H.E.R., Leslie Odom Jr. & More to Perform Oscar-Nominated Songs on Pre-Show, Not the Main Telecast

The producers of the 93rd annual Academy Awards had good news and bad news for the singers who are performing this year’s Oscar nominees for best original song. The good news: All five nominees will be performed in their entirety. The bad news: They’ll be featured on a 90-minute pre-show, Oscars: Into the Spotlight, which is billed as “the lead-in” to the Oscars.

Hosted by actors Ariana DeBose (Hamilton) and Lil Rel Howery (Bad Trip), the pre-show will air Sunday, April 25, at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT. The main Oscar telecast will begin at 8 p.m.. ET/5 p.m. PT.

The Oscars have struggled with how to include the five nominated songs without having a four-hour show. In a few years, none of the nominated songs were performed on the show. In others, some were, some weren’t. Or some songs were truncated. All of these approaches made music fans unhappy. This year’s approach, in which song nominees are relegated to a pre-show, will likely also make music fans unhappy.

In two cases, both co-writers of a nominated song will perform, rather than just the artist who performed it on the film soundtrack. Laura Pausini and Diane Warren will perform “Io Sì (Seen)” from The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se). Celeste and Daniel Pemberton will perform “Hear My Voice: from The Trial of the Chicago 7.

Individual artists will perform the other three nominees. H.E.R. will sing “Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah. Leslie Odom Jr. will perform “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami… Molly Sandén will perform “ Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. (Actress Rachel McAdams lip-syncs the song in the film.)

“Husavik” will be recorded in Húsavík, Iceland. The other four performances will be recorded at the Dolby Family Terrace of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles.

According to an Academy statement, the 90-minute pre-show “will highlight the nominees’ journey to Hollywood’s biggest night [and] give fans around the world the ultimate insiders’ sneak peek into the party.” The show will feature an appearance by DJ Tara.

At the conclusion of the 93rd Oscars, there will be a third Oscar-branded show, Oscars: After Dark, hosted by actors Colman Domingo (Zola) and Andrew Rannells (The Prom) and featuring interviews by film critic Elvis Mitchell. The special will recap the evening’s must-see moments and showcase Oscar winners as they have their statuettes personalized.

“We’ve come up with some serious pre-game and post-game action to enhance our main event,” said Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh, who are producing this year’s main Oscar telecast. “Our suggestion is just tune in for the whole shebang, otherwise you’ll miss something really unexpected and fun.”

Both the pre-show and the wrap-up special are executive-produced by Michael Antinoro and David Chamberlin, alongside Collins, Sher and Soderbergh. Collins has worked on the Grammys production team for 17 years. This year, he was co-executive producer for the first time.

The 93rd Oscars will be held on Sunday, April 25, at Union Station Los Angeles and the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and international locations via satellite.

Taylor Swift Reveals the ‘Fearless’ Vault Song That Pointed to Her Pop Future

When Taylor Swift released her fifth album, 1989, in 2014, she made a point to announce that it was her first all-pop project. But the writing was on the wall for her genre transition long before then.

In a new interview about her re-recorded 2008 project Fearless (Taylor’s Version) with Audacy (formerly Radio.com), Swift says the newly released “From the Vault” song “Mr. Perfectly Fine” made it crystal-clear that she had more than country music on her mind.

“‘Mr. Perfectly Fine’ is a song that I wrote alone,” she says of the track, which she recently co-produced with Jack Antonoff — a now-frequent collaborator whom she first worked with on 1989 — but was written back in her Fearless days. “It was definitely an early indicator of me creeping toward a pop sensibility. I’ve always listened to every type of music, and even though Fearless is a country album, there were always these pop melodies creeping in.”

Of course, Swift’s crossover to the mainstream really kicked into gear with the original 2008 release of Fearless, which spawned two of her biggest Pop Airplay hits to date — chart-topper “Love Story” and No. 2 hit “You Belong With Me” — and garnered her first album of the year win at the Grammys.

In addition to the pop vibes of “Mr. Perfectly Fine,” the song is also a pretty good indicator of Swift’s teen sensibility at the time she wrote it. “I think the lyrics are just wonderfully scathing and full of the teen angst that you would hope to hear on an album that I wrote when I was 17 or 18 or on that cusp,” she says.

