Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Music Notes

  • Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018
Rise up: Female voices take center stage at Grammys
In this June 24, 2018 file photo, H.E.R. performs at the BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

After being nearly muted at this year's ceremony, the 2019 Grammys are shaping up to be the year of the woman, with powerful female voices representing the majority in two of the top categories.

Kacey Musgraves, H.E.R. and Janelle Monae, performers who play instruments, write or co-write all of their songs and are also listed as producers on their projects, earned nominations for the coveted album of the year.

They are joined by singer-songwriter-instrumentalist Brandi Carlile, whose recent album is critically acclaimed and scored nominations in the big three categories, and Cardi B — a former stripper, social media darling and reality star who has become a pop culture sensation now competing for both album and record of the year.

Nominees for album of the year at the 2018 Grammys only included one woman — Lorde — and she was not given a performing slot on the show. The only woman to win a solo award during the televised broadcast was best new artist winner Alessia Cara. But this year nominees in the top four categories expanded from five to eight, and in album of the year, five are powerful female acts.

"I love being in the company of genius women and I think that every woman that is nominated has contributed so much excellent work and heartfelt work and truthful work this year, and it's just deserving," Monae said in an interview with The Associated Press after Friday's nominations were announced.

Six of the eight best new artist nominees are women, including H.E.R.

Monae gave a powerful speech at the 2018 Grammys ahead of Kesha's emotional and striking performance celebrating sisterhood and women's rights. Monae said back then she was hoping to see the upcoming Grammys make a change.

"This is what I envisioned. This is what I imagined. I imagined us having a stronger presence this year," she said. "I'm so proud of them and I can't wait to see them at the Grammys and celebrate them and let them know that they have my support, win or lose, we are stronger together and it's incredible to see women who are so in control of their narrative."

"Dirty Computer," Monae's third full-length album, features the singer and guitarist working behind-the-scenes to craft the right songs and style: "I did produce and engineer a lot of this record. I had a perspective and a vision that only I could sit down and execute."

Other women nominated this year have multiple roles on their own albums. Musgraves, also a guitarist, co-produced her entire album, "Golden Hour," which earned four nominations, including best country album, best country solo performance ("Butterflies") and best country song ("Space Cowboy").

"I knew I wanted to do something different than what I had been doing. I was craving the time to explore and just find that creative center again. Like when I first moved to Nashville and I just wrote every day for years and stumbled across songs that really meant something to me," Musgraves, who worked on the album for a year and a half, told the AP on Friday. "I feel like I learned a lot about myself in making this record and I feel like I got to the heart of my own matter more so than I ever have."

This year's nominees mark a departure from the Grammys held earlier this year, where Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow was criticized when he said women need to "step up" when asked about the lack of women in the top categories. He later acknowledged that it was a "poor choice of words," and it forced the academy to launch a new task force focused on inclusion and diversity.

Kendrick Lamar and Drake are the top Grammy contenders for the 2019 show, earning eight and seven nominations apiece, respectively. They both are nominated in the album, record and song of the year categories.

But they are in competition with some top-notch female acts, including Lady Gaga, SZA, Maren Morris, Ella Mai and Carlile, nominees in either song or record of the year, or in both.

The singer H.E.R., who earned five nominations, is the only best new artist contender to receive an album of the year nomination. In best new artist, she's one of six women nominated for the prize, along with Bebe Rexha, Dua Lipa, Margo Price, Chloe x Halle and Jorja Smith.

H.E.R. not only co-wrote and co-produced each song on her self-titled album, she also plays guitar and piano.

"That's inspirational for other young women. Like, 'You can do it. You can be a producer. You can play an instrument,'" she said on Friday. "I had to work twice as hard. I had to earn my respect as a musician growing up as a little girl because you don't expect a little black girl to pick up the electric guitar. So, to be in that position where I can tell other little girls, 'You can do this too' — it's special."

Monae, who scored a best music video nomination for "PYNK" — which she shares with director Emma Westenberg and producer Whitney Jackson — recalls filming the video for the song celebrating womanhood.

