Disappointing Start To The New Year For Music Fans As The Grammy Awards Are Postponed Until March 2021

As we head into 2021, many have held onto the promise of a brighter year, which would see us return to at least some form of normality. In 2020 the Coronavirus took away so much from so many, from health and lifestyle through to business and industries. This was certainly the same for the music industry.

Although they might not have been able to showcase their music to the large crowds they might have become accustomed to, a perhaps bittersweet outcome for music performers is that they have still had the ability to create music. Throughout the dark times of the pandemic this has proved a positive influence across the world and has been a way to lead and inspire people, something that has carried many people throughout 2020.

In 2020 many of the annual music industry awards were unable to take place in the format of the heightened glitz and glamour we love, such as The MTV Europe Music Awards and the Billboard Awards. Luckily, Coronavirus has not completely cancelled these long awaited events and although we might have experienced delays, the shows that were brought to life in safe, socially distanced conditions without a live audience still continued to entertain and delight people across the world virtually.

Many performers and fans had hoped 2021 would bring the music showcases we all loved back to the main stage and one such show looked forward to by many was the Grammy Awards. This is one of the biggest award ceremonies of the music industry that was set to take place on the 31st January 2021. Unfortunately, in a recently released statement, the event organizers The Recording Academy have made the tough decision to postpone the event.

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Both those involved in the show as well as the fans are disappointed that the awards have been delayed, but understandably Covid-19 still remains a prominent threat and the health and safety of people amidst the spread of the virus has to come first. The first week of January has seen the number of Coronavirus cases rising in the city of Los Angeles and the state of California, where the ceremony is due to be held.

The new date which has been set by the event organizers has been announced as the 14th March 2021. The event is usually hosted within the Staples Centre located in central Los Angeles. The statement posted on the Grammy Awards website by organizers The Recording Academy, in conjunction with the CBS, can be read as follows:

“After thoughtful conversations with health experts, our host and artists scheduled to appear, we are rescheduling the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards to be broadcast Sunday, 14 March, 2021. The deteriorating COVID situation in Los Angeles, with hospital services being overwhelmed, ICUs having reached capacity, and new guidance from state and local governments have all led us to conclude that postponing our show was the right thing to do. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of those in our music community and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly on producing the show.”

Adding: “We want to thank all of the talented artists, the staff, our vendors and especially this year’s nominees for their understanding, patience and willingness to work with us as we navigate these unprecedented times.”

Following on from the uncertainties of 2020, it had already been planned to produce the awards as a virtual ceremony which has proven successful for other awards across the industry over the past year. But following on from their statement, the main organizers The Recording Academy believe it is ‘the right thing to do” to postpone the awards with the State of California facing surge in Covid-19 cases and the unsettling reports that ambulance staff covering the Los Angeles County have been issued with the instructions ‘not to transport patients with extremely low chances of survival’.

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As it stands, fans will wait in high anticipation for the event which saw global artists such as Beyoncé and Taylor Swift primed for success at what would have been the 63rd Annual Ceremony.
The delay has provided producers with more time to perfect the virtual ceremony, showcasing what will hopefully be a fit and well audience by this time. At present, it has not been confirmed whether the announced host comedian Trevor Noah will still be able to fulfil this appointment.

It is without a doubt that this year’s awards show has had its fair share of speculation and controversy already. The award nominees were originally announced back in November 2020 ahead of the 2021 airing and this certainly built the excitement. An array of musicians were nominated, from iconic stars through to new breakthrough artists. However controversy ensued when The Weeknd, one of the most recognized and played artists throughout the year, was not nominated for a single award.

The controversy continues with the announcement of the new date as this is due to overlap with the 27th Screen Actors Guild Awards, which has reportedly prompted the Actors Union to express how they were ‘extremely disappointed’ by this, having set their date 6 months prior.

As the world continues in its efforts to beat the Coronavirus pandemic, the music industry brings light to so many and we hope to be able to celebrate their successes with them in a safe world as soon as it is deemed appropriate to do so.

Netflix Home Screen

Netflix Reveals 2021 Film Slate, Will Deliver At Least One New Movie A Week 

Many movie lovers were skeptical when Netflix announced last October that they would be delivering new movies every week in 2021. This week, Netflix made good on its promise with the announcement of their 2021 film slate, which guarantees at least one new feature film every week. The platform went on to state that in total it would be delivering 71 new titles across a multitude of genres this year.

Netflix currently is one of the most popular streaming services with over 193 million subscribers, and that number is likely to grow this year with the announcement of all of these original films. Most of the films that will be released are completely original productions. 

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Within the epic trailer reel that Netflix uploaded to their social media this week, notable actors like Dwayne Johnson, Melissa McCarthy, Jason Momoa, Halle Berry, Chris Hemsworth, Amy Adams, and so many others were featured as stars for the new titles. All projects will be rolled out throughout the next 12 months. 

