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    Why Pink is still a pop goddess after nearly two decades in the spotlight

    Who’s Philadelphia’s biggest pop star?

    It’s gotta be P!nk.

    OK, let’s lose the exclamation point, even though that’s how the singer, aerial acrobat, and mother of two has been stylizing her stage name for more than  a decade.

    Pink, the Doylestown native born Alecia Moore, is back in the spotlight with Beautiful Trauma (RCA ***), her seventh album and first in five years, released Friday. Next spring, she’ll launch a tour that comes to the Wells Fargo Center on April 13.

    With her reentry into the marketplace, which began this summer with a show on the beach in Atlantic City and the release of Trauma’s first single, the vaguely political underdog’s anthem “What About Us?,” Pink is being positioned as an enduring star who’s been a fixture at the top of the charts since the start of the millennium — her first single, “There You Go,” came out in February 2000.

    At this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, Pink was awarded the career-coronating Video Vanguard Award and went viral with a speech that touched on androgyny and spoke out against bullying, in light of comments her daughter, Willow, 6, made. Her return was announced last week with a promo schedule befitting an upper tier A-lister, with performances on  The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live, and a 25-minute film premiering on Apple Music on release day called On the Record: Pink — Beautiful Trauma.

     

    At this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, Pink was awarded the career-coronating Video Vanguard Award and went viral with a speech that touched on androgyny and spoke out against bullying, in light of comments her daughter, Willow, 6, made. Her return was announced last week with a promo schedule befitting an upper tier A-lister, with performances on  The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live, and a 25-minute film premiering on Apple Music on release day called On the Record: Pink — Beautiful Trauma.

    As far as Philly-birthed music careers go, Pink’s pop imprint is unequaled at the moment, with rappers such as ascendant Lil Uzi Vert and resilient Meek Mill her prime competition. Among many others who play on a national stage are Fallon house band the Roots, newly inducted Philly Walk of Fame songstress Jill Scott, rising rock band the War on Drugs, and longstanding name brands like Will Smith and Hall and Oates.

    But in terms of pure pop happening now, you can’t top Pink, who has sold more than 16 million albums in the U.S. and more than 45 million worldwide, putting her on a plane with Philly-identified boldface names like Bradley Cooper and Kevin Hart, and in the same concert arena as Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, and Lady Gaga.

    So, how did she get here? How has a now-38-year-old singer who signed her first record deal in 1995 with a girl group called Choice and who was initially marketed as an R&B act with cotton-candy hair endured and prospered in an unforgiving, ageist pop marketplace?

    Here’s how: By carving out a mainstream space as a tough but tender rebel soul who’s not likely to make nice, but who carefully chooses collaborators that keep her on top of pop trends without smoothing out the nonconformist rough edges central to her appeal.

    That continues on Beautiful Trauma’s first singles. “What About Us?” portrays Pink — who gave birth to son Jameson, her second child with motocross rider husband Carey Hart, in December — as a maternal figure in solidarity with the dispossessed. It calls out politicians in nonspecific terms: “What about all the times you said you had the answers? … What about all the broken happy-ever-afters?”

    The next likely hit is “Revenge,” a battle of the sexes that pits the singer against Eminem, the rapper who last week issued a pointed political song of his own, with his ferocious anti-Trump freestyle “The Storm.”

    Pink does some semi-rapping on the peppy, vindictive “Revenge,” a relationship song written with hit-makers Max Martin and Shellback. It’s one of three Trauma tracks with the successful Swedes, who are joined on the project by such in-demand song assemblers as prolific songwriter Jack Antonoff and Adele producer Greg Kurstin. Not to mention busy Nashville songwriter busbee, who cowrote the power balled “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken,” in which Pink sings, with impressive lung power, “There’s not enough rope to tie me down / There’s not enough tape to shut this mouth.”

    That refusal to quiet down or behave in a demure manner has helped Pink build a fan base as a hard-bodied feminist pop heroine. From the beginning, she’s carried herself with swaggering self confidence, from when she was signed as a teenager to LaFace Records by exec L.A. Reid. (In a New York Times interview, Pink was asked about sexual harassment allegations made against Reid and said she’d avoided music industry sexism for the most part because “People think I’m insane and aggressive and I’ll bite them.”)

    When Pink made her debut with the feisty Can’t Take Me Home in 2000, she was a 20-year-old whose stage name derived in part from her favorite character (played by Steve Buscemi) in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. Then living in an apartment in Roxborough — she now makes her home in Venice Beach in Los Angeles — Pink was quite sure where her career was heading: “We’re going to take over the world.”

    She’s done a pretty good job of it since. Her first No. 1 hit was with Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, and Mya via a remake of Patti LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade” for the 2001 movie Moulin Rouge.

    But the key building block to eventual superstardom was that year’s Missundaztood. Teaming with 4 Non Blondes songwriter Linda Perry, she broke away from the R&B-diva stereotype and recalibrated herself as an attitudinal party girl and teller of home truths.

