A secret is safe with Long Island’s Hoodie Allen. Just ask his friend, Ed Sheeran.
“I knew for a little bit. I had to keep my mouth shut,” Allen said regarding Sheeran’s recent engagement to longtime girlfriend Cherry Seaborn. “I did a good job too; I think I passed the test of just zipping it up and not letting anyone know.”
There was no pun intended on Hoodie’s zipper comment, nor on his adjective use when describing the couple.
“It wasn’t that much of a shock because they’re perfect together,” the emcee, born Steven Markowitz, said. “I love them both so I was really happy.”
I ran in to Allen on the red carpet of The GRAMMYs outside of Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. The hip-hop artist, who was there alongside girlfriend Sadie Newman, took over Bulova’s Instagram Story for the award show weekend. Bulova is the official timepiece partner of The GRAMMY Awards; it was Allen’s first time attending the event.
“Overwhelming,” he responded when I asked what he thought of spectacle that is a GRAMMYs red carpet. “I don’t know (because) if it’s just cold out or the adrenaline but yeah, this is pretty cool.”
As for what is currently on the artist’s plate, he just wrapped a world tour in December and is currently working on his next mixtape. Allen noted that he’s been bouncing between the road and the studio so there could be both new music and concert dates in store for his fans this year.
If you’re wondering whether artists who were once tour mates of singer Ed Sheeran’s have congratulated him on his pending nuptials, the answer is yes, at least in one instance.
“I did actually congratulate him,” Lauv told me on Tuesday before performing in front of a live audience at Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17. “It’s crazy. I remember him saying like, ‘I think I have the one, for real.’
“And then to see that they’re actually engaged now is beautiful.”
Sheeran popped the question to long-time girlfriend Cherry Seaborn before the New Year and then announced the engagement shortly after the first on his Instagram.
Lauv supported the “Shape of You” artist on the leg of his “Divide Tour” that stopped in Asia this past fall. He played HMH Stage 17 as the single “I Like Me Better” becomes a global hit, charting in a handful of countries and already cracking the top 10 in Australia and Germany. The singer, nee Ari Leff, has written all of his songs thus far about the four years he lived in New York City while attending New York University. Following graduation, Lauv moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of his dream.
“The weather is beautiful,” he remarked, noting that it is a cliché description of moving west to LA. “But I just feel like New York is a kind of a more ‘real’ place, if that makes sense?”
And for Lauv, that’s a good thing, as he always loves returning to the Big Apple. He’ll be back again next month as a part of his “I Met You When I Was 18 World Tour” – the first Lauv has ever embarked on as a headliner.
Not only is Rita Ora in a good place, it sounds like her peers are as well.
“Everyone’s just being really nice to each other and it feels really good,” the “Your Song” singer said in an interview that aired on my show Monday. “Everyone just shows so much support. It feels like we have a little community going on, which I like.”
The comments were a response to my observation of watching Ora’s interaction with Vanessa Hudgens and Drake backstage at the Billboard Music Awards in May. There were no cameras around as the entertainers exchanged pleasantries.
“I mean I’ve known some people in this industry since I was like 18, so it’s nice to just see people do their ‘thang,’” Ora continued. “My mom always taught me to be nice, to be respectful, and then you’ll get it back.
“And if not, then we can take it outside!” the 26 year-old joked.
With the way in which tabloids cover the London-native across the pond, it’s inevitable that Ora sometimes finds her name linked to stories that aren’t so respectful. That does not seem to have affected her disposition negatively; but she’s clearly cognizant of the coverage. This was evident in Ora’s reaction when I mentioned that she spent last summer filming “America’s Next Top Model” down the street from me.
“So I was annoying you then basically,” she retorted, semi-kidding I think. “There were loads of paparazzi. You must have been so angry at me.”
“I’m an entertainer, yunno?” she responded when I asked about her venture in to TV hosting. She’s currently the host of ABC’s competition “Boy Band.” “I think every time I’ve done a TV (show) it’s been the right timing; like the opportunity came the same time as my music coming out and I just felt like it was perfect to be visible on multiple platforms.”
Ora’s new single, co-written by Ed Sheeran, is called “Your Song” and is available now. Her new album is slated for a fall release. She revealed that the LP is “kind of done” and is in the mastering and mixing phase.
