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  1. CinemaBlend participates in affiliate programs with various companies. We may earn a commission when you click on or make purchases via links. In December 2021, The Matrix Resurrections will open in theaters and welcome audiences back into the mind-bending and action-packed universe created bystanders the Wachowskis nearly a quarter-century ago. But before you flock to your local movie house to see the return of Keanu Reeves’ Neo for yourself, you will probably want to go back and see how it all got started. This is actually easier than it sounds as you can watch all of The Matrix movies streaming in the same the place, creating an ideal situation to marathon the original 1999 groundbreaking sci-fi flick and its two sequels — The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. To make things even easier, we’ve put together a quick guide show you how and where you can get caught up with Neo’s story thus far. The Matrix (1999) In his quest to find the mysterious and potentially dangerous Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), computer hacker Neo (Keanu Reeves) is given a choice: take the blue pill and go back to what he thinks is reality or take the red pill and uncover the truth behind the Matrix and become "The One." Stream The Matrix on HBO Max. Rent/Buy The Matrix on Amazon. If you're not an HBO Max subscriber, you can sign up here*. * The Matrix Reloaded (2003) With the help of Morpheus, Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), and countless others in the real world and the Matrix, Neo leads a multi-faceted revolt against the machines that are holding humanity prisoner. Neo will also have to face a rogue Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), who is determined to take out everyone and everything in his path after freeing himself from the restrictions that once prevented him from stopping Neo from reaching his true potential. Stream The Matrix Reloaded on HBO Max. Rent/Buy The Matrix Reloaded on Amazon. The Matrix Revolutions (2003) In the final showdown of the original Matrix trilogy, Neo finds himself trapped in a state of limbo between the real world and the fabrication created by the machines as what’s left of humanity teams up to protect Zion from utter destruction long enough so that he can escape and prevent Agent Smith from brining and end to the Matrix and humanity in one fell swoop. Stream The Matrix Revolutions on HBO Max. Rent/Buy The Matrix Revolutions on Amazon. The Animatrix (2003) Released between the second and third installments in the Matrix franchise, The Animatrix is a collection of nine short films that all tie into the world created by the Wachowskis several years earlier. Each of these stories help flesh out the backstory of the series including the war between humans and machines that led to the creation of the Matrix. Stream The Animatrix on HBO Max. Rent/Buy The Animatrix on Amazon. With the release of The Matrix Resurrections quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to clear your schedule for a day and dive back into the world of The Matrix. But if you’re more into physical media and want to avoid the issue of the movies being pulled off HBO Max, you should check out The Matrix trilogy boxset on Amazon.
  2. Documentaries give us the truth. We turn them on because there’s something we’re interested in that we want to learn more about. Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali is no exception, and as it centers on two people that are sadly no longer with us, the film relies heavily on Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X’s own words. Beyond that, the family members of these men were available to the filmmakers, influencing the authenticity of the storytelling. Director Marcus A. Clarke was able to speak with many of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali’s relatives while making the documentary, and their input was invaluable. Interviews with these relatives as well as friends of Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X are incorporated in the film. Here’s what Clarke told CinemaBlend of the contributions to the film from the families: " The contributions of the family were a big part of the film on both sides. We have Maryum Ali and Hana Ali, daughters of Muhammad Ali, and Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X. And I think one of the truly kind of revelatory things that comes out of Blood Brothers is that the story doesn't end with Malcolm X's assassination. A lot of people think they know how the story ends. ‘Well, Malcolm X was assassinated.’ That's true, but the story of their friendship and kind of the bond, the love, and the lingering commitment to each other, it doesn't end with Malcolm X’s assassination. " Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali brings many details to light, perhaps the most prominent being the clarification that Malcolm X did not introduce Muhammad Ali to the Nation of Islam. But another revelation, as director Marcus A. Clarke pointed out, is that there’s so much more to the story. Over the years, many have believed that Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X were once friends, had a very public falling out, became enemies, and then Malcolm X died. But that’s not where the story ends at all, and we have first-hand accounts from family members to thank for that. Clarke continued with the following: " In fact, through conversations with the family, particularly Ilyasah Shahbaz, we learn that Muhammad Ali later in his life reached out to the Shahbaz family, reached out to the daughters of Malcolm X, and formed a relationship, a really strong bond. Ilyasah Shabaz describes this relationship, as does some of the archival material we have with Attallah Shabazz, the eldest daughter of Malcolm X. And so Muhammad Ali really extended himself to them and became a figure in their life. And as Ilyasah mentions in the film, she feels that it's very possible that he felt like he owed it to Malcolm over all these years, after all these years after his assassination there was still a love there, there was still a bond and a commitment. And I think that's something that people really don't know that came out of the interviews with the families. " It’s been said time and time again that there are two sides to every story. In this case, it goes beyond Malcolm X’s side and Muhammad Ali’s side. There’s the story presented to the media that later became a believed part of history, and then there’s the truth. Get all the facts about what really happened by watching Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali, now streaming on Netflix.
