See what your favorite stars have been up to this week
Aaron Paul picked up lunch from Pinches Tacos in West Hollywood. [US Weekly]
Anne Hathaway and husband Adam Shulman headed to lunch at Hollywood eatery Café Gratitude. [US Weekly]
Bruce Willis posed with his wife Emma Heming at the party for his film Red 2, where guests sipped on Purity Vodka cocktails at New York City’s Refinery Rooftop. [US Weekly]
Seen & Heard:
Julianne Hough celebrated her birthday by sipping champagne with friends at a flapper-themed bash. [People]
Naomi Watts sipped on a juice drink in New York City while dressed up for her role as a pregnant prostitute for the upcoming film St. Vincent de Van Nuys. [US Weekly]
Jennifer Lopez celebrated her birthday at her Water Mill, N.Y. home alongside her family with mojitos and cake. [The Daily Meal]
Britney Spears and boyfriend David Lucado went out to lunch in Thousand Oaks, Calif. [US Weekly]
Couple Jessica Alba and Cash Warren took their daughters Honor and Haven out to lunch in Brentwood, Calif. [US Weekly]
Hilary Duff snacked on a lollipop while at the FIJI Water Day of Summer event at EMM Group’s The Estate in Sag Harbor, N.Y. [US Weekly]
Emma Watson met up with a friend for a coffee break while out in London. [US Weekly]
Adam Levine carried a Starbucks drink with him while on his way to the gym in New York City. [US Weekly]
Lena Dunham took a break to eat a salad while filming her show Girls in New York City. [US Weekly]
Why bands are disappearing: 'Young people aren’t excited by them'
“T he moment that we started a band was the best thing that ever happened,” sings Matty Healy on the 1975’s recent single Guys. The song is an ardent love letter to the band, and to the romance of bands in general: the camaraderie, the solidarity, the joyous fusion of creativity and friendship. It’s an old sentiment but an increasingly rare one.
“It’s funny, when the first Maroon 5 album came out [in 2002] there were still other bands,” the band’s frontman Adam Levine told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe this month. “I feel like there aren’t any bands any more … I feel like they’re a dying breed.” Levine was quick to clarify that he meant bands “in the pop limelight” but the internet doesn’t really do clarification, so his remarks sparked bemusement and outrage among the literal-minded, from aggrieved veterans such as Garbage (“What are we Adam Levine? CATS. ”) to fans of newcomers such as Fontaines DC and Big Thief.
But hurt feelings aside, Levine was broadly correct. When Maroon 5 broke through in the 00s, there were new bands forming all the time, many of which quickly proceeded to go platinum and headline arenas. In the realm of pure pop, meanwhile, talent shows such as The X Factor became a reliable incubator of girl groups and boybands, from Girls Aloud to One Direction. No longer. Popular music’s centre of gravity has undeniably moved towards solo artists, at least when it comes to serious commercial success. This paradigm shift has been obvious for a while now (“What happened to all the bands?” asked Rostam Batmanglij after leaving Vampire Weekend in 2016. “Is it just that bands are corny now?”) and has accelerated across genres.
Whichever metric you use, the picture is clear. Right now, there are only nine groups in the UK Top 100 singles, and only one in the Top 40. Two are the Killers and Fleetwood Mac, with songs 17 and 44 years old respectively, while the others are the last UK pop group standing (Little Mix), two four-man bands (Glass Animals, Kings of Leon), two dance groups (Rudimental, Clean Bandit) and two rap units (D-Block Europe, Bad Boy Chiller Crew). There are duos and trios, but made up of solo artists guesting with each other. In Spotify’s Top 50 most-played songs globally right now, there are only three groups (BTS, the Neighbourhood, and the Internet Money rap collective), and only six of the 42 artists on the latest Radio 1 playlist are bands: Wolf Alice, Haim, Royal Blood, Architects, London Grammar and the Snuts.
Of course, radio and streaming are dominated by pop, rap and dance music but festival lineups don’t point to a golden age of bands, either. Of those that have emerged in the past decade, only half a dozen have headlined either Coachella, Reading/Leeds, Latitude, Download, Wireless or the main two stages at Glastonbury. That’s the 1975, Haim, alt-J, Rudimental, Bastille and Tame Impala, and the last of those is effectively a solo project. Only one band, the Lathums, appeared on the BBC’s annual tastemaking Sound of … longlist this year, which is not unusual: bands haven’t been in the majority since 2013. The album charts are still regularly topped by bands thanks to loyal fanbases who still buy physical formats – such as Mogwai, Architects and Kings of Leon in recent weeks – but not since 2016 has one hung on for a second week. So what happened?
Art-pop band Maxïmo Park broke through in 2005, during the huge post-Strokes boom in rock bands. In the era of sales-based charts and Top of the Pops, they had eight Top 40 hits. “Bands were alongside pop acts on the radio and on TV,” says frontman Paul Smith. “We did Top of the Pops with Amerie and the Scissor Sisters. I think it was healthy. It could be anything next: R&B, alternative rock, whatever. Music has been compartmentalised a lot more.”
Matthew Healy performs with the 1975. Photograph: Javier Bragado/WireImage
Rock and pop now exist in different spheres – even the biggest bands struggle to crack the streaming-driven Top 20 – but bands are on the back foot within alternative music itself. One theory is that major labels avoid bands because solo artists are cheaper and easier to handle. Not so, says Jamie Oborne, whose Dirty Hit label has found success with bands (the 1975, Wolf Alice) and solo artists (Beabadoobee, Rina Sawayama). “We’re actively trying to sign bands,” he says. “I’m desperate to find a really young band that I can help develop.”