Of all the titles announced the ones being discussed the most heavily online currently include “Red Notice,” starring Gal Gadot, Johnson, and Reynolds; the Western “The Harder They Fall” with Regina King, Idris Elba and “Lovecraft County” breakout Jonathan Majors; Adams’ “The Woman in The Window”; Zach Snyder’s “Army of the Dead”; Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Tick, Tick … Boom!”; and the impossibly starry “Don’t Look Up” starring Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ariana Grande, Timothee Chalamet, Kid Cudi and Meryl Streep.

The trailer also revealed that Netflix will be releasing the highly anticipated third installments of the “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “The Kissing Booth” movie series. The release of these films is being seen as an extremely smart move from the streaming giant. 

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Netflix is currently the global leader in streaming, which makes sense considering it was one of the original streaming services to hit the market. Hollywood studios such as Warner Bros. are currently struggling to cope with fallouts over movie deals and theater closures. Many of these studios are turning to streaming services as a means of making up for the revenue lost due to the pandemic; Warner Bros. collaborated with HBO Max in terms of releasing their 2021 movie slate. 

With the Covid-19 vaccine taking much longer than originally anticipated to be distributed throughout America, and the pandemic being the worst it’s ever been for the nation, Netflix is in an incredible position to cater to the millions of Americans who have been and will continue to stay home in order to do their part in curbing the spread of the virus. 

The slate also includes a few possible franchise starters for new Netflix original movie series, including “Wish Dragon” a film from Sony Pictures Animation that comes from the same studio that created “Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse.” 

To watch the Netflix 2021 original movie slate trailer and to see all the titles that will be coming to the platform this year, click here.

Crowd of Riots

The Media’s Language Disparity Between Capitol Rioters and BLM Protesters Highlights Racial Injustice

On Wednesday, January 6th 2020 congressman had gathered in the US Capitol building to certify the election results that would confirm Joe Biden as the next US President. A violent mob of Trump supporters, some of whom were armed, marched on the Capitol building, storming the building, clashing with officers, causing the deaths of five people and forcing lawmakers to shelter and hide. Donald Trump has been blamed by many for inciting and inspiring such violence. President Trump has spent weeks of claiming election fraud, arguing that he is the real victor in the presidential race. A claim that has been debunked many times over.

Many people have rightly highlighted the distinct disparity between the treatment of the Capitol Rioters and BLM protesters in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd. The same show of federal force was not presented to the largely white crowd that stormed the US Capitol and led to the death of five people, that was present in ‘controlling’ the protests regarding the treatment of black lives in 2020.

Many have complained about the media and influential figures initial rhetoric when describing or discussing the events. In some places the Capitol rioters were referred to in the tame language of ‘pro-Trump supporters’ and ‘protesters’ where BLM protests were referred to as ‘rioters’, ‘unamerican’ and so forth. The language used to describe each of the events has highlighted even more so the racial injustices and disparity facing our world.

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In an Instagram post, Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown stated:

‘I am so upset and exhausted right now at the news consistently referring to this mob at the Capitol as ‘protesters for Trump’, ‘supporters of Trump’, these are domestic terrorists and we need to call them as such. They are armed, they are dangerous, they are trying to take over the Capitol while a sitting vice president is in there trying to take over Congress. These are domestic terrorist acts and we need to call them as such. If these individuals were Middle Eastern, Muslim, Black, we would not be referring to them as protesters, supporters – they would be terrorists. And we need to make sure, just because these individuals are majority white, that we are not reframing this as something different. Because I am exhausted with every time a white male makes a domestic terrorist act, that the news and the police treat them differently. This is the same thing we are seeing here, none of us as American should be applauding this or be okay with what we are seeing. This is a domestic terrorist act and we need to call it and treat it as such.’

Discussing the use of the language in the aftermath of the George Floyd tragedy, Time reported that ‘At TIME’s request, the Oxford English Dictionary analyzed its corpus – including roughly 2,800 articles published between May 26 and June 2 – related to events that were spurred by the killing of George Floyd, to see how those events were being described in the media. Protest appeared most frequently, about seven times for every use of the word riot. But use of riot was widespread too, about 28 times more common than uprising and 175 times more common than rebellion.’ Astutely underlining the notion that the word riot is negative: ‘In general, the word riot connotes meaningless violence – drunken sports fans, frenzied consumers, people have lost touch with reason and given into baser instincts. But it also has a racial dimension in the U.S., as a term that’s long been used (by white people) to drum up the image of black people wreaking senseless chaos in cities.’

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The comparison of the words ‘riot’ and ‘protest’ are distinctly powerful. One invites the notion of violence and chaos, the other a lawful exercising of one’s rights. The initial use of ‘protesters’ or ‘pro-trump supporters’ when referring to the Capitol rioters, who were armed and violent, demonstrates a distinct prejudice in the media’s and the public’s depiction of black lives and white lives.

