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Rachel Platten’s 2016 has brought her many different places; one of the latest being Times Square where she, along with Joe Jonas, helped reveal some of the nominees for the 2016 American Music Awards.

When it comes to the show’s biggest prize, “Artist Of The Year,” the “Fight Song” artist knows a thing or two about some of the potential winners. Platten met Selena Gomez (“She’s a wonderful person”), is nominated with Adele in the category of “Favorite Female Artist – Adult Contemporary” and even drew inspiration for her set list from one of the category’s nominees.

“I cover his song on my tour,” she replied when I brought up Justin Bieber. She tackles the hit “Love Yourself” during her show. I then mentioned another artist in the category, Bieber’s fellow Canadian, Drake.
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“I also tried to cover his song on my tour, and realized that it wasn’t very good when I did it,” Platten deadpanned regarding the hit “One Dance.” “I wish I had figured it out.”

Platten’s “The Wildfire Tour” kicked off in February, a month after she dropped her major-label debut album. The LP also spawned the hit “Stand By You.”

“I feel like all of my wildest dreams came true the past two years,” she told me. “It’s been so amazing. I worked for a long, long time to get here so I think 2016 will always hold a special place in my heart.”

And the year is far from over; Platten wraps up her tour in Florida on Saturday and will attend the AMAs, which air live November 20 at 8 pm EST in Los Angeles.

By Ralphie Aversa


Charlie Puth confirmed to me that the “Nine Track Mind” album cycle is finished but he stopped short of saying that he wouldn’t be a part of any other new music before year’s end.

“We filmed a video for ‘Dangerously’ just as like a fan thank you,” he revealed. “Yunno, thanks for this amazing life-changing year; here’s a really cool video for a very popular song on the album.”

“Life-changing” is an apt way to describe Puth’s world since the release of “See You Again.” The Wiz Khalifa-fronted song, which served as the main single from the “Furious 7” soundtrack, went on to accumulate GRAMMY and Golden Globe nods while also racking up a billion plays on YouTube.
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Then you factor in Puth as a solo artist: three hit singles off a Gold-certified debut album with two U.S. tours in support of it.

“Kind of like a whirlwind,” is how Puth characterized the past year-and-a-half. “I went from literally having nobody know me to, yunno having five security guards around me when I walk around Times Square.”

The Rumson, New Jersey-native seems to enjoy the ride. Just a few nights prior to our chat, he played to a sold-out Beacon Theatre on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

“We shut down two streets!” he exclaimed, before chastising me over a tweet I sent about thankfully not grocery shopping that night. The venue is across from my neighborhood store, a Fairway.

“Saw your tweet; you were like, ‘I’m glad I didn’t go shopping!’” Puth repeated, while clearly amused before adding, “Don’t get it twisted. I read your tweets!”

The one consistent since I started interviewing Puth a year-ago is his demeanor: he takes his art seriously but certainly enjoys lightening up a bit too. Apparently, that doesn’t just occur during interviews either.

“I joke around with my boys The Chainsmokers all the time like, ‘When are we going to make a song where we can like, turn up to in Vegas with everybody and make a big party out of it?’” he told me. “I’ve written records with a lot of amazing, legendary artists, new and old, even in these past couple of months.

“So… that’s all I’m going to say.”

Joe Jonas probably has the weekend of November 18 circled on his calendar… or highlighted in his phone. You get the idea.

On that Friday, the Jonas-fronted DNCE will drop its debut, full-length album. The following Sunday, DNCE will head over to the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles for the 2016 American Music Awards. DNCE snagged two nominations, including New Artist Of The Year, which put the “Cake By The Ocean” singer in a league of his own; he’s the first artist to be nominated for that award twice – it’s a trophy he won with his brothers back in 2008.

“That’s an incredible feeling,” Jonas said when I brought that up to him on Monday morning. He and Rachel Platten helped reveal some of the AMA nominations on “Good Morning America” in Times Square. “I was not expecting that; when Rachel said my name, I had to kind of like, take a second to think about it.
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“It’s overwhelming. It’s a bizarre feeling to know that you can reinvent yourself and hopefully it encourages a lot of artists out there because part of this game is being able to come up with stuff that’s new and evolve as an artist. We do it because of the love of music.”

