Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sorry for not posting again but I have a legit reason now!

I finally got a JOB!!!  It's  not the greatest job in the world but it's a job. i should be making more frequent posts soon.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Selena Gomez Signing New Record Deal Soon

Selena Gomez headed to NYC this week to focus on work. And being the amazing/lovely/incredible person that she is, she spent some time with her Selenators as well.

One mega fan met Selena multiple times throughout the week (#lucky), including one day when Selena GAVE HIM A RIDE IN HER CAR. Seriously, she scooped him up and let him join her in her car—because she's the coolest person ever!

And not only did she give him a ride, but Sel also shared some major career news that the lucky super fan revealed in the tweet below (get ready to FREAK OUT):

Selena's in NYC to sign a new record deal, finish the album, and getting scripts for 3 new movies my queens coming back BIG watch out y'all!

Are you excited for new Selena movies and music? What kind of movie do you hope she stars in next?

Full @

X Factor: Fifth Judge Concept Revealed

The X Factor 2014 is set to get another new, fifth judge for the live shows… and a new category for them to mentor.

Louis Walsh, Cheryl Cole, Simon Cowell and Mel B kicked off auditions last month and will go into the live shows later this year mentoring – in no particular order – the Boys, Girls, Overs and Groups.

But – according to the Metro newspaper – a fifth ‘wildcard’ category will be introduced along with a brand new judge to mentor them for the finals.

The wild card category will be made up of a mix of acts from the other categories who failed to make it into the live finals in their original respective groups of budding performers.

“Simon Cowell is planning on including a wildcard category which will be mentored by a mystery fifth judge,” an insider told the newspape today. “There was a creative meeting three weeks ago and plans are now being put into action.”

According to the tabloid, favourites for the role include Rita Ora and Mary J Blige.

Both have appeared on the show in the past, but Rita has publicly ruled herself out of the show.

But the new fifth judge spot is a much reduced role compared to the other judges’, having to only appear on the live finals and missing out on the room auditions, arena auditions, bootcamp and judges’ houses stages.

This may mean that stars who couldn’t commit to the full series could take up the spot.

The insider added: “A fifth judge will prevent the deadlock and add some spice to the panel during the live shows.

“Rita Ora and Mary J Blige are currently in discussions with show bosses.”

Didn't see this posted. What do you think about the concept and who do you think will do it? Apparently Demi Lovato is also now an option.

Kesha's Essay for Elle UK on Rehab, Body Issues + Pressures

There had been a lot of speculation over Kesha's two-month stint in rehab earlier this year. While she admitted herself for an eating disorder, many publicly wondered whether that might be a euphemism for substance abuse. Now the "Rising Star" expert and "We R Who We R" singer has opened up about her experience in an essay for Elle UK, addressing the rumors and confronting her own issues of insecurity and the pressures she faces as a female pop star in the music industry.

Sure, I've written songs about partying, but my dirty little secret is that I'm actually incredibly responsible," she writes early on, describing her thoughts during the trip to the rehab center. "I take my music and career very seriously, and certainly didn't land in this situation from partying. But I was cut off from the outside world and I imagined people making up stories at a time when what I really needed was support."

Kesha goes on to describe her passion for music that spawned from feeling like an outsider through her early years, coping with bullying at school by dedicating herself to her art until singing a record contract at 18. But even though she found her unique style rewarded, the entertainment business was not a salvation.

"The music industry has set unrealistic expectations for what a body is supposed to look like, and I started becoming overly critical of my own body because of that," she writes. "I felt like people were always lurking, trying to take pictures of me with the intention of putting them up opine or printing them in magazines and making me look terrible."

She stood up for herself through her music, writing anthems for empowerment like "We R Who We R," "Warrior" and "Love Into The Light," but even those began to feel like lies.

"I felt like a liar, telling people to love themselves as they are, while I was being hateful to myself and really hurting my body. I wanted to control things that weren't in my power, but I was controlling the wrong things. I convinced myself that being sick, being skinny was part of my job. It felt safer somehow."

Eventually, she asked her mom for help and admitted herself to rehab. The growth process was slow at first but it worked and she was able to focus on her music without obsessing over how she looks.

"I knew I was ready to leave when I'd gained enough confidence to get on a plane knowing there would be paparazzi at the airport at the other end. I was right - they were there. But this time, when I saw the pictures, I felt OK."

The entire piece has been scanned and posted at ATRL and you can read it here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Usher to Perform at the VMA's

Usher will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his self-titled debut with a performance at the MTV Video Music Awards next month.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Grammy winner will open the 31st annual ceremony, which will air live on August 24 from the Forum in Inglewood, Calif.

Usher previously graced the VMA stage in 2010, performing a medley of “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love” and “OMG.”

