Jennifer Lopez and Shakira put on electrifying Super Bowl LIV halftime show
From historic award wins and bombshell lawsuits to surprise pandemic albums and new developments in an ongoing feud, 2020 has been quite an interesting year for the world of music. Join Wonderwall.com as we take a look at 2020’s biggest music moments… On Feb. 2 during Super Bowl LIV in Miami, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira put on a halftime show to remember. Their captivating, high-energy performances — both solo and together — were praised by critics and viewers. In fact, 103 million viewers tuned in to watch the spectacle — that’s 1 million more than watched the actual football game itself. While the Federal Communications Commission announced weeks later that it had received more than 1,000 complaints about the “risqué” halftime show, Billboard reported another noteworthy statistic: Following the extravaganza, Shakira and J.Lo’s song catalog sales increased by 893%! In November, the NFL announced the halftime show performer for the 2021 Super Bowl: The Weeknd.
Billie Eilish makes Grammys history
An 18-year-old Billie Eilish made history at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards in January when she took home the four most coveted prizes that night: best new artist, record of the year, album of the year and song of the year. (On top of that, she also won best pop vocal album for “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”) To date, Billie is the youngest solo artist to win album of the year — Taylor Swift previously held the record. Keep reading for more…
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Eddie Van Halen loses cancer battle
On Oct. 6, Eddie Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang, announced that the rock icon had passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. The singer died at Providence St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California, with his family — including his current wife as well as ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli — by his side. TMZ had revealed in 2019 that Eddie had been flying back and forth from Germany for throat cancer treatments. The Van Halen co-founder had previously been diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2000. Music stars took to social media to express their grief, with John Mayer calling Eddie “a true virtuoso” and Gene Simmons calling him a “guitar god.” Keith Urban was heartbroken, saying, “There are lots of great guitar players in the world, but very VERY few true innovators. Players who seem to have arrived from a far distant planet , and who bring a completely new color to the rainbow. Eddie Van Halen was this and so much more.”
RELATED: Stars we lost in 2020
Kelly Clarkson files to divorce music manager husband
Music star Kelly Clarkson filed to divorce her husband of almost seven years, Brandon Blackstock, in Los Angeles on June 4. Brandon — who manages Kelly and Blake Shelton — shares two children with the talk show host and “The Voice” coach. As the year went on, things got complicated and much nastier as they fought over custody (Kelly was ultimately awarded primary custody) and Brandon’s father’s management company sued the singer, who then claimed her ex and former father-in-law’s company defrauded her out of millions.
FKA twigs sues Shia LaBeouf, accuses him of abuse
British singer FKA twigs filed a bombshell lawsuit against ex-boyfriend Shia LaBeouf on Dec. 11 accusing him of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. In court documents, she share details of their 2018-2019 romance and accuses the troubled actor — whom she met when they co-starred in “Honeyboy” together — of grooming her to gain her trust, giving her an STD, physically attacking her on multiple occasions and much more. Shia barely defended himself in a statement he emailed to The New York Times, writing, “I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations. I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I’m ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say.” Singer-songwriter Sia publicly voiced support for FKA twigs, tweeting, “I too have been hurt emotionally by Shia, a pathological liar, who conned me into an adulterous relationship claiming to be single. I believe he’s very sick and have compassion for him AND his victims. Just know, if you love yourself- stay safe, stay away.”
Taylor Swift hits back after Scooter Braun sells her masters to a private investment group for more than $300M
The saga continues…. Taylor Swift has been publicly critical of music manager and label exec Scooter Braun since June 2019 after learning he’d acquired her masters — she’d been denied the chance to buy them back — when his investment group purchased her old label, Big Machine Label Group, for $300 million. On Nov. 16, the war took a new turn after Variety reported that Scooter had closed on a deal to sell Taylor’s masters to an investment fund, later identified as the Disney family’s Shamrock Holdings private equity firm, for “north of $300 million.” Taylor — who began re-recording her first six albums the same month — hit back after the news broke, tearing into Scooter and detailing how her team “attempted to enter into negotiations” but that they were foiled as his team “wanted me to sign an ironclad NDA stating I would never say another word about Scooter Braun unless it was positive, before we could even look at the financial records of BMLG (which is always the first step in a purchase of this nature.” She explained she would “have to sign a document that would silence me forever before I could even have a chance to bid on my own work. My legal team said that this is absolutely NOT normal, and they’ve never seen an NDA like this presented unless it was to silence an assault accuser by paying them off. … These master recordings were not for sale to me.” Read her lengthy statement in full here.