    The album remains the biggest of her career. “Get the Party Started” still kicks off her concerts, but just as important was “Don’t Let Me Get Me,” in which she copped to being “my own worst enemy” and told of defying her idolmakers. “L.A. told me, ‘You’ll be a pop star, all you’ve got to do is change everything you are,’ ” she sang, as though that were the most absurd suggestion in the world, then complained of being compared to Britney Spears: “She’s so pretty, that just ain’t me.”

    Since then, there have been unexpected turns, as Pink has smartly navigated the mainstream with an unpredictability and intelligence that’s allowed her to remain relevant. She’s still at the top of the charts, while her more conventional pop-star competitors from the early ’00s, like Spears, Aguilera, and Mandy Moore have moved on to Las Vegas, reality TV music competitions, and acting, respectively.

    Instead, Pink went punk, pairing off with Rancid leader Tim Armstrong on 2003’s Try This, then came back with the defiant smash I’m Not Dead in 2006, with the cheeky and crude kiss-off “U & Ur Hand” and anti-Bush “Dear Mr. President.”

    Lots of pop stars float above the crowd on flying stages. Pink’s niche is that she twists and spins and sings in gymnastic routines worthy of Cirque du Soleil. That obvious effort puts Pink’s apparent realness — her Philly-girl grit, if you will — on display.

    And, of course, she does all that high flying while appearing to remain down-to-earth. That side of the pop star was apparent on her You + Me project, in which she teamed with Canadian songwriter Dallas Green (who has the same name as the late Phillies manager, but there’s no relation). As You (or was it Me?), she lost the leotards and sang mostly acoustic songs using her birth name.

    That forthright singer-songwriter approach rubs off on Beautiful Trauma in grand productions that aim to communicate simple human themes. In the piano ballad “But We Lost It,” she rues the loss of passion; in “Barbies,” motherhood makes her mourn her own childhood while she sees impending mortality in the lines on her father’s face: “I know that time will have its way / Where did it all go?”

    Pink brings it all home on “I Am Here,” written with longtime Philadelphia songwriting partner Billy Mann. Putting to use a choir recorded in Aston, under the direction of Bill Jolly, it’s a gospel pop rouser that contemplates the afterlife (“Where does everybody go when they go?”) while reveling in the place that Pink finds herself in the here and now: All grown up, at the top of the pop world.

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    Katy Perry pushes candy pop perfection at the Wells Fargo Center

    In April 2008, Madonna called into a Tucson, Ariz., radio station to tell hosts JohnJay and Rich her favorite song of the moment: “It’s called ‘Ur So Gay and You Don’t Even Like Boys,’ ” Madonna said. “You have to hear it. It’s by an artist called Katy Perry.”

    During that spring nearly a decade ago, the former Christian pop artist once known as Katy Hudson had a selection of punchy pop-rock tunes loaded onto MySpace, including what would be her first hit to top the Billboard Hot 100, “I Kissed a Girl.” That summer, she performed on the Vans Warped Tour, donning a pink guitar and retro chic frocks alongside boyfriend Travie McCoy of Gym Class Heroes. It was a perfect rebellion for the religious singer who once protested outside a concert for the superstar who first gave her a major shout-out.

    On the heels of her fifth full-length album, Witness, the 32-year-old who is the first woman to score five No. 1 singles from one album (courtesy of 2010’s Teenage Dream), brought a Madonna-size tour to the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night. Originally scheduled to begin in early September, the massive production, which featured multiple costume changes, dozens of dancers, and an appearance by Left Shark from her 2015 Super Bowl performance, suffered delays that pushed the start date to October — and the sheer magnitude of the spectacle was worth the wait. With set fixtures that included giant flamingos, a colossal floating pair of lips, and an entire solar system with Perry at its center, the two-hour show was a glimpse into the neon-colored fantasy that is Katy Perry.

    Though Witness is not Perry’s most commercially successful LP to date — the album’s singles “Chained to the Rhythm” and “Bon Appetit” did not have  essential earworm melodies — the tour proved that Perry’s version of stardom hinges as much on sugar-coated visuals as lyrical narrative. The dystopia Perry sings of in “Chained to the Rhythm,” ignited live with a moderate dose of funk, can be adequately forgotten with sparkly costumes and snappy choreography.

    Compared to contemporaries like Lady Gaga who fuse powerful vocals and solo performances into their larger-than-life shows, Perry’s melodies often get lost in the tapestry of the live band and backup singer lineup, most notably on set-opener “Witness,” “Roulette,” and “Bon Appetit.” Though she did break out the guitar for One of the Boys’ “Hot N Cold” — spiced up with punk energy — it was an acoustic “Thinking of You” performed atop a floating planetary orb that was a real vocal standout. Stripped of the choreography and background production, Perry was at her most dynamic and vulnerable.

    The night was about reimagining the songs audiences have heard ad nauseam and putting them into a cotton-candy teenage dream. “I Kissed a Girl” was electrified with a burlesque verve, “E.T.” had a hard rock edge, “Part of Me” was reworked to be spin-class-ready.