The problem is, he says, there aren’t that many around. “It’s more likely now that a kid will make music in isolation because of technology. When I first met the 1975, they were all friends meeting in a room to make noise. So much is done in bedrooms these days, so you’re more likely to be by yourself.”
Ben Mortimer, co-president of Polydor Records, says that cost is more of an issue for artists than for labels. “If you’re young and inspired to become a musician, you face a choice. If you go the band route, you need to find bandmates with a similar vision, you need expensive instruments and equipment, and you need to get out on the road to hone your craft. On the other hand, you could download Ableton [production software], shut your bedroom door and get creating straight away. Culture is shaped by technology.”
“Starting a band is hugely expensive,” says Joff Oddie, guitarist with Wolf Alice. “You need an immense amount of equipment and a lot of space. I spent most of my student loan on rehearsal space. Travelling is expensive. Anything that can be done to make being in a band tenable for young artists is good, because the fear is that we’ll lose that tradition. I think it would be a disaster if it’s only open to middle-class kids.”
Mortimer, who started out in A&R in 2001 and has signed bands including Haim and Years & Years, says that Polydor are still launching young bands, including Dublin’s Inhaler, while sister label Island has Easy Life and Sports Team, but there are fewer contenders than there were a decade ago. “The majority of young people aren’t excited by band music in the traditional sense: groups of lads with guitars. And that’s reflected in the number of streams these bands receive. That then impacts on what talented young musicians go on to create. If they’ve grown up obsessing over rap music with their friends, they’re more likely to start creating rap music.”
The ability to create laptop symphonies has also changed the shape of those bands that have thrived. Dominated by singer-writer-producers, the likes of Bastille and Polydor’s Glass Animals (who recently ousted Olivia Rodrigo from the top of the Australian charts) make production-led pop, which means those frontmen are virtually solo artists in the public eye. Excepting Little Mix – who have seen one member leave and another sign a solo management deal this year – Haim might be the only young band around with more than one widely recognised member.
Establishing multiple personalities in the public’s imagination has always been trickier than selling one person, but MTV and a vibrant music press helped, while TV talent shows introduced group members to millions of viewers across several weeks before they had released a note of music. All three of those institutions have waned, leaving bands to make their own way in the online attention economy. “Social media has filled the hole, creating individual stars who are seen as more ‘authentic’ than anything the retro talent-show format could offer,” says Hannah Rose Ewens, author of Fangirls, a study of contemporary fandom.
Phoebe Bridgers. Photograph: Jay L Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/REX/Shutterstock
Social media is built for individual self-expression. Platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and Twitter – and even the portrait orientation of a smartphone screen – give an advantage to single voices and faces while making group celebrity less legible. Even within indie-rock, the most band-friendly genre apart from metal, the cult of the individual is stronger than ever, which has the advantage of enabling more women to rise to the fore. “Phoebe Bridgers, Soccer Mommy, Waxahatchee and other solo rock acts are essentially leading the genre now,” says Ewens. “Phoebe Bridgers, who is extremely online and very savvy about using Instagram and Twitter in a way that Gen Z finds relatable and funny, has attracted pop levels of idolatry.”
Perhaps, too, there is less of an appetite for the interpersonal drama of a group. In the time before reality shows, bands offered insights into group dynamics (if we’re being highfalutin) or voyeuristic entertainment (if we’re not). Even now, new generations of fans enjoy finding out exactly what Paul or John said in 1969, or which messy divorce inspired which Fleetwood Mac song, or how Noel and Liam came to hate each other’s guts. On one level, every band is a psychological experiment in which disparate personalities are crammed into close proximity and thrust into the spotlight. You don’t need bands for that experience now that it is the cornerstone format of reality television. The great tea-spilling, click-attracting feuds in modern pop are between solo artists, not within bands.
In Asia, though, it’s an entirely different story. “Idol” groups, painstakingly assembled, trained, styled and choreographed for maximum appeal, have been at the forefront of Japanese and Korean pop for decades. K-Pop stars BTS are the world’s biggest pop group. “Strategically, this system has more to offer to the fans than a solo artist,” says Shin Cho, head of K-Pop and J-Pop at Warner Music Asia. “Individual fans have their own favourite members but also appreciate the chemistry in a group. There can also be sub-group projects that offer something different. The group format is viewed as more dynamic because there is simply more to do and show compared to a solo artist.”
Brave new world? New girl group Boys World. Photograph: PR
Sonny Takhar, former global president of Simon Cowell’s Syco Music, who worked with One Direction, Little Mix and Fifth Harmony, hopes that this is still possible in the UK and US, too, albeit in a less regimented way. Now CEO and founder of KYN Entertainment, he recently launched a new five-woman group, Boys World, who have racked up more than 30m likes on TikTok. “It’s always been much more expensive than launching a solo artist,” he says. “However, you need to exercise more patience in today’s market. Gen Z has many choices and demands on their time compared with those of a teenager five years ago. There’s a constant fight to gain their attention. Pop groups need to be very relatable. Every fan should recognise an element of themselves in the girls’ personalities and lives.”
Takhar assembled Boys World through a more organic process than the old Syco model, giving existing members a role in recruiting new ones. “The girls were very much at the centre of each decision to ensure that they formed a gang of friends first and foremost. They have grown up on social media and are very comfortable using it on their own terms. It’s far better than a formatted TV show. They are in control. The age of the svengali is over.”
The challenge posed by all pop cultural trends is to work out whether or not it is a permanent structural shift or just another phase. The right group at the right time, whether it is the Strokes or the Spice Girls, can change everything. In the short term, the pandemic has made it impossible for new bands to form and threatens the survival of the regional venue circuit on which they depend, while Brexit has thrown up expensive new obstacles for touring bands. Yet Oborne remains optimistic.
