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Pentatonix edges Lovato for top spot – Pharrell dedicates ‘Freedom’ to migrants

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NEW YORK, Oct 27, (Agencies): Texas a cappella group Pentatonix beat former Disney Channel star Demi Lovato to the top spot on the weekly US Billboard 200 album chart on Monday with its self-titled album.

It was the first No 1 album for the five-person group, who won the NBC television show, “The Sing-Off,” in 2011. “Pentatonix” sold 98,447 units, compared with 98,176 for Lovato’s new release “Confident.”

The Billboard 200 chart tallies units from album sales, song sales (10 songs equal one album) and streaming activity (1,500 streams equal one album).

Last week’s chart-topper, Selena Gomez, slipped to the 7th position with “Unbreakable,” while Canadian rapper The Weeknd held on to the No 3 position with “Beauty Behind the Madness.”

Other new entries in the Top 10 included rapper Machine Gun Kelly with “General Admission,” which made its debut at No. 4, and rock act Cooheed and Cambria with “Color Before the Sun” in 10th place.

On the digital songs charts, rapper Drake’s single “Hotline Bling” held off British boy band One Direction’s new release “Perfect.”

Pharrell Williams on Monday dedicated his song “Freedom” to refugees fleeing to Europe, hailing immigrants’ contributions around the world.

The US pop star, best known for his viral global hit “Happy,” on Sunday performed his jazzy new track at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Milan, interjecting the phrase, “Let them in!”

Elaborating a day later at a forum in New York, Williams said he did not consider himself an activist but added: “We should use our platforms where we can.” “We have to be open. And it’s a tough conversation, but America is built on immigrants. We wouldn’t have a country” without them, he said.

Asked if the same held true for Europe, which is facing an unprecedented influx of migrants from Syria and other troubled countries, Williams said, “Absolutely.”

The 42-year-old musician spoke at length on his prolific career at an event of National Public Radio and New York University, whose Tisch School of the Arts has named him artist-in-residence.

The video for “Freedom,” released in July, is subtle in its political imagery, featuring footage from around the world of places that range from an Asian sweatshop to a slum to India’s holy Ganges River.

“Happy” turned into a global ode to joy as fans around the world recorded and shared their own homemade dance videos.

Williams — for two decades a songwriter and producer for other artists including Madonna, Britney Spears and Snoop Dogg — said he remained surprised by the massive success of “Happy.”

Williams said that he aspired not to become a bigger pop star but to be a major producer in the model of Quincy Jones or Dr Dre.

Despite his stated reluctance at activism, Williams earlier this year spoke at the United Nations to encourage action against climate change.

Williams told the New York event that he was supporting Hillary Clinton in her presidential bid, believing it was time for a woman to lead the United States.

Getting into the studio and writing a potential hit song for Adele sounds hard enough. Now add in keeping mum about the track for a year.

That’s the challenge Greg Kurstin faced after producing and co-writing “Hello” last year.

“I’m not going to lie — it’s not easy to hold that information in for that long,” the Grammy-and Golden Globe-nominated songwriter-producer said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“You kind of want to shout it out, run around in the streets yelling to random strangers what you’ve just done,” he added. “Hello” was released Friday, and it topped the iTunes singles chart in 85 countries. The music video broke the Vevo record for most views in a day with 27.7 million.

“Hello” is Adele’s first album single since releasing 2011’s “21,” her sophomore album that sold more than 11 million units in the United States and won the Grammy Award for album of the year, among other accolades.

“I’m still in shock, honestly . … I was just pretty blown away,” Kurstin said of the insta-success of “Hello.”

Kurstin, who has worked with Pink, Lily Allen, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, said he and Adele were supposed to work together on music for “21,” but it didn’t pan out. On “25,” which Adele will release Nov 20, he also contributed to the tracks “Water Under the Bridge” and “Million Years Ago.”

Adele’s ‘Hello’ video in four years smashed records at entertainment platform Vevo.com, delivering more than 27 million views in the first 24 hours after its release last week.

Vevo said on Monday that the British singer’s “Hello” video, which debuted exclusively on its site on Friday, dethroned Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” video, which was seen more than 20 million times in the first 24 hours after its release in May.