Archives For The 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards

This is the story of a song, its GRAMMY nomination and how one small suggestion can have a ripple effect amongst multiple artists.

Yes, this is the story – as unlikely as it may seem – of Mike Posner’s “I Took A Pill In Ibiza,” before the producer SeeB remixed it for pop radio’s indulgence.

The genesis of this track can be traced back to Posner’s actual trip to the Balearic Island where he took a pill in the presence of Avicii. But that experience did not immediately yield a hit record. Matter-of-fact, had it not been for a chat with popular country artist, Posner might have kept the story to himself.

That chat occurred with Jake Owen and it happened on Posner’s 26th birthday.

“Basically I played (Owen) a song, a different song, and he goes, ‘What inspired that tune?’ I said, ‘I just sort of made it up,’” Posner recalled during an interview that took place inside the Staples Center on his birthday last year, which fell on GRAMMY weekend.

“And he looked at me and he goes, ‘Well why don’t you just tell the truth?’”

Sounds easy, but it obviously is not something that any artist can do effectively. Yet that night, Posner tried. The Duke University alumnus hopped on a plane and wrote, “I Took A Pill In Ibiza.”

Soon after, Posner found himself on a plane again, but this time he was sitting across from singer/songwriter Nash Overstreet. The Nashville native once shared a record label home with Posner on RCA as a member of the pop-rock group Hot Chelle Rae.

“(Posner) told me he had been hanging with Jake Owen recently,” Overstreet said via telephone from Los Angeles. “And he told me he wanted to write painfully realistic, accurate truth in to music.”

It was almost as if Owen was now speaking through Posner to other artists. The result was similar: Overstreet was inspired to write the title track from his EP, “U Don’t Get 2 Do That.” The truth in that song even resonated with Hot Chelle Rae lead singer Ryan Follese, who after hearing it advised Overstreet to keep the song for himself and release it as a single.

The Gospel of Jake Owen continued to spread. Adam Friedman is another singer and songwriter who co-wrote and/or produced five different songs on Posner’s last LP “At Night, Alone.” While in-studio to promote his forthcoming EP “Green,” I mentioned the story of “Ibiza” to Friedman – a graduate of the Berklee College of Music.

“That theme has definitely shed on to me,” Friedman noted of writing songs with authenticity, specifically when talking about his single “What If?”which he’ll perform on “The Bachelor” February 13.

“I cried… not like balled, but I got tears,” the artist admitted after finding out that Posner’s “Ibiza” snagged the major GRAMMY nod. “I was on the same freeway that I had been on going to his house to work on that album. Just knowing where he was at when I met him three years ago and where I was at and just this three year journey that I’ve taken with him. To see that he got “Song Of The Year” (nomination), which was one of his goals, and to see him reach it… it was really, really cool for me to be a part of something like that.”

In the end, three artists were affected; two charts were topped (“Ibiza” hit number one on both Billboard’s Dance and Pop Airplay tallies) and one GRAMMY nomination was received. Posner will find out Sunday night if the song takes home the Gramophone.

Maybe that suggestion wasn’t so small after all.



I’ll never forget the second time I met Zendaya. It was in the press room after the 2013 American Music Awards. I had already chatted with Ariana Grande and was waiting for an influx of other big names: One Direction, Taylor Swift and Rihanna to name a few.

The fellas of 1D headed straight to Jimmy Kimmel’s cameras where they taped a skit with Kimmel’s sidekick/security guard Guillermo. I had chatted earlier in the night with both Harry Styles and Niall Horan, so I wasn’t expecting them to stop by again. Rihanna, who Bill Maher presented with the first ever “Icon Award” that evening, walked in to the photo area. Swift was the show’s big winner; she made the rounds before giving me a few minutes of her time.
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Towards the end of the night, as Rihanna was heading out of the press room flanked by her entourage and security detail, a then-17 year-old Zendaya was walking in the opposite direction.

The teenager, nee Zendaya Coleman, can recollect what happened next “vividly.”

“(Rihanna) stopped. She gave me a hug and she was like, ‘I love you girl,” an enthusiastic Zendaya recalled when I brought this up to her recently. “She was so positive, so nice.

“It’s so cool for people like her, who obviously are…incredibly successful, empowering women, and on top of that she just stopped to say hi to me. She didn’t have to do that!”

The kindness and humility shown by the “Diamonds” singer certainly left an impression on Zendaya that she now strives to pay forward.

“My thing is, no one will ever catch me not being nice to people,” Zendaya explained. “I don’t ever want somebody not to have a good taste in their mouth about when they met Zendaya or how they felt when they met me.

“I like for people to leave me feeling positive.”

Mike Posner really did take a pill in Ibiza with the intention of showing superstar DJ Avicii that he was cool.

“One-hundred percent autobiographical,” the “Cooler Than Me” singer responded when I asked how true the song was. “(Avicii) didn’t take (a pill), but I took one to be cool.”

SeeB, a Norwegian production duo, remixed Posner’s version of “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” and now it is rocketing up the airplay charts. The remix cracked the top 20 on pop radio last week.

