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One of the more fun events of the awards season, the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards, is almost here. Rap artist Cardi B leads the nominations with 10 including Video of the Year and Artist of the Year. Behind her with eight nominations are power couple the Carters (aka Beyoncé and Jay-Z) and rounding out the pack are Childish Gambino and Drake who both have seven nominations.
Don’t expect too many changes to the awards show from last year’s event. MTV is still keeping the gender neutral categories, but they are swapping the “Fight Against the System” category for this year’s “Video with a Message.” “Best Latin Video of the Year” is also new, perhaps in response to criticism after last summer’s Spanish-language massive hit “Despacito,” which was initially not nominated for an award. MTV is also introducing a new category “Push Artist of the Year” to highlight emerging artists like Noah Cyrus and Hayley Kiyoko.
With 2017’s big winner Kendrick Lamar out of the race this year, it could be anyone’s night to take home the top prize, the moon man.
Below is your guide on the 2018 VMAs from where to watch the show to who will win.
When are the VMAs?
The awards show will kick off Monday, Aug. 20 with a red carpet pre-show live on Twitter at 7:30 p.m. EST with hosts Justina Valentine and Winnie Harlow. Then turn on MTV to catch the rest of the pre-show at 8 p.m. EST hosted by Jersey Shore stars Pauly D and Vinny Guadagnino alongside Terrence J and Nessa.
The main event, the 2018 Video Music Awards, will begin at 9 p.m. EST in New York City.
How can I watch the show?
At 8 p.m. EST you can tune into watch the 2018 MTV VMAs pre-show on both MTV and online at MTV Live. This vamp up to the actual awards show will feature performances from Bazzi, Bryce Vine and the much-hyped Backstreet Boys, who are making their first appearance at the VMAs in exactly 20 years as presenters later in the broadcast.
MTV will begin broadcasting the 2018 VMAs at 9 p.m. EST. You can also catch the show live on VH1, Comedy Central, BET and CMT. If you’re not near a television or want to watch on another device, you can go to MTV Live and log-in using your cable provider to watch the livestream.
Where are they?
The VMAs will be held at Radio City Music Hall for a record 12th time, returning to the New York City venue for the first time since 2009.
The Video Music Awards will go on without a host this year. But don’t worry, there will be plenty of presenters to make sure the night runs smoothly including Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown and Girls Trip star Tiffany Haddish. Other presenters include Kevin Hart, Blake Lively, DJ Khaled, Liam Payne, Amandla Stenberg, Bebe Rexha, Common, G-Eazy, Gucci Mane, Keegan-Michael Key, KYLE, Lenny Kravitz, Lil Uzi Vert, Olivia Munn, Rita Ora, Shay Mitchell, Zedd, Teyana Taylor and the Backstreet Boys.
Even without a host (which means no joke-filled monologue), you can still expect a night of laughs, costume changes and the occasional awkward banter between presenters.
Who will win?
Look out for 2018’s hip-hop queen Cardi B, who just won best female hip hop artist at the 2018 BET Awards. She’s up for her solo project “Bartier Cardier” as well as her collaborations “Finesse” with Bruno Mars and “Dinero” with Jennifer Lopez and DJ Khaled. Her big competition — in major categories like Video of the Year and Song of the Year — would be the Carters, who are nominated for their video ‘APESH-T.’
This is Beyoncé’s first time nominated for a VMA since 2016, where she broke the record and became the most awarded VMAs artist in history. With 22 wins (that’s more than Madonna), Beyoncé could break her own record. This won’t be too difficult, as the second-highest VMA award holder, Eminem, is far behind at 12.
So what videos should I watch to get up to speed?
