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Monthly Archives: May 2019

Image copyright Dola Ade
Image caption There were large queues at We Are FSTVL

Some festival-goers “collapsed” after long queues led to crowds pushing through security gates at a London festival.

Videos and photos on social media appear to show a rush through the gates and a huge queue of people trying to get into We Are FSTVL.

Some ticketholders told Radio 1 Newsbeat they left the site without getting into the event.

Organisers have apologised for the problems.

The two-day festival is held in East London and its Saturday line-up included Chase and Status, Bugzy Malone and CamelPhat.

Eyewitnesses say a lack of wristbands meant that people had to queue in hot temperatures in Upminster – which led to people charging past staff and into the event.

“They’d run out of wristbands at the door so they didn’t have drink token wristbands when they were letting people through,” one 20-year-old female, who didn’t want to be named, tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

“They weren’t handing out water so everyone in the queue for three hours didn’t have a drink.”

‘They took out the barriers and pushed through security’

The woman says she was stood near people vomiting in a fenced off area and claims that staff nearby offered no help before the rush at the gates.

“A barrier got thrown into the crowds, the woman next to me got hit by it and it sliced a massive chunk out of her leg,” she says.

“She’s passed out on the floor, security ran over to her and people were just charging through. They took out the barriers, pushed through security, punching security, just taking everyone out in their way.”

Image copyright Anna Sophia Aldrige

She left the festival shortly afterwards and was escorted out into a car park by festival employees.

She says when she left, she saw ambulances and police vans arriving on the site.

In a statement given to Newsbeat, the Metropolitan Police said: “Officers are at the location and working alongside organisers and London Ambulance Service.

“We are not aware of any serious injury.”

Festival-goer Renardo Henry, 21, travelled from Birmingham for the festival and says he was stood near people who passed out in the heat.

“We were in the queue, four people had collapsed around us, people were throwing up and shouting for medics, all the staff were doing was throwing water bottles into the crowd of people.”

‘People were crawling on the floor and crying’

He was also involved in the crush at the festival entrance.

“Everyone at the back of us was just pushing towards us,” he says.

“I turned around to see my friends getting crushed by other people. People were coming out of there crawling and crying because they’d been trampled on.

“It was ridiculous and all the security was doing was trying to push people back.”

But he says he and his two friends will return to We Are FSTVL on Sunday to try and get in again for the festival’s second day.

Image copyright Anna Sophia Alrdige
Image caption People injured or who suffered due to dehydration or sunstroke were helped by medical staff

The festival has put out a statement, offering “sincere apologies” for anyone that experienced delays.

Organisers also say they’ll be adding additional staff and “infrastructure” to try and speed up the ticket checking process for Sunday’s programme.

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Several hours after watching Netflixs new original horror film, The Perfection, Im still unsure if Id recommend it to people. The film, which stars Allison Williams and Logan Browning as two cello prodigies, is completely off the rails. At times it feels like a soapy Lifetime film, with one of the characters repeatedly calling another a bitchas if there is no other word to describe a woman who did something seemingly evil. But there are also moments when it feels like a smart, campy arthouse film, thanks to its creative narration style and chapter divisions. The result is a strange yet watchable horror film that will likely inspire a lot of discussions after it arrives on the streaming service Friday.

The Perfection

RELEASE DATE: 5/24/2019
DIRECTOR: Richard Shephard
A revenge fantasy horror film centered around two musical prodigies.

The Perfection‘s execution relies on the audience not knowing what will happen next or for whom to root. But heres the general plot: Lizzie (Browning), a young, talented cellist, connects with her schools former star student, Charlotte (Williams), during an event. The pair have instant chemistry and spend a night together, but the next morning Lizzie becomes extremely ill. Several graphic scenes involving vomit, bugs, and mutilation follow. The first half of the film isnt really scary; in fact, it’s often funny. Yet it’s purposely confusing. You dont know exactly what youre watching or how its all going to connect.


Without its unique narration style, The Perfection would feel silly. But its smartly edited to mislead viewers. You dont know who the true villain of this horror film isand there definitely is one. The ending is wild and horrific, but its also satisfying. Some scenes are extremely uncomfortable, like the ill-conceived fake rape scene. The film seems designed to shock viewers, but it doesn’t always put its female leads in the best light.

