Music Features

Beyhive Slams J-Lo for her 2020 AMAs Performance

Did Jennifer Lopez Copy Beyonce At The 2020 AMAs? Does it Matter?

Beyonce at the 2014 Grammys and JLo at the 2020 AMAs

The 2020 American Music Awards were certainly different this year, but that didn't stop the spectacle or the drama.

Hosted by Taraji P Henson, the AMAs delivered an impressive lineup of socially distanced performers and hosts, including Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion, the live premiere of the Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes collaboration, and Jennifer Lopez. One of the more highly anticipated performers, JLo is known for her stage presence and performance power. Unlike Bieber x Mendes, there would be no awkward belting from six feet apart.

What would she do? Show off her athleticism? Wear that Versace dress yet again?

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South Korea has long held one of the highest suicide rates in the world (10th, according to the World Health Organization), a fact that's painfully resonated this year with the suicides of two popular K-Pop stars: first 25-year-old Sulli and now 28-year-old Goo Hara.

After Sulli was found dead in her home last month, public outpouring of grief included fellow K-Pop idols and the singer's famous friends, such as Goo, a former member of the girl group Kara. She described their friendship as being "like sisters"; in a livestream, she vowed, "I will live twice more diligently now that you are gone," adding, "Dear fans, I will be fine. Don't worry about me." But six weeks later, Goo was found dead in her own Seoul home, with police calling it a suicide and reporting that they'd found a handwritten note expressing her overwhelming depression.

While the world of K-Pop has been rife with scandal, from its factory-like production of girl groups and boy bands to its disregard for young idols' mental health, Goo's tortured last years also highlighted the pervasive effects of rape culture within K-Pop. As writer and activist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein pointed out on Twitter, "Rape culture kills," pointing out the negligence and egregious mishandling of Goo's highly publicized dispute with her abusive ex-boyfriend, Choi Jong-bum. Choi not only attempted to blackmail the singer but physically and (allegedly) sexually assaulted her. "It is known that she attempted to commit suicide in March this year after an ex-boyfriend attempted to blackmail her with threats of assault and the release a sex video," NBC News reports. "Amid the dispute, Goo's agency terminated her contract."

Details of the assault include Choi drunkenly attacking Goo while she was sleeping, prompting the singer to physically fight back against Choi's screaming assault. He was reportedly displeased with the resulting marks to his face and threatened to release footage of the two of them having sex in order to "make it impossible for her to pursue an entertainment career." Over the course of multiple trials, Choi was found guilty of "filming body parts without consent, assault causing bodily harm, intimidation (blackmail), coercion, and destruction and damage of property." He was not found guilty of sexual assault. Disturbing excerpts from the court documents include: "During the breakup process with his lover, Mr. Choi caused injuries to the victim as well as receiving injuries on his own face. He was angry about this and threatened to contact a media outlet to end the victim's career. By making her kneel and other such behavior, he caused serious suffering to the female celebrity victim."

Instead of the prosecutors' requested 3-year prison sentence, the Seoul Central District Court granted Choi a suspended sentence of three years of probation. If he violates said probation, then he'll receive his full sentence of one year and six months in prison. The prosecution was quick to condemn the court's leniency. On September 5, they appealed to demand a harsher sentence, stating, "Society needs tougher punishments in order to eradicate the kind of criminal behavior that Choi Jong Bum committed. We hope that during the appeals trial, the defendant will be appropriately sentenced according to the weight of his crime."

But it's worse than just leniency for a blackmailer; it's a testament to the misogyny that Korean women, even K-Pop idols, face in the public eye. Throughout the trial, Goo faced significant backlash in the press and online hate. In June, she took to Instagram (in a since deleted post) to say, "I won't be lenient on these vicious commentaries any more." She wrote about her struggles with "mental health" and "depression" and plainly asked people to stop leaving hateful comments. "Is there no one out there with a beautiful mind who can embrace people who suffer?" she posted. "Public entertainers like myself don't have it easy — we have our private lives more scrutinized than anyone else and we suffer the kind of pain we cannot even discuss with our family and friends. Can you please ask yourself what kind of person you are before you post a vicious comment online?" In her final Instagram post, she captioned a selfie of herself lying in bed with "sleep tight."

As Bloomberg reporter Jihye Lee critiqued, "Korean women find it more and more difficult to report crimes as victims because they see female artists facing even greater backlashes & trauma because how the public, police and the justice system respond to sexual assault, and that sends a clear message to all women in Korea."


Now, Goo's death has fans petitioning for greater awareness and more responsible action in response to sexual assault, as well as mental health concerns. On Twitter, fans are channeling their grief into calls to bring Choi to justice and face a stricter sentence. Trending topics in South Korea are filled with remembrances of Goo Hara and even Sulli, while an online petition addressed to President Moon Jae-in has gained over 220,000 signatures, all demanding that sexual harassment receives a harsher punishment in Korean law.


