José Abreu: Founder of world renowned El Sistema music project dies

Tributes have been paid following the death of José Abreu, founder of a renowned music programme that changed the lives of thousands of children.

Abreu founded El Sistema (the system), providing free music education in Venezuela’s shantytowns and poor neighbourhoods.

The programme has inspired similar systems in other countries.

Venezuela announced three days of national mourning for “Maestro Abreu”, who died on Saturday aged 78.

He began the music project in 1975 and counted renowned Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel among his students.

  • Venezuela’s musical visionary
  • Venezuela country profile

    “With devoted love and eternal gratitude to my mentor and father of El Sistema,” tweeted Dudamel, who is now director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

    What was José Abreu’s background?

    Abreu was born in the Andean city of Valera on May 7, 1939. Music ran deep in his family – his grandfather had founded an orchestra in Italy and his grandmother was a passionate opera fan. Abreu’s mother played piano, and his father the guitar.

    He pursued music studies but later – to help support his family – he moved to Caracas to take a degree in economics.

    He later worked as an economist for the government and was elected as a substitute member of parliament in the 1960s.

    How did El Sistema begin?

    Abreu said he became frustrated that Venezuela had only one orchestra while other countries, such as Argentina, Brazil or Mexico, had achieved greater musical development.

    “That’s when the idea was born to organise a system to have at least one great Venezuelan-born orchestra,” he recalled.

    He founded El Sistema in 1975 in a garage with just 11 musicians.

    “They were so determined and so enthusiastic that I understood from that very moment that success was guaranteed,” he remembered.

    The network eventually grew to 300 choirs and orchestras.

    It has been echoed in a variety of other countries around the world, with particular success in Spain and Scotland, writes Will Grant, the BBC’s Latin America correspondent.

    • Big Noise orchestras can ‘transform’ lives

      How did it work?

      One of the programme’s founding principles was to combat poverty through music, teaching classical works in the poorest areas of the country.

      Children are taught from the age of three to play music during free afternoon classes, with a focus on orchestral practice.

      There are nucleos (teaching centres) around the country, often located in deprived neighbourhoods.

      “They are boys that we are taking away from drugs and violence,” Abreu told AFP news agency some years ago.

      “Just sitting a boy in a rehearsal to play, when he could be on the corner smoking marijuana, is already a very important achievement.”

      Was it politically motivated?

      El Sistema was heavily promoted by the socialist government of former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and has been one of the country’s best funded social programmes.

      However, in a 2009 interview with the BBC, Abreu said he had tried to remain neutral over Venezuela’s polarised political environment.

      He said he was only concerned with the social policy of the Venezuelan state towards “young people of low-income backgrounds” and in seeing the project take hold in other countries.

      “I think it’s important because it will spread the ideas that constitute the fundamentals of our project – solidarity, social action through music and understanding between peoples,” he said.

      What have others said about him?

      Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on state television that the country was “deeply moved by the departure… of Maestro Abreu”.

      Education Minister Elias Jaua tweeted: “Thanks to Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu for his beautiful legacy for the boys, girls and young people of Venezuela.”

      Colombia’s foreign ministry also issued a statement, saying Abreu had “inspired and trained millions of children and young people in Venezuela, Latin America and the world”.

      Sir Simon Rattle, director of the Berlin Philharmonic, was a strong supporter of Mr Abreu and El Sistema.

      Speaking in 2010 he said: “What Abreu and El Sistema have done is to bring hope, through music, to hundreds of thousands of lives that would otherwise have been lost to drugs and violence.”

      El Sistema received many awards, most notably from the Royal Swedish Academy and Unesco.

Apple Music’s Jimmy Iovine says streaming services are ‘too similar’

Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine says streaming services are too similar – and need to diversify to survive.

“The streaming services are all charging $9.99 and everyone has the same music,” he told the BBC.

“And it’s really nice. You get whatever song you want, you get your playlists – but there’s got to be more interaction between the artist and the audience.

“Sooner or later, something’s got to give,” he said, indicating that Apple Music wanted more original content.

“Netflix [is] spending $6bn (£4.2bn) a year on original content,” said Iovine. “They have a unique catalogue and they charge you $10.99.”

On streaming sites, however, “the labels want you to have the same music”.

He said: “So there’s a real rub there. Sooner or later something’s going to give.”

  • Streaming fuels music industry boom
  • How rock and rap combined to create Beats
  • Dr Dre makes rare live appearance in London

    Apple has had some success with exclusives in the past, scoring big hits with Drake’s Views and Frank Ocean’s Blonde.

    But it has recently moved away from the strategy, preferring to invest in filmed content, including the Carpool Karaoke series, and its Beats 1 radio station, which boasts shows presented by Elton John, Drake and St Vincent.

    The company’s chief rival, Spotify, has largely avoided exclusives. However it released its “first ever original new song” – by up-and-coming pop singers Nina Nesbitt, Charlotte Lawrence and Sahsa Sloan – earlier this week, indicating ambitions to become a virtual record label.

    Iovine, who produced records for Bruce Springsteen and U2 before founding Beats headphones and joining Apple, argues that streaming sites are still too limited in their scope.

    “They’re not enough as just a utility where you go there and you get the music. They have to move you, bring culture to you,” he said.

    “I don’t think any of the services are there yet. They need to be cultural hangars for people to go to, where artists communicate with their audience.

