In an interview taped last August, singer Rachel Platten talked to me about her second album with Columbia Records, “Waves,” which came out last October.
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In an interview taped last August, singer Rachel Platten talked to me about her second album with Columbia Records, “Waves,” which came out last October.
Some news and notes after Sunday night’s American Music Awards broadcast from my vantage point as an audience member inside Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater…
– Fun fact: This was my first time actually watching the AMAs from the crowd? My previous four years were spent in the press room. I was given a VIP Orchestra seat and hung out with my fellow Cumulus Media/Westwood One colleagues.
– There were other familiar faces nearby though – Rachel Platten was at the end of the row in front of us! Always love when she and I have a chance to catch up. Rachel is heading to New York for Thanksgiving; she’ll be singing for children in local hospitals on Turkey Day. How amazing is that? Not-so-amazing: after we snapped this selfie, a waiter walking up the aisle spilled a cup of ice on her. Thankfully, no harm no foul.
– During his opening, Jamie Foxx went a bit off script. Ahead of the broadcast, the instructions given to us by Executive Producer Larry Klein were that we were to stay seated and quiet for Jamie’s speech and the P!nk/Kelly Clarkson performance, saving our energy for the opening credits. But Foxx had a different plan, asking everyone to make noise and stand. It contracted what we heard and it might have come off weird on TV because Foxx was the only person lit for the entire segment.
– Especially considering it didn’t happen right in front of us on stage, the audience inside Microsoft Theater was really captivated by the P!nk “Beautiful Trauma” performance. dick clark productions really outdid itself again – Drake performing in the Bellagio fountains for the Billboard Music Awards was epic. You could say the latest stunt reached new heights…
– The BTS phenomenon was fun to witness in real life. Every time the guys stood up, the audience screamed. Every time there was a cut-away shot to the guys, the audience screamed. It got so bad that I’m pretty sure producers had to stop showing some of the cut-aways in the venue because the suddenly loud screams were probably startling performers. And there was just as much noise outside; over 5,000 people gathered in L.A. Live to try and catch a glimpse of the K-Pop boy band.
— 95.5 PLJ (@955PLJ) November 19, 2017
– When the crowd figured out during the commercial break that BTS was next to perform, well… here’s what it looked and sounded like…
– Some of my personal favorite performances: Demi Lovato, Niall Horan, Shawn Mendes and Portugal. The Man. Demi sang to a track for the chorus of “Sorry Not Sorry” but had no backing vocals on the verses, which she slayed.
SO PUMPED for the #AMAs and @ddlovato's performance of #SorryNotSorry. But why can performing on 📺 be nerve-wracking? She explained at #WWOBackstage to @ralphieaversa. #DEMIxAMAs pic.twitter.com/8uObfyuMMB
— 95.5 PLJ (@955PLJ) November 20, 2017
– Final fun fact: In order to get everyone in their seats so the place looks full when the broadcast begins, the venue shut down concessions 15 minutes prior to the show’s start. As soon as the AMAs went live on ABC, the alcohol began flowing again… or at least, that’s what a well-placed source told me.
On Sunday I covered my fifth consecutive Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas. I also acted as the on-stage warm-up act, hyping and prompting the crowd before the show and during commercial breaks, for my fourth year. Here are some news and notes from my perspective both on the Magenta Carpet and backstage.
– Any artist that actually stopped and did media on the carpet should get some type of award. The temperatures outside T-Mobile Arena were near triple digits. It was so hot outside that inside they actually blasted the air conditioning during rehearsals. Perhaps it was a nice way to test how cold the venue can become ahead of it receiving an NHL franchise?
– I brought a change of dress shirts to account for the weather. Almost everything I wore in both outfits came from my favorite designer, John Varvatos. The tuxedo pants were H&M and my flower and pocket square were both from TheTieBar.com.
– I’d hate to say I called it but… I called it. Celine Dion stole the show at the BBMAs. I had chills listening to 18,000 inside T-Mobile Arena sing-a-long to “My heart Will Go On.” Celine is beloved as an icon, her voice is still impeccable, the movie is adored and the song as of late has gained new life as a meme of sorts. It was one my second-favorite moment from Sunday night.
