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INTERVIEW: Jason Derulo Talks BBMA Finalists, New LP

After helping to announce some of the 2014 Billboard Music Awards Finalists on “Good Morning America” in Times Square, Jason Derulo spoke with “Ralphie Tonight” about those artists and his performance at the show.

The 2014 Billboard Music Awards air live on May 18 at 8, 7C on ABC from Las Vegas. Derulo also spoke with “Ralphie Tonight” about the release of his new album, Talk Dirty, in the States on April 15.

INTERVIEW: Phillip Phillips Says He’s In Great Health

Say whatever you want about Phillip Phillips except that fame and fortune changed him.

“I’m just watching everybody else lose money,” Phillips responded to “Ralphie Tonight” last week when asked if he had a college basketball pick. The “Home” singer found himself in Dallas, the host city for this year’s Final Four weekend, to perform on “Conan.” He did not fill out a bracket.

“Nah, I’m too cheap to do that.”

You could encourage him to “never change” but at this point, he probably does not need the advice. Besides, who saw UConn winning the National Championship anyways? The Huskies going all the way was about as likely as a kid of a pawn shop owner from Albany, Ga. winning “American Idol” and selling over a million copies of his debut album.

Well, if the points about his betting habits and background illustrate anything, it is that Phillips is unique. Perhaps that explains the mellow guitar player’s early success. After a cross-country trek last year with John Mayer, it does not seem that Phillips is fading away any time soon. The “Idol” winner released “Raging Fire,” the first single from his sophomore LP Behind The Light, due out in May. It is Phillips’ first song to hit radio that he received a writing credit for.

“We wrote that one so quick,” he said of the track. “First it was me and Todd (Clark) in the room and we started pounding it out. Then Derek (Fuhrmann) came in. We wrote it in less than a week and it was just all craziness.”

Phillips had a chance to return to his old stomping grounds and perform the song live. He characterized the trip back to the “Idol” set as “terrifying” at first.

“It was like a nervous little kid going somewhere that you know everyone but it’s been a while and you don’t really know how to react,” he recalled. “But it was awesome.”

His persona obviously did not change following the show, but his music might. In addition to having a bigger influence in the first radio single for this project, Phillips noted that there was another difference for his second release.

“I had more time to make this one,” he noted. “I got to do more with production and producing it as well. I got to make it sound like me.”

Phillips classified the new record as “more rock” in part because he brought in a band for most of it. He is the only featured artist on the LP but revealed that Robert Randolph plays guitar on one track. Behind The Light drops May 19. Phillips will co-headline a tour this summer with O.A.R. to support the record.

And perhaps most importantly of all, the artist will do all of this in a good physical state. After a few publicized trips to the hospital for a congenital kidney condition, Phillips said that his “health is great” and should be for many years to come.

INTERVIEW: The Whiptones To Sing National Anthem On Opening Day In Citi Field

The Whiptones, a teenage acapella doo wop quartet from Whippany, NJ will perform the National Anthem at Citi Field on Monday for Opening Day. The guys talked about the big gig and showed off their vocal skills when they stopped by “Ralphie Tonight.”

INTERVIEW: MKTO on ‘Classic’ and New LP

MKTO sat down with “Ralphie Tonight” to chat about the band’s forthcoming self-titled LP and the song “Classic,” plus the tour with Emblem 3.

INTERVIEW: Fitz and The Tantrums Talk Touring With Bruno Mars, ‘The Walker’

Fitz and The Tantrums sat down with “Ralphie Tonight” to chat about the band’s latest single “The Walker” and last year’s trek in support of Bruno Mars.

INTERVIEW: Ashley Wagner Reflects On Sochi And Meme; Previews ‘Stars On Ice’

Olympic Bronze medalist and two-time National Champion Ashley Wagner called in to “Ralphie Tonight” to chat about her upcoming performance with “Stars On Ice” and the now infamous Internet meme she inspired.