“I’m excited about the wave of creativity that’s going to follow this period that we’ve just lived through,” he says. “I feel this hankering in youth culture for real experience and connection. I’m still quite the romantic when it comes to music. Look at Fontaines DC. I see a picture of them and wish I was in a band. It’s the same thing as walking down the street with your friends and feeling like you’re part of something. Anything’s possible.”
Maximo Park, with Paul Smith, centre. Photograph: Em Cole
Regardless of trends in music technology, streaming and celebrity culture, there is still a lot to be said for being able to share the pleasures and pressures of life in the music industry with a group of peers. Having released four solo albums as well as seven with Maxïmo Park, Paul Smith is well-placed to compare the two scenarios.
“I can get things done a lot quicker as a solo artist,” he says. “I can choose the artwork, decide the tracklisting: little things that take us weeks because we have an egalitarian mindset. You can make a bit more money. But I love the communal aspect of being in a band. You’re sharing everything: sharing the profits but also sharing the load. If you’re a big solo star and you’re not enjoying it, it must be one of the loneliest places you can be.”
“We’re fanatical about bands and being in a band,” says Wolf Alice’s Joff Oddie. “A good band creates a community. They have an ecosystem that, as a fan, you feel like you want to be part of. Despite all that’s been said about individualism, there is still a hunger for that collective feeling.” Perhaps you just have to squeeze it all into a phone screen.
This article was updated on 19 March with a correction: Easy Life and Sports Team are signed to Island Records, not Polydor.
What a Starbucks Employee Did for a Deaf Client Will Melt You
Ibby Piracha, a 23-year-old deaf man from Leesburg, Virginia, shared the above note he got from a cashier at his local Starbucks on Facebook on Feb. 19. According to the post, the employee ringing up his Frappuccino asked him in ASL what he wanted to drink before explaining further in the note she'd been learning the language to help him have a Starbucks experience just like everyone else.
Piracha told WJLA he "was just so moved that she actually wanted to learn sign." He continued: "Sign language is really a totally different language and it was something that she wanted to do because of me? Because I was a deaf customer? I was very, very impressed."
He also said she was learning the language via YouTube videos and that he is at this particular Starbucks "several times a week."
Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo move into Meghan and Harry’s neighborhood: Inside their mansion!
Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo are Meghan Markle and Prince Harry ’s newest celebrity neighbors! The 41-year-old rocker and 32-year-old model purchased a stunning property in the exclusive Montecito area of California for about $22.7 million in March. They’re entering a star-studded fold of residents, which not only includes the Sussexes, but Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom, and Oprah.
Scroll through to step inside the historic home, which boasts ocean views, countless amenities and four separate structures.
According to Redfin, the home was built in 1932 by award-winning architects. The coveted estate sits on over five acres of land and is actually four homes in one.
The Main House
The main residence reflects the exterior’s Spanish Revival style. Amenities include an indoor theater (for reruns of The Voice perhaps?) and wine cellar.
Yoga for Men: Adam Levine, Rocker Yogi
Sting, who made yoga manly not to mention sexy, has an heir. Adam Levine, Grammy winning lead singer of Maroon 5 and a hipster style icon, is a self-proclaimed yoga devotee. Levine who shares his playlist and workout below loves to move in mysterious ways. With the help of L.A. instructor Alanna Zabel, the tall, trim and handsome front man used yoga to cure chronic back pain, quit the gym forever and become a wiser guy.
How'd you wind up at yoga?
A year and a half ago, my trainer recommended I try working with Alanna to help with my flexibility issues. I'm naturally very tight in lower back and my hips and hamstrings too. My first class felt like someone was ripping my body apart. It wasn't what you'd call peaceful. But I was excited by the idea that the more dedicated I became the more effortless it would become to relax and give in to that tightness. Yes, the torture subsided a bit over time.
How did your body change?
Physically I have always been on the slender side. When I started practicing I instantly felt more sculpted. Yoga carves you into a different person&mdashand that is satisfying physically.
Did it change how you work out?
I had been lifting weights for years. After our first yoga session, I vowed never to lift another weight again.
Do you believe in the mind-body connection?
I was skeptical, to say the least. I was wary of the cliche´s associated with yoga: spirituality used as a marketing tool or Eastern philosophy sold at Starbucks to disenchanted lawyers and accountants looking for meaning. What I soon realized is that yoga welcomes everyone&mdashthat's extremely appealing.
How do you maintain your practice on tour?
Being a traveler, yoga is by far the most convenient way to exercise while I'm on the road. You don't need anything but a few feet of space and a mat. And I can always find at least an hour a day to practice. (Levine made videos with his teacher to take on the road with him.)
What is your advice to people who think they are too inflexible to do yoga?
Start simple. Yoga will drastically improve you in every way imaginable. But let's face it, I only practice yoga because the classes are always packed with beautiful women. (I am totally kidding.)
The Yoga Teacher's Report
Adam was so tight when we started to work together that he would actually roll back if he was sitting. Shortly after he learned Warrior 1 and 2 he noticed a difference in the way his body performed.
His spine is curved&mdashit's a genetic thing--so we've kind of incorporated moves to loosen up his spine. Too much lower body and abdominal work would actually hurt him because he's slightly bound in the lower back. We do a lot of dog-cat tilts and do a lot of Warriors, to stretch his legs and relax his lower back.
