo-Yo Ma, Robert Trujillo and Chad Smith.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Watt’s career: He has also contributed to Justin Bieber and DJ Snake‘s 2016 collaboration “Let Me Love You,” Camila Cabello‘s breakthrough solo single “Havana” and Shawn Mendes duet “Señorita,” 5 Seconds of Summer‘s “Youngblood,” Post Malone and Ozzy Osbourne‘s “Take What You Want,” Miley Cyrus‘ “Midnight Sky” and “Plastic Hearts,” Dua Lipa‘s “Break My Heart,” Bieber’s “Peaches” and many more.

Most recently, Watt produced Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder’s 2022 solo album, Earthling, which was released in February. In 2019, Watt won songwriter of the year alongside Ali Tamposi at the BMI Pop Awards.

“Hold Me Closer” will mark Spears’ first new music since her 2016 studio album Glory, which also included the deluxe tracks “Mood Ring,” “Swimming in the Stars” and the Backstreet Boys-assisted “Matches” released in 2020. The collaboration will be Spears’ official return to music since the end of her 13-year conservatorship in November 2021.

“Tiny Dancer,” which was released as a single from John’s 1971 album Madman Across the Water and peaked at No. 41 on the Billboard Hot 100, was originally produced by Gus Dudgeon. The song has grown in stature through the years and is now regarded as one of Elton’s classics. In 2000, the song was famously featured in a sing-along bus scene in Cameron Crowe’s film Almost Famous. 

Billboard reached out to reps for John and Spears for further details.

Beyonce’s ‘Renaissance’ Is First No. 1 Album by a Woman in Seven Months

With Beyoncé’s Renaissance debuting atop the Billboard 200 albums chart (dated Aug. 13), it marks the first album by a solo woman to hit No. 1 in over seven months.

The last woman at No. 1 was Adele with 30, which ruled for its first six weeks on the list (charts dated Dec. 4, 2021-Jan. 8, 2022). Notably, both 30 and Renaissance were released via Columbia Records (with Renaissance issued through Parkwood/Columbia).

The 30-week gap between No. 1s is the longest the chart has been absent a No. 1 album billed to a solo woman since a little over five years ago, when there was a 31-week dry spell between Lady Gaga’s Joanne (one week at No. 1 on Nov. 12, 2016) and Halsey’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom (June 24, 2017).

Notably, between Joanne and Hopeless, two albums whose songs included female performers did reach No. 1: the various artists compilation The Hamilton Mixtape (Dec. 24, 2016) and Pentatonix’s A Pentatonix Christmas (Jan. 7-14, 2017). (Pentatonix is a five-member vocal group act that includes female singer Kirstin Maldonado.)

While no albums billed to a woman hit No. 1 in 2022 between Adele’s 30 and Renaissance, the multi-artist Encanto soundtrack spent nine weeks atop the list. The set boasts an array of female singers who voice their characters in the film.

The last five years at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 (from the chart dated Aug. 12, 2017 through Aug. 13, 2022) has been quite male-dominated: Of the 105 different acts that have been No. 1 in that span of time, only 17 were solo women. The other 88 acts were all solo men or male-led groups. (The 17 women who had a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 in the last five years are: Adele, Cardi B, Camila Cabello, Lana Del Rey, Celine Dion, Billie Eilish, Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Kesha, Madonna, P!nk, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood and Summer Walker.)

Kelsea Ballerini Pays Musical Tribute to Olivia Newton-John With ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ Cover

Kelsea Ballerini is among those honoring the late singer/actress Olivia Newton-John, who died at age 73 on Monday (Aug. 8).

Ballerini posted a video on Instagram of herself singing an earnest rendition of Newton-John’s Grease hit “Hopelessly Devoted to You” accompanied by the caption “Olivia Newton-John forever.”

Newton-John’s official Facebook page announced the news of her death Monday, adding that she was “surrounded by family and friends. We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time.”

Prior to Newton-John’s work in 1978’s Grease alongside John Travolta, which yielded a blockbuster soundtrack and massive pop hits including the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 “You’re the One That I Want,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You” (No. 3) and “Summer Nights” (No. 5), Newton-John found success on Billboard‘s country charts.

