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Between scoring another hit single, releasing a revealing book, and leaving “The X-Factor,” Demi Lovato lifted a lot of weight off her shoulders in 2013.
“I worked so hard last year,” Lovato recalled to “The Ralphie Show” during a chat backstage at The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards. “At the end of the year I was like, a little burnt out.”
But Lovato is turning a new page with 2014; she took most of January off to prepare for the “Neon Lights Tour.” It’s a far cry from a year in which she would pull all-nighters before national TV performances.
“I had press all day, then I had a concert,” Lovato explained of the first time she did this – coincidentally the last time she appeared on our show. “I was done at 10 p.m. I hopped on a private plane and I tried to sleep on there but it was only an hour flight. So we got in to New York, and I couldn’t sleep. So I was up for the entire day.”
Lovato’s work schedule became so overbearing that her team developed creative ways in which she could find time to sleep.
“I used to work so hard that they would prepare a bed in the back of the SUV,” revealed Lovato. “So whenever I got in to the car, there was already a bed prepared because I was not sleeping.”
The singer’s “Neon Lights Tour” begins on February 9 in Vancouver, Canada. Lovato’s supporting acts include Little Mix, Cher Lloyd, and Fifth Harmony. The trek wraps up in Indianapolis on March 30.
Over GRAMMY weekend, OneRepublic lead singer Ryan Tedder noted that the band’s third studio album, Native, was originally scheduled for a November 2012 release. When Tedder and his band mates stopped by the studio recently, he cited a couple reasons for the delay, including the influence of Swedish House Mafia on the record.
“It was just like overwhelming because I saw them at Coachella; they were the best performer that whole weekend,” Tedder told me. “Radiohead is one of my favorite bands of all time, but I gotta say like… Black Keys, Bon Iver, Kasabian… none of them held a torch in my opinion to the Swedish House Mafia set.”
Despite Tedder describing himself as “not a card-carrying electronic music fan,” the experienced directly inspired the single, “If I Lose Myself,” along with the general tempo of Native.
“We’re not going to all of the sudden; three years after the fact jump ship and be like, ‘Oh! This is popular now. Let’s go do this!’” he explained. “That’s lame. You’ve got a handful of bands who did jump ship and just went pure electronic… and we’re the furthest from that. And then you’ve have other acts who kind of batted around with electronic; tried to do like a “dance” record and it kind of missed the mark. So we were like, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s hit the nail on the head. And let’s capture that energy but still keep it sounding organic and like a band.’”
OneRepublic also decided to keep two tracks at the last minute – songs that Tedder almost gave away to other artists.
“We had a close call on this record. There was song that we were all really in love with,” revealed guitarist Drew Brown. “We went through a phase of feeling like it wasn’t going to fit with the rest of the continuity of the record. In the last hours of putting the record together there was a big ‘come-to-Jesus’ about like, ‘We absolutely can’t get rid of this song. We have to put it on the record.’”
The band called in Jeff Bhasker, who worked on the latest masterpieces for fun. and Kanye West, to finish the track. “Can’t Stop” made the album, due out March 26.
OneRepublic front man Ryan Tedder sat in his seat inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last Sunday just like any other spectator, watching Beyoncé perform during the Halftime Show. The singer/songwriter was 24 hours away from finishing the vocal recordings on the band’s third studio album, Native. Then, Beyoncé turned on to the final lap of her critically-acclaimed performance.
“She ended it with ‘Halo,’” recalled Tedder. “It was just completely shocking.”
Yes, the lead singer had no idea that the superstar songstress would end her set with a track that he composed.
“That was the best feeling,” he said. “What’s funny is, five seconds after it happened, I got a text from Max Martin.”
Tedder dubs Martin, “the greatest living songwriter/producer in the world,” and you’d be tough-pressed to argue against that title with a look at the Billboard charts over the past 15 years.
“I got a text from him saying, ‘Congrats on ‘Halo,’’” continued the singer. “This moment just got better, I’m sitting here watching this, and now Max Martin texted me.”
The next day, Tedder recorded the final pieces of Native. Now that the master is turned in (he beat the deadline by 10 minutes), fans of OneRepublic have an official, and final, release date of March 26.
“It was originally November,” said Tedder of the first target release date for the LP. “To be dead honest, we couldn’t finish the songs in time.”
The band now shifts in to promo-mode for the album, but not before a trip to Dubai this week. The band will also hit Europe before touring in the States this summer.
Last spring I sat down with B.o.B and asked him what we could expect from his forthcoming album, Strange Clouds, due out this spring.