    Between a tender moment with a 10-year-old audience member brought on stage to make a wish, and an impromptu basketball game with a father in the crowd, Perry’s show skewed toward her young audience and their concert-going parents. She at times censored herself, kid-proofing her image, which was initially built upon kissing girls, seemingly the opposite of rumored foe Taylor Swift, who has increasingly toughened up her platform.

    Ultimately, it is Perry’s messages of hope — “Part of Me,” “Roar,” and encore “Firework” — that resound the most with fans, and these are the notions on which she ended the night. All high-caliber songs with belty strikes for choruses, Perry indeed saved the best for last, no minor feat given the preceding  two hours’ worth of dancing and showmanship, and she demonstrated that she practiced what she preached.

    Long gone are the days of Warped Tour — and dissing former flames with songs like “Ur So Gay” — but the kitsch, the snark, the personality behind the songs are the cornerstones of Perry’s persona, then and now. All that has changed is the size of the stage.

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    Linkin Park releases ‘Carpool Karaoke’ with late Bennington

    LOS ANGELES (AP) – Linkin Park has released the episode of “Carpool Karaoke” the band filmed in July, six days before lead singer Chester Bennington took his own life.

    The 23-minute episode of the Apple Music series has been posted to the band’s Facebook page . Bennington appears to be in good spirits throughout the episode and is shown behind the wheel teaching episode host Ken Jeong how to sing in Bennington’s signature scream. Bennington’s bandmates Mike Shinoda and Joe Hahn are also featured, performing some of the band’s hits karaoke-style, including “Numb” and “In the End.”

    The episode begins with a message stating that its release has the blessing of Bennington’s family and is dedicated to his memory.

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    Miley Cyrus is no longer the naked girl on the wrecking ball on her new album ‘Younger Now’

    The last time we encountered Miley Cyrus, the pop provocateur was flying high above the Wells Fargo Center floor while using a giant hot dog as means of transportation. Or maybe she was stark naked, swinging back and forth while licking her chain on her “Wrecking Ball” video. Or she could have been waving a foam finger while grinding her hips into the crotch of creepy Robin Thicke at the MTV VMAs.

    Or was that all just a dream?

    “Feels like I just woke up, like all this time I’ve been asleep,” the 24-year-old showbiz vet sings at the start of the title cut and opening track of her new album, Younger Now(RCA ** 1/2). “Even though it’s not who I am, I’m not afraid of who I used to be.”

    It’s a pop star’s prerogative — if not a prerequisite of the job — to project a fresh image and a new narrative from project to project. “No one stays the same,” Cyrus sings on the title song, and in its winking, all-covered-up, old-fashioned video. “Change is a thing you can count on.”

    With Younger Now, Cyrus is in the business of retreating to the innocent Miley of her Hannah Montana beginnings, and expressing second thoughts about the button-pushing of her 2013 Bangerz and more truly outlandish 2015 collaboration with Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz.

    In May, when rolling out the new, tamer Miley on Younger Now’s lead single, “Malibu,” she told interviewers, “I’m always going to be the naked girl on the wrecking ball … I should have thought about how long that was going to follow me around,” and announced she’s putting hip-hop behind her. “I can’t listen to [hypersexual] lyrics anymore. … I am so not that.”

    But once the genie’s out, can you put bad girl Miley back in the bottle? After taking hip-hop to the bank (and being accused of brazen cultural appropriation) with the Mike WiLL Made-It-produced earworm “We Can’t Stop,” are Cyrus fans going to be satisfied with tamer Younger Now ballads such as “Miss You So Much” and “She’s Not Him”?

    That remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: The Younger Now Cyrus is not as much fun as her irresponsible, tongue-wagging predecessor. The new album, produced by Oren Yoel, makes a self-consciously grown-up move to reconnect with her mainstream pop roots, as well as her birthright as the first born of “Achy Break Heart” country singer Billy Ray Cyrus.

    To that end, she duets with her godmother, Dolly Parton, on “Rainbowland,” a catchy celebration of inclusion that kicks off with a recording of Parton leaving her a voicemail. “We are rainbows, me and you / Every color, every hue,” they sing together, charmingly. “Let’s shine through.”

    Younger Now is by no means a country record, however. It’s more of a buttoned-up pop, singer-songwriter collection that’s rarely thrilling. Like Lady Gaga, Cyrus is a bold-faced pop star known for over-the-top showmanship and playing with sexual identity who is also an old-school professional. In other words, she really can sing, and she’s pretty good at writing perfectly competent romantic pop songs. She does both of those things effectively enough throughout Younger Now, whether leaning toward dance beats on “Thinkin’,” or rocking out on “Love Someone.” But what’s distressing about Younger Now is not that’s it bad, but something worse for a used-to-be outrageous pop star: It’s kind of boring.

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    Max Martin, Jack Antonoff, The Chainsmokers & Hans Zimmer Saluted at Songs of Hope

    Doctors making strides in cancer, diabetes and other areas of medical research were the rock stars at Songs of Hope XIII benefiting the City of Hope (Sept. 28). The annual awards event also honored songwriter/producer Max Martin, composer/producer Hans Zimmer, songwriter/producer Jack Antonoff and The Chainsmokers.

