On Wednesday evening (Jan. 22), industry insiders and standout songwriters packed the Hyde Sunset Kitchen + Cocktails venue for an intimate showcase — a joint event from the National Music Publishers Association and Billboard. Honorees Lewis Capaldi and Finneas chatted near the stage, while the latter’s superstar sister, Billie Eilish, and mom hung nearby. Signs scattered across the bar — which read “closed during performances, respect the songwriters and enjoy the show” — best stated the intention of the evening: to celebrate and honor the craft of songwriting.
Following a standout year in which Billboard launched its Songwriters and Producers charts, NMPA president David Israelite kicked off the evening by calling Billboard editorial director Hannah Karp a “best friend” to songwriters. Karp proceeded to introduce five award recipients: Capaldi was honored for his Billboard Hot 100 No. 1, “Someone You Loved”; Finneas was applauded for becoming Billboard’s first-ever Producer of the Year; Tayla Parx was celebrated for crafting genre-spanning hits from Panic! At The Disco’s “High Hopes” to Khalid and Normani’s “Love Lies”; Victoria Monet accepted her award for working alongside Ariana Grande and helping the singer land two No. 1s in 2019; and finally, Meghan Trainor was awarded for her work with She Is the Music and ongoing advocacy for songwriters over the years.
During his acceptance speech, Finneas admitted that, “I love songwriting because it’s not a contest sport — but winning is really really fun.” Meanwhile, Capaldi’s speech could have doubled for a stand-up routine, as he closed by saying: “I won’t see you ever again — [I’m a] one hit wonder.” (Later, Trainor assured him that, “I’m still the bass girl).
Capaldi soon returned to the stage, though, to perform “Before You Go” followed by his breakout hit “Someone You Loved,” for which Trainor — seated on a stool — spontaneously harmonized on backing vocals. Capaldi introduced the song by calling out its inspiration, his ex, who is now a contestant on the U.K. reality show Love Island: “It’s good for record sales, I guess,” he said through a smile. Trainor then followed his performance with a medley of her highest-charting tracks, beginning with an acoustic version of “All About That Bass,” followed by “Lips Are Movin’,” “Dear Future Husband” (which she sang directly to her hubby Daryl Sabara), “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” “Wave” off her forthcoming album and finally “No.”
Earlier, when Trainor accepted the first-ever Jay Rosenthal award, she thanked Karp for being “such a bad ass” and declared that she would try and “use my voice and platform for songwriters for the rest of my life.” She thanked busbee, saying that he will live on because of the songs he wrote, and concluded that songwriters are superheros: “We get to heal people with a three minute song.”
Parx — who performed a medley of “Love Lies,” “High Hopes” and Janelle Monáe’s “I Like That” before welcoming Monet to the stage for a string of Grande’s biggest hits like “Needy” and “7 Rings” — shared a similar sentiment to Trainor, simply saying: “These types of events are necessary.”