DNCE is also up for Favorite Group or Duo – Pop/Rock with some stiff competition between The Chainsmokers and Twenty One Pilots. The band also shares the New Artist nod with The Chainsmokers, as well as Shawn Mendes, Zayn and Alessia Cara.

“It’s going to be a party,” Jonas replied when I asked what he thinks that November weekend will be like. “We’ll probably be still on a high from releasing an album but walking in to nominations amongst these great artists, fan-voted completely, that’s the best feeling.”

Jonas noted that it’s also nice just to have a release date for the anticipated LP.

“We have songs that we just created a few months ago and it’s cool to like actually have a set-date rather than kind of the guessing game,” he said. “I just can’t wait for people to hear it. We’ve been playing some of the songs on tour and testing them out but now to be able to have a physical album to hold on to is a good feeling.”

In addition to “Cake By The Ocean” becoming nearly inescapable, DNCE spent this last summer supporting Selena Gomez on tour. Gomez also scored two AMA nods, including for the evening’s top prize for Artist Of The Year.

The 2016 American Music Awards air Sunday night November 20 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Violinist Lindsey Stirling stopped by to talk about her new album “Brave Enough,” which is out August 19. The lead single, “Something Wild,” is in the upcoming Disney film “Pete’s Dragon,” out August 12.

Stirling also chatted about performing with Celine Dion and meeting Steven Tyler at the Billboard Music Awards, the death of Christina Grimmie and the fact that she turns 30 in September.

The rumor is that new music from Lady Gaga is coming later this year, and producer RedOne did nothing to quell that speculation.

“Yes, let’s hope,” the GRAMMY Award winning producer responded when I brought up said rumor recently. “Yeah, let’s see what happens. We did eight songs so far and we’ll see what happens, yunno?”

Red, as his friends call him, has also been in the studio with Kaya Stewart and Enrique Iglesias. The latter artist is featured on the producer’s new single, “Don’t You Need Somebody.”

“I sent it to Enrique with two other songs,” he explained of how the track came to feature the singer. “He got the three songs but for some reason, he did not hear (‘Don’t You Need Somebody’).”

It wasn’t until the two linked up for a session in Miami that Iglesias heard the song. And that’s literally all it took for the artist to want to contribute to it. Iglesias immediately asked if he could jump on the song, and of course Red obliged.

Shaggy, who is also featured on the track, became involved in a similar fashion. During a music meeting Red simply played him the song.

“He was like, ‘Red put the mic on right now!’” recalled the producer of how Shaggy reacted after he heard the beat. “’Put the mic on!’”

Serayah and R. City, who of course scored a big hit last year with “Locked Away,” also added their vocals to the final product.

I am fortunate in that I have the opportunity to witness and/or experience a lot of cool moments due to my line of work. However, one moment sticks out from the rest, and it took place a few weeks ago at the Billboard Music Awards.

The fact that this happened weeks ago and I still feel compelled to write about it should speak to the magnitude in which it impacted me, and I hope you’ll feel the same way.

A quick preface: red carpets are not all that they are cracked up to be. Chances are you’ve watched an award show special on a network like E! and you’re used to a well-orchestrated production where all of the big stars stop to talk to the media and everyone looks flawless.

Like most pictures that entertainment media paints, that is a false one. The carpets are usually high on humidity, low on space and short with A-list celebrities actually talking to reporters.

It made a moment I witnessed at the Billboard Music Awards red carpet that much more poignant.

So of course, Ludacris and Ciara co-hosted this year’s BBMAs. I thought they did a spectacular job but full disclosure; I’m biased because I like them and really enjoy covering the show. Anyways Ciara had her fiancé, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in tow throughout most of the evening and of course on the carpet, where the two posed for photos together.
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From the jump, you know Wilson as a class act: plays the game in an admirable manner, always says the right thing and has an image so squeaky clean Nickelodeon asked him to host the Kids Choice Sports Awards for a second consecutive year.

And even on the carpet, he turned down an interview request from me (Keep in mind I was covering the show for the Cumulus Media owned Westwood One, the official radio network of the NFL) because he wanted to simply support his fiancé, not bask in the spotlight.

Ironically I asked him for a few words while Ciara was on the E! platform speaking with Jason Kennedy. The network’s location was right next to a fan zone which also happened to be the area I was stationed in. This wasn’t my first run-in with fan zones on carpets: typically the people in the zones are friends of sponsors, seat fillers or contest winners and they’re all very happy to be there. They are also very inquisitive as to what is happening around them and why you’re holding a microphone.

