Daily Archives: May 21, 2017

Watch Cher Strut in Vintage 'If I Could Turn Back Time' Outfit at BBMAs

Cher brought down the house with her performances of “Believe” and “If I Could Turn Back Time” during the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday – though the legendary singer had no need to look to the past as she was in fine form in the present. Her performances preceded her acceptance of the prestigious Icon Award.

The septuagenarian pranced across the stage in a sheer, spangly bikini for “Believe” and her vintage thigh-high boots and lion’s mane wig for “If I Could turn Back Time” – looking enviably svelte for any age. Cher reflected on her decades-spanning career in a speech that balanced humor, charm, and grace. “I’ve been doing it for 53 years. This is not an applause thing. I’m 71 yesterday,” the singer said as the audience cheered. “Yes. And I can do a five-minute plank, just saying.”

She also thanked her mom, who told her “You’re gonna be special,” and gave a shout-out to her late former-husband and musical partner, Sonny Bono, whom she said also noted her specialness. “And really there was nothing about me that said I was going to be special,” she demurred. She also mentioned working with Phil Spector for a year for $25 and her work with the Wrecking Crew. She continued her humble contemplation, adding, “I think it was mostly luck” that brought on her storied, impressive career.

Cher forged a remarkable musical career, spending more than five decades in the pop music spotlight. She earned her first hit in 1965 as a member of the duo Sonny & Cher when “I Got You” went to Number One on the Hot 100. She reached Number One several more times in the 1970s as a solo act and again in 1998 with “Believe,” a dance floor smash that helped popularize the use of autotune. Her most recent album, Closer to the Truth, came out in 2013.

More recently, Cher increased her activism efforts and she is an outspoken critic of President Trump. During a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton last August, Cher described Trump as “a fucking idiot.” “He doesn’t mean, ‘We’re going to make America great again,'” she added. “He means, ‘We’re going to make America straight and white.'”

Following Trump’s victory in November, Cher took part in the Women’s March on Washington. “I want people to know that, as a group, we can change things,” she said to People at the event. “We can make them hear our voice. We can join organizations. We can keep the fight up. We have to keep this fight up. We can’t become complacent.”

Cher has one thing in common with the President: both use Twitter to get their message out. “TRUMP ISNT READY 4WHATS COMING,” Cher wrote earlier this week. “TRUMP’S REALITY SHOW HOST, WITH NO UNDERSTANDING OF REALITY… PENCE, RYAN, SESSIONS & ENTIRE GOP R GUILTY.”

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See John Legend, Florida Georgia Line Join Forces for Billboard Music Awards 2017

Country duo Florida Georgia Line and R&B crooner John Legend shared the stage at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, combining their hits “Surefire” and “H.O.L.Y.” in a stripped-down, piano-only medley that emphasized the messages of devotion from both. “H.O.L.Y.,” the lead single from FGL’s third album Dig Your Roots, was a massive multi-week country Number One, and “Surefire” is the third and current single from Legend’s fifth album Darkness and Light.

Legend kicked off the performance in his favorite position: seated behind a piano. He outlined the melody to “Surefire” with spare, emphatic chords, and his singing was accompanied only by the elegant swells of a hidden string section – and the lights of thousands of phones that fans waved gently back and forth throughout the arena. 

Legend continued to play the piano as the members of Florida Georgia Line sauntered onto the stage for a rendition of “H.O.L.Y.” The soul singer fit in easily next to the country duo, gracefully handling portions of the ballad’s second verse and chipping in on the lovely, gospel-leaning harmonies that buoy the single’s chorus.

“H.O.L.Y.,” written by Busbee, Nate Cyphert and William Wiik Larsen, was rumored to have been intended for Justin Bieber before Florida Georgia Line recorded it, and the song marked a noticeable shift away from the duo’s usual rowdy party tunes to smoother, romantic meditations. It was one of 2016’s biggest country hits, spending multiple weeks atop Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart, and also reaching Number One on the Country Airplay chart. Florida Georgia Line are up for seven of the night’s honors, including Top Duo/Group and Top Country Album.

