Archives For Billboard Music Awards

Jason Derulo and I go way back. His first appearance on my show was in 2009 before “Whatcha Say” was on anyone’s radar. The hitmaker has been a consistent presence on the program since, whether he was calling in, stopping by the studio or saying hello at an awards show.

It was great to catch up with him last month in Las Vegas at the Billboard Music Awards; Derulo joined Nicki Minaj, David Guetta and Lil Wayne to open the broadcast, contributing a performance of his Minaj-assisted single “Swalla.”

But there was another part of our conversation that I kept thinking about, besides exchanging pleasantries and talking about his forthcoming TV appearance.

“Soon man, we’ll be celebrating 100 million sold,” he revealed to me. “It’s a really, really exciting time.”

He offered up the stat as we took a trip down memory lane; I had brought up “In My Head” – the single that shed his potential “one hit wonder” label and helped solidify his status as a pop radio mainstay. Coincidentally, it was Minaj that had jumped on a remix of the track and assisted in it gaining airplay on rhythmic and urban radio.

But besides his discography coming full-circle with Minaj, I was curious as to what Derulo thought of when he looked back on that period in his career.

“I remember not quite being myself a lot of the times,” he candidly offered. “I remember being excited as sh—about everything that was happening in my life man.

“It all just kind of came crashing in a moment. When you’ve been working your whole life for something and it finally comes to fruition it’s crazy.”

Derulo couldn’t have imagined what would follow: more hit singles, tours, a near-death experience, TV gigs and the occasional tabloid fodder. And at only 27, surely he doesn’t know what’s to come.

Jason Derulo’s Top 5 Singles (Ranked by peak-Billboard Hot 100 position)

5.) “Wiggle” (featuring Snoop Dogg)

4.) “Want To Want Me”

3.) “In My Head”

2.) “Talk Dirty” (featuring 2 Chainz)

1.) “Whatcha Say”

Honorable mention: the original version of “Ridin’ Solo.”

Norwegian DJ/producer Kygo is on a hot-streak at the moment between the infectious Selena Gomez-assisted “It Ain’t Me” and “First Time” featuring Ellie Goulding. The songs are the first and second singles, respectively, from his forthcoming sophomore album. He also played two more tracks, one of which John Newman sings on, at Ultra Music Festival this year. But despite these big collaborations that he’s completed, the DJ now has his sights on another, although it might be difficult to accomplish.

“Ed Sheeran is one of my favorite artists,” he told me recently, noting that there are other singers he’d like to share the studio with as well. “(Ed) is so busy all the time so it’s tough to find time to go in to the studio but that’s a dream collaboration for me, to work with Ed Sheeran.”

Working with Sheeran might be a tough task to clear though – pun intended. The only known, notable Electronic Dance Music collaboration the Englishman has ever participated in was on the Martin Garrix track, “Rewind Repeat It.”

Does it sound familiar? It shouldn’t. The song never saw the light of day. Garrix offered up his side of the story this past March during an interview in his home country of the Netherlands.

“It’s all label issues and a lot of headaches,” Garrix told Dutch station Radio 538, via Billboard. “It was going to be an official track, so we postponed all my other singles, but the label delayed the track because they wanted to release other tracks from Ed first. At one point, it was two years ago, I didn’t release a radio single for five, six months. So, then you get annoyed. So, I don’t think we’re ever going to release the track.”

Another person that Kygo has worked with though is Julia Michaels, who is also finding quite a bit of success on the American airwaves these days.

“I’m so happy for her,” he said. “She’s such a nice person as well. She’s been writing so many hits, and now she’s releasing her own hits. It’s just very well-deserved. I think she’s going to do a lot of big things in the future.”

The two teamed up for “Carry Me” off Kygo’s first LP “Cloud Nine.” There is no title or release date for the follow-up album.

If there’s one thing you can expect when Halsey kicks off her “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” tour later this year, it’s this: fire.

“I’ve always been very extra with the fire,” the Washington, New Jersey-native told me last month. “Any chance I have to bring fire on my stage, I’m going to do it.”

Matter-of-fact, Halsey revealed to me that during her Billboard Music Awards performance rehearsal, she kept practicing the song over-and-over in part due to the fire that was planned for the set. She certainly didn’t mind the rehearsing; she was once hit with her own fireworks during a Coachella performance (Halsey escaped unscathed).

But besides the obvious visual, there is also a meaning behind the use of fire that relates to the singer’s chart-topping album.

“My record, ‘Hopeless Fountain Kingdom,’ is kind of about an underworld,” Halsey, born Ashley Frangipane, explained. “It’s kind of about this parallel universe where love conquers all. It’s a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story so bringing in the fire is a really, really cool way for me to kind of rope my audience in to my universe that I’ve tried to create.”