Christina Aguilera, Beyonce and Alicia Keys deliver emotional performances at memorial for Kobe and Gianna Bryant
Following the tragic death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, 41, and 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash, family, friends and fans gathered at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 24 to celebrate their lives. Some of the highlights from the sad yet moving event were performances from Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera. “I’m here because I love Kobe, and this was one of his favorite songs,” Bey said as she began “XO”; she also sang “Halo.” Alicia played a rendition of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” a song Kobe had taught himself to play on piano for wife Vanessa. Xtina sang “Ave Maria” in Italian, to honor the country where Kobe grew up as a child, accompanied by an orchestra.
Elton John and Bernie Taupin win first award together
It was an historic moment for the piano man and his closest collaborator! For more than 50 years, musician Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin have worked together on countless songs including “Rocket Man,” “Tiny Dancer,” Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” “Your Song,” and many, many more. What’s surprising though, is that the iconic duo had never actually won an award together… until the 2020 Golden Globes in January! Both took home trophies for best original song for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” which was written for the 2019 Elton biopic “Rocketman.” The honors didn’t stop there though as the duo also took home the Academy Award for best original song a month later at the Oscars on Feb. 9. The honor made Elton the second-oldest winner in the history of the category. “Thank you to Bernie who has been a constant in my life. When I was screwed up, when I was normal, he’s always been there for me,” Elton said. Added Bernie: “Being here with this guy, I don’t have words for it. This is justification for 53 years of just hammering it out and doing what we do.”
Bob Dylan sells entire catalog to Universal for $300 million
Bob Dylan’s family is in for a nice holiday season! Deadline reported on Dec. 7 that the music icon sold his entire catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group for $300 million. The deal covers more than 600 songs including “Blowin’ In The Wind,” “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” “Lay Lady Lay,” “Forever Young,” “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” “Tangled Up In Blue” and more.
Beyonce leads the 2021 Grammy nominees
The nominations for the 2021 Grammys were announced on Nov. 20 and while there were some very clear favorites who scored nods, the shocking snubs put a damper on the annual awards show. Beyonce leads the pack with a total of nine nominations including for song of the year for the smash remix of “Savage” with Megan Thee Stallion. Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and Roddy Rich each scored six nominations. Harry Styles and K-pop band BTS each scored their first Grammy nominations. The biggest shock, however, was that The Weeknd failed to receive any nominations even though his critically praised album “After Hours” was the highest selling album of the year and his hit song “Blinding Lights” stayed in the Billboard top 10 for most of the year. The music star was appalled, tweeting, “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…” Many within the industry agreed with The Weeknd as major stars like Elton John, Drake and Halsey came to his defense.
Ozzy Osbourne reveals Parkinson’s disease diagnosis
On Jan. 21, Black Sabbath rocker Ozzy Osbourne revealed that he’s been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. According to Ozzy, he found out nearly a year earlier in February 2019 after suffering a fall. “It’s been terribly challenging for us all,” he told Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America.” “I did my last show New Year’s Eve at The Forum. Then I had a bad fall. I had to have surgery on my neck, which screwed all my nerves.” Wife and manager Sharon Osbourne further elaborated on her husband’s condition: “There’s so many different types of Parkinson’s — it’s not a death sentence by any stretch of the imagination, but it does affect certain nerves in your body. And it’s — it’s like you have a good day, a good day, and then a really bad day.” Ozzy admitted he felt relieved after making the decision to go public with the news. “I’m not good at secrets, I cannot walk around with it anymore. I feel better now of owning up to the fact that I have a case of Parkinson’s,” he said.
Founding father of rock ‘n’ roll Little Richard dies at 87
On May 9, legendary rock ‘n’ roll star Little Richard passed away at 87 after a fight with bone cancer. The Georgia-born musician was known for his eccentric spirit, gender-bending style and flamboyant showmanship. His influential discography includes hits like “Tutti Frutti,” “Rip It Up,” “Good Golly Miss Dolly” and “Lucille.”