Just last month, he performed a retrospective of hits along with “Good Kisser” at the 2014 BET Awards.

Ariana Grande will also hit the VMA stage to perform her Zedd-produced single “Break Free” along with Australian pop-punk act 5 Seconds of Summer.

Usher is gearing up for the release of his eighth album. Earlier this week, he debuted his Pharrell-produced single “She Came to Give It to You” featuring Nicki Minaj.

The Future of Music, an Essay by Taylor Swift

Where will the music industry be in 20 years, 30 years, 50 years?

Before I tell you my thoughts on the matter, you should know that you're reading the opinion of an enthusiastic optimist: one of the few living souls in the music industry who still believes that the music industry is not dying…it's just coming alive.

There are many (many) people who predict the downfall of music sales and the irrelevancy of the album as an economic entity. I am not one of them. In my opinion, the value of an album is, and will continue to be, based on the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work, and the financial value that artists (and their labels) place on their music when it goes out into the marketplace. Piracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently.

In recent years, you've probably read the articles about major recording artists who have decided to practically give their music away, for this promotion or that exclusive deal. My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every young girl I meet…is that they all realize their worth and ask for it.

Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It's my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album's price point is. I hope they don't underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.

Arrows Through the Heart
In mentioning album sales, I'd like to point out that people are still buying albums, but now they're buying just a few of them. They are buying only the ones that hit them like an arrow through the heart or have made them feel strong or allowed them to feel like they really aren't alone in feeling so alone. It isn't as easy today as it was 20 years ago to have a multiplatinum-selling album, and as artists, that should challenge and motivate us.

There are always going to be those artists who break through on an emotional level and end up in people's lives forever. The way I see it, fans view music the way they view their relationships. Some music is just for fun, a passing fling (the ones they dance to at clubs and parties for a month while the song is a huge radio hit, that they will soon forget they ever danced to). Some songs and albums represent seasons of our lives, like relationships that we hold dear in our memories but had their time and place in the past.

However, some artists will be like finding "the one." We will cherish every album they put out until they retire and we will play their music for our children and grandchildren. As an artist, this is the dream bond we hope to establish with our fans. I think the future still holds the possibility for this kind of bond, the one my father has with the Beach Boys and the one my mother has with Carly Simon.

I think forming a bond with fans in the future will come in the form of constantly providing them with the element of surprise. No, I did not say "shock"; I said "surprise." I believe couples can stay in love for decades if they just continue to surprise each other, so why can't this love affair exist between an artist and their fans?

In the YouTube generation we live in, I walked out onstage every night of my stadium tour last year knowing almost every fan had already seen the show online. To continue to show them something they had never seen before, I brought out dozens of special guest performers to sing their hits with me. My generation was raised being able to flip channels if we got bored, and we read the last page of the book when we got impatient. We want to be caught off guard, delighted, left in awe. I hope the next generation's artists will continue to think of inventive ways of keeping their audiences on their toes, as challenging as that might be.

There are a few things I have witnessed becoming obsolete in the past few years, the first being autographs. I haven't been asked for an autograph since the invention of the iPhone with a front-facing camera. The only memento "kids these days" want is a selfie. It's part of the new currency, which seems to be "how may followers you have on Instagram."

Fan Power
A friend of mine, who is an actress, told me that when the casting for her recent movie came down to two actresses, the casting director chose the actress with more Twitter followers. I see this becoming a trend in the music industry. For me, this dates back to 2005 when I walked into my first record-label meetings, explaining to them that I had been communicating directly with my fans on this new site called Myspace. In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans—not the other way around.

Another theme I see fading into the gray is genre distinction. These days, nothing great you hear on the radio seems to come from just one musical influence. The wild, unpredictable fun in making music today is that anything goes. Pop sounds like hip hop; country sounds like rock; rock sounds like soul; and folk sounds like country—and to me, that's incredible progress. I want to make music that reflects all of my influences, and I think that in the coming decades the idea of genres will become less of a career-defining path and more of an organizational tool.

This moment in music is so exciting because the creative avenues an artist can explore are limitless. In this moment in music, stepping out of your comfort zone is rewarded, and sonic evolution is not only accepted…it is celebrated. The only real risk is being too afraid to take a risk at all.

Celebrity Spotlight
I predict that some things will never change. There will always be an increasing fixation on the private lives of musicians, especially the younger ones. Artists who were at their commercial peak in the '70s, '80s and '90s tell me, "It was never this crazy for us back then!" And I suspect I'll be saying that same thing to younger artists someday (God help them). There continues to be a bad girl vs. good girl/clean-cut vs. sexy debate, and for as long as those labels exist, I just hope there will be contenders on both sides. Everyone needs someone to relate to.

