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Lovers & Friends Festival Line-Up Generates Confusion and Doubt After Artists Deny Involvement

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  • The newly announced Lovers & Friends music festival has caused online confusion and controversy because some of the artists included in the lineup said they were not participating. 
  • Lil Kim called the festival fake in a now-deleted Instagram story and Mase asked for his name to be removed from the list.
  • Both T-Pain and Megan Thee Stallion were also listed on the lineup, but already have other performances booked on that day.
  • Usher and Lauryn Hill, who are both headlining acts, shared the festival on their social media pages.
  • Snoop Dogg, a promoter for the festival, made a video reaching out to Lil Kim, asking to resolve the confusion while also saying every other act was confirmed. 

Controversy Around Festival

An upcoming music festival in Los Angeles has caused confusion among fans after artists like Lil Kim, who were announced in the lineup, said they would not be attending. 

Lauryn Hill, Usher, Ludacris, Lil Jon, and TLC are set to headline the Lovers & Friends Festival on May 9. The event is being organized by Goldenvoice, the company behind festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach. The festival’s lineup also includes Nelly, Sean Paul, T-Pain, Megan Thee Stallion, Ja Rule, Lil Kim, Trina, Mase, Twista, and others.

When the festival was announced on Tuesday, many fans were excited to see this mix of nostalgic ’90s and early aughts performers along with some of today’s chart-toppers. Some of the artists, however, indicated that they were no involved with Lovers & Friends.

“This is SO FAKE! I am not a part of this,” Lil Kim wrote on her Instagram story, with the text covering a screenshot of the lineup. She has since deleted it from her page. 

A representative for Trina’s management team also tweeted that she was never contacted by a booking agent for the festival. She has since reached out via a contact email. 

Other artists have commented on posts about the Lovers & Friends fest.

“Best wishes on this show but pls take my name off this flyer,” Mase wrote in a now-removed comment on Lovers & Friends’ post.

Screenshot via Twitter: @DJHeatDC

“AIN’T NO DEPOSIT HIT MY ACCOUNT FOR THIS SHOW,” Twista wrote on the same post. In a later comment, it seemed his issue had been resolved as he said he was now “locked and loaded” to play his hits.

Screenshot via Twitter: @DJHeatDC
Screenshot via Twitter: @DJHeatDC

Others also pointed out potential conflicts for the timing of this festival. Megan Thee Stallion is already booked for Broccoli City, a festival in Washington DC that same day. T-Pain is in a similar situation, performing at the Rolling Loud festival in Miami on May 9. Broccoli City tweeted that Megan Thee Stallion would be playing both, but later deleted that post, so it is still unclear if that is actually her plan. 

Others also noted that the venue’s website has yet to list Lovers & Friends as an upcoming event. 

Confusion Spreads

The announcement was at first met with enthusiasm, and many thought the lineup was fire. But because these comments caused so much confusion, some thought it looked more like fyre.

Many called it fake, and others compared it to the infamous Fyre Festival, which gained notoriety for touting big names and a glamorous setting, only to prove to be a scam and disaster. 

Responses to Confusion

There were some responses to the various confusions surrounding this. Snoop Dogg, a promoter for the event, posted an Instagram video addressing the situation. In it, he defended the validity of the festival and specifically called out Lil Kim. 

“Lil Kim, get at me on a DM so we can get at you about this money,” he said to the camera. “We was talking to some of your peoples, or we thought we were talking to some of your peoples. Get at me on a DM so we can try to get you this money, see if you with this thing or not.” 

“But as far as everyone else on this show, 100% confirmed,” he added. 

The founder of music collective Soulection, which is also participating in Lovers & Friend,s tweeted a thread confirming their involvement. 

“Everything we get behind is always official and locked in,” they wrote. 

The presale for the event is set to start Thursday. Ticket prices start at $145, with the highest VIP package going up to $450. On the Lovers & Friends website, it says the “lineup and set times are subject to change without notice.”

