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It is impossible to look back on pop music in 2016 and not talk about The Chainsmokers. Alex Pall and Drew Taggart created two of the year’s biggest hits: the infectious “Don’t Let Me Down” that features 18 year-old Daya and “Closer,” an inescapable duet that Halsey assists on. “Don’t Let Me Down” was the most spun track on pop radio this year and using that particular metric, also the song of the summer. “Closer” spent 12 weeks atop both the Billboard Hot 100 and pop radio airplay charts. Combined with “Roses,” a song that they enlisted an artist named Rozes to sing, the duo sold 10 million singles in the U.S. alone.

Those songs helped The Chainsmokers score an American Music Award in 2016 and three GRAMMY nominations for the award show this February, including Best New Artist.

But as improbable as the DJs success may be (even Pall and Taggart admit they wouldn’t have settled on “The Chainsmokers” had they realized their staying power), what is crazier is that the group’s first two singles are all-but-forgotten about: the novelty track’s “#SELFIE” and “Kanye.”

“’Closer’ wasn’t their first hit,” is the response I received from Jake Miller, a friend of Pall and Taggart’s, recently when I brought up how impressed I was that they were able to shift from tongue-in-cheek records to the highly-coveted lane of radio-friendly pop music. I reminded him that “#SELFIE” was guys’ first single.

“It’s funny you say that because I don’t even think of them for that song,” Miller continued – a sentiment that many probably share and that certainly speaks to how massive the subsequent singles have been. “I honestly completely forgot they did that song.”

For The Chainsmokers, that might be a good thing. Nonetheless, the guys still don’t seem to be taking themselves too seriously.

“We go in with like, low expectations… very low expectations,” Taggart told me before the artists performed “Closer” and won “Favorite Electronic/Dance Music Artist” at the AMAs. “But regardless to be a part of the pop community now and have our work recognized is awesome.”

And the DJs aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Pall and Taggart just dropped a music video for “Setting Fires” off of their EP “Collage.” The duo is also back in the studio creating new music.

“I think the stuff we’re working on now we’re most excited about,” Pall said. “I don’t know if that’s because it’s newest, but it just feels different and exciting. We’re pumped about it.”

The Chainsmokers recently posted on Snapchat a clip of them in the studio with Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin, an experience that Taggart characterized as “crazy” because the guys grew up listening to his band.

“I think a lot of the music that’s already been out from us is heavily-inspired by Coldplay, especially the emotion that Coldplay has; that melancholy, bitter-sweet emotion that they get in all their songs,” he explained.

Taggart explained that his first goal was to “be cool” and attempt to catch a vibe with the lead singer. Neither man would reveal if they were working on a Chainsmokers project or something for Coldplay’s future (the band recently revealed that an EP was on the way after 2017), but Pall promised that whatever they’re working on, it’s “dope.”

Given the duo’s track record, I’ll take their word for it.

For our second and final day inside Westwood One’s Backstage at the 2016 American Music Awards, we chatted with a bunch of stars, including a few performers for Sunday night’s AMAs. John Legend reminisced about his time as a church choir director in Scranton and revealed his Thanksgiving plans, The Chainsmokers talked about working in the studio with Coldplay’s Chris Martin and former “Glee” star Jane Lynch popped by to explain why she released a Christmas album. More photos, videos and audio interviews below.





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.
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“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.”
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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.

It’s been a minute, but “Hey, Really Excited” is back! In our latest edition, I fill you in on turning 30, what I’ve has been up to and why I’m participating in this year’s Urban Mudder race in New York on July 25. All of the money #TeamRalphie raises goes to Make-A-Wish.
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This week, in honor of bringing attention to the cause and event, I chat with Make-A-Wish’s Alumni Team Captain: 15 year-old (now 16) Amanda. She is a Wish Kid – after being diagnosed with sickle cell disease, Amanda’s wish was to go to the Dominican Republic. Make-A-Wish flew her family there for Christmas!

You’ll also hear from Tough Mudder’s VP of Event Development, Ashley Ellefson.

Get more here:
https://www.crowdrise.com/TeamRalphieForMAW/fundraiser/ralphieaversa

https://www.facebook.com/ralphieaversa/videos/vb.148218461933509/836898973065451/?type=2&theater

I’ve ran in Central Park for almost three years now. I love running; it’s one of the few things I do that improves every aspect of my life: physical, professional, psychological.