Elle highlighted: ‘President Donald Trump responded to the movements with violent rhetoric – ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ and referring to protesters as ‘criminals’ – and the National Guard was deployed along with a heavy police presence which carried and used batons, sprayed activists with tear gas and arrested journalists doing their job and reporting from the scene.’ Trump also referred to BLM protesters as “Thugs”. In comparison, Donald Trump referenced the Capitol Rioters on Twitter as “Twitter that the people involved in the riots Wednesday were “great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long” USA Today reported.

The rhetoric was mirrored in the response to the protesters. Where we once saw President Donald Trump disperse a crowd of peaceful BLM protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets, he has been accused of not deploying the National Guard as quickly when it came to violent acts in the capitol in comparison to the BLM protests.

The next President, Joe Biden said in a speech to the US nation on Thursday: “No one can tell me that if that had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol.’ The upcoming Vice President, Kamala Harris commented on Twitter: ‘We have witnessed two systems of justice: one that let extremists storm the U.S. Capitol yesterday, and another that released tear gas on peaceful protestors last summer. It’s simply unacceptable.’


Ava DuVernay and Peter Roth Launch Diversity Hiring Resource For Hollywood

Ava DuVernay director of films such as Selma and A Wrinkle in Time and the award-winning documentary 13th, has teamed up with Warner Bros.’ Television chairman, Peter Roth to launch a diversity database accessible to film production teams in the hope to make a lasting change on Hollywood sets. Named the Array Crew, the database will be under the non-profit division ‘Array Alliance’ of DuVernay’s company Array. It will focus on crew members and look to bridge the gap for women and people of color in the industry, connecting underrepresented below-the-line talent to hiring managers. It will also make it easier for hiring managers to find and hire a diverse crew, fast-forwarding and simplifying moves towards inclusivity.

Array Crew is already in a soft launch stage, focusing firstly on US based talent but with plans to push further afield into countries such as Canada and the UK. The database will be searchable, sorted by crew position, experience, location and more. The purpose of such a database will be to make it easier to find qualified women and people of color for crew positions, and although this will be the focus, the database will be open to everyone. The database will be free for the talent, but they must have one verified credit.

It is set to be a fundamental resource for executives and hiring managers looking to formulate inclusive crews, and could be transformative for Hollywood. Phillip Roth has already brought competitors such as Sony, Netflix, Disney to invest into and sign onto the project.

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Speaking to Los Angeles Times, DuVernay and Roth discussed the evolution of the project. DuVernay explaining how it started off as a list of names of crew members that they knew. They then began to pool their lists with others in the film industry onto a spreadsheet, and despite some who not willing to share their lists, the spreadsheet quickly grew from 30 names to its current standing of 2,500. As people began hearing of it organically, Roth began pushing it out to everyone in the industry and studios began taking part in the foundation. The spreadsheet is no longer a spreadsheet but a tech company with a full staffing, chief, CTO and so forth.

DuVernay has long been working hard to represent a diverse range of talent in her films from the cast to the crew members. In the interview with Los Angeles Times DuVernay looked to her time working on Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time (which featured both a diverse cast and crew) to illustrate the importance of this initiative. In a powerful story that exemplifies her incentive to launch this diversity database, she stated:

‘I think as a Black woman who’s been fighting in this industry to not knock on doors but to create my own door, my default — and the reason why this relationship has been very instructive for me and illuminating — unfortunately, is: “They’re trying to keep me out. This is happening against me. And I’m gonna fight you back.” That’s unfortunately how we as women of color kind of walk through. We walk in the room, and it’s not the ease of, “Oh, I’m going to be accepted on my merits. And they’re going to get to know me, and we’re going to start from there.” No, I have to walk in feeling on the defense because I’m chipping away at whatever the preconceived notions are.

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So, I was on “A Wrinkle in Time,” and I had all of my department heads, and I said when we started: “I’m hiring you because I think you’re great. And I’m making you responsible for your department, and [you’re] assuring me that it will be [an] inclusively staffed crew. I’m not saying you have to hire the woman or the person of color, but you’ve got to interview a woman or person of color; you can’t just bring all your friends, all your white men friends from the other show. You’ve got to show me that for every single position on your crew on your department, that you have looked at someone else that you haven’t looked at before.” We’re getting close to the production. I’m reviewing a crew list, and I look at the camera department. And I’m thinking, what’s going on? All white guys. So I call in Tobias Schliessler [director of photography]. I’ve got my armor on, and I say, “What is going on here? When we decided to work together, you told me that this was important to you. I believed you.” And he looked at me, and he was shook. He was hurt. I could see his hurt in his eyes. I get emotional thinking about it. He said to me, “I know how important this is. And I just want to do my best for you. And I know these people will give you the best I could give. I don’t know those other people, and there’s too much riding on this. I don’t know them. But I know these guys, and I know that they will get it done. I’m trying to do my best for you. That’s what this is. I’m interviewing other people, but I’m not sure.”

