For the second straight year, The John Lennon Songwriting Contest called upon “Ralphie Tonight” to announce the winner of its year-long, international songwriting competition. This year’s “Song Of The Year” winner was “Dysphoric,” a track by Barrington, R.I.-based quartet The Rare Occasions.
Each year, the contest is divided in to a pair of sessions. Over $300,000 in cash and prizes is awarded, culminating with the “Song Of The Year,” which includes a $20,000 prize.
Brian Rothschild, Execuitve Director of The JLSC and Matthew Reich, Vice President of U.S. Tours and Promotions, along with American Authors’ front man Zac Barnett joined “Ralphie Tonight” for the announcement. Barnett’s band won the contest in 2012. Read more from The JLSC’s press release here, and check out the interview and winning song below.
Nominations were revealed this past week for the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards. Gotham Magazine Entertainment Editor Juliet Izon chatted about the nominees, some of whom had graced the cover of Niche Media publications over of the past year, for our Friday edition of Weekend Scoop.
The buzz continues to build, the schedule continues to fill up and the guys that comprise Walk The Moon continue to find themselves in an album cycle that admittedly they want to see stretch out for as long as possible. When you look at what has happened in 2015 to the group, you really can’t blame them.
“Shut Up and Dance” is in serious contention for “Song of the Summer.” The band’s next single from its sophomore album Talking Is Hard will be “Different Colors,” an anthem of different gravitas but near-equal jubilation. And the Cincinnati-quartet is playing all types of stages: as headliners, as supporters for The Rolling Stones and as performers on “Good Morning America” and at MLB’s Home Run Derby in their home city. At this point (or at least the day after their date in Detroit with Mick, Keith and the boys), lead singer Nick Petricca credited “caffeine and adrenaline” with fueling the band, but downplayed any changes of seismic proportions in the group.
“We’ve always kept ourselves working around the clock, so in a way not much has changed,” he told me on “Ralphie Tonight.” “I think we’re going to see the results (of the single’s success) the next time we tour.”
Walk The Moon has already noticed a change in the crowd at shows, especially when those opening notes of “Shut Up” hit the speakers. But their last headlining tour sold out before the song became inescapable.
That’s not to say the single’s success hasn’t brought about other change.
“I get a whole lot more texts now saying, ‘Hey, I heard “Shut Up and Dance” in X-Y-Z bizarre situation,” noted guitarist Eli Maiman. “So like – ‘I heard it at Cardinals Stadium in St. Louis, or I heard it in Victoria’s Secret this morning.’
“And I’m like, ‘Mom, why are you telling me this?’”
When the laughter subsided, WTM told me that they also want to collaborate with other artists they enjoy; Petricca said the band hasn’t “sold a song” to anyone yet but they have written with other musicians, and Maiman teased a possible Walk The Moon-feature for another singer could be released soon.
The lead singer also mentioned that there’s a chance fans could hear some new material from the group later this year. At the moment the focus is on “Different Colors,” a song that started as a rallying cry but with recent news events such as the Supreme Court’s lifting of same-sex marriage bans, has turned in to more of a “victory march.” The single celebrates diversity and aims to unite.
“It feels really relevant to be playing it right now, and really cool,” said Maiman.
“It’s incredible,” Petricca added. “We’re just all on the same team out here and it’s cool to feel a part of a movement.”
That idea of community is something that the band can easily be reminded of every night, as they perform in front of thousands of face-painted fans whose sole objective is to have fun. No wonder they don’t want this to end.
In this edition of Weekend Scoop, InStyle Magazine Senior Editor Sharon Clott Kanter called in and talked about the music video debut of Johnny Depp’s daughter Lily-Rose. Also discussed: the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team’s championship parade in Manhattan and a possible collaboration between Jazmine Sullivan and Sam Smith.
As chronicled in the new documentary Amy, almost anyone who came in contact with the late Amy Winehouse experienced some type of very intense, dark time with her, especially later part of her 27 years alive. Yet it takes almost no effort for her first manager Nick Shymansky to recollect brighter moments he spent with the gifted singer.
“Because we were flown out by the label, we decided to make the most of it,” Shymansky, the nephew of Universal Music Group’s Lucian Grainge and current Senior A&R at Island Records was telling me on “Ralphie Tonight” during a story about how he and Winehouse were in New York City. They had a meeting with her label that didn’t go as planned; due to the lack of “heat” around the artist at that particular moment, label execs were pumping the breaks on releasing Winehouse’s first album Frank in the States.