Browning, who stars in the Netflix series , does her best with the material but often gets saddled with cheesy lines. Williams has a meatier role that will inevitably draw comparisons to her character in . The film also stars Steven Weber as Anton, their music instructor. The film does not reveal the full scope of his role until its turbulent end. What you think youre about to watch is a typical story of a demanding music instructor and an obsessive student who goes crazy, like 2014s Whiplash. But The Perfection, while campier in style, is about something much darker than trying to become a perfect musician.


Be warned: The Perfectionincludes scenes and discussion of rape, and it shows men in high positions abusing their power. Its a horror film that feels relevant in the post-Me Too era, but its still a story about abuse. Even if it shows survivors coming to terms with their abuse and seeking revenge, the abuse still happens. The Perfection doesnt do a good job of answering why or how institutions knowingly let these horrific acts happen without consequences. It’s more focused on presenting a tightly constructed horror plot. The film falls into that bad-good category, but it’s much better than a lot of other horror movies on streaming services. If you want to see a wild, deranged film, it might be for you. My one recommendation? Don’t eat a meal while watching it.

Still not sure what to watch tonight? Here are our guides for the absolutebest movies on Netflix, must-seeNetflix original series,documentaries,docuseries, andmovies.

Looking for something more specific? Here are our Netflix guides for thebest war movies,documentaries,anime,indie flicks,true crime,food shows,rom-coms,LGBT movies,alien movies,gangster movies,Westerns,film noir, andmovies based on true storiesstreaming right now. There are alsosad moviesguaranteed to make you cry,weird moviesto melt your brain,old movies when you need something classic, andstandup specialswhen you really need to laugh. Or check outFlixable, a search engine for Netflix.

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Short-form content has graduated from YouTube to attracting big stars, big studios and big Hollywood backing. Is watching in snippets the future of TV?

State of the Union opens in a bar, where Tom (Chris ODowd) and Louise (Rosamund Pike) hash out an agenda for their marital therapy session over drinks and witty diversions. The two banter and alternately confront and avoid the flailing state of their marriage, before the scene cuts at the therapists door.

And by scene, I mean episode. Each instalment of State of the Union, developed and written by Nick Hornby for Sundance TV, lasts a mere 10 minutes less than half the length of a standard sitcom, and just over a tenth of the latest episode of Game of Thrones. The show, with its two principal characters and single-scene conceit, is peak TV in short-form, specifically designed to fit the time spent between subway stops. At 100 minutes a season, its a refreshing antidote to seemingly endless hours of original shows, said Daniel DAddario, chief TV critic at Variety. There are so many shows nowadays where I think people really feel the burn, because shows can be as long as creators and streaming services want them to be, and they can often be longer than consumers need them to be, he told the Guardian.

Short-form content is not new ask anyone who has gone down a YouTube hole of music videos, makeup tutorials or cooking how-tos but State of the Union represents a growing trend of snackable, stylish short-form from some of Hollywoods major players.

Netflix recently debuted two series with episodes of about 15 minutes: Special, a show about life as a gay man with cerebral palsy adapted from writer and star Ryan OConnells memoir, and Bonding, a series based on creator Rightor Doyles past as the bodyguard for a dominatrix. Just last week, Adult Swim greenlit the quarter-hour comedy series Three Busy Debras, from star Sandy Honig (Isnt It Romantic) and producer Amy Poehler. And the upcoming short-form video platform Quibi arriving from Hollywood titan Jeffrey Katzenberg, formerly the head of Dreamworks, and former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman announced the series #Freerayshawn, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring If Beale Street Could Talk breakout star Stephan James.

In other words, short-form has gone prestige. Once the purview of DIY YouTubers and aspiring creatives looking for a big break (Issa Rae graduated from the minutes-long webseries The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl to HBOs full-length comedy Insecure), short-form now commands a deep well of resources the backing of major studios, streaming-service budgets and top talent. And as the slate of original content continues to expand, scripted short-form TV may become the most contested battleground for heavyweight tech and content companies, as everyone from Snap to YouTube to Sundance TV compete for a quarter-hour snippet of attention.

