Taylor Swift Racing to U.K. Chart Title With ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’

Taylor Swift’s ambitious campaign to rerecord her studio albums should get an immediate result.

The first of Swift’s revisited sets, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) (EMI), is flying to No. 1 on the Official U.K. Albums Chart, with a lead of 11,000 chart sales at the midweek stage, the OCC reports.

Fearless (Taylor’s Version) has banked the most sales and album streams so far, to lead the Official Chart Update. Should it hold its ground when the weekly chart is published this Friday (April 16), Swift will have a seventh U.K. No. 1, slotting her into third place among female artists with the most U.K. chart-topping titles behind only Madonna (with 12) and Kylie Minogue (8).

It’s highly unlikely that Taylor will be denied.

The original version of Fearless was Swift’s breakthrough in the U.K., peaking at No. 5 on the national chart in 2008. Her 2012 album Red was her first leader, and every subsequent album release hit No. 1, including last year’s lockdown LPs Folklore and Evermore.

In a distant second place on the chart blast is Ariana Grande’s former leader Positions (Republic Records), which returns to the Top 40 following its vinyl release, while legendary French electronic music producer Jean-Michel Jarre is on track for his highest chart position since 1988 with Amazonia (RCA), new at No. 4.

Fans of DMX are turning to the late rapper’s music following his death last Friday (April 9), aged 50. Two of the U.S. artist’s hits collections could enter the Top 10 for the first time, led by The Best Of at No. 6, and The Definition of X: The Pick of the Litter at No. 10, both via Def Jam. In his homeland, streams of DMX’s catalog of songs increased 928% since his passing.

John Legend Left With Tough Decision Following ‘Unbelievable’ Battle on ‘The Voice’: Watch

You just know you got it when John Legend leaps out of his chair.

That happened during The Voice battles on Monday night, as Deion Warren and Victor Solomon powered through a gorgeous cover of Usher’s “U Got It Bad”.

The contestants found that studio sound with a smooth-as-silk rumble.

“So good,” Legend enthused as the performance wrapped up. He wasn’t wrong, as Nick Jonas remarked: “You’re both unbelievable. Your vocals are top notch. Each time one of you rose up and did something that was spectacular, the other found a way to come in and do something special as well.”

Jonas wouldn’t make a recommendation. He couldn’t split the pair. Nor could Kelsea Ballerini. All the pressure was on Coach Legend.

There could be only one, and that was Victor. “My god, you went beyond exceeding my expectations,” explained Legend. “It was a fantastic performance. It made me feel proud because you were so entertaining.”

The 22-year-old Greensboro, North Carolina-based hopeful progresses to the knockout rounds next week on NBC.

Watch below.

DMX Music Streams Soar 928% Following Death

Streams of DMX’s catalog of songs increased 928% in the United States in the days following his death, according to initial reports to MRC Data. Collectively, his tracks garnered 75.7 million on-demand streams (audio and video combined) on April 9 and 10 – up 928% compared to the 7.36 million they earned on April 7 and 8.

DMX died on April 9 after experiencing a heart attack triggered by a drug overdose. He was 50 years old.

The late rapper’s top five most-streamed songs on April 9-10 were “Ruff Ryders Anthem” (9.59 million; up 973%), “X Gon’ Give It To Ya” (5.79 million; up 900%), “Slippin’” (5.52 million; up 853%), “Party Up (In Here)” (5.20 million; up 941%) and “How It’s Goin’ Down,” featuring Faith Evans (3.52 million; up 691%).

Streams of DMX’s music had increased leading up to his passing, following his hospitalization on April 2. In the days before April 2, his songs were streamed between 700,000 and 1 million times a day. Between April 3 and April 8, they rose to between 3 and 4 million per day.

In terms of music sales, DMX’s collected songs and albums sold 101,000 copies on April 9-11 – up 1,036% compared to the 9,000 they sold on April 6-8.During DMX’s lifetime, he notched 31 hits on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and 15 entries on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100. His first five albums – It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot (1998), Flesh of My Flesh Blood of My Blood (1999), …And Then There Was X (2000), The Great Depression (2001) and Grand Champ (2003) – all debuted at No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart, making him the first artist to see his first five efforts all begin directly in the top slot.

On the latest Billboard 200 chart (dated April 17, reflecting sales and streaming data in the week ending April 8), DMX’s compilation The Best Of re-enters the chart at No. 73. The set earned 12,000 equivalent album units for the week (up 224%), with the bulk of that sum driven by streaming activity for the album’s songs.

Lin-Manuel Miranda Launches New Times Square Vaccine Site

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda joined New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday (April 12) at the grand opening of a Times Square COVID-19 vaccination site intended to jump-start the city’s entertainment industry.

“We want to gather again, and we want to tell stories in the dark,” said Miranda, the author and star of the hit musical about Alexander Hamilton. “We cannot do that if we don’t feel safe and if you don’t feel safe. So the first step in that process is getting our vaccination shots, and the next steps will follow.”

Broadway theaters have been shuttered since the coronavirus pandemic struck in March of last year. De Blasio has said he hopes dedicated vaccination sites will help the industry reopen by September.

The new Times Square vaccine site will be open to workers in theater, film and TV, said the mayor, who stressed the importance of the entertainment industry to the life of the city.

“Yes, it’s part of our economy. Much more importantly it’s part of our identity,” de Blasio said. “It’s part of who we are, it’s part of our hearts. What it means in this city, the theater, the music, the dance, the film and TV, it is our expression of everything that is New York City. It’s our creativity, it’s our heart and soul. We do something here that does not exist anywhere in the world quite like this.”