  3. Titans amped up the action in "51%" by finally facing the team of heroes off against Scarecrow's army of goons as he tried to mass-produce enough of the drug to flood Gotham City. The good guys were successful, although Scarecrow did manage to escape with Jason Todd in tow, and it was all thanks to Dick and Barbara finally joining forces to track down the bad guys that it even happened. They had to use Oracle in the process, but Titans Oracle isn't the Oracle that many DC fans would think of when they hear that name... so far, anyway. Any fans of DC Comics, animated series Young Justice, The WB's short-lived Birds of Prey, or even Arrow back in the day of Felicity recovering from an accident had every reason to expect that the first mention of "Oracle" in Titans referred to Barbara Gordon's superhero tech genius alter ego. Instead, Titans went in a wildly different direction, and "51%" seemingly closed the Oracle story almost as soon as it started. But that doesn't mean that Babs going full Oracle is impossible, and let's break down why. titans season 3 oracle computer screenshot hbo max How Titans Handled Oracle "Oracle" was originally name-dropped in the previous episode in a way that indicated more of a computer system than an alter ego for Barbara, and "51%" confirmed that Titans was really going in an unconventional direction. When the Bat Computer wasn't able to locate the heat signature of Scarecrow's device, Dick decided only the Oracle computer would be able to dig a little deeper, since Bruce couldn't stop Scarecrow the last time without Oracle. Barbara dropped the exposition of why she wants Oracle to be out of the question: "And then the NSA slapped an injunction on us. And I don't really feel like going to jail." Barbara had promised herself that she wouldn't use Oracle again, but held onto it just in case the day came when things would get so bad that they would run out of all other options. And that day came in "51%." Dick and Babs did manage to find Scarecrow with Oracle, which really seemed to be the Titans version of Iron Man's JARVIS, but Dick ended up walking into a trap thanks to Scarecrow managing to hack the system with the photo that Lady Vic snapped of Barbara. After Dick almost died and Barbara found out that Scarecrow was in Oracle, she destroyed the computer. So, in the same episode that Oracle made its first appearance, Oracle was destroyed. Dick wasn't thrilled about it, but he also apparently doesn't have a way to build the computer again. If Titans just moves on, then it's safe to say that the HBO Max show more or less used the "Oracle" name for a technology that is more like DC Comics' Brother Eye, or OMAC, rather than introducing Barbara Gordon's post-Batgirl superhero persona. That could be a big "if," though! Honestly, if not for how big of a character Oracle has been in DC Comics and even other adaptations over the years, that wouldn't be so bad, but I for one would be disappointed if Barbara never goes full Oracle on Titans. Fortunately, I don't think there's any need to despair about it just yet. First, though, let's take a look at Oracle's significance in DC and why Titans really shouldn't be finished with the story when it could become so much richer. titans season 3 barbara dick looking at oracle hbo max What Happened In The Comics Barbara Gordon's origin as Oracle is a tale as old as time in DC Comics... or at least as old as when The Killing Joke was published in 1988 and featured The Joker shooting Babs and leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. That controversial graphic novel (which was later adapted into an equally controversial movie) was originally not intended to be canon to the larger DC universe, but it was ultimately brought into canon, and Barbara reentered the superhero fight in a new way: as computer expert, information broker, and even leader of her own team of superheroes with the Birds of Prey. Barbara was a key member of the superhero community as Oracle, not only for her work with the Birds of Prey but also in frequent assists to other heroes, particularly in the Bat Family. And particularly Dick Grayson as Nightwing, for a memorable run starting in the late 1990s, before and after their relationship turned romantic. Oracle became a popular character, and one who demonstrated that heroics can come from sources that the bad guys would never anticipate, even in a universe packed with superpowers. The evolution of Oracle also proved that Barbara's story was far from over just because The Killing Joke left her paralyzed from the waist down in a story that was far more about Batman, The Joker, and her father than it was actually about her. And even though Titans' Oracle couldn't be much more different as of the end of this episode, that could easily change, and the pieces may already be in place for Babs to take on a new secret identity. titans season 3 oracle pov barbara hbo max Why Barbara Can Still Become Oracle In Titans Barbara has gotten more comfortable with fighting for justice outside of the law ever since the Titans came to town and she warmed back up to Dick, and it's clear that there are some things that