Pop music royalty and legends in the making were on hand for exclusive performances and a surprise special guest as ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) celebrated the writers and publishers of the most-performed music of the past year at the 36th annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards tonight in Los Angeles.
A capacity audience of industry VIPs and tastemakers packed the historic Beverly Hilton International Ballroom as songwriter Louis Bell received the 2019 ASCAP Pop Music Songwriter of the Year award for the first time for his work on songs including "Better Now" (Post Malone), "Havana" (Camila Cabello Feat. Young Thug) and "Wolves" (Selena Gomez & Marshmello).
Two radio and streaming favorites nabbed top trophies for their popularity last year: "The Middle" (Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey) was recognized as Song of the Year, co-written by Stefan Johnson and Anton Zaslavski (Zedd) and published by 1916 PUBLISHING LLC, Kobalt Music, Universal Music Publishing Group and Zedd Music Empire. Most Streamed Song of the Year went to "God's Plan" (Drake), co-written by Ronald "Cardo" La Tour, Matthew "Boi-1da" Samuels and Noah "40" Shebib and published by 1Damentional Publishing, Cardo on the Beat, Sony/ATV Tunes LLC and Universal Music Publishing Group. Songwriter Emily Warren performed an acoustic version of her Dua Lipa hit "New Rules," also among the year's most performed songs.
Pop music icon and leader of ELO Jeff Lynne was feted with the prestigious ASCAP Founders Award for his unparalleled hitmaking talent and a career that spans more than five decades. Famed guitarist and fellow Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Joe Walsh bestowed the honor. Previous recipients include Elvis Costello, Annie Lennox, Sir Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Tom Petty, Patti Smith, Stevie Wonder and Neil Young. As part of the show, Lynne treated the audience to an unusual stripped-down performance of three of his monster hits, "Telephone Line," "Evil Woman" and "All Over the World."
Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and Clem Burke of punk and new wave game-changers Blondie received the ASCAP Golden Note Award for their extraordinary career and influence on the worlds of music, fashion and art. The award has previously gone to such luminaries as Duran Duran, Lindsay Buckingham, Trent Reznor, George Michael, A Tribe Called Quest, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys and more.The band members delivered a power-packed live performance of their hits "Call Me," "Long Time" and "Heart of Glass."
Oscar-winning actress and superfan Julia Roberts made a surprise appearance to present the ASCAP Vanguard Award to newly minted superstars and previous MC cover act Billie Eilish and FINNEAS. The two join the ranks of previous recipients of the award - such as Portugal. The Man, St. Vincent, Nine Inch Nails, Janelle Monáe, Beastie Boys and Björk -which recognizes ASCAP members whose innovative work is helping to shape the future of music. In the most anticipated performances of the night, the brother/sister team provided riveting acoustic versions of Billie's songs "when the party's over" and "i love you," and from FINNEAS solo, "I Lost a Friend."
Publisher of the Year went to Sony/ATV for their role in multiple hits of the past year including "Girls Like You" (Maroon 5 Feat. Cardi B), "Something Just Like This" (The Chainsmokers & Coldplay) and "God's Plan" (Drake).
For their first time winning in this category, Kobalt Music took home Independent Publisher of the Year in recognition of hits including "God Is a Woman" (Ariana Grande), "I Like It" (Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin) and "High Hopes" (Panic! at the Disco).