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“So You Think You Can Dance” is returning for season 14 to the 18-30 age group with an old friend of the show’s back in the mix: Mary Murphy.

“We’re putting people on the Hot Tamale Train!” an exuberant Nigel Lythgoe commented on my radio show last Friday. The show’s co-creator and judge called from Los Angeles in what is now seemingly an annual tradition after the competition’s renewal. “I’ve got to say, I’ve supported Mary. I’ve got a great chemistry with Mary that I love. She can beat me up and hurt me and I can be rude to her, and that’s all part of the fun of the show.”

Both Lythgoe and Murphy were in Brooklyn earlier this month for auditions alongside Vanessa Hudgens, the former Disney star who as of late saw herself star both on Broadway and in “Grease: Live”.

“She’s just the triple-threat,” gushed Lythgoe about Hudgens. “They can act, they can sing, they can dance. Therefore for a start, they recognize the amount of work that goes in to being a great performer, and number two the talent that is required.”

The former “American Idol” producer was pleased with the talent he saw in Brooklyn, going as far as to make a rather bold prediction.

“I would suggest, and I’m not going to name names, that one of the kids we saw there is going to be the overall winner,” Lythgoe said. “There was a young man there that was outstanding.”

There have only been two other contestants that made Lythgoe feel that way: Carrie Underwood and Season 11 “Dance” winner Ricky Ubeda. Not a bad group to join.

It’s a story all-too-familiar these days in music: two artists collaborate without even meeting, let alone stepping in the same studio.

The latest example of this that we talked about on the radio show involved Brielle Von Hugel. The Staten Island native has three singles on Spotify with over a million streams: “Naked,” her featured vocals on Nervo’s “Alone” and the B.o.B-assisted “Stronger.”

Not only has Von Hugel never met the artist, nee Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr., but originally she didn’t even intend for him to have bars on that particular track.

“I originally wanted B.o.B to be featured on another song that I wrote,” the singer/songwriter revealed during an interview on my show last week. “So my team sent over my music just so he could get a feel of my style; he actually liked ‘Stronger’ better.”

Von Hugel was honored that he wanted to jump on any track, and so she gladly obliged to his request. The B.o.B-version is a Spotify-exclusive; a rap-less rendition is available everywhere else.

Also out is her latest, “Naked,” a song that deals with feeling comfortable in your own skin. The track was influenced by the bullying that Von Hugel experienced both as a kid and as she continued her music career, a path that would eventually take her to “American Idol” before becoming a member of Postmodern Jukebox.

“I feel like now more than ever I’m so comfortable in my own skin,” she noted. “A lot of great things are happening, so I really sing that with truth and I love the message.”

Von Hugel just wrapped a U.S. tour with PMJ and now heads to Europe for a four-week jaunt where she’ll tally only three days off. When the artist returns to Staten Island in May, she’ll continue working on new solo material.

After setting sail with Train on its cruise and performing with Pat Monahan, my buddy Marc Scibilia dropped a new music video for his single “Summer Clothes.” He wrote the song back in our hometown of Buffalo. The video pays homage to old Americana and Western New York using stock footage and home videos from the Scibilia family. Marc even snuck in a few Snapchat-inspired clips as well to give the piece something that almost anyone could relate to; kind of like the song’s message.

“My dad, every couple weeks when I first moved to Nashville would always call me,” the singer/songwriter recalled. “We would talk for 20 minutes; just catch up. And he’d end every conversation with, ‘Hey, one more time, what’s your address?’”

Scibilia found this funny because his dad never sent him mail. After reflecting on it, he also found a song because of it.

“So I unfolded this song that’s kind of about my family, kind of about my hometown but it’s really about someone that really wants to call someone and just has an excuse like, ‘Hey, I just called to send you something,’ but they just want to talk because they miss the person.”

The family will get to see Marc in action when he brings his “Summer Clothes” tour to Buffalo. It’s his first headlining trek, and it kicks off on April 13 in New York City’s Mercury Lounge.
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Vinny Guadagnino successfully transitioned from a MTV reality show that covered he and his castmates drunken debauchery to a show that chronicles he and his mom traveling the country and eating different types of food.

But for the Staten Island native who is still proud to call New York home, the move is far from finished.

“As long as it’s a good product, I don’t have to be in the biggest thing,” Guadagnino explained during a wide-ranging sit down interview on my radio show. He even mentioned that he turned down multiple offers, including big paydays, because he’s “not a great, trashy reality star.” “I’m really not saying I’m too good for anything. I really believe in myself as an entertainer because I’m such a huge comedy nerd.”

Guadagnino also stopped short of saying he has any regrets about the process thus far.