"There were so many women on set that day and it was magical. We were uplifting each other and telling each other how much we loved each other and just celebrating all that we are," she said. "I'll never forget that."

  • Friday, Dec. 7, 2018
Lamar leads Grammy noms, where women make a comeback
In this July 7, 2017, file photo, Kendrick Lamar performs during the Festival d'ete de Quebec in Quebec City, Canada. A list of nominees in the top categories at the 2019 Grammys, including Lamar, who is the leader with eight nominations, were announced Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, by the Recording Academy. Drake, Cardi B, Brandi Carlile, Childish Gambino, H.E.R., Lady Gaga, Maren Morris, SZA, Kacey Musgraves and Greta Van Fleet also scored multiple nominations. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP, File)

The music of "Black Panther," with Kendrick Lamar in its starring role, officially owns the 2019 Grammy Awards, where women are heavily represented in the major four categories following a year where their presence was barely felt.

The Recording Academy announced Friday that Lamar is the top contender with eight nominations, including seven for his musical companion to the Marvel Studios juggernaut starring Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan. "Black Panther: The Album, Music From and Inspired By" is up for album of the year, a category where women make up five of the eight nominees. Cardi B, Kacey Musgraves, Janelle Monae, H.E.R. and Brandi Carlile also are up for the top prize, along with Drake and Post Malone.

The upcoming Grammys is the first where the academy extended its top four categories from five nominees to eight.

The "Panther" nomination would give Lamar a chance to win album of the year after losing three times. His most recent loss was in February when his critically acclaimed "DAMN" fell short to Bruno Mars' "24K Magic," though Lamar's project would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize for music two months later, making him the first non-classical or jazz artist to win the prestigious honor.

Lamar's Top 10 hit, the SZA-assisted "All the Stars," is nominated for both record and song of the year (a songwriter's award). Five other songs scored nominations in both categories, including Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's "Shallow" from "A Star Is Born"; Childish Gambino's "This Is America"; Drake's "God's Plan"; Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey's "The Middle"; and Carlile's "The Joke."

Ella Mai's "Boo'd Up" and Shawn Mendes' "In My Blood" earned song of the year nods, while Post Malone's "Rockstar" and Cardi B's "I Like It," featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin, round out the nominees for record of the year.

Following Lamar, Drake — the year's most successful artist — earned seven nominations. Though nominated for album of the year, he was surprisingly shut out of best rap album, where his rival Pusha T earned a nomination.

Drake's frequent collaborator, producer Boi-1Da, earned six nods, as did Carlile, who also scored nominations in the American Roots category.

Cardi B, Gaga, H.E.R., Morris, Gambino, producer Sounwave and engineer Mike Bozzi scored five nominations each.

The nominees for the 2019 Grammys mark a departure from this year's show, where women were underrepresented in the top four categories. Of the eight best new artist nominees, six are women, including H.E.R., Chloe x Halle, Dua Lipa, Margo Price, Bebe Rexha and Jorja Smith. Rock band Greta Van Fleet and country singer Luke Combs also earned nominations.

Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow was criticized earlier this year at the Grammys when he said women need to "step up" when asked about the lack of women in the top categories, which he later acknowledged was a "poor choice of words." It forced the academy to launch a new task force focused on inclusion and diversity; Portnow also announced he would be leaving the academy in 2019.

"In any given year there could be more folks from one area or one gender or one genre or one ethnicity that are making recordings and being successful with them than in another year. So, in many ways we're just a reflection of that," Portnow said in an interview with The Associated Press. "This year clearly there were many women not only making music but making great music and making music that resonates with our peer voters in terms of excellence, and so that certainly is at the forefront."

Another milestone for women is in the non-classical producer of the year category, where songwriting extraordinaire Linda Perry earned a nomination. She's just the seventh woman ever nominated for prize and first since 2004.

"Linda represents what we hope becomes the norm, which is the elimination of gender bias in producing and engineering in our industry," Portnow said.

Perry will compete with Pharrell Williams, Boi-1Da, Larry Klein and Kanye West, the only nomination he earned.

