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5 Seconds of Summer Members Tell How a Jamming Retreat in Joshua Tree Led to the Self-Produced ‘5SOS5’

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The group 5 Seconds of Summer gets back to basics on “5SOS5,” writing and producing the bulk of the band’s fifth album in-band. What began as pandemic-related precaution soon turned into an opportunity to recalibrate their sound in an authentic way. After all, they launched as a teenage pop-punk outfit in 2014 and then proceeded to reinvent themselves on each subsequent project, detouring into the worlds of Top 40, electronica and R&B.

The Australian rockers started recording the album — which arrives this weekend — in late 2020 in Joshua Tree, CA. “We went up there with no expectations,” says guitarist Michael Clifford, who also doubled as producer. “We were still in the thick of the pandemic and none of us were really ready to write.” While tempted to cancel the trip, the band decided to simply go and hang out. Before too long, they were jamming and songs started taking shape in the hot Californian desert.

Frontman Luke Hemmings knew that they were on to something after writing eventual lead single “Complete Mess,” a soaring rock ballad with a psychedelic twist. “When we wrote it everything kind of clicked into place,” he says. “We knew we could make good music by ourselves.” As that first batch of songs came together, the band decided on its new sonic direction — namely, that the album’s off-the-cuff creation should be reflected in the production.

“A lot of this stuff was recorded in one take,” Clifford reveals. “The vocals of ‘Take My Hand’ come from the very first demo tape that Luke recorded, while the drum and bass on ‘Bloodhound’ were Calum and Ash playing at the same time in the room.” It gave the songs a loose, warm sound that inspired the rockers to go even bigger.

“We wanted it to sound raw and organic, but also vast and spacy,” Clifford says. “It felt like the perfect representation of the band’s identity.” It was important to let individual members shine, drawing on their growth as artists — Hemmings and drummer Ashton Irwin released solo records during the pandemic — and people. “It’s a very empowering feeling,” he continues. “We feel a real sense of ownership of this record.”

When asked if this is the purest distillation of the band’s sound, Hemmings agrees, albeit with a caveat. “I would say yes,” he muses, “but I probably would have said that about every album.” He puts the band’s manifold iterations down to the members’ ages. “When the band started, we were 16; you’re basically trying to figure out who you are. Maybe this one’s closer to where we’ll end up, but honestly, in another couple years, it could be totally different.”

While “5SOS5” began as an experiment on a Joshua Tree retreat, the band ultimately widened its circle and worked with external collaborators. “It was really fun doing it ourselves,” Hemmings says. “But it felt like the right time to stretch out and work with other people.” Clifford was hesitant at first. “Messing around together as opposed to doing sessions every day was fun,” he says. “We kept it our baby for as long as we could.”

One of the songs they recorded in a more traditional studio setting is new single “Bad Omens.” Co-written with Sarah Hudson and JHart, and produced by Jason Evigan, there’s an anthemic quality that was entirely intentional. “We really loved the work Jason did with Rüfüs Du Sol,” Irwin says. “We’ve always been interested in synthesizers because we’re looking to play a lot more festivals, so we’re attempting to write awesome music that’s built for that setting.”

As with much of the album, however, there are layers. “‘Bad Omens’ is all about self-harming emotionally,” Irwin continues. “The central metaphor is that you see a million red flags and choose to ignore every single one of them. It’s a pretty devastating jam.” By switching up their sound, they’re hoping to cast as wide a net as possible. “Different songs capture different kinds of people,” he says of the album’s eclectic array of sounds.

It’s a level of pragmatism that 5 Seconds of Summer has forged over time. “It feels like we have more understanding of what’s going on now,” bassist Calum Hood says. “It was very fun at the start and it’s very fun now, but we weren’t thinking about the bigger picture.” The band has tried to hold on to that freewheeling attitude as much as possible, but overthinking still happens. “For this album, we re-recorded things several times, probably to a fault,” he admits.

“We take a lot of pride in being young and still learning how to navigate an ever-changing industry,” Irwin adds. “It keeps you on your toes.” Part of that ever-changing landscape is TikTok. “Whether you are the biggest artist in the world or a complete nobody, you can still cut through,” Clifford says. “If TikTok was around 10 years ago, we would’ve been all over it.”

Hemmings agrees. “When we started in Western Sydney, so our only option to get our music out there was YouTube,” he says in reference to the band’s early covers. “Once we had a foot in the door, we ran with it.” And a decade later, they are still running. Which can take a toll. “We’re paying more attention to how the band feels,” Hemmings says. “How do we do this in a way that the band doesn’t wither away?”

While looking to the future is key, 5 Seconds of Summer is in no danger of disowning its early material, songs that are “very simple and full of life,” Irwin says. “We have a lot of gratitude for those early songs.” He’s also aware that the band wouldn’t be where it is today, complete with an ability to make their own rules, without hits like “Amnesia” and “She’s Kinda Hot.” Hood’s reason for loving those tracks is simpler: “They still rock.”



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Michelle Pfeiffer Remembers Coolio: ‘Nothing But Gracious’

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Michelle Pfeiffer, the prolific screen star of the ‘80s and ‘90s, has paid tribute to Coolio as a “gracious man” whose mega-hit “Gangsta’s Paradise” powered the success of one of her own films, Dangerous Minds.

