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There’s one big difference between Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards and every other music award show on television: the winners are a true reflection of not just what fans like, but what they actually consume and spend money on.

“Those charts are what make our award show,” Billboard’s co-director of charts, Keith Caulfield, told me this week. “That’s the beauty of it. This award show is truly based on your performance on the Billboard charts throughout the year.”

The BBMAs serve as an annual scoreboard of sorts for the music industry’s biggest names. We’ll find out where the stars rank Sunday night at 8 p.m. on ABC.

“Billboard gets to honor the most popular artists, albums and songs of the past year on a great TV show, and we get to have amazing performances and it’s a star-studded event,” Caulfield said. “I’m really looking forward to the show.”

The list of performers alone could make this year’s program one of the more memorable in recent memory. Britney Spears, receiving the Millennium Award, will perform a medley of her hits. Justin Bieber will do the same. Rihanna is slated to sing on the show, almost exactly 10 years to the date she scored her first Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper. And Madonna will perform a tribute to the late Prince.

That doesn’t even scratch the surface: Celine Dion, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton, Nick Jonas and Tove Lo, Demi Lovato, Meghan Trainor, Fifth Harmony, Pink and Ariana Grande are also set to take the stage inside the brand new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

As for the awards, The Weeknd is a finalist in 16 categories, leading all artists. Bieber follows him with nods in 11 categories. Taylor Swift and Adele are each a finalist in eight categories. Perhaps taking a cue from Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video premiere at last year’s BBMAs, Adele will unveil her video for the single, “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” during the broadcast Sunday.

Appropriately, Swift holds the all-time high mark for wins at the show with 20. Adele has the record for most wins in one night with 12, which she scored back in 2012 off the success of “21.”

The Billboard Music Awards are produced by dick clark productions. Westwood One, the radio network owned by Cumulus Media, is once again an official partner of this year’s show. For the fourth consecutive year, I will broadcast from Las Vegas for the BBMAs. In addition to interviewing stars backstage Saturday and on the red carpet Sunday, we’ll have a full recap from Vegas on Monday evening.

Nick Hissom, singer/songwriter/model/friend of the show, stopped by to chat about his new EP, ‘Love Energy’ and single, “Where You Are.” Hissom also talked about balancing a modeling career with an Ivy League education at UPenn and who inspired his latest single.
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In the second episode of my new podcast “Hey, Really Excited,” I recap my trip to Las Vegas for last weekend’s “Billboard Music Awards.” Guests this week include Robin Leach, Hozier (again), Tori Kelly, Prince Royce and Ludacris.
Hey, Really Excited
“Hey, Really Excited” is a weekly-ish podcast of mine where I offer some present-day thoughts on what’s happening in music, my life and career – along with a featured artist(s).

The second day of Red Carpet Radio at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards was hectic, as many BBMA finalists, presenters and performers stopped by to chat with “Ralphie Tonight.” Check out some of the photos and conversations below with Hozier, Tori Kelly, Fall Out Boy and more.
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Special thanks to BBMA co-host Ludacris, who also made some time for the show. We chatted with him while he waited for a car to pick him up… in the back of the MGM Grand Arena… on a curb. In Vegas, there is a first time for everything.





A few staples of the Las Vegas scene stopped by Red Carpet Radio at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards to chat with “Ralphie Tonight.”
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Terry Fator won the second season of the NBC competition “America’s Got Talent.” The entertainer just marked his sixth year headlining at The Mirage on The Strip. Fator believes he’ll be there many more years to come. He also gave his thoughts on the end of “American Idol,” noting that he’ll miss it and is happy there are other shows like “AGT” and “The Voice” still on the air.

Carrot Top has been in Vegas for 30 years – he’s spent about the last 10 performing at The Luxor. The comedian is hoping to attend Sunday’s award show, and you might be surprised as to what he is looking forward to. Of course, Carrot Top also quipped about everything from “Fifty Shades Of Grey” to “Deflategate.”

And Robin Leach – a former Channel 7 reporter – needs no introduction. The former “Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous” host dished about his recent chats with Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey regarding their Vegas residencies.

Ne-Yo is back in the lab, working on his sixth studio album. The LP will be the follow up to 2012’s R.E.D., and according to the singer is slated to be released mid-year.

“I had to take it home this album,” the singer, nee Shaffer Smith, said to “The Ralphie Show” of the project. “I had to get back to my R&B roots on this one. That’s not to say that I have completely abandoned dance music. I have a love and a passion for it but I gotta go home for a second.”

