On Saturday, I broadcasted live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas ahead of Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards. Our Westwood One Backstage event included Troye Sivan, Seal, Alesso, Fat Joe, Vegas-staple Carrot Top and more.
There’s one big difference between Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards and every other music award show on television: the winners are a true reflection of not just what fans like, but what they actually consume and spend money on.
“Those charts are what make our award show,” Billboard’s co-director of charts, Keith Caulfield, told me this week. “That’s the beauty of it. This award show is truly based on your performance on the Billboard charts throughout the year.”
The BBMAs serve as an annual scoreboard of sorts for the music industry’s biggest names. We’ll find out where the stars rank Sunday night at 8 p.m. on ABC.
“Billboard gets to honor the most popular artists, albums and songs of the past year on a great TV show, and we get to have amazing performances and it’s a star-studded event,” Caulfield said. “I’m really looking forward to the show.”
The list of performers alone could make this year’s program one of the more memorable in recent memory. Britney Spears, receiving the Millennium Award, will perform a medley of her hits. Justin Bieber will do the same. Rihanna is slated to sing on the show, almost exactly 10 years to the date she scored her first Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper. And Madonna will perform a tribute to the late Prince.
That doesn’t even scratch the surface: Celine Dion, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton, Nick Jonas and Tove Lo, Demi Lovato, Meghan Trainor, Fifth Harmony, Pink and Ariana Grande are also set to take the stage inside the brand new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
As for the awards, The Weeknd is a finalist in 16 categories, leading all artists. Bieber follows him with nods in 11 categories. Taylor Swift and Adele are each a finalist in eight categories. Perhaps taking a cue from Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video premiere at last year’s BBMAs, Adele will unveil her video for the single, “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” during the broadcast Sunday.
Appropriately, Swift holds the all-time high mark for wins at the show with 20. Adele has the record for most wins in one night with 12, which she scored back in 2012 off the success of “21.”
The Billboard Music Awards are produced by dick clark productions. Westwood One, the radio network owned by Cumulus Media, is once again an official partner of this year’s show. For the fourth consecutive year, I will broadcast from Las Vegas for the BBMAs. In addition to interviewing stars backstage Saturday and on the red carpet Sunday, we’ll have a full recap from Vegas on Monday evening.
In episode number four of “2 Slices & A Story,” Parachute lead singer Will Anderson explained how he and two of his three siblings ended up in New York after growing up in Virginia, and what his first gig in the city was like.
She had never released an album with no country music singles. She had never sent seven singles, all which charted in the top 20 or higher, to pop radio from one album. And now, according to Big Machine Label Founder Scott Borchetta, Taylor Swift is about to do something else for the first time in her career: wait more than two years before releasing her next album.
“I think that if Taylor was standing right beside us… I think everyone knows, her fans especially know that she never stops writing,” Borchetta replied when I asked him if Swift’s most recent LP cycle was finished. “Now is no different than ever. But as far as the album cycle, this will be the first time that we break that “every-two-year” album cycle, and there’s not a time when I call her and say, ‘Hey, pal it’s time to get a record.’”
To say Swift accomplished a lot with “1989” would be an understatement: the seven aforementioned singles including a handful of number one hits, her third straight LP to debut platinum, a GRAMMY for Album Of The Year and a world tour that sold out the biggest venues on the planet.
“Yunno, she’ll call me. She’ll know when she’s ready,” Borchetta continued. “And then she’ll be the one to announce to the world when the next music is coming.”
The singer broke the norm and called her own shots from start to finish. She revealed details about the album and debuted the single “Shake It Off” with a live-stream from New York on Yahoo. Swift took on one of the biggest companies in the world when Apple didn’t want to pay royalties to artists for the trial period of its new streaming service. Not only did the “Blank Space” artist compel Apple to change its stance, but she then partnered with the company for one of the more hilarious commercials in recent memory.
And don’t forget, before Apple, Swift defined the conversation around streaming services when she pulled her catalog from non-premium sites such as Spotify’s free, ad-supported version.
“#Taylurking” became a thing when the LP dropped and with it, Swift redefined how artists in this day and age interact with their fans. She commented on their Tumblr posts, replied to them on Instagram, mailed them gifts and invited them to her house for secret listening sessions.