Start with the most nominated video. The Carters’ “APESH-T,” is an artistic feat: they shut down the Louvre in order to film the video. That nabbed eight nominations. Their biggest competition might be Childish Gambino, whose “This is America” video stirred conversation with its explicit violence and commentary on the state of the country. Also make sure to watch “God’s Plan.” It’s got more than 770 million views on YouTube, and for good reason: the video shows Drake donating the entirety of its million dollar budget during the music video. It’s also worth throwing Taylor Swift a view, — even though her video “Look What Made Me Do” was shut out of all the major categories — she was nominated for three other awards (and her video has more than 950 million views).
The most nominated artist of the night, Cardi B, will be opening this year’s VMAs. Ariana Grande, who is up for Artist of the Year, will also be performing just days after her new album “Sweetener” is released. The 20-year-old pop star Shawn Mendes, who made his VMAs debut last year, is back to sing his thrice nominated hit “In My Blood.” Rap sensation Logic is set to perform the worldwide debut of his song “One Day,” his new collaboration with OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder. You can also expect a big showing from Jennifer Lopez, the winner of this year’s Vanguard Award, likely of her hits over the years.
MTV has also promised a performance from Nicki Minaj, who will be singing from a surprise “iconic” location in New York City. Other familiar faces at Radio City will include rap artist Travis Scott, Artist of the Year nominee Post Malone and rock band Panic! At The Disco.
This year is also the debut of the PUSH Artists Stage where PRETTYMUCH, Hayley Kiyoko, Jessie Reyez and Juice WRLD are slated to perform.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 18 Aug 2018 | 9:00 am
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Ariana Grande’s new album Sweetener includes a silent tribute to the fans who were killed in the suicide bombing at her concert in Manchester, England.
Grande released her song “No Tears Left To Cry,” as the first single from her fourth album. The song was written after 22 people were killed in a terrorist attack at her concert in 2017. More than 800 adults and children with both physical and psychological injuries.
The heart-wrenching track wasn’t the only tribute to the bombing victims on the album. “Get Well Soon,” the final track on Sweetener, finishes with 40 seconds of silence, bringing the track’s run time to five minutes and 22 seconds, marking the date 5/22 that the bombing took place.
Fans took to Twitter to comment on the album’s touching ending.
can we talk about the fact ariana grande added 40secs of silence to the end of ‘get well soon’ (the last song on her latest album sweetener) to honour the victims of the manchester attack by making the song 5mins 22secs long aka the date it took place last year i’m CRYING
— saddest baby🔪 (@bexcelia) August 17, 2018
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 17 Aug 2018 | 12:45 pm
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When news broke that legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin had died, tributes poured in from around the globe. Ariana Grande did one better. She stopped by The Tonight Show on Thursday night to perform a song in the singer’s honor.
Backed by The Tonight Show‘s house band, The Roots, Grande paid tribute to the late Queen of Soul with a performance of the song Franklin made famous, “Natural Woman.” Variety reports that The Roots band leader Questlove had to convince Grande to perform the tune. Grande was reportedly concerned that she was “too emotional” to pull it off. While she did manage to deliver a heartfelt homage to Franklin, Grande left the stage in tears after garnering a standing ovation for the performance.
Originally, Grande was not slated to perform on The Tonight Show. She was only meant to appear briefly to promote her new album Sweetener, which dropped at midnight. At the last minute, Grande opted to include a performance, as well.
Earlier in the day, Grande shared a photo she’d taken with the late singer.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 17 Aug 2018 | 11:20 am
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At his shows, the pop singer-songwriter known as Lauv has a box for what he calls “My Blue Thoughts.” In it, audience members can drop strips of paper on which they’ve jotted whatever is on their mind at the moment. Sometimes it’s inane stuff, like a desire for chicken fingers. Other times it’s the serious things: “loss of family members, depression, eating disorders.” Lauv likes to share these notes and commemorate them on a blog he keeps, binding his fans together in an experience of communal openness, a sort of group therapy that continues in his online presence, from Instagram to Tumblr to Reddit.
It’s not a publicity strategy; it’s just who Lauv is. He describes himself as the kid who was a little “weird,” who had a custom banner for his MySpace page that read “Be Yourself,” who wrote love songs before he had a girlfriend and liked sad tunes before he had ever been in a breakup.