    Songs of Hope was held at the KIDinaKORNER Kampus, the spacious Sherman Oaks, Calif. residence of Grammy-nominated producer Alex Da Kid. The evening’s theme: “The miracle of science with soul.”

    Event co-chair and Universal Music Publishing president, North America, Evan Lamberg opened the proceedings. Noting that organizers’ original goal of $300,000 had been reached a week prior, Lamberg said the total raised is more than $400,000 after silent auction proceeds and other donations are counted. Auction items included autographed guitars from Antonoff, Paul Simon, Slash, Richie Sambora and Brad Paisley, a Clive Davis leather bag by Roots and concert tickets/private meet and greets with Cher, Celine Dion, Bruno Mars, Britney Spears and Shawn Mendes. Lamberg added that Ed Sheeran “did us a huge favor” two weeks ago by donating a meet and greet package for his Chicago show, which brought in $10,500.

    CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing Martin Bandier presents Honoree Jack Antonoff with the "Martin Bandier Vanguard" Award at City of Hope's Music, Film and Entertainment Industry's Songs of Hope Event on Sept. 28, 2017 in Sherman Oaks, Calif. 
    Lester Cohen/Getty Images for City of Hope
    CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing Martin Bandier presents Honoree Jack Antonoff with the “Martin Bandier Vanguard” Award at City of Hope’s Music, Film and Entertainment Industry’s Songs of Hope Event on Sept. 28, 2017 in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

    Grammy-winning producer James “Jimmy Jam” Harris, the evening’s emcee, next welcomed music icon Clive Davis to the poolside stage to present Davis’ namesake Legend of Songwriters Award to Max Martin. The Grammy winner (Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, Katy Perry) joins previous recipients Stevie Wonder, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Burt Bacharach and Pharrell Williams. After thanking Davis, Martin in turn thanked the “doctors, nurses and volunteers who are fighting against disease every day. To me, you are the real legends.”

    Sony/ATV CEO Martin Bandier presented his eponymous Vanguard Award to Jack Antonoff. The Grammy-winning producer/songwriter/musician is enjoying a banner year with Taylor Swift’s No. 1 single “Look What You Made Me Do,” Lorde’s No. 1 album Melodrama and Pink’s new single “Beautiful Trauma” among other projects. Antonoff credited Bandier and the rest of the Sony/ATV team for “believing in me when a lot of other people didn’t.”

    The Chainsmokers received the Trendsetter Award, sponsored for the second consecutive year by Pandora. Before presenting the honor, Pandora’s head of publisher licensing and relations Adam Parness pointed out the duo’s impressive achievements on the service: more than 1.5 billion plays and an audience reach of nearly 7 million. Last year’s inaugural Trendsetter Award was given to Mike Posner.

    Citing Hans Zimmer’s “revolutionary work that has changed the sound of the culture,” Electronic Arts’ president of music and Songs of Hope co-chair Steve Schnur presented EA’s Composer of the Century Award to the composer. Ahead of Zimmer taking the stage, Pharrell Williams saluted the Academy Award-, Golden Globe- and Grammy-winning talent as his “friend and big brother.” Then a quartet of Zimmer’s musicians surprised him with a performance of music from his storied career that includes scores for Lion King, Driving Ms. DaisyPirates of the Caribbeanand, most recently, Dunkirk.

    Industry veteran Zach Horowitz, former chairman/CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group, and his sister Jody Horowitz Marsh presented the inaugural Songs of Hope Beverly and Ben Horowitz Legacy Award to leading cancer researcher Saul Priceman PhD. The award, which each year will recognize a scientist from the City of Hope, pays tribute to the siblings’ parents who played instrumental roles in building the City of Hope. Ben Horowitz, in fact, served as head of the medical center for more than 37 years. Zach and his family also announced their own donation of $1 million to the City of Hope.

    Also among the more than 300 music industry professionals and celebrities milling their way around the backyard tennis court and pool areas were Academy Award winner Halle Berry (with Alex da Kid), event co-chair/The Davis Firm attorney Doug Davis; event co-chair and Spirit Music Group chairman/CEO David Renzer; Warner/Chappell chairman/CEO Jon Platt; Sony/ATV co-president Rick Krim; CAA partner/managing director/head of music Rob Light; Creative Artists Agency Rob Light; Gang, Tyre, Ramer, and Brown, Inc. attorney Donald Passman; Loeb & Loeb attorney John Frankenheimer; BMI VP/GM Barbara Cane; Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow; songwriter Diane Warren and Decible Entertainment chief Larry Wade.

    To date, Songs of Hope has raised more than $3.3 million for City of Hope.

    Honorees Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart of The Chainsmokers accept the Pandora Trendsetter Award at City of Hope's Music, Film and Entertainment Industry's Songs of Hope Event on Sept. 28, 2017 in Sherman Oaks, Cali.
    Lester Cohen/Getty Images for City of Hope
    Honorees Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart of The Chainsmokers accept the Pandora Trendsetter Award at City of Hope’s Music, Film and Entertainment Industry’s Songs of Hope Event on Sept. 28, 2017 in Sherman Oaks, Cali.

