Randy Rainbow made his name satirising Trump – now what?

Those with cause to lament Donald Trump’s departure from the White House may include America’s satirists – the people he gave comic material to almost daily. In those four years the videos of Randy Rainbow delighted countless followers with satire chiefly using the improbable medium of Broadway show tunes. But the curtain’s not down yet.

Randy Rainbow – it’s his real name – grew up outside New York City and at 10 moved with his family to south Florida. Returning to New York at 22 he was intent on a performing career.

“But I knew I was a pretty young 22,” he recalls. “I’d been on stage as a kid and I thought I just had to grow into myself as a person before I began a career for real. To fill in I did jobs such as working in restaurants and behind the desk at production offices.”

To fend off boredom he started writing a blog which picked up on trends in popular culture and especially in musical comedy. “That led me to YouTube and once I had some eyeballs on me I got a job providing content for the BroadwayWorld website,” he says.

For a time he was doing two separate things online. “There was my non-musical stuff which, so to speak, Forrest Gumped me into the hot topics in mainstream media. The first video which really went viral was in 2010: I was on the phone in my apartment pretending to date a ranting Mel Gibson.

“Whereas BroadwayWorld wanted material based on what was going on in theatre. So I started writing and performing parodies of show tunes and over the years it all just merged into one.

“Eventually I was doing parody songs on YouTube about whatever was happening in the US. And of course from 2017 that mainly meant satirising Trump – though initially I had no idea how much work it would all mean.”

His recent video Sedition has already had more than two million hits. It’s based on Tradition, the opening number of the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof.

Warning: Some of the language in this video may be considered offensive.

Among other hits have been Kamala!, based on Camelot, and a version of the West Side Story song Gee Officer Krupke reworked as a love letter to Dr Anthony Fauci.

Rainbow has a fascination for even obscure Broadway and Hollywood songs: The Bunker Boy is a clever rewriting of The Jitterbug, an Arlen & Harburg number dropped from The Wizard of Oz.

Usually Rainbow has been posting a couple of videos each month. For a one-man band working from the spare bedroom of his New York apartment they’re made to an impressive standard. Growing financial success has meant he’s been able to move from the outer borough of Queens to Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Yet he insists his technical skills remain under-developed. “Basically I’m a ham and my roots are totally in performance. In anything else I’m winging it: I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

“I’ve taught myself just enough of Final Cut and Adobe After Effects to put all this together. My overhead is small – the expense is mainly for certain videos when I need to buy costumes or maybe props. But it varies – you can get a cheap wig these days for $4.95.”

Rainbow films his own contributions on green screen and the music he uses comes from karaoke download sites. Copyright problems are none as US law protects the concept of musical parody.

Luminaries of the theatre who have let Rainbow know how much they approve of his lyrical and musical meddling include Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Rainbow says he needs to produce each video inside 72 hours at most and if possible within 48 hours. “It’s because the news cycle has now become so crazy in America that there’s always a danger you could start something that will feel out of date before anyone sees it.”

Fairly obviously Rainbow is no Trump fan. But he says his own followers are not exclusively of the Democrat-supporting liberal elite the former president was critical of.

“He has devoted supporters and admirers who nonetheless aren’t blind to his foibles. I was told by whistle-blowers there were White House people who enjoyed my work. Maybe they were talking about Melania.

“I think at one point her husband did have a sense of humour but I very much doubt now he would take an interest. And he never blocked me on Twitter which I’m very upset about.”

Isn’t Rainbow worried he’s about to have very little left to satirise?

“It’s true I don’t anticipate Joe Biden being the same endless source of comedy material. The kind of satire I do is always better when there’s a great central subject – just like storytelling is enriched by a really juicy villain. But the joke had expired on Trump.”

Rainbow’s final video of the Trump era may have been his least amusing. Perhaps that was the point.

Seasons of Trump, posted in the dying hours of the presidency, is based on Seasons Of Love from the musical Rent. It’s without comic one-liners and the basic tone is of anger and regret.

“The truth is it had been getting trickier for me to make the jokes,” he says. “There was a time when the job was a lot more fun. I’m ready to be done with it all because it’s become so dark, what’s going on in the world.”