– Great running in to Dan Kanter backstage. I first met Dan in 2009 inside The Mall at Steamtown in Scranton; at the time he was playing guitar for this new artist… maybe you’ve heard of him… Justin Bieber? Kanter is Bieber’s musical director and assumed similar duties for Julia Michaels’ performance of “Issues” – which I was a big fan of.
– That Rachel Platten “La La Land” adlib was just that – it was not in the teleprompter. I got a kick out of it.
– Something I really loved about this year’s show is that the stars really seemed to be enjoying themselves. You had Young Money – Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Drake – front and center both literally and figuratively for the entire show. Instead of acting too cool for the room they decided to simply join in on the party. With Drake setting the new single-night record for awards, they had plenty to celebrate.
– One of my favorite backstage moments came when BK and Tyler from Florida Georgia Line walked off stage after accepting the BBMA for “Top Country Song.” The duo embraced, let out a Ric Flair-like “Woo!” and said to each other, “Man that never gets old!” Nice to see a genuine moment of gratitude between the two.
– Another cool backstage interaction involved Diddy, who was about to pay tribute to The Notorious B.I.G. and reveal the trailer for the new Bad Boy movie “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.” The Chainsmokers were walking off the stage after accepting another award and Puff gave them a standing O before chatting with Alex and Drew for a few minutes. That’d be a fun collaboration right?
– Give credit to Vanessa Hudgens for holding her own on national TV and to Ludacris for once again making the whole hosting gig appear way easier than it actually is.
– Some other familiar faces that said hello backstage: Chris Daughtry, Miss America Savvy Shields, Mark Cuban and Hailee Steinfeld.
– I mentioned my second-favorite moment but not the one that tops the list. That honor belongs to my Mom. She was in the crowd cheering on her son while putting the video camera on her new-er iPhone to good use. I am thankful I was able to share the night with her.
Nash Overstreet called in to the show from Los Angeles to chat about his new solo EP, ‘U Don’t Get 2 Do That.’ The Hot Chelle Rae guitarist also talked about keeping in touch with his bandmates, Mike Posner inspiring him and working with other artists like Britney Spears and Rachel Platten on different projects.
Some news and notes from the American Music Awards red carpet…
– Yes the rain was a major, major factor on the carpet and its impact on arrivals almost cannot be overstated. More on that here.
– It’s so nice to attend these and see familiar faces, whether it be publicists, fellow members of the media or artists. On the press front, great seeing The Insider’s Keltie Knight, Sweetyhigh’s Cassie DiLaura, the whole Sirius XM Hits 1 squad and Hollywire’s Chelsea Briggs.
– As far as artists and other invited guests: loved saying hello to Mark Cuban, Rachel Platten, Daya and Bebe Rexha, the latter who performed for Westwood One the night prior at our “Rooftop Live” event inside downtown Los Angeles’ Perch. Rexha’s catalog of hits she either penned and/or is featured on is impressive, and I’m rooting for her latest release “I Got You.”
– What I loved the most about the weather: the temperature. I’m used to melting every year on the AMAs red carpet; far from the case this year. I usually end up drinking 3 or 4 bottles of water in the process. I maybe drank one for the two-and-a-half hours I was out there.
– Another interesting note about my role: it changes from year-to-year on the carpet. This year, I served two purposes: grab content for my radio stations’ platforms as well as nationally and assist our red carpet reporter, Kerri Kasem, when necessary.
– After the red carpet, it was off to the one-on-one room. When the show wrapped, I dropped equipment at my room, called my mom, poured a drink and waited for my producer, Jay Buff, to arrive. After a quick download of the night’s events we put it all in the past and walked over to the after party. That was followed by an after-after party in where else, but the hotel lobby. We then ordered food from my favorite spot downtown, L.A. Café and devoured the grub before joining two different morning radio shows for American Music Awards recaps.
Eventually, I slept.
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.
“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.
My Thanksgiving tradition: Waking up early, walking a few blocks to Central Park West, chatting with some friends who are performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and snapping a few photos and videos the floats.
