Last night, NBC aired the Billboard Music Awards, the latest in this year’s numbing string of quarantine-era awards shows. One of the performers on last night’s telecast was Demi Lovato, who had just released the anti-Trump ballad “Commander In Chief” earlier that day. The song never mentions Trump, but its target is obvious: “We’re in a state of crisis/ People are dying while you line your pockets deep/ Commander In Chief, how does it feel to still be able to breathe?” Last night, Lovato performed that song at the Billboard Music Awards. But the performance that aired on NBC wasn’t the one that Lovato intended.
On the show, Lovato sang “Commander In Chief” while seated at a piano, with backup singers arrayed onstage behind her. At the end of her performance. the world “VOTE” appeared on the huge screens behind her. TMZ reports that NBC intentionally cut away from those screens, going instead to a tight close-up on Lovato’s face.
Here’s how TMZ explains NBC’s decision: “Sources say the network pulled the plug on the ‘VOTE’ message because the song itself was a slam on Trump and the ‘VOTE’ message was a call to vote against him.” NBC also recently made the extremely questionable decision to air a Trump town hall tonight — directly opposite a Joe Biden town hall on ABC. It does not seem like a coincidence that NBC cut away Lovato’s “VOTE” message — which was honestly probably the most anodyne part of her performance — one night before hosting Trump.
TMZ reports that this is how Lovato’s performance was supposed to end:
And here’s how it actually looked when NBC aired it:
Weirdly, NBC’s Twitter account still posted an image of Lovato with “VOTE” behind her:
Immediately after the ceremony aired, Lovato released a music video for “Commander In Chief.”
Lovato co-wrote “Commander In Chief” with Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter, and producers Eren Cannata and Finneas. Finneas, Billie Eilish’s brother and collaborator played most of the instruments on the track, and the song also features a gospel choir that Kirk Franklin arranged.