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When you ask Vance Joy about the celebrities he encountered while touring with the world’s biggest pop star, the first people he brings up are Taylor Swift’s backup dancers. Then Joy will mention the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team and eventually you’ll get a funny anecdote about telling his friend’s father that he once met Julia Roberts.

That is Joy in a nutshell. He’s a tall, good-looking guy with an Australian accent that can sing and play guitar; he can effortlessly command any room he’s in. The artist has a successful album with a big hit already under his belt and he played stadiums across the country with the aforementioned Swift. Yet none of it has seemed to affect Joy much. The singer, nee James Keogh, is still a kind and unassuming person who will even on occasion (and by accident) introduce himself by his birth name.

Joy is blessed with many talents, one being the ability focus on what matters and not take the rest of it too seriously.

“The most important thing is just songwriting and dedicating a lot of time and focus to the craft,” Joy responded when I asked what he learned from his first album that he’s bringing in to “Nation Of Two,” due out February 23. “It can be hard and it can be frustrating but you have to keep pushing and the songs will eventually come.”

There are four songs out ahead of the LP, including the lead single “Lay It On Me,” which he performed acoustic for us at Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17. Joy noted that the tracks were chosen because of how they represent his body of work, with special attention given to tempo.

“I’m proud of all of the songs, but those are probably the most upbeat,” he explained. “Those are the ones I wanted to show first, and then some of the slower songs I think will sink in to people over time.”

His fans will have a chance to hear them live as well, as shortly after our chat Joy announced a massive world tour, with dates in North America kicking off April 13.

Now that I’ve had a few days to process everything, some news and notes from my first ever GRAMMYs red carpet…

– The GRAMMYs red carpet is reminiscent of one for a big movie premiere in that it’s quite expansive, filled with top level stars, chaotic in spurts and covered by outlets of all shapes and sizes. Jayde Donovan and I were holding down the fort for our radio network, Westwood One. We were towards the end of the media lineup – to our left were The Garden social media team and WWD.com. To our right? A Japanese TV outlet that is clearly big across the Pacific because seemingly everyone stopped or attempted to stop and say hi to them.

– Always appreciate Scott Borchetta, the head of Big Machine Label Group, making a few minutes for us. He joked that NARAS had quite the wildcard on their hands sitting country group Midland in the front row. On a more serious note, he thought Taylor Swift had a good chance in both categories she was nominated, especially Best Country Song for writing Little Big Town’s “Better Man.” She came up empty for that along with “I Don’t Want To Live Forever” from “Fifty Shades Darker” in the Visual Media category, one that Borchetta believed is a “flip of the coin.”

– When we flagged Victor Cruz over and he revealed to Jayde that he was presenting the “Despacito” performance, my first thought was, “Oh, the irony!” Of course, it was two seasons ago that Cruz along with Odell Beckham Jr. and other Giants players flew to Miami the week before a playoff game to hang with Justin Bieber in Miami. Not only would the G-Men lose to the Packers, but some would point to the incident as the reason why Cruz wasn’t brought back to the team.

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– Speaking of “Despacito,” I think anyone and everyone who had anything to do with that song and wasn’t named Justin Bieber was on the red carpet. The producers, the artists, the principle songwriter, the guy who opened the studio door… it was incredible!

– The white roses Jayde and I wore were donated by 1800Flowers.com and the whole movement was championed in part by one of our colleagues, Melony Torres – very cool.

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– It always amazes me that sometime the biggest stars are the ones most generous with their time. With that said, it was cool to see Tony Bennett spend a few minutes chatting with Jayde.

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– Loved catching up with Long Island’s own Hoodie Allen, who told me he knew about his buddy Ed Sheeran’s engagement for a whole and to him and those around Ed it came as no surprise. I wonder if Hoodie is in charge of the bachelor party…

– Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife told us that city officials worked hard to get The GRAMMYs to The Garden. Later, when I asked Recording Academy President Neil Portnow about New York as a host city, he went out of his way to mention the administration sang a rather different tune, stating tonight wasn’t the time to address the challenges working with them.

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Although for me, the best part of our interaction with Mr. Mayor was after I shook his hand, when I told the Boston-born lifelong Red Sox fan, “Let’s go Yankees.”

I’m sure the Mayor appreciated it as much as Mr. Portnow’s comments.

After the release of the singer’s latest album “reputation,” AT&T decided to celebrate its partnership with Taylor Swift by creating a pop-up experience for her fans downtown. The shop included exclusive merchandise and a number of props from the “Look What You Made Me Do” music video, including the phone and the throne.

The fine folks in charge of the production gave me a VIP tour of space, which was in the South Street Seaport and was open for almost a full week. Yes, even Ms. Swift herself popped by and surprised fans on its opening day.

So Taylor Swift, Jack Antonoff and Right Said Fred founding member Fred Fairbrass walk in to a bar. No, this isn’t the set-up for a cheesy joke; rather a foreshadowing of what’s to come the next time all three are in the same city.

