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Fifth Harmony's Lawyer on Setting the Group Free: 'They Own Their Brand Now'

Selena Gomez Insisted on a Queer Love Triangle for Her 'Bad Liar' Video

Ariana Grande Says 'Words Don't Suffice' Over Honorary Manchester Citizenship

Fifth HarmonyFifth Harmony's Lawyer on Setting the Group Free: 'They Own Their Brand Now'

Billboard.com

Lawyer Dina LaPolt works with Britney Spears, Steven Tyler and since, 2015, Billboard cover stars Fifth Harmony, which she helped take control of its contracts and creativity.

Where did you start?
Me, Larry [Rudolph] and Dan [Dymtrow, their managers] said, “What do you want to do?” And they were like, “Wow, no one ever asked us.”

They credit you with a lot of their progress.
We had a long-term strategy for the girls, which first and foremost included their emotional and mental health.

Is this the first album of many from the four-person 5H or the last one before they all go solo?
It’s whatever they want. They own their brand now. The things they want individually and as a group are not mutually exclusive. Look at Steven Tyler, who has a huge solo career but at the same time, a huge band he has been in for 45 years. You can have it all, baby. This is America!

More:

One by one, the women of Fifth Harmony settle in at a picnic table on the balcony of a mall in Santa Monica. They’ve come here on this balmy June afternoon for a cooking class, but they haven’t left their style swerves at home.

Ally Brooke Hernandez, 24, has a two-tone thing happening, with a black leather hat and skirt paired with a fuzzy pink sweater and pumps. Normani Kordei, 21, has accented herself with huge chrome hoop earrings and silver-dipped nails. Lauren Jauregui, 21, wears a lacy boho-chic blouse and carries her puppy, a rescue mutt named Leo. Then there’s Dinah Jane Hansen, 20, who peels off a trippy floral jacket to reveal a bright yellow tee that reads, in big block letters, “I’M A RAY OF ______ SUNSHINE.”

Fifth Harmony used to tour malls like this: shopped from town to town, crammed between kiosks for tchotchkes and lit by department store signs. That was in 2013, less than a year after its lineup was now-famously chosen by Simon Cowell and Antonio “L.A.” Reid flipping through the headshots of X Factor contestants on the verge of washing out. The teens twice tried to christen themselves, but the first name (LYLAS, for “Love You Like a Sister”) was already in use, and the judges hated the second (1432, pager code for “I love you, too”), so Cowell asked viewers to submit ideas online. Rebranded Fifth Harmony, they took third place and stepped off the show into a joint deal with Reid’s Epic Records and Cowell’s Syco Music.

But those are all tales of an earlier era, before 2016, the group’s biggest year yet -- and the one that ended in shambles when, exhausted and unfulfilled, 5H lost Camila Cabello to a solo career. Last year’s 7/27 debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, propelled by “Work From Home,” the first top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit from a girl group in nearly a decade. But the acrimonious December split made even bigger news, with 5H accusing Cabello of quitting through her reps, and Cabello denying the accusations. It was... awkward.

“Try experiencing it,” retorts Jauregui when I volunteer as much. The rest of the group, as it so often does, rushes in to complete her thought. “I was literally going to say that,” Kordei quickly adds. “I get to sleep at night knowing we did everything in our power as friends, bandmates and human beings” to make it work. Then Hernandez: “You can’t change people.” And finally, Hansen: “Let’s just say we’re in a better place now -- there are no secrets in this circle.”

Jauregui admits she nearly threw up from anxiety before the downsized 5H’s first performance, at the People’s Choice Awards in January. But today, the members are quick to (literally) high-five each other as they talk about their ongoing 7/27 Tour, the first in which they’ve built in real downtime, and a third album, due later this year on Epic. “Honestly, in this very moment, we could not be happier,” says Hernandez with more assertiveness than the Pollyanna-ish cheer that’s her trademark. Their first new single as a foursome, “Down” -- a neon-edged dancehall bubbler featuring a warmly romantic verse from Gucci Mane (“Got me showing off my [engagement] ring like I’m Jordan”) -- reached No. 42 on the Hot 100. Meanwhile, Cabello’s “Crying in the Club,” which entered the charts two weeks earlier, peaked at No. 47. Both are still active on the Mainstream Top 40 list.