“Mr. Perfectly Fine” was one of the most-talked-about previously unreleased Fearless songs thanks to fan theories that it’s aimed at Swift’s ex Joe Jonas.

Listen to the full Audacy interview, in which Swift breaks down more songs on Fearless (Taylor’s Version), below.

Shuttered Venue Operator Grant Applications Expected to Relaunch Next Week

The Small Business Administration has announced that Shuttered Venue Operators Grant applications are expected to reopen at the end of next week, after failing to launch on April 8. 

In a statement released Friday (April 16), the SBA said, “Over the next few days, our tech team and vendors will remain focused on testing the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal” and assured possible applicants that nothing will change over the weekend.  

“We know this funding is urgently needed now and are doing all we can to reopen with the greatest amount of certainty as possible,” the statement continued. 

The SBA said the vendors for the portal, which launched and quickly closed on April 8, have fixed the root cause of the technical difficulties but discovered additional issues while testing the site. The newly identified issues are being addressed now before the portal reopens later next week.  

Independent venues, promoters and producers have been waiting to apply for the more than $16 billion in funds since the bill passed at the end of December, but the SBA was tasked with creating the program from scratch and has taken nearly four months to open the application process.

When the administration announced the opening date for the grant applications, they assured venues that funds would be awarded later in April. The SBA has not commented on whether or not that timeline has been interrupted by the delay.  

“We realize this is an enormous undertaking for the SBA and we appreciate everything the agency is doing to ensure this program is administered as Congress intended as expeditiously as possible. The opening can’t come soon enough,” said the National Independent Venue Association in statement earlier this week.  

In a letter sent to NIVA members today, the Association says it met with White House officials who “assured stakeholders that reopening the SVOG portal expediently and successfully was a top priority across the SBA.”

For more information on when the application portal will re-open, the SBA recommends independent venues follow the administration’s Twitter account 

DMX Memorial Service Set for Brooklyn’s Barclays Center

A memorial service for late rapper DMX will be held April 24 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Billboard can confirm.

Though Barclays Center is big enough to accommodate 19,000 fans for concerts, it’s unclear how many people will be allowed inside the New York arena with current COVID-19 restrictions. According to a source close to the situation, Barclays is maxed at 10% capacity currently and the service will not be open to the public.

Further details for the service, first reported by TMZ, are still being ironed out, DMX’s former manager Steve Rifkind told the site. According to their report, the public service on that Saturday would be followed by a more intimate church service for just X’s family and inner-circle the next day, Sunday, April 25.

DMX died a week ago, on April 9, after suffering a heart attack triggered by a drug overdose. He was 50 years old.

Barclays Center opened its doors less than a decade ago, in September 2012, which was years after DMX’s late ’90s/early 2000s heyday, but the rapper hit the arena’s stage twice: once in 2017 as part of a Ruff Ryders reunion show and in 2019 at the Masters of Ceremony concert.

First Stream Latin: New Music From Sebastian Yatra & Myke Towers, Ximena Sariñana, More

First Stream Latin is a compilation of the best new Latin songs, albums and videos recommended by the Billboard Latin editors. Check out this week’s picks below.

Sebastian Yatra & Myke Towers, “Pareja del Año” (Universal Music Latino)

If there’s one track that can perfectly marry pop and urban music it’s “Pareja del Año,” the new collaboration between Sebastian Yatra and Myke Towers. Produced by Grammy winners Andrés Torres and Mauricio Rengif, the song fuses both artists’ signature sound laced with live string instruments. The song is about an impossible love that if it were to come true, it’d be dubbed the “couple of the year.” The elegant music video was filmed by Daniel Duran in Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center, starring a mysterious yet perfect love story. — JESSICA ROIZ

Los Rivera Destino & Pedro Capó, “Castigo” (Sony Music Latin)