Now the fans were busting my stones a bit because I didn’t know the name of every single person walking the carpet. But when I shot back, “Wait, didn’t you guys see Russell Wilson with Ciara?” they immediately ceased the stone-busting. A Super Bowl winning quarterback had walked right by and they didn’t even notice.

Matter-of-fact, he was still within earshot… and getting a good laugh over this exchange.

That’s when a father, who I think was working security, emerged from the crowd with his son who might have been 12 or 13. The kid played little league football… QB to be exact.
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The father politely introduced Wilson to his son, and then the two started talking shop. I didn’t want to ease drop too much (I also had to keep an eye out for other celebrities) but the chat lasted a few minutes.

When it ended, Wilson tells the kid, “Hey man, good luck. See you in the NFL one day.”

Could you imagine hearing those words of encouragement from a Super Bowl winning QB? That one statement could be life altering; the type of thing they talk about incessantly on FOX when that kid does make the NFL.

I’ll tell you one thing I can’t imagine: a moment like that happening without prompting on a red carpet. It’s a story I wouldn’t believe had I not been fortunate enough to witness it myself.

Some news and notes from my weekend in Las Vegas covering the 2016 Billboard Music Awards.

– If you saw a photo of me on stage at last Sunday night’s BBMAs, it was not an illusion. For the third consecutive year, dick clark productions hired me to fill the role of “warm-up act” for the show. This entails working closely with both the executive producer and stage manager of the broadcast to disseminate information to the crowd before we go live on ABC and during commercial breaks. Essentially I’m on stage in front of 20,000 people (and a lot of celebrities) hyping them up on the next performers or reminding them to wear their light-up bracelets.

A video posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


And on the latter point, I thought the bracelets looked excellent on TV. If you attended Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour, the wrist bands were almost exactly the same. You had to wear it so that the buckle was on the top of your wrist and the light-up part faced out towards the bottom. They were activated twice during the show; once during Meghan Trainor’s performance of “No” and again during Madonna and Stevie Wonder’s rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain.”


– In addition to handling on-stage duties for dcp, I helped out with our red (read: magenta) carpet broadcast on our national radio network, Westwood One. Because I was needed inside I only spent about an hour on the carpet, and man was it a hot one. The Vegas humidity and dry air always gets to me and wearing a suit while standing directly in the sun only amplifies this. Many artists walked the carpet with hair and makeup stylists almost hand-in-hand for touchups as they made the rounds from outlet-to-outlet.


– A person I had the chance to speak with, albeit briefly, was DJ Khaled. He is one of two celebrities I follow on Snapchat, so it was quite interesting to see him “snapping” in real life. It is also quite the production: he is using multiple phones and camera people, and of course will use multiple takes as well if needed. The mogul’s presence at the BBMAs was a part of a big sponsorship by T-Mobile, who of course also holds the naming rights for the new arena that the broadcast was held in.

A video posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Although I was at dress rehearsal, I asked Khaled what his role was during the broadcast (in addition to some backstage vignettes, he was tasked with introducing Justin Bieber’s performance). His response.

“Stay tuned alert!”

But of course, if you watched Khaled’s Snapchat story on Sunday, you saw this. Definitely Snapchat peaked at the BBMAs.

– With my gig, I watch the show with the stage managers, trophy presenters and other stage hands right behind the curtain on stage. This vantage point provides a number of cool sightings and moments, but perhaps most memorable was Celine Dion’s performance. She loaded on to the stage from our area, so we had the chance to hear her final vocal warm-up before she went live. As Dion was wrapping her cover of Queen’s “The Show Must Go On,” her son René-Charles Angelil was escorted to our post. He was then handed his mother’s trophy and sent out on stage.

Suddenly there was a lot of applause. And not a single dry eye in the house.

Thanks to my producer Jay Buff, we have some snaps of the stars walking yesterday’s red… ahem, magenta carpet at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards!

Also, MAJOR KEY ALERT – I made DJ Khaled’s Snapchat story! Check out the footage:

A video posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on

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.

After revealing finalists for the 2016 Billboard Music Awards on Good Morning America, co-hosts Ludacris and Ciara chatted about the big awards show and the finalists in the night’s biggest category: Top Artist.
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The 2016 Billboard Music Awards air Sunday night May 22 at 8/7c on ABC from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.