Lauv has clearly touched a nerve; his first “playlist,” the 17-track compilation I Met You When I Was 18, has been streamed well over a billion times on Spotify, while his breakout hit “I Like Me Better” brought his first platinum record. He’s booked appearances on late night and morning shows like Jimmy Fallon’s, performed at this month’s Teen Choice Awards and topped Billboard‘s Emerging Artist chart. He’s written for Demi Lovato and opened for Ed Sheeran. The 24-year-old singer-songwriter is well on his way up pop’s ladder as a sensitive, keyed-in new voice, a trajectory he seems to take as a pleasant surprise.
“I don’t know if deep down I truly believed it would be possible. I still have trouble accepting this stuff now,” he says. “It’s almost a little bit numb; you’re like, do I really deserve it more than any other person does?”
For Lauv, that humility also translates into success with his fans. “Kids can tell if you’re being genuine or not,” he explains now over an egg white omelette breakfast, fresh off a morning TV performance in New York City. “I don’t think the world needs more role models of people trying to be something they’re not. I’ve always hated the feeling of trying to be cool or trying to fit in.” He’s wearing a ring in the shape of a lion’s head, nabbed from a local jewelry shop; “Lauv” means “lion” in Latvian, where his mother’s family is from. But Lauv — real name Ari Leff — comes across as a friendlier kind of cat, all big eyes and open heart.
Born in California, Lauv spent his early childhood in a suburb of Atlanta, GA before his family relocated outside of Philadelphia, PA. “My tactic for when I got to a new school was to just be really goofy, be really weird, and try to break all barriers as fast as possible,” he explains. In other words, Lauv — whose music hits a sweet spot filled with nostalgia, full of relatable specifics of youth and memorable college years over moody electro-pop production — prepped from a young age for an experience of being his most honest self in public.
It wasn’t until he picked up a guitar in middle school that Lauv’s transition to full-fledged artist began. From there, he started writing songs — “really bad songs,” he says now. His taste growing up was diverse, from classic rock to Atlanta hip-hop, but he always gravitated to the “sad songs, the emotional songs.” In turn, the music he wrote tended to center on breakups. “My dad used to drive me and my band to our shows, and he’d be like, what am I missing here, you don’t even have a girlfriend!” Lauv laughs now.
By high school, he started playing in bands that performed to empty venues. They’d book the shows themselves, and Lauv was involved in every production element, down to the lighting. “It was good practice,” he says, but it wasn’t exactly a fast track to stardom. Eventually, he lost confidence in himself as a performing artist.
“I was putting myself out there all the time, and I wasn’t really seeing much response,” he says. He decided to pivot to a behind-the-scenes role in the music world, looking into college programs for sound engineering and production.
Even the concept of going to New York City felt intimidating — until he visited NYU and decided to give it a shot after all. Spending his first two years as a studio intern for Jungle City Studios, Lauv soon got used to seeing celebrities stroll through: Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Timbaland and Jessie J were all recording while he was running errands and fulfilling their specific rider requests, from high-end candles to luxury waters. But Lauv didn’t begrudge the artists their needs: “Any one thing can get in the way of you and your brain being comfortable and being inspired,” he says. “It’s the difference between a really big song and a song that never existed.” He should know best; his breakout hit — and ensuing solo career — almost didn’t happen at all.
Lauv had been writing songs to pitch to other artists, trying to get on the radar of managers by sending cold emails, when he wrote “The Other.” Right away, he knew it was different. He ended up pulling an all-nighter in the school library to finish producing it, discovering what’s now his “sound” of stripped-down electronic pop “kind of by accident.” When he finally uploaded “The Other” to Soundcloud in 2015, he was studying abroad in Prague. The attention from blogs and aggregators like HypeMachine was a complete surprise.