While Goo's death has inspired a long-overdue conversation about the oppressive misogyny that keeps too many Korean women from reporting assault, a small memorial sits at St. Mary's Hospital in Seoul where Goo's body rests.

MUSIC

From Lizzo's Tiny Purse to Selena Gomez's Shaky Return: The Internet's Hottest AMA Takes

In terms of memes, the AMAs didn't disappoint. In other respects, of course it disappointed. It's the AMAs.

As we know, the Internet is the world's most accurate and knowledgeable arbiter of talent, and Twitter users and entertainment bloggers are the definitive arbiters of taste and quality.

Also, the AMAs are notorious for selecting top-tier talent, never catering to the whims of the music industry and their own moneyed interests, but rather elevating the voices of artists who deserve to be honored...That said, here's what the Internet had to say about the AMAs.

1. Selena Gomez's performance was off-key—but it wasn't her fault

After nearly two years away from the stage, Selena Gomez returned to perform her new song "Lose You to Love Me." The Internet immediately responded with harsh criticism, calling her performance off-key, but many leapt to her defense, arguing that nerves and her long absence from performing played a role.

Apparently, the performance was plagued by technical difficulties from start to finish, and Gomez also had a "panic attack" before the show, according to E! News. Fortunately, Gomez seemed to be doing well later in the night, and, after hearing about the technical difficulties, fans have swarmed to her defense.

2. Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello gave us more of the same

Heterosexual icons Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello are milking their "Señorita" success for all it's worth, and they brought the same recipe to the AMAs. Unfortunately, the repetition caused fans to actually listen to the song instead of being mesmerized by Cabello's hair and Mendes' biceps, which caused some confusion and doubts.


3. Lizzo's purse was the best part of the entire show

Lizzo's tiny purse made headlines in TIME magazine, CNN, Harper's Bazaar, Jezebel, Buzzfeed, and many other major news sources, many of which argued that the purse was "the best part of the entire show," so if anything, that ought to tell you something about the show. It also inspired a flurry of delicious memes.

Admittedly, the purse was pretty iconic. Maybe we can all resolve to belch extra-tiny amounts of fossil fuels into the atmosphere next.


4. Taylor Swift "avoided controversy"

Taylor Swift won Artist of the Decade at the AMAs and, after asking the entire Internet for help and gaining sympathy and support from everyone from Elizabeth Warren to Cher, it turned out that she was able to triumph over adversity in order to perform her old hits. She also won all five of the awards she was nominated for and became the most awarded artist in the history of the AMAs.

5. Post Malone is adorable

Post Malone won the award for Favorite Rap/Hip Hop album for Hollywood's Bleeding, but he also won the award for king of good vibes when the camera caught him dancing along to Shania Twain's medley.

All in all, Posty had a great night. He performed with Ozzy Osbourne and Travis Scott, and during his album acceptance speech, he solidified his place in awards show history with a peculiar closing line. Just as he was finishing up, he said, "We love you very much and I love grapes."

This sparked a flurry of speculation about the meaning of that cryptic phrase and also caused the Internet to conclude that Post Malone is someone who would be really fun to have a beer with. Maybe we should just elect Post Malone for president; after all, the mark of a great elected official is how fun they'd be to have a beer with. Right?



6. BTS won big, and the ARMY can sleep well tonight

The K-pop powerhouse group won all three of the categories they were nominated in, taking home the awards for Favorite Social Artist, Tour of the Year, and Favorite Duo or Group. Fans were ecstatic, especially since BTS has been slighted by awards shows (cough, the Grammys) in the past.



7. Kesha, Green Day, and Shania Twain returned

The AMAs provided plenty of nostalgia to tug on the heartstrings of their older viewers. Kesha returned to blow everyone away with her hit "Tik Tok"; Green Day celebrated the 25th anniversary of the release of their album Dookie and reinvigorated emo with their performance; and Shania Twain blew everyone (most of all Post Malone) out of the water.9. Halsey threw shade at the Grammys

We all know that the AMAs are just a somehow more watered-down Grammys, and Halsey reminded us that though she won the award for Favorite Pop/Rock Song for her smash hit "Without Me," she's bitter over her Grammys snub and disillusioned with the trappings of fame and awards on the whole.

In spite of her speech, most people were impressed with her performance.

8.Lil Nas X made everyone emotional

Despite being 20 years old and set for life thanks to the success of his very first single, the wunderkind (clad in an instantly iconic neon green suit) reminded everyone that it's never too late to shine.


9. Ciara and Megan Thee Stallion invented knees

Ciara hosted, performed her new single "Melanin," rocked every one of her looks, received her first platinum plaque as a music label owner, twerked with Megan Thee Stallion (who also delivered some priceless moments), and cemented her place as an eternal star and a person entirely immune to the passage of time.