I can tell you, Adam has the same intensity in yoga as he does in a music video. We work every day when he's at home. He even hired a camera crew to videotape one of our sessions so he could watch the DVD in hotel rooms across the country. He's so excited about it. He'll call from the road and ask, 'Do I need a block? Do I need a strap?
He even creates a new playlist for each session. I'm usually the girl who brings the good mixes and they're nothing compared to his. But we do have the same taste in music. We like Alicia Keyes, Maxwell, Marvin Gaye, Amy Winehouse.
I've seen him with his friends and his girlfriend and he so wants things to be right. Men tend to have a hard time expressing how they feel but he's so passionate and well spoken. But with some yoga they can be like Sting.
Adam is really focused he's really persistent he's a good man. He lives yoga.
Maroon 5 crashed 7 weddings: What the grooms really thought
In the video for their catchy new single, “Sugar,” Maroon 5 surprises random couples on their wedding day with an impromptu performance. But how did the grooms really feel about Adam Levine making their brides swoon? Let’s explore.
As crew arrives and starts setting up the pop-up stage at the first venue, the bride and groom both clearly wonder what is going on and who approved this. Paging the wedding planner, STAT!
Meanwhile, angry papa bear &mdash aka the father of the bride &mdash looks like his head is about to crack open so a baby bridezilla can spring forth and devour said wedding crashers.
Here’s what we imagine was running through the grooms’ brains, though.
Bride: “Seriously, though, WTactualF is going on right now?” Groom: “I swear, if I don’t get laid tonight because of this, there will be a reckoning.”
“Oh, God, she’s dying right now. I’m totally going to pass this off as my idea.”
“She’s going to be calling me Adam Levine later, and I don’t even care!”
“Maybe somebody bought us a car.”
“I should be more concerned about who this dude is and what he’s saying, but I can’t stop staring at his glorious curly beard.”
“Damn, man. My girl loves Adam Levine. I’m never going to live up to this. F***********k.”
“You! My girl is going to be dreaming about you tonight, bro!”
“OK, OK… I can work with this. I’m down for some role play later &mdash I’ve always wanted a groupie.”
“Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no. Is this for real happening right now? I feel sick.”
“Oh, wow… you’re, like, really into this.”
“Just smile and nod… just smile and nod.”
“Did I just do the Carlton in front of my new wife? Did I just do the Carlton in the presence of Adam Levine?! Sweet Jesus.”
“Let’s all get hammered on champagne and pretend like our wives aren’t eye-boning Adam Levine right now.”
Inside Adam Levine’s $35 Million-Plus a Year Empire
On this late-February evening in East Rutherford, the eighth stop on the North American leg of Maroon 5’s latest tour, variations on “Marry me, Adam,” “Team Adam” and “Prom?” decorate signs that dot the arena’s rafters. Levine, 33, has been a rock star since he and some of his high school buddies began playing West Hollywood clubs as teens, but there’s no denying his stardom has rocketed into the stratosphere during the two years since he began as a “coach” on NBC’s runaway hit The Voice. A fourth cycle of the singing competition — its first with Shakira and Usher temporarily replacing Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green — begins March 25, and it can’t arrive soon enough for NBC, whose ratings have plummeted from first to fourth place without Voice and Sunday Night Football. Its dependence on the show has turned Levine into the improbable face — if not the savior — of the network.
At the same time, Levine has parlayed that visibility into a booming business, with legions of young female fans and tentacles extending well beyond music. There’s a fledgling acting career, with an arc on FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum, a well-received hosting gig on Saturday Night Live and a film foray with John Carney‘s recently wrapped Can a Song Save Your Life? opposite Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo . He recently rolled out a celebrity fragrance line, a planned fashion collection, a lucrative spokesperson deal with acne-product giant Proactiv and a record label to which Glee‘s Matthew Morrison is signed. At press time, he also was negotiating a first-look overall deal at NBC to serve as a producer on future TV projects. All of that is on top of Maroon 5’s fourth studio album (released in 2012) and tour, both cheekily titled Overexposed, suggesting Levine and his longtime bandmates are amused by his ubiquity.
“Adam is now a worldwide empire,” says veteran music manager Irving Azoff , whose former Front Line Management counts Levine among its clients. “Between The Voice and Maroon 5 breaking through to a million-dollar-plus-a-night attraction, plus all of his other activities — writing, producing and more — he’s a big industry.” Following Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, Levine has become perhaps the most successful example of the new business model for musicians in an age of declining record sales. By taking a chance on a singing show his rocker brethren might find beneath them, he has been able to showcase his likable personality on a twice-weekly platform that has allowed him to launch a multimillion-dollar business — lifting his band to new heights in the process. In fact, Levine’s growing portfolio likely will earn him more than $35 million this year, according to sources familiar with his many business dealings, with NBC paying him $10 million to $12 million for each cycle of Voice.
Asked two days before the New Jersey show if he has gone too commercial — perhaps even sold out — Levine shoots a look he might give if you had just selected Team Xtina over his. “I think that there was this generation before us that was so hellbent on not selling out that it went too far, and I feel like maybe it’s history correcting itself because it’s more acceptable now to do a lot of the things that musicians would have been terrified to do 10 years ago,” he says, acknowledging that hours from now he will give media interviews to peddle a new apparel line for Kmart. “I was never that guy that thought it was uncool for a band to be successful. I always thought, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to pay your bills and also be a musician?’ It’s just nice that being motivated to be successful is not a crime anymore.”
On a frigid afternoon in late February, Levine emerges in the lobby of New York’s The Mercer hotel with an apology. He landed funny while performing in Montreal the night before and tweaked his neck. “If I’m somewhat out of it, you’ll know why,” he says, his head cocked awkwardly to one side. Between sips of a red eye — a caffeine jolt of coffee mixed with espresso — he reveals himself at once charming, cocky, self-deprecating, self-aware, funny and grateful.