Demi Lovato makes powerful comeback at the Grammys
On Feb. 9, Demi Lovato delivered a major comeback when she took the stage at the 2020 Grammys to debut the ballad “Anyone,” a song about addiction and depression that she co-wrote just days before suffering a near-fatal drug overdose in July 2018. Overcome by emotion, Demi had to pause then restart the track as she held back tears. The powerful moment marked Demi’s return to not only the Grammys stage but to music in general: It was her first live performance since she was hospitalized following her OD. “What an unbelievable night,” she wrote on Instagram. “So emotional for me.”
Cardi B withdraws divorce petition
Cardi B and Offset have had a wild ride in 2020. On Oct. 15, Cardi revealed she’d reconciled with husband Offset a month after she filed for divorce. She later withdrew her divorce petition. News of the reunion came after fans spotted the Migos rapper smiling and laughing at Cardi’s birthday party and gifting the rapper a Bentley truck. Cardi was honest about her struggles during this time, explaining on social media, “It’s hard not to talk to your best friend. It’s really hard not to talk to your best friend. And it’s really hard to have no [sex].” She continued, “We’re just really typical, two young folks… who got married early. That’s who we are. We’re not no different than y’all…dysfunctional a** relationships.”
John Prine, Adam Schlesinger, Nick Cordero and more music stars die from the coronavirus
The music community and fans mourned when country-folk singer-songwriter John Prine died in Nashville on April 7 from complications related to COVID-19. He was 73… Grammy- and Emmy-winning songwriter Adam Schlesinger, the co-founder of pop-rock band Fountains of Wayne, passed away on April 1 from complications related to COVID-19. He was 52… Tony-nominated Broadway star Nick Cordero died on July 5 in a Los Angeles hospital from complications of COVID-19. He was 41… Former Dream Street singer Chris Trousdale died from complications due to the coronavirus in Burbank, California, on June 2. He was 34… Other musicians who died from COVID-19 in 2020 include jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr., 85, on April 1; country singer Joe Diffie, 61, on March 29; rapper Fred The Godson, 35, on April 23; “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” writer Alan Merrill of The Arrows, 69, on March 29; musician Manu Dibango, 84, on March 24; jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz, 92, on April 15; jazz trumpeter Wallace Roney, 59, on March 31; and “Saturday Night Live” sketch music producer Hal Willner, 64, on April 7; the Four Seasons founding member Tommy DeVito, 92, on Sept. 21; former Temptations lead singer Bruce Williamson, 49, on Sept. 6.
Taylor Swift drops her second surprise album of 2020
Taylor Swift was just full of surprises in 2020. On Dec. 11, she dropped another surprise album, this time, she explained, as a thank you to fans for their support as she celebrated her 31st birthday on Dec. 13. The new critically acclaimed album, “evermore,” is a sister to “folklore,” the surprise project Taylor released in July after secretly recording it during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic.
Morgan Wallen gets dropped from “SNL” performance after failing to follow coronavirus protocols — then gets a second chance
Country singer Morgan Wallen was dropped from his inaugural “Saturday Night Live” performance on Oct. 10 after he ignored COVID-19 safety precautions put in place by the NBC. During the week leading up to the show, photos and videos emerged showing the singer partying maskless and making out with random women at a college party in Alabama days earlier. On Oct. 7, he released an apology video, saying, “My actions this past weekend were pretty short-sighted and they have obviously affected my long-term goals and my dreams.” He continued, “I think I have some growing up to do. I think I’ve lost myself a bit. I’ve tried to find joy in the wrong places… and it’s left me with less joy so I’m going to try to work on that. I’m going to take a step back from the spotlight for a while and go work on myself… It may be a second before you heard from me for a while… I’m going to work on me.” Morgan was lucky and got a second chance: On Dec. 5., he got a redo and appeared as the musical guest on “SNL” along with host, Jason Bateman. The two even did a hilarious time travel skit together where Morgan partied at a bar with numerous women and Jason — as the future Morgan — tried to stop him so he wouldn’t get kicked off “SNL.”
COVID-19 kills country music pioneer Charley Pride
Country music singer Charley Pride — a pioneer for Black artists in the genre and the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame — died on Dec. 12 at 86 in Dallas from complications of COVID-19. The Grammy winner, who was known for hit songs like “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” and “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,” delivered his final performance at November’s 2020 Country Music Association Awards, where he was given a lifetime achievement award.