I saw for the first time [that] maybe it’s not all, “I’m trying to keep you out.” It’s just, you don’t know how. You don’t know where to look. You don’t know who to ask. … Maybe the fight is to help them; help them understand how to do it. And that’s something to wrestle with because do I want to take time out of my creative space to aid in the forward movement of other people and in the psychological progress of other people as it pertains to race and gender? Not really. But if someone doesn’t stop and do it, how does it get done?’

Movie & Popcorn

Film Releases To Look Out For in 2021

2020 was certainly a challenging year for the film industry. The coronavirus pandemic caused many film releases to be delayed and the production to halt on many of the expected releases. Nevertheless, film and TV have continued to delight audiences through streaming services, cinemas, where safe to open, and virtual award ceremonies. Film offers much needed escapism for many.

The new release dates for many blockbusters have been slated for 2021 and it is hopeful that these will continue to take place. With this in mind, here we take a look at some of the most hotly anticipated releases of 2021.

The story of Cinderella is one that has delighted audiences across the world for generations and it is now getting a modern reboot in the form of a musical romantic comedy that is scheduled to be released on 5th February 2021 in the UK, entitled “Cinderella”. The film stars “Havana” singer Camila Cabello as the title role, “Pose” actor Billy Porter as the Fairy Godmother, “Good Will Hunting” actress Minnie Driver as Queen Beatrice and James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan as The King. The film is directed by Kay Cannon and James Corden is one of the producers, and also stars. Some of the production was suspended in March due to the Coronavirus pandemic, however filming resumed and it still set for release in February 2021.

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No Time To Die
One anticipated release that has been delayed on multiple occasions is Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond in “No Time To Die”. The film was initially due to be released in April 2020, but this was then moved to November 2020 due to the effects of the pandemic. The film was subsequently delayed again to 2nd April 2021 with the statement saying this was “in order to be seen by a worldwide theatrical audience”. This is the 25th film in the James Bond franchise and the theme song has been recorded by Billie Eilish, which has already been released along with the trailer. In addition to Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz stars as Blofeld and Rami Malek as Safin.

Black Widow
Marvel and The Avengers franchise have been entertaining audiences across the world throughout the 21st Century, drawing on many loved Marvel characters. “Black Widow” is the first film focusing on Natasha Romanoff singularly and her alter-ego Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johannson. Originally intended to be released May 2020, the film is now slated for a 7th May 2021 release date and will delve into the quests undertaken by Natasha Romanoff between the Civil War and Infinity War Avengers films where she confronts her past. The film will also star Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz.

Ghostbusters: After Life
Exactly 37 years after the original film, “Ghostbusters: After Life” is set for release on 11th June 2021. The original release date for the film was actually July 2020, before it was moved to March 2021, but it has now been moved to summer 2021 instead, as reported in Variety. Fan favorite actors from the original film will be returning to their roles, such as Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd and Sigourney Weaver, but with the addition of new cast members such as Paul Rudd and Finn Wolfhard and the film is directed by Jason Reitman. Set 30 years after the previous films, a family moves to a small town where they uncover how they are connected to Ghostbusters.

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Top Gun: Maverick
After delays and a previous slated release in December 2020, “Top Gun: Maverick” is now scheduled to be released 2nd July 2021 in the US. Variety reported that part of the reason for the date move was so that Tom Cruise would be able to promote the Top Gun movie, as the December release date would conflict with the Mission: Impossible movies that Cruise was filming. Variety also reported that “Top Gun: Maverick” has cost over $150 million to make. Within the new, exciting installment, Cruise is resuming his loved role of pilot Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and will star alongside Jennifer Connelly.

“Candyman” is the hotly anticipated next release written by Jordan Peele, Win Rosenfeld and Nia DaCosta. The film is also directed by Nia DaCosta and is set to be a direct sequel to the original 1992 “Candyman” film but considers the now gentrified Chicago neighborhood. Peele’s previous hit films are “Get Out”, starring Daniel Kaluuya, and “Us” starring Lupita NYong’o. The film will star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris and Nathan Stewart-Jarret. “Candyman” was originally scheduled for release in June 2020 by Universal Pictures, however it was then pushed to September 2020 and then moved again to the current release date of 27th August 2021. The film looks set to both entertain and terrify audiences.

Many fantastic films are set to be released in 2021 that will delight their audiences across the world and offer some much needed relief from the continued challenges.

