George M. Meier

Everybody loves a horse race.  That’s why it’s fun when someone like Lil Naz X comes along and scores big against the best in the world, in his case, with a record breaking hit song, “Old Town Road.”  The Taylor Swift’s and the Ed Sheeran’s couldn’t beat him.  He held the number one position on the Billboard chart for 19 weeks, longer than any artist in history…longer than Mariah, Madonna or Beyonce…longer than all the one-names. Then 17 year old Billie Eilish challenged the 20 year old by hanging in the weeds with her “Bad Guy” hit. When the leader started to weaken, as he inevitably would, she struck and took away that first position. But which horse in this race has the longer tail?  “Bay Guy” is not likely to have the lasting power of “Old Town Road.”  Songs like “Old Town Road” come along infrequently.  But which artist will have the longer career?  That is the real question and the answer may not be the one that’s obvious at this time. Billie Eilish is only seventeen, but she has a four year career with a series of minor hits, all building to this moment. She’s proven she can write appealing songs consistently.  By contrast, Lil Naz X has had one explosive hit, which will be very hard for him to follow.  His second song “Panini” has gotten good exposure by drafting the monster hit, but it does not have the magic X was able to package in his breakthrough hit?  Just a guess, but in the long term horse race between these two, it feels like Ms. Eilish has a shot to cross the finish line more often.  It all depends on the next couple releases from Lil Naz X…will he fade or is he able to make another charge? Check back in ten years when this is resolved.
What was once a mere summer fling has turned into an all out love affair between Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabella. The duo recently released a behind the scenes view of them making of the music video for their chart-topping hit “Senorita.” It’s just clips of the two doing scenes from the production without commentary, but some of the scenes capture hot and steamy moments on the set. This is at the time they were claiming to be just friends. It’s now apparent the connection was far more than just a friendship or a summer fling…or they were really good actors. While Shawn continues to tour, we expect this relationship to continue to strengthen rapidly. Check out the video here
Clario freaked out when super-star Khalid shocked her for her 21st birthday. He showed up at her dressing room with Elmo, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie for a surprise Sesame Street birthday party. When she first walked in the room, the surprise put her on the floor. But it was hugs all around once she got to her feet.  She posted a tweet about Khalid’s surprise visit and he party continued as they all performed with her afterwards. The young star has had an exciting 2019, she released her first album this month and now the Khalid surprise.
After 12 years together, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson married his girlfriend Lauren Hashian in a secret ceremony at a very low key and relaxed Hawaiian setting. The Rock posted the announcement to his Instagram account, which has over 150 million followers. Social media then exploded as celebrities and athletes alike reached out to the couple with their warm wishes. Photos show the happy duo kissing and smiling with a beautiful Pacific Ocean backdrop. Both were dressed in white. The Rock had some local floral decor draped around his neck. Johnson was previously married. He met Lauren shortly after his 2007 divorce. They had their first kid together in 2015, a girl named Jasmine, followed by their second in 2017, a girl named Tiana. As Lauren Hashian becomes Lauren Johnson, the happy couple goes off into the sunset. Cut. Print.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar, the legendary, retired basketball player, who had a close relationship with Bruce Lee, the dead, champion martial arts actor, is protective of Lee’s legacy.  He’s unhappy with how Quentin Tarantino portrayed his friend in the new film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. In the middle of the film, Brad Pitt’s character fights Bruce Lee.  Jabbar described Tarantino’s depiction of Lee as being “sloppy” and “somewhat racist.” Jabbar was unhappy with what he perceived as a bigoted machismo in the way that Pitt’s character defeated Lee in the fight scene. Bruce Lee’s family has also spoken out about Bruce’s portrayal in the film. Lee’s daughter Shannon was particularly frustrated with the portrayal of her father. She thought that he was unfairly portrayed as cruel and arrogant. All Quentin Tarantino movies are controversial…it’s the nature of the beast; someone’s going to be unhappy.  Sorry Kareem. Sorry Shannon.

Ohio University basketball fans remember their star player DJ Cooper.  He never made it to the NBA, but he has found a place in the European leagues.  That is, until now.  Mr. Cooper just got a nasty two-year suspension for failing a drug test.  The test revealed that he was pregnant!  It was not performance enhancing drugs or recreational drugs that brought him down, it was substituting his girl friend’s specimen in an apparent attempt to avoid something else that got him.  It’s a first.  His FIBA suspension was actually for fraud, but it’s the same thing, right?  Cooper’s friend didn’t know she was pregnant at the time, so in spite of being out of work, the good news for DJ is; you’re goin’ be a daddy.  Congrats. 