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    THIS WEEK IN MUSIC

    As Award Week Approaches I often wonder why even have award shows, they don’t give the real talented a chance to shine, but instead promote the worst out of the industries at times. Music we cant understand. Music and Acting which definitely doesn’t sound or portray how our past geniuses performed. I just want the best in each group or category to get a award. An award for being Dope at what you do. Holla Back

     

    List of Award Shows

    EMMY AWARDS

    Stephen Colbert will host the 69th annual Emmy

    (Credit: Invision for the Television Academy / Vince Bucci)Stephen Colbert will host the 69th annual Emmy Awards, airing at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, live on CBS from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

    COUNTRY MUSIC ASSOCIATION AWARDS

    The 51st Annual Country Music Awards, hosted by

    (Credit: Getty Images / Rick Diamond )The 51st Annual Country Music Awards, hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, will air on ABC on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

    AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS

    The American Music Awards are scheduled to air

    (Credit: AFP/Getty Images / VALERIE MACON)The American Music Awards are scheduled to air live at 8 p.m. on ABC on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017, from the Microsoft Theater in Lost Angeles.

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    ADVERTISE HERE

    GOLDEN GLOBES

    The 75th annual Golden Globes will be held

    (Credit: Getty Images / Frazer Harrison)The 75th annual Golden Globes will be held at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, on NBC from the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif.

    GRAMMYS

    The Grammys will return to New York City

    (Credit: AP)The Grammys will return to New York City after a 15-year absence to celebrate its 60th anniversary by hosting its ceremony at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018. The awards will be broadcast live on CBS at 7:30 p.m. and will air live on both coasts.

    OSCARS

    The 90th Oscars ceremony will air on ABC

    (Credit: AP / John Shearer)The 90th Oscars ceremony will air on ABC on Sunday, March 4, 2018.

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    U2, Ed Sheeran St. Louis Concerts Canceled Amid Violent Protests

    U2 and Ed Sheeran have canceled concerts planned for St. Louis this weekend over security concerns as the city faces violent protests following the acquittal of a former white police officer in the shooting death of a black man.

    Promoter Live Nation and U2 wrote in a statement that the St. Louis Police Department would not be able to provide the “standard protection for our audience as would be expected for an event of this size” for the planned Saturday (Sept. 16) concert. The promoter was also informed that the local crowd security personnel would not be at full capacity.

    “In light of this information, we cannot in good conscience risk our fans’ safety by proceeding with tonight’s concert,” the statement read. “As much as we regret having to cancel, we feel it is the only acceptable course of action in the current environment.”

    Larry Mullen Jr, Bono and Adam Clayton of U2 perform during The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sept. 14, 2017 in New Orleans.
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    U2’s ‘You’re the Best Thing About Me’ Debuts on Rock Charts
    U2’s show was to be held at St. Louis’ 70,000-capacity Dome at America’s Center, while Sheeran was booked for Scottrade Center on Sunday night (Sept. 17). Fans who purchased tickets to the concerts will be issued refunds.

    Regarding the Sheeran cancelation, promoter Louis Messina told Billboard, “Better safe than sorry.”

    In a statement, Messina Touring Group said: “With the safety of the fans being of upmost concern, and after consulting with local officials, who could not fully commit to providing a sufficient amount of police and other city services support, we felt it was in everyone’s best interest to cancel Sunday night’s show. While we regret to have had to come to this decision, we do look forward to returning to St. Louis as soon as Ed’s schedule will allow in 2018.”

    Violent protests broke out Friday (Sept. 15) after Jason Stockley was found not guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action, the Associated Press reports. On Dec. 20, 2011, the then-police officer shot 24-year-old Lamar Smith five times after a high-speed chase and crash.

    Thirty-two people were reportedly arrested in the protests Friday, and 10 officers had been injured.

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    JAY-Z Delivers a Career-Spanning Headlining Set at Meadows Festival

    Well before JAY-Z hit graced the main stage on night one of the second edition of Meadows Festival in New York City, there was little doubt as to who the main draw was.

    A good half hour before his scheduled 8:15 p.m. start time, the areas outside of the main stage were nearly deserted, as fans flocked to try and get a good vantage point for Hov’s New York City return. And Brooklyn’s finest didn’t let them down, delivering a career-spanning set of both his iconic hits peppered in with a significant helping of songs from his latest album, June’s 4:44.

    And before anyone thought Jay might ease into his set with some newer cuts, he opened with the formidable one-two punch of Blueprint 3‘s “Run This Town” and Watch the Throne‘s “No Church In the Wild,” to the crowd’s wild delight. “I’m gonna say something right now,” Jay said as the beat of “No Church” still rang out in the background. “I’m not gonna talk your ear off all night… but love always trumps hate.”

    Killer Mike and El-P of Run The Jewels perform at The Eat Your Own Ears Stage on Day 1 of Field Day Festival at Victoria Park on June 3, 2017 in London. 