Female Singing

Sia Claims ‘Nepotism’ Is Why She Cast Maddie Ziegler Over Autistic Actor In New Film

Sia has recently received a lot of backlash from the public after announcing her new movie “Music,” which stars Maddie Ziegler, Sia’s longtime muse, as a teenager on the autism spectrum who can’t speak and uses music to communicate and understand the world. 

The decision to cast Ziegler, an individual who’s not on the autism spectrum at all, over an actor who actually is on the spectrum has caused Sia to receive a multitude of complaints and online backlash from individuals who claim the choice was ableist. Initially Sia defended the decision by claiming the character Ziegler is portraying is non-verbal, and typically individuals on the spectrum who are non-verbal would need to be specially accommodated on something as intimidating as a Hollywood set. 

However, these comments seemed to have caused an even bigger uproar online, especially for individuals who actually have autism. Alaina Leary is a journalist who’s on the spectrum herself and recently wrote an op-ed piece on this controversy

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“The implication is that a non-speaking autistic actor who might require accommodations on set is, in essence, incapable—thus reinforcing ableist ideas that already lock out such performers.”

The biggest issue people took with Sia’s casting decision is that she was further shutting the door on a pool of actors who are already denied opportunities simply because they’re autistic. This also speaks on a much larger issue in Hollywood of hiring already established actors to play roles that they don’t relate to at all in real life in order to seem more “palatable” to a general audience. 

We see it most often with the hiring of heterosexual actors to portray LGBT+ roles, however, the hiring of able-bodied or neurotypical actors to portray individuals with physical or mental disabilities has been a longstanding issue in Hollywood that clearly continues to shine bright; one of the biggest examples being Tom Hanks in the movie “Forrest Gump.” 

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During an interview with “The Sunday Project,” and Australian TV show, Sia defended the decision to cast Ziegler in the film by claiming nepotism as her reasoning. 

“I realized it wasn’t ableism. I mean, it is ableism I guess as well, but it’s actually nepotism because I can’t do a project without Ziegler. I don’t want to. I wouldn’t make art if it didn’t include her.”

Ziegler, 18, first became famous after appearing on reality TV show “Dance Moms” where Sia initially discovered her, and the two have been working on projects together ever since. Sia even claimed that Ziegler herself expressed multiple concerns on set over her role, telling Sia she was worried people would think she was “making fun” of people with autism, to which Sia replied that she “wouldn’t let that happen.” 

“Music” follows a young girl with autism who is raised by her drug-dealing older sister, played by Kate Hudson. Quickly after the trailer was released it became the center of a massive debate regarding the trend of hiring non-disabled actors in leading roles where a central aspect of the main characters journey is their disability. 

Sia did claim initially that she had tried to work with a young girl who was on the autism spectrum for the role, however, the girl found the experience to be “unpleasant and stressful” which led to Ziegler’s casting in the role.

Female Singing on Stage

Taylor Swift Evermore Sells A Million Copies

Taylor Swift’s latest surprise album, Evermore, released on the 11th of December 2020, less than five months after the unpredicted release of Folklore, on the 24th of July 2020. Evermore, has already sold a million copies worldwide within its first week of release, a feat not unfamiliar to Swift, who has reached a million sales in a seven-day period, since Fearless in 2008. This will be the singers third album in a sixteen-month period to sell a million copies globally in week one.

The album is expected to continue in an upward trajectory, as the second week will deliver the release of the CD version of the album, featuring two bonus tracks. Variety reported: ‘Although Swift was famously skeptical about non-paid streaming services back in the “1989” era, she and streaming currently enjoy a highly beneficial relationship. Even if album sales are still the benchmark of preference for the Swift camp and many of her fans, individual global streams passed the half-billion mark in week one, according to Republic, with more than 100 million of those steams for the lead single, “Willow.” Billboard reported 329,000 album units for the project’s first week, with 155,000 of those in traditional album sales and another 167,000 representing the album equivalent of 220 million str song streams. This makes it the fifth-biggest U.S. album debut of the year.’

Swift described Evermore as a ‘sister record’ to her previously released Folklore album which has already been highly lauded by fans and critics alike, demonstrating a stripped back and raw side of the singer’s repertoire. It is currently leading in the run for the top seller of 2020 and has been nominated for ‘album of the year’ at the 2021 Grammys.