Despite my frequent runs not just in the park, but around the famed Reservoir, I’ve never seen a celebrity. That changed on Friday, when I ran in to not just any public figure, but the lead singer of my all-time favorite band.

Of course, I almost didn’t go for a run Friday afternoon. About two weeks ago I hurt my knees, again. The initial injury occurred in 2011. I suffered “dashboard knee” and ended up in rehab for a few weeks and on the sidelines for almost 10 months. Plainly, it sucked. I’ve spent the time since building strength in the knees and the muscles that surround them, and things were pretty solid until my latest mishap; I lost my footing while stepping around an open door to get in a cab and both knees smacked against the sidewalk. It was as painful as it sounds.

After about two weeks of going easy, taking the occasional Advil and icing my knees, I felt I was ready to test the waters. I went through my normal stretch routine, grabbed my Bluetooth earbuds and iPod Nano and headed out in to the concrete jungle. I decided that I would lightly jog my normal three-mile route, which takes me in to the park and around the shorter Bridle Path that circles the Reservoir.

About six minutes in, my run was going about as well as expected when I made it on to the path. I always travel on the path counter-clockwise; technically that’s the way you’re supposed to run or walk but if you’ve been you know that maybe half of the people actually pay attention. Anyways, I don’t think I was circling the Reservoir more than five minutes when two people, one who I definitely recognized, were walking in the opposite direction.
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The guy was wearing a white shirt and a black hat somewhat pulled down low. I recognized his face immediately though. I just jogged by Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin.

At this point I have a quick decision to make: do I keep going in the opposite direction or go over to him just to tell him what a big fan I am? First, I look to see if a lot of people are around. I want to respect the man’s space and do not want to cause a scene. But our stretch of the path is rather desolate. It is as this moment I decide that if I don’t approach him, I’ll be second-guessing myself for a while. So, I remove one of my earbuds, pull a U-turn and head in Martin’s direction.

Again, my plan is to be inconspicuous and not make a big scene. So I gently run up behind Martin and the person he’s with, and then duck to Chris’s right side.

“Hey, don’t want to get all crazy on ya – just here…”

“OH MY GOD! HOLY SH–!”

Well, I was a bit too inconspicuous and scared the bejesus out of the person he was with.

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry. Chris – just want to say I’m a huge fan! Sorry, bye!”

Martin, realizing I meant no harm and posed no threat, immediately thanked me for my support and high-fived me. Yes, high-fived me. I think he was trying to smooth over what had become an unnecessarily-awkward situation, because he thanked me for being a fan of the band’s about three more times in the 10 seconds that passed before we parted ways.

And as his friend did their best to get their bearings back, a security guard (who came out of nowhere!) was hot on my tail.

I waved goodbye and completed my normal three-mile route, albeit a little quicker than I had initially planned to thanks to an added dose of adrenaline.

I’m already getting asked this question a lot so let me answer it now: I think I know who he was with but I’m not speculating or confirming any names. I was going for a run, he was enjoying a Friday afternoon in the park. We can leave it at that.

When I got home – three thoughts surrounding the chance encounter prevailed: I really hope no paparazzi caught that, boy do I have a great story to one day start off a Chris Martin interview with and most importantly, I wish I would’ve acted a little cooler (although for the record, I never really lost my cool per se, but whatever).

However above all else, the running itself was a success as thankfully my knees are not sore at all.

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Life & Style Weekly reports that Kim Kardashian may have stepped between a possible tour that Rihanna and Kanye West were planning. Reporter Danielle Roberto also talked about Chris Martin and Lady Gaga on “Ralphie Tonight.”

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Life & Style Weekly reports what Hollywood’s biggest celebrity divorce attorneys are dishing in its latest issue. Senior News Editor Jordi Lippe also chatted about Gwyneth Paltrow’s thoughts on Chris Martin’s new relationship and what Britney Spears is doing to keep her ex-boyfriend away from her on “Ralphie Tonight.”

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Life & Style Weekly reports that Harry Styles prefers women’s jeans to men’s. Senior News Editor Jordi Lippe explained why and also talked about Taylor Swift and Katy Perry’s feud plus Chris Martin and Jennifer Lawrence on “Ralphie Tonight.”

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Life & Style Weekly reports that Jennifer Lopez was out a a nightclub in LA recently and got pretty cozy with one “Dancing With The Stars” cast member. Senior News Editor Jordi Lippe also talked about the Royal Nanny and the divorce between Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin on “Ralphie Tonight.”