    READ MORE

    Run the Jewels Deliver Relentless Set at Meadows Festival in Queens

    He then launched into “Lucifer” — “Lord forgive him / He got them dark forces in him” — before bringing out Damian Marley, his surprise guest for the night. They went straight into “Bam” off Hov’s latest album — indeed, Jay barely stopped to take a breath in between songs — before Jay took a back seat as Jr. Gong delivered a crowd-pleasing “Welcome to Jamrock,” before exiting the stage.

    From there, it was all Jay, and he seemed determined to keep anyone’s attention from wavering. “Where I’m From” bled into “Marcy Me,” a heartfelt rendition, before a triumphant “Empire State of Mind” saw him basking in the thousands before him who sang Alicia Keys‘ hook at the tops of their lungs. “That was really f–king beautiful,” he said as the song wound down. “Thank you, New York, for that.”

    Wearing a Beatles shirt (Help edition) and fresh Nikes, Hov was on point throughout his set, peppering in newer cuts (“Family Feud,” “Moonlight”) with certified fan favorites like an epic “PSA,” and an a capella outro to “Heart of the City.”

    “I want to dedicate this song to Colin Kaepernick tonight,” Jay said halfway through. “I want to dedicate this song to anyone who was held back.” He then ran through “The Story of O.J.,” one of the most-discussed songs off his latest LP, letting the Nina Simone sample run at the end to emphasize his point. “Oh, y’all ready tonight!” he laughed after beginning and the cutting short the start of “Ni—s In Paris” — before having the crowd count down to the beat drop as he started the song over again.

    For nearly two hours, Jay reminded the crowd — not that it was in much doubt — that there are few, if any, better hip-hop ambassadors for the city. Ever the businessman, Hov was efficient in running through the hits — a notably seamless transition was “Give It 2 Me” into “Big Pimpin” — but still found time to let some emotion bleed through.

    “I want to make a dedication to a great man who’s no longer here with us,” he said before introducing his penultimate song. “Chester Bennington from Linkin Park.” After previously dipping into LP’s “Points of Authority” instrumental during the second verse of “99 Problems” — as their mashed-up version did on the collaborative Collision Course album — he delivered that album’s hit single “Numb/Encore” in its entirety, asking the crowd to sing along to Bennington’s “Numb” hook. A heartfelt “Forever Young,” with the lights down by request, sent those assembled into the night with no complaints.

    Chester Bennington of Linkin Park with Jay-Z during LIVE 8 - Philadelphia - Show at Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia. 

    READ MORE

    Yes, We’re Going to Talk About How Awesome Linkin Park & JAY-Z’s ‘Collision Course’ Was

    Set List

    “Run This Town”
    “No Church In the Wild”
    “Lucifer”
    “Bam” (with Damian Marley)
    “Welcome to Jamrock” (with Damian Marley)
    “Where I’m From”
    “Marcy Me”
    “Empire State of Mind”
    “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt”
    “Family Feud”
    “U Don’t Know”
    “PSA”
    “Heart of the City”
    “Moonlight”
    “The Story of OJ”
    “Niggas In Paris”
    “Izzo (HOVA)”
    “Jigga My Nigga”
    “Dirt Off Ya Shoulder”
    “On to the Next One”
    “Give It 2 Me”
    “Big Pimpin”
    “99 Problems”
    “Hard Knock Life”
    “Numb/Encore”
    “Forever Young”

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    Meek Mill, Cardi B. and more to headline Power 99’s ‘Powerhouse’ concert

    Philly rapper Meek Mill is among the recently announced list of headliners for Power 99’s “Powerhouse” concert next month, the radio station announced this week.

    Other artists on the bill include Travis Scott, Cardi B., Migos, French Montana, Rick Ross, fellow Philly rapper Lil Uzi Vert, and Playboy Carti.

    The event is scheduled for  Oct. 27 at the Wells Fargo Center. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday via the Wells Fargo Center website and box office; they are also available by calling 800-298-4200.

    Mill’s most recent album, Wins and Losses, came out in July, debuting at No. 3  on the Billboard 200 with 102,000 equivalent album sales, according to the publication.

    Last weekend, Mill appeared alongside Jay-Z during the rap mogul’s performance at the Made in America festival on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Migos and Cardi B. also performed, drawing huge crowds.

    Mill also played last year’s Powerhouse concert, which featured appearances by artists including Remy Ma, Kehlani, Trey Songz, and Wiz Khalifa.

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    The independent artist community unites to bring aid to Houston

    The independent artist community unites to bring aid to Houston.

    Chris Watson and Drew Stubbs know what it’s like to lose everything in a natural disaster. Both men were living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, flooding their homes, destroying their vehicles and soaking all of their possessions. Both men sought refuge in Texas as the storm bore down on the Big Easy and now they want to repay the state that badly needs aid and supplies after the devastating flooding and damage from Hurricane Harvey.

    “We’ve been in the same place as many of the people who are now enduring the aftermath of the storm,” Watson tells Billboard. “We saw how Texas rallied around the victims of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans and Drew called me up late one night with this great idea of how he could help Houston and I said yes immediately.”