“Amy just made her first bit of money. She wasn’t really famous but she was getting a lot of acclaim. We ended up going to Tower Records and she got a massive trolley. She was like a kid in a candy store.”
Winehouse went to town in the once-booming store (Shymansky believes they were at the former Upper West Side location), not taking in to account anything – whether it be the price of the records nor the tax and shipping cost to send them all back to the UK.
“I remember she bought all this music and we paid a huge fine for taking it back (overseas),” he recalled with a smile. “It was amazing seeing her just realize, ‘I can have whatever music I want. I’ve got money.’”
Shymansky contributed over 12 hours of footage he taped to the piece, which was directed by Asif Kapadia. He, along with rapper Mos Def, producer Mark Ronson and many other friends and family of Winehouse’s, sat down with Kapadia for audio-only interviews that are woven throughout the two-hour-plus film. The singer’s former manager cooperated with the filmmaker in part to help show different sides to Winehouse’s personality and artistry; perhaps those neglected and/or ignored by the media that maligned her until she died of alcohol poisoning in July 2011.
But the film is honest and comes with its share of cringe-worthy moments: watching Winehouse stumble in front of tens-of-thousands on stage, the singer’s mother admitting that she missed early signs of bulimia and Winehouse’s father Mitch showing up to Sr. Lucia, where his daughter was supposed to be recovering on while avoiding the media… with a reality-show camera crew in tow.
“I think one of the most powerful things about this film is that you’re not really told what to think of people,” Shymansky explained. “Opinions aren’t flying. You can’t ignore there were certain decisions, certain things that were handled badly. But I think you come away from this film… it’s two hours and 10 minutes of you being close to the artist.”
From that proximity, it is hard not to see why after viewing Kapadia’s final cut, Winehouse’s father decided to disassociate the family from its release. In addition to the aforementioned incident on the island, Mr. Winehouse also plays an integral role in the creation of his daughter’s breakout hit, “Rehab.” Shymansky actually tried to admit Winehouse; the singer responded by deferring the decision of whether she should go or not to her father.
Despite working out a plan ahead of time with her manager, Mr. Winehouse told his daughter that she didn’t need rehab. Of course, you know this by simply listening to the song, which is almost a verbatim play-by-play of the entire situation.
“Popular music, up-tempo music, hit music, whatever you want to call it… is very often, when you really look in to the context of what that song’s saying, it can be quite deep,” Shymansky noted, citing hits from Motown as an example. “For me, I can never listen to ‘Rehab.’ Although, I appreciate why a lot of people get it, dance to it, love it… but I knew what was behind it, and I always found it a bit of a ridicule in to my belief that Amy needed help.”
Shymansky could have easily forgotten about Winehouse altogether after his refusal to leave the company he worked for, 19 Entertainment, led to the singer switching managers prior to the release of Back To Black. But Shymansky still cares very much about the singer and her lasting legacy, knowing full well that his discovery of Winehouse helped cement his own credibility in the industry.
“Lioness record came out, and I always felt very strange about that record coming out because it wasn’t a record that Amy said, ‘This is my body of work. I’ve finished it. I’ve done it,” he responded when I inquired about the possibility of any unreleased demos seeing the light of day. Keep in mind who Shymansky’s uncle is and what label he now works for, and this is an obvious example of the former point regarding his interest in the singer’s legacy. “Amy took her music very seriously…I hope that if music does emerge, it’s not put out there.”
It’s been a minute, but “Hey, Really Excited” is back! In our latest edition, I fill you in on turning 30, what I’ve has been up to and why I’m participating in this year’s Urban Mudder race in New York on July 25. All of the money #TeamRalphie raises goes to Make-A-Wish.
This week, in honor of bringing attention to the cause and event, I chat with Make-A-Wish’s Alumni Team Captain: 15 year-old (now 16) Amanda. She is a Wish Kid – after being diagnosed with sickle cell disease, Amanda’s wish was to go to the Dominican Republic. Make-A-Wish flew her family there for Christmas!
You’ll also hear from Tough Mudder’s VP of Event Development, Ashley Ellefson.
Get more here:
“Extra” New York City correspondent AJ Calloway swung by “Ralphie Tonight” to talk about a few big stories of the week – including AJ’s interview just the day before with actor Ryan Reynolds. Calloway also talked about the recent breakup of Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick along with the latest regarding the Miss USA competition and Donald Trump.