Archives For 2016 American Music Awards

It is impossible to look back on pop music in 2016 and not talk about The Chainsmokers. Alex Pall and Drew Taggart created two of the year’s biggest hits: the infectious “Don’t Let Me Down” that features 18 year-old Daya and “Closer,” an inescapable duet that Halsey assists on. “Don’t Let Me Down” was the most spun track on pop radio this year and using that particular metric, also the song of the summer. “Closer” spent 12 weeks atop both the Billboard Hot 100 and pop radio airplay charts. Combined with “Roses,” a song that they enlisted an artist named Rozes to sing, the duo sold 10 million singles in the U.S. alone.

Those songs helped The Chainsmokers score an American Music Award in 2016 and three GRAMMY nominations for the award show this February, including Best New Artist.

But as improbable as the DJs success may be (even Pall and Taggart admit they wouldn’t have settled on “The Chainsmokers” had they realized their staying power), what is crazier is that the group’s first two singles are all-but-forgotten about: the novelty track’s “#SELFIE” and “Kanye.”

“’Closer’ wasn’t their first hit,” is the response I received from Jake Miller, a friend of Pall and Taggart’s, recently when I brought up how impressed I was that they were able to shift from tongue-in-cheek records to the highly-coveted lane of radio-friendly pop music. I reminded him that “#SELFIE” was guys’ first single.

“It’s funny you say that because I don’t even think of them for that song,” Miller continued – a sentiment that many probably share and that certainly speaks to how massive the subsequent singles have been. “I honestly completely forgot they did that song.”

For The Chainsmokers, that might be a good thing. Nonetheless, the guys still don’t seem to be taking themselves too seriously.

“We go in with like, low expectations… very low expectations,” Taggart told me before the artists performed “Closer” and won “Favorite Electronic/Dance Music Artist” at the AMAs. “But regardless to be a part of the pop community now and have our work recognized is awesome.”

And the DJs aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Pall and Taggart just dropped a music video for “Setting Fires” off of their EP “Collage.” The duo is also back in the studio creating new music.

“I think the stuff we’re working on now we’re most excited about,” Pall said. “I don’t know if that’s because it’s newest, but it just feels different and exciting. We’re pumped about it.”

The Chainsmokers recently posted on Snapchat a clip of them in the studio with Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin, an experience that Taggart characterized as “crazy” because the guys grew up listening to his band.

“I think a lot of the music that’s already been out from us is heavily-inspired by Coldplay, especially the emotion that Coldplay has; that melancholy, bitter-sweet emotion that they get in all their songs,” he explained.

Taggart explained that his first goal was to “be cool” and attempt to catch a vibe with the lead singer. Neither man would reveal if they were working on a Chainsmokers project or something for Coldplay’s future (the band recently revealed that an EP was on the way after 2017), but Pall promised that whatever they’re working on, it’s “dope.”

Given the duo’s track record, I’ll take their word for it.

Some news and notes from the American Music Awards red carpet…
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– Yes the rain was a major, major factor on the carpet and its impact on arrivals almost cannot be overstated. More on that here.

– It’s so nice to attend these and see familiar faces, whether it be publicists, fellow members of the media or artists. On the press front, great seeing The Insider’s Keltie Knight, Sweetyhigh’s Cassie DiLaura, the whole Sirius XM Hits 1 squad and Hollywire’s Chelsea Briggs.

– As far as artists and other invited guests: loved saying hello to Mark Cuban, Rachel Platten, Daya and Bebe Rexha, the latter who performed for Westwood One the night prior at our “Rooftop Live” event inside downtown Los Angeles’ Perch. Rexha’s catalog of hits she either penned and/or is featured on is impressive, and I’m rooting for her latest release “I Got You.”

– What I loved the most about the weather: the temperature. I’m used to melting every year on the AMAs red carpet; far from the case this year. I usually end up drinking 3 or 4 bottles of water in the process. I maybe drank one for the two-and-a-half hours I was out there.