A still from Special Photograph: Netflix

Katzenberg has declared the shift to short-form as era-defining, telling a crowd at South by Southwest: Five years from now, we want to come back on this stage and if we were successful, there will have been the era of movies, the era of television and the era of Quibi. What Google is to search, Quibi will be to short-form video.

Quibi, short for quick-bite, is a $5 a month subscription service that will break full-length TV and movies into mobile-optimized six to 10 minute chunks. Set to launch in April 2020, the service is already worth more than $1bn and is developing projects with Lena Waithe, Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro, Justin Timberlake and a Fatal Attraction 2.0 thriller with Naomi Watts.

Its still too early to tell whether Quibis world of short-form will fundamentally reshape the hierarchy of Hollywood content. But shows like State of the Union have already demonstrated that scripted short-form can open up TV to new formats and voices that might not otherwise make it to series in a traditional length.

Special and Bonding, for example, both feature marginalized perspectives who challenge the TV status quo, and were probably considered a risk in finding a broad audience on broadcast. Netflixs vice-president of product, Todd Yelling, has said that the decision to go short, standard or long depends on the material. Its really about flexibility in storytelling. Some stories are best told in six minutes and some stories are best told in 10 hours, he told Variety in March.

State of the Union isnt about inclusion, but it is a show that for many reasons couldnt really work at 30 minutes because of Rosamund Pikes stature, because of the kind of story that its trying to tell, said DAddario. Each episode is less truncated sitcom than entry in a length-based genre a short story to a novel, DAddario said, made possible by the proliferation of streaming. Streaming presents this real opportunity to experiment that on broadcast and even on a lot of cable, you cant really do a shorter show, he said. Youre locked into these time slots and these formats.

Chris ODowd and Rosamund Pike in State of the Union. Photograph: Marc Hom/SundanceTV

For Sundance TV, which has both a cable arm and a streaming service, the quality of the short product justified the risk of finding viewers. We loved the idea of using these incredibly talented people to break new ground in television, its executive director Jan Diedrichsen said to the Guardian. Sundance TV played each new episode of State of the Union linearly, at 10pm each night, and made them available for streaming at 5pm, in time for the evening commute. If youre on the train, youre on the bus, youre carpooling, what a great time to be able to catch 10 minutes of an episode in a way that a 50-minute episode may not be open to you, said Diedrichsen of the reasoning.

DAddario said thats exactly how he watched I Think You Should Leave, Tim Robinsons 15-minute sketch comedy show on Netflix and enjoyed it.

These kind of fast-moving 15-minute shows that are trying to do a couple things really well, and are youre in and youre out in a quarter of an hour, are a really satisfying mobile experience.

I love the fact that the creativity around this format really gives you a different sort of satisfying feel in premium television, said Diedrichsen of the length experiment. While its too soon to know how viewers responded to State of the Union did they watch episodes individually? All at once? Diedrichsen loves how the show takes the short-form structure and it makes it premium. The talent, the production values everything about it feels prestige and high-end.

Snappy dialogue, expensive lighting, slick production its the hallmarks of so-called prestige TV, pared down to the anti-Thrones extreme. In that way, the new short-form is as characteristic of the streaming era as is an overlong, somewhat bloated series, said DAddario.

I started watching State of the Union for this piece, intending to get a taste of the format through two or three episodes. But soon I fell into the rhythm of binge-watching, that liminal space where real-life hours become show minutes and the pull of responsibilities faded with each autoplay. Its not unusual for me to lose a whole sleepless night to an engaging seven episodes of TV. This time, though, it was just my lunch break.

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What does it take to become a Disney Princess? Is it all about being beautiful and kind? Being born as a princess or marrying a prince?

Probably all girls dreamed of becoming a princess while watching the famous Disney movies in childhood. Even though at first most of the princesses were mistreated, their charm, beauty, and kindness saved them from a rough life in the end.

If you are as kind-hearted as Blake Lively, as charming as Amanda Seyfried or as beautiful as Emilia Clarke, you don’t have to be royal. Russian artist Helen Morgun decided to imagine how her favorite celebrities would look if they were the Disney princesses and the result is truly amazing!