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Swift released the album to excited fans out of the blue, with a days notice, announcing it on social media with:

‘I’m elated to tell you that my 9th studio album, and folklore’s sister record, will be out tonight at midnight eastern. It’s called evermore. To put it plainly, we just couldn’t stop writing songs. To try and put it more poetically, it feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music. We chose to wander deeper in. I’ve never done this before. In the past I’ve always treated albums as one-off eras and moved onto planning the next one after an album was released. There was something different with folklore. In making it, I felt less like I was departing and more like I was returning. I loved the escapism I found in these imaginary/not imaginary tales. I loved the ways you welcomed the dreamscapes and tragedies and epic tales of love lost and found into your lives. So I just kept writing them. And I loved creating these songs with Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff, WB, and Justin Vernon. We’ve also welcomed some new (and longtime) friends to our musical kitchen table this time around…’

Evermore has already also reached no.1 in the UK album charts, and three tracks have reached the national top twenty. According to Billboard, ‘Evermore also gives Swift a spot in the record books. According to the Official Chart Company, the U.S. singer has achieved her six No. 1s in just eight years, a record time among female artists, eclipsing the 11 years it took Madonna to reach the same tally, between 1997 and 2008.’ She is also the first artist in four years, to reach the number one spot with two different albums in the same year, prior to this, the late David Bowie had reached no.1 twice in one year with Black Star and ‘Best of Bowie’ compilation, following his sad passing.

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Producer and co-writer on Swift’s lockdown successes, Folklore and Evermore, Aaron Dessner, did not expect to make another album so soon after Lockdown either. Speaking to Rolling Stone, when asked when he realised there was going to be another album he said:

‘It was after we’d written several [songs], seven or eight or nine. Each one would happen, and we would both be in this sort of disbelief of this weird alchemy that we had unleashed. The ideas were coming fast and furiously and were just as compelling as anything on Folklore, and it felt like the most natural thing in the world. At some point, Taylor wrote “Evermore” with William Bowery, and then we sent it to Justin, who wrote the bridge, and all of a sudden, that’s when it started to become clear that there was a sister record. Historically, there are examples of this, of records which came in close succession that I love — certain Dylan records, Kid A and Amnesiac. I secretly fell in love with the idea that this was part of the same current, and that these were two manifestations that were interrelated. And with Taylor, I think it just became clear to her what was happening. It really picked up steam, and at some point, there were 17 songs — because there are two bonus tracks, which I love just as much.’

Dessner commented later that he had a rare chemistry with Taylor, and thought that inevitably they will continue to be in each others ‘artistic and personal’ lives, unsure in what form, but sure it would continue.

Enagement Ring

Ariana Grande Announces Engagement To Dalton Gomez

2020 has been a challenging year for couples looking to tie the knot with restrictions preventing ceremonies from going ahead. Despite this many couples have found safe and creative ways to share their celebrations with their family and friends, including broadcasting their ceremony via social media platforms. A number of celebrity couples got engaged in 2020 including retired tennis pro Maria Sharapova and her partner Alexander Gilkes, Mean Girls actor Jonathan Bennett and his partner Jaymes Vaughan, and singers Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton. A further couple that have recently announced their engagement is international singer, songwriter and actress Ariana Grande and her real estate partner Dalton Gomez.

Grande, age 27, announced the engagement through a post on her Instagram page to her 211 million followers. The post was caption “forever n then some” and featured a couple of pictures of herself with the engagement ring and some pictures of her and Gomez together looking very happy. The ring featured both a pearl and a diamond. “They couldn’t be happier, they’re just so excited. This is a happy time for them, both sets of parents are thrilled,” a source was quoted as telling US magazine People” reported the BBC.

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Many international stars commented on Grande’s announcement post sharing their congratulations with the couple. Actress and filmmaker Diane Keaton commented “CONGRATS!!!” and Khloe Kardashian said “Ahhhhhhh congratulations beautiful!!!!!! Forever Blessings!!!!!” followed by three heart emojis. Grande’s family also shared their congratulations on the post with her mother, Joan, saying “Sooo sooo sooo happy!!!! Love you two!!!” and half-brother Frankie Grande saying “I am so happy for you both and so excited to (officially) welcome Dalton into the family! YAY! This is just the beginning of a long-lasting life filled with laughter & love. Ugh. I love you both! HAPPY ENGAGEMENT!” followed by a series of love and celebration emojis. In addition, Hayley Bieber, Scooter Braun, Kim Kardashian West, Bella Hadid, Millie Bobby Brown and Ashley Tisdale were among the many well-wishers.

Reportedly both living at Grande’s home in Los Angeles, the couple were first linked at the beginning of the year after they were spotted kissing at a restaurant in Los Angeles. They have kept most of their relationship away from the public eye, but Gomez did feature in the music video for Grande’s chart-topping collaboration with Justin Bieber “Stuck With U” in May and they have been featuring on each other’s Instagram pages. Gomez is not in the public eye, with his Instagram set to private, but it is known he was born and raised in South California and has a number of years experience working in luxury real estate.

It has been reported that Grande’s cautiousness over the privacy of her relationship with Gomez is due to many of her previous relationships being played out in the media. Grande has found a number of her relationships in the public eye including her previous engagement to Saturday Night Live comedian Pete Davidson and relationships with rapper Mac Miller and rapper Big Sean. Grande took the power back from the media acknowledging her previous relationships in her now infamous song “Thank u, Next” and shows the power of letting go.