    “I’m very dedicated to that.”

    The executive was speaking as the US recording industry revealed its revenues had risen 16.5% to $8.7bn (£6.2bn) in 2017, with streaming contributing two-thirds of the total.

    Meanwhile, digital downloads – once seen as the saviour of the industry – are now being outsold by CDs and vinyl.

    Apple has previously denied rumours it would “phase out” the iTunes download store next year, but Iovine told the BBC such a move was inevitable.

    There is no concrete timescale, but he said: “If I’m honest, it’s when people stop buying.

    “It’s very simple.”

    Iovine was speaking to the BBC a few days before the Wall Street Journal reported he would step back from day-to-day involvement in Apple’s streaming business and move into a consulting role.

    The 65-year-old was in the UK to promote the HBO/Netflix documentary The Defiant Ones, which tells the parallel stories of Iovine and hip-hop producer Dr Dre, who became his partner in developing Beats Electronics.

    His rise to the top of the industry is chronicled in close detail – from the day he almost got sacked by Bruce Springsteen to the controversy he stoked by releasing records by Tupac Shakur and Marilyn Manson as the head of Interscope Records in the 1990s.

    Iovine reflects on some of those memories below.

    When Bono describes you in the film, he says: “There’s something in him that’s attracted to rage.” What do you make of that?

    He’s right! I like the edgier stuff. If I have a choice, I’ll always lean that way. It’s such an expression of someone’s power and commitment.

    I’m always looking for music that has a certain amount of dealing with social injustice, or screaming out loud, like Eminem.

    A pivotal moment in your career is recording Born To Run – but it was hard work, right?

    I come from a place where working hard is like: “It’s five o’clock, I’m getting the hell out of here.” When I met Bruce Springsteen, I was like: “This guy doesn’t stop until it’s right? What the hell has that got to do with anything?”

    So during the album, there’s this whole thing about the drums. I’m trying to get the drum sound and he just stands over me and says the word “stick” over and over again. And after what felt like six weeks, I just said: “I’m done. I can’t do this any more.”

    Bruce’s producer Jon Landau convinces you to stay. Why was he so persuasive?

    Landau looked at me and said: “Hang on a second. I’m going to teach you something that you can take with you for the rest of your life. This is not about you. This is about the greater good of the album.

    “Now you go back in there and tell Bruce Springsteen you are going to support him in whatever he wants, and for as long as it takes – and you’ll have learned a big lesson.”

    It hit me in the head like a two by four. I realised the amount of humility it takes [to make a hit record]. So I got my work ethic from Bruce Springsteen, period.

    Later on, you took Springsteen’s Because The Night and gave it to Patti Smith. Why did you think it would work for her?

    When I heard those lyrics – “Because the night belongs to lovers” – I said: “Wow, if Patti sings that, that’s going to sound so powerful from her perspective. Very different than if it comes from a man.”

    Of course, she didn’t want to do it in the beginning. She resisted at first. But as you see in the documentary, there’s a beautiful ballet that gets it done.

    Skip Youtube post by pattismithVEVO Warning: Third party content may contain adverts Report

    End of Youtube post by pattismithVEVO

    You were known for working rock musicians. How did you end up signing Dr Dre and Tupac to Interscope?

    These guys reminded me of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. They scare you but their music draws you in.

    When you signed Dre, no-one wanted to play his records. How did turn it around?

    I played [Nothin’ But A] G Thang to my radio people, and they said: “Radio’s never going to play this, MTV’s not going to touch it, it’ll never be played in Europe, it’ll never be played in Asia. Never, never, never, never.” They thought I was nuts.

    So I told my radio guys: “Do me a favour, make me a one-minute edit and [send it to] 50 of the top [radio] markets in the country. They can’t stop that, because that’s an ad.”

    Now, it didn’t say Dr Dre on the ad. It didn’t say anything, it was just the music – but all of the sudden the phones started exploding. So then we made a clean version and radio started playing it.

    How did you end up starting an electronics company?

    The minute I saw Napster, I realised the record industry was toast. It was free, easy and just smarter than the way we were doing things.

    So I felt it would be trouble, and I was looking for stuff to do. Then I’m walking down the beach and Dre says: “Hey man, my lawyer wants me to sell sneakers.” I said: “Dre, nobody cares what sneakers you wear. That’s not what you’re about. You’re about audio. People will buy the audio you recommend.”

    And I said: “Screw sneakers, do speakers.”

    But you ended up making headphones instead…

    Headphones looked like medical equipment before Beats. The most popular company was saying: “You can go to sleep with our headphones.” We wanted to make headphones that were exciting. And that’s why I believe that Beats changed the industry.

    After Apple bought Beats, you ended up in the streaming business. Do you think artists are getting a fair deal out of it?

    Artists deserve to get paid, period. And get paid a lot.

    What’s happening right now, as far as paid-for streaming, it’s almost better for new bands than it is for the catalogue. The new bands are getting a lot of traction, because younger people are on streaming.

    Where it gets tricky is the artists’ relationship with the record label or the publisher [and how the money is distributed].

    The problem the artists have is not with the streaming services. I’ll stand behind that with everything from a calculator to my fingers.

    Bruce Springsteen says the key to your success is a “tremendous lack of fear”. How true is that?

    That’s the underlying theme of the documentary – channelling fear.