Legend’s silky us-against-the-world jam “Surefire” was announced as the third single from Darkness and Light in March, following “Love Me Now” – a top 10 R&B hit – and “Penthouse Floor.” Legend had a major supporting role in the Oscar-nominated 2016 film La La Land and released the politically charged non-album track “In America,” consistently voicing his opposition to Donald Trump’s presidency.

This summer, Florida Georgia Line is headlining their own Smooth tour with guests Nelly and Chris Lane, along with plans to open their own namesake bar in downtown Nashville. Meanwhile, Legend makes a guest appearance in the second season of Aziz Ansari’s acclaimed Netflix series Master of None.

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Billboard Music Awards 2017: Complete Winners List

While the annual Billboard Music Awards are more known for their live performances than actual awards, music’s biggest stars, including Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus and Ed Sheeran, all gathered to accept such awards as Top Artist, Top Social Media Artist and Top-Selling Song. Here’s a full rundown of all the Billboard Music Award winners. Rolling Stone will be updating this list as awards come in. The bold name indicates the winner.

Top Artist:
Drake
Adele
Beyonce
Justin Bieber
The Chainsmokers
Ariana Grande
Shawn Mendes
Rihanna
Twenty One Pilots
The Weeknd

Top New Artist:
Zayn
Alessia Cara
Desiigner
Lil Uzi Vert
Lukas Graham

Billboard Chart Achievement Award Presented by Xfinity:
Twenty One Pilots
Luke Bryan
Nicki Minaj
The Chainsmokers
The Weeknd

Top Male Artist:
Drake
Justin Bieber
Future
Shawn Mendes
The Weeknd

Top Female Artist:
Beyonce
Adele
Ariana Grande
Rihanna
Sia

Top Duo/Group:
Twenty One Pilots 
The Chainsmokers
Coldplay
Florida Georgia Line
Guns N’ Roses

Top Billboard 200 Artist:
Drake
Beyonce
Prince
Twenty One Pilots
The Weeknd

Top Hot 100 Artist:
Drake
The Chainsmokers
Rihanna
Twenty One Pilots
The Weeknd

Top Song Sales Artist:
Drake
The Chainsmokers
Prince
Justin Timberlake
Twenty One Pilots

Top Radio Songs Artist:
Twenty One Pilots
Justin Bieber
The Chainsmokers
Drake
Rihanna

Top Streaming Songs Artist:
Drake
The Chainsmokers
Desiigner
Rihanna
Twenty One Pilots

Top Social Artist:
Justin Bieber
BTS
Selena Gomez
Ariana Grande
Shawn Mendes

Top Touring Artist:
Beyonce
Justin Bieber
Coldplay
Guns N’ Roses
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Top R&B Artist:
Beyonce
Bruno Mars
Frank Ocean
Rihanna
The Weeknd

Top R&B Tour:
Beyonce
Lionel Richie
Rihanna

Top Rap Artist
Drake
J. Cole
Desiigner
Future
Rae Sremmurd

Top Rap Tour
Drake
Future
Kanye West

Top Country Artist:
Florida Georgia Line
Blake Shelton
Keith Urban
Chris Stapleton
Jason Aldean

Top Country Tour:
Kenny Chesney
Luke Bryan
Dixie Chicks

Top Rock Artist:
Twenty One Pilots

Coldplay
The Lumineers
Metallica
X Ambassadors

Top Rock Tour:
Coldplay

Guns N’ Roses
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Top Latin Artist:
Juan Gabriel
J Balvin
Los Plebes Del Rancho De Ariel Camacho
Maluma
Nicky Jam

Top Dance/Electronic Artist:
The Chainsmokers
Calvin Harris
Major Lazer
DJ Snake
Lindsey Stirling

Top Christian Artist:
Lauren Daigle
Hillsong Worship
Hillary Scott & the Family
Skillet
Chris Tomlin