“The Other” is a classic breakup song: “Who wrote the book on goodbye?” he sings. “There’s never been a way to make this easy.” The just-electronic-enough production and mid-tempo beat propelled it to earworm status; that one has over 170 million Spotify streams alone. (Lauv says now that his dream collaborator is Chris Martin of Coldplay, and you can easily imagine the two creating a worthy sequel to seminal sad song “Fix You.”) Then there’s “I Like Me Better,” with nearly half a billion streams. It’s a sweet, stripped-down piece of music, a crush in song form boosted with some smart dolphin-like chords and propelled by Lauv’s gentle tenor.
Fast forward to summer of 2018, and Lauv is a platinum artist. He’s toured as an opener for Ed Sheeran in Asia and will be opening for Sheeran again this fall in the U.S., while he begins work on a new project and pursues his own headline tour. And while he’s set up a home base in L.A., he keeps coming back to New York City. His first stop is always the Mexican restaurant in midtown where he once served as a waiter. “I love nostalgia,” he says; it’s what he mines for stories in his lyrics, and it’s something that his legion of fans turn to him for, seeking an honest perspective on young love, growing up and feeling loss. For his twenty-fourth birthday in August, Lauv was touched with fans’ “Blue Thoughts” tributes.
“You guys give me positivity on days I can’t seem to find any,” he captioned his birthday Instagram post. “I f–king love you to death and am blown away by your hearts and minds and I mean it.” If Lauv is any indication, being real — insecurities and all — is the new cool.
from @fallontonight, you can watch on youtube. todays my birthday and a lot has happened in the past year, but above all im thankful for you guys & this growing family. you guys give me positivity on days i cant seem to find any, your responses to my late night existential stories, all of it. i fucking love you to death and am blown away by your hearts & minds and i mean it. 💙
A post shared by Lauv (@lauvsongs) on
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 17 Aug 2018 | 9:00 am
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(WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.) — A three-day Phish music festival was scuttled by dirty water from torrential rains on Thursday, with health officials denying a permit just as the rock band was about to go onstage for its traditional sound check jam.
“We are still in shock,” the band said in a statement on its website . “Our families are here, our gear is set, our tents are up. We keep waiting for someone to come over and tell us that there is a solution, and that the festival can go on. Unfortunately, it is not possible.”
The Curveball festival was expected to draw more than 30,000 fans to the Finger Lakes village of Watkins Glen, in central New York, starting on Friday.
A mandatory order to boil water was issued for the area on Thursday after days of heavy rain, and the state Department of Health said tests showed it would be impossible to deliver clean drinking water to festival patrons and vendors.
“While all parties acknowledge the inconvenience of this cancellation to patrons,” the health department said, “we have a responsibility to act in the best interest of public health and safety for all.”
A 14-county state of emergency was in effect on Thursday, two days after storms poured more than 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain on towns between Seneca and Cayuga lakes, washing out roads and swamping cars and mobile homes. More storms were anticipated.
Phish fan Jeff Goldenberg had traveled from Toronto with his wife and baby for the event and said the cancellation was “a total bummer.”
Goldenberg, 42, said he has been to more than 100 Phish concerts since he was 15.
“Cancellations happen. But what makes Phish different is that people plan their life around it. They put a lot of time and money and effort into following them everywhere,” Goldenberg said. “People are really upset.”
Many Phish faithful had already set up tents on the grounds of Watkins Glen International, an automobile racing track with camping facilities. Phish and Curveball organizers said they will notify ticket holders about how to obtain refunds.
Phish, known for extended jams, improvisation and a wide variety of genres from psychedelic rock to bluegrass, has a dedicated base of followers much like the Deadheads who followed the Grateful Dead from the mid-1960s through the early ’90s.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 16 Aug 2018 | 8:00 pm
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Warning: This post contains spoilers for Crazy Rich Asians.
As the first studio film in 25 years to feature an all-Asian cast and an Asian-American lead, Crazy Rich Asians has already hit a major milestone for representation. This weekend, it might hit another.
