I joined the panel on HLN’s “The Daily Share” Tuesday and talked about a plethora of topics, from deadly plants to celebrity breakups to Ronda Rousey.

A big thanks to the fine folks at HLN for having me on!

In this week’s edition of “Trend Hungry Tuesday” – Resident Fashionista Jessie Holeva highlighted a trend that Rihanna trended for: body bling.


Visit Trend Hungry to find the latest fashion 411 on a skinny budget, and catch Jessie every Tuesday evening on “Ralphie Tonight.”

Photo: instagram.com/badgalriri/

Photo: instagram.com/badgalriri/

Last weekend I visited Charlotte, N.C. for my first time. A friend of mine from college lives there, so in addition to getting to see them, I was able to experience what “Southern Hospitality” is all about.

Overall I was impressed with the area. They call their downtown area “uptown,” thus invoking a Bruno Mars-sing-a-long every time it was mentioned (“Funk you up!”). About 75 people move there a day, so the the city is experiencing a vast amount of growth.

Of course, my trip did not come without its share of moments that reminded me I was far from home. At a house party, a woman spotted an oppossum and immediately went to grab her gun. Later she explained that she would have shot it but she left her purse in the car.

Other noteworthy moments: jogging past a front yard with a chicken pen (live hens included!), seeing a liquor store with a kids play area and of course being called an “expletive Yankee.”

There were also some great people, excellent food (BBQ! Grits!) and a whole lot of sunshine.

Technically there are two guests in this episode of, “Hey, Really Excited.” The title-guest is the talented and lovely Leona Lewis, who is dropping a new album this September. She talks about the creation of ‘I Am’ and performs the single, “Thunder.”
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The second? Race Taylor, who I teamed with for the Leona interview!

I’ll also update you on my summer travels and I recap my trips home to Niagara Falls and Randall’s Island for Urban Mudder.

Hello! Magazine.com Lifestyle Editor Jordi Lippe checked in to “Ralphie Tonight” for this week’s edition of “Weekend Scoop.” She talked about Evan Ross and Ashlee Simpson’s new baby, Guy Ritchie’s wedding and an online auction for various pieces of the Mad Men set and wardrobe – including Don Draper’s car!
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On September 4, 2014, Leona Lewis wrote a letter to her fans. Posted via a snapshot on Twitter, the singer talked about a “rollercoaster year” and “taking the huge step away from Syco and Sony.” Syco Entertainment is Simon Cowell’s record label; Lewis landed with Cowell after winning “The X-Factor” in the UK over eight years ago.

But after four albums, including one of the holiday variety, Lewis felt it was time for a change. She left Cowell for Island Records, and a year and a week to the date of dropping that open letter, Lewis will release her new LP I Am.

She does not find the timing too significant though.

“I didn’t even realize it would be a year,” she told me. “It wasn’t planned like that. Naturally it just happened that the album was kind of done around then and it was time to release it.”

Lewis later clarified that she had been working on this material for much longer than six or seven months; rather almost two years.

“Before (the letter) I had gone out on my own and started creating the album,” Lewis noted. “I was making it but I didn’t know what label I was going to sign to or what was going to happen.”
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This album started by Lewis simply creating music with no other purpose or plan besides the creation itself. She collaborated with super-producer Toby Gad (“All Of Me,” “If I Were a Boy”) and their work led to I Am.

Outside of a track penned by Diane Warwick, Lewis and Gad receive writing credits on every song. Other writers who contributed to the LP include Anne Preven and Wayne Wilkins. There are no featured artists on any of the songs outside of Leona.

“I think for this album it was so important to just kind of have it as my own thing because it was so personal,” she explained. “So collaborations as far as producers yeah, but not artist-wise.”

Lewis will drop I Am on September 11. The first single at U.S. radio is called, “Thunder.”

For the second straight year, The John Lennon Songwriting Contest called upon “Ralphie Tonight” to announce the winner of its year-long, international songwriting competition. This year’s “Song Of The Year” winner was “Dysphoric,” a track by Barrington, R.I.-based quartet The Rare Occasions.
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Each year, the contest is divided in to a pair of sessions. Over $300,000 in cash and prizes is awarded, culminating with the “Song Of The Year,” which includes a $20,000 prize.

Brian Rothschild, Execuitve Director of The JLSC and Matthew Reich, Vice President of U.S. Tours and Promotions, along with American Authors’ front man Zac Barnett joined “Ralphie Tonight” for the announcement. Barnett’s band won the contest in 2012. Read more from The JLSC’s press release here, and check out the interview and winning song below.

In this week’s edition of “Trend Hungry Tuesday” – Resident Fashionista Jessie Holeva chatted about a trend that speaks for itself: wearing words.


Visit Trend Hungry to find the latest fashion 411 on a skinny budget, and catch Jessie every Tuesday evening on “Ralphie Tonight.”

Photo: instagram.com/hilaryduff

Photo: instagram.com/hilaryduffPhoto: instagram.com/hilaryduff

On Friday’s “Weekend Scoop,” we checked in with People. Staff Writer Patrick Gomez called from Los Angeles and talked about the mag’s cover story regarding Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert’s divorce.
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Gomez also chatted about People’s interview with “Southpaw” star Jake Gyllenhaal.

Even when Taylor Swift is wrong, she eventually gets it right.

The pop star is no stranger to controversy, deservedly or not. But we’ve grown accustomed to Swift not only entering the fray on her own terms: penning a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, removing her music from Spotify, opining to Apple Music via Tumblr – but also entering in order to right a perceived wrong. Swift set out to correct a few misnomers with her latest album, one of which was that albums still have value.

“I’ve always been very optimistic about music sales and album sales, and to have that optimism kind of rewarded with people going out and buying the album; I was so happy about it,” Swift told me last October, the week she released 1989. “Yunno, I would look a little ridiculous if I was just going out for the last two years going, ‘No, people still care about albums!’ And then my album comes out and everybody’s like, ‘Well we don’t care about yours.’”

Over five million albums sold later, it’s clear they care. The LP has also spawned a few GRAMMY nominations, a slew of hardware at May’s Billboard Music Awards and now nine MTV Video Music Award nods. All but one of Swift’s nominations are for the “Bad Blood” music video, which premiered at the start of the aforementioned BBMAs and features Kendrick Lamar a slew of celebrities/Swift’s “squad.” The piece broke Vevo’s 24-hour view record, previously held by Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” video.

But unlike “Bad Blood,” Minaj’s video didn’t receive a “Video Of The Year” look. Enter, controversy.

Minaj took to Twitter and voiced her displeasure over the snub, noting that when “’other’ girls drop a video that breaks records” and it “celebrates women with very slim bodies,” you receive a VOTY nomination.

Swift perceived the tweets as a direct jab and responded by reminding Minaj that she’s done “nothing but love and support” her, and that it’s unlike the rapper “to pit women against each other.” The “Shake It Off” singer later tweeted that she would want Minaj to join her on stage if “Bad Blood” wins.

However for once, Swift was wrong. Minaj didn’t care about “Bad Blood” and probably isn’t overly concerned with winning another Moonman. The emcee was speaking to the racial and social injustices that still exist in the music industry.

“I just think we need to have both images for girls,” Minaj told “Good Morning America” Friday. “We can’t have only one type of body being glorified in the media because it just makes girls even more insecure than we already are.”

And if anyone gets that, it’s Swift, who is about as a good of a role model as you’ll find in the public for young women. According to Minaj, the two singers spoke on the phone and cleared the air. Swift also apologized on Twitter.
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“I thought I was being called out. I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke,” she wrote. “I’m sorry, Nicki.”

Taylor was right. Again.