Top Gospel Artist:
Kirk Franklin
Jekalyn Carr
Travis Greene
Tamela Mann
Hezekiah Walker

Top Billboard 200 Album:
Beyonce, Lemonade
Drake, Views
Rihanna, Anti
Twenty One Pilots, Blurryface
The Weeknd, Starboy

Top Soundtrack/Cast Album:
Hamilton: An American Musical
Moana
Purple Rain
Suicide Squad: The Album
Trolls

Top R&B Album:
Beyonce, Lemonade
Bruno Mars, 24K Magic
Frank Ocean, Blonde
Rihanna, Anti
The Weeknd, Starboy

Top Rap Album:
Drake, Views
J. Cole, 4 Your Eyez Only
Kevin Gates, Isla
DJ Khaled, Major Key
A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service

Top Country Album:
Chris Stapleton, Traveller 
Jason Aldean, They Don’t Know
Florida Georgia Line, Dig Your Roots
Blake Shelton, If I’m Honest
Keith Urban, Ripcord

Top Rock Album:
Metallica, Hardwired…To Self Destruct
The Lumineers, Cleopatra
Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool
Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Getaway
Twenty One Pilots, Blurryface

Top Latin Album:
Juan Gabriel, Los Duo 2
J Balvin, Energia
CNCO, Primera Cita
Juan Gabriel, Vestido De Etiqueta: Por Eduardo Magallanes
Los Plebes del Rancho de Ariel Camacho, Recuerden Mi Estilo

Top Dance/Electronic Album:
Lindsey Stirling, Brave Enough
The Chainsmokers, Bouquet
The Chainsmokers, Collage
Flume, Skin
Kygo, Cloud Nine

Top Christian Album:
Lauren Daigle, How Can It Be 
Casting Crowns, The Very Next Thing
Joey + Rory, Hymns
Hillary Scott & The Family, Love Remains
Skillet, Unleashed

Top Gospel Album:
Tamela Mann, One Way
Kirk Franklin, Losing My Religion
Travis Greene, The Hill
Tasha Cobbs, One Place: Live
Hezekiah Walker, Better: Azusa – The Next Generation 2

Top Hot 100 Song:
The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, “Closer”
The Chainsmokers Featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
Justin Timberlake, “Can’t Stop The Feeling!”
Twenty One Pilots, “Heathens”

Top Selling Song:
The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, “Closer”
The Chainsmokers Featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
Drake Featuring, WizKid & Kyla “One Dance”
Justin Timberlake, “Can’t Stop The Feeling!”
Twenty One Pilots, “Heathens”

Top Radio Song:
The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, “Closer”
The Chainsmokers Featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
Sia Featuring Sean Paul, “Cheap Thrills”
Justin Timberlake, “Can’t Stop The Feeling!”

Top Streaming Song (Audio):
Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, “Closer”
D.R.A.M. Featuring Lil Yachty, “Broccoli”
Rihanna, “Needed Me”
The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk, “Starboy”

Top Streaming Song (Video):
Desiigner, “Panda”
The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, “Closer”
Zay Hilfigerr & Zayion McCall, “JuJu On That Beat (TZ Anthem)
Rae Sremmurd Featuring Gucci Mane, “Black Beatles”
Twenty One Pilots, “Heathens”

Top Collaboration:
The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, “Closer”
The Chainsmokers Featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
Sia Featuring Sean Paul, “Cheap Thrills”
The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk, “Starboy”

Top R&B Song:
Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
Bruno Mars, “24K Magic”
Rihanna, “Needed Me”
Rihanna Featuring Drake, “Work”
The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk, “Starboy”

Top R&B Collaboration:
Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
PARTYNEXTDOOR Featuring Drake, “Come And See Me”
Rihanna Featuring Drake, “Work”
The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk “I Feel It Coming”
The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk, “Starboy”

Top Rap Song:
Desiigner, “Panda”
Drake, “Fake Love”
D.R.A.M. Featuring Lil Yachty, “Broccoli”
Migos Featuring Lil Uzi Vert, “Bad And Boujee”
Rae Sremmurd Featuring Gucci Mane, “Black Beatles”