Ed Sheeran forecasts his touring future in a fifty minute interview with Charlamagne Tha God.  The conversation covers virtually every song on No. 6 Collaoborations in detail.  They talk about where each song came from and how each collaboration happened – who called who.  Sheeran talks about being a twelve year old kid fan of Eminem and 50 Cent – never thinking he would ever work with him.  Now, as a star himself, he had the idea for “Remember The Name.”  He wanted both rap giants to join him on it.  The opportunity came when he went back stage at an Eminem show only to see 50 Cent sitting there.  It was fate.  He gave them the tune to think about and the collaboration happened.

At a different time in the interview, while talking about his work with Chris Stapleton and Bruno Mars on the song “Blow” he explained the effect that the classic rock approach they took on the song had, “Throughout my whole career I never had a excuse to get a band, now that’s an excuse to get a band…playing that [“Blow”] live what be a different level.”

Since Sheeran is known for his live solo work it was suggested that it’s hard to envision him touring with a band.  He responded, “I had an idea to do both…people like my loop pedal and no one has seen me with a band…I think it’s time to have a show that incorporates both on them.”  Speculation: open the show as a solo and then bring on a band to blow the doors down.  Sounds like this natural evolution will be evident the next time Ed Sheeran tours. 

Taking a page from Lil Naz X who re-ignited “Old Town Road” by releasing a version with Billy Ray Cyrus, our friend Billie Eilish has done the same with her hit “Bad Guy.”  She lures Justin Bieber into her trap just as the song has reached its peak in the charts.  The Bieber mix is slightly more driving, but only slightly.  Billie lives in the dark space of the mind, Bieber brightens her world.  Now “Bad Guy” occupies two positions on Spotify’s Top 10, one with, one without the Biebs.  Adding new energy to a song that’s about to decline is a great strategy for keeping it alive.  It’s another level of the collaboration strategy.  As Billboard points out, both artists win from this combination.  Billie associates herself with a legend of the time and the aging legend keeps himself connected to the newest shining star.  All that’s left is to see if the strategy works, if “Bad Guy” swings back up the chart.  Tune in next week.

Singles have leaked out over the last couple weeks as teasers, but the official release of No. 6 Collaborations by Ed Sheeran exploded into the Spotify Top 10.  It looks like the old days when the Beatles would have multiple singles in the top 10 simultaneously.  Today it’s Sheeran with Khalid at number 3 on “Beautiful People,” with Travis Scott at number 4 on “Antisocial,” with Justin Brieber at number 5 on “I Don’t Care,” and finally with Camila Cabello and Cardi B at number 10 on “South of the Border.”

Sheeran is a complete songwriter.  His lyrics are arresting and his melodies are original and memorable at the same time. Then there is his sense of rhythm, all of which are represented best in “South of the Border.” Spotify’s chart is an early indicator.  Folks listen before they buy, so expect these songs to pop up on iTunes and Rolling Stone charts next week.  “I Don’t Care” is already on both iTunes and Rolling Stone charts and “Blow” the last of the 15 songs on No.6 Collaborations jumped into the iTunes chart at the 10th position immediately upon release.  It features super-hot country artist Chris Stapleton and always hot Bruno Mars. What a trio!

Are Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello a professional couple or a couple-couple?  That’s the question that folks who see them together are asking.  Their professional hookup started back in 2015 when they combined for the hit “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” which they sang together at the LA Jingle Ball that year.  He was 16, she was 18 at the time.  They got together again in 2016 to host the iHeartradio MuchMusic Video Awards.

Now it’s 2019 and they have combined yet again for their smash hit “Senorita,” which is causing them to perform together as they did at both nights of his LA Staples Center concerts last week. 

That’s all professional, but the 4th of July pool party, the brunches with his family and the late night grub grabs around LA suggest there’s more, which is added to by the touchy, feely public intimacy they share at these sightings.  Though Shawn has denied a dating relationship, Camila’s Instagram says something different; in it she refers to Mendes as “amazing” and “unreal.” 

Spokespeople lay cover with obtuse statements to HollywoodLife like, “They aren’t putting any labels on what they are or are not right now because they have been friends for so long. They also can’t deny the attraction they have for each other and the genuine feelings of liking each other more than just friends. They both are eager to try something more. But are also scared to dive in because they don’t want to ruin their friendship and hurt each other’s feelings down the road if it doesn’t work out.”   Translation: They’re a couple-couple.