Scroll down the page and see if you like this glamorous cast!

#1 Rihanna As Tiana

“Gorgeous Riri as Tiana! I think that someday I will draw her again because she’s perfect and she looks gorgeous. Also, I am really impressed with Tiana and her story that she did not sit and wait for her prince to come.”

#2 Margot Robbie As Elsa

“My first attempt to drawing this actress was not very successful. But I believe in a second chance. Hope you guys like it!”

#3 Amanda Seyfried As Rapunzel

“For this illustration, I have tried a new background format. I love this cartoon and I especially love the soundtrack of it.”

#4 Lucy Liu As Mulan

“I wanted to paint her for a really long time. But I had to redraw it twice. At first, I wanted to depict the moment when Mulan cuts her hair off with a sword but something went wrong in the process and I decided to do a slightly different version of her.”

#5 Blake Lively As Aurora

“I love the film “The Age of Adaline” with Blake Lively for its banal plot and the pleasant aftertaste after watching.”

#6 Billie Eilish As Kida Nedakh

“To be honest, I have learned about her on Instagram. Currently, my music taste is 99% songs from my childhood.”

#7 Emma Stone As Merida

“Have you ever shot a bow? I have twice in my life and I should admit that I really enjoyed it. The feeling when you hit the bull’s eye is certainly overwhelming! Of course, I shot at a static target and I can hardly imagine what it’s like to shoot at a moving target.”

#8 Mila Kunis As Esmeralda

“The lovely Mila Kunis as Esmeralda. Let’s talk about beauty! Beauty, of course, is a terrible power, but how important is it for you? Do you consider yourself beautiful? On a scale from 1 to 10, how much would you rate yourself?

There is a wonderful stand up on this topic by Jim Jeffrey. If you have not seen it yet, I recommend you watch it. I would rate myself as a 7 with my makeup. I admit that I like to look at beautiful people – in crowds, movies, or even Instagram. But for me, a person doesn’t need to have classical beautiful features. Charm is much more important to me.”

#9 Lily Collins As Snow White

“Beautiful Lily Collins as Snow White! Is this apple poisoned? Who will be next? Jasmine? Or maybe Ariel?”

#10 Megan Fox As Megara

“Many people asked me to draw Megan Fox. Therefore, I chose her.”

#11 Emilia Clarke As Belle

“I decided to choose Emilia Clarke because her nature is quite romantic and very suitable for this picture.”

#12 Selena Gomez As Moana

“Charming Selena Gomez as Moana! She’s one of my favorite princesses because the whole theme of the ocean, the beach, and palm trees is very close to me. I love to be in the sun and listen to the sound of the waves. I’m probably not the only one who loves that!”

#13 Leigh-Anne Pinnock As Pocahontas

“When I was a teenager, I had a dream to have a raccoon as a pet. But now when I watch videos on YouTube about raccoons, I am glad that my dream did not come true.”

#14 Sophie Turner As Ariel

“That is how Sophie Turner would look if she was Ariel. I hope you will like her in this role.”

#15 Camila Cabello As Jasmine

“In this picture, it is the beautiful Camila Cabello as Jasmine.”

#16 Cara Delevingne As Anna From Frozen

“And here’s my Anna from Frozen. Do you recognize the actress?”

#17 Naomi Scott As Jasmine

“Beautiful Naomi Scott as Jasmine (live action 2019). I made a mix of the old and new style so I hope you guys like it. Who else is looking forward to the premiere?”

#18 Ariana Grande As Vanellope

“This is how Ariana Grande would look if she was Vanellope. Just a proud and innocent girl! I like the first part of Ralph but unfortunately, I did not see the second part.”

#19 Rachel Mcadams As Cinderella

“Amazing Rachel McAdams as Cinderella.”

#20 Amber Heard As Alice

“You chose beautiful Amber Heard for Alice in Wonderland. So here it is! I hope you like it. Do you believe in mystical events and prophetic dreams?”