Taylor Swift, a two-time album of the year winner, also only earned one nomination — her "reputation" album is up best pop vocal album. Justin Timberlake, whose "Man of the Woods" albums flopped earlier this year, picked up a nod for "Say Something," his collaboration with Chris Stapleton.

Beyonce and Jay-Z, billed as The Carters, as well Ariana Grande, didn't earn any of the big nominations. The Carters earned two nods in the R&B category along with best music video, while Grande picked up two nods in pop.

Artists who were completely snubbed include Carrie Underwood, Sam Smith, Migos, Kane Brown, Nicki Minaj, XXXTentacion and Juice WRLD, whose "Lucid Dreams" was one of the year's biggest hits.

Some acts scored their first nominations ever, including Florida Georgia Line, whose megahit "Meant to Be" with Rexha is up best country duo/group performance. Camila Cabello, Malone, Mendes, Dan + Shay and DJ Mustard are also first-time nominees.

Gaga, who earned acting and music Golden Globe nominations Thursday, picked up four Grammy nominations for "Shallow," while "Joanne" is up for best pop solo performance. The soundtrack for "A Star Is Born" was released after Grammy eligibility, though "Shallow" was released in time and also earned Cooper two nominations.

Other famous faces outside of music to earn nominations include Tiffany Haddish and former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, both up for best spoken word album. Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Fred Armisen, Jim Gaffigan and Patton Oswalt are up for best comedy album.

Mac Miller, who died in September, earned a nomination for best rap album with "Swimming." Chris Cornell, who died last year, is up for best rock performance with "When Bad Does Good."

Demi Lovato, who relapsed after six years of sobriety and was hospitalized for an overdose in July, earned a nomination for best pop duo/group performance for "Fall In Line," her duet with Christina Aguilera.

Those who earned four nominations are Musgraves, Malone, PJ Morton, Dave Cobb, Ludwig Goransson, Noah Shebib and SZA, who earned a Golden Globe nomination alongside Lamar for "All the Stars" on Thursday.

Lamar has won 12 Grammys throughout his career. Though seven of his eight nominations come from "Black Panther," he also earned a nod for co-writing Jay Rock's "Win," up for best rap song.

The 2019 Grammys will hand out awards in its 84 categories live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 10, 2019.

  • Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018
Rebecca Greenberg named exec director of SAG-AFTRA music department
Rebecca Greenberg

Veteran music industry executive Rebecca Greenberg has joined SAG-AFTRA as the executive director of the music department. In her new role, Greenberg will oversee SAG-AFTRA’s activities in the music industry, including the negotiation and administration of collective bargaining agreements with the major and independent record labels, artist and performer relations, as well as collaboration with the organizing and government affairs departments. She will report jointly to COO and general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and chief contracts officer Ray Rodriguez.

“I am thrilled to join SAG-AFTRA and am looking forward to working with my team to continue protecting and advocating for our sound recording artists,” said Greenberg. “The music industry is constantly evolving and our artists are showcased everywhere--from radio to digital platforms--so it’s imperative to work with our members and allies to ensure that our artists’ rights are protected and that they are fairly compensated for their work.”

Over the course of her 20-year career, Greenberg has held leadership positions in music advocacy, working for leading live and recorded music organizations and championing the rights of creators. Greenberg has worked for Irving Azoff at his various companies, including The Madison Square Garden Company/The Forum, Azoff Music Management, and Global Music Rights. Previously, she was head of government relations for Live Nation Entertainment and Ticketmaster. In 2004, Don Henley and Azoff hired Greenberg to be the national director of the Recording Artists’ Coalition, a nonprofit recording artist advocacy organization started by Henley and Sheryl Crow that lobbied for artists’ rights. She also worked for the Screen Actors Guild from 2001-2004, after working on Capitol Hill as well as for the Clinton administration.

  • Monday, Nov. 26, 2018
Mick Jagger on new Stones tour, Aretha, acting and Grammys
In this Nov. 14, 2016 file photo, Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones poses for a portrait in New York. The Rolling Stones frontman, who will tour America next spring with his iconic band, says live shows give him a rush that can’t be matched and is the reason that at 75, he still loves touring. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP, File)

Mick Jagger likes a buzz. A natural buzz.

