In one star-studded evening, legendary musicians came out to honor this past year’s achievements in songwriting. ASCAP celebrated its 35th annual Pop Music Awards on Monday, April 23, at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. Paul Williams, ASCAP President and award-winning songwriter who has penned hits sung by artists such as David Bowie, Three Dog Night, the Carpenters and countless others was there to help celebrate the honorees. “It’s a creative spirit that inspires me,” Williams shared with AXS on the red carpet before the awards show. “To see that develop, and watch that grow, that has been an amazing part of my life. It’s about gratitude and what you create,” he advised. “So, see yourself as the success you are going to be, and then become it.”
Wyclef Jean added more inspiration to the evening when the former Haitian presidential nominee chimed in to discuss how we can create social change through the power of music. “I think it’s got to be through legislation and policy. We can’t just be singing about it,” Wyclef tells AXS. “We have to form coalitions, go in front of Washington, go in front of Congress, and really push the envelope to get them to do what’s right.”
Recently, in the realm of songwriting, Congress began taking steps to do just that. The Music Modernization Act, which is introducing major music licensing reform, allows songwriters and publishers to collect their fair share of revenue in the digital marketplace as we move into the future.
“The policies of music are so important,” Alice Cooper said. “At the end of the day, I feel like there is much more we can do.” On top of following closely with the Music Modernization Act, the iconic rocker is a big advocate of music programs in schools which is why he has partnered with VH1 for Save the Music. The program helps millions of public school students who don’t have access to music education.
Aside from celebrating the advancements made in policies, the musical achievements of songwriters, publishers and musicians were, of course, praised during the evening. Honorees included famed songwriter, Desmond Child, who was there to receive the ASCAP Founders Award. Desmond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame 10 years ago and has been an ASCAP member for 40 years. The renowned author has written over 80 top 40 hits, which include some of Bon Jovi’s most popular tunes.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled. This is just one of the highlights of my life,” Child said of the occasion. “In this world of electronics and technology, there are so many discoveries that can happen but it’s important to not lose sight that one is an artist. Our job as an artist is to reflect what is going on in the world right now. We have to remember what the meaning of the song is. If you do that, you can’t go wrong. “
As the writer of songs such as “Livin’ On A Prayer” and “You Give Love A Bad Name,” naturally, Richie Sambora and partner Orianthi were there to lend their support. Alice Cooper and Paul Stanley of KISS were also there to help pay tribute to Child. Cooper delivered a phenomenal performance of "Poison," while Stanley handed off the award to Child. Singer Justin Benlolo then honored Child with a medley of some of the artist’s greatest hits.
Lana Del Rey was there as well to graciously accept the ASCAP Global Impact Award. The special recognition was celebrated with an incredible performance of “Ride” by Father John Misty. Portugal. The Man later brought the audience to their feet with a live performance of “Feel It Still” after being handed the ASCAP Vanguard Award. Songwriters Madison Emiko Love and Tony Scalzo, along with guitarist Joe Khajadourian (from The Futuristics) also got up to perform their winning song, "Bad Things."
Honoring the most popular songs of 2017, this year’s ASCAP Awards went to:
2018 ASCAP Pop Music Songwriter(s) of the Year
Steve Mac - "Shape of You" (Ed Sheeran), "Strip That Down" (Liam Payne ft. Quavo), "Rockabye" (Clean Bandit ft. Sean Paul) and "What About Us" (P!nk)
Max Martin - "Side To Side" (Ariana Grande), "Can't Stop The Feeling!" (Justin Timberlake), "Send My Love" (Adele) and "Just Like Fire" (P!nk)
Starrah - "Now or Never" (Halsey), "Fake Love" (Drake), "What Lovers Do" (Maroon 5 ft. SZA) and "Havana" (Camila Cabello)
Drew Taggart - "1-800-273-8255" (Logic ft. Alessia Cara and Khalid) in addition to three hits by his band, The Chainsmokers: "Something Just Like This" (ft. Coldplay), "Closer" (ft. Halsey) and "Paris"
Song of the Year
"Shape of You," co-written by Steve Mac, Kandi Burrus and Tameka Harris
Top Streamed Song
"Despacito," co-written by ASCAP members Justin Bieber, Jason "Poo Bear" Boyd and Daddy Yankee
Publisher of the Year
Universal Music Publishing Group - 22 hits of 2017 including "Shape Of You" (Ed Sheeran), "That's What I Like" (Bruno Mars) and "Can't Stop The Feeling!" (Justin Timberlake)
Independent Publisher of the Year
BMG - seven hits of 2017 including "Let Me Love You" (DJ Snake and Justin Bieber), "Despacito" (Justin Bieber) and "I'm The One" (DJ Khaled, Quavo, Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne)
Click here for a complete list of winners
For more on ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, you can visit the website.