Rainbow has recorded an album of Christmas classics and he’s currently writing his first book. But he doesn’t anticipate an immediate end to life as an online satirist.

“Topical humour, by its nature, is an endless well of material. In these times of social media people are always up in arms and debating something. You’re looking for the thing everyone is talking about and really I’ve just been following the bouncing ball.”

Rainbow says his job isn’t necessarily to spoof whoever’s in, or has been in, the Oval Office – although he may still do Trump videos if he’s making the news. He points out that in 2020 his output wasn’t all Trump anyway – the subject was often Covid-19.

“It just so happens that for four years almost all the heat in comedy came from one source. But that’s not how humour is meant to be. Or how America is meant to be.”

Princes Diamonds and Pearls guitar to be sold

A guitar used by Prince on a triple platinum album is to be sold at auction with an upper guide price of £80,000.

Two brothers plan to sell the Fender Gemini II acoustic that he used on his Diamonds and Pearls album which reached number two in the UK charts.

The “devoted fans” of the late star said they were selling it because their plan to share ownership of the instrument was no longer feasible.

An expert said the way Prince chose the guitar was a “music industry legend”.

The brothers, who wished to remain anonymous, bought the instrument from American music producer Sylvia Massy, who worked as an engineer on the 1991 album.

She had bought a selection of expensive guitars for Prince’s use but he selected her personal guitar, which would have cost about £150 new.

It was used on a selection of tracks, most notably Walk Don’t Walk.

The younger brother said: “In the six months since we bought the guitar, it’s been displayed in my brother’s living room – in what we call his ‘Prince corner’.

“Lots of our friends have seen it but we’ve not let anyone play it. But now I’ve moved to Spain, it’s not practical for us to share the guitar so we’ve decided to put it up for sale.”

The pair, originally from Frome in Somerset, said they were hit hard by Prince’s death in 2016.

The younger brother said: “It was like losing a member of our family. My brother still struggles to listen to Purple Rain.

“So when we got the guitar it was amazing. We owned something that Prince had played and touched.

“You could even see strumming marks made by his plectrum on the black pick guard.”

The guitar is due to be sold by specialist auctioneers Gardiner Houlgate in Corsham, Wiltshire on 10 March.

Auctioneer Luke Hobbs said: “The story of how Prince selected Sylvia Massy’s old guitar is the stuff of music industry legend.

“What no-one knew was that the guitar has been sitting in a living room in Frome since last year. You couldn’t make it up.”

Will Young questions why twin brother Rupert was not sectioned

Will Young has questioned why his twin brother Rupert was allowed to discharge himself from hospital when he had been admitted for trying to kill himself.

Rupert Young, 41, took his own life on 30 July last year, two days after he was admitted to Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital, an inquest heard.

St Pancras Coroner’s Court heard on Monday he had been in hospital four times in the week prior to his death.

Mr Young said Rupert should have been detained under the Mental Health Act.

The Pop Idol winner said he was “astounded” his brother had been allowed to leave hospital two days after his suicide attempt without being referred to a consultant psychiatrist.

“Those working within the NHS do an amazing job under very difficult circumstances,” he said.

“And it’s never been more hard-pressed than at the moment, of course.

“However, my brother is someone who had, in the months and weeks before his death, been into hospital on countless times following suicide attempts.”

The inquest heard Rupert had also struggled with alcoholism.

He had tried to avoid homelessness and told hospital staff he had attempted to contact his father for a place to stay before discharging himself, the inquest heard.

“It is my belief that it must, or should have, been obvious to all concerned that he was at high risk of suicide and should have been detained under the Mental Health Act for his own safety,” he said.

“Had this been done, he might still be alive today.

“I know we are not the only family in this situation and I pray that lessons are learned from this situation and that some of these deaths are prevented in the future.”

Senior coroner Mary Hassell gave a ruling of suicide, finding he had intended to take his own life.

If you are experiencing emotional stress, help and support is available: BBC Action Line.

Channel 4 Deepfake Queen complaints dropped by Ofcom

Media regulator Ofcom has decided not to take any action over Channel 4’s use of a “deepfaked” video of the Queen.