can't be accomplished in Gotham City even with her position of power as GCPD commissioner. Her reluctance to use the Oracle computer also indicates that she's not comfortable trusting artificial intelligence with too much power, despite the fact that Oracle was an incredibly useful (if dangerous) tool when not being commandeered by Scarecrow. So it's not hard to imagine Barbara coming to the conclusion that Gotham City still needs a digital presence like what the Oracle computer could provide, but still not being entirely willing to trust in artificial intelligence again after Scarecrow was so easily able to spring a trap in "51%." And that could easily lead to Barbara becoming Oracle 2.0, to put a human behind the technology who just so happens to be similar to Oracle 1.0 from DC Comics. Plus, even if Titans isn't exactly known for the tightness of its writing, introducing and then destroying Oracle in the span of one hour seems like a big waste unless that story isn't actually finished yet. Barbara destroyed Oracle, but she could rebuild the technology and become the new Oracle. I'm not sure whether or not Titans would have to feature Barbara leaving her job to go Oracle full-time or just moonlight in the role, though. It would also be a way for Titans to keep Savannah Welch on board as Barbara Gordon, assuming the action eventually leaves Gotham City. She could still recur or maybe even contribute as a series regular as the eye in the sky from afar. As a Babs fan, I would certainly take that over Titans leaving her behind completely if and when Dick and Co. move on! (Or a Bat spinoff. I'd take that too!) That said, there are still a lot of other stories that need to be explored and wrapped before the end of Season 3. Rachel and Donna haven't even turned up yet in the third season, and Scarecrow is on the run with Jason. Gar just connected with Jason's friend Molly, so the Gotham story evidently isn't over yet, and it's hard to gauge where the show is going with Kory and her sister. Find out with new episodes of Titans releasing on Thursdays at 12:01 a.m. PT on HBO Max. For better or worse, Season 3 has passed the halfway mark of its 13-episode count, so be sure not to miss whatever happens next.
  4. Hollywood lost a television legend this week in Michael K. Williams, the beloved actor known for his roles in acclaimed shows like The Wire and Boardwalk Empire. Williams was found dead in his New York apartment this past Monday, with the news of passing arriving in the afternoon. Fans have since taken to social media to mourn the late star and express their condolences. A number of celebrities like The Rock and Viola Davis are also paying their respects to Williams with some truly sweet tributes. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson acted alongside Michael Kenneth Williams in the 2013 movie Snitch. In an Instagram post, the wrestler-turned-actor shared a photo of Williams and shared a sweet caption: Oscar-winner Viola Davis shared a raw reaction on social media. Along with her caption, she also shared a sweet video featuring a number of images of the late actor: Ed Norton was also one of the stars who took some time to remember the actor, with whom he worked with on the 2019 film Motherless Brooklyn. In one of the two tweets he shared, Norton discussed what the performer brought to the film: Scandal star Kerry Washington reacted to the news in a social media post of her own. Like many others, she expressed shock and sadness over the actor’s passing: Of course, Michael K. Williams’ The Wire co-stars also chimed in with some incredibly sentimental thoughts. Lance Reddick, who played the role of Cedric Daniels on the HBO drama, shared a video to Twitter in which he shared how he learned of Williams’ passing and what it was like to work with him: Wendell Pierce’s William "Bunk" Moreland shared a number of scenes with Michael K. Williams’ Omar Little on The Wire. Pierce posted a lengthy thread on Twitter in which he mourned his colleague: " The depth of my love for this brother, can only be matched by the depth of my pain learning of his loss. A immensely talented man with the ability to give voice to the human condition portraying the lives of those whose humanity is seldom elevated until he sings their truth. " Wendell Pierce also spoke on the significance of the characters they played on The Wire. He illustrated this by referring to one of the show’s key moments: " THE WIRE brought us together and immortalized Omar & Bunk in that “scene” on a park bench.But for us we aimed to take that moment in time together and say something about Black men. Our struggle with ourselves, internally, and each other. For me & Mike we had nothing but respect. " It’s honestly still hard to believe that Michael K. Williams is no longer with us. For many of us, he was a constant presence in our entertainment viewings. As tragic as the situation is, it’s lovely to see so many taking the time to remember him not only for his contributions as an artist but as a human being. We here at CinemaBlend continue to extend our thoughts and condolences to Michael K. Williams’ family and loved ones at this time.
