Archives For 2017 Billboard Music Awards

We all have different ways of getting over ex-lovers and coping with failed relationships. For Julia Michaels, her method involved releasing a debut cohesive body of work, the self-dubbed “mini-album” called “Nervous System.”

“I’m fully transparent. This whole (mini-album) is literally my life,” Michaels explained to me. “There were so many things that I couldn’t say to him and there are a lot of things that I don’t confront with myself that I put on this mini-album.”

Over the course of our sit-down interview Michaels noted that each track on “Nervous System” represents something that actually took place in the relationship. All of the songs were written about the same boyfriend referenced in the hit single “Issues.” The mini-album was penned over a two-month stretch after Michaels released the first track.

Perhaps the two most heart-wrenching songs are “Just Do It” and “Don’t Wanna Think.” The former describes a moment when Michaels knew her ex-boyfriend wanted to dump her but was worried he would break her heart. The latter is the only track on the mini-album that Michaels wrote alone; she is also the lone-producer on it as well. The ballad was originally titled, “Drinking Song”; Michaels composed it on a piano while drinking tequila.

“I wrote it about a fight I was having and it was just one of those songs that I had written in about 20 minutes because everything had just kind of flowed out of me,” she revealed. “Like I said, I don’t confront things and I suppress a lot of things and so sometimes when I listen down to something I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s how I feel.’”

Michaels clearly has no problem telling the world about her personal life, and the world doesn’t seem to mind; she turned-in a fantastic performance of “Issues” at the Billboard Music Awards in May and is up for “Best New Artist” later this month on the MTV Video Music Awards. Although she is currently focusing on her own music (Michaels told me that for the moment she hasn’t worked on any other songs with Selena Gomez), she still likes being able to tell other people’s stories as well.

“I love being that person that people can talk to and helping them get their stories out, because sometimes artists really want to say what they have to say but they don’t know how to articulate it in a way that fully makes sense,” Michaels said. “So I love helping them put puzzle pieces together and figuring all of that out together.”

In some aspects, Michaels provides therapy as much as collaboration. By using her debut mini-album to release an ex-boyfriend from her life, go ahead and add “self-therapy” to Michaels’ resume as well.

Not only is Rita Ora in a good place, it sounds like her peers are as well.

“Everyone’s just being really nice to each other and it feels really good,” the “Your Song” singer said in an interview that aired on my show Monday. “Everyone just shows so much support. It feels like we have a little community going on, which I like.”

The comments were a response to my observation of watching Ora’s interaction with Vanessa Hudgens and Drake backstage at the Billboard Music Awards in May. There were no cameras around as the entertainers exchanged pleasantries.

“I mean I’ve known some people in this industry since I was like 18, so it’s nice to just see people do their ‘thang,’” Ora continued. “My mom always taught me to be nice, to be respectful, and then you’ll get it back.

“And if not, then we can take it outside!” the 26 year-old joked.

With the way in which tabloids cover the London-native across the pond, it’s inevitable that Ora sometimes finds her name linked to stories that aren’t so respectful. That does not seem to have affected her disposition negatively; but she’s clearly cognizant of the coverage. This was evident in Ora’s reaction when I mentioned that she spent last summer filming “America’s Next Top Model” down the street from me.

“So I was annoying you then basically,” she retorted, semi-kidding I think. “There were loads of paparazzi. You must have been so angry at me.”

For the record, I wasn’t inconvenienced at all; however the same can’t be said for the people who lived next door to the models’ townhouse. Regardless of its downfalls, Ora is still thankful that she gets to do what she loves.

“I’m an entertainer, yunno?” she responded when I asked about her venture in to TV hosting. She’s currently the host of ABC’s competition “Boy Band.” “I think every time I’ve done a TV (show) it’s been the right timing; like the opportunity came the same time as my music coming out and I just felt like it was perfect to be visible on multiple platforms.”

Ora’s new single, co-written by Ed Sheeran, is called “Your Song” and is available now. Her new album is slated for a fall release. She revealed that the LP is “kind of done” and is in the mastering and mixing phase.

Jason Derulo and I go way back. His first appearance on my show was in 2009 before “Whatcha Say” was on anyone’s radar. The hitmaker has been a consistent presence on the program since, whether he was calling in, stopping by the studio or saying hello at an awards show.

It was great to catch up with him last month in Las Vegas at the Billboard Music Awards; Derulo joined Nicki Minaj, David Guetta and Lil Wayne to open the broadcast, contributing a performance of his Minaj-assisted single “Swalla.”

But there was another part of our conversation that I kept thinking about, besides exchanging pleasantries and talking about his forthcoming TV appearance.

“Soon man, we’ll be celebrating 100 million sold,” he revealed to me. “It’s a really, really exciting time.”

He offered up the stat as we took a trip down memory lane; I had brought up “In My Head” – the single that shed his potential “one hit wonder” label and helped solidify his status as a pop radio mainstay. Coincidentally, it was Minaj that had jumped on a remix of the track and assisted in it gaining airplay on rhythmic and urban radio.