The Atlanta rapper has already dropped the title track featuring Lil Wayne and “Play The Guitar” featuring André 3000. Now comes what is sure to be his breakout pop hit from the album – the Ryan Tedder-produced “So Good.”
Gavin DeGraw has found living a “normal” life has afforded him more experiences to write songs from, something he says will be apparent when Sweeter is released on September 20. However, attempting to live like everyone else may have lead to an alleged incident on Monday morning, in which the singer was brutally beaten by a group of men.
“When someone says, ‘Oh well maybe you’re not on tour for a year or so, you’re in New York hanging out, watching bands and things like that,’ that’s so important to me as a writer,” DeGraw shared with me on his tour bus Saturday afternoon. “That’s my real life; otherwise I’d just be sitting here on the bus, singing songs about traveling all the time.”
But don’t let him mislead you: DeGraw is doing his fair share of traveling. He played a show in Camden, NJ with Maroon 5 and Train on Friday night. The next evening, DeGraw departed from the tour to headline a small show just outside of Scranton, PA. Sunday night, the “I Don’t Wanna Be” singer rejoined with M5 and Train for a date at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods in Mashantucket, CT.
DeGraw, a Manhattan resident, returned home Sunday evening. According to a report in the New York Post, he was assaulted around 4 in the morning, after leaving some friends at a bar. The singer suffered a broken nose and facial cuts before stumbling 13 blocks. Still dazed, a cab struck an injured DeGraw as he was trying to flee. He eventually made it to Bellevue Hospital, where a rep for the artist told TMZ, who broke the story, that DeGraw is stabilized and under doctors’ supervision.
Almost two days prior, DeGraw was all smiles on his tour bus in Jermyn, PA. The stop was one of just a handful of headlining shows for the Upstate New York-born singer. Perhaps it was growing up in South Fallsburg, NY that kept him grounded to reality.
“There’s a different reality on the road,” said DeGraw of a singer/songwriter’s life on tour. “When you come off the road, you kinda have to come off the road and just be normal, and then go, ‘Whoa, something very f’ed up happened to me today,’ and other people are like, ‘What do you think we all go through man?’”
Unfortunately for DeGraw, that “f’ed up” thing happened Monday morning, and proved another perception of a musician’s life incorrect.
“It’s funny talking with musicians about their schedule, and then you talk to someone who has a real job, and they’re like, ‘That’s your schedule? I wish I had that schedule.’”
Tonight, the only thing being wished upon is prayers for DeGraw and his family, as he recovers. The pop star was previously scheduled to rejoin Maroon 5 and Train Tuesday evening in Saratoga Springs, NY, and was slated to perform on “Live! With Regis and Kelly” Wednesday morning. As of press time, there was no word from J Records on the cancellation or rescheduling of either appearance.
When one of your biggest hit records talks about “taking a bottle to the head” – it’s natural to assume that your band is accustomed to partaking in alcoholic beverages before, after… heck, even during performances. But Lil Wayne’s “I Am Still Music” tour isn’t your typical hip hop show. Due to Wayne’s probation, no alcohol is allowed backstage.
The fellas from Far East Movement are finding ways to get by.
“We just drive far away, make sure we’re far away from the tour, and do what we gotta do,” said emcee and group spokesman-by-committee Kev Nish. “The atmosphere (on tour) has been real positive. All the artists bring it like crazy… I mean, you can’t even tell the difference.”
Kev, real name Kevin Nishimura, initially didn’t understand where I was going with my inquiry on the group’s drinking habits while on tour. Once he realized, he backtracked a little from the “before, after, during” talk.
“I was just kidding,” Nish joked. “Water is… the natural life choice drink.”
Speaking of choices, FM also chatted about a decision the group made before releasing the album Free Wired. Bruno Mars helped write and produce the hit single, “Rocketeer,” but at the time was not a known artist. When the demo version of the song leaked after Mars became a superstar, some questioned the need to grab OneRepublic front man Ryan Tedder for the hook in the first place. But Kev Nish revealed that it was a joint-decision between Far East Movement and Mars to enlist Tedder’s services.
“We envisioned an alternative rock hook,” said Kev of the song. “We were listening to OneRepublic ‘Apologize,’ and thinking, ‘Let’s go with Ryan.’”
“Rocketeer” flew up the charts across the globe, cracking the Top 10 in a number of countries, including the U.S.
Slowly but surely, things are returning to normal for singer and former Disney star Demi Lovato. The 18 year-old has seen her fair share of trials and tribulations over the past year – capped off by a trip to rehab last fall where she was treated for eating disorders and diagnosed bi-polar.