The film made $5 million at the box office on its opening day and is on track for a blockbuster opening weekend. This success all but guarantees a sequel. Rom-coms don’t often get follow-ups. After all, the romance is resolved and everyone is happy at the end of the film. But a brief scene that arrives during the credits of Crazy Rich Asians hints at the story of a future film.
Crazy Rich Asians ends with our main couple Nick (Henry Golding) and Rachel (Constance Wu) attending an opulent engagement party atop the Marina Bay Sands towers in Singapore. Nick’s cousin Astrid (Gemma Chan), who just ended her relationship with her husband Michael (Pierre Png) after finding out he had an affair, is also there. In the Crazy Rich Asians end-credits scene, we see Astrid locking eyes with a handsome mystery man across the room.
Book readers may have guessed that this man is Charlie Wu (played by Glee’s Harry Shum, Jr.). In Kevin Kwan’s novel of the same name, readers learn that Astrid and Charlie were once engaged. But the two broke up after Astrid’s family made it clear that Charlie was not a suitable match: Charlie is nouveau riche, while Astrid comes from old money. Charlie chafed at her family’s disapproval, and the two broke up.
So Astrid marries military man Michael, and Charlie marries another woman. But when the two happen to meet again, both of their relationships are on the rocks. In the book, Charlie lets Astrid stay at his home after Astrid finds out about Michael’s affair. Charlie supports her through a difficult time, and there’s a hint of sexual tension. That plot was cut from the film, but the glance the two share at the end of the movie hints at a reunion in a future film.
As it stands, Astrid ends Crazy Rich Asians on a note of independence. When she declares her intention to leave Michael, and he says, “Where are you going to go?,” she points out that she has a plethora of apartments to choose from. Her money empowers her to leave a bad marriage. Her story arc is not about finding the right guy, but about taking pride in who she is as a self-determined woman.
The second book in the Crazy Rich Asians series, China Rich Girlfriend, focuses heavily on Astrid’s love life. Presumably Astrid would take center stage in a Crazy Rich Asians film sequel with Charlie emerging as her romantic interest. But don’t worry, Nick and Rachel fans. The couple plays a big part in the second book, too. Golding and Wu would likely return for another film.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 16 Aug 2018 | 3:26 pm
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The hyper-famous Grande and Davidson, who shared a whirlwind romance that led to their surprise engagement story this summer, are now living together in a luxury, high-design New York City apartment that Grande bought for a reported $16 million. But when it comes to the kitchen, it sounds like the “God Is a Woman” singer, whose album Sweetener is out Friday, takes a back seat to her fiancé’s culinary choices; he told GQ in a new profile interview that he’s the one responsible for stocking the fridge.
“She’s really sweet. She’s like, ‘This is our house,’ and I’m like, ‘You’re very nice for saying that. Thank you for letting me stay here,’ ” he joked. “She’s like, ‘We’re getting married!’ And I’m like, ‘I know, thank you for letting me stay here.’ ”
While the rest of their cohabitational development is still a work in progress — “It’s like, we have six beanbags, but we have no forks—you know what I mean?” — it’s good to hear at least Davidson has got the refrigerator covered. “We’re learning how to be adults,” he said. “We’re having a really fun time.”
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 16 Aug 2018 | 12:02 pm
Although White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said that she can’t guarantee that there isn’t a tape of President Donald Trump using a racial slur, Stephen Colbert wants people to pay more attention to what Trump himself has said on the issue.
During Wednesday’s episode of The Late Show, Colbert aired a compilation of all the times Trump has claimed he is the “least racist person” out there. “You can tell somebody is not something when they protest exactly the right amount,” he joked.
However, the host then revealed that he does agree with Trump on one thing—a comment he made in 1989 about how he would love to be a “well-educated black.”
“I would love if you were a well-educated black too. Specifically, this one,” Colbert said before showing a photo of Barack Obama.