The singer/songwriter describes the album as “predominately R&B,” but not completely. Ne-Yo told us there will “more than likely” be at least one dance track on the LP.

“I don’t know,” he responded when asked who he might collaborate with for that track. “I got a few favors I can call in, so I’m going to just get on the phone and see who answers.”

Last year’s top grossing DJ might be on the other end of the line. Calvin Harris broke on to pop radio with the help of Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and the Ne-Yo assisted “Let’s Go.” The two certainly have the talent to create another hit record. But while Harris moved in to Ne-Yo’s world of producing, the “Let Me Love You” singer segued in to Harris’ world of nightclubs. Ne-Yo just commenced a DJ residency in Las Vegas at Surrender and Encore, two of Sin City’s hottest spots.

“It’s going good,” the artist said of the gig. “An excuse to party in Vegas is a good enough excuse for me.”

Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali… Flavor Flav? No, that isn’t a list of the world’s greatest emcees – but rather celebrity chefs with restaurants in Las Vegas. The hip-hop icon-turned-reality TV star threw his name on the list last week when Flavor Flav’s House of Flavor opened up a few miles from The Strip. The take-out spot’s specialty is the rapper’s personal recipe for fried chicken.

“I came up with this from experimenting in the kitchen for many years,” Flav told me at the grand opening ceremony last week. “My family owned a soul food restaurant, and then when I became a certified cook, I was the head cook at the Nassau County Courthouse.”

That’s correct: Flavor Flav isn’t simply another celebrity attempting to cash in solely with his name. The Long Island native actually has a culinary degree, meaning his move from music to food isn’t a stretch, and is more of a return to his roots.

The alcohol brand? Well, perhaps that is another story. Le Flav Spirits makes its debut this year on an alcohol-stocked shelf near you with vodka.

“Next month I’m coming out with grape and bubble gum [flavors],” Flav revealed as he showed off the bottle. “Also I’m coming out with a Le Flav cognac and Chateau Le Flav, that’s the bubbly.”

Sober Sally’s need not worry, as the hip-hop artist will also be releasing a non-alcoholic champagne in the line. As for Flav’s music fans – have no fear. He’s not just spending time with fried food and booze, but also laying down tracks with his old friend and collaborator.

“Me and Chuck D, we’re recording a Public Enemy album right now as we speak,” he said. “And also I’m coming out with another solo album.”

Flav predicts a single from the LP will be released in July. Somewhere between all of the distilling, dishing, and vocal cutting, he may even find a moment to take a break.

“Right now, these people are so important,” he said. “In order to get it done man, you gotta be awake to do it.”

I checked in to WBRE’s “PA Live!” from my suite on The Strip in Las Vegas for this week’s “The Ralphie Report.” Chatting via Skype, we discussed stories involving “Mob Wives” star Drtia D’Avanzo and former “American Idol” contestant Jermaine Jones, plus my plans while in Sin City.

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Radio talk show host and attorney Elizabeth Kelley does not think that the book will be thrown at David Schubert, the District Attorney who prosecuted Paris Hilton and Bruno Mars for cocaine possession in Las Vegas. Schubert has himself been busted on the same charges, and Kelley feels his first-time offender status will help his sentence.

Visit Kelley’s website.

Neon Trees is not your average rock band. The group is comprised of four Mormons from Utah who keep it clean backstage – no partying. The lone woman in the group isn’t the lead singer – Elaine Bradley is on drums. And yes, the song “Animal” may have just topped the alternative charts, but lead singer Tyler Glenn says the group doesn’t have the audacity to start making ridiculous demands.

“The help with the song and the song on the campaign was more than we could ask for,” Glenn said on “The Ralphie Radio Show” in reference to commercials for Las Vegas tourism featuring the band’s hit single. “I don’t think any of us have the balls to like try and actually say, ‘Hey, can I stay here for free?’”

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The modest and humble roots might be a nod to their religion. Glenn dismisses any idea that it’s difficult to tour with a rock band and stay clean.

“I don’t think it’s the days of Guns ‘N Roses anymore, so I don’t know, I think you kind of have a choice,” the lead singer said. “The hair metal peer pressure isn’t there as much.”

But don’t be fooled, just because the band doesn’t party now, doesn’t mean they don’t have any experience to draw back on – Glenn admits that the group drew on their past ways for some of songs on the album, Habits.

“A lot of the subject matter on our album is from that, and experiences we’ve had, and ‘sins of our youth,’” he revealed. “I think we use it to influence our art and our music.”