Fans across the country will have the opportunity to witness that universe on the singer’s first-ever arena tour, although Halsey is no stranger to big rooms. She headlined and sold-out Madison Square Garden in 2016; the show went on-sale three weeks after her debut LP “Badlands” came out.

“The whole world went, ‘What do you think you’re doing? You just put out your album. You can’t play MSG,’” she recalled of critics’ initial reaction to the news. “That venue has always been the pinnacle of music for me.

“I was playing a show at Webster Hall. I was playing to 1,500 people (the night tickets for The Garden were released). And I walked up-stage and I got the news that we were about to sell-out Madison Square Garden.”

Halsey said that as amazing as she thinks the arena dates will be, it will be hard to top playing MSG, which she described as, “one of the best experiences of my life.”

She’ll find out when the tour kicks off at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on September 29… her birthday.

I spent all of last week silent on Facebook, which no one probably noticed for a number of reasons: I was active on other social networks, I was still frequently in touch with family and friends and of course I was on live on the radio every weeknight.

To me, it felt weird. Last weekend I returned to Syracuse to catch the Orange (don’t get me started on the tournament snub) beat Georgia Tech and attend the annual WJPZ reunion dinner. On Monday I joined my friends on TV at “Chasing News” to talk about my Vinny Guadagnino interview. Wednesday I made the trek down to Brooklyn to watch the Orange lose in the first round of the ACC Tournament (and probably cement that aforementioned snub). And of course, I spent the week counting down the days until my trip to Las Vegas Tuesday, which yes I know might not even happen now with this pending blizzard.

But guess what? None of it mattered this week.

Saturday I was leaving the bookstore inside the Schine Student Center on SU’s campus when I looked down to see a new text notification on my BlackBerry. It was from a coworker with a link to an article on Billboard’s website.

My former colleague, Tommy Page, was found dead in an apparent suicide. I immediately felt numb.

I first met Tommy in May of 2009. I lived in Wilkes Barre, and was as Tommy would later refer to me, “a baby DJ.” At the time, Page was working A&R at Warner Bros. Records. He was so excited about his new act, a boy-band called V-Factory, that he decided to personally bring them by the studio for an interview.

Tommy and I hit it off right away, but to be honest a lot of it was more circumstantial; I think he immediately took a liking to me or at least gave me the benefit of the doubt because he was close with my Program Director at the time, A.J. He also was a bit fan of 97 BHT, particularly the station’s position in the market as the younger, hipper pop station that wasn’t afraid to lean rhythmic or electronic (example: WBHT broke Lady Gaga in the metro when other stations across the country declared that “Just Dance” was “too dance-y” – whatever that jargon means).

And of course, Tommy loved Northeastern Pennsylvania. He raved about his vacation home in East Stroudsburg, and also had recently purchased a fixer-upper in Jim Thorpe.

Tommy and I would spend 2010 through 2014 crossing paths at various events, either in New York or out in Los Angeles. I remember my first GRAMMYs; I attended Billboard’s after-party at The London in West Hollywood. Tommy was its publisher at the time, and immediately left his conversation when he saw me just to come over and say hello. That meant a lot.

Then in 2015, he joined our company as a Senior Vice President of Brand Partnerships. I enjoyed this because not only would I see Tommy in our building occasionally, but I’d get to work with him at some of our signature backstage broadcast events, including the Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards in addition to the aforementioned GRAMMYs.

The weekend after our first BBMAs working together in Vegas, Tommy and I both headed down the shore to Point Pleasant for 95.5 PLJ’s Summer Kick-Off. We sat down at the client party and talked about where the company was moving before he tasked me to help write a spec promo for an upcoming event we were working on called “Malibu Mansion Live.”

I’ll never forget, while music played and people partook in the open bar, Tommy and I sat alone in a corner of the room and wrote the script; Tommy throwing out ideas followed by me feverishly typing away on my BlackBerry and reading lines out loud to see what if any changes he wanted.

After a few more revisions, that promo was eventually voiced, produced and presented to company executives and our marketing department. The following November, Tommy and I were in Malibu for the two-night promotion that featured country singer Cam (who he sang “Happy Birthday” to while I walked out with a makeshift cake/candle for her), Nick Jonas, Tori Kelly and Fall Out Boy.

As the second, successful night winded down, Tommy pulled me aside.

“Remember when we first started talking about this and we wrote that promo in Point Pleasant?” he asked. “The whole thing came to life. It was like you and I wrote a hit record together.”

Of course, it was Tommy and his team that did all of the hard work. But coming from a guy who scored a number one hit in 1990 with the single, “I’ll Be Your Everything,” that compliment really struck a chord with me.

That was a unique trait of Tommy’s; working with others and making them feel like they belonged. It’s one of the reasons he was adored by so many, and certainly it’s one of the reasons why I and many others will miss him.