But besides his discography coming full-circle with Minaj, I was curious as to what Derulo thought of when he looked back on that period in his career.

“I remember not quite being myself a lot of the times,” he candidly offered. “I remember being excited as sh—about everything that was happening in my life man.

“It all just kind of came crashing in a moment. When you’ve been working your whole life for something and it finally comes to fruition it’s crazy.”

Derulo couldn’t have imagined what would follow: more hit singles, tours, a near-death experience, TV gigs and the occasional tabloid fodder. And at only 27, surely he doesn’t know what’s to come.

Jason Derulo’s Top 5 Singles (Ranked by peak-Billboard Hot 100 position)

5.) “Wiggle” (featuring Snoop Dogg)

4.) “Want To Want Me”

3.) “In My Head”

2.) “Talk Dirty” (featuring 2 Chainz)

1.) “Whatcha Say”

Honorable mention: the original version of “Ridin’ Solo.”

On Sunday I covered my fifth consecutive Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas. I also acted as the on-stage warm-up act, hyping and prompting the crowd before the show and during commercial breaks, for my fourth year. Here are some news and notes from my perspective both on the Magenta Carpet and backstage.

– Any artist that actually stopped and did media on the carpet should get some type of award. The temperatures outside T-Mobile Arena were near triple digits. It was so hot outside that inside they actually blasted the air conditioning during rehearsals. Perhaps it was a nice way to test how cold the venue can become ahead of it receiving an NHL franchise?

– I brought a change of dress shirts to account for the weather. Almost everything I wore in both outfits came from my favorite designer, John Varvatos. The tuxedo pants were H&M and my flower and pocket square were both from TheTieBar.com.

– I’d hate to say I called it but… I called it. Celine Dion stole the show at the BBMAs. I had chills listening to 18,000 inside T-Mobile Arena sing-a-long to “My heart Will Go On.” Celine is beloved as an icon, her voice is still impeccable, the movie is adored and the song as of late has gained new life as a meme of sorts. It was one my second-favorite moment from Sunday night.

– Great running in to Dan Kanter backstage. I first met Dan in 2009 inside The Mall at Steamtown in Scranton; at the time he was playing guitar for this new artist… maybe you’ve heard of him… Justin Bieber? Kanter is Bieber’s musical director and assumed similar duties for Julia Michaels’ performance of “Issues” – which I was a big fan of.

– That Rachel Platten “La La Land” adlib was just that – it was not in the teleprompter. I got a kick out of it.

– Something I really loved about this year’s show is that the stars really seemed to be enjoying themselves. You had Young Money – Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Drake – front and center both literally and figuratively for the entire show. Instead of acting too cool for the room they decided to simply join in on the party. With Drake setting the new single-night record for awards, they had plenty to celebrate.

– One of my favorite backstage moments came when BK and Tyler from Florida Georgia Line walked off stage after accepting the BBMA for “Top Country Song.” The duo embraced, let out a Ric Flair-like “Woo!” and said to each other, “Man that never gets old!” Nice to see a genuine moment of gratitude between the two.

– Another cool backstage interaction involved Diddy, who was about to pay tribute to The Notorious B.I.G. and reveal the trailer for the new Bad Boy movie “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.” The Chainsmokers were walking off the stage after accepting another award and Puff gave them a standing O before chatting with Alex and Drew for a few minutes. That’d be a fun collaboration right?

– Give credit to Vanessa Hudgens for holding her own on national TV and to Ludacris for once again making the whole hosting gig appear way easier than it actually is.

– Some other familiar faces that said hello backstage: Chris Daughtry, Miss America Savvy Shields, Mark Cuban and Hailee Steinfeld.

– I mentioned my second-favorite moment but not the one that tops the list. That honor belongs to my Mom. She was in the crowd cheering on her son while putting the video camera on her new-er iPhone to good use. I am thankful I was able to share the night with her.

It was a crazy six hours that saw nominees, presenters and performers all stop by our broadcast area as everyone prepared for the 2017 Billboard Music Awards. We chatted with everyone from the show’s co-host Ludacris, performers Jason Derulo, Halsey and Julia Michaels plus presenters Lindsey Stirling, Chris Daughtry and Hailee Steinfeld. Check out more below!







The original plan was to sit down here in Las Vegas’ McCarran Airport and write a piece about last night’s Billboard Music Awards, reflecting on the fact that I covered the show for my fifth consecutive year and spent my fourth year as the on-stage warm-up act.

But I can’t stop thinking about the victims of this explosion in Manchester outside of an Ariana Grande concert that has now left 22 dead and dozens more injured.

