Sure I was in Los Angeles covering The 59th GRAMMYs, but that didn’t stop me from making some headlines in my local neighborhood’s blog.
I’m a big fan of Westside Rag if for nothing else, it keeps me updated on the latest openings and closings in the area, and that alone is a lot to track in this day-and-age of Gotham. Recently, I read on the site about complaints regarding noisy neighbors just blocks from my apartment.
These weren’t just any neighbors though; they were cast members from the latest season of “America’s Next Top Model.”
So when recently-eliminated contestant Paige Mobley stopped by our backstage broadcast inside LA’s Staples Center, well I felt compelled to bring these rumors to her. And I was surprised to hear her response.
It probably doesn’t matter which Cyrus you’re talking about: for any of them, it’s pretty exciting to have a song on the radio and participate in GRAMMY Week.
The latest to partake in this is Billy Ray’s youngest daughter and Miley’s little sister Noah, who is making a name for herself with the Labrinth-assisted track “Make Me (Cry).”
“I’m like a little stressed out, a little nervous,” the teenager offered during our chat inside Staples Center. “This whole experience has been great.”
The experience has included releasing the track, performing on “The Tonight Show” and prepping for an upcoming spot on James Corden’s “The Late Late Show.” Corden hosted The GRAMMYs last weekend and Cyrus divulged to us that she would probably watch the award show at home, on the couch, Chinese food in hand.
It probably served as a well-deserved break from the promo run she’s been on behind the single. Cyrus is currently in the studio working on her debut album, “NC-17.”
“I don’t have a date for it yet,” she said. “It’s very far along but I still just want to get those final few songs that are like, ‘Alright, this is what makes the album me.’”
And something tells me that if she’s looking for advice on that, well… she won’t have to travel far from the couch to get it.
Julia Michaels is attempting to complete a transition that a handful of other artists are familiar with: Keri Hilson, Ne-Yo, Jason Derulo and Ryan Tedder come to mind immediately.
The songwriter is now keeping the hits for herself, and singing them. It all started with a track that is currently climbing up the pop radio charts: “Issues.”
“The song was so personal to me,” Michaels explained to me. “It felt uncomfortable thinking that someone else was going to sing such a personal song of mine.”
So Michaels sang it and now radio stations are playing it. It’s far from the first time she’s heard her lyrics on the airwaves though; the songstress has a co-write credit on Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and has also penned tracks for Demi Lovato, Britney Spears and the aforementioned Derulo to name a few.
“Of course I had respect for them before, but now I’m like, ‘You guys are my heroes,’” Michaels said of her newer-found-respect for the artists she has worked with. “This is so different.”
In example: instead of at an event or in the studio on GRAMMY Week, there Michaels was at our backstage broadcast, granting interviews with radio stations across the globe regarding her past discography and current single. But with
“The first time I heard ‘Issues’ on the radio I bawled like a baby,’” she admitted. “I was like, ‘Whoa, this is happening. It’s so crazy.’”
And if the success of her prior hits is any indication, it’s only going to get crazier.
The times’ they are-a-changin’. It used to be based on call-in requests or “call-out” research panels. Lately it’s charts populated by tweets or “Shazams.” And for Starley, it was a zero-percent skip rate on Spotify.
“It went nuts online,” Starley, surname Hope, said of her track “Call On Me.” A remix by producer Ryan Riback made its way to a playlist on the streaming service and what followed was the makings of a hit record, although some stations in the U.S. opt for the original opposed to the dance version. “It broke my career as an artist and it’s really cool.”
And interestingly enough for Starley, the newcomer has zero preference on which version people hear.
“I think it’s really good to have different versions out of something because if certain people like that dance version, that’s great,” she explained. “But if it reaches a certain other type of people with the slower version, I’m cool with that… the more, the merrier.”
Hey, the idea of a popular remix worked out well for Mike Posner, who scored a GRAMMY nomination in part to the popularity of SeeB remixing “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” from its original form. There Starley and I were, talking about this inside Staples Center during GRAMMY weekend as Posner’s track was up for “Song Of The Year.” But first things first – the singer wants to release more music.
“I’m working on an album, working on my next single,” she revealed. “I haven’t got any dates, but it’s definitely coming.”
Hopefully for Starley like “Call On Me,” her fans will be sure not to skip over it.
The 59th GRAMMYs proved to be an interesting mix of the predictable and the unpredictable.
Heading in to the night, you knew Adele was going to sweep the three major categories. The songstress took home all five gramophones that she was nominated for, including Record, Song and Album Of The Year.
You also probably assumed (correctly) that the singer, nee Adele Adkins, would turn in a rousing performance of her hit “Hello,” proving to open the show on the loveliest of notes.
James Corden? He was exactly what you expected: funny, not unsafe and collaborative. We saw the Carpool Karaoke segment coming from as far away as Justin Bieber or Drake were sitting (neither attended the show).
Actually on the karaoke bit – why didn’t CBS, which broadcasts the Patriots games, pull in Tom Brady or Julian Edelman for that spot? The final product looked more real-life karaoke than of the edited, Carpool variety: some didn’t know the lyrics, others were a little off and I think everyone at one point contributed to the awkwardness.
Then there were the political statements. From the subtle (Katy Perry wore an arm band reading “PERSIST”) to the not-so-subtle (A Tribe Called Quest complete with Busta Rhymes calling America’s Commander-In-Chief “President Agent Orange”). But hey, if you tuned in expecting not to see that then you simply haven’t been paying attention to the past year-and-a-half of our country.
Sunday night’s award show, which rose slightly in the ratings from last year, threw us a few curveballs too. Metallica, who took the stage with Lady Gaga, would say that’s putting things lightly. First Laverne Cox introduces the performance by only mentioning Gaga’s name and then lead singer James Hetfield’s microphone wasn’t working.