Top Rap Collaboration:
Rae Sremmurd Featuring Gucci Mane, “Black Beatles”
D.R.A.M. Featuring Lil Yachty, “Broccoli”
Zay Hilfigerr & Zayion McCall, “JuJu On That Beat (TZ Anthem)
Machine Gun Kelly & Camila Cabello, “Bad Things”
Migos Featuring Lil Uzi Vert, “Bad and Boujee”

Top Country Song:
Florida Georgia Line, “H.O.L.Y.”
Kenny Chesney Featuring Pink, “Setting The World On Fire”
Florida Georgia Line Featuring Tim McGraw, “May We All”
Little Big Town, “Better Man”
Keith Urban, “Blue Ain’t Your Color”

Top Country Collaboration:
Kenny Chesney Featuring Pink, “Setting The World On Fire”
Dierks Bentley Featuring Elle King, “Different For Girls”
Eric Church Featuring Rhiannon Giddens, “Kill A Word”
Florida Georgia Line Featuring Tim McGraw, “May We All”
Chris Young Featuring Vince Gill, “Sober Saturday Night”

Top Rock Song:
Twenty One Pilots, “Heathens”
Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons with Logic & Ty Dolla $ign Featuring X Ambassadors, “Sucker For Pain”
Twenty One Pilots, “Ride”
Twenty One Pilots, “Stressed Out”
X Ambassadors, “Unsteady”

Top Latin Song:
Nicky Jam, “Hasta El Amanecer”
Daddy Yankee, “Shaky Shaky”
Enrique Iglesias Featuring Wisin, “Duele El Corazon”
Shakira Featuring Maluma, “Chantaje”
Carlos Vives & Shakira, “La Bicicleta”

Top Dance/Electronic Song:
The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, “Closer”
The Chainsmokers Featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
Calvin Harris Featuring Rihanna, “This Is What You Came For”
Major Lazer Featuring Justin Bieber & MO, “Cold Water”
DJ Snake Featuring Justin Bieber, “Let Me Love You”

Top Christian Song:
Hillary Scott & The Family, “Thy Will”
Lauren Daigle, “Trust In You”
Skillet, “Feel Invincible”
Ryan Stevenson Featuring GabeReal, “Eye Of The Storm”
Zach Williams, “Chain Breaker”

Top Gospel Song:
Travis Greene, “Made A Way”
Jekalyn Carr, “You’re Bigger”
Tasha Cobbs, Featuring Kierra Sheard “Put A Praise On It”
Kirk Franklin, “Wanna Be Happy??”
Hezekiah Walker, “Better

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Watch Sean 'Diddy' Combs, Biggie's Son Debut 'Bad Boy' Doc Trailer at BBMAs

On the night of what would have been the Notorious B.I.G.‘s 45th birthday, Sean “Diddy” Combs took to the Billboard Music Awards’ stage to introduce Biggie’s son CJ Wallace and to unveil the first official trailer from the forthcoming Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story. The documentary will air on June 25th via Apple Music.

The film stars Lil’ Kim, Faith Evans, Mase, Mary J. Blige, Clive Davis, DMX and more artists. In the clip, artists and industry members reflect on Diddy’s rise and his founding of Bad Boy Records. 

“Puff had a vision,” Blige says. Interspersed between others’ reflections on Diddy, the man himself discusses his ambition and also Notorious B.I.G.’s death. Following news clips from the night he died, Diddy says. “Soon as the shots came off, everything came crashing down,” he says. “You know, I died that night in that car.”