The pivotal Billboard top 10 Hot Country Songs hit “Let Me Be There,” released in 1973, led to Newton-John winning an Academy of Country Music award for most promising female vocalist. A year later, she was nominated for top female vocalist. “Let Me Be There” also earned Newton-John a Grammy win for best country vocal performance, female. Newton-John’s sweet, pure vocal tone led to songs including “If You Love Me (Let Me Know),” “I Honestly Love You,” “Have You Never Been Mellow” and “Please Mr. Please” becoming crossover Billboard pop and country hits.

At the 1974 Country Music Association Awards, Newton-John was nominated for four honors, including entertainer of the year, as well as album of the year and single of the year (“If You Love Me (Let Me Know)”). That year, she won in the CMA Awards’ female vocalist of the year category, besting past category champ Loretta Lynn, future category champs Dolly Parton and Tanya Tucker, as well as another pop/country crossover star, Anne Murray.

However, Newton-John’s win also stirred up controversy. At a time when some in Nashville’s country music establishment bristled at pop artists finding success as country artists, Newton-John’s CMA Award win led to the formation of the short-lived Association of Country Entertainers (ACE) organization, which, according to Mary A. Bufwack and Robert K. Oermann’s book Finding Her Voice: The Illustrated History of Women in Country Music, aimed “to preserve the identity of country music as a separate and distinct form of entertainment.” A group of country artists gathered at the Nashville home of George Jones and Tammy Wynette shortly after the 1974 CMA Awards, ultimately forming the ACE. The organization ended by late 1981.

Newton-John would go on to win Grammys for record of the year and best pop vocal performance, female for “I Honestly Love You” and would later earn another Grammy in the video of the year category, for “Physical.” Her 1976 album, Come On Over, included covers of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” and Lynn Anderson’s “Smile for Me.” She also had crossover hits with “Let It Shine” and “Come On Over,” both of which made the top five on Hot Country Songs.

Allie X Responds After Being Accused of ‘Animal Abuse’ for Leaving Dog in the Car

Canadian singer Allie X is responding to allegations of animal abuse after she left her dog in the car while shopping at Erewhon health food store in Studio City, California.

It all started when recording artist Simon Curtis tweeted a video on Saturday (Aug. 6) of what turned out to be Allie pulling out of a parking space. “Anyone know this disgusting Karen?” he wrote alongside the clip. “Found a golden lab panting and pouring saliva in a locked car in the bald a– open sun with closed windows and no AC in 95 degree heat at erewhon just now- we called security, the police, and stood with the car for almost 20 minutes…”

After Allie X was identified, Curtis unleashed a series of additional tweets, writing, “Thank you to everyone who helped quickly identify this person. Animal abuse is something I will go to f—ing war for, and nasty Karen behavior from someone who has made an entire career off the backs of queer people?? BYE @alliex.”

Following backlash from social media users, Allie X shared her own statement on Monday (Aug. 8), revealing that her dog, named Koji, was in the car for 11 minutes and when she returned, “the car was cool inside” and Koji was “completely okay.”

“I say those as facts, not defensively,” she wrote. “I want to be clear that there was absolutely no ‘crowd forming’ around my car and absolutely nobody was ‘watching a dog die for over twenty minutes.’ There would be footage if that was true.”

She added, “I wasn’t laughing like a ‘Karen’, I was laughing because I was frightened and uncomfortable of these two men outside of my car. These details matter, and because of the dramatizations I’ve received hundreds of attacks and death threats made more terrifying by the fact that this person posted my face and my identifiable information with the sole intent to dox me.”

Allie X went on to apologize for the situation, as she didn’t know that it was illegal to have a dog in the car without the window open. “I actually felt it was safer to keep the windows up because I had the AC blasting at 60 F right before I got out and wanted to maintain the cool temp,” she wrote. “I regret doing anything that could hurt [Koji] in anyway, and I won’t do it again.”

To conclude her statement, Allie directed her words toward Curtis specifically, thanking him “for your concern” on the situation. “I feel it necessary to say though, perhaps a conversation would have been more productive than what transpired?” she wrote.

“Bullying me, making fun of the way I look etc feels like a strange way to fight for animal rights… so does using it as an opportunity to promote your music,” she added, referring to Curtis’ tweet encouraging his followers to listen to his music if “you want clear skin and don’t abuse dogs.”

“We all have our own ways of communicating and I understand you were very upset in the moment,” Allie wrote. “I felt cornered and scared of you. Koji’s philosophy is to see the best in people, so maybe we should give that a try.”

See her full statement below.