10. Billie Eilish is really scary and very talented—but she's not alt-rock

I don't think I'm alone in saying Billie Eilish is the embodiment of everything that terrifies and amazes me about Gen Z teen girls. During her first awards show performance, she literally lit the stage on fire.

Despite her talent, viewers were quick to criticize the category she won in (alt-rock).

Then again, music is perpetually changing, genre is just about as real as gender (which is to say it's not real and was created by capitalism), and all of us old folk who don't understand how Billie Eilish won for alt-rock will be dead soon or relegated to the dusty attics of "Ok Boomer" land soon enough anyway.


11. We're all going to be telling our kids about this someday

Apparently nobody's sticking to their vow not to have kids until we stop the climate crisis, because almost every performance in the AMAs become the subject of a "gonna tell my kids" meme. Poor kids.








MUSIC

Taylor Swift Says Big Machine Won't Let Her Perform Old Songs at the AMAs

The pop star accused her ex-label of preventing her from performing her old music.

The battle between Taylor Swift and her ex-label, Big Machine, continues.

Earlier this year, Swift was involved in a high-profile dispute when Big Machine was sold to Ithaca Holdings LLC, the media holding company run by big-name music businessman Scooter Braun. When Swift signed to Big Machine as a teenager, she also signed away the rights to her masters—a.k.a. original recordings of her songs. These masters, spanning all the way from her 2006 debut to 2017's Reputation, are now owned by Braun, who Swift claims has bullied her relentlessly throughout her career. Masters ownership disputes are as old as record labels themselves, but when a star as omnipresent and indelible as Swift voices her own "worst-case scenario" experience, it's hard not to criticize how the music industry functions financially.

Another layer to this feud arose publicly yesterday, when Swift published a lengthy post to her social media explaining that Braun and Big Machine founder Scott Borchetta are allegedly preventing her from performing material from her first six albums on television (for those catching up, that's everything predating August's Lover). Swift is going to be named the Artist of the Decade at this month's American Music Awards, and she was planning on celebrating the honor by performing a medley of her career-spanning hits. Swift said Braun and Borchetta consider this "re-recording" those old songs, something she's apparently not allowed to do until next year.

In her post, Swift also spilled the beans about a documentary Netflix has in the works about her. She alleged that Braun and Borchetta were refusing the use of her older music in the film, although she claims the documentary doesn't mention the two men or Big Machine. "Scott Borchetta told my team that they'll allow me to use my music only if I do these things: If I agree to not re-record copycat versions of my songs next year (which is something I'm both legally allowed to do and looking forward to) and also told my team that I need to stop talking about him and Scooter Braun," Swift wrote. "The message being sent to me is very clear. Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you'll be punished."

Big Machine published a response to Swift's post, saying "at no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special." Well, neither did Swift. She never implied that she wasn't allowed to perform on the AMAs or be featured in the documentary: all she's asking for is the rights to the music she's been writing since she was a teenager. They dodged the specificities of Swift's concerns, claiming that they had been cooperative in the process but that Swift owed millions of dollars to the company. The statement never explicitly denies Swift's accusations. Her publicist, Tree Paine, also tweeted that "an independent, professional auditor has determined that Big Machine owes Taylor $7.9 million of unpaid royalties over several years."

"Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist," Big Machine wrote. "There is nothing but respect, kindness and support waiting for you on the other side. To date, not one of the invitations to speak with us and work through this has been accepted. Rumors fester in the absence of communication. Let's not have that continue here. We share the collective goal of giving your fans the entertainment they both want and deserve."

Sure, part of Swift's personal brand as a public figure has included the tendency to be a little overdramatic, but she's also one of the most successful artists of all time; Is it too much to ask that she be allowed to perform the music she wrote without jumping through legal hoops? If Big Machine has truly "continued to honor all of her requests to license her catalog to third parties" as they claim in their statement, wouldn't they be able to find a way to let Swift perform her old music during an awards ceremony specifically honoring her success over the past decade? There's clearly a discord here that should raise apprehension in all artists and labels moving forward: Let the people who write music own that music. It's incredibly disheartening when the pursuit of profit, in a creative industry especially, becomes more important than morals and integrity.

Bios

Taylor Swift

All you need to know

Full Name: Taylor Alison Swift

Date of Birth: December 13, 1989

Born: Reading, PA

Occupation: Singer, songwriter

Status: Single

Children: 0

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MUSIC

RECAP | Everything that happened at the American Music Awards

From Taylor Swift's politics to Cardi B's epic return, the AMA's did not dissapoint.

The 2018 American Music Awards aired last night, and I think we can all agree that this year was particularly epic.

Tracee Ellis Ross hosted for a second consecutive year, and once again struck the perfect balance of funny and mean. She opened the show with a dance routine and a monologue, during which she promised to highlight black designers and hoped that she would end up on 'The Shade Room,' or what she called the 'black TMZ.'

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