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 return of Star Wars to the big screen has sent fans in to a frenzy. Die-hards are signing up for light saber exercise classes, purchasing Star Wars-themed ice cream and inspiring “SNL” skits.
It seems the influence and reach of “The Force Awakens” knows no boundaries, thus it made sense that at last month’s “American Music Awards,” there would be a tribute to the movie’s original score. The music, created by distinguished composer John Williams, was adapted to the AMA stage by acapella group Pentatonix. It was a task that the quintet did not take lightly.
“That was the tough part about it. (The music) is all instrumentals, and all the melodies, chords and rhythm stuff are very instrumental,” explained vocalist Avi Kaplan when I spoke with the group a few days before the award show. “So making them vocal was a really tough thing. There are no lyrics. It’s very choral and operatic.”
“Figuring out what sounds good (was tough) too… we have to change things around,” added group member Scott Hoying. “It’s just kind of crazy.”
Most musicians would agree that it is a little unnerving to have to alter an iconic theme like the “Imperial March,” and then perform it on national TV. But the 2011 winners of NBC’s show “The Sing-Off” approached the performance with a very specific goal.
“We just wanted to keep the essence of Star Wars and make sure it was dope,” Hoying said. “We didn’t want to try and make it about us at all.”
Yet if there was one person who wouldn’t have minded the piece centering on the acapella group, it was Han Solo himself. Just ahead of the show’s start, TMZ broke the story that Harrison Ford counted himself as a big fan of Pentatonix, and was tabbed by dick clark productions to introduce the performance during the broadcast on ABC.
After Ford’s intro, the quintet took center stage inside Microsoft Theater and ran through a 3 minute-plus medley; about a minute-and-a-half in, a full symphony orchestra joined Penatonix on stage and ushered in the movie’s main theme.
In the press room, it almost seemed as if everyone stopped what they were doing to find a TV monitor and catch the performance. All four members of Fall Out Boy, who were making the media rounds following the band’s AMA win, took a break from interviews to watch the segment with us. No one really spoke; we were all kind of transfixed to what was unfolding on the show.
And when the final note was sung, the entire audience rose to offer both Pentatonix and the orchestra a standing ovation. As the acapella group has proven so many times on live TV, with them, the force is strong.
Some news and notes from the red carpet and press room at the 2015 American Music Awards. The show was held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles; I watched the show from Cumulus Media’s one-on-one room, which is contained in the L.A. Live Event Deck, right next to the venue and across from Staples Center downtown.
– I saw Shawn Mendes for the first time since my Justin Bieber interview. Quick refresher: Bieber told me he didn’t know who Mendes was; both are from the same area of Canada and apparently have mutual friends. By the end of the week, Bieber not only knew who Mendes was but was praising his music.
“No! I’m trying to find him,” Mendes responded when I asked if he finally met his fellow Canadian-born artist. “Where is he at? I’m going to go find them.”
Twitter didn’t break so I’m assuming they haven’t met. Besides he was asking the wrong person; from my vantage point I never saw Bieber at arrivals.
– A frequent question with the press seemed to be, “Is Taylor Swift here?” She wasn’t, despite leading all artists with six nominations. Swift took home three pieces of hardware, including Favorite Album and Favorite Song. As for her whereabouts, multiple sources confirmed that Swift was in New Zealand filming a music video. Her world tour continues this weekend in Australia.
– Usually you know when One Direction steps on to the red carpet because mass hysteria ensues. Girls sob. Kids scream. Security guards scurry. But this year, in perhaps the last American red carpet One Direction will walk as a group for quite some time, the guys began making the media rounds with minimal fan fare.
While the story has a different beginning, the ending is all-too-familiar. As soon as Liam, Louie, Harry and Niall stepped off of our platform and turned to head inside for the show, all you-know-what broke loose. The screams were the loudest I heard all day; the fans worked up such a frenzy that the tall fence separating them from the red carpet looked as if they might actually fall.
One Direction performed “Perfect” on the AMAs and won two awards, including the night’s biggest prize, Artist of the Year.
– Luke Bryan didn’t have time to stop with a bunch of media outlets, but he made time for almost every person in the designated “fan zone” on the red carpet who wanted a selfie. He even did the photo snapping! Bryan performed on the telecast and picked up Favorite Male Artist, Country.