Watch the full Late Show clip below.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 16 Aug 2018 | 12:00 pm
It would appear that game is officially recognizing game.
It all began with one photo of Rihanna and Donald Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino in Cuba. Fan accounts shared a series of snapshots of the pair of luminaries, and that – along with local reports – was enough to light the match to get the internet dream machine churning away.
There’s zero official word on what they’re actually cooking up, but that hasn’t stopped people from planning their lives around whatever it is.
People quickly took to Twitter to speculate about what the duo could be cooking up, whether it’s a movie or a music video or just a meeting of great minds.
Rihanna is set to star in a Ava DuVernay movie completely inspired by a meme of herself with Lupita Nyong’o at the 2017 Met Gala, so it’s safe to say we should keep an eye on them.
Rihanna has consistently caused internet breakage with auteur triumphs like “B-tch Better Have My Money,” not to mention her more recent Fenty X Savage launch that had everyone waiting in a virtual line for lacy underthings.
Childish Gambino is somewhat newer to the “going viral” game. The rapper got everybody talking with his racially charged video “This Is America.”
Rihanna has recently been foraying into movies, so Glover has a longer acting rap sheet than Rihanna. But they both do have Grammy awards.
One thing is certain. Put them together and the internet is thrilled.
Note: The "movie" could actually be a music video, as the project is allegedly being directed by Hiro Murai (music video director: 'This Is America', 'Airplanes', '3005', etc.)
— Fenty Stats (@FentyStats) August 11, 2018
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 16 Aug 2018 | 11:33 am
When Aretha Franklin sang, out poured the sun and the moon: Her voice was optimism shaded with occasional sorrow, joy tempered by the understanding that nothing in life can be perfect, but above all it was a sound that both absorbed and radiated light. To hear it is to feel bathed in that light. Franklin died on Thursday at age 76, and her death closes an era. She belongs not just in the pantheon of great soul singers, but in the realm of great artists period: John Coltrane, Elvis, the Beatles, Billie Holiday—with them, she helped give shape to the second half of the 20th century. To tell its story in sound would be impossible without Aretha. Her warmth—her light—was explosive.
Franklin was born in Memphis in 1942, though her family moved first to Buffalo, when she was 2, and then to Detroit three years later. Her father was C.L. Franklin, a charismatic Baptist minister and Civil Rights activist. Her mother, Barbara, was a gifted gospel singer. In 1948, Barbara left her husband and moved back to Buffalo; she also left young Aretha and her three siblings, though there is evidence Barbara maintained contact with her children until her death, in 1952. What we do know is that Franklin grew up singing in the church, and then on the gospel circuit, with an often grueling schedule. C.L. began managing her career when she was a young teenager, first landing her a deal with J.V.B. Records, a small Detroit recording outfit, and later a contract with Columbia, where she made nine records under the guidance of legendary producer John Hammond.
But it was another legendary producer, Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler, who set the stage for her to grow and thrive, beginning with the first song she recorded for the label at the renowned Fame studio, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in 1967, “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You).” The song, as Wexler and every musician involved in its recording knew, was extraordinary. But completion of that first Atlantic album was rocky. During the recording of that first single, the one that would give the album its title, a fight erupted between Aretha’s then-husband and manager Ted White and some of the musicians. (All of the backup band’s members were white, a problem Wexler recognized but failed to address in time.) White left Muscle Shoals and took Aretha with him. Wexler had no idea where she had gone. But a few weeks later she reappeared at the Atlantic Records studio in New York, and, Wexler wrote in his 1993 autobiography Rhythm and the Blues, “made a miracle.”