Watch Combs introduce Biggie’s son CJ Wallace at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, below: 

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Watch Celine Dion Belt Out 'My Heart Will Go On' for 20th Anniversary at BBMAs 2017

Celine Dion revisited her modern standard “My Heart Will Go On” in honor of the chart-topping, Oscar-winning song’s 20th anniversary on Sunday at the Billboard Music Awards

The French-Canadian singer took the stage in a luminous, angelic gown with enormous shoulders, singing the iconic Titanic theme from inside of jellyfish-like cage of hanging crystals. After a flautist played the track’s distinctive, weepy opening riff, Dion commandeered the performance from start to finish. The huge climbs and lung-busting notes in “My Heart Will Go On” have stymied many karaoke singers, but Dion once again demonstrated her impressive vocal range and ending the song with beautiful melismatic run.

After finishing her performance, the singer – who weathered the deaths of both her husband and brother early last year – mouthed “thank you’s” and soaked in the crowd’s applause for close to a minute. “It’s going to be hard to top that moment,” Ludacris declared. Vanessa Hudgens, his co-host, admitted she was “crying.”

Dion’s classic was written by James Horner and Will Jennings. The single – which appeared on the Titanic soundtrack as well as Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love LP – debuted at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 1998. The Titanic album spent 16 weeks on top of the Billboard 200, and Let’s Talk About Love has sold more than ten million copies in the U.S., according to the RIAA. 

Though “My Heart Will Go On” became a resounding success, that doesn’t mean it is – or was – universally beloved. In a recent Billboard oral history of the single, Dion acknowledged that her most well-known ballad has plenty of detractors, including at least one of the stars in Titanic. “They told me, ‘You know that Kate Winslet said every time she hears the song, she wants to throw up?'” Dion remembered. “And I answered, ‘Thank God she didn’t have to sing it!'”

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Watch Lorde's Karaoke-Party Rendition of 'Green Light' at Billboard Music Awards 2017

Lorde brought her insistent, house-inflected single “Green Light” – and a fun-looking karaoke party – to the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas on Sunday night. The song will appear on her upcoming Melodrama album, due out June 16.

The New Zealand-born phenom opened her performance in profile, ignoring the audience. The set behind her approximated a cheap karaoke lounge, with red lighting, a dingy couch, impassive friends and an old TV that spat out song lyrics in blocky lettering. “Green Light” ebbs and flows with the vigor of dance music, and as the beat picked up steam, Lorde danced harder and harder. Her denim jacket fell away (revealing a sheer top, bra and high-waisted jeans) and her herky-jerky arms became violent fist pumps. Eventually she left the rhythm behind completely: as the song ended, she jumped up and down with abandon.

When Lorde returned in March with “Green Light,” it marked her first new single as a lead artist since 2014. She followed that a week later with “Liability,” debuted the song “Sober” at an intimate pop-up show before Coachella, and played two other songs, “Homemade Dynamite” and “Melodrama,” live for the first time at the famous festival in Indio, California.

Melodrama is Lorde’s first album since her 2013 debut, Pure Heroine. Released when she was just 16, that album was a resounding success. “We reinvented the wheel by accident [on that LP],” she told Rolling Stone. “It’s sort of a miracle, really.”

But, she added, “that’s not the thing I was put on this Earth to do – to push things forward every time. Obviously I would want people to like the music, but in terms of being like Drake, how he’s always pushing the culture forward musically? I know what my strengths are, and I think that would have given me a hernia or something.”

Lorde worked on Melodrama with Jack Antonoff, the guitarist in Fun. and leader of Bleachers who also has a sideline in pop production: see Taylor Swift’s “Out of the Woods” and Troye Sivan’s “Heaven,” among others. Antonoff described Melodrama as “a hard album to make.” “If you change a breath on a vocal take, she’ll notice, and she’ll like it or she’ll hate it,” he explained. “It’s a meticulous process with her, and this particular album was an intense journey. I think that’s what it had to be.” 

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Watch Ed Sheeran's Rousing 'Castle on the Hill' at BBMAs

Ed Sheeran beamed a triumphant rendition of his wistful “Castle on the Hill” into the Billboard Music Awards from a concert in Santiago, Chile on Sunday night. 