Coolio was found dead on the bathroom floor at his friend’s house on Wednesday (Sept. 28), at the age of 59. Paramedics initially suspect that he suffered cardiac arrest, reports claim, though an official cause of death has yet to be announced.

Pfeiffer joined the chorus of tributes to Coolio, whose career briefly intersected with hers and created dynamite at the box office and on sales charts around the globe.

“Heartbroken to hear of the passing of the gifted artist Coolio. A life cut entirely too short,” she writes on social media.

“As some of you may know I was lucky enough to work with him on Dangerous Minds in 1995. He won a Grammy for his brilliant song on the soundtrack – which I think was the reason our film saw so much success. I remember him being nothing but gracious. 30 years later I still get chills when I hear the song.”

She’s not the only one still touched by the song. In July of this year, the official music video for “Gangsta’s Paradise” passed the one billion streams milestone on YouTube.

That clip featured Pfeiffer in her Dangerous Minds character Louanne Johnson, and went on to win best rap video category at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards.

The track, one of Coolio’s six hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, would go on to win the Billboard Music Award for single of the year, and a Grammy for best rap solo performance.

The single interpoles Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise,” and was deemed the best-selling single on Billboard‘s year-end Billboard Hot 100 chart after spending 12 weeks in the top two positions; it logged a total of 62 weeks on the chart, including 3 at No. 1 and 11 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot Rap Songs survey.

Dangerous Minds
, which observes the day-to-day of Johnson, an ex-Marine now teaching at a tough inner-city school, grossed more than $179 million worldwide on a budget of about $22 million, according to IMDB.

“Sending love and light to his family,” Pfeiffer signs off. “Rest in Power, Artis Leon Ivey Jr.”



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5 Takeaways From Ivy Queen’s Empowering Q&A at 2022 Billboard Latin Music Week

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At Billboard Latin Music Week on Wednesday (Sept. 28), Ivy Queen candidly discussed her career, her songwriting and her struggles as the only woman in a genre dominated by men and her new music.

Moderated by Leila Cobo, vp/Latin industry lead, Billboard, see the best takeaways from the Icon Q&A with the Queen of Reggaeton.

On Fashion: “It’s always been important for me. When I started in the industry, everyone criticized my long nails, they called me Freddy Krueger, Edward Scissorhands. Now everyone has them long and I have them short. It was hard to find my identity. I dressed very tomboyish, to feel comfortable in a male-dominated industry. When we grow older, we appreciate our curves more. It was a very drastic change. 

On Finding Her Sound: “My own style is made to defend women. It took me time to define my sound. I’ve always loved the reggae movement and everything that was being done in Panama but then I fell in love with rap music because it’s poetry. I can express what I feel.” 

On “Te He Querido, Te He Llorado”: “I’ve always been very open and I’ve always sang to love. This song touched my life and the ones of who have deeply fallen in love. It was an overcoming process. Instead of doing something physical to my ex, I grabbed a pen and wrote the song. Music has showed me how to ventilate my feelings and go to bank to get my royalties.”  

On Her Empowering Lyrics: “I get inspired by real things and tragedies that women can’t voice. It’s for those women who are going through a crisis in a toxic relationship and can’t see it. My music is based on the reality of many women.”

On Authenticity: “Feel comfortable with who you are, your punchlines, your lyrics. Whoever tells you differently, it’s because they can’t comprehend it. People in the industry said my look and voice were very masculine. But in the end, it was my biggest blessing. I asked for advice in the wrong but you have to give it your all.”

Coinciding with National Hispanic Heritage Month, Billboard Latin Music Week includes workshops and panels featuring artists such as Christina Aguilera, Romeo Santos, Camilo, Nicky Jam, Wisin y Yandel, Maluma, Chayanne, Ivy Queen, Grupo Firme, Bizarrap, Blessd, Grupo Firme and many more.

The event also includes superstar concerts, intimate showcases, and new music premieres by Bizarrap, Elena Rose, Justin Quiles, Mariah Angeliq, and BRESH, who will throw the ultimate closing party at Oasis, in Miami’s Wynwood. 

For 30 years, Billboard Latin Music Week has been the longest-running and biggest Latin music industry gathering in the world. It will also dovetail with the 2022 Billboard Latin Music Awards on Sept. 29, in Miami.

The Billboard Latin Music Awards will broadcast live on Telemundo, and will also broadcast simultaneously on the Spanish entertainment cable network, Universo, and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean on Telemundo Internacional.



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‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, LL Cool J, MC Hammer, Questlove Pay Tribute to Coolio: ‘Peaceful Journey Brother’

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Fellow musicians and other entertainers are paying tribute to rapper Coolio, whose songs “Gangsta’s Paradise” was used in “Dangerous Minds” and “Aw, Here It Goes!” in the opening sequence of Nickelodeon’s “Kenan & Kel,” died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 59.

Coolio, born Artis Leon Ivey Jr., also had hits with “Fantastic Voyage” and “1,2,3,4 (Sumpin’ New)” and “It’s All the Way Live (Now).”

Among those who remembered Coolio on social media were “Weird Al” Yankovic, who was involved in a feud with the rapper when he released the song “Amish Paradise.” They later mended fences. Ice Cube, Questlove, Debbie Harry, Martin Lawrence and M.C. Hammer also paid tribute to the Compton-raised musician.

“One of the nicest dudes I’ve known,” wrote M.C. Hammer. See more tributes below:



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