The “alternative Christmas message” attracted 354 complaints about decency after it aired on Christmas Day.

It showed an AI-generated version of the Queen, who made jokes about the Royal Family and the prime minister, and danced on top of a table.

But after assessing things, Ofcom decided not to pursue the complaints about disrespecting the monarch.

“In our view, Channel 4 made clear that the images were deliberately manipulated as a device to question societal trust in what we see online,” a spokeswoman for the regulator said.

“We also consider that the satirical tone of the film was in keeping with audience expectations of this broadcaster,” it added.

That decision is similar to Channel 4’s own defence of the satire, in which it argued that the parody left viewers “in no doubt that it was not real”.

It also argued the message of the video as a whole was a warning about the importance of trust, and how easily convincing fake images and video can be created – even uploading a behind-the-scenes video about its creation.

After airing on national television in the UK, the video has spread widely online, racking up nearly two million views on YouTube alone.

It has not, however, been universally popular – on top of the formal complaints to Ofcom, it has a poor ratio of likes-to-dislikes on YouTube – with more than 19,000 likes, but nearly 5,000 dislikes.

Deepfakes work by training a computer to draw a person’s face by showing it thousands of photographs of that person, ideally from many different angles and in different lighting conditions.

The computer can then draw that person’s face on top of another actor’s performance.

The more varied and numerous the images used in training the model, the better the result – which is why it is almost universally used to fake the appearance of celebrities, who already have hours of available film or television footage available.

But there are other limitations on the technology, too.

The similarity in facial structure, size, and appearance of the actor whose face is being replaced affects the realism of the finished deepfake. It is also far easier to produce a convincing result if the person remains still, as movement can often reveal the artificial nature of the animation.

The voice must also be replaced by an impersonator and the entire process is incredibly demanding, even for high-end computers, often taking many days of computation.

However, the technique is advancing rapidly, and the results are becoming more convincing with each passing year, with major film firms such as Disney actively exploring the technique and developing their own variants.

The US TV legend who hosted 50,000 interviews

With his trademark braces, rolled up sleeves and easy style of questioning, Larry King – who has died aged 87 – is one of the legends of US broadcasting.

During his six-decade career, which included 25 years hosting his own nightly programme on CNN, King interviewed many of the most famous political leaders, celebrities and sports people of the day.

At its peak, his Larry King Live Show on CNN was bringing in 1.5 million viewers a night. When the final episode aired in 2010, it was the longest-running show hosted by the same person.

In a recorded message on his final show, then-US President Barack Obama said King had “opened our eyes to the world beyond our living rooms”. CNN said he had been described as the “Muhammad Ali of the broadcast interview”.

Larry King was born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933. He grew up in a religious and observant Jewish household, although in later life he became an agnostic. After the death of his father Edward at just 44, King worked to support his mother for several years after graduating high school.

However, having realised he wanted to work in broadcasting, King moved to Florida in his early 20s to work on a radio station. It is said that minutes before going on air for the first time, he was told by the station boss to change his last name to something “less ethnic”, and chose King after glancing at a newspaper advert for King’s Wholesale Liquor.

During the 1950s and 1960s, he rose through the ranks of local broadcasting and by 1978 gained nationwide prominence as host of an all-night call-in radio programme called The Larry King Show, before moving to CNN.

According to CNN, King carried out more than 50,000 interviews during his 50-year career. They included exclusive sit-down interviews with every US president since Gerald Ford. His other high-profile guests are too numerous to mention but have included Dr Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama, Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, LeBron James, Paris Hilton and Margaret Thatcher.

He won countless awards, including the Peabody Award for Excellence in broadcasting for both his radio and television shows.

Some criticised King for going too easy on his interviewees, with his non-confrontational approach and open-ended questions.

He rejected this, telling the BBC’s Evan Davis in 2015 he had learned that “the more I drew back, asked good questions, listened to the answers, cared about the guests… you make the camera disappear”.

He also addressed the spat he had with the British journalist and broadcaster Piers Morgan, who replaced him at CNN. King had criticised his successor as being “oversold” to US television audiences and said his programme was “too much about him”. Morgan, whose show was cancelled after three years, hit back at the time saying his programme had been “all about gun control & saving lives. You made yours about blowing smoke up celebrity backsides”.