    That’s how the idea of Bands with Vans was born. It’s pretty simple — musicians volunteer to use their tour vans to pick up supplies at various music venues around Austin and New Orleans and then drive them to shelters in the Houston area.

    People walk down a flooded street as they evacuate their homes after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on Aug. 28, 2017 in Houston.

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    Music venues and bands help get the word out on their social media feeds, telling volunteers where they can drop off supplies at popular music venues like Tipitinas and Preservation Hall in New Orleans, while bands, such as Video Age offer up their vans to make a run to hard hit cities like Chester, Texas. Those who live outside of Louisiana or Texas can donate gas cards and gift certificates to places like Subway to pay for lunches and meals for the drivers.

    “We want to be super specific with what we’re asking people to bring,” Stubbs said. “We don’t want people to go through their closet and bring a bunch of old clothes. We need bottled water for one shelter, while another is only asking for brand new underwear. So when a band gets involved and they volunteer their time, their role is to help us promote that we’re collecting for flood victims and then they go to the venue and fill up their van with all the stuff that’s been donated and drive it out to the shelter.”

    Watson heads up marketing for the second year Music Tastes Good Festival in Long Beach, California, while Stubbs is a filmmaker living in New Orleans. They recruited bands including Sweet Crude and Walker Lukens to deliver cleaning supplies from venues like Barracuda and Spider House in Austin and Saint Street Inn in Lafayette. Other bands include Lost Bayou Ramblers, Babes, Brass Bed, Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Kid Carsons and Bare Handed Bear Handlers. 

    Jimmy Fallon

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    “The first people we can think of are bands who had a very similar experience,” Watson said. “It started with bands in New Orleans and then we started getting good feedback from the folks in the Austin, Texas,” adding he’s looking for help from any band that “has a 16-passenger van, or a mini-van or even someone who has a bus or trailer.”

    To learn more and to help visit bandswithvans.org.

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    The Fall’s Most Fascinating Art Show? The Met Trying to Fix Itself

    There are many exciting museum shows to see across the country in coming months. But of particular interest to me will be the one unfolding in real time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as this august institution tries to right itself after several years of staff unrest, financial mismanagement and overreach. A lot has happened since Thomas P. Campbell, its director of eight years, resigned under pressure in late February, but it’s not over. The most obvious questions are: Who will be the next director, and when will he — or, better yet, she — be appointed?

    Increasingly Mr. Campbell’s eight years, with their achievements and their stumbles, look like an inevitable interregnum. The 31-year tenure of the much-admired Philippe de Montebello — the longest-serving director in the Met’s history — was a hard act to follow, much less in an economy recovering from the 2008 crash. It seems likely that any successor was in for a very difficult time, excepting possibly a seasoned caretaker or a visionary.

    Mr. Campbell was neither. While a widely respected scholar of European tapestries, he was tasked by the Met’s board with greatly increasing the museum’s involvement with modern and contemporary art — which interested Mr. de Montebello not at all — and with expanding its audience and its digital presence. He fulfilled the trustees’ desire for a director who came from inside the museum, as had several of his predecessors.

    On his watch, attendance soared and he was able to get the Met Breuer open and running, if not exactly at full creative capacity. But in the end, he seemed the victim of both his own misjudgments and those of the trustees, who approved his decisions and deserve much more of the blame for the debacle than they have so far been allotted.

    Continue reading the main story

    The Met, through Kenneth Weine, its spokesman, said a new director is expected to be named next year. For the moment the museum seems to be heading into smoother waters under the guidance of Daniel H. Weiss, 60, who became the museum’s president in 2015, and, after a restructuring in June, its chief executive — meaning that the new director will report to him.

    Photo

    Philippe de Montebello, who was the Met’s director from 1977 to 2008. CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

    This power shift has led many to assert that the best candidates won’t be interested in the Met job. Dividing the responsibilities of the director, who sets a museum’s curatorial mission, from those of the chief executive, who controls the purse strings, was a fashion in the 1980s and early ’90s. But nearly everywhere it was set up, the director ultimately managed to consolidate authority — including Mr. de Montebello at the Met. Tales of miserable museum directors and philistine presidents still echo through the profession, like war stories.

    This is not the ’90s; Mr. Weiss has the advantage of being trained in art history, which is rare among museum presidents, and big museums have long had too many moving parts for the top job not to be shared. But the museum professionals I spoke with were unanimous in the view that directors should have ultimate control of both mission and budget.

    The Met tale acquired some new twists and innuendos in early August when Mr. de Montebello gave an unusually frank interview to artnet News. Among other things, he said that his successor’s departure was “long overdue,” implying that the trustees should have acted earlier. But he also granted that they could not have foreseen that Mr. Campbell, whom Mr. de Montebello had initially supported, would become, in his words, “a totally different human being the day he was made director.”