But perhaps most profoundly, in the era of the “selfie,” she showed her fans that having a group of friends (“squad goals”) is cool. This notion was even on display with the album cycle as well: the cameo-filled music video for “Bad Blood” featured many of her “squad-mates” and won the top categories at both The GRAMMYs and The MTV Video Music Awards.
Right to the end, Swift attempted to delineate how albums (which she stressed to me in 2014 are still something of both importance and value) are marketed. “New Romantics” was the seventh single from the LP. It wasn’t even on the main album listing as it served as a bonus track, yet still cracked the top 20 on pop radio.
So yes, Swift has dropped an album every two years since her 2006 debut and we’re probably not getting one in 2016. But even if her “Swifties” have to wait a little longer than normal for Swift’s next project, it’s not like this last one will be going out of style anytime soon.
A week after John Oliver sent costumed fans to sit in the prestigious Legends Seats behind home plate at Yankee Stadium, the comedian noted that the Bronx Bombers are probably not too happy about the whole promotion.
“I think the Yankees are happy that we’re done,” the HBO host said after noting he did not have any more tickets to give away on his “Last Week Tonight” show. Oliver also stated that he didn’t receive any flack from the Yanks personally, “but yeah, I don’t think they were absolutely thrilled about it.”
This all started before the first pitch of the season. Speaking to a sports talk radio station in New York, Yankees COO Lonn Trost attempted to explain why the Yankees were no longer using “Print-At-Home” tickets. His main reason was to curb fraud; however the front office executive was also unhappy with the low ticket floors set by third-party websites such as StubHub. Eliminating these websites’ ability to buy and distribute tickets at a moment’s notice all-but-guarantees that fans will have to purchase tickets through the Yankees own resale outlet, which is run by Ticketmaster.
In the process of explaining the nuisance of expensive tickets selling well below face value, Trost induced a foot-in-mouth moment by saying that those who typically sit in said expensive seats would be frustrated by fans who don’t normally sit in a premium location.
Enter Oliver, who eviscerated the Yanks’ for the ticketing practice and comment before offering viewers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: tweet the hashtag “#IHaveNeverSatInAPremiumLocation” and you could score two Legends Seats for a quarter, the only condition bring that you had to wear something out-of-the-ordinary to the game.
The once-empty seats behind home were filled on Opening Day. With Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“Those seats are amazing. Those seats are precious,” Oliver told me on the red carpet ahead of the Garden of Dreams Talent Show at Radio City Music Hall. “And it frustrates the hell out of me to see them empty during every game. It’s embarrassing.”
As a lifelong and diehard Yankees fan, I concur and brought up another point: with the empty seats in the lower bowl due to both ticket sales and the various luxury suites and lounges in to the venue, the entire ballpark is much quieter than “The House That Ruth Built.”
“You’re basically eschewing home field advantage by having just empty seats,” he accurately added. “It must be weird batting with no one shouting for you… so we provided some shouting dinosaurs, sharks and Ninja Turtles. You’re welcome, Yankees.”
And hey, maybe the 27-time World Champions were appreciative. On the last game of the team’s first homestand, the message “Thanks, John Oliver. Everyone is welcome at Yankee Stadium” appeared on the scoreboard.
“(Sitting in Legends Seats) is an amazing experience,” Oliver commented before concluding, “and the f—ing Yankees should open it up to more people!”
Stars from across entertainment and sports showed up to support the kids performing at the Garden Of Dreams’ annual Talent Show. The show offers kids throughout the tri-state area who overcome obstacles the opportunity to perform on the Great Stage at Radio CIty Music Hall.
Lending their support and speaking with us on the show’s red carpet included celebrity mentors Damaris Lewis and Nastia Liukin along with Broadway star Jay Armstrong Johnson, Impractical Jokers Joe Gatto and Murr, and HBO host John Oliver.
After revealing finalists for the 2016 Billboard Music Awards on Good Morning America, co-hosts Ludacris and Ciara chatted about the big awards show and the finalists in the night’s biggest category: Top Artist.
The 2016 Billboard Music Awards air Sunday night May 22 at 8/7c on ABC from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
When you tune in to my show at 7 pm, you usually hear a voice announce, “Ralphie’s here!” That voice is none other than Today Show co-host Hoda Kotb. It was recorded last June when I interviewed her during a Garden of Dreams charity event. Fast forward nine months, and I ran in to Hoda again at the same event. Watch the original clip first, then below it Hoda’s reaction when I tell her that she kicks off my show every evening.