King continued broadcasting, in the past few years hosting his own shows on Ora TV, an on-demand digital network he helped to found, as well as Hulu and RT, Russia’s state-controlled international broadcaster.

Away from the microphone, King was married eight times to seven women and had five children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Tragically, two of his children died within weeks of each other in 2020; daughter Chaia died from lung cancer at 51 in July and son Andy of a heart attack at 65 in August.

“Losing them feels so out of order,” he wrote on social media at the time. “No parent should have to bury a child.”

Larry King himself suffered a range of health problems over the years, including diabetes and angina. In 2017, he underwent surgery to treat lung cancer and in 2019 suffered a stroke that left him in a coma for weeks.

He was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in early January where he was treated for Covid-19, US media said.

In 1988 he founded the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, a charity which helps to fund heart treatment for those with limited financial means or no medical insurance.

On his legacy, he had said he hoped it would be that he “added to the public’s knowledge, entertainment and amusement”.

He hosted the 1993 debate between then Vice-President Al Gore and Texas billionaire Ross Perot on the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), which shattered ratings records at the time, reaching more than 16.3 million viewers.

In 1995 he interviewed at the same time the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein of Jordan.

After the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, King interviewed more than 700 guests, including first responders and survivors and more than 35 world leaders and dignitaries.

He won awards for his interviews in jail, including with convicted mother-and-son murderers Sante and Kenneth Kimes; Karla Faye Tucker, the first woman to be executed in Texas; and disgraced boxer Mike Tyson.

Legendary singer Frank Sinatra, who was rarely interviewed, gave his last interview to Larry King in 1988. King later said that this, and interviewing actor Marlon Brando – who also hardly ever agreed to interviews – were among his career highlights.

Yang Li: The punchline queen who offended Chinese men

China’s “Punchline Queen” Yang Li is no stranger to controversy.

The 29-year-old is now one of the country’s most well-known comedians, having risen to fame in recent months on a Chinese television show called “Rock and Roast”.

Every week, in front of a national audience of millions, she addresses controversial gender issues using a style unfamiliar to many Chinese viewers – stand-up comedy.

She’s attracted a huge following, but her punchlines haven’t landed well with everyone – and now Yang is facing the biggest backlash of her career.

In a December episode she talked about telling a male comedian her new jokes. He replied that she was “testing men’s limits”.

“Do men even have limits?” Yang sarcastically asked, triggering a fresh wave of criticism.

In recent weeks on social media, male netizens have accused her of “sexism” and “man hating”. Meanwhile a group claiming to defend men’s rights has called on netizens to report Yang to China’s media regulator, alleging her of “repeatedly insulting all men” and “creating gender opposition”.

But supporters have defended Yang, saying the male critics are oversensitive and lack a sense of humour.

There is little doubt that Yang’s jokes have prompted fresh debate in China, where both the feminist movement and stand-up comedy are relatively new cultural phenomena.

It’s not that humour has been absent in Chinese culture.

Xiangsheng, China’s comedy tradition, has been popular in the country for over a century. In this format, the audience watches and laughs as two comedians poke fun at each other.

But when audience members themselves become the butt of the joke – as they sometimes are in Western stand-up comedy routines – some Chinese may not find it quite so funny.

“In the West, stand-up comedy is about challenging and ‘offending’ the audience, authorities or social norms,” Tony Chou, comedian and owner of Beijing comedy club Humour Section, tells the BBC.

But this is still largely seen as rude or disrespectful by some in China.

For example, Mr Chou says, a comedian performing at his club was assaulted by an audience member because he’d made a joke about people from Henan province. “The thing was – the comedian was from Henan too,” Mr Chou says.

As a result, he says, some comedians tend to hide their personal opinions, not only because of the cultural taboo, but sometimes also because they fear political or commercial repercussions.

Fellow Chinese comedians have been divided over Yang’s controversy. In a Weibo post that later became a trending hashtag viewed more than 100 million times, popular comedian Chi Zi said Yang is “not performing true stand-up comedy.”