Coincidentally, it was a remix that first launched the Duke University alumnus’ career on to the airwaves. Minneapolis-based producer Gigamesh reworked Posner’s original rendition of “Cooler Than Me” to the version that we came to know and love in the summer of 2010.
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Almost six years later, Posner is back on the airwaves. He’s under a new record label (Island) and has not only Avicii, but a country music star to thank for his latest success.

“I was in the studio with my friend Jake Owen,” Posner recalled. “I played him a different song and he goes, ‘What inspired that tune?’”

Posner replied that he “made it up.” Owen paused for a moment and then offered up a serious question.

“(Owen) looked at me and he goes, ‘Why don’t you just tell the truth?’”

That night, Posner hopped aboard a plane and wrote “I Took A Pill In Ibiza.” It makes perfect sense that it all happened in the air; the song will probably serve as the lead single for Posner’s full-length follow-up to his 2010 debut titled, “31 Minutes to Takeoff.”

There were a lot of “firsts” on my latest trip to Los Angeles: my first time running 14 miles while on the west coast, my first time leaving an item behind at the dry cleaners, my first time covering an award show weekend without attending said award show and my first time flying back and having to travel directly from the airport to the radio station so I could immediately hop on the air.

This and more explains why for the first time, I’m just jotting down stories from the jaunt to cover GRAMMYs weekend… about two weeks after the fact.


Working out is one pre-trip routine; another is visiting H&M Times Square the night before I fly out. In the past, this would be a necessity to pick up a few clothing items last-second. Recently it’s become more of a customary trip because I actually plan ahead and shop for most of my clothes weeks before so I can purchase online.


Regardless, I found a few shirts and made my way uptown. I settled in to my apartment with a coffee, caught up on work and packed. My flight was at 7 am out of JFK so I pulled an all-nighter and slept on the plane.

Having the day in Los Angeles ahead of work obligations was fantastic. Through Amazon Prime I ordered a tripod, almond milk and a case of water for my room. At the Ralph’s supermarket nearby our downtown hotel I picked up produce, a few vegan breakfast items, snacks and hummus. I also made time to drop off the dry cleaning that I would eventually forget to pick up.

After unpacking my suitcase and putting away my groceries, I fit in a nice 5 mile run, then showered and prepared for our GRAMMY broadcast orientation. It took place on Thursday night in the hotel, complete with beer, wine and passed hors d’oeuvres. The night continued with a few colleagues at a posh sushi joint downtown and ended with me passing out instead of meeting up with friends (remember – I pulled an all-nighter and was still on east coast time).


Friday started relatively normal: woke-up on time, fit in a quick jog, grabbed breakfast, prepped and changed. I walked over to Staples Center around 11:30 am for our noon broadcast; in addition to setting-up our space for the weekend I had to meet with network execs and representatives from Twix. For the two-day event myself and TV host Rocsi Diaz would serve as brand ambassadors on site for the candy, interviewing artists about both their music and Twix. Of course this was in addition to my responsibilities with my four radio stations.


Perhaps the most poignant from Friday that didn’t see the light of day: the chat Rocsi and I had with GRAMMY nominee Charlie Puth. I asked Charlie who he would thank if “See You Again” scored one of the three awards it was up for. He responded with his mom, Wiz Khalifa and Paul Walker. Rocsi asked a great follow-up about Paul and Charlie revealed that he never met the late actor, but through the song formed a strong bond with “Furious 7” star Vin Diesel. The two often swap stories regarding Walker and the person who Puth originally wrote the song about and Charlie told us the similarities are striking.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


The broadcast is four hours of insanity: handlers moving artists in and around your interview area, pre-taping for radio stations, taping for Twix, posing for photos, brokering scheduling deals to snag time with celebrities, the interviews themselves and then a lot of hand-shaking. I usually wash my hands at least twice during the time I’m there.


The nice thing is that we always wrap with what one executive in our company termed “mandatory fun” – a live artist performance that’s catered with beer, wine and food. On Friday we were treated to a set from Mike Posner.

Typically this is the point where I would retire to my room for the night and edit photos, video and audio until I couldn’t see straight. Instead, I uploaded a photo slide show and a few interviews and then had to get ready for Friday night’s festivities: Rooftop Live at Perch downtown. The evening included music by Audien and a performance from the Joe Jonas-fronted DNCE.


By the way, DNCE is fantastic live.

This is definitely where my weekend turned: I was out late, still on east coast time and my itinerary for the weekend was not letting up. I slept-in Saturday and instead of going for a run, used my morning to continue uploading content from Friday. Then, it was off to Staples Center for round two. The big differences between Friday and Saturday are that on Saturday, I’m not on-deadline with four radio stations and many more artists come by.


As far as interviews, it was nice to chat for the first time with Nick Fradiani, BØRNS and the lovely Hailee Steinfeld. “Mandatory fun” included a rousing performance from Nathan Sykes.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


I taped a few more things for the weekend radio shows and then packed up. Again, usually Saturday night would be spent editing non-stop. Instead, I edited quite a bit, grabbed that 3 mile run I skipped earlier and got ready for a night-out. A friend of mine from Niagara Falls, Allyson DeMunda, was performing at the legendary Comedy Cellar in West Hollywood. I had never been to the venue and I wanted to support her, so I trekked out to WeHo for the evening. She was fantastic, as were some of the others, including “America’s Got Talent” season eight runner-up Taylor Williamson. By the time the show wrapped and I found an Uber, Los Angeles already had its last call, so it was back to my room to upload more content and get a good night’s rest.