Wagner heads to Tokyo for the World Figure Skating Championships before kicking off “Stars On Ice.” Tickets to see her, Gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White, and more are available here.

INTERVIEW: American Authors Goes Platinum With ‘Best Day Of My Life’

The band American Authors says that its new LP, Oh, What A Life, is about the highs and lows we all experience. Just within a week of the album’s release, the group had a chance to experience both peaks and valleys first hand.

On Monday March 3, American Authors sang its hit “Best Day Of My Life” on “Live! with Kelly and Michael” for the show’s post-Oscars special in Los Angeles. The band’s performance received at best, mixed reviews. The next day its debut LP hit stores. The following Monday, Authors returned to the “Live!” set, this time in New York. Things went a lot better, especially when the band was presented with a plaque to mark the single selling 1 million copies in the U.S.

“Strangely enough I think it was just the byproduct of people being overworked and overtired,” drummer Matt Sanchez explained before adding, “Not us by any means, the crew.”

“(The show) hired on a bunch of people from L.A. that aren’t on their normal team,” guitarist James Adam Shelley said. “There was a lot of craziness (for) everybody, so.”

Lead singer Zac Barnett simply chalked the whole ordeal up to “technical difficulties,” and bassist Dave Rublin chimed in, “Yunno, things happen. We’re human.”

A lot has taken place since the four met at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. The many commutes between New York and Massachusetts led the band to drop out of school three-and-a-half years ago, move to Brooklyn, and pursue their dream full time.

“Once we got down here, and started being inspired by the surroundings… the music that we’re creating now is so different than what we started out with seven years ago or so,” Barnett said. “It was just time for a change. We changed our name and became American Authors.”

The quartet hails from all over the country but has taken a liking to their new digs.

“Where we live in Brooklyn is just such a melting pot for artists,” Rublin gushed. The bass player grew up in nearby Maplewood, N.J. “Pottery people, actual painters, and then we have like street musicians and everyone in between; fashion designers and everything. So it’s just a really cool spot to go out to the bars in those areas and be like, running in to random people who’ve done so many things you’ve seen in the city.”

Or in the case of a band that dropped out of college and now has a platinum single to its credit, heard in the city.

INTERVIEW: A Great Big World To Make Benefit Debut At #PinoyRelief

First album, first chart-topping single, first national TV performance… Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino have experienced a slew of firsts since performing “Say Something” on “So You Think You Can Dance?” But the duo known collectively as A Great Big World will experienced a new first on a different level Tuesday: first concert benefit.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” Vaccarino said via telephone on “Ralphie Tonight” regarding the band’s involvement in “Pinoy Relief.” The star-studded concert aimed to “provide relief to victims of natural disasters in the Philippines – with the current focus being victims of Typhoon Haiyan.” “We do music, and to be able to make such a positive impact and give back, in any way, that can help is what it’s all about.”

“We feel so helpless watching the news, seeing images and video footage,” Axel added, speaking about the typhoon that left 11 million people homeless. “We feel like we can’t do anything, so being able to just play our music and make a difference here in New York… I mean, it’s the best feeling.”

Concert organizers approached A Great Big World about performing, and the duo happily obliged. The New York University alumni performed inside The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Other bill notables included The Plain White T’s, Pentatonix, and headliner Jennifer Hudson. There was also special appearances from Dr. Oz and Apl De Ap, a native Filipino and Black Eyed Peas emcee.

INTERVIEW: Lea Michele Transitions From Broadway To TV To Recording Artist

Lea Michele released her new album Louder amidst a whirlwind press tour that included radio stations, “Kelly and Michael,” “Good Morning America,” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

“I’m so proud of him. I’m so happy for him,” Michele told “Ralphie Tonight” after taping with Fallon. “He’s like, the nicest guy!”

Michele joined Fallon once when he hosted “Late Night.”

“He sits and chats with you and just makes you feel so at home,” she said. “It was one of my favorite performances I think, but mainly because he’s so awesome.”