  5. While this past weekend celebrated Labor Day in the U.S. it was also Father's Day in Australia. Unfortunately, the day became somewhat bittersweet for actor Hugh Jackman, who said goodbye to his own father, Christopher John Jackman, in the early hours of Sunday morning. He was 84-years-old. In a post on Twitter Hugh Jackman focused on he positive, as he stated he was filled with gratitude for the life that his father lived, rather than dwelling on the sadness that comes with his loss. Check out Jackman's full statement below. Hugh Jackman's relationship with his father was a special one because Christopher Jackman raised Hugh and two of his siblings as a single father after his mother left when Hugh was a child. So when Jackman says his father devoted his life to his family, he means that quite literally. The actor's Instagram includes numerous tributes to his father on previous Father's Days, both the Australian and the American Father's Day, showing just how much the man meant to him. They were obviously quite close through their lives. While the man may be gone now, those tributes will likely continue. Hugh Jackman made an identical post to Instagram announcing his father's passing. Several notable names responded to the post, including Jackman's friend, and on-screen rival Ryan Reynolds, who said, "I was lucky to have met him." It seems Hugh Jackman's dad touched lives beyond those of his children. Losing a parent is certainly a tough experience. On the one hand, it's something nearly everybody goes through. Something that we know will happen one day in the future. At the same time, few of us are every truly ready for it when it comes. It's unclear if the elder Jackman had been battling illness or if this was a more sudden passing. It was, at the very least, peaceful, which is sometimes all you can hope for. Once it happens, all you can really do is move forward and remember them, and be the person that they believed you could be. Christopher Jackman clearly made an impression on his youngest child, and was a major influence in the man he would become. So in that way all of us have been touched by him, even if we haven't realized it. Hugh Jackman wouldn't be the man, or the actor we all know, and that so many love if it weren't for the man that raised him. Our thoughts are with Hugh Jackman and his family on this difficult day.
  6. Season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy was a tough one to watch, as the storylines mirrored the events of the real world, with the fictional Seattle surgeons fighting COVID and joining the protests after George Floyd’s murder. While the season finale did see Kelly McCreary's Maggie and Anthony Hill's Winston enjoying their pandemic-delayed wedding, as well as Owen’s proposal to longtime on-off girlfriend Teddy, we probably also saw the end of Amelia and Link. But when Season 18 starts off, it looks like Grey’s Anatomy will try to change things up for its remaining couples, namely by allowing them some much-deserved happiness. Yes, happiness. Many of Maggie and Winston’s dating days were experienced digitally, as COVID forced the two to be quarantined in their respective cities. But Winston got fed up with that arrangement and finally moved to Seattle, where the couple wed on the beach after Meredith recovered from her own season-long health scare. Grey’s Anatomy executive producer Meg Marinis recently spoke to TV Line about what’s in store for the newlyweds in Season 18, and didn't have any new disasters to report. In her words: " [Maggie and Winston will be] coming back from their honeymoon very much in love and happy to be together and working together. We’re definitely celebrating the couple. Even if you’re a newlywed and you had been living together [for a long time], you still discover little things, living habits, all the fun stuff. " Excuse me if I’m jumping for joy. Maggie and Winston are such a cute and strong couple, and I can’t wait to see how they navigate the waters of early marriage. Teddy and Owen, meanwhile, have weathered a lot more in their relationship, which dates back to their days in the military. Last season Teddy went down a dark road with PTSD — a condition that Owen has also struggled with — after the death of Andrew DeLuca, not to mention her revelation to Owen that she’d been romantically involved with her friend Allison (the namesake of her and Owen’s child). But Meg Marinis said this couple will also be stronger for their struggles. " They’re starting the season stronger than ever. They’ve both grown a lot from her breakthrough about her past last season and from Owen seeing that they’ve both struggled with PTSD — in different ways, but they’ve both struggled. They’ll still face challenges as a couple, but we took them a long way last season, so we’re happy where they are. " It’ll be a lot easier for Teddy and Owen to move forward without having to worry about Tom Koracick, the third member of their crazy love triangle, after actor Greg Germann left the show last season. But while one might have expected Grey's Anatomy's creative team to find another obstacle for them to maneuver around, it