Billie Eilish majes history with Bond theme song
In addition to becoming the youngest solo artist to sweep all four of the most coveted categories at the Grammys, Billie Eilish set another record. On Feb. 13, the teenager debuted her Bond theme song, “No Time to Die.” Within a matter of days, the track set a record for the highest opening week for a 007 single, selling 90,000 units, which includes 10.6 million streams. Billie also became the first woman to hit No. 1 in Britain with a Bond theme. It also marked her first No. 1 in the U.K.
Judge rules that Kesha defamed Dr. Luke
On Feb. 6, a New York City Supreme Court judge ruled that Kesha defamed producer Dr. Luke when she sent a text to Lady Gaga accusing him of raping Katy Perry years earlier. It was the latest development in a headline-making six-year legal battle between Kesha and her former mentor and label head (real name: Lukasz Gottwald), whom she’s long accused of sexual assault and emotional abuse — which he’s long denied. For his part, Luke sued Kesha for defamation and breach of contract. “Perry unequivocally testified that Gottwald did not [rape her]. In response, Kesha has not raised a triable issue. There is no evidence whatsoever that Gottwald raped Katy Perry, or that Katy Perry, whose sworn testimony is unrefuted, must not be believed,” said Judge Jennifer G. Schechter. Kesha was also ordered to pay Dr. Luke’s company $374,000 related to late royalty fees.
Justin Bieber reveals battle with Lyme disease and chronic mono
On Jan. 8, Justin Bieber revealed that he’s been battling ongoing health problems, namely Lyme disease and chronic mono. “While a lot of people kept saying Justin Bieber looks like s—, on meth, etc., they failed to realize I’ve been recently diagnosed with Lyme disease, not only that but had a serious case of chronic mono, which affected my skin, brain function, energy, and overall health,” he wrote in a lengthy Instagram post. TMZ reported that doctors struggled to figure out what was wrong with the Canadian pop star before eventually giving him a proper diagnosis in late 2019. “It’s been a rough couple years but getting the right treatment that will help treat this so far incurable disease and I will be back and better than ever…” Justin then gave fans a closer look into his health struggles in his “Seasons” docuseries, which debuted on YouTube on Jan. 27.
Nicki Minaj welcomes her first child
Darling Nicki! On Sept. 30, rapper Nicki Minaj and her husband, Kenneth “Zoo” Petty, welcomed their first child. TMZ broke the news that the rapper delivered her baby in Los Angeles. People magazine later confirmed it. Kenneth was with Nicki when she gave birth.
Florida Georgia Line hit with breakup rumors
Is one of the biggest country acts heading for a split? In November, rumors emerged wondering if duo Florida Georgia Line had either broken up or could be on the verge of splitting. Fans noticed in early November that Tyler Hubbard and his wife, Hayley, stopped following Brian Kelley and his wife, Brittany, on Instagram. Many speculated that differing views about the presidential election and the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated issues between the music stars. Tyler has been very critical of President Donald Trump for several years and endorsed Joe Biden while Brian implied to a fan that he supported Trump. Brian also predicted that COVID-19 restrictions would go away after the election, hinting at a conspiracy. Meanwhile, Tyler announced on Nov. 8 that he’d tested positive for COVID-19. While speculation mounted online, Brian’s wife fanned the flames by posting several quotes about friendship, respect and “redirection.” “I’ve never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend,” read one quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson. Then came an announcement that seemed to pour water on breakup talk: On Nov. 16, the duo confirmed they’d inked a multiyear touring deal with Live Nation that could see concerts kick off as early as the summer of 2021.
Full fued-fueling phone conversation between Taylor Swift and Kanye West is leaked
Let’s recap some of this feud: After Kanye West debuted the song “Famous” off his “The Life of Pablo” album in 2016, Taylor Swift denounced the rapper’s references to her on the track, insisting that despite Ye’s claims she’d approved his lyrics about her, she actually wasn’t told the full extent of what he’d be saying. A few months later, in an attempt to clear her husband’s name, Kim Kardashian West took to Snapchat to post receipts in the form of a video featuring audio that allegedly proved Kanye had told the truth — that he did, in fact, ask Taylor for her permission and get it before releasing the song. The entire situation fueled Taylor’s decision to detach from the media and the public eye, at least until she reemerged more than a year later with her “Reputation” album. However, in 2020, it emerged that Taylor was being honest all along. In an interesting turn of events, on March 21, the full phone conversation between Kanye and Taylor was leaked, making it clear that Kanye never told her about nor got her approval to call her a “b****.” In response to the new footage, Kim took to Instagram to accuse Taylor for continuing to capitalize on her narrative as a victim when there were more pressing issues to deal with, like the coronavirus pandemic.