Part of my full-time job involves facilitating on-air contests for concert tickets. I think the best part of giving away seats to shows is when the winner is genuinely a huge fan of the artist performing. In some instances, we aren’t just giving away two tickets – we’re affording people the chance to witness someone or something that they may never see in person again. Tickets, along with the associated costs (fees, transportation, parking, merchandise, food) can get expensive. So it’s very possible that people who were attending Ariana’s show last night were seeing her for the first and/or only time. Maybe they received the tickets as a birthday or Christmas gift. The kids might have been saving part-time paychecks to attend. Perhaps the parents were scraping by around the holidays just to put a smile on their kid’s face. Or maybe they got lucky, called at the right time and won them on a radio station.

I don’t care how many I get to attend or send others to: it’s not lost on me that these can be once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

And the night should have reflected that, from the pandemonium of Ariana taking the stage to thousands of people singing along in unison to every lyric. Concerts can provide a sense of community. Everyone in that venue could have been anywhere else but they chose to spend their time and perhaps their hard-earned cash for a common cause: to escape the world’s troubles and have fun for a few hours.

Then a senseless act of violence changed all of that. Now 19 are dead, dozens more are injured and the world is once again shocked, saddened and rendered speechless.

I’m mourning for the families who lost loved ones and praying that those injured heal quickly and fully. I’m also thinking of Ariana and her team (who are all safe and OK) along with the countless other staff members that it takes to make something like an arena concert take place.

But most of all, I wish I didn’t have to write this. I wish that Ariana was simply continuing on with her European tour after an uneventful yet successful show in Manchester. I wish that evil didn’t rear its ugly head period, let alone at a concert attended by innocent children.

I will say though, one part of my original plan will certainly stay intact: I’m reflecting on last night with an immense amount of gratitude. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and those, nor our lifetime, should ever be taken for granted.

Miley Cyrus is back on the cover of “Billboard” and set to perform her new single “Malibu” for the first time next weekend on the 2017 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas.

If it seems like déjà vu, well that makes sense. Back in 2013 Cyrus used The BBMAs as a springboard to promote her return from a three-year music hiatus. On the red carpet she talked about the comeback and “We Can’t Stop,” which would be released later that month to much fanfare.

“I don’t ever label anything,” Cyrus told me outside of the MGM Grand Garden Arena that May, while standing alongside Renaissance man will.i.am. The duo collaborated on “Feelin’ Myself” and the uber-melodic “Fall Down.” “All my party jams are real s— too. It’s all what I really need to say.”

And she said quite a bit with her fourth studio album and first on RCA, “Bangerz.” From the aforementioned lead single to the smash-hit “Wrecking Ball” followed by the tour to support the LP, Cyrus demolished any remnants of the “Hannah Montana” era.

Now seems that the songstress is in a different place. A better place? Maybe – you’d have to ask her. She’s rumored to be back on with fiancé Liam Hemsworth. She shouldn’t be judged for her appearance but from the Billboard cover this much is obvious: the edginess is either changed or gone altogether.

As for “Malibu” – well it certainly sounds more “real s—“ than “party jam” – not that Cyrus makes a distinction.

She started her career by teaming up with Semi Precious Weapons lead singer Justin Tranter and writing big hits for Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Hailee Steinfeld to name a few. But since deciding to keep the song “Issues” for herself and become an artist, Julia Michaels has gotten to experience a whole new side of the music industry.

On Monday morning, she had the chance to check another box off the list: live TV. Michaels’ first time in front of the camera without the safety net of a pre-tape came on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” She and Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz revealed nominations for the 2017 Billboard Music Awards.

“A little nerve-wracking, I’m not going to lie,” Michaels told me of the experience backstage at GMA’s Times Square studios. “I have really bad performance anxiety. Apparently I can’t even talk without getting nervous!”

Michaels was thankful to have Wentz there though, a seasoned-pro at these things, to help her along. Despite Tranter penning FOB’s “Centuries,” it was the first time the two artists had met.

“He’s really calm,” she noted. “Super nice guy!”

Speaking of the nominations, The Chainsmokers and Drake took home the most, ever. Both acts tied the single-show nod record at 22 apiece. Twenty One Pilots checked in next on the list with 17, followed by Rihanna’s 14.

As for the aforementioned Bieber, he grabbed 7 – an impressive number considering the “Purpose” album cycle is finished. Michaels contributed to that LP; most notably co-writing “Sorry.”

“It was awesome,” Michaels said of her experience working on the album. “Actually, one of my favorite songs that I’ve written is a song called ‘The Feeling.’

“I wrote that after a break-up and I was talking to one of my friends, and I was just hysterically crying. And he was like, ‘OK, were you actually in love with him or were you in love with the feeling of being in love with him?’”

Immediately, the light bulb went off for Michaels. The song was co-produced by Skrillex and features singer Halsey, who coincidentally also scored 7 BBMA nods.

As for Michaels’ solo project, the singer is still pretty happy she made the decision to release the super-personal song “Issues” with her own voice. Michaels recently released the music video for the single and tells me that while originally thinking it would be followed by an EP, she may now opt for a full-length album because of the amount of writing she has done.

And yes, she’ll be at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, which air Sunday night, May 21 at 8 pm live from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.