    When I was a kid, I was afraid of everything. I was in a neighbourhood where physicality was the currency and I was a little guy. I was terrified of school. I still have fear today, but you channel it and you use it as a tailwind instead of a headwind.

    I mean, you’re not supposed to walk into somebody who’s got a shotgun pointed at you. That’s stupid. But the normal, everyday fear that we all have? You can harness it and it’s a powerful, powerful thing.

    The Defiant Ones is streaming now on Netflix.

    Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

    • More on Dr Dre
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    • BBC Music News LIVE

Apple Music’s Jimmy Iovine says streaming services are ‘too similar’

Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine says streaming services are too similar – and need to diversify to survive.

“The streaming services are all charging $9.99 and everyone has the same music,” he told the BBC.

“And it’s really nice. You get whatever song you want, you get your playlists – but there’s got to be more interaction between the artist and the audience.

“Sooner or later, something’s got to give,” he said, indicating that Apple Music wanted more original content.

“Netflix [is] spending $6bn (£4.2bn) a year on original content,” said Iovine. “They have a unique catalogue and they charge you $10.99.”

On streaming sites, however, “the labels want you to have the same music”.

He said: “So there’s a real rub there. Sooner or later something’s going to give.”

  • Streaming fuels music industry boom
  • How rock and rap combined to create Beats
  • Dr Dre makes rare live appearance in London

    Apple has had some success with exclusives in the past, scoring big hits with Drake’s Views and Frank Ocean’s Blonde.

    But it has recently moved away from the strategy, preferring to invest in filmed content, including the Carpool Karaoke series, and its Beats 1 radio station, which boasts shows presented by Elton John, Drake and St Vincent.

    The company’s chief rival, Spotify, has largely avoided exclusives. However it released its “first ever original new song” – by up-and-coming pop singers Nina Nesbitt, Charlotte Lawrence and Sahsa Sloan – earlier this week, indicating ambitions to become a virtual record label.

    Iovine, who produced records for Bruce Springsteen and U2 before founding Beats headphones and joining Apple, argues that streaming sites are still too limited in their scope.

    “They’re not enough as just a utility where you go there and you get the music. They have to move you, bring culture to you,” he said.

    “I don’t think any of the services are there yet. They need to be cultural hangars for people to go to, where artists communicate with their audience.

    “I’m very dedicated to that.”

    The executive was speaking as the US recording industry revealed its revenues had risen 16.5% to $8.7bn (£6.2bn) in 2017, with streaming contributing two-thirds of the total.

    Meanwhile, digital downloads – once seen as the saviour of the industry – are now being outsold by CDs and vinyl.

    Apple has previously denied rumours it would “phase out” the iTunes download store next year, but Iovine told the BBC such a move was inevitable.

    There is no concrete timescale, but he said: “If I’m honest, it’s when people stop buying.

    “It’s very simple.”

    Iovine was speaking to the BBC a few days before the Wall Street Journal reported he would step back from day-to-day involvement in Apple’s streaming business and move into a consulting role.

    The 65-year-old was in the UK to promote the HBO/Netflix documentary The Defiant Ones, which tells the parallel stories of Iovine and hip-hop producer Dr Dre, who became his partner in developing Beats Electronics.

    His rise to the top of the industry is chronicled in close detail – from the day he almost got sacked by Bruce Springsteen to the controversy he stoked by releasing records by Tupac Shakur and Marilyn Manson as the head of Interscope Records in the 1990s.

    Iovine reflects on some of those memories below.

    When Bono describes you in the film, he says: “There’s something in him that’s attracted to rage.” What do you make of that?

    He’s right! I like the edgier stuff. If I have a choice, I’ll always lean that way. It’s such an expression of someone’s power and commitment.

    I’m always looking for music that has a certain amount of dealing with social injustice, or screaming out loud, like Eminem.

    A pivotal moment in your career is recording Born To Run – but it was hard work, right?

    I come from a place where working hard is like: “It’s five o’clock, I’m getting the hell out of here.” When I met Bruce Springsteen, I was like: “This guy doesn’t stop until it’s right? What the hell has that got to do with anything?”

    So during the album, there’s this whole thing about the drums. I’m trying to get the drum sound and he just stands over me and says the word “stick” over and over again. And after what felt like six weeks, I just said: “I’m done. I can’t do this any more.”

    Bruce’s producer Jon Landau convinces you to stay. Why was he so persuasive?

    Landau looked at me and said: “Hang on a second. I’m going to teach you something that you can take with you for the rest of your life. This is not about you. This is about the greater good of the album.

    “Now you go back in there and tell Bruce Springsteen you are going to support him in whatever he wants, and for as long as it takes – and you’ll have learned a big lesson.”

    It hit me in the head like a two by four. I realised the amount of humility it takes [to make a hit record]. So I got my work ethic from Bruce Springsteen, period.

    Later on, you took Springsteen’s Because The Night and gave it to Patti Smith. Why did you think it would work for her?

    When I heard those lyrics – “Because the night belongs to lovers” – I said: “Wow, if Patti sings that, that’s going to sound so powerful from her perspective. Very different than if it comes from a man.”

    Of course, she didn’t want to do it in the beginning. She resisted at first. But as you see in the documentary, there’s a beautiful ballet that gets it done.