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Despite the challenges, 2020 has also seen many successes for Grande. In late October, Grande released her sixth studio album “Positions”, which debuted at Number One on both the US Billboard 200 chart and the UK Album Chart. In the UK she achieved the double as the title song from the album was also Number One single and in the US there was a time where all 14 songs from “Positions” charted in the Billboard Hot 100 simultaenously. Songs from the album include “Positions”, “34+35” and “POV”, all of which have become viral sounds on TikTok with many creators posting videos featuring the songs. She also collaborated with other famous performers on some of the songs including “Motive” with Doja Cat, “Off The Table” with The Weeknd and “Safety Net” with Ty Dolla Sign.

In addition to her chart success, Grande has also released a Netflix documentary this year. The Netflix special is called “Ariana Grande: Excuse Me, I love You” and follows Grande on her Sweetener tour in 2019. This provides fans with backstage footage of her sold-out tour that took her around the world between March and December 2019. The Netflix synopsis for the 1 hour 37 minute program reads “Ariana Grande takes the stage in London for her Sweetener World Tour and shares a behind-the-scenes look at her life in rehearsal and on the road”.

Grande is no stranger to chart success, with the majority of her six studio albums reaching the Number One spot and many of her singles doing the same. Grande’s first album was “Yours Truly” released in 2013, with successive albums including “Dangerous Woman” in 2016 and “Sweetner” in 2018. Some of Grande’s most successful singles include “Break Free” in 2014, featuring Zedd, “God is a Woman” in 2018, “One Last Time” in 2014 and “Rain on Me” with Lady Gaga, released in 2020 and she has won a whole host of awards over her career so far.

This positive news provides some light at the end of a difficult year and we’re wishing happiness to Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez.

Female Singer Silhouette

We ‘Salute’ You Jesy Nelson as She Makes Decision To Leave Little Mix

Amidst the glamour of the world of celebrity there is without a doubt a double ended sword, and this has certainly been experienced in its rawest form by pop star Jesy Nelson. As a member of the girl band Little Mix, Jesy has not always had it easy throughout her career suffering with her mental health and anxiety and further to recent speculation and her extended break, Jesy has made the announcement that she has decided to officially leave Little Mix.

Jesy Nelson, 29 years old, made an official announcement on Dec 14th of her permanent departure from the band, which saw her become a household name on the UK incarnation of the X-Factor. The singer made the announcement over her social media, opening her statement with an address to her fans, saying ‘To all my Mixers, The past nine years in Little Mix has been the most incredible time of my life’ and concluded ‘So after much consideration and with a heavy heart. I’m announcing i’m leaving Little Mix’

The news came off the back of Jesy taking a step away from the band and their commitments in an ‘extended break’ which saw her miss the final of Little Mix’s The Search TV program, that aired on BBC One in the UK, as well as relinquishing her hosting duties at the MTV Europe Music Awards, which included a performance of the latest Little Mix single Sweet Melody. Her absence at the time was reported as ‘medical reasons’, as per a statement from the band’s publicist ‘Jesy is having extended time off from Little Mix for private medical reasons. We Will not be issuing any further comment currently and ask media to please respect her privacy at this time’

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Mental health has been a prevalent concern for Jesy; living life in the spotlight has caused the singer intense upset over the course of her career. Despite being a much loved member of the band, Jesy has also been the brunt of trolling often commenting on her weight, her appearance and her outfits.

Jesy has always been open and honest with her supporters. She advocates the message of loving yourself and rising above the online comments and criticisms she has been subjected to over the years. Jesy continued in her message directed to her fans to say ‘recently being in the band has really taken its toll on my mental health’ which has been a cause for concern for Jesy throughout her time in the group.

In 2019, Jesy spoke out about her battles with anxiety releasing a documentary titled Odd One Out, which was broadcast on the BBC in the UK. Following her life with Chris Hughes, who came to find fame on ITV’s Love Island, who was her boyfriend at the time. She opened up to audiences about her suffering due to the trolling she received on social media and that she considered taking her own life. The heartfelt documentary drew support for the singer and even won an award for best factual entertainment at the 2020 National Television Awards.

In response to the news, remaining band members Leigh-Anne Pinnock 29, Perrie Edwards 27 and Jade Thirlwall, 27 tweeted “After an amazing 9 years together Jesy has made the decision to leave Little Mix. This is an incredibly sad time for all of us but we are fully supportive of Jesy.”

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They noted her mental wellbeing and her struggles: “We love her very much and agree that it is so important that she does what is right for her mental health and well-being. We are still very much enjoying our Little Mix journey and the 3 of us are not ready for it to be over.’

The girls have risen to international fame over the past nine years, after first coming into the spotlight on reality TV Show the X-factor in 2011. They won the series under their mentor Tulisa, taking the title over the runner up Marcus Collins and Amelia Lily in 3rd.