But Chinese-American comedian Joe Wong said he supported Yang as comedy grants a chance to “underprivileged people to poke fun of those who are privileged”.

But the deeper issue of this controversy is the difficult path of feminism in China.

Though Yang Li has never publicly announced that she is a feminist, her online critics have coined a new phrase to describe Yang and her tens of thousands of supporters – “militant feminists”.

“Nu quan” in Chinese means feminism, or literally, women’s rights. Netizens have replaced “quan”, which means “rights”, with a homophonous character meaning “fist”, making it a somewhat derogatory term for feminists.

“The militant feminists are unreasonable, punching fists everywhere and demanding privileges,” one of Yang Li’s online critics, a 23-year-old college student surnamed Yang (not related to the comedian) tells the BBC.

Chu Yin, a prominent Beijing-based law professor, said on Weibo that “gender politics from the West” threatens “the unity of the working class” and will lead to “hatred against straight men”.

Meanwhile Yang Li’s supporters argue that the backlash has proven Yang’s point in many of her jokes – the female perspective is often silenced by those who believe men are more superior than women.

Traditional gender roles largely prevail in China, and both men and women are under social pressure to play their parts.

Chinese women’s rights activist Xiong Jing says men are also victims of these gender stereotypes.

For example, in a country with a huge bachelor surplus, men need to own houses and cars to be considered eligible for marriage, and they are expected to be the main breadwinners of the family.

“Many men have to bear heavy expectations, which lead to depression and resentment,” she says. “But they have to think about what needs to be changed fundamentally.”

Lu Pin, a prominent Chinese feminist, tells the BBC that compared to other countries, feminists in China face unique political and social pressure.

“In China’s patriarchal system, compared with feminists, their critics have enjoyed more support from the authorities.”

As feminists challenge the deeply entrenched gender stereotypes in the country, they have been accused by the authorities of “provoking social instability”.

This means they have increasingly become a target of the Chinese government, which has made upholding social stability its utmost priority.

In 2015, five Chinese feminists were detained for seven weeks for planning a campaign against sexual harassment on public transit.

In 2018, the social media accounts of Feminist Voices, a leading feminist organisation in China, were censored after having been taken down several times.

Last December, when a Chinese court heard a high-profile #MeToo case, state-controlled media refrained from covering the event. Amid this silence, a few influential accounts on Weibo posted unsubstantiated allegations that “foreign forces” were involved to stir controversy.

“Many commentators now allege Chinese feminists are linked to ‘foreign forces’,” Lu says, “Why is this allegation so effective (in convincing the public)? Because they replicate and follow the government’s logic.”

It was against this backdrop that Yang Li’s punchline set off controversy.

It’s unclear whether the authorities have launched a formal investigation into the incident. The Weibo account of the group that called for her to be reported to the authorities was later deleted.

Meanwhile Yang Li has not issued a statement and her team did not respond to the BBC’s interview request.

But in what appeared to be a veiled comment on the controversy, she wrote on social media recently: “This is never ending… it’s a bit difficult to be in this industry now.”

Asia Argento accuses Fast and Furious director Rob Cohen of sexual assault

Actress and director Asia Argento has accused The Fast and the Furious and xXx director Rob Cohen of sexual assault.

She told Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera that Cohen abused her and made her drink GHB, a drug associated with sex attacks.

A spokesperson for Cohen called Argento’s claim “categorically false” and “bewildering”.

Argento alleges the assault occurred while filming action movie XxX in 2002.

“At the time, I really didn’t know what it was. I woke up in the morning naked in his bed,” Argento told the Italian publication.

The accusations are also included in Argento’s autobiography Anatomy of a Wild Heart, which will be published in her native Italy on 26 January.

The statement issued by Cohen’s spokesperson described the pair as having “an excellent working relationship and Mr Cohen considered her a friend, so this claim dating back to 2002 is bewildering”.

Argento was one of the first to accuse convicted rapist and disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of assault in an interview in the New Yorker with Ronan Farrow back in 2017.

Flaming Lips stage unique space bubble concert in Oklahoma

The Flaming Lips have staged a unique pair of gigs in Oklahoma, with both the band and their audience inside individual inflatable balls.