The Puerto Rican band has teamed up with compatriot Pedro Capó for “Castigo,” a song that finds them reminiscing on nights at the club where you could dance all night long. The track starts off as a bolero but quickly transforms into a dembow. “This song unites two musical genres that have a long history when it comes to couples dancing close,” Los Rivera said about their new song, which finds them collaborating for the first time with Capó. “It brings the bolero to the modern club. We wrote this song before the pandemic, at a time when we could dance close together. It feels like torture as we wait for the next time to dance again.” “Castigo” “Castigo” is the second single off the band’s upcoming debut album, which will be released this summer. – GRISELDA FLORES

David Bisbal & Danna Paola, “Vuelve, Vuelve” (Universal Music Spain)

Collaborating for the first time ever, David Bisbal and Danna Paola join forces in a song that reflects modern-day, long-distance relationships that have been impacted by COVID-19. The pop track narrates the story of a couple, one lives in Spain and the other one in Mexico, that is rekindling after a breakup but can’t travel to see each other due to lockdowns and canceled flights. “Come back, come back before it’s too late … without you I’m a disaster and not seeing you hurts me,” sings Bisbal. The music video, which also dropped today (April 16) ends on a more positive note with one of them finally able to catch a flight. – G.F.

Sech, 42 (Rich Music)

Sech dropped his third studio album 42, a set he says was born “fully in the pandemic” and a tribute to his Afro roots. Released under Rich Music, the set is home to 11 tracks, including collaborations with Wisin, Yandel, Arcangel, Nicky Jam and Rauw Alejandro. The number 42 pays tribute to Jackie Robinson, the first African-American baseball player to play in Major League Baseball and Panamanian baseball star Mariano Rivera. “This album is all me, without thinking about numbers or the industry. It’s me opening my heart,” he tells Billboard. “My brother found a notebook of mine where I would write my feelings when I was younger and I decided to turn those feelings into songs. The first one I wrote was ‘911.’ All of these songs are real and part of my life.” Stream and listen to it below. – J.R.

Ximena Sariñana, “A No Llorar” (Warner Music México)

Stunning, both visually and lyrically, Ximena Sariñana’s “A No Llorar” is a synth-pop track about standing strong after a few heartbreaks and blows to the livelihood of women. “And although it’s hard to breathe sometimes, I prefer to have cried than not having cried at all,” the Mexican singer-songwriter sings in the feminine anthem. Inspired by feminist movements in Mexico and women who have long fought for their equality and equity, “A No Llorar” was created by women for women. Written by Sariñana at a songwriting camp with other female songwriters representing different countries such as Venezuela and Perú. The song’s music video was also directed by women with directing duo Iglú at the helm. According to a statement, “A No Llorar’s” royalties will be donated to Fundación Crescendo con la Música. – G.F.

Ricky Martin & Carlos Vives, “Canción Bonita” (Sony Music Latin)

It’s hard to believe that these two superstars hadn’t collaborated in the past, but at last, they’ve joined forces to deliver the uplifting anthem “Canción Bonita,” which translates to “pretty song.” The danceable track celebrates Carlos Vives’ Colombian and Ricky Martin’s Puerto Rican roots. In fact, the picturesque music video was shot in Old San Juan directed by Carlos Pérez. Written by Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres, along with Rafa Arcaute (VP of A&R at Sony), Vives and Martin, the happy song was set to be released before the pandemic hit. “It was a party song. We couldn’t release it at that point,” Martin told Billboard. The track officially dropped April 13 and the pair performed their joyful song for the first time on television at the 2021 Latin AMAs. – G.F.

Omy de Oro, “Millones” (Young Boss Entertainment / Share That Music)

After launching his music career on the Freestyle Mania platform and collaborating with artists such as Bad Bunny, Rauw Alejandro and Yandel, Omy de Oro is out to challenge all his haters on the new single “Millones.” “Laundering money, with what we sing, we avoid a problem but if they want, we fight,” the Puerto Rican artist chants on the raw trap song produced by Chalko and Ammunation. In the music video, directed by AJ Films, Omy lives up to the movie, surrounded by money, luxurious cars and his faithful entourage. – J.R.