Britney Spears’ conservatorship battle continues
Britney Spears has been under a court ordered conservatorship overseen by her father for the better part of the past 12 years. While that arrangement still holds, 2020 has seen some major developments in the case. On Oct. 14, Britney was granted permission by a judge to add more lawyers to her team. The pop superstar has been fighting to remove her father from his role as sole conservator. Jamie has maintained adding legal help would cost too much. In his attorney’s final attempt to block Britney’s request to expand her team, a note was included, as reported by ETonline, claiming that Jamie has been in contact with Bessemer Trust Company — the organization Britney reportedly wants to take over as her conservator — in hopes they might agree on how the conservatorship could be structured going forward as it seems Jamie’s open to sharing co-conservatorship duties with Bessemer Trust. Part of Britney’s concern about her dad’s involvement appears to be that, as her legal team put it, the singer doesn’t share Jamie’s “…vision of a future in which she resumes performing and leaves the management of her estate completely to him as she did in the past.” All of this has been complicated by the #FreeBritney movement, which has gained traction on social media as fans worry about Britney’s often bizarre Instagram posts. Even celebrities have weighed in on the situation, with actress Sharon Stone commenting, “You have a right to an attorney NOT provided by your family!! You can get your own attorney! You deserve that.”
Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom welcome a baby girl
Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom announced on Aug. 26 that they’d welcomed a little girl: Daisy Dove Bloom. Daisies seem to be the theme for Katy as her most recent single was titled “Daisies” and her engagement ring from the actor is in the shape of the flower.
Iggy Azalea reveals she has a son
On June 10, rapper Iggy Azalea took to her Instagram Stories to reveal that she is a mother to a baby boy. “I kept waiting for the right time to say something but it feels like the more time passes the more I realize that I’m always going to feel anxious to share news that giant with the world,” she wrote. “I want to keep his life private but wanted to make it clear he is not a secret & I love him beyond words.” Speculation that she was expecting a child with rapper Playboi Carti — her boyfriend since 2018 from whom she split in the fall — had emerged months earlier. Iggy did not reveal when she gave birth but later revealed her son’s name: Onyx.
Bob Dylan earns first ever No. 1 on Billboard chart
Who would’ve thought it would’ve taken this long? Iconic singer-songwriter Bob Dylan reached a major career milestone in 2020 — he scored his first Billboard No. 1! Bob’s track “Murder Most Foul,” which addresses the assassination of JFK, took the top spot on the Rock Digital Song Sales chart in April. While Bob has previously earned impressive spots on Billboard lists throughout his career as a writer on other artist’s tracks, “Murder Most Foul” is the only No. 1 he’s had as a performer.
Harry Styles robbed at knifepoint
In February, Harry Styles was robbed at knifepoint while out in London on Valentine’s Day. “He actually played it pretty cool, quickly giving the assailant cash, keeping himself and the guy calm and getting the situation over with,” a source told the Mirror. “Understandably though, it left him very shaken up afterwards.” Harry is pictured here leaving BBC Radio 2 studios in London just hours before the incident. A few weeks later, he confirmed during a performance on the ‘Today” show that he was “OK.”
COVID-19 hits the music world
Dozens of well-known stars in the music industry contracted contracted the coronavirus in 2020 including Kanye West, Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard, Trey Songz, J Balvin, Doja Cat, Andrea Bocelli, Madonna, Lee Brice, Sturgill Simpson, Pink, Babyface, Sara Bareilles, John Taylor and more.
Melissa Etheridge loses son Beckett to an opioid overdose
On May 13, singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge shared heartbreaking news: Her son Beckett was dead from a drug overdose. “Today I joined the hundreds of thousands of families who have lost loved ones to opioid addiction,” she said in a statement. “My son Beckett, who was just 21, struggled to overcome his addiction and finally succumbed to it today. He will be missed by those who loved him, his family and friends.” Beckett was one of two children Melissa had with ex Julie Cypher. Legendary musician David Crosby is their biological father. “My heart is broken. I am grateful for those who have reached out with condolences and I feel their love and sincere grief,” the statement continued. “We struggle with what else we could have done to save him, and in the end we know he is out of the pain now. I will sing again, soon. It has always healed me.”