Accepting a gig on Voice has changed him, says Levine, turning a “lazy” rock star whose days could consist of models and motorcycles into a highly motivated businessman. “The Voice was the first real job I’ve ever had that wasn’t just messing around with music,” he says while pulling at the threads of his ripped jeans. “I don’t really know what happened, but it initiated some kind of mode in my brain. It put me on this trajectory, and I love it.” (To be sure, the Los Angeles native has not given up his penchant for motorcycles, nor has his romantic life taken a hit Levine, who keeps a yoga instructor on his payroll and shares a Hollywood Hills bachelor pad with an old pal, is dating Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo .)
It was two years ago that Levine’s childhood friend-turned-longtime manager Jordan Feldstein , brother of actor Jonah Hill ( né Feldstein ), reached out to NBC about its new singing show, but at the time Levine required convincing. “I scoffed at it initially,” he admits, acknowledging that his bandmates similarly were skeptical. The genre of reality television had been a massive turnoff. “It’s just a bunch of f—ing assholes who are fame whores,” he says without naming names. (Levine’s TV tastes skew more Sons of Anarchy and The Daily Show than Housewives and Kardashians .)
A lengthy meeting with executive producer Mark Burnett — who explained that the show, an adaptation of The Voice of Holland, would promote emerging talent rather than knock it down as rival American Idol had done — changed Levine’s mind. Making the opportunity more appealing were the caliber of the coaches (“When Cee Lo decided to sign on, that was when we were all like, ‘OK, this makes sense,’ ” says Feldstein ), the examples of crossover success with Idol‘s Lopez and Tyler and the somewhat stagnant state of Maroon 5. The band’s 2010 album, Hands All Over, garnered mixed reviews — Rolling Stone suggested it wasn’t “half as fun as it should be” — and subpar sales. “Honestly,” explains Levine, “the risk/reward situation was such that we thought it would be better for me to try doing it because the band was, I wouldn’t say faltering, but not doing as well at that point as we had wanted to be doing.”
NBC president of alternative and late-night Paul Telegdy recalls being particularly impressed by Levine during a late-2010 performance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. During the breaks, the exec watched from the studio audience as Levine charmed the crowd with song requests. “That night sort of sealed the deal,” says Telegdy , noting that he was struck by not only Levine’s range but also his witty, self-effacing style. “He was acutely aware of what his performer qualities were, but there was just a little bit of a prankster and a clown in there as well.”
Much as it is now, Telegdy’s network was in serious need of a boost. NBC had been floundering in the ratings basement for nearly a decade, with its fourth programming chief in as many years. In something of a desperate move, the network’s brass agreed to shell out $2.3 million an episode for Voice — the most expensive new unscripted series in NBC’s history — which allowed Burnett to bring in four known quantities: Levine, Aguilera, Green and country music’s Blake Shelton.
Recognizing that the coaches’ chemistry would be key, Burnett sent the newly selected foursome — each representing a different musical genre — to L.A.’s Soho House for a night of bonding on his dime. “I thought it was important for them to go out socially, and I didn’t want producers there,” he says. “Can you think of a crazier idea than giving four music stars your credit card and drivers and sending them out to the Soho House? I remember Adam saw me the next day and said: ‘Dude, that was such a mistake. Wait until you see your American Express bill.’ “
The tab was worth it. Voice was an instant hit with viewers and advertisers. According to Kantar Media, the third cycle delivered $268 million in ad revenue, more than twice as much as the net’s second-most-lucrative entertainment program, America’s Got Talent. (Idol still dominates, pulling in $836 million in its 11th season.) What’s more, the top-rated series — more than 12 million people watch weekly — led NBC to a rare first-place finish in the fall among the key 18-to-49 demographic, lifting rookie entries Revolution, Go On and The New Normal in its wake. (With Voice off the air, the comedies have collapsed Revolution will return in late March.)
And while Aguilera was perceived as the big “get” when Voice premiered, Levine — and, to a lesser extent, Shelton — has become the series’ breakout. “If I have to hear any more about Adam Levine’s beautifully tattooed, pythonlike forearms &hellip,” says Telegdy , joking about the viewer attention his network’s social media data reflect. During the show’s third cycle, # TeamAdam and @AdamLevine scored a respective 203,000 and 2.14 million Twitter mentions, besting the other coaches. At one point, “Shirtless Adam” became a worldwide trending topic. “I’d hate to characterize Adam as just man candy, though, because he’s much more than that,” adds Telegdy . “He’s extremely talented, hilariously funny, and he’s got that, shall we say, naughty-boy quality about him.”
Levine will tell you the show has propelled him because it showcases a different side to his personality. “No one knew what I was really like or whether I had anything to say. &hellip I think that the occasional soccer mom probably thought I was a slut,” he says bluntly of a pre-Voice reputation born of a rocker lifestyle that appeared to include a bevy of bombshells on his arm. “The show put me in an interesting light to be cross-examined and analyzed by the world at large, and I think that I succeeded in making them like me.” (According to polling firm E-Poll Market Research, awareness of Levine has nearly tripled since he joined the show, and his likability has shot up more than 20 percent.)