sounds like that might not be the case. At least for the first five minutes or so of the season. teddy and owen walking into maggie and winston's wedding on grey's anatomy After the tragedies that Season 17 encapsulated, it’ll be so refreshing to see our surgeon heroes find joy in Season 18 — as we’ll also see Jo Wilson taking on motherhood and a new specialty in her own search for happiness. Now that Meredith is out of her beach hallucination, will she bliss out with McWidow Cormac Hayes? We don’t have to wait too much longer to find out! Grey’s Anatomy Season 18 premieres on ABC at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, September 30, following its firefighting brothers and sisters on Station 19 (who could also use some joy in their fifth season). Be sure to check out our 2021 Fall TV Schedule for all of the upcoming premiere dates of your favorite shows.
  7. Spoilers ahead for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings! CinemaBlend participates in affiliate programs with various companies. We may earn a commission when you click on or make purchases via links. The Marvel Cinematic Universe expanded this past weekend with Destin Daniel Cretton’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The movie broke the box office record for the holiday weekend, and proved the MCU was truly back in theaters. And Captain Marvel’s Brie Larson took the time to congratulate actor Simu Liu on officially joining the shared universe. Brie Larson is one of the newer MCU heroes, debuting with Captain Marvel in 2019 before crossing over with the greater universe in Avengers: Endgame. Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi has become the latest hero to join the massive franchise, and Larson took the time to give him a warm welcome on social media. Check it out below, There’s another Marvel badass on the big screen, one that’s making history in regards to both box office performance and representation. And with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings also seemingly having an influence on how other projects like Venom 2 are released, the movie’s opening weekend is one that’ll continue to reverberate through the film industry. The above post comes to us from Brie Larson’s personal Twitter account. Simu Liu shared a photo in Toronto where the city was celebrating the release of Shang-Chi, quickly going viral in the process. That’s what inspired Larson to reach out to her Marvel colleague. Of course, Larson would end up having a closer connection to Shang-Chi than any of us expected. The MCU has found its streaming home on Disney+. You can use this link to sign up for the streaming service. While Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings told a capsulated origin story for Simu Liu, the MCU still managed to squeeze in some epic crossovers. This is especially true during the mid-credits scene. In it Wong brought Shang-Chi and Katy (Awkwafina) in for a conference with Dr. Banner and Captain Marvel about the rings. Larson got a few lines of dialogue in the process, and gave fans an update on Carol Danver’s constantly changing hair situation. It certainly seems like Shang-Chi is going to become a major presence in the MCU, especially if he’s already working alongside The Avengers. Hopefully this will allow Brie Larson and Simu Liu to share the screen again sometime in the future. Although we’re first expecting Carol Danvers to work with two more heroes in Nia DaCosta’s The Marvels. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is available exclusively in theaters. Be sure to check out the 2021 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.
  8. "After careful consideration and following the advice of my doctors and medical team, I have decided to withdraw from the U.S. Open to allow my body to heal completely from a torn hamstring," Williams wrote in a statement on Instagram. Serena Williams withdraws from U.S. Open due to torn hamstring(Pool via REUTERS) Serena Williams has withdrawn from next week's US Open after the American said on Wednesday that her torn hamstring has not completely healed ahead of the final Grand Slam of the year. Williams, a six-times winner at Flushing Meadows, has had an injury-marred season and limped out of her first-round match at Wimbledon in tears due to the leg injury. The 39-year-old, who has been on the hunt for an elusive 24th major, skipped the Olympics in Tokyo and also opted out of the Cincinnati Masters, a tune-up event to the U.S. Open. "After careful consideration and following the advice of my doctors and medical team, I have decided to withdraw from the U.S. Open to allow my body to heal completely from a torn hamstring," Williams wrote in a statement on Instagram. "New York is one of the most exciting cities in the world and one of my favourite places to play -- I'll miss seeing the fans but will be cheering everyone from afar." Williams is the latest big name to pull out of the tournament after reigning men's champion Dominic Thiem and four-times winner Rafa Nadal ended their 2021 season due to injuries. The main draw of the U.S. Open gets underway in New York on Monday.