Now, Lovato finds herself back in the headlines for all of the right reasons: a number one iTunes song in “Skyscraper.” Fans and friends alike have voiced or tweeted approval for the track, which the teenager recorded a year ago while silently dealing with personal issues.
“I took advantage of that hour and a half in the studio of me singing this song, and I was doubled-over in emotional pain,” Lovato said via telephone in an interview that aired Tuesday evening on “The Ralphie Radio Show.” “I used it as, almost what I look at now, as my cry for help.”
Lovato finds it ironic that a year ago, she sang about her problems silently. Now, not only is she speaking openly and honestly, but she’s helping others in the process. The singer dreams that her give-and-take with fans extends not just on iTunes or Twitter, but on stage as well.
“I dream about those moments all the time,” she responded when asked about one day performing “Skyscraper” live, for an audience. “If I could, I’d do it tomorrow… but we have to rehearse first.”
Demi is not trying to get ahead of herself, either. While she deals with her personal issues one day at a time, the artist is also finishing up new album. Lovato has no timeline for a release, and that’s probably a good thing. She noted that this is her first album that she didn’t have to record, “in a month.”
“Every other album I haven’t had time to really take my time and craft it like I really wanted to do because I was finding spare time between a television show, and movies, and touring, and then all over again,” she said. “I’ve worked on (the album) for the past year and really gone hard over the past few months, but you can definitely tell that I took my time with this record.”
Some big names are also making time for Lovato – including Kara DioGuardi, Toby Gad, and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder – all big songwriters who the teen has recorded with for her third studio album.
But those names pale in comparison to some of the other people who showed public support for Demi after the release of “Skyscraper.” Selena Gomez, Pete Wentz, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks, and many more artists reached out to Lovato to congratulate her on the song. And Lovato says just about everyone in her phone book reached out personally to give props.
“It’s the first single that I’ve ever released that has ever gone to radio, so I’m not really used to this reaction,” Lovato admitted. “I just feel like I’m in a dream right now, it’s crazy.”
Given what she’s already faced at a rather young age, I’m sure this is one dream that Lovato isn’t trying to wake up from any time soon.
There aren’t many bigger Ryan Tedder/OneRepublic fans than yours truly, but Bruno Mars killed the hook on this song. Apparently this is the demo version – so don’t call it the remix… call it the… pre-mix?
He’s the lead singer of OneRepublic. The guy’s band is currently on tour with Rob Thomas. The group is releasing a new LP this month. He’s also writing and producing some of the biggest hits on radio for some of the most popular artists. But if you’re Ryan Tedder, you know you’re busy when you miss the deadline for Rihanna’s new album.
“(Laughing) Man, that week literally, I was working on stuff, and they were closing out her record, and I just missed (the deadline) by the cusp,” Tedder revealed. OneRepublic’s front man called in to The Ralphie Radio Show while on the road, and sounded optimistic about a future opportunity to work with Rihanna. “I mean, I know they’ll be repackaging it at some point. Yunno, they repackage everything at some point, so. I talked to her label and I’m definitely gonna bring some heat for the reissue.” —
Part 1: Rihanna, Michael Bolton, Making Radio Hits
Part 2: Balancing OneRepublic/Side Projects, New LP, New Hit Predictions
— Rihanna’s last LP, Good Girl Gone Bad, spawned Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded, which included the mega hit, “Take A Bow.”Other projects that Tedder worked on included the new release from Leona Lewis (Tedder co-wrote “Bleeding Love”, and wrote her new single, “Happy”) and Adam Lambert’s For Your Entertainment. Tedder is responsible for the song, “Sleepwalker” – which he predicts will be a radio hit. Another big song prediction of Tedder’s is the next OneRepublic track, “Secrets”
“It connects, man,” Tedder noted of the song, which already reached the top of the iTunes sales charts overseas (The German movie, Zweiohrküken featured “Secrets” on its soundtrack). “We have a lot of high hopes for ‘Secrets’.”
While the song is reminiscent of the sound that made Dreaming Out Loud such a success, if it doesn’t take off in the States, it wouldn’t mark the first incorrect prediction by Tedder. The songwriter admits he is still learning the skill of marrying the right song to the right artist, and cited Jennifer Lopez’s “Do It Well” as an example.
“It sounded like such a hit for her,” said Tedder. “It was kind of one of those deals where, I think people just really didn’t care. They were kinda like, ‘Eh, J-Lo, whatever.’”
Clearly, Tedder hopes for a different reaction when OneRepublic releases their sophomore LP, Waking Up, on November 17.