Musical records shattered by Adele, plagiarism courtcases, One Direction stepping out of the spotlight are some of the highlights of 2015’s music stories.
LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE-NOVEMBER 20, 2015) (REUTERS) – 2015 was a great year for British megastar Adele. Her Grammy-winning 2011 release “21” was deemed by Billboard magazine to be the greatest album of all time based on chart position and her new release “25” broke the single-week U.S. album sales record in just four days, according to Nielsen Music.
Adele and her independent record company XL Recordings decided to withhold “25” from streaming platforms such as Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify and Google Play. The move mirrored Taylor Swift, one of the most powerful names in pop music, who refused to offer her “1989” album to streaming services last year, saying music should not be free.
Swift said in June she would put her latest hit album “1989” on Apple Music, after Apple bowed to pressure from her and some independent music groups and labels to pay artists during a free trial of its new streaming music service.
Swift was the second-highest music earner in the 12 months to November 2015, with an estimated $80 million, 8.6 million sales globally for her “1989” hit album and a successful world tour. During the tour, she has shared the stage with dozens of celebrity guests, including Mick Jagger, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Avril Lavigne and actress Lisa Kudrow, who she dueted with for the classic “Friends” song “Smelly Cat”.
2015 was also a successful year for British soul singer Sam Smith. In October he went straight to number one in the UK pop charts with “Writing’s On The Wall”, the theme song to the James Bond film “Spectre”, and in February he won four Grammys including record and song of the year for his anthem “Stay With Me.”
It was reported in January, though, that Smith had settled a copyright dispute with U.S. rocker Tom Petty over similarities between “Stay with Me” and Petty’s 1989 hit song “I Won’t Back Down.”
Petty played down a credit given to him and co-writer Jeff Lynne on Smith’s hit song, saying in a statement posted on his website that he had no hard feelings toward Smith and that “these things happen.”
In May, the highly-anticipated documentary “AMY”, about late British singer Amy Winehouse, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, but drew criticism from her father Mitch Winehouse who called it misleading. Its makers disagreed, saying they conducted around 100 interviews for it.
British boy band One Direction swept the top honors at November’s American Music Awards, but said in August they would take a break in 2016. The announcement came after the band was reduced to four members following the departure of Zayn Malik.
Pop singer Mariah Carey began her residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in May, performing her chart-topping hits in a special show from May 6 until July 26, and Celine Dion resumed her popular residency at the same venue in August, a year after putting her career on hold for family and health reasons.
British singer Elton John was tricked in September by two Russian comedians impersonating President Vladimir Putin, after John told reporters he wanted to meet Putin to discuss lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) rights. Just a week later, though, the real Putin called to say he would be ready to to meet him and discuss any subject which interested him, if their schedules coincided.
In August, Slovenian avant-garde band Laibach performed in Pyongyang, becoming the first western group to ever play in North Korea. Video filmed by the North’s state news agency KCNA, which could not be independently verified by Reuters, showed the band performing at Ponghwa Art Theatre in Pyongyang.
U.S. rockers Bon Jovi had their first ever tour of China unexpectedly canceled in September. Promoter AEG said concerts in Shanghai and Beijing had been canceled “for some reason”. Bon Jovi’s 2009 “We Weren’t Born To Follow” music video features brief images of the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, bloodily put down by the army. Public discussion of the event remains taboo in China.
Tour dates for pop-rock group Maroon 5 in September were also canceled, according to reports.
U.S. singer and hip-hop star Chris Brown was barred from leaving the Philippines in July due to a dispute over fraud allegations. Brown and his promoter were accused of fraud after he canceled a New Year’s concert in Manila in December. The organization said Brown and his promoter did not return money paid to them for the canceled show. Brown was allowed to leave three days later.
In September, Australia said it would refuse a visa for Brown, following through on a threat made over the singer’s history of domestic violence. A spokesman for the immigration ministry said a notice had been sent to the singer indicating the government intends to consider refusal.
In 2009, Brown pleaded guilty to a charge of assaulting his then girlfriend, singer Rihanna, and was sentenced in the United States to five years probation, which was lifted in February. He has been denied entry by Britain and Canada since his conviction.
In July, the Grateful Dead gave what they said would be their last group performance, playing to some 70,000 singing, dancing and tearful fans in Chicago’s Soldier Field. The show came 20 years after the death of lead guitarist Jerry Garcia, who played his last show in the nation’s third-largest city in 1995. In October, the band’s co-founder Phil Lesh said he had been diagnosed with non-aggressive bladder cancer.
Popular Britpop band Blur headlined the British Summer Time festival in London’s Hyde Park in June and hit the top of the UK album chart in May with “The Magic Whip”, the group’s first number one album in 12 years.
Heirs of the late soul singer Marvin Gaye won a $7.4 million judgment in March against recording stars Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, who a jury found plagiarized the Motown artist in the creation of their hit single “Blurred Lines.”
The U.S. District Court jury in Los Angeles sided with Gaye’s estate, finding that parts of his 1977 hit “Got to Give it Up” were lifted by Thicke and Williams for their 2013 R&B chart-topper.
A federal judge in October threw out a copyright infringement lawsuit that accused rapper Jay Z and hip hop producer Timbaland of using an Egyptian musician’s melody without permission in their 1999 hit song “Big Pimpin’.”
U.S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder ruled that the plaintiff in the case, a nephew of late musician Baligh Hamdy, did not have standing to assert copyright infringement of his uncle’s music, Jay Z’s attorney Andrew Bart said.
Jay Z’s new global streaming music service Tidal launched in March, billing itself as the first of its kind owned by artists.
OMI’s hit “Cheerleader,” was named by Billboard as the number one song of the summer of 2015. Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk!” was a blockbuster streaming hit, with 368 million streams in the first half of the year alone, according to Nielsen. The song spent a record 21 weeks in the top three of the Billboard Hot 100.
The year in music drew to a tragic close in November when the Paris concert of California-based rock band Eagles of Death Metal was turned into a bloodbath by gunmen opening fire on the audience. The bombings and shootings carried out by Islamic State militants in the French capital on November killed 130 people, including 89 who were attending the U.S. band’s performance at the Bataclan concert hall.