You can take the girl out of country, but you can't take country out of the girl. Taylor Swift pivoted toward pop with her synth-laden 2014 album 1989 and audacious latest effort Reputation, out Friday. Yet the Nashville transplant hasn't entirely abandoned her country roots. In fact, Swift earned her 12th Country Music Association Award Wednesday, taking home song of the year for writing Little Big Town's Better Man. The four-piece group's Karen Fairchild accepted the award on behalf of Swift, the sole writer on the breakup ballad who was not in attendance at the ceremony. "Taylor, wherever you are, thank you for this beautiful song and for loving songs and loving Nashville," Fairchild said. Swift, who is performing on Saturday Night Live this weekend, posted her stunned reaction to the honor on social media, writing, "In NYC for SNL rehearsals. I LOVE YOU @littlebigtown and CMAs." Better Man marks the first song of the year CMA for Swift, who previously picked up the show's top trophies for entertainer of the year and album of the year (Fearless).
Hailee Steinfeld couldn't stop fan-girling over Kelly Clarkson! She had the chance to work with the newest Voice coach as a guest mentor this season, a situation that younger Hailee would've never seen coming. “I was so excited when she invited me to advise her team, because what she didn’t know was that she was a huge influence on me when I was younger," Steinfeld told Billboard. "When Kelly was on American Idol my parents surprised me and my brother with tickets to the show. I just remember looking at my dad and having him tell me that one day I would be on that stage too. It was one of those moments that reinforced my dream of pursuing music.” Steinfeld's time with Clarkson wasn't just a dream come true, though. As the "Most Girls" singer continues to work on her debut album, the 21-year-old took a few pointers from the 35-year-old superstar too. “One of the main things I learned from Kelly is to determine when and where to add embellishments in a song," Steinfeld explained. "She knows how to choose the right moment to give you that extra wow factor without it feeling like too much. A lot of times singing is based on feelings, but you also need to be able to make smart choices and pick the moments of greatest impact. She’s someone I truly admire."
Taylor Swift has broken her own record for the highest-grossing U.S. tour by a female artist. The Look What You Made Me Do singer has been trekking across the U.S. and other nations since May (18) on her epic Reputation Stadium Tour. Her U.S. gigs alone have now made an incredible $191.1 million (£148 million), according to Billboard.com, meaning that with 11 American dates still to play she has surpassed the gross earnings of the previous record holder, her 1989 World Tour - which made $181.5 million (£140.5 million) in 2015. During the tour, she has averaged earnings of more than $7 million (£5.4 million) per show - with all 27 of her completed dates sold out. The pop princess is having a brief break from the road after performing at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida last Saturday (19Aug18). After the gig, she praised hometown girl Camila Cabello - who has supported her alongside British singer-songwriter Charli XCX throughout the tour. "MIAMI I LOVE YOU!! You were so loud and FUN," she wrote on her Tumblr page. "Shout out to Camila for killing it in her hometown and being just the greatest most precious magical human possible." The concerts will pick up again this coming Saturday in Nashville, Tennessee - the city where a teenage Taylor made her name as a country music star. In addition to her U.S. gigs, Taylor has also performed in the U.K., Ireland and Canada, with the latter concerts having grossed $11.1 million (£8.5 million). Figures for her British and Irish dates are yet to come in, and unlike in the U.S., not all of these shows sold out. She will conclude the tour in Australia, New Zealand and Japan - meaning the worldwide takings from the Reputation Stadium Tour should easily surpass the $250 million (£193 million) her 1989 live dates made globally - and may come close to beating the $408 million (£316 million) Madonna's Sticky & Sweet Tour made in 2008 and 2009, the most earned globally by a female artist.
As expected, “Star Wars” fever has taken the box office by storm as Lucasfilm’s latest installment, “The Last Jedi,” has posted an opening weekend of $220 million from 4,232 screens. That’s the second highest domestic opening of all-time behind the film’s 2015 predecessor, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and a 41 percent jump over the $155 million opening posted by last year’s “Star Wars” movie, “Rogue One.” The film opened with $104.8 million on Friday (including $45 million from Thursday previews), making it only the second film to earn $100 million on opening day. This was followed by $63.7 million on Saturday and a projected $52 million on Sunday. This total also pushes Disney past the $2 billion mark domestically for the third consecutive year and into the top spot among all studios for domestic revenue. In total, “The Last Jedi” has posted a global opening of $450 million excluding China, good for the fifth-highest global opening in box office history with $40.6 million coming from IMAX, good for the second-highest opening excluding China. The film opens in China on January 5. Hardcore “Star Wars” fans have been debating the film’s merits since screenings started on Thursday evening, but as a whole, critics and audiences have given the film a big thumbs up with an A on CinemaScore and a 93 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. “Star Wars”‘ big weekend comes after Lucasfilm’s parent company, Disney, turned Hollywood on its head by buying the original owner of “Star Wars”, 20th Century Fox, for $52.4 billion. As fate would have it, Fox has also released a movie this weekend, the Blue Sky animated film “Ferdinand.” Helmed by “Ice Age” director Carlos Saldanha, the film has grossed $13.3 million at 3,621 locations against projections of a $15 million opening. The film received an A on CinemaScore and a 74 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.