How has he won fans over? “As a pop star, you don’t have to be that smart for people to think you’re intelligent. The bar is f—ing low if you have half a brain, they think you’re amazing. So I have that going for me,” he jokes, before suggesting a second reason: honesty. That, too, requires clarification: “I don’t lie, and that’s unusual in a world of media-obsessed, media-trained f—ing liars who will sit here with you and totally bullshit you to further their own careers.” The comment sets him off on a longer diatribe about his image: part bad-boy rock star, part cheese-ball TV personality, which he insists is not perfectly tailored. “I say the wrong thing, I offend people, and I piss people off, all of which I like,” he adds. Levine has made headlines with such musings as “Instinctively, monogamy is not in our genetic makeup,” and, “Maybe the reason that I was promiscuous and wanted to sleep with a lot of women is that I love them so much.”
But Levine’s savvy runs deeper. He has done a masterful job not only of exploiting NBC’s many programming assets — he presented at the Golden Globes, appeared on the 2012 Super Bowl pregame show and hosted SNL — but also of using the primetime platform to further his band and his brand. Take Maroon 5’s single “Moves Like Jagger ,” which strategically featured Aguilera. The duo, along with the band, performed the song — more pop-infused than Maroon 5’s previous fare and its first use of an outside producer — on a June 2011 episode of Voice, leaning on the show and its iTunes leverage to drum up attention. “No one had done it to that extent where you were really tying the show, the band and the brand all at one time, and it just kind of exploded from there,” says Feldstein . “ Jagger ” has sold nearly 6 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan , making it one of the biggest digital singles of all time.
Although Levine’s involvement in Voice’s fall cycle is not yet official, sources tell THR that he’s locked in for a fifth one. (The show’s original coaches, Aguilera, Shelton and Green, are expected to join him.) “They’re going to have to physically remove Adam from the building,” says Levine’s manager. “He loves doing the show, and it’s been great for his career. We’ll be there as long as NBC wants us.”
Levine is no stranger to stardom. Having grown up in L.A., he attended the posh Brentwood School, where his classmates included bandmates Jesse Carmichael and Mickey Madden as well as other Hollywood offspring. Among the latter were Feldstein and Hill, whose father has been best friends with Levine’s father since the men were 14. Levine’s dad, who split from Levine’s admissions-counselor mother when he and his brother were young, founded the boutique clothing chain M. Fredric .
“I was a total dickhead,” says Levine of his teen years, when he was focused more on music than academics. “I didn’t do any homework I just went home and wrote music or played guitar or had band practice,” he adds, having started playing dives with his band, Kara’s Flowers, by the time he was 13. Hill shares that recollection. “The irony of Adam’s success and my own success is that we were both the least likely to succeed growing up,” he says via email, recalling how he and Levine would sit in Levine’s room with Levine declaring, “I’m gonna be a rock star,” and Hill hypothesizing, “I’m going to be an actor.”
That the pipe dream became their reality still excites the pair. “I remember the first time I was on [Late Night With Conan O’Brien], my first talk show ever, eight or nine years ago, and [Adam] had everyone we knew over to his house to watch it live and cheer me on,” adds Hill. The actor hardly is the only friend who has found himself on the receiving end of Levine’s big heart and fierce loyalty. “It’s pretty remarkable the extent to which he hasn’t changed,” notes Madden. Comparisons have been drawn to Vincent Chase, the lead character on HBO’s long-running series Entourage, because Levine rarely is without members of his pack, which includes his longtime bandmates, assistant Shawn Tellez and writer-producer roommate Gene Hong. On his rare night off, the “homebody,” as Madden describes his bandmate, often can be found hanging out at his refurbished 1940s home with those pals and his golden retriever, Frankie, whose paw print is inked on his shoulder.
Levine’s music career got a significant boost near the end of high school, when Warner Bros. Records signed Kara’s Flowers to its Reprise label. “We thought we were rock gods at that point,” he quips of an era in which the band, which included current members Carmichael (keyboard) and Madden (bass), put out an album, booked gigs and even nabbed a guest spot on Fox’s Beverly Hills, 90210. “I mean, we were The Beatles in our minds.” But by age 20, Levine and his buddies got a reality check. After the band’s first album sputtered, they were dropped by the label and forced to rethink their career choice. “Suddenly, we were just these tainted kids who are in this band that no one wants to sign,” recalls Levine, who segued into a series of odd jobs, including a production assistant gig on CBS’ Judging Amy (writer-producer Barbara Hall is a family friend) before packing his bags for a brief stint at Five Towns College on Long Island, purportedly to study music.
Not long after, the band reunited, adding guitarist James Valentine and changing its name to Maroon 5 (the origin remains a tightly guarded secret). In 2002, the group put out its debut album, Songs About Jane, featuring the slow-build, Levine-penned hits “Harder to Breathe” and “This Love,” and spent the better part of three years promoting it. During the decade that followed, the band would pick up three Grammys (including best new artist in 2005), open for The Rolling Stones and sell more than 9.5 million albums in the U.S. before losing much of that momentum with its third album. That is, until Voice re-energized the band and its fan base.
“A lot of bands that were following that trajectory probably wouldn’t have made it back,” says Tom Poleman, president of national programming platforms at Clear Channel Radio. “They’ve done what everybody wishes they could do.” Looking to repeat the “Moves Like Jagger” formula, the band enlisted more pop hitmakers including Max Martin, Ryan Tedder and Benny Blanco for its fourth album. The move — a departure for a group that pre-“Jagger” wrote all of its music — began paying off immediately. Overexposed‘s first single, “Payphone,” which the band relies on to kick off each concert, sold 496,000 singles during its first week, the most to date by a group. The album already has sold 1.2 million copies. Says Levine, “The Voice wound up being way beyond the best thing that’s ever happened to me and to the band.”