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Despite a $5.7 million FTC fine and changes to restrict its use by those younger than 13 years old, TikTok retained its No. 1 position as the most downloaded app on the Apple App Store for the fifth consecutive quarter, according to a new report from Sensor Tower. The app saw more than 33 million App Store downloads during Q1, and was followed by YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger to round out the top five.

The No. 16 top app, Twitter, also had a good quarter, the report noted.

With 11.7 million App Store downloads, it saw its biggest quarter in terms of downloads since Q1 2015 — and a year-over-year increase of 3.6%. Of course, these figures won’t necessarily translate to an increase in active users, as installs aren’t a direct correlation to usage.

But while TikTok was again topping the App Store, it wasn’t the most downloaded app on Android devices in Q1.

With a bigger footprint in emerging markets and a larger total user base, Android trends can look different from those on iOS. This past quarter, WhatsApp was the No. 1 app on Google Play, with nearly 199 million installs. It was followed by Messenger, then TikTok, Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger all saw more than 150 million installs apiece in Q1 2019, as did TikTok.

Though not the top app on Android, TikTok still had a huge quarter — particularly in India, where 88.6 million new users installed the app in Q1, up 8.2 times over Q1 2018, Sensor Tower noted in an earlier report. 

That said, TikTok’s numbers for the next quarter may not be as good. The app was banned in India in April over illegal content, including pornography. While that ban was lifted later that month, Sensor Tower estimated it had cost the app at least 15 million downloads there, and what would have been its biggest-ever month.

An up-and-comer in Q1 included YouTube Kids, which saw a 291% quarter-over-quarter increase and 29 millions downloads on Google Play, where it joined YouTube and YouTube Music to become a top 20 app. 

With the two app stores figures’ combined, WhatsApp became the most downloaded app in the quarter, with more than 22 million installs across the App Store and Google Play.

Messenger clocked in at No. 2 with nearly 203 million installs. And TikTok’s gains on the App Store allowed it to take the No. 3. position, followed by Facebook and Instagram.

The rest of the top 10 didn’t change, with Facebook claiming four of the top five spots. Meanwhile, first-time users in India pushed image editor PicsArt into the worldwide top 20.

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Despite how many influencers go to Coachella every year, the original Woodstock is still the most iconic music festival of all time. In August 1969, over 400,000 people made their way to upstate New York for a music festival that would be a defining moment in the counterculture generation. Over the years, there have been various revivals of the Woodstock festival, and this year, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, is going to be the biggest of them all: Woodstock 50. Well, it’s supposed to be the biggest, but right now it’s looking like a total sh*tshow. Let’s examine what’s going on with what may end up being the Fyre Festival of upstate New York.

Earlier this year, Michael Lang, one of the co-founders of the original Woodstock festival, announced that he would be organizing a 50th anniversary edition. The site for the festival, Watkins Glen International Racetrack, already has an iffy past with music festivals. Last summer, there was supposed to be a Phish festival there, but it got shut down due to water quality and safety issues due to flooding. Lang announced that for Woodstock 50, a separate water supply would be brought in to avoid these problems. Already, this sounds like a mess.

The lineup for Woodstock 50 was announced in March, and it’s pretty impressive. Headliners include Miley Cyrus, Jay-Z, Halsey, The Killers, Santana, and Chance the Rapper. It’s a little all over the place, but I’m still impressed. Reportedly, though, iconic acts like Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, and Billy Joel all turned the festival down. Looking back now, maybe they knew something we didn’t at the time?

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It's time #Woodstock50☮️♥️🎵

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Tickets for Woodstock 50 were supposed to go on sale on April 22, which already seemed a little late for a festival of this size, but that date came and went with no updated information. Then, on April 29, the main investors in the festival, a company called Dentsu Aegis Network, announced that they were pulling their financial support, and that the festival would therefore be canceled. The issue? Besides being surprised to learn that “Dentsu Aegis” is a real company, and not a secret society from a sci-fi movie, the Woodstock 50 organizers pulled some shady sh*t. The festival reduced the capacity to 75,000 in order to make room for people camping. The capacity was initially promised as 150,000, so Dentsu Aegis was understandably upset that they were only going to get half the ticket sales.