“It’s actually kind of fun, like you were on this big show, and now you have to kind of like, weave your way out of it and on to the next thing,” he said. “Now, you’d be an idiot if you said, ‘Oh that show was not good,’ because people (still) want to talk to me.”

But after that, Guadagnino perhaps best exhibits the difference in mindset between he and his former “Jersey Shore” cast members.

“Every interview is now an audition, every TV show you go on is a stage and now you can just prove it to the world,” the New Yorker continued. “It’s interesting. It’s hard, but it’s fun.”

And while there were the inevitable tough moments on the road with his mom, overall Vinny enjoyed filming “Vinny And Ma Eat America” for The Cooking Channel with his mother Paola. The two are great on camera, and Guadagnino is hopeful for more episodes following the March 11 marathon that aired of the first batch.

Speaking of transitions, the show follows mom and son as Paola travels to new cities and tries cuisines she’s never had before (basically anything that doesn’t fall under the Italian genre). Guadagnino said one of the highlights was his mom eating and actually enjoying sushi, although he is doubtful it makes the “Feast of the Seven Fish” Christmas Eve dinner menu.

Panic! At The Disco is on the “Death Of A Bachelor” tour, headlining sold-out arenas across the country. But for lead singer Brendon Urie, the album cycle is basically finished.

“I’m literally trying to jump right in to the next record cycle,” the front man told me backstage at Mohegan Sun Arena before the trek’s opening night show. The interview was conducted for Mohegan Sun’s Facebook page. “I know that seems crazy but I’ve got a bunch of ideas I’ve been working on for the last couple months. I’m seriously pursuing recording them in the next month or two.”

The “Victorious” singer is also going to try his hand again at projects that don’t exclusively involve music.

“Theater really interests me and acting really interests me,” he continued. “I’ve done a couple of auditions, a few years ago, and they didn’t go so hot. So I want to try and redeem myself a little bit.”

The fact that Urie wants to branch out might be a testament to how gratifying and fulfilling the band’s latest LP was. “Bachelor” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with the highest first-week sales for Panic! yet. It also earned Urie a “Best Rock Album” nomination at this year’s GRAMMYs.

“That was a huge milestone,” he said of the nod. “I was filled with so much happiness. I was just like, running around… did a lot of drinking that night to celebrate.

“But it was amazing, man. It’s definitely put a nice little hat-tilt to this tour.”

Speaking of drinking, Urie joked (or maybe semi-joked?) that as far as essential tour items, beer definitely makes the list. He also revealed a Panic! pre-show ritual: shots.

“We did one night where we tried whiskey,” he explained before laughing. “This is going to sound so weird but, we were on stage and we all just kind of looked at each other and we all felt grumpy.”

The remedy? A switch to double-shots of tequila. Urie said it puts the band in party-mode in part by killing the group’s “hyper-awareness.” Judging by the rave reviews that the show is receiving so far, it seems to be working.

Dua Lipa’s success makes her want to work harder. It does not make her want to leave the place she’s called home since birth though.

“I travel so much so I like being at home in London,” she replied when I inquired if she would relocate any time soon. “I like that being my base.”

London is where Dua Lipa is recording a majority of her work, including the vocals for Martin Garrix’s “Scared To Be Lonely,” and where she flew to after The GRAMMYs to spend Valentine’s Day.

“It’s overwhelming and exciting,” Lipa said both looking back at her past few months, which saw “Blow Your Mind (Muah)” chart at pop radio in the States, and ahead of her first U.S. headlining tour. “It’s exciting when I see some of my songs being received so well… it gets me excited for the next thing.

“The second I do something, I want the next thing to be better than the last,” she added when I followed up about if the success is changing her as an artist. “I want to always be progressing in the right direction; seeing things grow.”

At the moment, Lipa is seeing the country on a trek that started February 24 in Chicago and wraps March 17 in San Francisco. She’ll hop on a quick six-date Europe tour in April and then head back stateside in June for Bonnaroo.


Last November I met Martin Garrix for my first time and despite feeling ill, the DJ was in great spirits. Fast forward to February, when I saw Garrix again in Los Angeles, and he was still in great spirits although he also felt a lot better.

So, how does the number one DJ in the world stay healthy amidst the partying and jet-setting?

“Food, working out, trying to sleep as much as I can,” Garrix began listing, before digressing. “Sometimes I’m not that good at that.”

The electronic dance music star revealed that between the flights and live sets he relies heavily on power naps. As for working out, Garrix doesn’t even leave the hotel room for that – utilizing his bodyweight for closed kinetic chain exercises.