A big thanks to Macy’s along with Rachel Platten, Pat Monahan, Brendon Urie, Questlove, Shawn Mendes, Prince Royce, Trey Songz and Spongebob Squarepants.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that Rachel Platten “has experienced a lot in 2015.” And that was before she performed her hit “Fight Song” in front of 50,000 people with Taylor Swift.
The latest chapter of the fairy tale that has been Platten’s year might trace back a little further in time, but for our sake let’s rewind to about a week and a half ago. Swift, in the midst of her massive “The 1989 World Tour,” was set to perform at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field. Backstage she held court with Platten and a couple of country artists: singer Kelsea Ballerini and the group Little Big Town.
This is public knowledge because of Swift’s Instagram page. The “Shake It Off” singer posted a series of videos to the social network, including one of her and the rest of the crew singing along to “Fight Song.”
A week later the 34 year-old artist found herself in the middle of Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, singing her uplifting anthem with Swift.
And to think, when I spoke with Platten just after her birthday in May, she was simply looking forward to touring with Colbie Caillat and Christina Perri this summer.
“I can’t wait! I’m so excited,” she told me before joking about the tour’s title, “Girls Night Out, Boys Can Come Too.”
“Thank God (the word ‘Boys’) was added (to the title),” she added while laughing. The trek kicks off July 10 at Mohegan Sun Arena. “So sorry!”
Platten probably still can’t wait to support Caillat and Perri but the singer has to be just as excited about the trajectory of her single on the charts. Prior to the Swift co-sign, “Fight Song” peaked at 36 on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s now at 25.
On the Nielsen BDS Pop Chart, the single moves to 30 this week, up five spots and over 400 spins. That chart reflects the number of times a song is played on Top 40 stations across the country.
It is probably not a coincidence that this all takes place after Platten’s cameos with Swift. Still, it is a testament to the Massachusetts-born singer’s talent along with the fact that “Fight Song” clearly had a lot more fight left in it as well.
In episode 3 of my new podcast, I talk about my interactions backstage at the Billboard Music Awards with One Direction and the cast of ‘Entourage.’ Then – it’s back to New York for doctors appointments and down the shore to Point Pleasant, N.J. for 95.5 PLJ’s “Summer Kick-Off.” Plain White T’s, Life of Dillon, Lifehouse and Rachel Platten all join the podcast this week.
“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).
Rachel Platten has experienced a lot in 2015 – from performing her uplifting anthem “Fight Song” on “Good Morning America” to enjoying cupcakes emblazed with her face.
“Which I didn’t even know you could do!” exclaimed Platten of the dessert, which friends at her record label served for her birthday last week. “It makes them more delicious.”
Everything has to taste better for the New England-born singer these days. Platten dropped her first album in 2003. Her next release came eight years later. Both were recorded independently from a major label. Then Platten, “Fight Song” in tow, shopped around her and the track from label-to-label. I jokingly mention that she “may have heard ‘no’ a few times;” rightfully so she quickly dismisses this.
“I think I’ve been rejected by probably every single person in the industry,” she responded, with little sense of hyperbole in her tone. “But I just won’t give up. I don’t know. I have this crazy little thing in my head that won’t quit.
“I didn’t care. Of course it hurt, but something in me just wouldn’t let me stop. I felt like I had this message to give the world.”
So did Columbia Records, the label that signed Platten and released her Fight Song EP. In addition to the “GMA” performance, Platten is enjoying her greatest chart success yet. “Fight Song” peaked last week at 11 on the Billboard Adult Pop chart; it’s been on the chart for 11 weeks.
“As I spread this message, I get the privilege of listening to other people’s struggles and what they’re working on overcoming, and what I’ve found to be so true is that we all have something,” she said. “Sometimes we’re shy about saying it publicly; sometimes we don’t want to declare it. But when you do there’s this power that comes from that, and you get this rush of love and support from your friends and family.”
And that rush will probably continue through the summer for Platten, as she tours in support of co-headliners Colbie Caillat and Christina Perri. The “Girls Night Out, Boys Can Come Too” trek kicks off at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on July 10.