Here’s Your (Alleged) 2019 Super Bowl Halftime Act

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Two sources tell Variety the Super Bowl LIII halftime act has been chosen, and it’s Maroon 5. Another source tells Us, “The offer has been extended and they’ve pretty much accepted,“ while ETOnline says the band is the “frontrunner” to perform. The band itself, fronted by The Voice coach Adam Levine, has not commented, but Levine has in the past made it clear he’d love to perform there. As for the NFL, it says in a statement, “It’s a Super Bowl tradition to speculate about the performers for the Pepsi Halftime Show. We are continuing to work with [longtime sponsor] Pepsi on our plans but do not have any announcements to make on what will be another epic show.“ The big game will be played at Atlanta, Georgia’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 03, 2019.

Taylor Swift’s Free Agent Status May Make History

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Taylor Swift has been signed to Big Machine Records since the age of 15, but Variety reports that the 28-year-old becomes a free agent in November—and the bidding war could make music history. If she signed a five-album deal, for example, that could mean nine figures given some predictions of $20 million per album. “There’s no precedent to look to regarding the top-selling artist of the digital era becoming a total free agent,” a top music industry lawyer tells Variety. “If she is seeking to break financial records and extend with a major, she could have the biggest artist deal of the century so far.“

The website breaks down the possibilities, which range from re-signing with Big Machine—if the label is willing to part with the rights to the masters of her first six albums—to switching to a bigger label, to ditching the need for a label altogether. As a post at Axios notes, “When it comes to Swift’s next contract, she’ll hold all the power to fill in the ‘blank space’ on her paychecks for years to come.“

Aretha Franklin farewells continue at her father’s church

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Before the world marks the end of Aretha Franklin’s life at her funeral Friday, fans gathered a day early to celebrate her in the place where her faith was forged and her voice was first discovered, singing signature gospel classics like “Amazing Grace” and “Precious Lord.”

The line for the public viewing at New Bethel Baptist Church stretched several blocks — more than half a mile — Thursday afternoon. Fans wearing a variety of T-shirts bearing Franklin’s image mourned her loss with a smile. There were spontaneous bursts into song, and cheers for the Queen of Soul as they waited to enter the sanctuary.

Shouts of “We love you!” ″Ree Ree!” and “Let the Queen through!” could be heard as the white 1940s Cadillac hearse drove down Linwood Street and pulled up to the front of New Bethel. The crowd jockeyed to snap photographs and cell phone videos of Franklin’s bronze casket as it was taken into the church just before noon.

“I had to be here,” said Joyce E. Stroud, who traveled from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to say goodbye to the icon she first met at a concert in California many years ago.

“I met Aretha when I was 23-years-old in San Francisco at the Fillmore West when she did that historic three-day concert,” Stroud said. “That was the first time I was introduced to her and I’ve been a lifelong fan.”

Several dignitaries were also expected to pay their respects at Thursday’s viewing, which was opened to the public after the tremendous outpouring of support throughout the week. Thousands attending the two days of public viewings at The Wright Museum.

The sight would’ve been truly humbling, even for a diva, said Michael Eric Dyson, a friend of Franklin’s who attended the New Bethel viewing and will deliver remarks at her service.

“She would be deeply honored and appreciative of the fact that people, for three days, have poured out of every vestibule and crevice of this city and country to travel long miles to recognize her genius.”

Linda Swanson, executive vice president of Swanson Funeral Home, echoed the sentiment. The funeral home, which has been in Detroit for 60 years, also handled the arrangements for Franklin’s father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, who preached at New Bethel from 1946 to 1979.

“We, the Swanson family, also love the citizens of Detroit, and so it just swells our hearts with pride and joy to see the city turning out to honor this queen eternal,” she said.

Inside New Bethel, the scene was reverent, with gospel music softly playing as a sea of ushers guided mourners into the red-carpeted inner sanctum, decorated with pictures of Franklin and more lavender and pink roses, which also surrounded her at the public viewing earlier this week at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American history.

Ever the performer, Franklin gave viewers yet a third outfit change — this time, a sparkling rose gold gown. Matching earrings complimented short cropped curls, and the ensemble was completed with gold-sequined Christian Louboutin heels. She has also worn head-to-toe red in honor of her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, and baby blue.

Upon exiting the church, fans were able to write notes of support and condolence on posters taped to the wall.

The Swanson Funeral Home has declined to say what Franklin’s final outfit will be for Friday’s service, but it will almost certainly be different. The funeral is expected to begin at 10 a.m. at Greater Grace Temple and will last at least five hours.

New Development in an Odd Michael Jackson Theory

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Did Michael Jackson really sing lead vocals on three songs released on his first posthumous album, Michael? It’s a question some have been asking since the album dropped in 2010, and statements made this week by record label Sony haven’t exactly assuaged fans. The Guardian has the backstory on the songs “Breaking News,“ “Keep Your Head Up,“ and “Monster”: Sony’s Epic record label professed its “complete confidence” in the vocals being Jackson’s, but sister La Toya Jackson said she wasn’t so sure, and fans agreed, chief among them Vera Serova, who in 2014 filed a suit against Sony, the songs’ producers, and the King of Pop’s estate. Here’s the development: In an attempt to be dismissed as a defendant in the case, Sony this week put forth a legal argument that fans have leaped on.

In what Sony says was a hypothetical, a lawyer for Sony said in a hearing something to the effect of “even if the songs weren’t sung by Jackson,“ per Fortune. The Guardian reports court documents contain the line: “For purposes of the appeal, appellants [Sony] accept that Jackson did not sing all the lead vocals on the Cascio tracks. But ... respondents must accept that appellants did not know that someone else was the singer.“ Fans pounced, and Sony responded, Variety reports: “No one has conceded that Michael Jackson did not sing on the songs. The hearing on Tuesday was about whether the first amendment protects Sony Music and the estate, and there has been no ruling on the issue of whose voice is on the recordings.“ If Jackson didn’t sing the vocals, who did? Vulture reports the money is on “MJ sound-alike” Jason Malachi.

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