Each show accommodated 100 bubbles, holding up to three people each, with the band inside their own capsules.

The concept came from frontman Wayne Coyne, who often rolls over the crowd in a Zorb ball during the band’s gigs.

Speaking ahead of the concerts, Coyne said they would be “safer than going to the grocery store”.

Inside each bubble is a high frequency supplemental speaker – which helps prevent the sound being muffled – as well as a water bottle, a battery-operated fan, a towel and a “I gotta go pee/hot in here” sign.

If it gets too hot, the bubble is refilled with cool air using a leaf blower; and fans who need the bathroom will be escorted by venue staff once they have put on a mask and step outside their cocoon.

The shows were postponed from their original dates in December due to a spike in coronavirus cases in Oklahoma before Christmas.

The band held a test run for the concerts in October after debuting the idea in a one-song performance for Stephen Colbert’s US chat show last June.

“It’s a very restricted, weird event. But the weirdness is so we can enjoy a concert before putting our families and everybody at risk,” Coyne told Rolling Stone last month.

“I think it’s a bit of a new normal – you might go to a show, you might not, but I think we’re going to be able to work it out.”

Friday’s show saw the band play classics including Do You Realize, She Don’t Use Jelly and Race For The Prize alongside tracks from last year’s American Head album.

They also played a cover of Daniel Johnston’s True Love Will Find You in the End on what would have the singer’s 60th birthday.

The gigs were filmed by a professional crew, and cameraman Nathan Poppe documented the process of putting the show together on Twitter.

He explained that the ground floor of The Criterion theatre was divided into a 10×10 grid, with a space bubble inside each square.

Poppe added that, because the sound of the audience was muted, clapping was replaced by people “punching the top of their bubble”.

The success of the concerts raises the question: Could other bands replicate the experience?

The answer seems to be yes, as long as the right venue is found and staff and audience members take reasonable precautions.

Speaking to TMZ last year, Coyne explained that you need a lot of open space around the venue so that masked ticketholders can remain socially-distanced before they get into the bubbles – a process that takes about 20 minutes.

The bubbles, he added, hold enough oxygen for three people to breathe for “over an hour and 10 minutes” before they need to be refreshed, although a towel is needed to wipe down the condensation.

According to an instructional video posted on the singer’s Instagram feed, the concert ends with everyone rolling their bubbles to the exit door, where they must re-attach masks before unzipping and leaving the venue.

“Safety, safety, safety,” Coyne told fans. “But fun too!”

Will any festivals happen this summer?

In the middle of winter, dreaming of summer plans is one of the things that gets you through. Now, more than ever, those dreams are so important to cling on to.

But if those dreams involve drinking warm cider in a muddy field and singing your heart out with thousands of others, it’s suddenly looking a bit bleak again.

When last year’s festival season was wiped out, there were many promises of events coming back bigger and better in 2021. Most of us thought – at least hoped – everything would be back to normal.

But now Glastonbury has cancelled there are big doubts about the rest of the summer’s festivals – although not all hope is gone.

So what are the risks and how’s the uncertainty affecting those whose jobs depend on them?

Scroll to the bottom for a list of what major UK festivals are saying.

Most of us probably like to think we’ve become at least partly expert in explaining how viruses spread – with the relentless Hands, Face, Space messaging.

So it’s not hard to see why thousands of people crammed up against each other in a sweaty tent is problematic.

“People singing and small spaces are perfect ways for the virus to spread,” explains virologist Dr Naomi Forrester-Soto.

“The virus is transmitted as you breathe or as you talk or as you sing. The louder you are, the more air you expel from your lungs – and if you’re infected, the more virus you expel from your lungs.”

In other words, singing makes you more infectious.

Dr Forrester-Soto says it’s wrong to think festivals will be safe just because they’re outside.

“Outside is always safer than inside because there’s more air to blow the virus away from you.

“But if you’re all huddled together and singing loudly, there are still big risks.”

Read more: Can you catch the virus outside?

She also says we shouldn’t think everything will get back to normal now people are getting vaccinated.

“We still don’t know how long the vaccine protects you for – or whether it stops you from passing it on to others. Until we do, all the social distancing rules have to remain,” she says.

