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Music News: Chris Cornell's Death, Fall Of PWR BTTM


We're going to turn now to the week in music news with NPR's Jacob Ganz. Hey there, Jacob.


CORNISH: And we're going to do something a little different, in that we want to update you on some stories that are still on the move. Starting with the death of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. He was 52 years old. And I understand it was ruled a suicide, but now the family may be questioning that, right?

GANZ: Yeah. His family today put out a statement - sort of a gentle request to wait until toxicology reports came back. Cornell has sung about addiction, about depression throughout his career. I think this is just, sort of, a request that we not...

CORNISH: Draw conclusions?

GANZ: ...Draw conclusions before we actually - we know what happened.

CORNISH: Reading the obituaries this week, one headline caught my eye in particular from the L.A. Times. With Chris Cornell's death, a generation lost its Robert Plant, referring, of course, to the legendary Led Zeppelin singer. Help us understand that comparison, how people thought of his voice.

GANZ: I mean, he was an incredibly gifted singer. I mean, the man had serious pipes. You can hear that in a song like "Fell On Black Days" from "Superunknown," their best-selling record.


SOUNDGARDEN: (Singing) Yeah, I sure don't mind, I sure don't mind a change.

GANZ: But he has - also has this ability to be very vulnerable and put struggle on display in his songs.


SOUNDGARDEN: (Singing) 'Cause I fell on black days.

GANZ: He was surrounded by loss. And he sang about that in his songs, and you could hear that ache in his voice throughout his entire career.

CORNISH: Now, one more follow up, and that's the Fyre Festival, which was supposed to be this exclusive luxury music festival on a tropical island. And it became this, like, massive social media, like, joke when...

GANZ: Yeah, I mean, it was basically, schadenfreude in a bottle, right? Like, people went to this island in the Bahamas, supposed to get this luxury festival, and basically nothing was there. There were no artists. There was no food. They were living in refugee tents - literally, in tents meant for refugees.

CORNISH: We have a clip of tape from Seth Crossno, who was someone who actually spent $4,000 to go to this.


SETH CROSSNO: It looked like a disaster relief area. If you had gone on that island, you would think, oh, this is a festival that'll be ready in about a month. There was nobody in charge. There was no signage. There was nothing. And you just get dropped on this island.

CORNISH: Now I understand once the laughter stopped, the lawsuits began, right? What happened, Jacob?

GANZ: There have been at least nine lawsuits filed against the organizers of the Fyre Festival. Most of them are potential class action lawsuits that haven't been collected yet, but there are some from investors as well. I mean, this is going to end somebody's career, for sure, I mean, if it hasn't already. This is an enormous disaster for the people who didn't quite make this festival happen.

CORNISH: Now, before I let you go, I want to ask you about the charts. We're still going to do a little music. And the song that is number one right now, it is called “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber.

GANZ: Can we just hear it before we talk about it?

CORNISH: (Laughter) Sure.



CORNISH: All right. So, Jacob, I understand this is the first Spanish-language song to hit number one on the Hot 100 since 1996. It's been some time.

GANZ: I bet you can guess what song that was if you were around in 1996. And you maybe saw politicians dancing.

CORNISH: Was it "Livin La Vida Loca"? No.

GANZ: It was the "Macarena."

CORNISH: It was the "Macarena."

GANZ: Yeah, it's been 21 years since a Spanish-language song - a mostly Spanish-language song - has been the number one song in the country. "Despacito" is, like, by itself a huge song here even before Justin Bieber was on it. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, who are huge Puerto Rican singers, stars, they had the number one Latin song in the country since mid-February with this song. It hasn't left that chart.

Bieber had a crossover hit in the other direction last year with a remix of "Sorry" featuring the singer J Balvin. This is just a mix of both of those things coming at the same time. It's rising on the radio now, which means it has the potential to stick around for quite a while.

CORNISH: And be a summer jam.

GANZ: And be a summer jam. I mean, can you think of a better one? Justin Bieber actually replaced himself at number one with this song. "I'm The One," which is a song that he is on by DJ Khaled, that was number one last week.

And one sort of bittersweet, I guess, note that we have to note about this is this is the eighth straight number one by exclusively male artists. There hasn't been a longer streak of dudes at the top of the chart in 29 years.

CORNISH: That's NPR Music senior editor Jacob Ganz. Jacob, thanks so much.

GANZ: My pleasure.


LUIS FONSI, DADDY YANKEE AND JUSTIN BIEBER: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.