You didn’t hear Hetfield (mostly) and something you didn’t see were the stagehands in the commercial break after Beyonce’s performance. They had to use leaf blowers to clean the stage from confetti for the following act.
Another incident you didn’t see: the fact that every vendor inside Staples Center closes for the show, yet there was a rogue McDonald’s dishing burgers and fries to hungry attendees through the stand’s side door in cash-only transactions. From what I witnessed, it appeared that someone from the venue came over and shut down the operation.
Yeah, definitely didn’t expect to see GRAMMY-goers decked out in black ties and gowns while downing Big Macs. I also didn’t expect to see Adele have a performance-snafu… again.
Remember last year? The microphone inside the piano fell over and caused a weird sound throughout the number. This year, the flub occurred while Adele was performing a rearranged version of George Michael’s “Fast Love” in tribute to the fallen star. The 28 year-old accidentally sang an uncensored line and immediately hit the brakes.
“’I know its live TV; I’m sorry I can’t do it again, like last year,” she said. “I’m sorry for swearing. I’m sorry for starting again. Can we please start it again?”
Adele eventually reset and turned in another spectacular performance. Predictably, she stole the show. But no one could have predicted how.
For day three of our broadcast with Westwood One Backstage at The 59th GRAMMYs we chatted with a bunch of current and former nominees while also speaking with a few friends-of-the-show. It was great to see Train’s Pat Monahan and Gavin DeGraw. I also interviewed Lukas Graham for the second time; the first time was at The GRAMMYs last year and now they’re up for three awards including Record and Song Of The Year, plus they’ll perform with Kelsea Ballerini. Noah Cyrus stopped by and compared me to her dad, LeAnn Rimes remembered her big GRAMMY wins from 20 years ago and Charli XCX explained how she chooses to collaborate with people before I brought up Selena Gomez to her.
So great to see a couple of current and possibly future GRAMMY nominees on my second day here in Los Angeles and our first day inside Staples Center for Westwood One’s Backstage at The GRAMMYs. I asked Mike Posner and Daya about the big day plus met Dua Lipa. Also, we chatted about a couple neighborhoods in Manhattan when “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Paige Mobley and singer/songwriter Max stopped by.
On my first day of coverage in Los Angeles for The 59th GRAMMYs, I attended The Recording Academy Producers And Engineers Wing 10th Annual event which honored 12-time GRAMMY winner Jack White. The artist’s friend Conan O’Brien was on hand and stopped to chat about his Patriots winning Super Bowl 51. I also spoke with Regina Spektor and Academy President Neil Portnow.
This is the story of a song, its GRAMMY nomination and how one small suggestion can have a ripple effect amongst multiple artists.
Yes, this is the story – as unlikely as it may seem – of Mike Posner’s “I Took A Pill In Ibiza,” before the producer SeeB remixed it for pop radio’s indulgence.
The genesis of this track can be traced back to Posner’s actual trip to the Balearic Island where he took a pill in the presence of Avicii. But that experience did not immediately yield a hit record. Matter-of-fact, had it not been for a chat with popular country artist, Posner might have kept the story to himself.
That chat occurred with Jake Owen and it happened on Posner’s 26th birthday.
“Basically I played (Owen) a song, a different song, and he goes, ‘What inspired that tune?’ I said, ‘I just sort of made it up,’” Posner recalled during an interview that took place inside the Staples Center on his birthday last year, which fell on GRAMMY weekend.
“And he looked at me and he goes, ‘Well why don’t you just tell the truth?’”
Sounds easy, but it obviously is not something that any artist can do effectively. Yet that night, Posner tried. The Duke University alumnus hopped on a plane and wrote, “I Took A Pill In Ibiza.”
Soon after, Posner found himself on a plane again, but this time he was sitting across from singer/songwriter Nash Overstreet. The Nashville native once shared a record label home with Posner on RCA as a member of the pop-rock group Hot Chelle Rae.
“(Posner) told me he had been hanging with Jake Owen recently,” Overstreet said via telephone from Los Angeles. “And he told me he wanted to write painfully realistic, accurate truth in to music.”
It was almost as if Owen was now speaking through Posner to other artists. The result was similar: Overstreet was inspired to write the title track from his EP, “U Don’t Get 2 Do That.” The truth in that song even resonated with Hot Chelle Rae lead singer Ryan Follese, who after hearing it advised Overstreet to keep the song for himself and release it as a single.
The Gospel of Jake Owen continued to spread. Adam Friedman is another singer and songwriter who co-wrote and/or produced five different songs on Posner’s last LP “At Night, Alone.” While in-studio to promote his forthcoming EP “Green,” I mentioned the story of “Ibiza” to Friedman – a graduate of the Berklee College of Music.
“That theme has definitely shed on to me,” Friedman noted of writing songs with authenticity, specifically when talking about his single “What If?”which he’ll perform on “The Bachelor” February 13.
“I cried… not like balled, but I got tears,” the artist admitted after finding out that Posner’s “Ibiza” snagged the major GRAMMY nod. “I was on the same freeway that I had been on going to his house to work on that album. Just knowing where he was at when I met him three years ago and where I was at and just this three year journey that I’ve taken with him. To see that he got “Song Of The Year” (nomination), which was one of his goals, and to see him reach it… it was really, really cool for me to be a part of something like that.”
In the end, three artists were affected; two charts were topped (“Ibiza” hit number one on both Billboard’s Dance and Pop Airplay tallies) and one GRAMMY nomination was received. Posner will find out Sunday night if the song takes home the Gramophone.