Despite a main production partner, Superfly, also pulling out a couple days later, Lang said that the festival would still go on as planned, and that they were seeking out new financial backers. That sounds fine, but it was revealed that all of the artists on the lineup had made payment deals through Dentsu Aegis, not the festival itself, so they were no longer obligated to show up at the festival. Yikes.

Earlier this month, reports circulated that Michael Lang had found a new financial backer for Woodstock 50, but he still needed a mass gathering permit for the festival to go on. Additionally, he filed an injunction against Dentsu Aegis, saying that they had no right to declare the festival canceled, and also demanding that they return $17 million that they removed from the Woodstock 50 bank account. He also alleged that Dentsu had prevented the tickets from going on sale on April 22.

This week, a judge ruled that Dentsu Aegis did not have the power to cancel the festival, clearing the way for it to proceed in August. However, the judge also said that Dentsu did not have to return the $17 million, so Woodstock is still broke. Now, Michael Lang is adamant that Woodstock 50 is going to happen in August as planned, but it’s still unclear who’s paying for it, or when tickets will go on sale.

As if this story wasn’t already messy enough, there’s a whole other situation going on with Woodstock 50. Live Nation, one of the biggest concert promoters, is holding a separate Woodstock 50 anniversary concert, also taking place in August at the site of the original festival. Some of the same artists are even scheduled to perform at both Woodstock 50 events. Michael Lang filed a cease and desist order against the Live Nation event, but it’s still moving forward, and tickets have been available for weeks. Honestly, if I had to choose one, the Live Nation concert is definitely a safer bet.

At this point, it’s still wildly unclear if Woodstock 50 is going to happen, but if it does, I can’t wait to see how gigantic of a mess the whole thing is. If you’re planning to go, you should definitely bring your own water and toilet paper, because things are probably going to get dicey. I would give you the link to buy tickets to Woodstock 50, but lol tickets to this thing are never going on sale. Brb, gotta go send some emails to try and get press passes. Can’t wait for the competing Hulu and Netflix documentaries about this in 2021.

Images: woodstock / Instagram

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Tel Aviv, Israel (CNN)Always camp, often cheesy and occasionally political, the Eurovision Song Contest rarely passes off without some kind of controversy.

Last year, the contest — which pits singers and bands from different countries against each other in a week-long competition culminating in a spectacular live final — was won by a quirky singer called Netta Barzilai, representing Israel (despite the title, entries are not restricted to European nations).
And because the winning nation gets to host the following year’s contest, this year the Eurovision caravan has pitched up in Tel Aviv.
    The nature of the controversy is clear on landing at Ben Gurion Airport. Signs welcoming visitors to the contest are followed on the road into the city by a billboard protesting against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
    The rival messages underline the contrast between Israel’s sunny Mediterranean beaches and the concrete wall and checkpoints that run along parts of the border with the West Bank. It is an attempt to remind visitors that just a short drive away is an ongoing, and intractable, conflict.