Alone onstage in black and wearing a shirt reading “Hoax,” Sheeran started “Castle on the Hill” by strumming furiously and looping several of his own riffs. This is one of his favorite tricks: replicating the power of a full band all by himself. The crowd in Santiago made his job as a vocalist easy; as soon he started to sing, the audience shouted every line along with him.

It’s been a year full of personal bests for Sheeran: his single “Shape of You” became his first Number One as a solo artist on the Hot 100 and it held the top spot for 12 weeks. He also made Hot 100 history when “Castle on the Hill” and “Shape of You” debuted in the top ten during the same week in January; no other artist has ever debuted a pair of tracks in the top 10. 

“Shape of You” is still going strong: the single has been on the chart for 18 weeks. Meanwhile, “Castle on the Hill” climbed into the Top 40 last week, and Sheeran’s latest single, “Galway Girl,” debuted on the chart at Number 94. All three songs appeared on ÷, which has already sold more than a million album equivalent units in both the U.K. and the U.S.

Elton John offered a simple explanation for Sheeran’s success. “He can write melodies so simply,” John told Rolling Stone. “He reminds me of me when I first came to America, in 1970. It was all systems go. Nothing was impossible.”

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Watch Miley Cyrus' Teary-Eyed Performance of 'Malibu' at Billboard Music Awards 2017

Miley Cyrus played a handsome, jangly rendition of her new single “Malibu” – and got choked up – at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

The singer took the stage after her dad and little sister, Billy Ray Cyrus and Noah, introduced her, but not without some gentle ribbing first. “For the first time with pants on in years!” Noah joked before introducing her most famous sibling.

Clad in a beach-ready outfit, Miley performed her stripped-down, twangy “Malibu” flanked by a video broadcasting ocean waves and balloons that aptly fit the tune’s summery vibe (and accompanying video). 

The song marks a return to Miley’s roots as well as a sentimental side the artist doesn’t always reveal. Towards the end of the performance, the power behind her voice grew quieter and the heartfelt emotion took over as she delivered the last lines seemingly on the verge of tears.

Cyrus wrote the lyrics and melody for “Malibu,” which debuted at Number 64 on the Hot 100 this week. Producer Oren Yoel also wrote and produced her deeply romantic tune, “Adore You,” the third single from Cyrus’ Bangerz album, and he contributed to several songs on 2015’s Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz. In a recent interview with Billboard, Cyrus said the initial inspiration for the song came to her while she was in an Uber on the way to The Voice, where she served as a judge during the 11th season. (She’s also planning to return to her judgeship during the 13th season.)

The former child star has been in full single-promo mode since “Malibu” came out earlier this month. In a single day earlier this week, she appeared on Today, showed up again on The Tonight Show dressed as a giant panda, and then played “Malibu” on Late Night With Seth Meyers. The reinvented superstar also performed an acoustic version of the song on Elvis Duran and the Morning Show.

“Malibu” precedes a new album, currently untitled, that’s due out later this year. “My record is political, but the sound bite doesn’t stop there,” Cyrus said. “…I want to talk to people in a compassionate, understanding way – which people aren’t doing.”

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See Camila Cabello's Triumphant BBMA Performance After Fifth Harmony Split

Camila Cabello brought her new solo single “Crying in the Club” to the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night. The singer just released the track earlier this week as the first taste of an upcoming solo debut. 

For her first solo TV performance since she parted ways with Fifth Harmony, Cabello turned her song about dancing the pain of a relationship gone wrong awry away into a triumphant affair, showcasing that she was ready to go it alone and take centerstage.

The song began as a smoldering ballad. Over a cello line, the singer emerged from plumes of smoke, draped in a dark covering, and questioned, “Why did you leave me here to burn?” After the intro, she confidently shed the cape to reveal a sparkly gold number, which complemented the building rhythms and empowering themes of the song. Surrounded by male dancers, she shimmied and passionately declared there “ain’t no crying in the club” as fiery pyrotechnics punctuated the upbeat number.