– Another interesting note about my role: it changes from year-to-year on the carpet. This year, I served two purposes: grab content for my radio stations’ platforms as well as nationally and assist our red carpet reporter, Kerri Kasem, when necessary.

– After the red carpet, it was off to the one-on-one room. When the show wrapped, I dropped equipment at my room, called my mom, poured a drink and waited for my producer, Jay Buff, to arrive. After a quick download of the night’s events we put it all in the past and walked over to the after party. That was followed by an after-after party in where else, but the hotel lobby. We then ordered food from my favorite spot downtown, L.A. Café and devoured the grub before joining two different morning radio shows for American Music Awards recaps.

Eventually, I slept.

The genesis of my American Music Awards recap has become tradition: I usually begin typing it immediately after I check out of my hotel in downtown Los Angeles. My morning after the American Music Awards technically starts at the after-party. Then there’s an after-after party with my colleagues. That is followed by food, caffeine and a few live morning radio spots to handle. If I’m lucky, I catch about five hours of sleep before I wake up and begin taping my now (also) traditional AMA recap show, including interviews with some of the winners and performers from Sunday night’s show.

Then I finish editing video from the weekend, sneak in a two mile run, shower, pack and head to the lobby. I’m here now. Green Day’s drummer Tré Cool just walked by me with a security guard in tow. He tried to play it incognito with a forward-facing beige beret tucked down over a big pair of black sunglasses, but the aqua hair splaying out from the side was a dead giveaway. Coincidentally, I also saw him last night at the official American Music Awards after-party, before I ran into and met the band’s bassist, Mike Dirnt.

“I owned the ‘Dookie’ album on cassette!” I exclaimed. I may have had an alcoholic beverage or two at this point.

“I still own it on cassette!” Dirnt shot back. We snapped a quick selfie and went our separate ways.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


It’s nice to have tradition and routine; “typical” experiences like the aforementioned regarding two-thirds of Green Day.

But the unexpected can be just as, if not more entertaining. I wasn’t expecting to wake up Sunday to an overcast, mid-60’s day in downtown LA. Tents were pitched above the red carpet in L.A. Live, the area outside of Microsoft Theatre where the award show took place. And then, something took place that I don’t think has ever occurred in the history of the AMAs.

It rained. Steady, unforgiving rain. It even brought some wind. And people here lost it. The tents leaked. Puddles formed in front of the platforms where reporters and producers were frantically trying to adjust.

And as for the celebrities in attendance… to be honest, I think most of them don’t always need an excuse not to walk an entire red carpet. Even with our prime position for arrivals, we didn’t witness many first-hand. Gigi Hadid walked, or rather scurried by, clearly trying to get back inside to go over lines. Her co-host, the very relaxed and jovial Jay Pharoah stopped over to chat. Niall Horan was another one that sticks out; the Irishman talked with us ahead of his performance which was the first time he performed at the AMAs without his fellow One Direction mates.

As for our one-on-one room backstage, it is actually on the roof of a parking garage adjacent to the venue. If an artist wanted to stop by, they had to walk out of the venue.

In the rain.

We didn’t see too many familiar faces there, either. The very gracious Tim McGraw stopped by (greeting me with a “Hey, Ralphie boy!”). Maroon 5 hit the photo area before the band closed out the show with a performance of “Don’t Wanna Know” – I presume so that they could head home immediately after getting off stage.

After all, the rain along with two events at the Staples Center next door and the AMAs made for quite the traffic predicament in Los Angeles. But that’s expected around here.

A photo posted by 95.5 PLJ (@955plj) on

For our second and final day inside Westwood One’s Backstage at the 2016 American Music Awards, we chatted with a bunch of stars, including a few performers for Sunday night’s AMAs. John Legend reminisced about his time as a church choir director in Scranton and revealed his Thanksgiving plans, The Chainsmokers talked about working in the studio with Coldplay’s Chris Martin and former “Glee” star Jane Lynch popped by to explain why she released a Christmas album. More photos, videos and audio interviews below.