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.
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.
The reports on Justin Bieber, and there were plenty of them, said that he was simply hanging with the wrong crowd. That explained the rumors of drug use and parties, the run-ins with the law and the rather reckless behavior.
In an interview that aired Monday on “Ralphie Tonight,” Bieber admitted as much.
“I just had pretty bad people around that were just taking advantage of my generosity and taking advantage of my sweet soul,” a low-key and relaxed Bieber spilled to me while donning a black sweatshirt, hood pulled up above a black baseball cap. “I just thought that that’s how it was supposed to be. They were saying the right things.”
But Bieber, in perhaps one of the many ways that he has changed, stops short of placing all of the blame on others.
“I was young and naïve,” he admitted before adding, “and just trusting people and got my heart broken.
“So then I was just like, f— everybody.”
But now the 21 year-old is surrounded by a group of people he feels is looking out for his best interests. I ask if those people, such as his mother Pattie Mallette and manager Scooter Braun, were always there but simply not paid any attention to until now.
“For sure, but it has to be on your time,” he replied. “They were poking me and poking me saying, ‘Justin! Justin!’ (But) until I really wanted to listen, it wasn’t going to happen.”
But this journey, which he explains involves no longer internalizing what people say but rather reflecting it back out in to the world as a positive light (his words, not mine), is what Bieber attributes in part to scoring his first chart-topper on the Billboard Hot 100. “What Do You Mean?” debuted at number one, with 337,000 downloads sold in its opening week.
“I want it to be all about the music but you want to see people win when they’re genuine and authentic,” he stated. “I was in a place before where I was just trying to figure it out.”
It seems that at least to this point, Bieber has done that, although even he warns that inevitably he will “fall again.” But right now his focus is on a new album, due out this November, which he says is “40% done.”
“Like the album is pretty much complete,” he elaborated. “I just have so much touching up to do, but it’s going good.”
By “touching up,” Bieber means that he’ll go back to some songs after he sits with them for a few weeks and re-cut lines and/or add background vocals. The Canadian-born singer said there will be features on the LP, but would not reveal who. However when I asked him what artists are influencing him positively, one came to mind.
“I really like Ed Sheeran,” he responded. “I think he’s a really good dude too.”
And perhaps that is just an example of Bieber “reflecting” his light of positivity towards others. Ultimately though, he will be judged by his actions and not words. Yet even his harshest detractors might admit that the pop star sounds like someone who has experienced a life-transforming moment or two.
Perhaps one of Ed Sheeran’s most endearing qualities is his honesty. Sound familiar? Probably because you’ve read that before. That was almost two years ago, but it doesn’t matter. Perhaps another endearing quality of the “Thinking Out Loud” singer is the massive amount of global success he has achieved does not seem to have changed him for the worse.
Speaking with a radio station in New Zealand, Sheeran was surprisingly asked if he “approved” of Calvin Harris dating Taylor Swift. Not-so-surprisingly, Sheeran fielded the question with his usual honesty and candor.
Tori Kelly invited “Ralphie Tonight” in to her Manhattan hotel room where she talked about her new single with super-producer Max Martin, what she likes to dip her chicken fingers in and what it will take for her to finally get a tattoo.
And yes, for a split second we thought she was pregnant before meeting her. Find out why in our chat.
Following the success of his album + and the breakout singles “The A-Team” and “Lego House,” many people know of Ed Sheeran’s music. Many might also know about Ed’s current summer plans, touring the country with singer Taylor Swift. But for most, that’s where their knowledge of the 22 year-old singer ends.
“No one really knows about my love life,” Sheeran stated with a smirk during his most recent chat on “The Ralphie Show.” “I’ve dated some singers before.”
A recent US Weekly report stated he was “hooking up” with Selena Gomez.
“People don’t always guess right, but sometimes they do (guess correctly),” he said. “I was in a relationship for nine months recently that no one had a clue about; kept that quiet. But, it’s over now so we can talk about it.”
Sheeran was open to chatting about his last girlfriend, who was not a public figure. However at the request of his management, information that could identify her was left out of the interview, with her privacy as the motivating factor.
