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).
Ed Sheeran was the most-played artist in the UK in 2018 - without releasing any new music. Topping the chart for the second year in a row and third year in total, the singer-songwriter finished ahead of Calvin Harris in second and Little Mix in third. His last official single release in the UK was the multiplatinum-selling Perfect, the 2017 Christmas number one. famous for hits including Shape Of You, Photograph and Sing, has held the top spot in three of the last four years - 2015, 2017 and 2018 - and has been in the top five most-played artists five times since his first album + was released in 2011. Nine of the top 10 most-played artists of 2018 were British, with George Ezra and Coldplay - who also had a break from releasing music in 2018 - all making the list. P!nk is the only non-UK artist featured.
Singer Shawn Mendes has vowed to make his proposed collaboration with BTS a reality, even though the South Korean boyband has been too busy to schedule studio time together. The There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back hitmaker met BTS at last year's (17) American Music Awards, where they discussed ideas for a joint project in a chat recorded for the K-pop stars' official YouTube channel. The two acts have continued to tease fans about the idea ever since, but the new material has yet to come to fruition. Now Shawn has addressed the hold up, admitting it's been tough to squeeze the track into their hectic schedules. "Latest on the collaboration, they're a hard group to get with," Mendes told The Roz and Mocha Show in his native Toronto, Canada. "They're busy people. I have no lyrics on their collaboration yet." However, Shawn isn't refusing to give up hope, because he's been a big fan of their work for a while. "It'll happen. Promise," he said. "I can't give you a date because we haven't hung out and wrote a song yet, but it will happen. 'Cause I love them and... their fans too. So, I promise." It's no surprise Shawn and the BTS members haven't had time to get together so far this year - Mendes' self-titled album topped the U.S. Billboard 200 earlier this month (Jun18), making the 19-year-old the third-youngest artist to earn three number one albums, behind fellow Canadian Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. Meanwhile, BTS recently made U.S. chart history too, after their Love Yourself: Tear release became the first-ever Korean album to lead the Billboard 200.
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.

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