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The next time you hear “Uptown Funk,” the infectious anthem birthed by DJ/producer Mark Ronson and recording artist Bruno Mars, think about this: it almost never was.

“I remember Bruno once saying like, ‘Man it just breaks my heart but maybe this song is just not supposed to be,’” Ronson recalled to me early last year. “From that initial creative point of it, it was so exciting. That’s why I was hanging on to it like, ‘We gotta make this work.’”

Good thing he did. A billion-view music video, Super Bowl Halftime Show performance, double-GRAMMY nomination and 9-times RIAA platinum certification later, “Uptown Funk” has gone on to top the 2015 year-end charts in seven different countries. Additionally, it sits as 12 on Billboard’s all-time Hot 100 chart here in the U.S.

“Now when I hear it and I just see people like go wild or dance or light up, it’s great,” Ronson told me, noting that he forgets about the long, stressful nights that went in to the record’s creation.
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Coming off last weekend’s Super Bowl Halftime Show, Ronson and Mars now look to take home hardware on music’s biggest night. The GRAMMYs air Monday on CBS from Los Angeles, and “Uptown Funk” is up for Best Pop Song Duo/Group Performance and one of the evening’s biggest awards: Record of the Year.

“I’ve had a few (successes) but none of my own records have… you know, they’ve always been cult hits or ‘DJ records’ and stuff,” reflected the English-born, New York-raised producer on the success of “Uptown Funk” in 2015. “This is beyond anything I ever really thought would happen.”

This is Ronson’s third nomination for Record of the Year and if he wins, he’ll add it to the mantle alongside the award he scored thanks to Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.” Coincidentally, Mars and Ronson also were up for the category in 2014 thanks to “Locked Out Of Heaven.”

“You know, I had always heard about (Mars) even when he just started out and everyone around LA was like, ‘Oh yeah, this super-talented kid Bruno; he plays all these instruments (and) he’s a great songwriter,’” Ronson said. “I never met him and I got a call just to go in and we met and we talked about music…and I just really liked him so we started working on his second album.”

The DJ/producer has three GRAMMYs in-all, also nabbing Producer of the Year, Non-Classical and Best Pop Vocal Album in 2008 – a year that belonged to the late Winehouse.

“No one’s ever going to live up to Amy, you know in the way she was such a singular, incredible artist,” Ronson said of her. But while the two are never compared (and rightfully so), when MTV wanted to pay homage to Winehouse on the 2011 Video Music Awards, they called on one artist.

Bruno Mars.

New York City-born actor Zach McGowan stopped by ahead of a few big premieres: Season 3 of The CW’s show “The 100,” which he has an arc on and Season 3 of Starz’s hit “Black Sails” – a show he has been on since the start. McGowan talked about landing both roles and growing up during the 80’s on the Upper West Side.

Saying Scott Stapp has been through a lot in the 20-year span of his music career is akin to saying Adele sold “a few copies” of her latest album.

It would be a gross understatement.

The lead singer for the band Creed has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, struggled with substance abuse and found himself in a leaked sex tape. Lest we forget that Creed, while currently on an indefinite hiatus, has sold over 50 million albums worldwide.

But when Stapp speaks these days, he does so confidently and in a tone that does not suggest he’s been through so many traumatic events. Matter-of-fact, at times when reflecting on his trials and tribulations the lead singer does so in a jovial manner.

“I’m so allergic to alcohol and drugs that every time I use or drink, I break out in handcuffs and end up on the 6 o’clock news,” Stapp joked when we chatted on my radio show last week. He was making the rounds amidst his “Proof Of Life Tour,” a trek in support of his last solo project although he also plays his Creed catalogue at the shows.

“That’s literally the truth man!” he continued, not missing a beat.

Sadly for Stapp and his family, it was a long road to fully realize his “allergy.” Stapp had been to rehab but never truly sobered up. In 2009 while Creed was promoting a reunion tour, the lead singer told me that despite past, he would still have a glass of wine on occasion.
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As Stapp later found out, that’s not exactly how life after rehab works.

“I didn’t want to believe that I couldn’t be normal like everyone else,” he admits now. “But a lot has changed since then, and I know that I can’t do that.”

The seemingly big breakthrough for Stapp was after his latest downfall, which included a string of bizarre Facebook videos referencing President Obama and ISIS. Stapp and his wife Jaclyn sought out MusiCares, a foundation created by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences that “provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need.” Stapp, of course, is a GRAMMY winner of the Academy’s, taking home “Best Rock Song” with Creed in 2001.

Through MusiCares, Stapp was able to end up in a proper facility that provided him with what he and his family believes was the missing piece to his rehab: the bipolar diagnosis. Now, the musician has a new outlook on his amended lifestyle.

“I just live my life 24 hours at-a-time, one day at-a-time,” Stapp stated. “When I break it down in to those small increments, it’s a lot easier to accept and digest (soberness).”

Stapp, who is planning the announcement of a new band and is working on another solo album, says that the new perspective has had a positive outlook on his life. Although, that might be an understatement too.

East Brunswick N.J.’s JAX stopped by to chat about her new single “La La Land,” her trip to MSG to see Billy Joel, how she feels about her time on “American Idol,” and what she has planned for 2016!


How hectic is Charlie Puth’s life right now? The singer behind the anthem “See You Again” didn’t realize how many GRAMMY nominations he received until Google told him.

