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SAVED BY THE SUPERSTARS

At a time when arena acts are in hiding and bedroom-pop acts are connecting via socials, Donald Glover and The Weeknd are showing why they’re so beloved. As they’ve done throughout their careers, these two true originals are once again fearlessly sharing their art.

During the last decade, both acts have evolved from beloved alt-hip-hop heroes to full-blown superstars. Childish Gambino and The Weeknd can now headline any festival in the world—they’ve topped the Coachella bill the last two years.

And during a global pandemic, they’ve dropped career-best albums on the same weekend—which means so much more in this time of uncertainty and anxiety. Fans want and need their stars to comfort them, and both have come through big time, delivering ambitious projects made that much more triumphant because of their willingness to reveal their vulnerability.

The Weeknd and Childish have not only rescued isolated fans but the music business as well. The biz quietly watched during the third week of March as the world transitioned to self-quarantining, while schools, offices, bars and restaurants closed—and as a result, previously surging streaming numbers were beginning to sink.

The safe play would have been to delay a major release—a distinct possibility for some forthcoming big albums. But with After Hours (XO/Republic)—newly available in an expanded deluxe edition—and 3.15.20 (Wolf+Rothstein/RCA), The Weeknd and Childish Gambino have revived streaming while feeding their fans, making them early frontrunners for Album of the Year at the 2021 Grammys.

REVENUE CHART:
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NEAR TRUTHS: TURN UP THAT VICTROLA
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TIME TRAVELING
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Beam us up, Uncle Clive. (5/13a)
ROCK HALL INDUCTEES:
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KG's HOT ALT SUMMER
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RHYTHM, BLUES AND THE FUTURE
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WHO'S NEXT?
Predicting the next big catalog deal.
JUST THE VAX, MA'AM
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
WORLDWIDE GROOVE
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?
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