Franklin cut some of her greatest records at Atlantic—she recorded so many great songs, that it’s impossible to choose just one to serve as a signature. Her version of “Respect,” from that first Atlantic album, written and previously recorded by Otis Redding, was both celebration and warning, an assertion of both racial pride and ball-of-fire womanhood. It was a song that felt personal but also embraced a whole community; its power could reach anywhere. The string of songs that spring to mind at the mere mention of Aretha’s name seems endless: “Chain of Fools,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” “Think,” “Daydreaming.” (Those last two were written by Franklin herself, who, as well as being a superb pianist, had a great gift for song craft, though she once said that being recognized as a singer was what mattered most to her.) In 1980, Franklin made the label switch to Arista: Her 1985 album Who’s Zoomin’ Who was one of the finest releases of the decade, a set of fiercely affirmative songs—like the title track and “Freeway of Love”—that felt so modern and free, you’d never imagine they’d been recorded by a music veteran already edging toward her mid-40s.
Franklin emerged from the multiple paths that had already been forged by Holiday, Nina Simone, and Mahalia Jackson: Like Sam Cooke (who was a family friend), she melded Gospel with pop music so seamlessly that now it’s hard to think there was ever a time when the two ran on parallel, if often criss-crossing, paths. Without her there could have been no Donna Summer, Chaka Khan or Whitney Houston (whose mother, Cissy, was one of the Sweet Inspirations, who often sang backup for Franklin); nor would there be a Janelle Monae, a Rihanna or a Beyoncé. She was both a pioneer and a connecting link to traditional American music, looking ahead every minute even as she never lost sight of where she came from.
Franklin rewrote the rules, and shattered the limits, of what could be done with a song. You can hear it especially in her readings of material written for and made famous by others, like Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “I Say a Little Prayer,” a hit for Dionne Warwick in 1967. This song almost wasn’t recorded: Franklin and the Sweet Inspirations were messing around in the control room, doodling with the melody and lyrics—Wexler heard them and quickly got them together with the musicians. The song was recorded in one take. Franklin’s phrasing at the beginning of “Prayer” is fleet and lilting, like stones skipping across a lake; by the end, her vocal lines have become one long, cool skim, as if she’s coming in for a landing, heading straight for the home waiting for her at the end of the song.
Warwick’s version of “Prayer” is wonderful, but Franklin’s is a world apart, at once tender and bold. She could think on her feet like few other singers, wholly recharging even songs that, as sung by others, already seemed like a done deal. She turns the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” into an eloquent honky-tonk lament, changing the lyrics to the first-person, shifting the action—and the pure loneliness described in the song—onto herself: “I’m Eleanor Rigby,” she sings. It is she who picks up the rice in the church where the weddings have been. “I’m keeping my face in a jar by the door,” she tells us, remaking the meaning of the line. She’s the performer always ready for the quick escape, the reinvention. She’s an expert at both expressing and hiding. Song by song, Aretha drew us closer. Her double helix of intimacy and mystery only ever made us want more.
Wexler wrote that he thought of Aretha as “Our Lady of Mysterious Sorrows.” She occasionally confided her troubles in him, but mostly, she kept them close. In the studio, Wexler wrote, “she never hit a wrong note, never showed a second of self-doubt. There I never pretended to critique her vocals, her judgment was impeccable, her execution miraculous, and all I could do was provide the right setting or offer the occasional suggestion.”
You can see all of those instincts, that assurance, that skill, in the footage of her performance of “America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee)” at the Obama inauguration in 2009. There are places in the song where her timbre is stretched a bit thin. But from the moment she approaches the mic—decked out in a gray felt hat adorned with an enormous bow, a look-at-me hat that also says, “Wait ’til you hear me”—her sense of authority and her dignity are overwhelming. She reinvents even this song, one most of us have heard hundreds of times, turning it into an acknowledgment that even in a nation built on bloodshed and suffering, there is a vast capacity for good. No monarchies in this country—we don’t believe in that stuff. Yet for a time, this sweet land of liberty was graced with a queen. She sang her way through one of our nation’s most charged and challenging eras, and we followed the sound of her voice. She taught us so much, just because it was pure joy to listen.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 16 Aug 2018 | 10:27 am