The “Glee” star chatted with “Ralphie Tonight” before her second of three album signings in the tri-state area. The promo tour continued on the west coast through the weekend.

“I just think that my background has been the best preparation and it’s given me such a solid ground,” Michele said of transitioning to a major label recording artist. “This is a really tough industry and it comes with a lot of pressure and stuff like that so I think coming from Broadway and then also going on to ‘Glee’; this has all be great preparation for this next phase of my life.”

Phase one included a leading role in the Broadway smash, “Spring Awakening.” Duncan Sheik (“Barely Breathing) scored the musical, although the two did not link up on Michele’s latest project

“I don’t even know where he is!” she joked. “I think he’s in London actually, right now.”

Close – Germany when we caught up Sheik a day after the interview. He was then headed to London before returning to New York.

Michele lived in New Jersey and New York before moving to California and landing on “Glee.”

“It definitely helped me learn how to be in the recording studio, how to record songs,” she said of her time playing Rachel Berry at William McKinley High School. “Working on ‘Glee’ really helped me to understand what the studio life was like, and then recording this album.”

Singing in to a microphone that is directly in front of you as opposed to singing to the back of the house was the biggest difference for Michele between performing on Broadway and recording this album. The California-resident will wrap up season five of “Glee” and then tour across venues overseas. Michele then returns stateside to film the sixth and final season of the FOX TV show before she possibly tours in the States.

INTERVIEW: Maria Menounos Talks Oscars

Over 14.7 million tweets were sent out Sunday evening during the 86th Academy Awards. The telecast, buoyed by big performances and host Ellen DeGeneres, saw a 10-year high in ratings. About 43 million Americans watched the 3-and-a-half hour broadcast. It is the highest rated entertainment program since the series finale of the sitcom “Friends.”

Speaking of Twitter, a record was broken during the show. DeGeneres’ A-List filled “selfie” was retweeted over 3.1 million times. The previous retweet record was President Barack Obama’s reelection tweet. It was re-published about 778,000 times. Ellen’s account also gained a couple of million followers in the process.

“I was at the In Style viewing party, and I was like, ‘This is absolutely brilliant right now,’” “Extra TV” host Maria Menounos told me, before an unfortunate revelation. “I never even saw it on Twitter because I wasn’t using my phone at that time. I had no battery left.”

Menounos went straight to the viewing party after covering red carpet arrivals for the TV show. She enjoyed the Oscars fashion the most.

“We were all waiting for Brad and Angelina to show up of course,” Menounos said. “I think that they looked incredible, especially Angelina.”

The TV host also gave props to the leading men of “Dallas Buyers Club.” Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto each wore white tuxedo blazers, won Oscars for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively, and left the audience with poignant acceptance speeches.

“Cate Blanchett as well, I thought she was hilarious,” Menounos continued when asked about her favorite acceptance speeches. Blanchett won Best Actress for “Blue Jasmine” and dropped a “#suckit” to Julia Roberts, even though Roberts wasn’t nominated in the same category. “And of course, Lupita’s (Nyong’o) was so moving, it even made Brad Pitt cry.”

Pitt had a feature role in “12 Years A Slave,” the film that went on to win the night’s biggest honor of “Best Picture.” Nyong’o took home Best Supporting Actress.

Both were featured in Ellen’s selfie, which actually sent so many users to Twitter that the social network broke down. According to Twitter statistics, over 254,000 tweets per minute were sent during the selfie portion of the broadcast. The photo was snapped by Bradley Cooper and also included Nyong’o’s brother, Jolie, Leto, and Kevin Spacey.

An alternative view of the moment showed Liza Minnelli attempting to show her face in the picture, but not able to get around the other celebrities. Minnelli was the subject of Ellen’s sharpest jab during the show’s opening. DeGeneres joked that the 67-year old actress looked more like a man dressed to impersonate Minnelli than Minnelli herself.

Catch Maria on “Extra” weeknights at 7 p.m. on WNBC.

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