It makes sense given his busy schedule of touring and recording. Garrix is one of the hottest DJs in the genre right now, so when he’s not traveling for gigs or making the media rounds, chances are he’s working on new music. His latest release is the Dua Lipa-featured “Scared To Be Lonely.” Over The GRAMMY weekend, Dua sang Garrix’s praises to me.

“The energy in general is most important,” the producer told me in regards to collaborating with others. Garrix broke in to mainstream with the wildly popular instrumental “Animals” but has since scored hits thanks to “In The Name Of Love” featuring Bebe Rexha and “Lonely.” “If you can’t connect with a person, the music won’t be good either.”

Regarding the Dua Lipa track, Garrix said that originally she sent over her vocal and he replied by asking for the entire vocal session. From there, he and producer Valley Girl built out the new compilation heard on airwaves today.

It wasn’t all a dream… it actually came true for Little Mix last week.

The girl group, which is currently supporting Ariana Grande her “Dangerous Woman” tour, traveled through a schedule last week that is hectic even by the girls’ standards. Little Mix started in Uncasville, Connecticut at the original Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday February 17. The day began with a whirlwind radio promo schedule, continued with an album signing and acoustic performance in The Shops at Mohegan Sun and ended with a performance for the sold-out arena crowd.

Then the girls crossed the pond to perform at The Brit Awards, the UK’s version of our GRAMMYs, on the 22. Little Mix was also nominated for three awards and took home the hardware for “British Single Of The Year” thanks to “Shout Out To My Ex.” The track hit number one in the UK for multiple weeks and served as the first single from the group’s fourth LP, “Glory Days.”

The next day: back to the U.S. Little Mix hopped back on Grande’s tour to open up for the pop star at “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden.

“We love it,” Jesy Nelson responded when I inquired about how they navigate the long travel and many responsibilities. “It’s tiring and it does take its toll but at the end of the day when we get on stage that just makes up for it because we get to see all of our fans and it’s just the most incredible feeling.”

I chatted with the girls in between the acoustic performance and autograph signing in Connecticut and when I brought up the week that included both The Brits and the MSG performance, there seemed to be more excitement than nervousness amongst them.

“To make two dreams come true,” Nelson said as the other girls talked about the idea of both possibly winning a Brit and taking the stage at The Garden, “C’mon, that’s pretty cool.”

They’ve even found some time amidst the madness to celebrate the success of their latest album.

“We do go out quite a bit,” Jade Thirwall admitted, rather sheepishly, before eliciting laughter from her bandmates. “Hey if we’ve got something to celebrate, there’s nothing wrong with that!”

Of course, the only thing better than having something to celebrate is having two things to celebrate. But the quartet, which formed during the eighth season of “The X-Factor” in 2011, will be hard-pressed to fit that into its schedule. Little Mix will continue to tour with Grande through mid-April and then embark on its own headlining trek overseas in May. There’s a sizable break in shows during the months of September and October, but the ladies revealed that those months are set-aside at the moment for studio time to begin work on the next album.

Sure I was in Los Angeles covering The 59th GRAMMYs, but that didn’t stop me from making some headlines in my local neighborhood’s blog.

I’m a big fan of Westside Rag if for nothing else, it keeps me updated on the latest openings and closings in the area, and that alone is a lot to track in this day-and-age of Gotham. Recently, I read on the site about complaints regarding noisy neighbors just blocks from my apartment.

These weren’t just any neighbors though; they were cast members from the latest season of “America’s Next Top Model.”

So when recently-eliminated contestant Paige Mobley stopped by our backstage broadcast inside LA’s Staples Center, well I felt compelled to bring these rumors to her. And I was surprised to hear her response.

Check the interview below and the WSR write-up here.

It probably doesn’t matter which Cyrus you’re talking about: for any of them, it’s pretty exciting to have a song on the radio and participate in GRAMMY Week.

The latest to partake in this is Billy Ray’s youngest daughter and Miley’s little sister Noah, who is making a name for herself with the Labrinth-assisted track “Make Me (Cry).”

“I’m like a little stressed out, a little nervous,” the teenager offered during our chat inside Staples Center. “This whole experience has been great.”

The experience has included releasing the track, performing on “The Tonight Show” and prepping for an upcoming spot on James Corden’s “The Late Late Show.” Corden hosted The GRAMMYs last weekend and Cyrus divulged to us that she would probably watch the award show at home, on the couch, Chinese food in hand.

It probably served as a well-deserved break from the promo run she’s been on behind the single. Cyrus is currently in the studio working on her debut album, “NC-17.”

“I don’t have a date for it yet,” she said. “It’s very far along but I still just want to get those final few songs that are like, ‘Alright, this is what makes the album me.’”

And something tells me that if she’s looking for advice on that, well… she won’t have to travel far from the couch to get it.