For our first day inside Westwood One’s Backstage at the 2016 American Music Awards, we chatted with Andy Grammer on his Thanksgiving plans, Tinashe on working with Britney Spears and We The Kings’ Travis Clark on covering a song from the hit-musical “Hamilton.” Check out the photos, video and audio interviews below!





Just 11 months ago, Daya’s parents were pushing her to apply to college, just in-case this whole singing career didn’t pan out.

Fast forward to October 2016, just a few weeks shy of her 18th birthday, and suffice to say the artist will be deferring.

“I did apply last year,” Daya, nee Grace Tandon, told me last weekend after opening for Fergie inside Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Arena. “It was just kind of a back-up and my parents wanted me to, blah-blah-blah.”

Daya’s older sister attends Brown University in Rhode Island. And the “Hide Away” songstress doesn’t rule out an eventual return to the classroom, but at the moment that certainly isn’t necessary. In less than a year, the Pittsburgh-born singer has scored two top 10 hits at pop radio as a title artist.
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But without question her biggest song to-date is the contribution she made to The Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down,” a song that grabbed Daya her first ever American Music Award nomination for “Best Collaboration.” “Don’t Let Me Down” also ended up accumulating the most spins of any single this past summer at pop radio.

“That’s crazy! That’s just so wild!” a clearly excited Daya replied when I informed her of that fact. “I didn’t know that it would be that big. I mean, I knew that it was a great song and I was so happy to collaborate with them on it because they’re awesome but you never know with radio.”

Daya is certainly becoming more familiar with the airwaves though. Her latest hit is the title track from her debut album, “Sit Still, Look Pretty.”

“(The song) was always special to me,” she said. “It just kind of felt natural for me to name the album ‘Sit Still, Look Pretty,’ and I think that’s kind of what I want my brand to be as young female artist in this industry; don’t let people limit you in what you can do.”

After all, it’s not like Daya was born in Los Angeles or New York. She grew up in Pittsburgh and the man who executive produced her album, Gino Barletta, is from Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

“This is our baby together that we just created over this past year and a weight feels lifted off of all of our shoulders,” she noted. “We’ve all just helped each other out. We all work hard and are passionate and good things are happening.”

And if they keep that up, who knows what the next 11 months could have in store.

Rachel Platten’s 2016 has brought her many different places; one of the latest being Times Square where she, along with Joe Jonas, helped reveal some of the nominees for the 2016 American Music Awards.

When it comes to the show’s biggest prize, “Artist Of The Year,” the “Fight Song” artist knows a thing or two about some of the potential winners. Platten met Selena Gomez (“She’s a wonderful person”), is nominated with Adele in the category of “Favorite Female Artist – Adult Contemporary” and even drew inspiration for her set list from one of the category’s nominees.

“I cover his song on my tour,” she replied when I brought up Justin Bieber. She tackles the hit “Love Yourself” during her show. I then mentioned another artist in the category, Bieber’s fellow Canadian, Drake.
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“I also tried to cover his song on my tour, and realized that it wasn’t very good when I did it,” Platten deadpanned regarding the hit “One Dance.” “I wish I had figured it out.”

Platten’s “The Wildfire Tour” kicked off in February, a month after she dropped her major-label debut album. The LP also spawned the hit “Stand By You.”

“I feel like all of my wildest dreams came true the past two years,” she told me. “It’s been so amazing. I worked for a long, long time to get here so I think 2016 will always hold a special place in my heart.”

And the year is far from over; Platten wraps up her tour in Florida on Saturday and will attend the AMAs, which air live November 20 at 8 pm EST in Los Angeles.

By Ralphie Aversa


Charlie Puth confirmed to me that the “Nine Track Mind” album cycle is finished but he stopped short of saying that he wouldn’t be a part of any other new music before year’s end.