Meanwhile, he was approached by American Horror Story‘s Ryan Murphy, another longtime friend, and Can a Song Save Your Life? director Carney to try his hand at acting. “I’m not very good at it,” he confesses, having shot three episodes of the former (he played a doomed newlywed) and a starring role in the latter (as a musician working through a relationship with Knightley’s character). Still, it doesn’t intimidate Levine the way performing with the band once did. “You get onstage and perform in front of 10,000 people, and if you f— up, it’s your ass,” he says with a smile that suggests he has done so on more than one occasion. (He famously played his first professional gig at the Troubadour with his back to the audience because he was so nervous.) “How scary is it to go into an intimate setting that’s totally comfortable and do something 500 times until you get it right? That’s not pressure.”
To Levine, the key to a successful transition has been to find directors who can tell him what to do and how to do it. “I’m the director’s bitch,” he says, acknowledging that he recently saw an early cut of Save Your Life and was surprised at how “not shitty” he was. “They’ll probably say that I’m a better actor than I am a singer or something,” he jokes of the critics who haven’t always been kind to him. “They’ll find some way to f— me with something negative.”
Murphy says he was impressed, even noting he’d like to bring Levine back to AHS in a bigger role, but Levine’s schedule won’t allow it. “If he got the right parts in film, I really feel like Adam could do a Justin Timberlake thing,” adds Murphy, “because he has the chops, and, more than that, he has the ambition.” (Although Levine is coy about future acting opportunities, Feldstein suggests it long has been a “personal passion” for him: “It’s something that he’s legitimately been talking to me about for 15 years.”)
The decision to launch a fragrance line arguably was more perplexing, considering it was Levine who once tweeted to his nearly 4 million followers: “I also would like to put an official ban on celebrity fragrances. Punishable by death from this point forward.” He defends the earlier comment by noting his isn’t a typical celebrity vanity play but rather another product for which he has been intimately involved in the creative process. “I want it to do well,” he says of the time he’s put in, adding: “If you’re going to get paid to do this ridiculous shit, you’ve got to put f—ing effort into it.”
It’s not hard to see Levine is having a ball with all of this. “I so appreciate you,” he shouts to his fans, new and old, from the Izod Center stage, taking a few seconds to soak in the moment before adding, “And I love you.” Madden, who has watched as his bandmate’s calendar has swelled with opportunities, suggests he is thrilled but not at all surprised by Levine’s rise. “Having known Adam for so long, it all seems to fit a script he’s had for himself ever since he was young,” he says, laughing as he completes his thought: “My standard line on Adam is that fame just justified his personality.”
How Baristas Feel About Starbucks' New Latte Macchiato
When Starbucks first announced its flat white , there was mild, call it Blonde Roast , chaos: The end of an era for an Australian cult favorite enjoyed by coffee (and milk) obsessives at boutique cafes the world over. It was like that moment you noticed your favorite indie band soundtracked a car commercial. If a drink could sell out, this was it.
Starbucks just announced another category of espresso drink, the latte macchiato, which will appear in stores in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America starting today. Except this time, there's nothing to lament, because the third wave baristas we spoke to don't really even know what it is or why you would want that drink in the first place. And they're definitely not psyched to have customers coming in asking for a drink they don't have on the menu.
A traditional latte (not at Starbucks) with intricate latte art. Photo: Flickr/jonwick
So what is a latte macchiato , anyway? Unlike a caramel macchiato, which is a figment of Starbucks' collective imagination, it turns out a latte macchiato is a real thing. It's basically the inverse of a latte. Let us explain.
Traditionally, a latte starts with a shot (or two, at many specialty shops in the U.S., because the U.S. loves caffeine) of espresso and then six to eight ounces of steamed milk and a thin layer of foam on top. In the U.S., that milk number often gets bumped up to something like 12 ounces of milk because everything is super-sized and sometimes certain mass market espressos should be cloaked in more warm milk.
Macchiato means "stained" or "marked" and indicates espresso "marked" with a splash of milk. It's around four total ounces with (almost) equal parts espresso to steamed milk.
A latte macchiato, the Starbucks kind, is neither latte nor macchiato. It is a real Italian drink (albeit a sort of obscure one), and is traditionally enjoyed by children whose parents want to give their bambini coffee but aren't sure if their kids can stomach it.
The latte macchiato (front) exists now. The flat white is behind it. Photo: Courtesy of Starbucks
Founder of L.A.'s Bar Nine , Zayde Naquib , isn't totally sure why anyone would want this. "Whenever you build any drink, you tend to get your most concentrated ingredient in first, and try to stretch it out from there." he says. Consider an Italian soda, for instance: The simple syrup always goes in first so that it disperses more evenly and you don't get a mouthful of liquid sugar in the first few sips.
Because of its inverse order, a latte macchiato will taste different than a caffè latte, according to Wille Yli-Luoma , founder of Portland's Heart Coffee Roasters . "Instead of you tasting the milk integrated with the coffee, you'll get the coffee upfront with the foam on top, then you'll get the milk in the bottom part of the drink."
The way Starbucks describes it is, "Foamed whole milk marked with shots of espresso." Some foam stays at the top, creating a layered, Pinterest-y effect that you can only see in a clear glass mug.
Meanwhile, specialty shop baristas who are face-to-face with hundreds of customers a day at Heart and at Verve Coffee in L.A. are bracing themselves for the moment when people come in asking for one. Iona Burciaga , a barista at Verve's W. 3rd Street location, describes how often she has to let down customers who ask for Starbucks-style caramel macchiatos at the bar: "We always have to inform them that we serve the traditional Italian macchiato, not the one they're really looking for."