The new vaccination site, housed in a former NFL Experience store, will be managed by Susan Sampliner, the longtime company manager for the musical “Wicked.” Miranda said that “if anyone knows how to make a show run on time it’s Broadway stage managers. So you’ll be in good hands.”

Coronavirus

SONA’s Songwriters Fund Announces New Round of Emergency Grants

Songwriters of North America (SONA) will begin accepting applications for a new round of pandemic emergency grants on April 28, the organization has announced.

First launched in May 2020, the Songwriters Fund grew out of an effort by songwriter Autumn Rowe to raise money for her struggling peers. The official fund — which has given out over $400,000 in $1,000 emergency grants to date — was born after SONA came aboard to help create a larger, more structured operation. Initial donations came from a mixture of private and corporate donors, including Sony Music Publishing.

Alongside Rowe, the fund is co-directed songwriter Michelle Featherstone, with management by songwriter Sarah Robertson.

“Everything dried up all at once for the songwriting community: royalties from streaming, as well as the ability to do gig work or be a session player,” said Featherstone in a statement. “We were talking to fellow songwriters who were asking, ‘How will I pay this month’s rent? How will I buy groceries? Will I ever work again?’”

“The Songwriter Fund is a resource for our community when there are no other options,” added Rowe in a statement. “Many writers who ran out of options received grants, and we were really grateful to help. I’d like the Songwriter Fund to feel like that friend who always has your back. Because there is so little overhead in our organization, the most possible money goes out to songwriters.”

To learn more about the fund or to donate, visit www.songwriterfund.com.

How Cultura Profetica Is Making a Return to Live Shows During a Pandemic

While many artists connected with their fans during quarantine with virtual concerts, Cultura Profetica sat back and waited for things to “go back to normal.”

“We could have done several concerts online and we held on for a bit with the expectation and hope that this would not stay that way for long,” vocalist Willie Rodriguez previously told Billboard.

Now, as people adapt to the new normal, so does the Puerto Rican reggae band, already performing two in-person shows since their last one right as the pandemic struck on March 15, 2020.

On Saturday, Cultura performed at Miami’s Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, offering fans a socially distant outdoor experience where groups of 10 enjoyed the show in their very own “pods.”

Helmed by Swarm (a local production team), Sophisticated Minds and No Limes Entertainment, around 5,000 concertgoers attended the show, half of the venue’s attendance capacity.

“We complied with a full COVID plan approved by the city of Miami and implemented sanitizing locations, 6-foot distance signage, and of course the pod platforms,” Ricardo Arjona, head of Sophisticated Minds, tells Billboard. “We also had fire marshals on-site, a full medical team, and a COVID Area with an additional team for emergency purposes.”

Likewise, all of the production team and musicians followed the rules and protocols, such as washing hands, wearing face masks, temperature checks, social distancing, and a mandatory negative COVID test.

The concert lasted a bit over two hours, where the Latin Grammy-winning band performed notable songs such as “Herida Mortal,” “Caracoles,” “Saca, Prende y Sorprende,” “La Complicidad,” “Love and Happiness” and “Ilegal,” to name a few. Guest artists included opening act Simon Grossman, emerging artist Delić and reggaeton star De La Ghetto.

“The feelings were pure euphoria, and a magical celebration of artistic freedom, a dream-like experience!” guitarist and bass guitarist Omar Silva tells Billboard, adding that the Miami show “definitely met our expectations, especially concerning the audience’s receptiveness for a live music experience.”

Silva — who says the band had “none and so many doubts at the same time” about going back onstage during the pandemic — assures that the band is “working hard to fulfill our fans’ expectations.”

Up next, Cultura Profetica, celebrating their 25-year career in 2021, will visit fans in Texas, Atlanta, New York and Puerto Rico.

DMX’s Family Denies Rumor That Jay-Z & Beyoncé Bought His Master Recordings

The family of DMX (real name Earl Simmons) set the record straight about the alleged sale of the late rapper’s master recordings and his upcoming funeral in a new statement.

“There have been a few rumors following our loved one, Earl Simmons’, passing that we’d like to clear up,” his family said in a statement provided to Billboard. “No one has bought Earl’s masters. Additionally, we are not selling any merch or raising money for Earl’s funeral. If anyone is requesting for money for his funeral please be aware the person is a scammer. We will keep the public posted on funeral/memorial service arrangements.”

The most popular rumor around DMX’s catalog alleged that Beyoncé and Jay-Z had purchased X’s master recordings for $10 million with plans to return his masters to his 17 children — though DMX only has 15 children. Swizz Beatz also shot down the rumor on social media: “Not true king,” Swizz wrote alongside the false article on Instagram.

It’s unclear who currently owns DMX’s master recordings, but the bulk of his commercial success came on Def Jam, where he made his major-label debut in 1998 with It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and stayed through 2003’s Grand Champ.

DMX (real name Earl Simmons) died Friday after suffering a heart attack triggered by a drug overdose. He was 50. The rapper had been on life support and was in a “vegetative state,” according to his former manager Nakia Walker, since last Sunday.

His family and friends organized a prayer vigil on April 5 outside of White Plains Hospital, where X remained on life support before he died. Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano told TMZ that he would be willing to offer Yonkers Raceway, the city’s largest outdoor venue, for his family to host a public hometown memorial.