It isn’t the first time Sheeran’s management or record label has taken issue with a piece of information spilled by the singer – and it probably won’t be the last. Perhaps one of Sheeran’s most enduring qualities is his honesty. This trait was on full display when the platinum-selling artist was asked what he does with all of the plaques he is receiving for his global sales success.
“I have them stacked up in my flat by the door, and people take them as party favors when they come around,” he revealed. “There’s only so many you can put on the wall without looking like a douchebag. I prefer for my friends to be able to celebrate the success as well.”
The forecast looks as if there will be more of that success to celebrate. Sheeran’s album has sold a half-million copies here in the States, and the singer noted that there could be at least two more singles on the way. The next track is already picked.
“I wanted to change up the pace a little bit, because obviously the Taylor Swift single (‘Everything Has Changed’) is coming out, and that’s a slow pace song as well so I think we’re going to come with, “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You,” Sheeran said. “Then we’ll see what happens in the autumn.”
For now, the Englishman finds himself performing these songs in stadiums across the U.S. with Swift. He’s also visited her new $17 million mansion in Watch Hill, RI.
“It’s incredible,” he remarked. “The view’s amazing. The whole town is brilliant.”
Sheeran noted some of the great restaurants in the area, but focused in on one particular business: an ice cream shop.
“There’s a competition that three people have won where there’s this huge plate of ice cream, and if you finish it, you get your picture on a wall,” he explained. “Only three people have done it, and they’re all morbidly obese, and I want to go and just rock that.”
Just telling that story prompted Sheeran to recall his childhood days when he really enjoyed ice cream, and was thus a few pounds heavier. But like most everything else, the singer would rather talk about it than shy away from it.
Ed Sheeran is traveling the country with Taylor Swift on her “Red” tour, and is requested to perform at some of the biggest award shows in the U.S. But while speaking with “The Ralphie Show,” he revealed that he no longer approaches artists whom he is a fan of.
“I’ve been really disappointed a bunch of times,” Sheeran told me during an interview taped the weekend of the Billboard Music Awards. “A lot of people are d–ks.”
Sheeran estimates that for every five singers he meets, one is usually genuinely nice. At first, he thought it might be an American thing. Then he realized that it simply falls along genre lines.
“Country artists are wicked,” Sheeran said, using the term as a form of endearment. “I’m English, and I’m a massive hip-hop fan. I grew up listening to a lot of rappers. When I was at The GRAMMYs and I met some people, it was just a bit like… you know, I’m not asking for anything, just a handshake. Some people wouldn’t even shake my hand.”
The “A-Team” singer revealed later that the particular encounter he was referring to involved rapper Nas. Sheeran owns all of the star’s albums.
“It’s not that hard to be nice man, for 15 minutes,” Sheeran continued. “One of the nicest people I ever met was Paul McCartney, and he doesn’t have to be nice to anyone, because he’s Paul McCartney.”
Sheeran did have a great encounter last weekend at 95.5 PLJ’s Summer Blast-Off, where he and Gavin DeGraw ended up jamming on stage together and exchanging pleasantries over Twitter. Another massively successful artist who is great with people: Sheeran’s tour-mate.
“Most big artists do pay-for meet-and-greets,” Sheeran noted, explaining how Swift’s “Club Red” works. “She sets up a club, they put pizzas in it, there’s like a photo booth in it, there’s Coca-Cola, all of this cool stuff, and her team goes out in to the crowd every night and picks out the most dedicated fans.”
The songwriter says most of the time, the fans that weren’t able to afford the best seats in the house end up with an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of hanging out in Club Red with T-Swift.
“For her to do something like that every single night, to walk off stage and not even take a break… and go in to Club Red, and do an hour and a half meet-and-greet for 20 people is pretty cool,” Sheeran said. “Because it’s not just a picture and a ‘See ya later,’ it’s (more).”
Another one of Sheeran’s friends that doesn’t mind giving back is Harry Styles. The last time Ed and I spoke, he revealed the story of Styles buying Domino’s Pizzas for the homeless in Los Angeles. When I informed the singer that The Mirror UK and subsequently the world picked up the story, he smiled.
“You know what, I’m down with Papa John’s as well,” Sheeran responded. “Can we just put out a story about them? They do these cheese-sticks that are out of this world. We don’t get them in England.”