The elevators in our hotel were out-of-order Sunday, a lovely surprise to wake-up to. Naturally, I was on the top floor. I packed a bag with gym clothes, walked down the stairwell, and checked it at the lobby. Then I headed back to Hollywood for brunch with a buddy of mine – we also watched Syracuse beat-up on Boston College. He drove me back downtown where I picked up that bag and worked out. Yes, I still had editing to do and was able to complete a bit more work before cleaning up for Sunday evening’s festivities.


First stop: Capitol Records iconic Studio A. Frank Sinatra, John Mayer, Daft Punk… so many legendary artists and songs recorded in the room I stood in. To honor the “Chairman of the Board,” I partook in a drink of Jack Daniels, his favorite.


By far this was the coolest moment of the trip. The event was held in the studio, dimly lit with a full bar and light fare. Every song they played in the background was recorded in Studio A. Yes, even “Let It Go” made the playlist.

The event also included a question-and-answer between our SVP/Partnerships Tommy Page and the legendary songwriter Diane Warren, plus a performance by Troye Sivan.


Our crew made a quick pit-stop at The W before heading to the Nielsen Pre-GRAMMY Bash, which was held at Hyde and featured entertainment from the Preservation Jazz Band and the GRAMMY-nominated Leon Bridges. The party was spectacular; full bar, sushi, a couple of carving stations and most importantly a lot of really great people from our industry.


The Sunday night-cap included a trip to In-N-Out and I vow to never order a burger “protein style” again. I ended up taking a quick nap before an early flight back home. Normally I sleep on the plane, but instead I found myself editing copious amounts of video and then being stuck in a holding pattern for over an hour due to the weather at JFK. When we finally landed, it took us a half-hour to taxi yet somehow I still made it (barely) for my show that night.


Naturally, it took my body much longer than normal to recover from my latest west coast trip. And I still haven’t figured out how I’m getting my jeans back.

The soap opera that is Taylor Swift and Kanye West took yet another turn Monday night, and of course it centered on an award show.

This all began in 2009 at the MTV Video Music Awards and we thought that at last year’s GRAMMYs, bygones were bygones. During the commercial break, Swift and West along with his wife Kim Kardashian were chatting and posing for photos. Soon after, the “Shake It Off” singer and Renaissance man were having dinner together at famed New York City hotspot The Spotted Pig.
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And of course, in a moment that could only be scripted by MTV, Swift introduced West at this past year’s VMAs where the rapper offered a rather rambling monologue that concluded with his announcement to run in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Swift took to Instagram after the show, where she posted a photo of flowers that West sent her captioned, “KanTay2020.”

It looks like there is no hope for that ticket’s future.

Where did things go awry? The only moment we can point to is the release of Kanye’s latest album, “The Life Of Pablo.” Streaming exclusively on the music service Tidal, it has made headlines with a track called “Famous” featuring Rihanna and Swizz Beatz.

“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex,” wraps Yeezy. “Why? I made that b—- famous. I made that b—- famous.”

Swift does not concur.

At Monday night’s GRAMMYs, the Pennsylvania-born pop star took home three gramophones including the coveted “Album Of The Year” thanks to “1989.” Accepting the award with all of the LP’s producers standing behind her, Swift issued a not-so-subtle swipe back at West’s claim.

“As the first woman to win ‘Album of the Year’ at the GRAMMYs twice, I want to say to all the young woman out there: There will be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments, your fame,” she said.

“But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get to where you’re going, you’ll look around and you will know it was you,” Swift continued, “and that will be the greatest feeling in the world.”

Kanye returned to Twitter in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Instead of addressing Swift directly, he talked about his struggle in the fashion world, particularly when it comes to funding his endeavors. Later in the day, he issued a rather random rant on the cost of education in our country and how he feels it needs to be lowered.

“I’d rather teachers got paid more and books cost less,” he tweeted.

Sounds like West has a platform or two to run on. And he might just seek election after all; the tweet ended with the hashtag #2020.

Day 2 of the broadcast Backstage at The 58th GRAMMYs is always more hectic but also a lot of fun: you’re set up, in a groove and a lot of artists are coming by – usually more so than the previous day. It was great meeting ‘Idol’ winner Nick Fradiani, BØRNS and actress/singer Hailee Steinfeld. I also loved catching up with our bud Alessia Cara and seeing Zendaya for the first time in a minute.






For my fourth consecutive year, I broadcasted from backstage at music’s biggest night, inside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Day 1 is always the more difficult day because you’ve just arrived on site, you’re setting everything up and you’re trying to work your way in to a flow as artists move in and out of the broadcast area. But the great thing about this year’s first broadcast was the opportunity to chat with Joe Jonas and DNCE, along with GRAMMY-nominees Tori Kelly and James Bay.





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.