Boza, Ella (Sony Music Latin)

After his viral success with “Hecha Pa’ Mi,” Panamanian newcomer Boza dropped the three-song Ella EP, marking the next move of his career and a preview of his upcoming album. Produced by Irving Manuel Quintero Valdez (Faster), the title track is a hip-swaying, sugary reggaeton that highlights everything he likes about a girl. If “je ne sais quoi” had a song, it’d be “No Se Que.” On this track, he brings it down a notch in a futuristic, slow-tempo urban bop about a girl who’s simply irresistible. Offering another musical proposal is “Por Ti,” where Boza fuses a sensual dancehall melody with other Caribbean beats. Listen and stream the three songs below. – J.R.

UTA First Major Agency to Set Optional Return to Office Date

Hollywood is making plans to get back into physical offices.

UTA has become the first agency to set a return-to-work date for employees. UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer sent an email to staff on Friday with the news that employees can start working in the offices again as early as mid-June.

The agency will open its doors gradually, with different dates set for its various offices around the world. The Nashville location will be the first of the agency’s offices to open up, eyeing June 1. The Los Angeles office is set to open its doors on June 15, while London won’t reopen until Aug. 31 and New York until Sept. 7.

Returning to the office is completely optional for employees. Zimmer clearly states that any staffer who is not yet prepared to return to the office, even if they’re vaccinated, will not have to do so. The agency is requiring those who do come back to have been fully vaccinated, though.

Read Zimmer’s note to employees here:

With vaccinations rapidly increasing across the nation and California announcing plans to fully reopen by mid-June, I’m pleased to say a return to our UTA offices is near. More details will follow in the coming weeks, but at this point we are planning for a reopening of our Nashville offices on June 1 and our Los Angeles office on June 15. We plan for our offices in London to open on August 31 and New York on September 7.

A cross-company team has been consulting with experts and preparing for this moment for over a year. Over the coming weeks and leading up to June, we will share a comprehensive plan that walks through the specifics of our policies, including use of communal space, mask requirements and much more. Our guiding principles remain fixed on providing the safest possible work environment, ensuring personal choice for every colleague, providing the tools we need to serve clients at the highest level, and respecting all aspects of our culture.

There are two key pillars to this initial phase of our reopening, and they will apply to all our offices:

First, returning colleagues will be required to have been fully vaccinated. We know from our most recent survey of colleagues that this is something the vast majority of you feel strongly about. It follows the science and guidance from experts, and it places the highest priority on the health of our workplace. We will continue to evaluate this policy over time, as the situation in the regions where we operate evolves.

Second, we will maintain our policy of providing personal choice to all colleagues during this initial phase of our reopening. Any colleague not yet prepared to return to the office for any reason—even those vaccinated—will have full choice not to do so. If you’re not comfortable coming into the office, we understand that. If you have children at home until the start of the school year, we get it. If you have vacation plans in place, please take them. People will be working from home, the office and probably some combination of the two for the foreseeable future. As the situation in the areas where we operate evolves further, we will evaluate what we believe is in the best interest of our colleagues and our company, and the long term policies that make the most sense. No matter what, we are committed to ensuring a positive work experience whether you work from home or work from the office.

Again, there are many details left for us to work through and much more information will be provided. This pandemic is unpredictable, and we will continue to be flexible in our approach and make adjustments at any point necessary. Today, we wanted to put this marker down, so we can all begin to wrap our heads around this next transition. After more than a year of successfully working from home, and every one of our colleagues working so hard to keep our business strong and thriving, we are committed to getting this right.

We look forward to returning to the office.


This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.

First Out: New Music From Rina Sawayama, Elton John, Troye Sivan & More

Looking for some new tunes from queer artists? Look no further; Billboard Pride is here to help with First Out, our weekly roundup of some of the best new music releases from LGBTQ artists.

From Rina Sawayama and Elton John’s touching duet, to Troye Sivan’s latest collaboration with Tate McRae & Regard, check out just a few of our favorite releases from this week below.

Rina Sawayama with Elton John, “Chosen Family”

When she originally released “Chosen Family” back in 2020, Rina Sawayama unveiled a brand-new anthem of queer acceptance. So what could possibly make the song any more poignant? Getting Sir Elton John to join her is a good start. The new version of “Chosen Family” feels more tender and more personal, even though all that’s changed is the addition of a simple piano line and John’s vocals through out. Sawayama’s new collaboration with Sir Elton feels like it lives up to the song’s title, illustrating what having a chosen family in the LGBTQ community can actually mean.