Since their first single ‘Cannonball’, a cover of the song originally by Damian Rice, was released as the winning song from the 2011 X-factor, the girls have continued with their success achieving chart topping singles with songs such as “DNA”, “Black Magic” and “Confetti” and 6 albums so far including their first album “Wings” and “Salute”.

Regarding their upcoming plans Little Mix are still hoping to go ahead with their UK tour as a trio, scheduled to take place in 2021 if safe to do so, after cancelling their 2020 tour which would have taken them to 21 locations across the UK. This was cancelled during the first UK national lockdown to enhance the message to ‘stay safe and stay home’

We all send our best wishes to Jesy and hope she finds her happiness in her time away from the spotlight. We look forward to seeing what Leigh-Anne, Perrie and Jade will bring in 2021 as a three piece.

Film Slate

Wonder Woman 1984 Premieres As The Second Blockbuster in England Since March

Originally due to premiere in June 2020, Patti Jenkins’ highly anticipated superhero sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, starring Gal Gadot has seen its fair share delays and redirections due to the coronavirus pandemic, like many other films and shows. Many countries have seen cinema doors shut due to the inevitable COVID-19 restrictions, and as a result, production companies have been pushing their release schedules further and further back as the pandemic continued to rage throughout the year. Other major Hollywood films such as James Bond’s No Time to Die and Marvel’s Black Widow have been pushed to 2021 completely. Some film companies have made the decision to put some films on streaming platforms, and companies such as Disney moved almost the entirety of its 2020 slate to 2021.

In the United Kingdom, Wonder Woman 1984 is only the second Hollywood blockbuster film to hit cinema’s since March. The first being, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet which was released in August, during a slight lockdown reprieve for much of the UK. Tenet did fairly well in cinemas, grossing over $350 million (£259 million) worldwide, but was still much less than expected in normal circumstances.

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However, with the country experiencing heightened cases of the Coronavirus, only a quarter of cinemas are actually open and available to show the film. As of the 19th of December approximately 68% of England’s population will be moving under the toughest lockdown restrictions, meaning that, even more cinemas will be closing and unable to show the film. According to the BBC, ‘while 27% of UK cinemas are still open, according to the UK Cinema Association, some of those are arthouse or smaller venues that would not typically show a major Hollywood release.’ Unlike the USA, where Wonder Woman 1984 will also be released on HBO Max, there is no streaming service currently available for this film in the UK. The first Wonder Woman film was a huge success grossing over $821 million (£615 million) worldwide. However, due to the simultaneous streaming offer in the USA, much of UK cinema’s being closed and worldwide reduction of cinema openings, the figure for Wonder Woman 1984 may not be as high.

Recently, Warner Bros. made the decision to release Wonder Woman 1984 in America in cinemas and their streaming service, HBO max simultaneously. According to the BBC, on this decision, director Patty Jenkins said that:

‘…while she agreed to the simultaneous streaming release in the US, she did not want to see the end of cinemas. She told the PA news agency: “I’m very wedded to the theatrical release model unless there’s a new way we can find that really protects the in-theatre experience. It was a very hard choice for us to figure out how to release this film. I myself am so surprised that I embraced this plan so much but it just was the right time, we’d waited long enough. I’m so excited this is a new way to release a film, everybody in the world is trying to adjust to these crazy circumstances but I really hope we respect what we have in the theatrical industry going forward. We may discover all kinds of new and interesting things for different projects but I do very much believe in the right films going just to theatres and having fans see it the way you made the film to be seen first.”’
According to Variety, there may be a streaming option available for the UK at some point, but this is not yet confirmed. ‘It’s believed a VOD deal with Comcast-backed pay-TV operator Sky is still being worked out but the deal hasn’t yet closed. It’s unclear whether that month-long window may now be reduced even further given the new restrictions. Sources close to the studio previously denied that a day-and-date VOD release for “Wonder Woman 1984” was in the cards for the U.K.’

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On the day of Wonder Woman’s release, the capital city of London was placed under higher restrictions meaning that more cinemas closed. However, Warner Bros. confirmed that the release of Wonder Woman 1984, would still go ahead, apparently sticking to its contingency plan that included the month-long theatrical window for cinema showings and then a potential video-on-demand release for the UK, according to Variety.

Reviews of the 1984 film have been mixed but overall rather positive. Film magazine Empire gave it four out of five stars, writing: ‘as with the last film, the heart and soul of Wonder Woman 1984 is Gadot. Her Diana exudes grace and goodness, her power displayed with an unabashed femininity that still feels revelatory amid a crowded landscape of ripped male heroes. There’s an acrobatic fluidity to her action choreography that’s joyous to watch, a sense of weightlessness as she propels herself through the air. Superman might fly, but Wonder Woman soars.’