The Billboard Music Awards aired on NBC last night, but they were not without controversy. Reports this morning are indicating that a key focal point of Demi Lovato’s performance was actually cut from the broadcast. That component? Demi Lovato had a backdrop planned and setup urging people to vote.
Demi Lovato’s recent single “Commander in Chief” features lyrics talking about people dying, as well as the United States of America being in “a state of crisis,” all seemingly focusing on the current government administration. The singer was able to perform her new song during the 2020 Billboard Music Awards. However, now reports indicate that NBC cut to a close-up during a pivotal moment in that performance.
As the “Commander in Chief” singer was on stage, the word “VOTE” was supposed to be clearly displayed across a video board on the stage. TMZ nabbed original footage of the performance denoting the “VOTE” message, but during the actual broadcast NBC cut to a shot of the singer at her piano when the message would have been displayed.
The message was allegedly pulled because the network knew the lyrics to “Commander in Chief” were already political and pushing people to vote afterward would be taking the issue a step further. You can see how the performance played out on TV, below.
In fact, NBC still seems to be censoring the performance in other ways. On the show’s official YouTube page, you can catch the viral performance Kelly Clarkson did with the popular group Pentatonix, you can see moments from Alicia Keys, John Legend and BTS, but Demi Lovato is nowhere to be seen. Instead, Demi Lovato’s performance is available elsewhere on YouTube, but it would certainly look more compelling in HD like Clarkson's.
Demi Lovato’s political song “Commander in Chief” has not been without controversy, but the former X Factor judge seems to be sticking to her opinions. She took to Instagram a few times over the past few days to encourage people to vote. She's made statements encouraging people to come out to the polls and "support" one another and has said via her Instagram stories that she does not care if "Commander in Chief" "ruins [her] career."
She's not the only celebrity who has encourage people to vote in recent weeks. Kylie Jenner basically broke the Internet a few days ago by throwing on a bikini to encourage people to register to vote. The cast of Hamilton and more have also found fun and creative ways to get people excited about voting.
As for NBC, the FCC has specific rules when it comes to broadcasting about politics. There are all kinds of complicated specifics about offering equal time, but no one was thinking about celebrities singing about politics when any of those rules were first figured out. It's unclear to me if or how the "Vote" moment played into that, but it's certainly worth pointing out that most of the major networks try to discuss politics from a more neutral or lightly political point of view, specifically when it comes to news coverage.
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