“DANGEROUS: THE DOUBLE ALBUM” IS BILLBOARD’S TOP ALBUM OF 2021
LOS ANGELES (AP) – In spite of the controversy swirling around Morgan Wallen this year, his “Dangerous: The Double Album” is Billboard’s year-end number-one album, based on sales, streaming and airplay. Wallen’s sales took a hit in February when a video surfaced of him using a racial slur. Billboard notes no other album spent more time in the top ten in 2021 than “Dangerous.” It beats out Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour,” which places second for the year, and “Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon” by Pop Smoke, at third. The top Hot 100 single of 2021 is “Levitating” by Dua Lipa, followed by “Save Your Tears” by The Weeknd and Ariana Grande, and “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd in third. Drake is Billboard’s top artist of the year, with Olivia Rodrigo in second and The Weeknd in third.
DRAKE PULLS OUT OF GRAMMYS
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Drake wants no part of the Grammys. The four-time Grammy winner and his reps have asked the Recording Academy to pull his two nominations from the final-round ballot – and the request was honored. Word of this comes from two people familiar with the situation, and who spoke with The Associated Press about it. They say Drake’s request was honored by the academy – and last night, his nominations were gone from the official Grammy list online. Drake was up for best rap album for “Certified Lover Boy” – and “Way 2 Sexy,” featuring Future and Young Thug, which earned a nomination for best rap performance.
The Grammys are Jan. 31 in Los Angeles.
IMAGINE DRAGONS COLLABORATE WITH JID ON “ENEMY”
LONDON (AP) – Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds says part of the reason the band brought on JID for the song “Enemy” is that he’s a great artist — and partly, because he’s a great personality. Reynolds says JID is “thoughtful” and “sweet,” which is probably the most important thing to them when they do a collaboration. Reynolds says they were so impressed by what JID sent them for the song that they heard it and said, “OK, this is done.” While Imagine Dragons have done collaborations in the past, they’re not big on doing them. Reynolds says with four people in the band, they have enough opinions to deal with.
JUSTIN BIEBER PLAYS SAUDI ARABIA
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) – Justin Bieber performed before a packed crowd in the Saudi Arabian city of Jiddah on Sunday, even as human rights campaigners called for him to cancel. Jason Derulo was his opening act. While Saudi Arabia has made sweeping changes to modernize, groups like Human Rights Watch and others say pop concerts are a diversion from the country’s human rights record.
JUICE WRLD ALBUM AND DOCUMENTARY COMING
NEW YORK (AP) – Juice WRLD (WORLD) is about to be in the spotlight again. Chicago’s United Center will mark Juice WRLD Day on Thursday, with a celebration of his second posthumous album, “Fighting Demons.” The event will be livestreamed starting at 9 p.m. Eastern on the Amazon Music app and the Amazon Music channel on Twitch. “Fighting Demons” will be released Friday. On Dec. 16, HBO will debut a documentary called “Juice WRLD: Into the Abyss” as part of its Music Box series. It will feature never-released footage and music, along with interviews with those who knew him.
GEORGE HARRISON’S BUSINESS PARTNER, DENIS O’BRIEN, DIES
NEW YORK (AP) – The man who served as George Harrison’s manager and partner in his film company has died. Denis O’Brien died Friday in Swindon in the U.K. after being admitted for severe abdominal pains, according to his daughter. He was 80. O’Brien met Harrison in 1973, and Harrison later hired him as his manager. In 1978, they co-founded HandMade Films, which financed movies like “Life of Brian,” “Time Bandits” and “Shanghai Surprise.” The company went out of business in 1991. In 1996, a California judge ordered O’Brien to pay Harrison damages of $11 million for alleged mismanagement of company finances.
JUSSIE SMOLLETT RETURNS TO STAND AS CROSS-EXAMINATION CONTINUES
CHICAGO (AP) – Prosecutors in Chicago will try to do to Jussie Smollett what the defense team was unable to do with the state’s top witness: crack the actor’s story about what happened on a cold night in Chicago in January, 2019. The ex-“Empire” co-star calmly stuck to the same story he told police: back then: that he was the victim of a hate crime. Smollett told the jury he was heading home after an early-morning sandwich run when a man mentioned his show, and used racial and anti-gay slurs. Smollett says when he confronted the man, they tussled and exchanged blows. He says on his way home, he realized he had a noose around his neck and removed it. He says when he got home, a friend who was there told him to put it back on so he could show police who were on their way to investigate. Prosecution witnesses have told the jury Smollett recruited two men to stage the attack, even rehearsing it with them.
SMOLLETT SAYS HE HAD SEX WITH ONE OF THE MEN ARRESTED IN BEATING CASE
CHICAGO (AP) – Usually two adults having consensual sex is no big deal. But in this case, it’s a big part of the defense in Jussie Smollett’s trial. The openly gay former “Empire” actor told a Chicago jury yesterday he and one of the men police arrested in the case did drugs and had sex. Smollett says he met Abimbola Osundairo in 2017 at a club, where he learned they both worked on “Empire” and afterward, they did drugs and “made out.” Testifying last week, Osundairo denied they had sex. The defense claims the brothers attacked Smollett because they didn’t like him and because they were homophobic. Prosecutors say the ex-Empire actor hired them to stage a fake beating.
CHRIS CUOMO DROPPING SATELLITE RADIO GIG
LOS ANGELES (AP) – First, he was fired from CNN. Now Chris Cuomo has turned the “ON AIR” light off himself when it comes to his radio show. Cuomo says he’s leaving the SiriusXM. show he’s been doing so he can “focus on what comes next.” The satellite radio network says “Let’s Get After It” will no longer air – and thanked Cuomo him for his work. CNN fired Cuomo from his weeknight show on Saturday for helping his brother, ex-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, deal with a sexual harassment scandal. Now Chris Cuomo is facing a harassment claim of his own.
CHARGES FILED IN PHILANTHROPIST’S SHOOTING DEATH
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) – Prosecutors in Beverly Hills, California have filed charges against a 29-year-old man in the shooting death of philanthropist Jacqueline Avant. Aariel Maynor is also charged with attempted murder for firing at Avant’s security guard, but missing him. Avant was the wife of longtime music executive Clarence Avant. She led numerous groups helping low-income neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area, including Watts and South L.A.
AT&T / DISCOVERY MERGER CRITICIZED BY DEMOCRAT LAWMAKERS
UNDATED (AP) – Often when you hear lawmakers criticize a major corporate merger, opponents say it could damage competition. But in the case of the proposed merger of Discovery and AT&T’s WarnerMedia, opponents also say diversity might be harmed. Some Democratic House members say the $43 billion corporate union could affect diversity efforts in Hollywood – especially for Latinos, who are already deeply underrepresented. Leading the challenge is Joaquin Castro of Texas, who wants the Justice Department to consider the issue. In May, Discovery said it would buy WarnerMedia from AT&T, merging HBO, CNN and HGTV with Oprah Winfrey’s network.