The Rolling Stones frontman, who will tour America next spring with his iconic band, says live shows give him a rush that can't be matched and is the reason that at 75, he still loves touring.

"When you go out in front of all those people you get an enormous rush of chemicals in your body — your own chemicals, not chemicals you've put in," he said laughing.

"Let's face it, it is a huge buzz. Must be like playing football or something," he said.

Jagger should feel like a football player — since he'll be playing the same stadiums as NFL stars when the Stones' No Filter tour launches in Miami on April 20, 2019.

Tickets go on sale Friday and the 13 shows will hit Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, Washington, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois and Washington, D.C.

"Basically your life's attuned to doing those few hours onstage and everything else is a build up to that. Of course, you get to enjoy yourself at other times, but really you're thinking about the next show or the show you're doing that night," said Jagger, who will be joined onstage with Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts. "A lot of prep time goes into that — keeping yourself (together) so you can get through the whole thing without screwing up physically and mentally and keeping yourself really sharp. But I really enjoy it."

In an interview Monday with The Associated Press, Jagger talked about the tour, only having three Grammys and appearing in the new-but-old Aretha Franklin concert documentary, "Amazing Grace," filmed at a Los Angeles church in 1972.

Q: What can fans expect from the U.S. shows?

Jagger: A good night out! A good night out for all. We did a kind of similar tour in Europe this summer, so it's got a lot of fun. ...It's pretty high energy and it's a good a show, I think. I'm into it.

Q: Is it different performing in the U.S. compared to other territories?

Jagger: Well, I don't have to speak foreign languages normally, so that's a big difference. When you tour Europe it's a lot of languages, so I try to do them all and that takes up some time, so (in the U.S.) I can concentrate on some other things. There's lots of regional differences, say between Houston and New York, so you've got to tune yourself to that a little bit. It's slightly about adjusting your set and attitude. Its different. It's nice that it's different, you don't want it to be completely homogenous. But it's great to be going around so many different areas, different states and so on.

Q: How's the new music you're writing coming along?

Jagger: It's going good. I've got lots of stuff. I'm doing some more writing this week. And I'm always, like, messing around. I enjoy the writing process a lot. I mean, you always think the last thing you wrote is really wonderful and sometimes they're really not (laughs). But it's really fun doing it and it's really enjoyable doing new things.

Q: You don't even need to release music because of the band's catalog...

Jagger: Yeah, and we haven't released that much and I think it's a shame we haven't released more new music. So, I would hope we're going to release some music. We do have a huge catalog. The thing about the catalog is when we come up to doing a tour like this, I try and go back and find some stuff that we haven't done ever or we haven't done very much and try to mix it in, so it isn't always the same show. But when you're playing a really big show, there's a certain amount of songs people want to hear — you don't have to play them — but there's a certain percentage of the songs that people will want to hear and if you don't do them, they'll go, "Wish he'd done that one."

Q: Were you happy with the success of the band's blues album, which won a Grammy this year?

Jagger: That was good. We weren't really setting out to do that. It just happened. It was a fun thing to do. It was ... stuff we'd known for years since we were kids and played in like clubs and we knew it all pretty well. I really thought it was great and the response was really surprising, and I thought that was really wonderful. And I just hope we're going to come up with some new stuff as well.

Q: I'm surprised the Stones only have three Grammys, when other acts have 10 or 20. Does that bother you?

Jagger: No, I don't really care about Grammys very much. I'm not saying it's not not nice to have, it's lovely to have. But it's not going to break my heart if I don't get Grammys and if my Grammys count is not as big as other peoples. But it's very nice to get a Grammy. I appreciate it.

Q: I saw you in the new Aretha documentary...

Jagger: I didn't even see it yet! ...It was like an amazing event. It was so delayed and long and I don't think Aretha wanted it to come out for whatever reasons and there were so many technical problems with the sound, but I'm glad it's out and I can't wait to see it. ...It was quite a lot of preaching. Did they leave the preaching in?

Q: They did.

Jagger: I remember that very well.

Q: What else do you remember about that day?