“We filmed a video for ‘Dangerously’ just as like a fan thank you,” he revealed. “Yunno, thanks for this amazing life-changing year; here’s a really cool video for a very popular song on the album.”

“Life-changing” is an apt way to describe Puth’s world since the release of “See You Again.” The Wiz Khalifa-fronted song, which served as the main single from the “Furious 7” soundtrack, went on to accumulate GRAMMY and Golden Globe nods while also racking up a billion plays on YouTube.
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Then you factor in Puth as a solo artist: three hit singles off a Gold-certified debut album with two U.S. tours in support of it.

“Kind of like a whirlwind,” is how Puth characterized the past year-and-a-half. “I went from literally having nobody know me to, yunno having five security guards around me when I walk around Times Square.”

The Rumson, New Jersey-native seems to enjoy the ride. Just a few nights prior to our chat, he played to a sold-out Beacon Theatre on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

“We shut down two streets!” he exclaimed, before chastising me over a tweet I sent about thankfully not grocery shopping that night. The venue is across from my neighborhood store, a Fairway.

“Saw your tweet; you were like, ‘I’m glad I didn’t go shopping!’” Puth repeated, while clearly amused before adding, “Don’t get it twisted. I read your tweets!”

The one consistent since I started interviewing Puth a year-ago is his demeanor: he takes his art seriously but certainly enjoys lightening up a bit too. Apparently, that doesn’t just occur during interviews either.

“I joke around with my boys The Chainsmokers all the time like, ‘When are we going to make a song where we can like, turn up to in Vegas with everybody and make a big party out of it?’” he told me. “I’ve written records with a lot of amazing, legendary artists, new and old, even in these past couple of months.

“So… that’s all I’m going to say.”

Joe Jonas probably has the weekend of November 18 circled on his calendar… or highlighted in his phone. You get the idea.

On that Friday, the Jonas-fronted DNCE will drop its debut, full-length album. The following Sunday, DNCE will head over to the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles for the 2016 American Music Awards. DNCE snagged two nominations, including New Artist Of The Year, which put the “Cake By The Ocean” singer in a league of his own; he’s the first artist to be nominated for that award twice – it’s a trophy he won with his brothers back in 2008.

“That’s an incredible feeling,” Jonas said when I brought that up to him on Monday morning. He and Rachel Platten helped reveal some of the AMA nominations on “Good Morning America” in Times Square. “I was not expecting that; when Rachel said my name, I had to kind of like, take a second to think about it.
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“It’s overwhelming. It’s a bizarre feeling to know that you can reinvent yourself and hopefully it encourages a lot of artists out there because part of this game is being able to come up with stuff that’s new and evolve as an artist. We do it because of the love of music.”

DNCE is also up for Favorite Group or Duo – Pop/Rock with some stiff competition between The Chainsmokers and Twenty One Pilots. The band also shares the New Artist nod with The Chainsmokers, as well as Shawn Mendes, Zayn and Alessia Cara.

“It’s going to be a party,” Jonas replied when I asked what he thinks that November weekend will be like. “We’ll probably be still on a high from releasing an album but walking in to nominations amongst these great artists, fan-voted completely, that’s the best feeling.”

Jonas noted that it’s also nice just to have a release date for the anticipated LP.

“We have songs that we just created a few months ago and it’s cool to like actually have a set-date rather than kind of the guessing game,” he said. “I just can’t wait for people to hear it. We’ve been playing some of the songs on tour and testing them out but now to be able to have a physical album to hold on to is a good feeling.”

In addition to “Cake By The Ocean” becoming nearly inescapable, DNCE spent this last summer supporting Selena Gomez on tour. Gomez also scored two AMA nods, including for the evening’s top prize for Artist Of The Year.

The 2016 American Music Awards air Sunday night November 20 at 8 p.m. on ABC.