    Skip Youtube post by pattismithVEVO Warning: Third party content may contain adverts Report

    End of Youtube post by pattismithVEVO

    You were known for working rock musicians. How did you end up signing Dr Dre and Tupac to Interscope?

    These guys reminded me of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. They scare you but their music draws you in.

    When you signed Dre, no-one wanted to play his records. How did turn it around?

    I played [Nothin’ But A] G Thang to my radio people, and they said: “Radio’s never going to play this, MTV’s not going to touch it, it’ll never be played in Europe, it’ll never be played in Asia. Never, never, never, never.” They thought I was nuts.

    So I told my radio guys: “Do me a favour, make me a one-minute edit and [send it to] 50 of the top [radio] markets in the country. They can’t stop that, because that’s an ad.”

    Now, it didn’t say Dr Dre on the ad. It didn’t say anything, it was just the music – but all of the sudden the phones started exploding. So then we made a clean version and radio started playing it.

    How did you end up starting an electronics company?

    The minute I saw Napster, I realised the record industry was toast. It was free, easy and just smarter than the way we were doing things.

    So I felt it would be trouble, and I was looking for stuff to do. Then I’m walking down the beach and Dre says: “Hey man, my lawyer wants me to sell sneakers.” I said: “Dre, nobody cares what sneakers you wear. That’s not what you’re about. You’re about audio. People will buy the audio you recommend.”

    And I said: “Screw sneakers, do speakers.”

    But you ended up making headphones instead…

    Headphones looked like medical equipment before Beats. The most popular company was saying: “You can go to sleep with our headphones.” We wanted to make headphones that were exciting. And that’s why I believe that Beats changed the industry.

    After Apple bought Beats, you ended up in the streaming business. Do you think artists are getting a fair deal out of it?

    Artists deserve to get paid, period. And get paid a lot.

    What’s happening right now, as far as paid-for streaming, it’s almost better for new bands than it is for the catalogue. The new bands are getting a lot of traction, because younger people are on streaming.

    Where it gets tricky is the artists’ relationship with the record label or the publisher [and how the money is distributed].

    The problem the artists have is not with the streaming services. I’ll stand behind that with everything from a calculator to my fingers.

    Bruce Springsteen says the key to your success is a “tremendous lack of fear”. How true is that?

    That’s the underlying theme of the documentary – channelling fear.

    When I was a kid, I was afraid of everything. I was in a neighbourhood where physicality was the currency and I was a little guy. I was terrified of school. I still have fear today, but you channel it and you use it as a tailwind instead of a headwind.

    I mean, you’re not supposed to walk into somebody who’s got a shotgun pointed at you. That’s stupid. But the normal, everyday fear that we all have? You can harness it and it’s a powerful, powerful thing.

    The Defiant Ones is streaming now on Netflix.

    Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

    • More on Dr Dre
    • BBC Music homepage
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The Greatest Showman soundtrack equals Adele’s UK chart run

The Greatest Showman soundtrack is number one in the UK for the 11th week in a row – more than any other album in modern chart history except Adele’s 21.

The soundtrack hasn’t loosened its grip on the top spot since January, and has seen off competition from the likes of Craig David and Camila Cabello.

It has sold 465,000 copies – more than 40% of which have been on CD and vinyl, the Official Charts Company said.

The success comes despite lukewarm reviews for the movie itself.

The Telegraph declared it “completely and utterly bibbly bibbly quack-quack insane”, while the Evening Standard called it “a load of big top baloney”.

But the film, which stars Hugh Jackman as circus entrepreneur PT Barnum, defied the critics to become a major box office success. In the UK, it has sold £37.5m worth of tickets, second only to Black Panther in 2018.

Many fans are paying to see the film multiple times, with a knock-on effect on the success of the soundtrack, which has also spawned the top 40 hits This Is Me and Rewrite The Stars.

When it first reached number one, on its third week of release, songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul said they were “honoured and thrilled” by its reception in the UK.

  • How The Greatest Showman became a film phenomenon

    “The universal themes of inclusion and acceptance are what inspired every song on the soundtrack, and we couldn’t be more proud of everyone involved,” they told the Official Charts Company.

    It now has the the joint-longest consecutive run at the top spot in the past 30 years, along with Adele’s 21 in 2011.

    Other albums that have enjoyed long consecutive spells at the summit include Madonna’s Immaculate Collection (nine weeks in 1990), the Eurythmics’ Greatest Hits (nine weeks in 1991), The Beatles’ greatest hits collection 1 (nine weeks in 2000), and Ed Sheeran’s Divide (nine weeks in 2017).

    The overall record for the longest ever spell at number one is held by the South Pacific soundtrack, which was number one for a mammoth 70 weeks in a row from 1958-1960.

    Meanwhile, on this week’s singles chart, Drake also sustains a long run at the summit – with God’s Plan notching up its ninth week in pole position.

    That means Rudimental’s These Days has to settle for a seventh week at number two. It is now one of only three singles to spend so long in second place without reaching number one.

    The others are I Swear by All-4-One in 1994, and Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera in 2011.

    Elsewhere in this week’s top five, George Ezra’s Paradise climbs seven places to number five, earning his third top 10 hit.

    The star’s second album, Staying At Tamara’s, will be The Greatest Showman’s biggest competition in the albums chart next week.

    Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

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Sir Rod Stewart says Sir Elton John’s final tour ‘stinks of selling tickets’

Sir Rod Stewart has given his scathing view on Sir Elton John’s retirement tour, saying it “stinks of selling tickets” and is “not rock and roll”.

Speaking to US chat show host Andy Cohen on Bravo TV, Sir Rod said he did not believe in retirement tours.

“I’ve never spoken about it and if I do retire, I won’t make an announcement. I’ll just fade away,” he said, adding that retirement tours were “dishonest”.

Sir Elton, who announced his farewell tour in February, hasn’t responded.

Sir Rod was responding to a question from a caller on Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live, asking what he thought about his fellow pop legend’s tour.

He responded: “Well I did email her [Sir Elton] and said ‘what, again dear?’ But I didn’t hear anything back.”

  • Elton John ‘to go out with a bang’ on final world tour
  • When does farewell ACTUALLY mean farewell?

    He added that when people made “a big deal” about announcing their retirement, it “stinks of selling tickets”.

    Sir Elton first announced his retirement from performing in 1977. In February, he announced he will finally say goodbye to fans with a series of 300 dates spanning three years.

    “I always thought I was going to be like Ray Charles, BB King – on the road forever,” Sir Elton said.

    “My priorities have changed. We had children and it changed our lives. That doesn’t mean to say I’m not going to be creative. But I’m not going to travel.”

    Sir Elton’s representatives have not responded to a request for comment.

    Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

Blurred Lines: Marvin Gaye’s family keeps $5m payout

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams copied one of Marvin Gaye’s songs to create their 2013 smash Blurred Lines, an appeal court has ruled.

The court upheld a 2015 verdict against the stars, which means Gaye’s family will get to keep a $5m (£3.5m) payout.

In addition, the family will receive 50% of future royalties from Blurred Lines.

Yet one judge dissented from the verdict, saying the two songs “differed in melody, harmony and rhythm”.

Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen added that the ruling “strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere”.

In the original 2015 trial, a jury found that Blurred Lines had copied Gaye’s 1973 hit Got To Give It Up – despite many observers claiming the songs were only similar in feel, rather than composition.

Thicke, Williams and rapper TI, who contributed a verse to the track, launched an appeal in 2016 and were backed by 212 fellow songwriters, among them John Oates, Jason Mraz and members of Linkin Park.

They argued the verdict “threaten[ed] to punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works.”

But the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld the decision, while clearing TI – real name Clifford Harris Jr – of any copyright infringement.

The judges rejected Williams and Thicke’s request to order a new trial, saying Gaye’s copyright was entitled to broad protection.

They also accepted the original judge’s decision to instruct the jury to reach their verdict based only on the sheet music to the songs and not the recordings.

You can see the full ruling here.

Wednesday’s decision prompted a strong dissent from Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen.

She said the decision let the Gayes “accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style” and expanded the potential for further copyright litigation.

“The Gayes, no doubt, are pleased by this outcome,” she wrote. “They shouldn’t be.

“They own copyrights in many musical works, each of which (including Got To Give It Up) now potentially infringes the copyright of any famous song that preceded it.

“That is the consequence of the majority’s uncritical deference to music experts.”

‘A victory for musicians’

Howard King, a lawyer for Thicke and Williams, said Judge Nguyen’s comment “enhances the prospects” his clients might prevail in an appeal.

“These are two entirely different songs,” he said.

Two of Gaye’s children, Frankie and Nona, called the decision “a victory for the rights of all musicians.”

Their mother Jan added it was a “wonderful recognition of Marvin’s creativity and the lasting value of one of his greatest songs.”

Musicologists have reacted with disappointment to the ruling, saying it might hinder creativity in the future.

Joe Bennett, a professor at Berklee College of Music, wrote a note-by-note comparison of the two songs in 2014 and concluded they only shared a groove.

“What they have in common is indicative of the time period,” he told Forbes this week.

“If my favourite artist uses a cowbell and I use one too, can you copyright the cowbell? Both are arguing that their side is good for creators.

“That’s why so many of the young songwriters are concerned. What’s the threshold? How much can I be influenced by my favourite artist?”

‘Horrible precedent’

Since the Blurred Lines trial, there have been a number of similar cases against such artists as Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Madonna and Miley Cyrus.

Others have sought to pre-empt any copyright claims – including Taylor Swift, who gifted Right Said Fred a writing credit on her single Look What You Made Me Do after noticing a passing similarity to their hit I’m Too Sexy.

Meanwhile, Thicke, Williams and TI issued a joint statement about Wednesday’s ruling, claiming it set a “horrible precedent”.

“Blurred Lines was created from the heart and minds of Pharrell, Robin and TI and not taken from anyone or anywhere else,” they said.

“We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter.”

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

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Blurred Lines: Marvin Gaye’s family keeps $5m payout

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams copied one of Marvin Gaye’s songs to create their 2013 smash Blurred Lines, an appeal court has ruled.

The court upheld a 2015 verdict against the stars, which means Gaye’s family will get to keep a $5m (£3.5m) payout.

In addition, the family will receive 50% of future royalties from Blurred Lines.

Yet one judge dissented from the verdict, saying the two songs “differed in melody, harmony and rhythm”.

Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen added that the ruling “strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere”.