    While Mr. de Montebello viewed the splitting of the chief executive and director as generally “not right,” he praised Mr. Weiss; he said he was certain that he would work well with anyone the trustees anointed and would know when to step back — and also when to bow out and leave the Met. Mr. de Montebello framed the whole process as a dignified rite of passage for the incoming director, even though it took him two-thirds of his own directorship to secure the chief executive title.

    In a two-part interview with artnet News, posted Tuesday and Wednesday, Mr. Campbell appeared to take the high road and did not address Mr. de Montebello’s comments specifically. Asked about whether the museum was in crisis at the time of his resignation, Mr. Campbell said, “In a period of change, you get quite a lot of turmoil, and I think the press picked up on that and presented it as a crisis.” Of current conditions at the Met, he said, “The museum is on track to have a balanced, sustainable, fully balanced budget over the next two to three years, with a level of understanding of its finances and future projects that it has never had before. As I step away, along with all of the programmatic elements that I’ve helped to lead, I’m very proud of having brought Dan [Weiss] in and having worked with him and with the board leadership to put in place that financial restructuring.”

    Photo

    Daniel H. Weiss, the president and chief executive officer of the Met. A new museum director will report to him.CreditJoshua Bright for The New York Times

    In terms of finding a new director, the Met is the Met. Maybe it will get lucky and attract some young, energetic visionary with some real curatorial experience in modern and contemporary art who is willing to take on the C.E.O. challenge, like wresting Excalibur from its rock. In the meantime, the museum trundles on, its exhibition program relatively unscathed. The 2017-18 slate includes such goodies as Michelangelo drawings, a David Hockney retrospective and goldworking in the ancient Americas.

    Mr. Weiss seems to be restoring some financial sense to the Met, but he has helped hatch one really bad idea: a proposal that, if approved by the city, would allow the Met to charge out-of-state visitors a fixed $25 entrance fee instead of letting them pay what they wish, like everyone else.

    This could be a logistical nightmare. Those who retain the privilege of paying what they wish will still have to have their papers to get in — which papers has not been worked out. The jobs of ticket sellers and others at the museum’s entrances will become more complicated and stressful; they will in all likelihood sometimes end up functioning a bit like border guards, adjudicating who has proper New York identification and who doesn’t.

    The whole idea seems greedy and inappropriate. The museum already gets around $39 million a year from its gate — equal to the entire annual budget of the Brooklyn Museum — and tourists are one of the main bases of the city’s economy. At a time of flagrant income inequality, it is especially unseemly for museums to view their audiences merely as income streams, and it seems out of character for a sanctuary city during a national rise in xenophobia. Mayor Bill de Blasio said of the proposal: “I’m a big fan of Russian oligarchs paying more to get into the Met,” as if all tourists were megawealthy.

    They are not. In 2015 the average overseas visitor to New York City had a household income of $82,400, according to NYC & Company, the city’s official destination marketing arm. The average American visitor to New York City was a bit better off, with a household income of $118,800 in 2016. (Billionaires, by the way, rarely pay to visit museums: They get private tours that begin with their being swept past the ticket desk by a curatorial assistant.)

    Photo

    Anne D’Harnoncourt, longtime director of Philadelphia Museum of Art, in 2005. She died in 2008.CreditGraydon Wood/Philadelphia Museum of Art

    Finally, it helps to remember that as an encyclopedic institution, the Met’s collections are stocked with art from around the globe. It is a world museum with a world audience. (Maybe the fixed fee should be waived for anyone from Egypt, given the enormous holdings that the museum excavated from its deserts in the 1910s and ’20s.)

    Looking forward, it would be great if the Met could at last choose a woman as director. At one point the artnet News interviewer — its editor in chief, Andrew Goldstein — asked Mr. de Montebello about this. The former director answered with the old saw that the Met cannot set out to hire a woman. But, as if it made a difference, he mentioned in passing that his own successor would have been the great Anne d’Harnoncourt, then the celebrated director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, had she not died suddenly at 64 in June 2008, during the Met’s search year. Was an offer actually tendered and being seriously considered?

    The Met declined to comment. Norman Keyes, a Philadelphia Museum spokesman and friend of Ms. d’Harnoncourt, said in an emailed statement: “It would come as no surprise that Anne d’Harnoncourt might have been considered for this position. However, we have had no knowledge that such an offer was actually made and would be surprised in any case if she would have taken it. She was deeply committed to Philadelphia, and proved this time and again over a period of many years.”

    The larger point is that the Met could very well set out to appoint a woman and find a qualified one, just as, with Mr. Campbell, it seems to have set out to hire from within.

    Manhattan’s four biggest, most prominent museums are due for a “sea change,” as one observer said to me. Women already head several of the city’s smaller institutions, including the Jewish Museum, the New Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Queens Museum, the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the not-so-small Brooklyn Museum.

    So now the Met’s director chair is empty. Over the next five or so years, those at the Modern, the Guggenheim and the Whitney will also be opening up as their current occupants approach retirement age.

    If at least two of these four jobs do not go to a woman, this city will be shamed by its backwardness. The Modern, the Guggenheim and the Whitney, which were virtually willed into existence by women, have a chance to live up to their histories. The Met has a chance to lead the way.

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