At a festival, it’s simply not realistic to expect those rules to be followed all the time. And although there are ideas such as everyone having a test before they attend, making that happen is a huge logistical challenge.

Lauran Hibberd’s a singer songwriter from the Isle of Wight. She played Glastonbury in 2019. It was her first Glasto, both as a performer and a punter.

She was booked for a load of festivals across 2020 – and had to watch as each one got cancelled – making it far harder to broaden her fan base.

“It was a bit gutting for sure,” she tells Radio 1 Newsbeat – and admits she spent a few months feeling very low before throwing herself into writing new material.

“I didn’t realise how important it was to sit at home and have that time to get into a space where you can create. But I am at the point now where, you know, I would really, really, really like to get back on stage.”

But it’s not looking good.

“I think everyone sort of left 2020 like, ‘Oh, can’t wait for 2021’. And it’s actually been a pretty catastrophic start. It’s hard to obviously, you know, keep positive looking at the year ahead.”

When festivals cancelled last year, many said the line-ups would roll over to 2021 – but Lauran’s not sure they’ll do that “for two years in a row”.

“I think most artists are sort of willing to do whatever it takes to still be on the top of the list when it comes back round for festival season.”

And while Lauran’s put loads of effort into getting her music out on social media and playing virtual and socially-distanced gigs, “there’s nothing to compare to sort of being in a room, shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of different people, watching your favourite artists”.

The Festival Organiser

Around now, Anna Wade would be getting ready to announce the headliners for Boomtown.

The festival near Winchester’s still scheduled for early August – but nothing’s definite.

“The cancellation of Glastonbury has got us all worried. If we can’t go ahead this year, it would be absolutely devastating,” says Anna.

Instead of finalising bands, the team’s “having to think about every single risk and mitigating factor and how we manage that. Our heads are deep down in how we can put on a safe, secure and fun festival”.

It takes an army of people to pull off a big festival and Anna fears for all those involved, not just the organisers.

“A huge amount of highly skilled people would rely on festivals being a large part of their summer income.”

If they are forced to cancel, she hopes people would be happy to roll over their tickets for a second year running.

“That’s been the key to our survival. If customers stay with us, we’d look to get through this but it’s so precarious right now,” she adds.

What Anna can’t do is say for sure when a final decision will be made – and hopes things will become more clear in the next few months.

Lots of festivals haven’t said anything definite yet. We’ll keep updating this page when we hear anything.

Glastonbury – Cancelled.

Radio 1 Big Weekend – No news at this stage.

Reading and Leeds – Hoping to make announcement by 1 March

Download – Announcement expected by 1 March

Notting Hill Carnival- Preparing for every eventuality but no decision yet.

TRNSMT – Still optimistic of going ahead, more news expected early March.

Boomtown – No decision.

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JoJo Siwa: YouTube star never been this happy after coming out

YouTube star JoJo Siwa has told fans she has never been so happy before after coming out on social media.

In a post on Twitter, the teenager shared a photo of herself wearing a T-Shirt with the words ‘Best. Gay. Cousin. Ever.’ printed on it.

She later told fans she was not ready to put a label on her sexuality, but that coming out felt “awesome”.

Celebrities including Paris Hilton and Ellen DeGeneres supported the 17-year-old on social media.

Siwa first found fame on the reality show Dance Moms, which documented the tantrums and triumphs of a group of pre-teen dancers in Pennsylvania. The American dancer, singer and YouTuber now has millions of followers.

Her tweet on Friday was liked more than one million times.

On Saturday, she said in an Instagram Live post that she had “never ever been this happy”.

Responding to a fan who asked what “label” she was, she said: “I don’t really know this answer. I think humans are awesome. I think humans are really incredible people.”

“Right now, I’m super duper happy and I want to share everything with the world, I really do, but I also want to keep things in my life private until they are ready to be public,” she added.

While acknowledging that everyone’s experience is different, Siwa said that coming out “has this stigma around it – that it’s a really, really, really scary thing, but it’s not anymore”.

Siwa also said she had “always believed that my person was going to be my person and if that person happened to be a boy great and if that person happened to be a girl great.”

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