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Billboard) (Complex)

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“Saved by the Bell” Apologizes for Jokes About Selena Gomez’s Kidney Transplant

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  • NBC’s “Saved by the Bell” reboot was slammed for including jokes about Selena Gomez’s 2017 kidney transplant.
  • In episode six, two students argue about the identity of Gomez’s kidney donor. In another scene, the phrase “Does Selena Gomez even have kidneys?” appears to be spray-painted on a wall in the school’s hallway.
  • Fans called the scenes disrespectful and insensitive, with some accusing the show of mocking the singer’s health.
  • Peacock, NBCUniversal, and the show’s producers issued an apology and promised to donate to her charity, The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at USC/
  • Actress Francia Raisa, who donated a kidney to Gomez, then asked the groups to not forget about the donors they also “offended and dismissed.”

Selena Gomez References

Actress Francia Raisa responded Saturday to Peacock’s apology for jokes about Selena Gomez’s 2017 kidney transplant in the streaming service’s “Saved by the Bell” reboot.

The outrage appeared online this weekend after fans took issue with references in episode six of the series. That episode features two Bayside High students arguing about the identity of Gomez’s kidney donor.

“I know for a fact that Selena Gomez’s kidney donor was Justin Bieber’s mom. God, I wish that I had my phone so that I could prove it,” one student says.

“Prove what? That you’re an idiot? It was Demi Lovato’s kidney. They’re best friends, like you and I were,” the other responds.

In a later scene, the phrase “Does Selena Gomez even have kidneys?” appears to be spray-painted on a wall in the school’s hallway.

Reactions

Fans were confused by the jokes, saying they didn’t seem to serve a real purpose and instead came off as insensitive remarks about the singer’s health.

Since 2015, Gomez has been open about her struggle with lupus, an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that sometimes causes kidney failure. In 2017, she revealed that she had undergone a kidney transplant after receiving a donation from Raisa, one of her best friends.

After seeing the jokes, many fans accused the show of mocking Gomez, calling it disgusting and demanding an apology. At one point, “Respect Selena Gomez” even became a trending phrase on Twitter.

“Saved by the Bell” Apologizes

In response to the outrage, the streaming service, NBCUniversal, and the show’s executive producers released a statement Saturday,

“We apologize. It was never our intention to make light of Selena’s health,” they said. “We have been in touch with her team and will be making a donation to her charity, The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at USC.”

While Selena didn’t respond to the apology or the backlash, Raisa took to Twitter to say, “Appreciate the apology but let’s not forget about the donors that potentially felt offended and dismissed from the spray paint written on the wall.”

“As a kidney donor I want to show love and let other donors know that you are not alone. You are seen. You are appreciated. You are so brave and your selfless act is very much appreciated and valued!” she added.

For now, fans of both stars are sending them a ton of support online, with many calling on NBCUniversal to do more to rectify the situation.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Vulture) (PEOPLE)

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Why The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, and Nicki Minaj Are Slamming the Grammy Nominations

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  • The Weeknd accused the Grammys of corruption and a lack of transparency after he was snubbed with zero nominations this year.
  • Reports suggested that talks between the singer and the Recording Academy regarding his performance at the show and the Super Bowl turned sour, but the president of the Academy denies that it had anything to do with his lack of nominations.
  • Justin Bieber also slammed the Grammys for nominating him in pop categories when considered his album R&B. While genre is often a point of contention at the show, many think that his placement in pop is not unfounded.
  • Nicki Minaj also brought up her 2012 Best New Artist loss, when Bon Iver beat her out for the trophy. She pointed to this moment as an example of the Grammy’s history of exclusion when it comes to women and artists of color, which the show promises it is working on.

The Weeknd’s Major Snubs

Major artists including The Weeknd, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj slammed the Grammy Awards on Tuesday after the Recording Academy released their 2021 nominations. 

Heading into the announcement, The Weeknd was a favorite to be nominated in major categories for his album “After Hours” and his song “Blinding Lights” after both received huge critical and commercial success. “Blinding Lights” has broken Billboard records and The Weeknd is slated to perform at the Super Bowl, making him the perfect candidate not just for nominations, but for wins as well. So, when he ended up with a whopping zero nominations, it was largely considered the biggest snub of the day.

Kid Cudi took to Twitter to say the singer was “robbed” and Elton John wrote on Instagram that The Weeknd should have won Song and Record of the Year. The Weeknd chimed in himself, writing that the Grammys “remain corrupt.”

You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency,” he added.

