Gold medalist, Final Five member, “Dancing With The Stars” contestant and New Jersey native Laurie Hernandez called in to my show Thursday night ahead of her homecoming show Friday at the Prudential Center in Newark. In between “DWTS” and all of the other opportunities she’s receiving as a 16 year-old Olympian, the Old Bridge-born star is on tour with the “Kellogg’s Tour Of Gymnastics Champions.” Buy tickets to Friday’s show here.
Photo: USA Gymnastics / John Cheng
Hernandez talked about coming home, touring the country, competing on the Olympics and on “DWTS” as well as if she’s started thinking about college or the 2020 Olympics.
A new Miss America was crowned on Sunday night in Atlantic City, although you can count her in the court of Queen Beyonce.
“Oh, I’m a dancer,” Savvy Shields, a 21 year-old entered the competition as Miss Arkansas, replied when I asked her about her obsession with the “Formation” singer. “Every single dancer’s dream is to be a backup dancer for Beyonce.”
And Shields knows a thing or two about dreaming big and watching that dream become reality, as it did for her a few nights ago at Boardwalk Hall.
“Ever since I was eight years-old and I watched my first Miss America pageant,” the University of Arkansas senior revealed. She’ll continue school after completing her reign with the crown. “I think my mom goes, ‘The southern states always do well.’ That’s my first memory of the Miss America pageant!”
It’s true; I’ve likened southern states’ passion for pageantry to their love for college football, a comparison Shields agreed with.
“Pageants are a big deal (in the south),” she said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to whenever I’m traveling the country get to see how pageants are in different regions.”
At the moment, Shields is spending her time in the northeast. I caught her in the middle of a whirlwind media tour in New York City that included “Good Morning America,” “Live With Kelly,” “CNN” and a number of other media outlets.
“My first journal entry was (Monday) night,” Shields said, noting that she is trying to jot down memories on a nightly basis. “I wrote down the very first day of Miss America and what that means.”
Some other fun facts about the new titleholder: she loves lipstick (“I have about five in my purse and six in my makeup box”), enjoys people (a job prerequisite) and knits, as in scarves.
“I taught myself when I was around 13 years-old how to knit on YouTube,” she explained while also inadvertently yet perfectly encompassing the idea of Miss America (this was the organization’s 96th pageant) in the 21st century. “Every winter I’ll whip out my knitting needles and I will knit scarves for all my friends.”
Shields once tried to make a hat with her knitting skills, but wasn’t impressed with the final product.
“It didn’t turn out that well. It was more like a sock.”
Thankfully for Shields, she has her headgear planned out for at least the next year anyways.
If I had to use one-word to conjure up my feelings for Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards I would use: disjointed.
Before I tell you how little I enjoyed of the three-and-a-half hour broadcast (not including the mess that was the red carpet special), let me commend MTV execs for one thing: attempting to break the mold and trying something different. It was obvious from the minute that Vanguard Award-recipient Rihanna took the stage to open the show that this was not going to play out like your typical award show. Yes, it is refreshing to see the network take a chance with its biggest annual flagship program and create a new type of experience.
That said, they failed. Miserably.
We’ll start with the aforementioned Rihanna. Instead of receiving one long block of programming to showcase her prolific work and accept her “lifetime achievement” award, the singer was split in to four different performance segments, culminating with long-time collaborator Drake presenting her with the honor named for the late Michael Jackson. This alone exposes one of the VMAs major issues: a lack of star power so unavoidable that one of the night’s biggest performances was sprinkled throughout the course of the evening.
Think about music’s biggest names that were not in attendance: Justin Timberlake, Adele, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Calvin Harris, Coldplay, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.
Yes there was Beyonce, whose 15-minute medley of songs from “Lemonade” proved to be the night’s undisputed high point. Kanye West offered another bizarre, rambling diatribe before premiering a new music video from “The Life Of Pablo.” Britney Spears, introduced by Kim Kardashian West, appeared to return to old form with a performance of “Make Me” that featured rapper G-Eazy.
But you would have needed five Beyonce-like performances to make up for not only the missing names but mess that occurred when a performance or award presentation wasn’t happening. Comedian Jay Pharoah, who might have been better suited for a more-traditional hosting role or relegated to pre-taped vignettes (think Kevin Hart circa 2011 VMAs) was instead randomly inserted in to the program to showcase his various impressions. DJ Khaled proved that his energy and array of catchphrases play better on Snapchat opposed to live TV.
And comedians Key and Peele, who again should be commended for attempting something that breaks from the norm, failed in their quest to parody the “social media influencers” (coincidentally, like Khaled) who have become regulars on branded-content heavy programs like this one.
Perhaps just like those influencers, MTV needs to think of yet another new act. Ratings for this year plummeted 34 percent, from 9.8 to 6.5 million viewers.
Deputy Style Editor at People Magazine Sharon Clott Kanter called in after the 2016 MTV VMAs to talk about her favorite red carpet look, the moment backstage that melted hearts and Republic Records’ After Party at Vandal in New York City.
Our girl Sharon Clott Kanter from People called in to talk about some of the fashion she saw at Sunday night’s BET Awards and the new look of Taylor Swift since she started dating actor Tom Hiddleston.
