Jonas Blue called in from Dubai (!) to talk about his latest single, “Perfect Strangers,” joining “Team Follow Back” with Sam Smith and looking up to the great Max Martin.
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Fun fact: Blue is the 20th most-streamed artist on Spotify!

Rachel Platten’s 2016 has brought her many different places; one of the latest being Times Square where she, along with Joe Jonas, helped reveal some of the nominees for the 2016 American Music Awards.

When it comes to the show’s biggest prize, “Artist Of The Year,” the “Fight Song” artist knows a thing or two about some of the potential winners. Platten met Selena Gomez (“She’s a wonderful person”), is nominated with Adele in the category of “Favorite Female Artist – Adult Contemporary” and even drew inspiration for her set list from one of the category’s nominees.

“I cover his song on my tour,” she replied when I brought up Justin Bieber. She tackles the hit “Love Yourself” during her show. I then mentioned another artist in the category, Bieber’s fellow Canadian, Drake.
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“I also tried to cover his song on my tour, and realized that it wasn’t very good when I did it,” Platten deadpanned regarding the hit “One Dance.” “I wish I had figured it out.”

Platten’s “The Wildfire Tour” kicked off in February, a month after she dropped her major-label debut album. The LP also spawned the hit “Stand By You.”

“I feel like all of my wildest dreams came true the past two years,” she told me. “It’s been so amazing. I worked for a long, long time to get here so I think 2016 will always hold a special place in my heart.”

And the year is far from over; Platten wraps up her tour in Florida on Saturday and will attend the AMAs, which air live November 20 at 8 pm EST in Los Angeles.

By Ralphie Aversa


Charlie Puth confirmed to me that the “Nine Track Mind” album cycle is finished but he stopped short of saying that he wouldn’t be a part of any other new music before year’s end.

“We filmed a video for ‘Dangerously’ just as like a fan thank you,” he revealed. “Yunno, thanks for this amazing life-changing year; here’s a really cool video for a very popular song on the album.”

“Life-changing” is an apt way to describe Puth’s world since the release of “See You Again.” The Wiz Khalifa-fronted song, which served as the main single from the “Furious 7” soundtrack, went on to accumulate GRAMMY and Golden Globe nods while also racking up a billion plays on YouTube.
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Then you factor in Puth as a solo artist: three hit singles off a Gold-certified debut album with two U.S. tours in support of it.

“Kind of like a whirlwind,” is how Puth characterized the past year-and-a-half. “I went from literally having nobody know me to, yunno having five security guards around me when I walk around Times Square.”

The Rumson, New Jersey-native seems to enjoy the ride. Just a few nights prior to our chat, he played to a sold-out Beacon Theatre on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

“We shut down two streets!” he exclaimed, before chastising me over a tweet I sent about thankfully not grocery shopping that night. The venue is across from my neighborhood store, a Fairway.

“Saw your tweet; you were like, ‘I’m glad I didn’t go shopping!’” Puth repeated, while clearly amused before adding, “Don’t get it twisted. I read your tweets!”

The one consistent since I started interviewing Puth a year-ago is his demeanor: he takes his art seriously but certainly enjoys lightening up a bit too. Apparently, that doesn’t just occur during interviews either.

“I joke around with my boys The Chainsmokers all the time like, ‘When are we going to make a song where we can like, turn up to in Vegas with everybody and make a big party out of it?’” he told me. “I’ve written records with a lot of amazing, legendary artists, new and old, even in these past couple of months.

“So… that’s all I’m going to say.”

Joe Jonas probably has the weekend of November 18 circled on his calendar… or highlighted in his phone. You get the idea.

On that Friday, the Jonas-fronted DNCE will drop its debut, full-length album. The following Sunday, DNCE will head over to the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles for the 2016 American Music Awards. DNCE snagged two nominations, including New Artist Of The Year, which put the “Cake By The Ocean” singer in a league of his own; he’s the first artist to be nominated for that award twice – it’s a trophy he won with his brothers back in 2008.