In the original 2015 trial, a jury found that Blurred Lines had copied Gaye’s 1973 hit Got To Give It Up – despite many observers claiming the songs were only similar in feel, rather than composition.

Thicke, Williams and rapper TI, who contributed a verse to the track, launched an appeal in 2016 and were backed by 212 fellow songwriters, among them John Oates, Jason Mraz and members of Linkin Park.

They argued the verdict “threaten[ed] to punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works.”

But the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld the decision, while clearing TI – real name Clifford Harris Jr – of any copyright infringement.

The judges rejected Williams and Thicke’s request to order a new trial, saying Gaye’s copyright was entitled to broad protection.

They also accepted the original judge’s decision to instruct the jury to reach their verdict based only on the sheet music to the songs and not the recordings.

You can see the full ruling here.

Wednesday’s decision prompted a strong dissent from Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen.

She said the decision let the Gayes “accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style” and expanded the potential for further copyright litigation.

“The Gayes, no doubt, are pleased by this outcome,” she wrote. “They shouldn’t be.

“They own copyrights in many musical works, each of which (including Got To Give It Up) now potentially infringes the copyright of any famous song that preceded it.

“That is the consequence of the majority’s uncritical deference to music experts.”

‘A victory for musicians’

Howard King, a lawyer for Thicke and Williams, said Judge Nguyen’s comment “enhances the prospects” his clients might prevail in an appeal.

“These are two entirely different songs,” he said.

Two of Gaye’s children, Frankie and Nona, called the decision “a victory for the rights of all musicians.”

Their mother Jan added it was a “wonderful recognition of Marvin’s creativity and the lasting value of one of his greatest songs.”

Musicologists have reacted with disappointment to the ruling, saying it might hinder creativity in the future.

Joe Bennett, a professor at Berklee College of Music, wrote a note-by-note comparison of the two songs in 2014 and concluded they only shared a groove.

“What they have in common is indicative of the time period,” he told Forbes this week.

“If my favourite artist uses a cowbell and I use one too, can you copyright the cowbell? Both are arguing that their side is good for creators.

“That’s why so many of the young songwriters are concerned. What’s the threshold? How much can I be influenced by my favourite artist?”

‘Horrible precedent’

Since the Blurred Lines trial, there have been a number of similar cases against such artists as Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Madonna and Miley Cyrus.

Others have sought to pre-empt any copyright claims – including Taylor Swift, who gifted Right Said Fred a writing credit on her single Look What You Made Me Do after noticing a passing similarity to their hit I’m Too Sexy.

Meanwhile, Thicke, Williams and TI issued a joint statement about Wednesday’s ruling, claiming it set a “horrible precedent”.

“Blurred Lines was created from the heart and minds of Pharrell, Robin and TI and not taken from anyone or anywhere else,” they said.

“We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter.”

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

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Kim Wilde says aliens inspired her pop comeback

It’s hard to imagine Kim Wilde on the front line of a cultural war but, back in 1981, that’s exactly where she found herself.

The irresistible success of Kids In America, Chequered Love and Cambodia threw the popular music press into disarray.

Still in thrall to punk, the NME and Melody Maker couldn’t work out what to make of this coiffed pop singer – the offspring of (in their view) the decidedly naff 60s pop star Marty Wilde, who happened to be co-writing all of her singles.

Reading those columns now (a Spanish fan site has helpfully archived them), it’s fun to watch writers torturing themselves for the simple sin of enjoying pop music

“How do you feel about it suddenly being hip to like Kim Wilde?” fretted style bible The Face.

Describing her debut album, the NME’s Paul Morley wrote “God knows why I like it,” then tied himself in knots trying to explain the appeal of “the girl next door to the girl next door” before ungraciously asking her, “Do you feel you’re a business toy?”.

“I spent a lot of time justifying myself back then,” laughs the singer, still looking glamorous as she sips a coffee in a central London hotel.

“That NME piece was terribly pretentious but it was saying, in a way, ‘OK, I give in. Pop music is here and you’re great at doing it, and we’re going to put you on the cover’.

“So I kind of won that battle.”

Having conquered the music snobs and colonised the music press, Wilde went on to score 20 Top 40 hits, shifting 30 million records and supporting David Bowie and Michael Jackson on tour.

But things fizzled out in the 1990s as younger, hungrier acts replaced her at the top of the charts.

“I’d been in it since I was 20, then I was 36 and everyone, I felt, was doing it a lot better than I was. They had the ambition that I didn’t have any more.

“When Madonna came along, I didn’t feel I could compete, so I said, ‘You know what? You’re best off being who you are, and that’s going to have to be enough’.

“Sometimes it was, and a lot of the time it wasn’t.”

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    In 1996, having lost her record deal, Wilde starred in a West End production of Tommy, where she fell in love with, and subsequently married, her co-star Hal Fowler.

    Leaving showbusiness behind gave her a tremendous sense of freedom, she says. Then, while raising her kids, Wilde found a second career in horticulture – writing several books on gardening and presenting the BBC series Garden Invaders.

    “I was always drawn to plants and nature,” says the star, whose pre-fame job was flower arranging in a garden centre. “It’s very healing, and very therapeutic and inspiring.”

    Two chance events resurrected her music career.

    In 2002, Nena (of 99 Red Balloons fame) asked Wilde to duet on her single Anyplace, Anytime, Anywhere, which became a huge hit in Holland, Germany and Austria.