“Crying in the Club” is a wide-screen, Sia-style ballad and “Down” is an airy dance track, but the two have more in common than just a chart trajectory: They’re both grown-up songs for longtime professional “girls” now expected to be seductive women. The 5H video, which racked up 21.6 million views in two weeks, even seems to offer some sly commentary on this, with the group pulling up to a seedy motel and writhing on beds in separate rooms. But the women have come up with their own narrative for the lyrics, which came to them from “Work From Home” co-creators Ammo and DallasK, and include “You the type that I could bake for/’Cause baby, you know how to take that cake” -- as well as the chorus, “Long as you’re holding me down/I’m going to keep loving you down.”

“We dedicate it to each other,” says Hansen. “We’ve been together five years, so that message is powerful to us. We’ve been there for each other through ups and downs.” Hernandez hits her with an “Amen.”

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Selena Gomez Insisted on a Queer Love Triangle for Her 'Bad Liar' Video

Billboard.com

Behind the scenes of the one-woman show with director Jesse Peretz

Amidst its retro homages, Selena Gomez’s "Bad Liar" video is a subtle reminder that the 24-year-old has serious acting chops. The former Disney Channel star has appeared in films like Spring Breakers and The Big Short as an adult, but had never played multiple roles at the same time. Now, Gomez can boast about playing a high school student, a gym coach, a mustached male teacher and her own mother all at once.

Gomez tapped TV director Jesse Peretz (Girls, Orange Is the New Black) to helm her latest visual: Although the 49-year-old hadn’t directed a music video in a decade, his Grammy-winning clip for Foo Fighters’ 1999 single "Learn to Fly" -- where frontman Dave Grohl took on several roles -- was the perfect blueprint.

Peretz says that the song’s sample of Talking Heads’ 1977 classic "Psycho Killer" triggered the desire to create a ’70s aesthetic for the video, which was filmed over two days in Los Angeles. "I started thinking of movies like Over the Edge and Dazed & Confused -- there are some elements of kitsch from there," says Peretz, noting that he brought in Kari Perkins, the costume designer from the 1976-set Dazed & Confused, for "Bad Liar."

Peretz also commends Gomez for insisting that the video’s central love triangle among the student, gym coach and teacher break the heteronormative mold. "She brought on this idea that somewhere within this love triangle is lesbian attraction," he says. "It just gave me another reason to do it -- acknowledging that it’s not just heterosexuals in the world."

Since its June 14 release, the video has garnered over 76 million YouTube views, and helped push "Bad Liar" from No. 45 to No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. Meanwhile, Peretz has earned a win with his 10-year-old daughter, a huge Gomez fan. "I knew it would make her think I was cool," he says with a laugh. "For 24 hours, at least."

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Ariana Grande Says 'Words Don't Suffice' Over Honorary Manchester Citizenship

Billboard.com

Ariana Grande has no words. A day after the city of Manchester announced that it would make her an honorary citizen because of her thoughtful, loving response to the deadly suicide attack outside of her concert in the city on May 22, the singer said she was speechless over the honor.

In an Instagram post on Thursday morning (July 13), Grande wrote "I don't know what to say. World don't suffice. I'm moved and honored. My heart is very much still there. I love you. Thank you."

U.S. pop singer Ariana Grande an honorary citizen of the city because of her response to the deadly concert attack in May.

City council leader Richard Leese proposed the move, describing the 23-year-old singer as “a young American woman for whom it would have been understandable if she never wanted to see this place again.”

He said instead, Grande “brought comfort to thousands and raised millions” for an emergency fund when she returned to headline the One Love Manchester benefit concert in June.

The livestream of Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester tribute concert, which honored the victims of the bombing after her concert on May 22, leads Billboard’s latest Top Facebook Live Videos chart, as tracked by media analytics company Shareablee.

The chart, whose latest edition recaps June activity, is a monthly look at the widest-reaching and most-reacted-to videos posted by musicians on Facebook Live. Rankings are determined by a formula that blends reactions, comments, shares and first-seven-days views.

The chart’s leading video -- which has since been deleted -- featured the entire three-hour-long star-studded concert produced by Grande and her manager, Scooter Braun. Special guests included Pharrell Williams, Stevie Wonder, Coldplay, Miley Cyrus, Little Mix and more, and Grande performed a number of her hits, closing the show with a moving cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The concert raised over $3 million for the British Red Cross, bringing donations to the Manchester Emergency Fund to over $12 million. Within its first seven days, the video garnered over 81 million views, with over 2.6 million reactions.

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