2017 has been a year of redefinition for Cabello, who parted ways with the popular girl group Fifth Harmony in December of last year. The group had been showing signs of tension: Cabello left the stage during a concert in Missouri in September because she was suffering from anxiety, and Fifth Harmony subsequently cancelled some European tour dates. And when Cabello departed from the group, the other four members claimed that they had only found out through the singer’s representatives, a characterization that Cabello disputed in a lengthy Instagram post.

Cabello gradually started building an identity outside of Fifth Harmony even while still in the group, appearing on duets with Shawn Mendes and Machine Gun Kelly. She’s continued the string of collaborations in 2017, adding vocals to J. Balvin and Pitbull’s “Hey Ma” and Cashmere Cat’s “Love Incredible.”

On Friday, she released a new single titled “Crying in the Club,” which samples Christina Aguilera’s hit “Genie in a Bottle.” Cabello recruited some of the biggest writers in pop music to assist her on the track, including Sia and Benny Blanco. The video for the song also included part of another new single titled “I Have Questions.”

These tunes precede Cabello’s solo debut, out some time this year. She described the writing process in cathartic terms in a pair of Instagram posts last week. “I realized I wasn’t making music just to make an album anymore,” she wrote. “I was making this music to heal.”

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Watch Nicki Minaj Open Billboard Music Awards 2017 With Star-Studded Medley

Nicki Minaj opened the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night with a flamboyantly produced, dexterous medley of “No Frauds,” “Light My Body Up,” “Swalla” and “Regret in Your Tears” with Lil Wayne, David Guetta and Jason Derulo in Las Vegas 

Minaj began with a fierce rendition of “No Frauds,” taking the stage on a throne above dancers toting both night sticks and riot shields. Soon more dancers joined the fray – wearing leather, armor and gas masks, they looked like extras from the next Mad Max movie. Lil Wayne strolled onstage, shirt unbuttoned, and delivered his lines with casual authority. Though Drake is featured on the recording, he stayed in the audience in Las Vegas as a mere cheerleader. 

After Lil Wayne’s cameo, Minaj joined French producer David Guetta for “Light My Body Up.” As she moved between rapping and singing, Guetta pumped his arms in time to the rhythm, flames erupting on the screen behind him. The rhythm suddenly slowed and morphed, moving into a space somewhere between dancehall and Usher’s old hit “Good Kisser,” which signaled the arrival of Jason Derulo. Derulo danced fluidly – echoing the moves from the “Swalla” video – and showcased his piercing falsetto register. 

Minaj brought the medley to a close by performing her solo single “Regret in Your Tears.” As the music ended, the emcee was on a pedestal, once again elevated above her dancers, who gazed upon her as if she was a goddess.

Minaj was relatively quiet last year. She released remixes of Yo Gotti’s “Down in the DM” and Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles;” she also contributed vocals to singles from Ariana Grande, DJ Mustard, DJ Khaled and Bebe Rexha. In contrast, she has erupted in 2017, releasing a flurry of singles already this year. “Regret in Your Tears” was a solo release, while the rest were collaborations: with Gucci Mane on “Make Love,” Lil Wayne on “Changed It,” and both Wayne and Drake on “No Frauds” (Minaj’s first collaboration with Drake since 2014’s “Only” off her Pinkprint album). 

For good measure, she has also contributed guest verses to Guetta’s “Light My Body Up,” Derulo’s “Swalla,” Major Lazer’s “Run Up,” Nick Jonas’ “Bom Bidi Bom,” DNCE’s “Kissing Strangers,” and most recently, Katy Perry’s “Swish Swish.”

If Minaj’s goal is chart domination, it’s working: in March, Billboard announced that she had passed Aretha Franklin and now holds the record for the most Hot 100 hits by a female artist. Minaj has cracked the chart a whopping 76 different times. 

“I now hold the title of most Hot 100 entries in the HISTORY of BILLBOARD among women of EVERY genre,” she wrote at the time on Instagram. “To my fans: I fkn love u guys more than I’ll ever be able to put in words.”

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