Jagger: I remember it really well. It was just a wonderful event. It was quite mesmerizing from start to finish really. I think I went with Charlie (Watts) and I think Billy Preston quite possibly, but I don't know if you see him there. It was really an amazing, really fantastic day in church really, which I haven't had for a while.

Q: What do you remember about working with filmmaker Nicolas Roeg, who died a couple days ago and directed you in 1970's "Performance"?

Jagger: He was a wonderful filmmaker and I only worked with him that one time, and he was co-directing. And he's a wonderful cinematographer and did some great movies, and he was very quirky and all his films were very different, one to the other. He did some great work and he had a long life and I'm sad he passed away, but I always remember working with him; a wonderful guy to work with.

Q: I know you've produced a lot lately, from TV shows to documentaries, but do you want to do more acting?

Jagger: I just actually finished doing a cameo part in a movie which is kind of a twisted thriller, which is called "The Burnt Orange Heresy." I just finished doing that in Italy. I did a couple weeks on that, so it'll be out next year. It was only a small part, but fun to do.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018
Ludwig Goransson is having the best year ever. Period.
In this Nov. 15, 2018 photo, Swedish composer Ludwig Goransson poses for a portrait in New York. At just 34, Goransson is having the best year of his career. He completed the film score for the uber-successful “Black Panther,” and earned three nominations at this year’s Grammy Awards. He also composed music for the film “Venom,” released last month, and returned to the “Creed” franchise to do its film score. (Photo by Christopher Smith/Invision/AP)

He's had his hand in two of the year's biggest pop culture moments — with the film "Black Panther" and the song "This Is America" — but unlike Michael B. Jordan or Childish Gambino, Ludwig Goransson can easily walk down the street like a regular dude.

At just 34, the talented and skilled composer from Sweden is having the best year of his career. He completed the film score for the uber-successful "Black Panther," even traveling to Senegal for three weeks to learn about African music and work with local musicians.

He earned three nominations at this year's Grammy Awards for his production and songwriting work on Gambino's 2016 album, "Awaken, My Love!," and the duo reached even greater heights with the epic "This Is America" — and its heralded video — which went viral and became an instant No. 1 smash in May. Goransson also composed music for "Venom," released last month, and returned to the "Creed" franchise to do its film score ("Creed II" hits U.S. theaters on Wednesday).

"It definitely feels like I'm living a dream. But I try not to pinch myself because I don't want to wake up," the long-haired, easygoing musician said, sitting comfortably on a couch at a hotel in New York City.

Oh, and he's even worked with Beyonce and Jay-Z.

"I worked on a little trailer for the tour," said Goransson, who is signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation. "It was just a short little thing but still it was Beyonce and Jay-Z. It doesn't get bigger than that."

Goransson is clearly booked, and busy. He worked for months on "Creed II," starring Jordan, Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson, saying the franchise "is so close to my heart" because the 2015 film was one of the first studio features he composed music for.

Goransson moved to America to study at the University of Southern California over a decade ago, where he met Ryan Coogler and composed music for the director's student film. When Coogler directed the critically-acclaimed independent, "Fruitvale Station," he called on Goransson. "Creed" and "Black Panther" soon followed.

"What's really great is that it was a very natural progress for us. Every time we worked together it was always like stepping stones together," Goransson said of his relationship with Coogler, who didn't direct "Creed II" but is credited as an executive producer. "We're developing and we're getting to know each other more for every project."

Goransson, who now lives in Los Angeles, grew up in Linkoping, a small town two hours south of Stockholm. He started playing guitar at 7 — his father is a guitar teacher — and when he was 9 he fell in love with Metallica.

"That's when I was like, 'OK, I want to spend 10 hours a day practicing guitar for the rest of my life,'" he said. "I wanted to be the best guitar player in the world. And then my dad got me a portable recorder, so I started writing my own music."

He got a job assisting composer Theodore Shapiro — first working on the 2008 comedy "Tropic Thunder" — after graduating from USC.

"From the very first submission of materials that he sent to me in applying for the job, it was immediately clear that he had his own voice as a composer, and that's really rare," said Shapiro, who has also scored "The Wolf of Wall Street, "The Devil Wears Prada," ''Blades of Glory" and more.