Drake shares first photos of son Adonis on social media
Finally! On March 30, Drake publicly shared photos of his 2-year-old son, Adonis, for the first time. A slideshow he posted on Instagram included photos of the rapper, Adonis, the toddler’s mother, Sophie Brussaux, and Drake‘s parents as well as a heartfelt caption. “What is most important for you right now is to connect to your own inner light,” the Canadian music star began. “This will create the biggest opening of all. Trust that you have all of the power within to make this happen, and in order to do that connect to the people and things that bring you a lot of joy.” Sophie gave birth to Adonis in October 2017 following a brief romance with the rapper. Fans were first made aware of Adonis’s existence when rapper Pusha T publicly revealed the bombshell news in the midst of a feud he was having with Drake in 2018. During an interview with LeBron James in 2018, Drake spoke of his situation as single father and the relationship he wishes to have with his son’s mother. “We have found ourselves in a situation and we are both equally responsible, and now I’m just really excited to be a great father. I have a son, he’s a beautiful boy.”
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West endure very public marriage struggles
Music star Kanye West and wife Kim Kardashian West saw their marriage issues make headlines in 2020. After the rapper-designer — who waged an ill-fated and controversy-filled presidential run — went on a few dramatic Twitter rants over the summer in which he criticized the Kardashian family, apologized to Kim for telling the world they almost aborted their eldest child, daughter North West and more, rumors circulated that a divorce was inevitable. TMZ reported on Aug. 2 that the Kardashian-West clan hopped on a private jet bound for a secret destination so they could privately work on their very public issues as they sought to save their six-year marriage. TMZ added that the trip was meant to “be a time for [Kanye] to prove … he’s willing to change for his family,” and that Kimye wanted to “try and work things out.” The couple seemed to be in a better place after Kim celebrated her 40th birthday in October, but in December, a report from People magazine claimed the pair were living separate lives.
Kenny Rogers dies at 81
Country music star Kenny Rogers, the man who gave us hits like “Island in the Stream” and “The Gambler,” died at 81 on March 20. “Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family,” his official Twitter account confirmed.
Taylor Swift criticizes Scooter Braun for releasing unauthorized album of old live tracks
The drama between Taylor Swift, music executive and manager Scooter Braun and her former label, Big Machine Label Group, continued to escalate in 2020. On April 23, Taylor took to Instagram to voice her grievances upon learning that Scooter and Big Machine were planning to release an album consisting of tracks she’d performed live. “This release is not approved by me,” said Taylor. “It looks to me like Scooter Braun and his financial backers, 23 Capital, Alex Soros and the Soros family and the Carlyle Group have seen the latest balance sheets and realized that paying $330 MILLION wasn’t exactly a wise choice and they needed money. In my opinion … Just another case of shameless greed in the time of coronavirus. So tasteless, but very transparent.” Scooter purchased Big Machine, which is home to Taylor’s first five albums, in 2019, sparking a major feud.
The Academy of Country Music Awards go virtual
On Sept. 16, the 55th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards were held without a studio audience at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Several stars including Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood pre-recorded performances for the virtual show that had an abbreviated red carpet where a handful of stars delivered some good and bad fashion. Maren Morris took home female artist of the year while Luke Combs took home male artist of the year. Dan + Shay were named duo of the year. The biggest winners of the night were Carrie Underwood and Thomas Rhett, who were announced the first ever co-winners of the entertainer of the year prize.
CMA Awards delivers good music, big winners as multiple acts stay home due to COVID-19 exposure
There were plenty of big winners at the 2020 Country Music Association Awards in Nashville on Nov. 11. Eric Church won his first CMA entertainer of the year prize, Luke Combs won male vocalist and album of the year and Maren Morris took home three awards — female vocalist of the year plus single and song of the year for her hit “The Bones.” But what really had everyone talking about the not-very-socially-distanced ceremony, which aired on ABC, was how multiple artists had to pull out of appearances and performances due to COVID-19 as the pandemic escalated across America and the world. Variety reported that an hour before the telecast, Lady A canceled in order to quarantine as an unnamed family member had contracted the coronavirus. Rascal Flatts had to pull out after a member of the band was diagnosed with COVID-19. Fiddle player Jenee Fleenor, a CMA musician of the year winner, explained she was out after testing positive before the show. And both Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and country singer Lee Brice were no-shows because both were home recovering from the virus.