Baristas at specialty coffee shops have lots to explain to visitors who ask for Starbucks drinks. Photo: Carin Olsson
Adam Murray , a barista at Heart, feels the weight of that. When he has to explain the difference between a macchiato (the one they serve) and the Starbucks macchiato to new customers, "It makes it easy to interpret us as pretentious, because I show them this tiny cup, and they're like, 'Whereɽ the other 16 ounces go?!'" he says. "People who are able to access coffee through Starbucks then feel alienated at other shops because of the very specific language there. And that feeling makes them go back to Starbucks."
Put delicately, "Starbucks. uses the term macchiato loosely," says Jennifer Ramirez , a barista at Catalina Coffee in Houston. Indeed. A Starbucks spokesperson tells us that the company is rolling out the new drink because of the runaway success of the flat white last year. So, give the people what they want—even if that means that coffee drinks are slowly becoming hot milkshakes. With Italian names, of course.
Sarah Silverman’s Paris joke just isn’t funny any more
Sarah Silverman has apologised for offending Paris Hilton. Photograph: David Crotty/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images
Under headlines that could have been ripped from 2007, Paris Hilton has revealed that she has accepted an apology from Sarah Silverman, for a joke that the comedian made about her at that year’s MTV movie awards.
On her podcast, This Is Paris, Hilton talked about “sitting there wanting to die” as Silverman joked about Hilton going to prison watching it now, more grisly than the crude punchline, I think, is an entire auditorium of celebrities seeming to cheer at her getting locked up.
Silverman has talked before about the “roast” culture that dominated comedy at that time, particularly American comedy. On her own podcast, she addressed the resurfaced controversy at length, saying to Hilton: “I’m sorry I hurt you. Comedy is not evergreen. We can’t change the past. What’s crucial is that we change with the times.”
The joke in question has not aged well, and it’s obvious from the footage that Hilton was upset. But I am glad that Silverman isn’t opting for the straightforward mea culpa and is acknowledging the complexity of the situation. There is a tendency towards disingenuous moral certainty, to decide we wouldn’t have laughed at a crass gag like that even then, but plenty did, and I might have. I can’t remember, but I might have. It is reductive to treat comedy from two decades ago as if it were written yesterday.
Back on a special episode of her podcast, Hilton accepted the apology. I will listen to Silverman’s podcast for the response to the response to the response.
Adam Levine and Sammy Hagar Partner For New Alcohol, ‘Mezquila’
(RADIO.COM) &ndash Rock musician Sammy Hagar and Maroon 5&rsquos Adam Levine are making drinks together. The two celebs have partnered to develop a new tequila blended with mezcal.
The dream began when the two were drinking together in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Hagar and Levine mixed some tequila and mezcal together and liked the taste.
&ldquoWhen we came up with that name, mezquila, the whole road opened up,&rdquo Hagar told USA Today. &ldquoWe know what we&rsquore going to do. It&rsquos the first mezquila. We&rsquove invented a new product.&rdquo
One good reason that Hagar may have wanted to get back into the agave booze business, is that tequila sales outpaced overall spirits industry growth in 2016, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S.
Their Santo Mezquila is an 80-proof blend of both spirits that&rsquos priced at $55 per bottle.
Tequila is a type of mezcal made from blue agave, while mezcal can be made from other forms of agave.
Hagar went back to the Mexican distillery that originally worked with him to make his Cabo Wabo Tequila, a brand he founded 1996, and after several different blends, the new business partners found a taste they liked.
&ldquoIt comes on like tequila and you smell a little bit of smoke in it but is toned down to where you get a sweet finish,&rdquo Hagar said. &ldquoIt&rsquos taking tequila to another level. When you blend the two you get a higher spirit, a brand new taste.&rdquo
Hagar and Levine will launch Santo Mezquila in L.A. on Friday, February 10. Over the next month or so, it will ship to Las Vegas, California, New York, Texas and Florida.
Kara Newman, of Wine Enthusiast and author of Shake. Stir. Sip.: More than 50 Effortless Cocktails Made in Equal Parts says, &ldquoHagar already has a track record with his first tequila brand. He was one of the first to put his name on a tequila. He was early in, and in my opinion, he was too early out,&rdquo she said.
The “Red Rocker” would disagree. He has said, &ldquoYou can&rsquot make a tequila now, there&rsquos so much competition.&rdquo Hagar sold his stake in Cabo Wabo to the Campari Group for nearly $100 million.
This Harley Quinn Frappuccino Is The Craziest Thing On The Starbucks Secret Menu
The Joker has his own movie, so it's only fair that Harley Quinn would have her own movie&mdashyou know, now that they've broken up and all. And since he got his own secret menu Starbucks Frappuccino, it's also only fair that Harley would get one, too. Enter the bright, sweet, and completely over-the-top Harley Quinn Frappuccino.
This Frapp, once again, is brought to the world by the saints at Totallythebomb.com. Like the other Frappuccinos the site creates, this one is on the secret menu, meaning that it was not created by Starbucks, it won't be on the store's official menu, and you should be kind to your barista when you as for it step-by-step. Don't just tell them the name and expect them to know. Ya know, common sense stuff.
Anyway! This drink is made to look like some of the colors of Harley Quinn's typical color scheme. It's pink and green. She usually has red and blue in her hair but you get it. It's cool. Here's how you order it!
Ask for strawberry puree on the bottom of the cup. Then ask for a Strawberry Frappuccino with vanilla bean and hazelnut blended in. Ask for whipped cream on top. Then get matcha powder on half of the whipped cream and then crushed-up dried dragon fruit on the other half.
It's a bit more of an involved Frapp to make but it makes sense given Harley Quinn's character. Just go in with a bit of her confidence while ordering, but uh, maybe be a little nicer than she normally is.