Thursday night (May 18), some of the music industry’s finest contemporary songwriters and artists convened at The Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles for the ASCAP Pop Awards, celebrating the accomplishments of both the performance rights organization and the musicians they represent.
The evening played like a tour of the hits that have dominated radio for the past year, with writing and production teams coming up in groups to pose for photos with their framed awards. Of the night’s victors, Justin Bieber scored the award for song of the year for “Love Yourself,” and was honored with a performance from a cappella group The Filharmonic, who kicked off the show with a rendition of the tune.
Songwriter of the year went to super producer Max Martin, who was introduced by Adam Lambert and whose daughter Doris Sandberg was on hand to accept his award, for his work on hits like Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” and Adele’s “Send My Love (To Your New Lover).” “Hi everyone, really sorry I can’t be there tonight. I’m in Sweden,” he said in a recorded video. “Thank you so much for this great honor… I’ll see you next year.”
Meghan Trainor was in attendance with her family to accept the Vanguard Award, recognizing both her solo career and her songwriting for other artists including Jennifer Lopez, Rascal Flatts and Fifth Harmony. “My heart’s exploding! This is the coolest thing ever,” she said. “I want to thank John Titta and ASCAP for this award…for not looking at me as only a pop star and a big dollar sign, but as a person and as a songwriter. That really means a lot to me.”
Snoop Dogg introduced Diane Warren as “one of the most successful and respected songwriters of all time” for penning hits like Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” and Toni Braxton’s “Unbreak My Heart.” “Anybody got a light?” joked Warren as she was given the Founders Awards. “I feel like in a lot of ways, I’m only beginning.” Songwriter Paul Williams helped introduce LeAnn Rimes, who performed her 1997 smash “How Do I Live,” the Warren-penned hit that spent 32 weeks in the top 10 of the Hot 100, while Jacob Lattimore gave a rendition of Brandy’s “Have You Ever.”
Of the awards given throughout the event, Sony/ATV Music won publisher of the year and had 22 winning songs, including The Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down” and Sia’s “Cheap Thrills,” and was honored with a performance from Mike Posner who strapped on an acoustic guitar to run through his hit “I Took a Pill in Ibiza.” Independent publisher of the year went to BMG (Fifth Harmony’s “Work from Home”).