The Grammys are no stranger to criticism of this kind and have long faced accusations of corruption for having “boys club” leadership and for excluding women and artists of color in nominations and performances. In this case, reports indicate that The Weeknd may have been referring to a specific situation regarding the potential of him performing at the show and how that may have clashed with his spot on the Super Bowl lineup. 

“There were many conversations between the Grammys and the Weeknd team about his performance slated for the 2021 Grammys,” a source told Rolling Stone. “There was an ultimatum given resulting in a struggle over him also playing the Super Bowl that went on for some time and was eventually agreed upon that he would perform at both events.”

A source told TMZ that the Grammys were the party that handed out that ultimatum, essentially saying “it’s us or it’s the Super Bowl.” While they did reach a place where both could happen, the talks were allegedly testy, and come nomination day, The Weeknd was left empty-handed.

As for why talks of this nature could get heated, the Grammys is a concert just as much as it is an awards show. Their slate of performers is arguably more precious than their nominations because those performances are what draw in the show’s much sought after viewers. Why the Recording Academy may have viewed The Weeknd’s Super Bowl performance as a threat to this is unclear, but its Chair and Interim President and CEO Harvey Mason Jr. denied that these discussions had anything to do with The Weeknd’s lack of nods.

“We understand that the Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated. I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling,” he told Rolling Stone.

“We would have loved to have him also perform on the Grammy stage the weekend before [the Super Bowl]. Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists,” he added. “To be clear, voting in all categories ended well before The Weeknd’s performance at the Super Bowl was announced, so in no way could it have affected the nomination process.”

For what it’s worth, The Weeknd and other industry insiders likely knew about the Super Bowl performance prior to the public announcement, though exactly when is of course unknown. But Mason Jr. maintains that the nominations were not impacted by this. 

Still, The Weeknd took to Twitter again on Wednesday further expressing his frustrations by the ordeal. 

“Collaboratively planning a performance for weeks to not being invited?  In my opinion zero nominations = you’re not invited!” he wrote.

He also is receiving a lot of support for his comments. His initial tweet about the situation has over 1 million likes as of Wednesday morning, and his Instagram post saying the same thing has over 2 million. Big names including Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and Pharrell Williams are among those who liked his Instagram post.  

Justin Bieber’s Genre Placement

Justin Bieber also called the show out, though not because he was not nominated, but instead because of what he was nominated for. Bieber landed a handful of nominations, including Best Pop Vocal Album for “Changes” and Best Pop Solo Performance for “Yummy.” He took to Instagram to express that pop is not where he would have placed his work.

“To the Grammys I am flattered to be acknowledged and appreciated for my artistry. I am very meticulous and intentional about my music,” he wrote. “With that being said I set out to make an R&B album. ‘Changes’ was and is an R&B album. It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album which is very strange to me.”

“For this not to be put into that category feels weird considering from the chords to the melodies to the vocal style, all the way down to the hip-hop drums that were chosen, it is undeniably, unmistakably an R&B album!” he argued. 

Though, his complaints were met with less support than The Weeknd’s. Reviews for “Changes” were mixed at best. While both Rolling Stone and Pitchfork identified it as an album persuaded by both pop and R&B, the latter outlet said “Changes” “has all the glow and eroticism of an airport terminal.”

When it comes down to what genre an artist is placed in, that choice is made by experts in each genre, which include producers, artists and more. 

“Pop is a field that is often a point of contention or confusion: An artist who is popular, like Post Malone or Macklemore, may be rejected by a genre committee, like Rap, because the people on that committee consider them to be Pop artists,” Jem Aswad explained for Variety.  “In that context, it is difficult to imagine the R&B committee considering Bieber’s lite take on R&B music to be suitable for the category.”

Aswad also said that genre confusion and overlap could have contributed to some of The Weeknd’s snubs. However, Bieber and this year’s nominations aside, genre placement, in general, has historically been a hot topic when it comes to the Grammys, specifically when it comes to how artists of color are treated and excluded. Many artists have spoken out about this, including Tyler the Creator, who chimed in on the subject after the 2020 show. 

“It sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that’s genre-bending or that’s anything they always put it in a rap or urban category,” he said. “I don’t like that ‘urban’ word — it’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me.”