  9. “I will be staying at Tottenham this summer and will be 100% focused on helping the team achieve success,” Kane posted on Twitter on Wednesday. Harry Kane(Action Images via Reuters) Harry Kane publicly accepted on Wednesday that he won't be leaving Tottenham in the summer transfer window. The striker had been hoping to secure a transfer away from the London club in the search of a first career trophy but a move to Premier League champion Manchester City was unable to be clinched. The power was with the Tottenham leadership as the England captain remains under contract until 2024 and a valuation of more than $200 million for him had been reported. “I will be staying at Tottenham this summer and will be 100% focused on helping the team achieve success,” Kane posted on Twitter on Wednesday. It was incredible to see the reception from the Spurs fans on Sunday and to read some of the messages of support I've had in the last few weeks. 👏⚽ I will be staying at Tottenham this summer and will be 100% focused on helping the team achieve success. #COYS The need to reiterate he is staying — for now at least — reinforced how he sought a move which was first floated in an interview with former England player Gary Neville in May. Kane, who was the top scorer in the Premier League last season as Tottenham finished seventh, made his first appearance of this campaign as a substitute on Sunday in the 1-0 win over Wolverhampton. “It was incredible to see the reception from the Spurs fans on Sunday and to read some of the messages of support I’ve had in the last few weeks,” Kane wrote. Tottenham hasn't won a trophy since the 2008 League Cup and last won the title in 1961.
  10. Dahiya and other Tokyo Games medal winners have been hopping from one state to another for the numerous felicitation functions being organised in their honour. Olympic silver medallist Ravi Dahiya to miss World Championship(HT_PRINT) Olympic silver medallist Ravi Dahiya says he has decided to give the upcoming wrestling World Championship a miss since he did not get time to prepare for the selection trials that WFI is organising next week to pick the Indian team for the prestigious tournament. The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) will conduct trials on Tuesday for the Worlds, set to be held in Oslo, Norway from October 2-10. Dahiya and other Tokyo Games medal winners have been hopping from one state to another for the numerous felicitation functions being organised in their honour. "I don't want to be on the mat unprepared. What's the point in competing without enough practice. So I have to miss the World Championship because I don't want to go to the trials without enough practice," the soft-spoken Dahiya told PTI. Dahiya will be the second big star missing from the Indian line-up as Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia has also been forced out due to a ligament tear in his right knee. "I will try to compete in one or two tournaments before the season ends after I begin serious training from next month," he said. Dahiya, though, did not complain when asked if too many functions are bothering him. "How do you say 'no' to them? They are your own people, who want to show respect and honour you. The only thing is I get tired," he said. It was expected that Dahiya will compete in the 61kg category instead of his usual 57kg class at the Worlds since reducing and maintaining weight is a huge issue for the wrestlers. A lot of effort goes in cutting weight as they not only give up on food, sometimes go without water for long hours. Dahiya did not mind that WFI did not exempt him from trials. "The federation is doing the right thing by calling for trials. They know what is best. I don't mind appearing in trials," he said adding that he will soon convey his decision to the federation. WFI Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar said there was nothing wrong in asking star wrestlers to appear for trials. "We have to prepare the second line also. We have to give chance to everyone to stake their claim to be on the national team, so all have to come to trials," Tomar said. The 23-year-old Dahiya said he has been busy to the extent that he even could not spend time with his family after returning from Tokyo. "I went home last week and that too for only about two hours. There was not enough time. The only other time I met my father was at the airport when we came back," Dahiya, son of a farmer from the Nahri Village in Haryana, said. Meanwhile, there was still no clarity on the participation of three wrestlers -- Vinesh Phogat, Sonam Malik and Divya Kakran -- in the trials since the WFI has not yet taken a decision on their respective issues. Vinesh was suspended for indiscipline during the Tokyo Games while Sonam was sent a show-cause notice for misconduct. Divya was also sent a notice for remarks by his father against the federation. Both Sonam and Divya have apologised for their behaviour. Vinesh also tendered unconditional apology for not wearing the official kit during her bouts but "respectfully" disagreed on charges that she did not train and stay with fellow Indian wrestlers in Tokyo.