"You can find a lot of people who are very proficient at doing other styles, but it's very rare that you find somebody who really arrives with a very unique sensibility and that it's always been clear that he had that. He just thinks a little bit differently than everyone else."

Shapiro's busy schedule wouldn't allow him to compose music for a then-new TV series called "Community," which debuted in 2009. So he recommended Goransson.

"They gave me a chance," Goransson said.

It was where he met Gambino, then mainly known as Donald Glover. Working on a song together for the show led to Goransson and Glover trading ideas about for Gambino's 2010 mixtape, "Culdesac." They have worked tightly ever sense.

"It's a similar journey that I did with Ryan (Coogler). We started on a mixtape, then we started on a smaller project. What's really fun, working with Donald, is he's such a Renaissance man. You never know where he's going to go, what he's going to do. Every project is musically very different from each other, but I still feel like their emotionally very connected," said Goransson, who has also produced for Chance the Rapper and HAIM.

"I think we just keep pushing each other and I keep learning, keep challenging myself. It keeps getting better and better."

Alongside Gambino, Goransson earned Grammy nominations for album of the year for "Awaken" and record of the year and best R&B song for the hit, "Redbone." The song won Gambino his first Grammy — best traditional R&B performance — a category only awarded to performers, not producers or songwriters.

But this awards season, Goransson is looking like a white-hot contender, from the Grammys to the Oscars, thanks to "Black Panther" and "This Is America," which he and Gambino started working on three years ago.

The work for "Black Panther" was also intense and long — and rewarding. Goransson said composing music for the top-grossing Marvel Studios project came with "extreme pressure."

"Being white and from Sweden, scoring a movie like this, there was a big pressure. Knowing Ryan, having a collaborator that you worked with over 10 years ... his trust and his confidence in me really turned the pressure into more of an inspiration," he said. "After I read the script, I knew the only way that I could score this movie was to go to Africa, do my research, learn and train with some of the greatest musicians I've ever met. It was incredible journey for me."

Shapiro said Goransson going the extra mile for "Black Panther" is "what separates that score from everything else and makes it special."

"He didn't have to do that. He could have stayed at home and done the research. But he ... really dove in to an extraordinary degree and that commitment clearly came out in the music that he wrote," he said.

Going the extra mile is common for Goransson, even on a lighter level. On this day, for a photo shoot, the composer with a fun fashion sense (he wore a forest green crushed velvet suit to the 2018 Grammys) shows up with three coat options, including a furry, brown number. He is even game to jump in the freezing snow to take photo.

Shapiro said apart from being talented, Goransson is simply a fun and kind dude.

"He has this easy confidence about him that is really magnetic, but also a real kindness to him, and that's an incredible combination. And obviously it draws people to him and makes them want to collaborate with him," Shapiro said.

  • Friday, Nov. 16, 2018
Composer Lalo Schifrin says Oscar is an "amazing honor"
In this Nov. 10, 2016 file photo, Argentina's composer Lalo Schifrin gestures as he arrives before being awarded Commandeur in the Arts and Letters order by French Culture and Communication minister Audrey Azoulay in Paris.. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

Lalo Schifrin's unconventional scores have a way of getting into your head and staying there. The Argentinian composer has written more than 100 arrangements for film and television, including "Dirty Harry," Bullitt," ''Cool Hand Luke," and, perhaps most famously, the theme for "Mission: Impossible."

In over 50 years of work, he's also racked up six Academy Award nominations — five for original score ("Cool Hand Luke," ''The Fox," ''Voyage of the Damned," ''The Amityville Horror," and "The Sting II") and one for original song — but has gone home empty handed every time. That'll change Sunday at the 10th annual Governors Awards where Schifrin, along with actress Cicely Tyson and publicist Marvin Levy , will be given a prestigious honorary Oscar statuette.

Schifrin called the honor "amazing" and thanked the members of the film academy for their "generosity."