“That’s an incredible feeling,” Jonas said when I brought that up to him on Monday morning. He and Rachel Platten helped reveal some of the AMA nominations on “Good Morning America” in Times Square. “I was not expecting that; when Rachel said my name, I had to kind of like, take a second to think about it.
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“It’s overwhelming. It’s a bizarre feeling to know that you can reinvent yourself and hopefully it encourages a lot of artists out there because part of this game is being able to come up with stuff that’s new and evolve as an artist. We do it because of the love of music.”

DNCE is also up for Favorite Group or Duo – Pop/Rock with some stiff competition between The Chainsmokers and Twenty One Pilots. The band also shares the New Artist nod with The Chainsmokers, as well as Shawn Mendes, Zayn and Alessia Cara.

“It’s going to be a party,” Jonas replied when I asked what he thinks that November weekend will be like. “We’ll probably be still on a high from releasing an album but walking in to nominations amongst these great artists, fan-voted completely, that’s the best feeling.”

Jonas noted that it’s also nice just to have a release date for the anticipated LP.

“We have songs that we just created a few months ago and it’s cool to like actually have a set-date rather than kind of the guessing game,” he said. “I just can’t wait for people to hear it. We’ve been playing some of the songs on tour and testing them out but now to be able to have a physical album to hold on to is a good feeling.”

In addition to “Cake By The Ocean” becoming nearly inescapable, DNCE spent this last summer supporting Selena Gomez on tour. Gomez also scored two AMA nods, including for the evening’s top prize for Artist Of The Year.

The 2016 American Music Awards air Sunday night November 20 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

The weekend was such a whirlwind that it spilled in to Monday.

It started Friday when I decided to celebrate the birthday of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Yes, everyone’s favorite seasonal beverage turned 13 according to Starbucks, who I envision still counting up the sales from that day as I type this. Was it basic? Of course it was! Why else would so many people double-tap it?


To be fair, it’s also an excellent photo that my super-patient colleague Mia took for me on our way back from the Starbucks a block over from the studio.

After Friday night’s show, I headed right home to sleep because I had an early and long Saturday afternoon ahead. The fine folks at the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and John Lennon Educational Bus were holding a block party in Jackson Heights, Queens. Sunday would have been Lennon’s 76th birthday and so the non-profit decided to throw the party on Saturday in what has been dubbed, “the most diverse neighborhood in the world.”


That isn’t just a tagline, either. It was beautiful to see all ages, all ethnicities, all colors come out on a gloomy Saturday to tour the bus, listen to live music and enjoy each other’s company.


I showed up to Queens a little after 11 am and left just before 6. I had enough time to get back to my apartment, change and meet a colleague who was in town and staying near Times Square. I thought we were going to dinner.

Well, we were. But first, we were sitting fifth row at Blake Shelton’s show inside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.


Dinner did follow at my favorite restaurant, the West Village’s Monument Lane, before drinks and obligatory late-night pizza ensued.

On Sunday I brunched and watched the 1 o’clock game with a friend, went back home to change and then met another friend for drinks at his hotel before heading to Kettle of Fish – the NYC Packers Backers bar – for the Sunday night game.


Look, the colleague is a Packers fan and while I don’t mind the Giants, my Bills won earlier so I was rather indifferent.

Green Bay cruised to victory and shortly thereafter, I cruised back uptown so I could grab some shuteye before interviewing Rachel Platten and Joe Jonas at “Good Morning America.”


Trust me, whirlwinds become much less fun on Monday mornings with short sleep.

This is my second-to-last “2 Slices & A Story” for season one and this episode is sentimental. I thought of the concept for this series on a random Saturday afternoon in the city over lunch with Marc Scibilia (ironically we were not eating pizza; he brought me to this great spot downtown called Cafe Habana). Marc and I were talking about each other’s respective careers and kind of going through an impromptu brainstorming session when I started hashing out the idea for something like this.

It was only a few weeks later when we filmed the first one with the great David Cook.

Of course if anyone knows pizza, it’s someone like Marc who like me, grew up in Western New York. So I’m glad that during his tour with Jon Mclaughlin he was able to swing by and tape this.

“I stepped on stage, at Live Aid. I’m one-of-the-reasons why Yeezys can get made.”

It is the rhyme that Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, a member of the legendary Run-D.M.C., drops when he speaks at schools and kids question his modern-day relevance. And while the average grade school student might not know any better, any older music fan certainly does, right down to the relationship that both DMC and Kanye West have with Adidas.