  11. When it came time to pick the title for their first album since 2018’s self-titled set, which debuted at No. 1 on Top Country Albums, Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney knew there was only one choice: Good Things. “After the past year and a half that we’ve all had, I feel like that’s kind of where our hearts were and what we thought out fans wanted to hear,” Smyers says, of the set's theme and buoyant title track. “We wanted to put out there into the world this hopeful, optimistic, positive piece of work.” Dan + Shay's fourth studio set for Warner Music Nashville stays on brand for the platinum duo, with its 12 tracks offering irresistibly upbeat ditties and piano-based, brooding heartbreakers. It's all bound together by the pair’s unabashedly romantic sensibilities -- as well as smooth, layered harmonies (led by Mooney’s crystalline vocals) and Smyers’ pristine, innovative production. ARTIST MENTIONED Shawn Mendes Dan + Shay Set 'Good Things' Album, Share Title Track: Listen Songs from the project began surfacing in October 2019 with the cross-format smash “10,000 Hours” with Justin Bieber. The song, which is the top streamed country song so far this year on Spotify, spent 21 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and was the duo’s seventh chart topper on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. The track landed Dan + Shay their third straight Grammy for best country duo/group performance, making them the first act to snare the award in three consecutive years. The pair, who co-wrote all of the songs on the album, worked with their usual impressive roster of Nashville top tunesmiths, including Ashley Gorley, Ross Copperman and Jordan Reynolds. This time, they also added some leading pop songwriters to the mix -- including Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, Julia Michaels and a certain top 40 superstar named Shawn Mendes on “Body Language.” After the band’s third album came out, Mendes began posting on social media -- specifically praising “Tequila” and “Speechless,” both of which became Top 10 hits on Billboard’s Adult Top 40 airplay chart. “We were like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is crazy. Like Shawn Mendes knows that we exist,” Smyers recalls. An online friendship led to Dan + Shay touring with Mendes in Australia, and getting into a room with him, Jordan Reynolds and Scott Harris to write “Body Language.” “We were just listening to random stuff. I remember Shawn was really inspired by Drake at the time and he was playing ‘Marvin’s Room,’ which is one of my favorite Drake songs too,” he continues. “I don’t know if that inspired the direction of ‘Body Language,’ but it kind of had that R&B flow and groove. It was incredible to watch him work. He’s got the goods.” Dan + Shay Bring the Joy With 'Glad You Exist' At the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards Other musical influences found their way onto Good Times. Orchestral tale of temptation “I Should Probably Go to Bed,” which hit No. 2 on Country Airplay last summer, references The Beach Boys and ELO with its majestic sweep, while the pop refrain of the jaunty “Steal My Love” sounds straight out of the Backstreet Boys’ playbook. Meanwhile, the sweet piano ballad “You” draws on the unadorned early ‘90s hits from Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn. “I got into a nerd phase listening to those because they were so open and everything was sitting in the right place,” Smyers says. “There’s just some magic in that minimalism." Though their sound spans a number of styles, Dan + Shay consider themselves first and foremost country artists. “We write country songs -- the topline, the lyrics of these songs,” Smyers says. “We moved to town because we fell in love with country songwriting and what was happening in Nashville and Music Row. The quality and the standard here is just unbelievable. We make sure the title, the concept, the payoff is great, like all country songs are. But with the production, we pull from all different influences. We grew up listening to all kinds of music, not just country, but pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop, everything… and you hear that in the music.” In the dark depths of the pandemic this winter, Dan + Shay lobbed a musical love letter to their fans with “Glad You Exist,” which is No. 3 on Country Airplay this week. The tune, written before COVID-19, quickly went viral, with people posting videos on social media with loved ones they were glad existed -- ranging from romantic couples to parents with their children, BFFs and even patients with health care workers. Makin' Tracks: Dan + Shay Lean On Positivity For 'Glad You Exist' “It gave people a voice. A lot of times, especially with guys, you don't have the words to say, So we kind of gave them something to say,” Mooney says. “And it was just incredible to see all the stories. We had military homecomings, we had