Fuse Digital Deputy Editor Jaosn Lipshutz called in from his Manhattan office on Media Monday to talk about the surprise Beyonce album that dropped over the weekend and celebrity reaction to the death of Prince.
Coldplay released its seventh studio album, A Head Full Of Dreams, last Friday. The follow-up to 2014’s Ghost Stories sounds far more energetic from the outset thanks to the lead single, “Adventure of a Lifetime.” That’s not a coincidence; lead singer Chris Martin told me the album is reflective of the band’s current temperament.
“It’s really the sound of us being comfortable with being in Coldplay, if that makes any sense,” Martin explained. “We’re very grateful to be here and we’re not really worried now about… I get it that our music isn’t for everybody and I think once we let that go, it’s very liberating and so we feel free to be the band we really dreamed of being.”
Any artist needs to feel comfortable in his or her own skin, so perhaps it makes more sense that Coldplay didn’t tour behind the last album, opting instead to begin work immediately on new material.
“There’s a real hunger in the band, and a real fire to get going,” Martin revealed. “For some reason, the album we just made is feeling really fun to play in rehearsal and it makes sense with some of the older songs too.
“I’d say the set list will be sort of, colorful, and so will the look of the whole thing.”
As of press time, U.S. dates for the band’s forthcoming tour have not been released. Coldplay shows in Europe are on sale and some South American concerts have also been announced.
“I was watching a band called The Flaming Lips in 1999, and Wayne (Coyne) was speaking to the audience like we were his friend,” Martin recalled when I asked him about the rapport he develops with the crowds that Coldplay performs for. “And I’d never seen anybody do that before. I’d always sort of felt like you had to be detached somehow or pretend you were on a slightly higher level – which works for some people, great. But for me, it doesn’t work.”
Coyne later instilled in Martin the confidence to simply speak on stage as he normally would to anyone else. Self-admittedly it sounds “clumsy and awkward” at times, but always authentic.
As for the album that the quartet will support on the road, it features a number of collaborations. Coldplay enlisted the help of Beyonce, Tove Lo, Noel Gallegher and Merry Clayton for different tracks. Avicii, the superstar DJ who produced “A Sky Full Of Stars,” for the band returns and assists with “Hymn For The Weekend,” the song that Knowles sings on.
But perhaps most meaningful for Martin is the feature at the end of “Adventure,” – a number of people were in the studio yelling “Woo-hoo!” at song’s conclusion, including his children Apple and Moses.
“I know that we had to get permission from their parents,” he joked about the kids’ involvement. “Luckily, we are their parents!”
The list of musical juggernauts releasing new music ahead of the holidays grew last week, as Coldplay announced it will release its seventh studio album on December 4.
Some are speculating that it will be the band’s last album after an interview that lead singer Chris Martin gave to then-BBC Radio DJ Zane Lowe in December of last year.
“It’s our seventh thing, and the way we look at it, it’s like the last Harry Potter book or something like that,” Martin told Lowe. “Not to say that there might not be another thing one day, but this is the completion of something.”
If the band was coming off any album cycle other than its last, I might completely buy in to the notion that Coldplay is getting ready to call it a day. But 2014’s Ghost Stories was far from a typical go-around for the quartet. The tone of the album was quite subdued and personal, save the Avicii-produced, “A Sky Full Of Stars.” Coldplay did not tour behind the LP either; opting instead for a handful of intimate shows around the album’s release. The band eventually dropped a live compilation of those performances.
“I have to think of it as the final thing we’re doing,” Martin revealed to Lowe (he later told BBC Radio that at least one of his band mates wasn’t happy with the way he characterized the new project). “Otherwise we wouldn’t put everything into it.”
Are they putting everything in to it because of Ghost Stories? Could the band’s love for writing, recording, releasing and touring behind songs be reignited with the new project? Is Coldplay simply heading in a new musical direction after this cycle completes? As someone that covers music but is also admittedly a big fan of the group, I find these questions practical given the circumstances, and certainly don’t believe that anything is a foregone conclusion yet.
Nonetheless, Martin said the band will tour globally behind A Head Full Of Dreams following its December release.
“Coldplay have never enjoyed making a record more than this one,” a release announcing the new music stated on the band’s official website. “Nor have they been happier with the results. And, this time, they plan to take it around the world.”
The first single most definitely reflects the change in mood from the last album; an upbeat song called “Adventure Of A Lifetime,” hit iTunes last Friday. Coldplay collaborated with production duo Stargate (“Firework,” “Black Widow,” “Worth It” to name a few) for A Head Full Of Dreams. The project also features contributions from Tove Lo, Beyonce, Merry Clayton and Noel Gallagher.
A Head Full Of Dreams will contain 11 tracks and a bonus song and is available for pre-order now.
Our buddy Jordi Lippe, Contributing Editor at HelloMagazine.com, checked in for “Weekend Scoop.” She had stories on Karlie Kloss and Princess Marie-Olympia of Greece attending classes at NYU, having dinner with the lovely Emily Ratajkowski and how friends marked Beyonce’s 34th birthday.