    Israel seeks tourism boost

    Eurovision is best known for its glitzy costumes, quirky performances, and national pride. Despite its well-honed message that the event is above politics, the big issue of the day almost always casts its shadow.
    In 2003, UK entry Jemini received no points from a combination of expert juries and members of the public in each of the other countries amid a backlash over the US-led invasion of Iraq that was backed by British forces. And 11 years later, Russian contestants the Tolmachevy Sisters were booed in what was perceived to be a protest over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea and its suppression of LGBT rights.
    This year is no exception.
    Israel is using the Eurovision song competition as a way to brand itself as a fun, sunny holiday break for tourists. It’s part of the country’s larger effort to promote itself not only as a place for religious and historical tourism, but also for its beaches, food scene and high-tech startups.
    Israel has poured millions of dollars into the event, which it last hosted in 1999. The competition is taking place at Expo Tel Aviv, while across the city satellite events, performances and festivals are taking place all week long.
    Nearly 200 million people are expected to tune in to watch the final on Saturday. The televised week-long competition pits 41 countries’ contestants against each other in a series of rounds. Half of a contestant’s final standing is determined by a jury, while the other half comes from a public vote.
    Politics and controversy, as well as security concerns, have threatened to overshadow the competition, especially after a flare-up last week of violence between militants in Gaza, who fired nearly 700 rockets into the country, and the Israeli Army, which responded with more than 300 airstrikes.
    Four people in Israel and more than 20 people in Gaza were killed in the two days of fighting, before mediators managed to restore a ceasefire, all of it coinciding with the start of the Eurovision rehearsals.
    Activists in the country are keen to take advantage of the world spotlight, calling for boycotts of the event over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
    “Breaking the Silence,” an organization started by former soldiers which wants to see Israel withdraw from Palestinian territories, paid for the billboard along the highway.
    “We want people to come that first of all come and see the bigger picture — to enjoy Israel, to enjoy Tel Aviv, but also open their eyes to the fact we occupy millions of people against their will,” the group’s communications director Achiya Schatz told CNN. “For us, if you want to build bridges through music, you need to take apart walls that are being built by occupation.”
    On Tuesday evening as thousands flocked to the Tel Aviv beaches for free performances and a food festival, around 150 protesters took part in a short march calling on Israel to end its actions in Gaza.
    “The eyes of Europe are on us, so we want to use it to hold up Europe [so it can] see what happens in Gaza, and do something about it,” said one of the protesters, Mattan Helman. “We want them to stop the party, to come with us, to work together and to see that there is another thing that happens 100km from them — to see the lives [of people in Gaza and] to understand that this is also part of their life, because they affect each other. The life in Gaza affects the life in Israel, and the life in Israel affects the life in Gaza.”
    But for most people in Tel Aviv the focus is on the festive atmosphere and the opportunity to show that Tel Aviv can successfully host a major international event.
    At the Eurovision fan village along the beach, locals and visitors alike said they were impressed by the event.
    “We’re celebrating Eurovision, celebrating freedom, celebrating good music,” said Yanit Azulin as she danced with friends. “The vibe is great, it’s enormous, it’s amazing. I’m very glad that we are here celebrating.”
    Typically the Eurovision finale does not feature any celebrity performances. But this year Madonna is slated to perform two songs at the grand finale.
    Despite calls for her to boycott the event, Madonna said in a statement she will “never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be.”
    “My heart breaks every time I hear about the innocent lives that are lost in this region and the violence that is so often perpetuated to suit the political goals of people who benefit from this ancient conflict. I hope and pray that we will soon break free from this terrible cycle of destruction and create a new path towards peace,” the statement continued.
    Protests also came from religious Ultra-Orthodox Jews in the country, angered that the contest requires people to work and perform during the Sabbath which occurs from sundown on Fridays until sundown on Saturday (though the finale should begin after sundown on Saturday). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to explain the government did not control the Eurovision competition to one of the political parties he is trying to form a coalition with, after they expressed dismay about the competition’s timing.
    “Most of the participants in the event are from abroad and not Jewish,” Netanyahu wrote, according to the Jerusalem Post.
      Netta Barzilai, the reigning Eurovision champion whose winning song “Toy” brought the competition to Israel, has been promoting the event as a way to bring a positive message to the world.
      “It’s insane to bring so much blessing over here. And we are thrilled for people to discover Israel again and to see [what] amazing people we are, and how warm we are accepting everyone. It’s going to be a party,” Barzilai said at a news conference ahead of the semi-finals. “From all these countries, all these cultures are bound together, this is a festival of light.”

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      It’s been a busy couple of months for Bytedance, one of the world’s most valuable startups and the operator of globally popular video app TikTok. The Beijing-based company has continued to grow its list of apps to include the likes of work collaboration tool Lark, an instant messenger called Feiliao as well as a music streaming app, and now it appears to be taking a bold step into the hardware realm.

      Bytedance is planning to develop its own smartphone, the Financial Times reported (paywalled) citing two sources. A spokesperson from Bytedance declined to comment on the matter, but the rumor is hardly a surprise as smartphone pre-installs have long been a popular way for Chinese internet companies to ramp up user sizes.

      There’s also urgency from Bytedance to carve out more user acquisition channels. After a few years of frantic growth, Bytedance failed to hit its revenue target for the first time last year amid slowing ad spending in China, according to a report by Bloomberg.