people posting about their kids. I was scrolling through there and I would make it maybe two stories and just be a wreck. It kind of became something that was so much bigger than us. Obviously you try to put things into motion and you can hope they become what you hope they can be and this song just took on a life of its own. It was a very human emotion of like, ‘Man, we’re all going through this together.’” Like many artists, Dan + Shay stepped up their social media game during the pandemic as a way to connect with fans with touring off the table, though Smyers admits he takes the responsibility to an extreme. In the past two weeks, album track “Lying,” (which gives Bill Withers a songwriting credit because of its interpolation of his '70s soul classic, “Lean on Me”) has gone viral -- thanks to a video that features the pair going all in on a new line dance, even though, by Smyers' own admission, the duo are “very self-aware we’re not great dancers." “Social media is crazy. It is a full-time job,” he continues. “We’re so stubborn about [not] giving anyone the password to our accounts. I’m a psycho. I’m on here trying to respond every time. If somebody wants to put themselves out there and champion your song, the least we can do is say thank you.” That mentality of gratitude and positivity also plays into their music, which is devoid of any cynicism or hint of the social and political issues wracking the country, even though they occasionally address such issues via social media. “We write a lot about what we know and we write about love and heartbreak and life,” Mooney says. “If we can unite people and make music that’s something people can to escape to or [use] to heal, find something that they need, then that’s the most important thing for us to do as musicians.” Brothers Osborne's T.J. Osborne Gets Love From Dan + Shay, Kacey Musgraves & More After Coming Out Though many of the songs were written, or at least started, before the pandemic, the shutdown allowed for endless dabbling with the production, especially since the bulk of it was recorded in Smyers’ home studio -- dubbed Abby Road in an homage to both his wife’s first name and the legendary British studio where the Beatles recorded. Describing his home studio as largely a guest bedroom with a mattress leaning up against a wall, Smyers admits, “I will tinker for eternity on this stuff, especially having a home studio where I can work for 18 hours a day and completely flip something on its head…like, ‘Sure, I’ll stack 64 layers of vocals on this.’ The blessing of having all this time on our hands really allowed us to leave no stone unturned.” The pair kicked off the final countdown to the release with a First Listen virtual listening party on Apple Music Thursday night, followed by a previously taped appearance on Today’s Citi Concert Series this morning and a takeover of Pandora’s Today’s Country station. Tonight they will play a concert on the Great Lawn on Nashville’s Centennial Park, the first show of that scale at the location. “I’ve been coming [to Nashville] since I was 8 years old and I remember the first time I was driving into Nashville and passing by and seeing the Parthenon and the park. That’s such a Nashville staple,” Mooney says. “It’s going to be a party for sure. It’s set up for a rager and we’re ready to do some celebrating.” After their spring 2020 headlining tour was halted only six days after it started because of COVID-19, their AEG-presented The (Arena) Tour, featuring Ingrid Andress and The Band Camino, will resume Sept. 9 for 30 dates, including a Sept. 16 stop at New York’s Madison Square Garden. As the Delta variant causes the pandemic to rage again, they are watching with a hopeful, but cautious eye that the tour will go as planned. Dan + Shay Reemerge on Social Media to Denounce Racism After George Floyd's Death: 'Please Use Your Voice' “What's bigger than [the tour] is just humanity and keeping everyone safe— whatever that means, whether it's vaccines or masks or just whatever it takes to keep people safe and to minimize this virus,” Smyers says. “If that means, I mean it sucks to even think about it, postponing the shows again, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. We're keeping a watchful eye on it every single day.” As their star continues to rise nearly a decade after they met at a party at Smyers’ house (and wrote a song the next day that Rascal Flatts put on hold), the duo stress that they are content, but not complacent. “You do have to be careful with the goals that you set for yourself -- because if you try to set your sights too high, then I feel like if you hit anything less than that, you feel like you're a failure, and you can't do that with your music,” Smyers says. “I think we have to be content with where we are. But that being said, I feel like we push ourselves to be the greatest that we can be. If you're not pushing yourself to be the greatest, then what's the point?”