You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Julia Roberts Salutes Billie Eilish at ASCAP Pop Awards

In a surprise appearance at the ASCAP Awards in Beverly Hills Thursday night, Julia Roberts introduced Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, the 17- and 21-year-old brother and sister team who were being honored with the performing rights organization’s Vanguard Award.

“When I started this shit, I did not think anyone would give a f—, so thank you for giving a f—,” said Eilish, who expressed gratitude for “being appreciated for not just being a brand or being just a name and a face, but appreciated for actually creating something and writing it, especially when we wrote it for nobody except us. Especially by Julia Roberts? Geesh! The baddest bitch around.” 

In her introductory speech, Roberts pointed out that Eilish and O’Connell “have written and created most of their collaborations in a small bedroom in Highland Park. Well, to be a fly on the wall where Finneas and Billie compose indelible words, again and again. It is thrilling to be here tonight to help celebrate these two people who are so uniquely gifted, such inventive wordsmiths, such wondrous musicians. And that they are in fact brother and sister is pretty darned special. Together they have built universes of chaos, heartbreak and humor that we never realized we longed for and now we will never leave. They’re like dancers, really, weaving their verses and music around each other and us, knowing just when to turn this way and that and to move away and move closer and closer still. …  I personally am completely taken with both of them. They’ve shown themselves to me to be down to earth and humble in their talents.”

Julia Roberts, Billie EilishASCAP Pop Music Awards, Show, Los Angeles, USA - 16 May 2019
CREDIT: Frank Micelotta/Picturegroup/REX

Roberts further remarked that “they have been given a sense of family from their parents that serves them infinitely.”

Said O’Connell, “I want to thank our touring family for leaving their real families at home and traveling the world with us and spending a lot of time microwaving Rosarita Beans for Billie at our shows. And our real family — I love you mom, I love you dad, I love you, Claudia. When I was 16, for Christmas my mom gave me a ticket for the ASCAP Expo and it changed my life. So it’s unbelievable to be here right now and to be in a room with so many people who’ve written all my favorite songs.”

“Let’s have them play for us now,” said Roberts, introducing a three-song set which began with a solo O’Connell playing his new single, “I Lost a Friend,” on piano. This was followed by Eilish joining him for “I Love You,” perhaps the tenderest and most vulnerable song they co-wrote for her recent smash debut album, as the boisterous crowd became pin-drop silent. Their mini-set ended with a song O’Connell wrote for Eilish’s album that also follows in the balladic singer/songwriter tradition, but a more wounded one, “When the Party’s Over.”

“Old souls, Billie and Finneas, they have old souls,” said ASCAP president and chairman Paul Williams after their performance. “Mesmerizing. I thought I would (try to) say something other than ‘mesmerizing,’ but it’s absolutely mesmerizing. God, I love good music.”

Also receiving special honors in the Beverly Hilton Hotel ballroom ceremony were Jeff Lynne of ELO and Blondie. The performing rights organization named “The Middle” as the most-played song of the year.

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Ric Ocasek'The Imitation Game' film premiere,

    The Cars' Ric Ocasek Remembered by Weezer, the Killers, Courtney Love, More

    Ric Ocasek’s death on Sept. 15 elicited reactions from all over the music industry. While Ocasek was best known as the frontman for the Cars, he was also a noted producer, A&R executive and author. Among the artists to pay tribute  on social media in the hours after news of Ocasek’s death broke were Weezer, [...]

  • Ric Ocasek Rock & Roll Hall

    Ric Ocasek, The Cars Frontman, Dies at 75

    Ric Ocasek, frontman of the popular late 1970s and 1980s band the Cars, was found dead in his New York home on Sunday. He was 75. The NYPD confirmed that Ocasek’s body was discovered after police received a call regarding an unconscious male at his townhouse. Emergency services pronounced him dead at the scene. No [...]

  • Beyonce Knowles'The Lion King' film premiere,

    ABC Announces Behind-the-Scenes Special for Beyoncé's 'Lion King' LP

    ABC has announced a new behind-the-scenes look into the making of Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift” LP, which is set to air September 16 on ABC at 10 p.m. EST. Titled “Beyoncé Presents: Making the Gift,” the new hour-long special will allow viewers to “experience the process” behind the “Lion King” companion album, according [...]

  • Roseanne Cash, Ken Burns. Ken Burns,

    Ken Burns on 'Country Music' and Why Merle, Hank, Dwight, Loretta and Lil Nas X Matter

    The phrase “the Ken Burns effect” is specifically the name of a function on Apple computers that makes all your static old family photos move around on screen like something out of “The Civil War.” But there’s another Ken Burns effect worth talking about as his “Country Music” comes to TV screens: the impact one [...]

  • Hailee Steinfeld Sets New Single Tied

    Hailee Steinfeld Announces New Single Tied to Apple TV Plus' 'Dickinson'

    Actress, singer and producer Hailee Steinfeld is set to release a new single entitled “Afterlife” on Sept. 19, a track she created for her upcoming Apple TV Plus series,”Dickinson.” “This is a song I’m incredibly proud of, and I feel like after embodying this character, I have a more fearless approach to my writing,” Steinfeld [...]

  • Deadmau5 Captivates Opening Night Crowd by

    Concert Review: Deadmau5 Captivates Opening Night Crowd by Going Cube-ist

    “I’m not gonna lie: first shows [of a tour] usually suck,” deadpanned electronic music producer Joel Zimmerman, aka deadmau5, Thursday night, closing out the first night of his two-night stand in Dallas, the kickoff city of his North American “CubeV3” tour. “But this one actually was great.” The sold-out crowd at South Side Ballroom roared back [...]

  • John Mayer performs at Madison Square

    Concert Review: John Mayer Is a Wonderland at First of Two-Night Stand at the Forum

    “You’re allowed to ironically celebrate your past,” John Mayer told a sold-out crowd of nearly 18,000 on Friday night at the iconic Inglewood, Calif. venue The Forum. He was introducing what is arguably his breakout hit, the college dorm hookup anthem “Your Body is a Wonderland,” but the declaration could easily have applied to the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content