Music News: Aretha Franklin gospel performance, 'Holy Grail' of concert films, to see release

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Cover art for Aretha Franklin's 1972 album 'Amazing Grace.'
Cover art for Aretha Franklin's 1972 album 'Amazing Grace.' (Atlantic)
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Aretha Franklin gospel performance, "Holy Grail" of concert films, to see release
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A 1972 Aretha Franklin performance considered a holy grail among unreleased concert films will finally see the light of day. The film, Amazing Grace, will have its world premiere next Monday, Nov. 12, in New York, and will likely see wide release in January 2019.

The concert was released as a live album shortly after it was recorded, becoming one of the bestselling gospel albums of all time. Difficulties syncing sound and video kept the film from being release-ready until 2010, but by the time digital tools allowed the film to be finished, Franklin refused to allow its release. She said she "loved" the footage itself, but friends speculated that in her failing health, it was just too hard for her emotionally to cope with the film's release.

Earlier this fall, producers showed the finished film — directed by the late Sydney Pollack — to Franklin's family, who readily approved its release. (New York Times)

Bohemian Rhapsody does boffo box office, surprises REO Speedwagon

The Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody opened this past weekend and exceeded all expectations for ticket sales, after an infamously contentious shoot that saw the replacement of first its lead actor and then its director. The movie made $50 million in the U.S. and another $72 million abroad, the second-biggest opening for a music biopic — behind 2015's Straight Outta Compton, the current ruler as highest-grossing music biopic ever. (Billboard)

The producers of Bohemian Rhapsody aren't the only ones who were pleasantly surprised this weekend. REO Speedwagon keyboardist Neal Doughty bought a ticket, and was surprised to find his band mentioned as part of the Live Aid concert.

Doughty told Billboard: "They're going, 'Paul McCartney's gonna be there and Elton John and the Who and REO Speedwagon.' I had no idea we were mentioned in the movie. I'm going, 'Boy, they sure put us in some good company [...] We've been in some bad movies, but never one that was No. 1 like this."

What movies could Doughty mean? Maybe Employee of the Month or Ghosts of Girlfriends Past...surely he couldn't mean the iconic Goonies, which featured REO's "Wherever You're Goin' (It's Alright)."

A Star is Born soundtrack dethroned at number one by unlikely contender

Speaking of movie music...after three weeks at the top of Billboard's album chart, the soundtrack to A Star Is Born has been bumped by an unlikely contender. The new number one album in the country: , the new album by 60-year-old Italian pop opera public TV star Andrea Bocelli. Like many of today's chart-toppers, Bocelli got a boost by bundling the album with concert tickets.

also has some high-octane collaborations, with stars including Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, and Josh Groban, as well as Bocelli's son Matteo. (New York Times)

Why can't artists get politicians to stop playing their music?

There's a long history of musicians objecting to politicians' use of their music, stretching back at least to Bruce Springsteen's beef with Ronald Reagan. George W. Bush and Sarah Palin both had artists request that the politicians stop playing their songs.

Given how controversial President Donald Trump has been, though, it seems like every time he has a rally, he gets another cease-and-desist from an artist who wants him to stop playing their music at political events. Among them: Rihanna, Pharrell Williams, Guns N' Roses, and Aerosmith. And yet, in many cases Trump just keeps playing the music he likes. Why do artists have such a difficult time blocking the political use of their music?

The answer has to do with how music is licensed. Generally speaking, if a venue or a political campaign buy blanket music-use licenses from ASCAP and BMI (and often, both do), they're entitled to play any music they'd like: they've now paid for it, after all. As long as Trump doesn't take the podium and say that Rihanna endorsed him, he could well be safe from any legal action. It would be a different scenario if he used her music in a TV campaign ad, but simply playing music at a licensed venue is typically perfectly legal.

There are a couple of routes for artists to take, though, notes the New York Times. For one thing, the venue's license might not cover third parties. So if you run a bar and pay for a music license, for example, that covers music you play over your sound system, but it doesn't necessarily cover a DJ who comes in and sets up in the corner. That might provide a loophole that artists could use.

Artists who want more insurance against political use of their music can write it into their agreements. Steven Tyler, for example, now has music licensing agreements that specifically state the agreements don't include any licenses by the Trump campaign. That may be the way of the future for artists who want more control over the political uses of their music.

The best "Thank U, Next" Ariana Grande memes

Today's viral hit is a meme inspired by Ariana Grande's new single "Thank U, Next," which people have been interpreting as a response to her breakup with former fiancé Pete Davidson. The chorus goes, "One taught me love/ One taught me patience/ And one taught me pain/ Now, I'm so amazing."

That's inspired fans to share trios of...whatever they think correspond to that breakdown. Among the memes: Shrek movies one, two, and three; oat milk, almond milk, and whole milk; Rory Gilmore boyfriends; and Manchester United soccer seasons. (NME)


Songs sampled in podcast
Jahzzar: "Comedie" (CC BY 4.0)
BoxCat Games: "Against the Wall" (CC BY 3.0)
REO Speedwagon: "Wherever You're Goin' (It's Alright)"
Andrea Bocelli: "Fall on Me"
Aretha Franklin: "Amazing Grace"
Jesse Spillane: "Ruffling Feathers" (CC BY SA 4.0-02)
Ariana Grande: "thank u, next"


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