“This song, I thought, ‘God, this is exactly what we need to be saying right now.’ It’s a song about peace,” John told Sawayama of the track on the latest episode of his Apple Music 1 radio show Rocket Hour. “I don’t care if someone wants to vote Republican or Democrat or be gay or be straight or be Asian or be Black or be Indian. I didn’t care about that. But people are using that to stir up hatred. And I don’t know whether they mean it or not. I just think they’re stoking the furnaces, and I don’t like it.”

Regard, Troye Sivan & Tate McRae, “You”

If there ever were a group of artists capable of putting their talents together to make a certified bop, it would be Troye Sivan, Tate McRae and Kosovan DJ Regard. “You,” the trio’s brand-new single, is a synth-laced, lovestruck jam session, where all three artists pine for that one person they just can’t seem to get out of their minds. Regard’s smooth-as-silk production perfectly blends with Sivan’s laid-back, sonorous vocals, which bleeds perfectly into McRae’s breathy falsetto voice. “You” is bound to get stuck in your head sooner or later, so why not make it happen right now?

Girl in Red, “You Stupid Bitch”

Have you ever wondered if the voice behind soft, tender ballads like “We Fell in Love in October” ever gets pissed off? Well you won’t have to wonder after listening to Girl in Red’s latest single: “You Stupid Bitch” lands like lighting from its very first beat, letting listeners know that this is a different Girl in Red. The plugged-in, rocked-out production perfectly matches Marie Ulven’s furious energy, as she delivers a blistering wake-up call to the girl she can’t get over, singing “You stupid b—h, can’t you see?/ The perfect one for you is me.”

Beach Bunny feat. Tegan and Sara, “Cloud 9″

Chicago alt-rockers Beach Bunny knew that they wanted to get some special guests for their revisit of 2020’s “Cloud 9″ — and they found the perfect candidates in Tegan and Sara. Keeping the original’s beach-rock sound fully intact, the new version of “Cloud 9″ stands apart when the sister duo jumps in for the viral song’s second chorus, adding their brand of harmonized, indie-rock perfection to the already excellent track.

“We’re massive fans of Beach Bunny, and when we heard ‘Cloud 9’ for the first time fell in love with the brilliant lyrics and addictive melody,” Tegan and Sara said in a statement about the song. “We love that Lili was up to let us experiment with changing the pronoun in the chorus to she. The efforts made to make the song relatable to everyone, isn’t just about inclusivity, we think it’s a great indication of the flexibility and creative spirit of the band at its core!”

ILoveMakonnen, My Parade

In his first album since leaving Warner Records, ILoveMakonnen is making sure that his voice is being heard the way he wants it to be. Throughout My Parade, Makonnen plays around with new sounds, from psychedelic funk (“If It’s Cool”), to classic trap (“Whoopsy”), to even an acoustic session (“My Parade”). But one think stands out on the new project — Makonnen remains more confident and clear-eyed than on any record before, as he embraces his own artistry to its fullest extent yet.

“The My Parade project  is my first album being back in control over my art and creativity,” he says of the album. “It’s about celebration of self and having your own parade even if the world is raining down on it. My Parade album is a collection of genre bending styles that I like to experiment in and showcase my versatility as an artist putting no limits on my musical expression. It’s for my fans who appreciate and enjoy all of the different eras of ILoveMakonnen’s music so far and for new ones joining in now on my artistic journey. This is releasing music in its purest form. The artist creates and then releases it to the world. No major label, no distributor.”

Ethel Cain, “Unpunishable”

Ethel Cain isn’t one for beating around the bush — when she’s interested in you, she’s gonna get right down to business. On “Unpunishable,” the up-and-coming singer-songwriter writes with pleasure (and yes, some pain) as she lets her lover know that she should be more than enough for them. The subtle distortion on her vocals, mixed with the tension-building rhythm, make for a gratifying new single, as she wails “Red and blue, used and abused/ It’s still never enough, I’m unpunishable.”