“Well, I originally thought it was ‘a’ GRAMMY,” revealed Puth when I spoke with him after he and rapper Wiz Khalifa performed the “Furious 7” track on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” in Times Square. Puth and I chatted in a hotel lobby just blocks from the ball drop. “And then I Google-d it because, who doesn’t Google me? And then I saw that it was three GRAMMY nominations.

“Absolutely incredible. With Wiz. Mind blown.”

Puth expressed similar feelings when he described what it was like to sing in front of an international TV audience and over a million people in Times Square.
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“I didn’t realize how many people were there until I looked in the abyss and saw many more millions of people going down to 59th Street,” he said. I was going to correct him and say 49th but then he added, “And I know what that is because I’m from here, so I know that that’s a long block away.”

In addition to the nods for Song of the Year, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Song Written for Visual Media, “See You Again” was up for Best Original Song at the Golden Globe Awards. It lost to a formidable competitor in Sam Smith, who turned in a brilliant theme for the latest “Bond” film: “Writing’s On The Wall.”

So in the span of about five-and-a-half weeks Puth turned 24, scored three GRAMMY nominations, performed on New Year’s Eve in Times Square and attended the Golden Globes as a nominee.

Not a bad stretch for a kid from Rumson, N.J. Puth attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston and graduated after Ellen DeGeneres discovered and signed him to a record deal. Things didn’t work out with the talk show host’s label imprint, but that platform led executives at Atlantic Records to find the singer; Atlantic eventually scooped him up.

Puth is set to release his debut, full length album “Nine Track Mind” on January 29. The LP features the Meghan Trainor-assisted “Marvin Gaye” and his latest single “One Call Away.” Also appearing on the album are singer Shy Carter (“As You Are”), Selena Gomez (“We Don’t Talk Anymore”) and Khalifa.

“It’s basically a musical summary of what my crazy, hectic year has been like,” Puth explained when I asked him about the album back in October. “It’s been a life-changing year and I wanted to make something musical that represented that.”

Just think, it was already a life-changing year for him a few months ago… and that was before he was searching his name on Google to figure out if he had multiple GRAMMY nominations.

Our last guest of 2015 was the lovely Miss America, Betty Cantrell. I was in Atlantic City the night Betty was crowned, and she was nice enough to stop by and visit us just a few days after the pageant. In her dressing room at the Good Morning America building in Times Square, we chatted about some of the celebrities she has met so far and Steve Harvey’s mess-up on stage at Miss Universe (which by the way, is a different organization than Miss America).
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I was live in Times Square for New Year’s Eve on 95.5 PLJ. In addition to counting down in to 2016, I chatted with Charlie Puth, Miss America and George Zimmer. Check out some of the sights and sounds below!



The return of Star Wars to the big screen has sent fans in to a frenzy. Die-hards are signing up for light saber exercise classes, purchasing Star Wars-themed ice cream and inspiring “SNL” skits.

It seems the influence and reach of “The Force Awakens” knows no boundaries, thus it made sense that at last month’s “American Music Awards,” there would be a tribute to the movie’s original score. The music, created by distinguished composer John Williams, was adapted to the AMA stage by acapella group Pentatonix. It was a task that the quintet did not take lightly.
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“That was the tough part about it. (The music) is all instrumentals, and all the melodies, chords and rhythm stuff are very instrumental,” explained vocalist Avi Kaplan when I spoke with the group a few days before the award show. “So making them vocal was a really tough thing. There are no lyrics. It’s very choral and operatic.”

“Figuring out what sounds good (was tough) too… we have to change things around,” added group member Scott Hoying. “It’s just kind of crazy.”

Most musicians would agree that it is a little unnerving to have to alter an iconic theme like the “Imperial March,” and then perform it on national TV. But the 2011 winners of NBC’s show “The Sing-Off” approached the performance with a very specific goal.

“We just wanted to keep the essence of Star Wars and make sure it was dope,” Hoying said. “We didn’t want to try and make it about us at all.”

Yet if there was one person who wouldn’t have minded the piece centering on the acapella group, it was Han Solo himself. Just ahead of the show’s start, TMZ broke the story that Harrison Ford counted himself as a big fan of Pentatonix, and was tabbed by dick clark productions to introduce the performance during the broadcast on ABC.

After Ford’s intro, the quintet took center stage inside Microsoft Theater and ran through a 3 minute-plus medley; about a minute-and-a-half in, a full symphony orchestra joined Penatonix on stage and ushered in the movie’s main theme.

In the press room, it almost seemed as if everyone stopped what they were doing to find a TV monitor and catch the performance. All four members of Fall Out Boy, who were making the media rounds following the band’s AMA win, took a break from interviews to watch the segment with us. No one really spoke; we were all kind of transfixed to what was unfolding on the show.

And when the final note was sung, the entire audience rose to offer both Pentatonix and the orchestra a standing ovation. As the acapella group has proven so many times on live TV, with them, the force is strong.

Stars converged inside The Theater at Madison Square Garden for a special benefit concert honoring what would have been John Lennon’s 75th birthday. A few of the musicians participating in the event along with the evening’s host, Kevin Bacon, stopped to chat with me on the red carpet. The concert aired on AMC Saturday, December 19.
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Romeo Miller, Kristinia DeBarge, Damon “Boogie” Dash, Angela Simmons, TJ Mizell and Egypt Criss star in the new WE tv show “Growing Up Hip-Hop.” I had a chance to chat with all of them at the show’s press junket inside The London in midtown. We talked about carving out your own legacy while respecting your parents’, hanging out in the city and whether they watched “Empire” at all.

“Growing Up Hip-Hop” premieres Thursday, January 7 at 10 p.m.