Sure the aforementioned artists are an unlikely trio; about as unlikely as the idea of Swift interpolating “I’m Too Sexy” in to the first single from her highly anticipated seventh sixth studio album “Reputation.” And yet the similarities between the 1992 chart-topping hit and “Look What You Made Me Do” were immediately noticed on the internet, well before it was revealed that Fred along with brother Richard and Rob Manzoli received co-writing credits on the track.

The deal was brokered through Right Said Fred’s publishing company Spirit Music Group, whom the band has been with “for ages.” The relationship is so strong that Fairbrass blindly allowed SMG to negotiate with Swift’s team before he even knew of Taylor’s involvement. Eventually he figured out who made the inquiry and was able to hear the final result.

“Well what we like is that the song is pretty cynical,” Fairbrass explained to me via telephone from across the pond. “The original idea of ‘Sexy’…the lyrics are made to be cynical. We were making fun of the hedonism of the late 80’s and early 90’s when we lived in New York. So (Taylor) sort of channeling that cynicism… we’re very pleased that she spotted it.”

In addition to heaping praise upon the song and the artist, Fairbrass also noted that working with Taylor’s team has been a delight.

“PR have been great,” he noted. “And Taylor and Jack have sent us a thank you note and some flowers which was very sweet, and they want to hook up and party and celebrate at some point which would be nice.”

Right Said Fred recently released a mash-up of the two songs; the group is slated to drop a new single in late October.

Attorney Jill Stanley called in following Taylor Swift successfully defending herself and counter-suing in a civil lawsuit over the firing of a radio DJ in Colorado. The DJ sexually assaulted Swift; Stanley credited not just the evidence but also the singer’s image and testimony in talking about the verdicts.

It’s astonishing to look back at the events and people that Webster Hall has hosted over the years, from both a variety and historical standpoint. Politicians, unions, musicians, celebrities, students, ravers and pretty much anyone who wanted to be someone or been seen with someone filed in to the venerable East Village venue for decades.

But of course, especially in the ever-changing borough of Manhattan, all good things must come to an end. Brooklyn Sports Entertainment purchased the concert venue back in April and following Thursday night’s performance from Flushing emcee Action Bronson, it’ll close for renovations. The new Spectrum Hall, outfitted for sports and concerts exclusively, is expected to be finished in about two years.

For me, it’s easy to reflect on Webster Hall because I only have two distinct memories from the venue. The first came on November 23, a little over a month following my move to the city. I caught a performance from Long Island’s own Hoodie Allen (thanks Hoodie for the guest list hook-up). I’ll never forget running up to the balcony (VIP status, you know) and grabbing a Brooklyn Lager on draft just as Hoodie took the stage. The sold-out crowd exploded, singing along to every word from his debut EP “All American.”


The second took place a little less than a year later. I strolled down to the East Village with a camera man from 95.5 on September 30 to interview a then up-and-coming artist by the stage name of Lorde. Born Ella Yelich-O’Connor, the 16 year-old had just released her critically-acclaimed and soon-to-be GRAMMY Award winning debut album “Pure Heroine.” She was also about to headline three sold-out shows at Webster Hall, which is where her and I chatted before sound-check.


A couple things stand-out from that experience: for starters, we set-up for the interview on the aforementioned balcony which was still disheveled from the previous night. I didn’t really mind though, save the tampon wrapper that was on the ledge and in our camera shot. If my memory serves me correctly, my friend Nikki who at the time worked for Republic Records handled its disposal (thanks again Nikki!). As for the empty plastic cups, those were purposely left there because… Webster Hall.

The other unforgettable part of that day was Lorde pulling a 180 during the interview regarding comments she had previously made about her label-mate and now-BFF, Taylor Swift. In hindsight, it wouldn’t be the first-time she’d have to walk-back a statement about Swift but nonetheless, Lorde found herself in the headlines due to an interview with Metro, a publication back in her native New Zealand.

“Taylor Swift is so flawless, and so unattainable, and I don’t think it’s breeding anything good in young girls. ‘I’m never going to be like Taylor Swift, why can’t I be as pretty as Lorde?’ That’s f–king bulls–t,” she said at the time.

The following Monday in Manhattan, the artist sang a different tune when I asked about who she believes is setting a good example for teenage girls.

“Taylor Swift is a really good role model, and I think what she’s saying is pretty cool,” Lorde replied. “Yeah, I think (her lyrics are) empowering. I think it’s cool.”

Lorde also addressed the situation, albeit non-directly, via her Tumblr that day. However that video of the “Royals” singer talking about Swift eventually went somewhat viral, gaining almost a half-million views to-date. It’s one of 95.5 PLJ’s most-viewed YouTube clips ever, empty plastic cups and all.

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.
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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.
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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.

Fuse Digital Deputy Editor Jason Lipshutz called in ahead of the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards to talk about what he was expecting from the award show and what he was most looking forward to.
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So what will the Song Of The Summer be in 2016? Funny you ask, I chatted about that Thursday on the PIX 11​ Morning News!

Taylor Swift came out and said her phone conversation with Kanye West was secretly recorded. The video was posted to Kim Kardashian’s Snapchat page and depicts West and Swift discussing at least one line of his song “Famous,” in which he mentions Taylor. So can she sue Kim and Kanye for recording the call and posting the footage? We asked Attorney Reid Breitman what the laws in California state.
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