Schifrin has been training in music since a very young age — his father was a respected musician locally in Buenos Aires who started him early. He piano studied with Enrique Barenboim and Juan Carlos Paz, and eventually got accepted into the prestigious Paris Conservatory, where he learned about harmony and composition from Olivier Messiaen ("He was a great influence on me.") Schifrin, who is also an accomplished jazz musician, impressed the likes of Dizzy Gillespie along the way before making his way to Los Angeles.

Lately the 86-year-old has been less focused on film scores and more on classic compositions, but Schifrin still loves films and reflected on some of his best-known works.

"Every movie has its own personality. There are no rules to write music for movies," Schifrin said. "The movie dictates what the music will be."

One prime example is "Dirty Harry," where Schifrin decided that the main character wasn't in fact Clint Eastwood's hero Harry Callahan, but the villain, Scorpio.

"You would think the composer would pay more attention to the hero. But in this case, no I did it to Scorpio, the bad guy, the evil guy," he said. "I wrote a theme for Scorpio."

But it has been the "Mission: Impossible" score, famously written in the unusual 5/4 time signature, that has continued to remain his most popular and recognizable, as the Tom Cruise film series continues introducing new generations to the urgent earworm.

"To me it was a surprise that the theme became so popular with people," Schifrin said.

A producer at the time told him that he wanted something simple, something compact, and something that people can hear from the kitchen and know exactly which show is starting.

"I went to write something simple," he said. "And over time it became so popular and I'm so happy about it."

  • Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018
German Playboy magazine regrets misquoting Morricone in interview
Ennio Morricone answers questions during an interview in Rome, Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

The German edition of Playboy magazine distanced itself Tuesday from an interview in its latest edition with Ennio Morricone, in which the renowned Italian film composer appears to blast director Quentin Tarantino and the Oscars ceremony.

The interview, published last week, quoted the 90-year-old composer referring to Tarantino as a "cretin" who stole ideas from others and the Academy Awards ceremony as "boring."

Morricone, who won an Oscar in 2016 for his score for Tarantino's film "The Hateful Eight," has vehemently denied criticizing the director, his films or the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

"I consider Tarantino a great director," Morricone said, adding that he credited their collaboration for his Oscar success, "which is for sure one of the greatest acknowledgments of my career, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to compose music for his film."

German Playboy, which is published by Munich-based Hubert Burda Media, said that "up to now, we have considered the freelancer who conducted the Ennio Morricone interview on our behalf to be a renowned print and radio journalist."

"In the past, we have had no reason to doubt his journalistic integrity and skills," the magazine's editor-in-chief, Florian Boitin, said in a statement.

"Based on the information now at our disposal, we must unfortunately assume that the words spoken in the interview have, in part, been reproduced incorrectly," Boitin said without elaborating.

"We would like to express our regret should Mr. Morricone have been portrayed in a false light," he added. "We are working to clarify this matter and are exploring legal measures."

  • Monday, Nov. 12, 2018
MTV acquires SnowGlobe Music Festival
In this May 20, 2018, file photo, Diplo arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. MTV is expanding its live events business in the U.S. by acquiring the SnowGlobe Music Festival.This year’s lineup includes Above & Beyond, Diplo, Eric Prydz, Rezz and RL Grime headlining among more than 40 artists. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

MTV is expanding its live events business in the U.S. by acquiring the SnowGlobe Music Festival.

The three-day New Year's Eve festival takes place in South Lake Tahoe, California. This year's lineup includes Above & Beyond, Diplo, Eric Prydz, Rezz and RL Grime headlining among more than 40 artists. SnowGlobe will also showcase extreme winter sports demonstrations.

Terms were not disclosed in Monday's announcement. MTV says it's taking the next step in "its resurgence by expanding deeper into live events."

MTV plans to reinvent its New Year's Eve coverage, connecting SnowGlobe with MTV's Times Square studio in New York. The cable network also plans to expand SnowGlobe to additional dates and locations worldwide and leverage its team to launch other new events.

MTV launched MTV Studios in June.

  • Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018
Francis Lai, Oscar-winning "Love Story" composer, dies at 86
This photo dated June 8, 2016 shows French composer Francis Lai at the opening of the Champs Elysees Film Festival in Paris, France. France's Culture Ministry said Wednesday Nov. 7, 2018 French composer Francis Lai who won an Oscar for his iconic movie score in "Love Story," has died. He was 86. (AP Photo)
PARIS (AP) -- 

French composer Francis Lai, who won an Oscar for the iconic "Love Story" soundtrack, has died, France's Culture Ministry said Thursday. He was 86.

Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi, who led nationwide tributes to Lai, who died on Wednesday, said he hopes to name "an emblematic place of our city" after the self-taught music legend who was born in the city in 1932.

Lai started as an accordionist, but quickly rose through the ranks as a composer, writing songs for singers including Edith Piaf and Yves Montand.

It was after his meeting with French New Wave director Claude Lelouch in the 1960s that Lai turned to the silver screen and produced his most famous work.

"He was the man of my life, an angel disguised as an accordionist," Lelouch said in interview with RTL radio.

"We made 35 films together and we had a love story that lasted 50 years," he added. 

Lai wrote "A Man and a Woman" for 1966's Academy Award-winning movie of the same name. It featured the well-known musical jingle "dabadabada."

Lai's success culminated with his 1970 Academy Award for the score of "Love Story ," one of the most enduring romantic movies of all time. Its main song "Where Do I Begin?" boasts household recognition even among those unfamiliar with the movie, thanks to popular vocal renditions by Andy Williams and Shirley Bassey.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018
AMP Awards to return after a year hiatus; date, venue set for 2019
The gang from Antfood was in a celebratory mood when it won two 2017 AMP Awards for its work for HP.

The AMP Awards are back, with a promise to be bigger, badder and louder than ever. The annual competition honoring excellence in music and sound for brands, sponsored by the Association of Music Producers, is returning in 2019 after a one-year absence. News of the return of the AMP Awards was made by Elad Marish, president of AMP’s National Board and partner/sr. producer at Swell Music + Sound in San Francisco. The date for the show has been set--Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

An official AMP Awards call for entries, which signals the opening of the online entry portal, will be announced in the coming weeks, as will more news and details about the competition, including naming of the AMP Awards Show chair for 2019.

The 2018 show was cancelled when the AMP Awards venue, the Diamond Horseshoe just off Times Square in Manhattan, abruptly closed its doors a few months before the event date. The AMP Awards committee, after careful deliberation, determined that the feasibility of finding and securing a suitable location on short notice--on top of the volunteer efforts required to organize the entry process, the judging process and the event itself--was impractical. The show was tabled for the year and plans were put in motion to find a new event space the AMP Awards could call home.

For those attending the 2019 AMP Awards, the “new” venue will look familiar: it’s the Diamond Horseshoe, site of the sold-out 2017 AMP Awards, reborn as Sony Hall. Now owned and operated by Blue Note Entertainment Group and sponsored by Sony Corporation, Sony Hall comes equipped with state of the art Sony technologies integrated throughout the venue to deliver an enhanced entertainment experience.

“We’re thrilled to be back with the 2019 AMP Awards and delighted that our highly successful venue for 2017 has returned with new owners, new backing and the very best in sound and picture technology,” said Marish. “It’s going to be a great showcase for the winning work and an even better environment for our attendees to sample some exciting new music. Live entertainment from up and coming artists is a unique part of the AMP Awards experience. It’s why we’ve referred to the AMP Awards as the loudest show in the industry.”

In addition to presenting its signature awards, AMP will induct another iconic brand into its AMP Hall of Fame at event. In 2017 Mars, Inc., was honored for Outstanding Achievement in the Use of Music to Define the Brand. The Hall of Fame designation has been presented to marketers whose use of music and sound has been fundamental to building strong consumer perceptions. Past inductees include Volkswagen, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Budweiser, Nike, Chevrolet and Pepsi.

The AMP Awards is the only juried advertising contest to focus on the unique contributions made to the industry by creators and producers of music and sound. Judged by agency, label, publishing and music production professionals, the awards will present trophies in 11 unique categories as well as a Best In Show honor chosen by its Curatorial Committee. 

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