“When Steven Tyler took the mic stand in the ‘Walk This Way’ video that we made with Aerosmith,” McDaniels began to recall. “When he knocked the wall down, people tell me, ‘Yo D, it didn’t just happen in the video; that happened in the world.’”

That single moment can somewhat encapsulate the global impact of Run-D.M.C., both musically and culturally. But the group’s influence also reached far in to the fashion world. In 1986 the Queens-natives dropped “My Adidas.” It spurred the first time a major apparel company offered a sponsorship deal to a non-sports entity. Now three decades later, Run-D.M.C. has partnered with retailer Fanatics to release a line of officially licensed apparel that personalizes the iconic Run-D.M.C. logo for different teams based on the organization’s home city and colors.
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“Our influence is respected,” McDaniels responded when I asked what it meant to him that so many years later, the logo and culture of Run-D.M.C. is still relevant and sought after. “But we had no idea that our presence was respected…to still be allowed to participate is very humbling.”

However as DMC accurately pointed out, the idea of the group’s logo changing for a city or cause is nothing new.

“But what (the Fanatics partnership) does is, it universally makes it personal to the particular person who is going to wear the merchandise,” he explained. The line, which includes shirts and snapback hats, officially launched with all NBA teams at the Association’s flagship store in New York on Wednesday.

McDaniels, who works closely with Madison Square Garden’s “Garden Of Dreams Foundation,” wore the Knicks shirt during Wednesday’s launch event. Despite his status as a New Yorker, DMC noted that seeing the logo repurposed for cities like Boston and Philadelphia wasn’t weird.

“Yunno why? Because it’s not our black, red and white logo with the city,” he said. “It’s the team’s colors.”

And like that wall-breaking collaboration with Aerosmith in the 80’s, McDaniels hopes that with the Fanatics partnership, the new incarnations of the Run-D.M.C. logo can unite fans of different teams.

I was joking on the radio Monday that the telltale sign you know I’m without much responsibility is the fact that I attended two different pro sporting events on two different days this weekend.

As I’ve told colleagues and friends before: I’m single with no kids. I don’t anticipate that status sticking around my entire life, so I’m going to work and play hard while I can.

This weekend ended up being a prime example of that; at least from the play hard aspect.

Saturday I went with a few friends to the Yankees game in the Bronx. The Orioles were in town and at the start of the month, I suspected the game would have postseason implications. It did – but not for my Yanks – as the Orioles had yet to clinch a birth. The Bombers were eliminated Thursday night.

We bought $20 seats that included access to some of the clubs in the Stadium and spent the entire game bouncing around from vantage point-to-point – splitting time between the Tommy Bahamas bar, the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar, the Batter’s Eye Café and the standing-room section in left field.


It was great to spend one final evening this season in the Bronx, and the Yankees even took home a win; it would end up being their final one of the year.

I did hit up a few local watering holes Saturday evening before retiring to the apartment and grabbing some shuteye. We had an early Sunday morning ahead. After waking up and buying tickets, it was off to East Rutherford to see the Jets host the Seahawks. This was my first Jets home game, third NFL game at MetLife Stadium and fourth football game period at the venue.

My squad and I hopped aboard NJ Transit, got off in Secaucus and Uber-ed to Donald’s tailgate spot. For those who missed it on my Facebook Live, I lost a bet earlier in the season to Donald when his Jets beat my Bills. Despite this, Donald was kind enough to invite me to the tailgate he attends every week with his fellow season ticket holders.

We hung out with his crew until right before kickoff and then made our way inside. Fun fact (and I wish I grabbed a photo): MetLife has an Original Pizza Logs stand. OPLs are made in Niagara Falls, NY!


The Jets lost, which I wasn’t too concerned with as my Bills had shut-out the Patriots in New England, and we made it back to the city very quickly thanks again to NJ Transit.

The timing on our return was great, because I wanted to go out and catch some of the 4 o’clock games. It’s not like I had anything else to do!

The duo Korbee, consisting of husband-and-wife Tom and Jenn, stopped by to chat about their single “Hey Child,” touring as a couple and their allegiances when it comes to Football Sunday.
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Tom and Jenn also hopped on my Facebook Live to perform “Hey Child” A Capella – check it out below!