Demi Lovato and Max Ehrich’s broken engagement gets messy
While fans were excited that Demi Lovato finally seemed to find love with her soap opera actor Max Ehrich during coronavirus quarantine, things ultimately didn’t work out. On Sept. 25, two days after it was revealed that the couple’s two-month engagement had abruptly ended, Max took to social media to claim that he found out the news just like everyone else did — through the media. “Imagine finding out to the status of your relationship through a tabloid…” A source close to Demi was quick to dispute that, telling People magazine, “Demi made Max aware that the relationship was over and it was going to come out in the press.” After all of this, they both decided to release their own breakup ballads. The biggest kicker though? Max crudely posted on his personal Facebook account, “But I can say that I f***** Demi Lovato… what about you?” Classy, Max. Classy.
Kanye West, BTS and other music stars donate big money to BLM causes
In the wake of George Floyd’s May 25 death at the hands of white police officers and nationwide protests against police brutality aimed at black Americans, music stars including Kanye West — who earlier in 2020 was declared a billionaire by Forbes magazine as well as the highest earning music star of the previous year — offered financial support to the late African American man’s family and Black Lives Matter causes. In June, Ye donated $2 million to the loved ones and legal teams fighting for justice for George, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and set up a college fund for George’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna. Barbra Streisand gifted Gianna with an unknown number of Disney stocks, which were trading at $115 a share at the time. K-pop group BTS gave $1 million to Black Lives Matter. John Legend and wife Chrissy Teigen gave $200,000 to help bail out arrested protesters.
Rihanna, JAY-Z and more music stars donate to coronavirus relief efforts
When the novel coronavirus hit America hard in the spring, the music industry’s most influential figures were quick to step up and do their part to funding relief efforts. The outpouring of support was inspiring — Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation, JAY-Z‘s Shawn Carter Foundation and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s Start Small Foundation joined together to collectively donate $6.2 million in grants to numerous organizations funding groups helping those affected by COVID-19 as well as at-risk individuals mainly in Puerto Rico, New York and New Orleans. Other music stars who donated big to coronavirus relief efforts include Pink, Shawn Mendes, Ciara, Lady Gaga, Meek Mill, Kanye West Justin Bieber and more.
CMT pledges gender parity for music video programming blocks
On Jan. 21, CMT announced that it would be instituting 50/50 gender parity for video airplay on CMT and CMT Music channels. “Effective immediately all music video hours on CMT and CMT Music channels will have complete parity between male and female artists. That means 50/50. #CMTEqualPlay,” the company said in a statement. The historic decision means that female artists now make up half of CMT’s total airplay — a 10% increase from the previous 40/60 ratio between female and male artists. Gender inequity in the country music world has long been an issue, though the discussion made a recent resurgence when Variety revealed an unspoken rule when it comes to country radio: Stations aren’t to play female artists back to back.
Rising rapper Pop Smoke killed
On Feb. 19, New York rapper Pop Smoke was shot and killed in his Los Angeles home. He was just 20. In the wake of the news, various celebrities in the music industry including Nicki Minaj, Quavo, 50 Cent, Nas, Fat Joe and Megan Thee Stallion mourned the young rapper’s death. “Rest Up Pop Smoke, you were too young. God Bless and comfort your family. What a crazy trajectory you were on man smh,” tweeted Chance the Rapper.
Taylor Swift reveals details about her private life in Netflix documentary “Miss Americana”
On Jan. 31, Netflix released “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana,” a documentary that follows the pop star’s personal and public life in recent years. In the film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 23, audiences saw Taylor arguably at her most vulnerable. Taylor admitted that, fueled by constantly seeing unflattering paparazzi photos of herself, she developed an eating disorder years ago in an effort to maintain an ideal body image. “A picture of me where I feel like I looked like my tummy was too big, or … someone said that I looked pregnant … and that’ll just trigger me to just starve a little bit — just stop eating,” she revealed. She also shared the tough news that while her mother, Andrea, was receiving treatment for breast cancer, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. “The symptoms of what a person goes through when they have a brain tumor is nothing like what we’ve ever been through with her cancer before,” Taylor told Variety. “So it’s just been a really hard time for us as a family.” Taylor penned the track “Soon You’ll Get Better” off her “Lover” album as a touching response to her mom’s battle.