– The reviews seemed to be generally positive for host Jennifer Lopez, who looked stunning in the press room. The broadcast averaged 11 million viewers and turned in ABC’s highest-rated Sunday night this fall.
Look Book – Tuxedo: H&M, Shirt: Kenneth Cole, Tie/Boots: John Varvatos, Accessories: The Tie Bar/Ray Ban
The second day of a backstage broadcast is usually a bit more hectic, and while the entire weekend was busier with our “Malibu Mansion Live” event, Saturday was no different from previous day two experiences. Notables that I spoke with included Charlie Puth, Alessia Cara, Michael and Luke from 5 Seconds of Summer and Joe Jonas’ new band DNCE.
It was a nice welcome to our Westwood One Backstage broadcast for the 2015 American Music Awards: my first interview of the day was the venerable Pete Wentz, bassist for one of my favorite bands Fall Out Boy. Another favorite of mine, alt-pop outfit Walk The Moon stopped by as well. Also swinging through our area: Pentatonix, Lindsey Stirling and R5.
Another award show, another night poised to center around music’s biggest name: Taylor Swift.
As details about this year’s American Music Awards continue to be revealed, the inescapable number is 6. That is the number of nominations that Swift scored this year, and if she sweeps, the “Wildest Dreams” singer will have more AMAs than any other artist ever.
Keep in mind that the award show was created by Dick Clark back in 1973. The AMAs are 16 years older than Swift, who as I’m sure you’re well aware of by now, was born in 1989.
I asked Charlie Puth, who is up for two AMAs this year thanks to “See You Again,” what makes Swift so successful.
“She knows her brand so well,” he told me at the ABC Good Morning America studio in Times Square, shortly after revealing nominations on GMA. “When she brings all of the artists to go perform with her on her show, there’s no guessing. She knows exactly where everybody is supposed to stand. She just knows the stage very, very well.”
Puth is referring to the number of A-list cameos that have taken place during Swift’s “1989 World Tour,” which is continuing to headline and sell out stadiums and arenas across the country.
“She knows exactly what she wants to hear in her music, and her fans want to hear the same thing,” continued Puth, even admitting that he feels his ability to so acutely breakdown Swift’s success sounds a bit “stalker-ish,” but he is a big fan of her work.
Thankfully for the Rumson, N.J. native, he will only have to battle Swift head-to-head in one of the two categories he is up for. Wiz Khalifa and Puth’s “See You Again” is nominated for “Song of the Year” with “Blank Space.” The “Furious 7” track is also in the running for “Collaboration of the Year,” unleashed by T-Mobile.
“I don’t even know what to say,” was Puth’s response when I brought up the two nominations, including one in a major category for the show. “I never thought this would happen to me. It’s such an honor to be a part of the song with Wiz.”
The duo performed the track in May at the Billboard Music Awards in what proved to be a learning experience for the 23 year-old.
“My one piece of Charlie advice to myself would be, ‘Charlie, don’t get so star struck the moment you start playing the piano,’ because I saw all of the Kardashians just lined up and I was like, ‘Oh!’” he recalled. “I kind of messed up because I got so star struck.”
No word if Puth will perform at The AMAs; Carrie Underwood, Selena Gomez and 5 Seconds Of Summer have been confirmed for the show in Los Angeles. Jennifer Lopez will also perform in addition to hosting the festivities, which will air live on ABC Sunday night November 22 at 8 p.m.
Vin Diesel, Elijah Wood and more descended upon the Upper West Side to premiere Vin’s passion project, a new film called “The Last Witch Hunter.” Diesel, along with co-stars Rose Leslie and Elijah Wood stopped to chat with us about making the movie. Ciara, who recorded a cover of the Rolling Stones’ classic “Paint It Black” for the trailer, also chatted with me.
“The Last Witch Hunter” is set in the city, and hits theaters October 23.
BONUS CLIP: Vin Diesel reacts to the news that “See You Again” is up for Song Of The Year at the 2015 American Music Awards.
BONUS CLIP: Elijah Wood, who scored his first movie role in “Back to the Future II” is asked if he is pulling for the Cubs (In the movie, it is predicted that the Cubs win the World Series in 2015).