    Then in 2012, Wilde drunkenly serenaded commuters on her train home from a Magic FM Christmas Party, swaying around the carriage in a pair of comedy antlers.

    Filmed by her fellow passengers, the clip went viral. Wilde was mortified, but it turned out the public were laughing with, not at, her giggly, warm-hearted performance.

    Skip Youtube post by caseeames Warning: Third party content may contain adverts Report

    End of Youtube post by caseeames

    As the views for the video rose, so did interest in her music. A year later, she released an album of Christmas covers and now she’s following that up with Here Come the Aliens, her first album of original songs since 1995.

    Full of glam guitars and shimmering disco synths, it’s a big, fun pop record. A bit cheesy at times, but far from embarrassing – with Stereo Shot and the Billy Idol-inspired Kandy Krush the standout tracks.

    But the album gets its title from a lyric in the opening track, 1969 – a Barbarella-style space romp that was inspired by Wilde’s close encounter with a UFO in 2009.

    “It was a mind-blowing experience,” says the 57-year-old. “I still get really excited talking about it.”

    ‘Really odd’

    It all happened the day after Michael Jackson died, shortly after the family experienced a medical emergency of their own.

    “I had actually spent the whole evening at A&E with our son,” Wilde recalls. “Swine flu was rife at the time and he’d developed a very high temperature.”

    After the fever subsided, everyone returned home and Wilde retired to the garden with a glass of wine.

    “Then I looked up in the sky and saw this huge bright light behind a cloud. Brighter than the moon, but similar to the light from the moon.

    “I said to my husband and my friend, ‘that’s really odd,’ so we walked down the grass and looked to see if there was any source.

    “All of a sudden it moved, very quickly, from about 11.00 to 1.00. Then it just did that, back and forth, for several minutes.

    “Whenever it moved, something shifted in the air – but it was silent. Absolutely silent.”

    Eventually, the UFO shot off, “but I’ve watched lights in the sky ever since”, says Wilde. “There’s not a day goes by I don’t think about it.”

    Wasn’t she nervous about telling people all of this?

    “To tell you the truth, I wasn’t,” she says. “A few people looked at me and said, ‘Friday night? Was wine involved?’.

    “But the week after, the Welwyn and Hatfield Times carried the story of someone else who had actually taken a photograph of a sphere in the sky… And the witness account tallies exactly with my one. So I said to everyone, ‘There you go!’.”

    Wilde remained calm and peaceful throughout the encounter and, on her album, describes the aliens as benign, singing: “Maybe they’ll save us from the apocalypse.”

    “Perhaps that’s completely naïve,” she laughs. “Why wouldn’t they be angry with us and fling us off this beautiful earth that we’re ruining? I can’t deny we haven’t been a terrible disappointment.”

    Skip Youtube post by KimWildeVEVO Warning: Third party content may contain adverts Report

    End of Youtube post by KimWildeVEVO

    As a keen sci-fi fan (Arrival and ET are her favourite films), Wilde is fully embracing the theme of her new album – from the sleeve’s terrific B-movie artwork, to the stage show for her upcoming tour.

    “I’ve got this little wardrobe set up, of fantastic capes and cloaks,” says the singer, who previously bought her outfits at jumble sales.

    “We’re going to go a bit sci-fi and we’re going to a bit glam rock. It’ll be sexy and fun and something to put a big smile on people’s faces. I’m really excited about it.”

    It feels like she’s regained the ambition that ebbed away in the 90s, I suggest.

    “I’ve really got the bit in my teeth,” she agrees. “I’m going to be the performer I never thought I could be.

    “I want to surprise myself. Why not? I’m going to be 60 soon and before you know it, I’ll be dancing off this beautiful earth.

    “I may as well go out all guns blazing.”

    Here Come The Aliens is out now. Kim Wilde’s UK tour begins in Ipswich on 30 March.

    Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

    • More on Kim Wilde
    • BBC Music homepage
    • BBC Music News LIVE

Kim Wilde says aliens inspired her pop comeback

It’s hard to imagine Kim Wilde on the front line of a cultural war but, back in 1981, that’s exactly where she found herself.

The irresistible success of Kids In America, Chequered Love and Cambodia threw the popular music press into disarray.

Still in thrall to punk, the NME and Melody Maker couldn’t work out what to make of this coiffed pop singer – the offspring of (in their view) the decidedly naff 60s pop star Marty Wilde, who happened to be co-writing all of her singles.

Reading those columns now (a Spanish fan site has helpfully archived them), it’s fun to watch writers torturing themselves for the simple sin of enjoying pop music

“How do you feel about it suddenly being hip to like Kim Wilde?” fretted style bible The Face.

Describing her debut album, the NME’s Paul Morley wrote “God knows why I like it,” then tied himself in knots trying to explain the appeal of “the girl next door to the girl next door” before ungraciously asking her, “Do you feel you’re a business toy?”.

“I spent a lot of time justifying myself back then,” laughs the singer, still looking glamorous as she sips a coffee in a central London hotel.

“That NME piece was terribly pretentious but it was saying, in a way, ‘OK, I give in. Pop music is here and you’re great at doing it, and we’re going to put you on the cover’.

“So I kind of won that battle.”

Having conquered the music snobs and colonised the music press, Wilde went on to score 20 Top 40 hits, shifting 30 million records and supporting David Bowie and Michael Jackson on tour.