The “Urban” category has since been renamed to “Progressive R&B” but the conversation about these categories and what they mean is still very much ongoing. Regarding where Bieber fits into this narrative of issues with genre at the show, many thought a pop placement for him was fair and some even mocked him online for complaining. Mason Jr. also defended the genre and nomination process while speaking to Variety

“The people [in the committees] are music professionals — they are excellent, at the top of their craft in songwriting and producing, and there are a lot of artists,” he explained. “They critically [listen] to every song that comes across their desks.”

Nicki Minaj Talks Diversity

The Grammys are still not in the clear when it comes to their issues with representation and diversity. Rapper Nicki Minaj tweeted about her Best New Artist loss in 2012, which many feel showcases the issues the Recording Academy still has.

“Never forget the Grammys didn’t give me my best new artist award when I had 7 songs simultaneously charting on billboard & bigger first week than any female rapper in the last decade- went on to inspire a generation,” she wrote. “They gave it to the white man Bon Iver.”

While you could argue whether or not Bon Iver, Nicki Minaj, or any of the other nominees that year deserved the trophy, what can’t be argued is the show’s history with a lack of representation when it comes to celebrating women and people of color in music. This is something the Grammys claims to be working on.  According to the L.A. Times, the Academy invited over 2,000 new voters this year that were 48% women and 37% from traditionally underrepresented communities.

“It’s really a new era for us and a time of transformative change,” Kelley Purcell, the Academy’s Senior Director of Member Outreach told the outlet. “It’s important for us to not only be reflective of what’s happening in the music industry but also to be a leader and to set a positive example for the music industry.”

For what it’s worth, some of the nominations this year do show progress, particularly with gender inclusion. For the first time ever, all the nominees in Best Rock Performance are female. Female-led acts also took up every nomination in Best Country Album, and dominated other country categories. 

See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Variety) (Los Angeles Times)

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YouTube Launches “World’s First Infinite Music Video” to Celebrate Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” Hitting 1 Billion Views

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  • In honor of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” reaching 1 billion YouTube views, the platform created an “infinite” music video that seamlessly brings together thousands of covers of the song.
  • YouTube says “watching every combination of covers would take at least 1.46 x 10^100 years, which is longer than the lifespan of the universe.”
  • The company considers this a growing experiment, which means fan-generated videos created after the initial launch will eventually be mixed into the video as well.

YouTube’s Announcement

YouTube launched what it calls “the world’s first infinite music video” on Tuesday in celebration of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” surpassing 1 billion views on the platform.

“This unique AI experiment uses machine learning to bring thousands of covers together, seamlessly aligning them in endless combinations, creating a music video that’s different every time you watch it,” YouTube explained in a blog post.

Because of technical requirements, the experience can’t live online as a traditional YouTube video. Instead, the organizers gave it its own site: billie.withyoutube.com 

When fans visit the site, they are automatically placed on the #Everything category, which shows a range of different covers of “Bad Guy.” However, viewers can also hop around specific categories to hear the song with different instruments or in different genres. 

Viewers can even search for dance routines, parodies, animations, tutorials, and more  – all without losing their spot in the song. 

Some of the categories available on the project’s site.

Hitting pause on the infinite video also allows users to scroll down and read stats about their unique viewing experience.

Plus, fans can see their video history and click through to any creator’s channel to subscribe if they find someone they would like to support. 

Could We See More of This?

When asked about the project, Google Creative Lab Producer Jay Chen told Rolling Stone: “This project is a loving monument to YouTube fan culture, in all its diverse and wonderful glory. With billions of combinations, every viewing is unique and we can’t wait for you to play it.”

What’s more interesting about this is that YouTube sees it as a growing experiment, which means fan-generated videos created after the initial launch will eventually be mixed into the video as well.

That just makes the possible combinations even more insane. As is, the experience is not exactly “infinite,” thought it’s definitely impressive. 

In fact, YouTube says “watching every combination of covers would take at least 1.46 x 10^100 years, which is longer than the lifespan of the universe.”

Still, it’s worth noting that YouTube’s global head of artist relations, Vivien Lewit, said this is just a one-off project — at least for now — and won’t necessarily be created for every music video that surpasses 1 billion views from now on.

It could be something the company does again in the future, but as far as why YouTube chose Eilish to pilot the idea, the company said it was because “Bad Guy” was one of the most covered songs on YouTube.  

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Rolling Stone) (NME)

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