      Some of Bytedance’s predecessors include selfie app maker Meitu, which builds smartphones pre-loaded with its suite of photo editors and recently sold this segment to Xiaomi as the latter tries to capture more female users and newcomers, including Snow-owned camera app B612 and Bytedance’s Faceu, close on Meitu’s heels.

      Others have taken a less asset-heavy approach in the early days of the Chinese internet. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent — known collectively as the BAT for their supremacy in China’s tech world — all worked on their own custom Android ROMs, which come with extra features compared to a stock ROM pre-installed by a phone manufacturer.

      Alibaba’s ambition also manifested in a $590 million investment in Meizu in 2016 that saw the eommerce giant take up the challenge to develop a tailored operating system for the handset maker. More recently in March, WeChat owner Tencent teamed up with gaming smartphone maker Razor on a number of initiatives that cover hardware.

      ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, plans to launch a free music streaming app

      There were early clues to Bytedance’s smartphone endeavor. The company confirmed in January that it has acquired certain patents and some employees from phone maker Smartisan, although it said at the time the deal was done to “explore the education business.” That was a curious statement as Smartisan’s business has little to do with education. At the very least, the tie-up confers hardware development capability on the mobile internet upstart.

      Indeed, a source told the Financial Times that Bytedance founder Zhang Yiming “has long dreamt of a phone with Bytedance apps pre-installed.” Nonetheless, this is tipped to be an uphill battle, at least in China where smartphone sales are cooling and competition intensifies between entrenched players like Huawei, Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi and Apple.

      Bytedance has built a leg up away from home, thanks to its empire of mobile apps. The company is one of the few — and many would argue the first — Chinese internet startups that manage to gain a meaningful foothold globally. TikTok has consistently topped the worldwide app ranking in the last handful of months, though it’s also encountered a few stumbling blocks in some of its larger markets.

      In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission imposed a fined on TikTok for violating children’s privacy protection law. The government of India, which has driven much of TikTok’s recent growth, also took issue with the app to temporarily ban it on account of illegal content.

      While the US market may be difficult to penetrate given Washington’s concerns around the security threat that Chinese companies may present, India is now crowded with Chinese brands. A research done by Counterpoint found that in the first quarter, Chinese manufacturers led by Xiaomi controlled a whopping 66 percent of India’s smartphone market. That means Bytedance, alongside its potential ally Smartisan, is not only up against local rivals in India but also the familiar faces from its home market.

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      This is One Good Thing, a weekly column where we tell you about one of the few nice things that happened this week.

      Are they trying to break the internet?

      Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber released a humorously shoddy green screen video for their joint single, “I Don’t Care”  on Friday. If you need something to wake you up, this is it. 

      Colorful visuals and silly costumes abound in the nearly four-minute video, which utilizes a bunch of green screens. Bieber appears in multiple roles, including human-sized corn on the cob, teddy bear, and an ice cream cone. Sheeran, on the other hand, dons an ’80s style track suit, a panda costume, and a Hawaiian shirt. As the background rapidly transforms from black tie event to a sky of cartoon rainbows, the singers dance around like the goofballs they are. 

      The dance-y song is exactly what one could expect from the minds of Sheeran and Bieber, with breezy lyrics like, “‘Cause I don’t care when I’m with my baby, yeah / all the bad things disappear /
      And you’re making me feel like maybe I am somebody.” 

      Bieber’s been teasing the video all week on Instagram, posting hilarious stills like this one:

      View this post on Instagram

      I Don’t Care video out Friday. Tomorrow. 2pm BST

      A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

      Put together, the song and video go (panda) hand in (teddy bear) hand to create a perfectly light-hearted and fun moment. As they bop around to the music, you can tell they really don’t care

      Also, given the green screen, we’re expecting some pretty decent memes to come out of this.

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      Madonna is here with a hot take on the Michael Jackson child sex abuse controversy.

      In an interview with British Vogue, the music icon was asked what she thought about the Leaving Neverland documentary that shared Well, it appears that Madge is

      To her credit, Madonna said she would “get around to seeing” Leaving Neverland eventually. Maybe sitting down and watching the two-part special will change her mind?

      Get that HBO subscription and circle back with us, Madge.

      [Image via WENN]

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