But things fizzled out in the 1990s as younger, hungrier acts replaced her at the top of the charts.

“I’d been in it since I was 20, then I was 36 and everyone, I felt, was doing it a lot better than I was. They had the ambition that I didn’t have any more.

“When Madonna came along, I didn’t feel I could compete, so I said, ‘You know what? You’re best off being who you are, and that’s going to have to be enough’.

“Sometimes it was, and a lot of the time it wasn’t.”

You might also like:

  • Bananarama revisit Smash Hits questions
  • Eurythmics interview: ‘We went into hiding’ in the 80s
  • Belinda Carlisle: Still in Heaven?

    In 1996, having lost her record deal, Wilde starred in a West End production of Tommy, where she fell in love with, and subsequently married, her co-star Hal Fowler.

    Leaving showbusiness behind gave her a tremendous sense of freedom, she says. Then, while raising her kids, Wilde found a second career in horticulture – writing several books on gardening and presenting the BBC series Garden Invaders.

    “I was always drawn to plants and nature,” says the star, whose pre-fame job was flower arranging in a garden centre. “It’s very healing, and very therapeutic and inspiring.”

    Two chance events resurrected her music career.

    In 2002, Nena (of 99 Red Balloons fame) asked Wilde to duet on her single Anyplace, Anytime, Anywhere, which became a huge hit in Holland, Germany and Austria.

    Then in 2012, Wilde drunkenly serenaded commuters on her train home from a Magic FM Christmas Party, swaying around the carriage in a pair of comedy antlers.

    Filmed by her fellow passengers, the clip went viral. Wilde was mortified, but it turned out the public were laughing with, not at, her giggly, warm-hearted performance.

    Skip Youtube post by caseeames Warning: Third party content may contain adverts Report

    End of Youtube post by caseeames

    As the views for the video rose, so did interest in her music. A year later, she released an album of Christmas covers and now she’s following that up with Here Come the Aliens, her first album of original songs since 1995.

    Full of glam guitars and shimmering disco synths, it’s a big, fun pop record. A bit cheesy at times, but far from embarrassing – with Stereo Shot and the Billy Idol-inspired Kandy Krush the standout tracks.

    But the album gets its title from a lyric in the opening track, 1969 – a Barbarella-style space romp that was inspired by Wilde’s close encounter with a UFO in 2009.

    “It was a mind-blowing experience,” says the 57-year-old. “I still get really excited talking about it.”

    ‘Really odd’

    It all happened the day after Michael Jackson died, shortly after the family experienced a medical emergency of their own.

    “I had actually spent the whole evening at A&E with our son,” Wilde recalls. “Swine flu was rife at the time and he’d developed a very high temperature.”

    After the fever subsided, everyone returned home and Wilde retired to the garden with a glass of wine.

    “Then I looked up in the sky and saw this huge bright light behind a cloud. Brighter than the moon, but similar to the light from the moon.

    “I said to my husband and my friend, ‘that’s really odd,’ so we walked down the grass and looked to see if there was any source.

    “All of a sudden it moved, very quickly, from about 11.00 to 1.00. Then it just did that, back and forth, for several minutes.

    “Whenever it moved, something shifted in the air – but it was silent. Absolutely silent.”

    Eventually, the UFO shot off, “but I’ve watched lights in the sky ever since”, says Wilde. “There’s not a day goes by I don’t think about it.”

    Wasn’t she nervous about telling people all of this?

    “To tell you the truth, I wasn’t,” she says. “A few people looked at me and said, ‘Friday night? Was wine involved?’.

    “But the week after, the Welwyn and Hatfield Times carried the story of someone else who had actually taken a photograph of a sphere in the sky… And the witness account tallies exactly with my one. So I said to everyone, ‘There you go!’.”

    Wilde remained calm and peaceful throughout the encounter and, on her album, describes the aliens as benign, singing: “Maybe they’ll save us from the apocalypse.”

    “Perhaps that’s completely naïve,” she laughs. “Why wouldn’t they be angry with us and fling us off this beautiful earth that we’re ruining? I can’t deny we haven’t been a terrible disappointment.”

    Skip Youtube post by KimWildeVEVO Warning: Third party content may contain adverts Report

    End of Youtube post by KimWildeVEVO

    As a keen sci-fi fan (Arrival and ET are her favourite films), Wilde is fully embracing the theme of her new album – from the sleeve’s terrific B-movie artwork, to the stage show for her upcoming tour.

    “I’ve got this little wardrobe set up, of fantastic capes and cloaks,” says the singer, who previously bought her outfits at jumble sales.

    “We’re going to go a bit sci-fi and we’re going to a bit glam rock. It’ll be sexy and fun and something to put a big smile on people’s faces. I’m really excited about it.”

    It feels like she’s regained the ambition that ebbed away in the 90s, I suggest.

    “I’ve really got the bit in my teeth,” she agrees. “I’m going to be the performer I never thought I could be.

    “I want to surprise myself. Why not? I’m going to be 60 soon and before you know it, I’ll be dancing off this beautiful earth.

    “I may as well go out all guns blazing.”

    Here Come The Aliens is out now. Kim Wilde’s UK tour begins in Ipswich on 30 March.

    Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

    • More on Kim Wilde
    • BBC Music homepage
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