And as for me? I'll just be sitting back and growing old, watching all of this happen or not happen, all the while trying to maintain a life rooted in this same optimism.

And I'd also like a nice garden.

World Street Journal

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Arianna Grande Brings Back TRL for one day

NEW YORK (AP) — MTV will reprise its former Total Request Live countdown show for a day with breakthrough pop singer Ariana Grande.

The network announced Wednesday it will bring back the series on July 2. Grande has the No. 2 song in the country with the saxophone-laced Problem.

The 20-year-old will perform her latest hit on Total Ariana Live, debut her follow-up single and discuss her upcoming sophomore album.

TRL ended its run in 2008 after 10 years. The show was MTV's most influential franchise, but the network pulled the plug after declining ratings.

Grande was the star of the Nickelodeon sitcoms Victorious and Sam & Cat. She released her debut album last year, which featured the hit The Way.

The half-hour Total Ariana Live will air July 2 at 7 p.m. ET.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jennifer Lopez wants Selena Gomez to play her in a movie!

If there is ever a film made of Jennifer Lopez’s life, could Selena Gomez take the title role? The thrice-married mother of two says Justin Bieber’s main squeeze would be the perfect actress to portray her on the big screen.

She may be “from the block,” but Jennifer Lopez has declared that Texas native Selena Gomez should play her in a biopic. But does the “Come & Get It” singer have the chops – and other assets – to fill the role?

The Connection Between Selena Gomez & Jennifer Lopez

“I would want Selena Gomez to play me in a movie,” Jennifer Lopez, 44, recently said. “She is a cutie!” gushed the triple threat, piling on the sweet praise for the young Disney alum.

This isn’t the first time that the two talented Latinas have drawn comparisons. Producer Jason Evigam, who worked on Gomez’s debut solo album Stars Dance, told MTV last year that the 21-year-old phenom is bound for superstardom. “I think it’s going to take her to the next level…. I kind of feel she’s going to be like a new J.Lo kind of thing.”

Even “Save the Day,” the Latin pop house track on Selena’s album, was originally intended for J.Lo. Said Evigam, “Jennifer Lopez wanted [it] really badly. It’s, like, real. It’s, like, really cool [and] up-tempo. It’s about like kind of ‘[Let's] dance all night. Let’s save the day. Let’s go into the next day. Let’s keep it going all night’ type of thing.”

Selena Gomez: Could She Play J.Lo?

But the two are connected even deeper than that! The 21-year-old Gomez is actually named after the late Tejano singer Selena who Lopez portrayed in the eponymous 1997 biopic, which was the American Idol judge’s breakout movie role.

For her part, Selena has been hoping to move herself into more serious work as an actress. “Being part of the Disney Channel was such a blessing, and I’m super happy with what my show accomplished, but acting is something I would like to take on more seriously.” She continues, “I don’t necessarily feel accomplished. I want to create a whole different persona when it comes to acting,” Selena told Teen Vogue of her career aspirations.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Nicole Scherzinger: "I've scrapped five whole albums"

What's going to happen with 'Boomerang', Nicole?
"It's just going to remain a stand-alone single. In fact I did an entire album that belongs with 'Boomerang'. It had its own family. Unfortunately I don't know if those songs will ever be heard, but that's just part of it. I have probably five albums, and I wonder if the songs will ever see the light of day. Maybe one day I'll just release songs for my fans? I don't want to confuse people. You have to be in the moment, and we're going with the sound that is right now - fresh and new to us."

It must be quite hard working on an entire album just to let it go?
"Yes, I've been doing this for how many years now? And do you know how many songs I wanted to put out that never came out? I'm used to it. In fact, I'm very protective of my babies, so now if they're not ready and I know people might not quite get it, yeah, I guess I do hold them close to me and say it's just not the right time for them. I think a lot of artists are like that.

"We don't just record 12 songs, we have a catalogue of songs. I remember I was in Ne-Yo's catalogue once and was like, 'What is this song - this is beautiful. This song is epic'. I don't know if they'll ever see the light of day. Who knows - maybe they'll go to other artists?"

Full interview:

Emblem3 becomes "Emblem2", Drew Leaves Group

We have an important announcement to make. While we regret sharing this news, we as a group need to share that Drew has decided to move forward in pursuit of his solo career and will no longer be with Emblem3 or joining us on The Fireside Story Sessions. We’re sad to see Drew go but he will always be our brother, and we couldn’t be happier for him as he starts his new journey as a solo artist. If you’d like to stay updated on Drew’s solo album and news tune into Drew’s Twitter/Instagram and his YouTube channel for an announcement on June 27th regarding his new album. Drew sends hugs out to all the Emblems.

We know many of you may be concerned about what this means for Emblem3, but I can assure you this is just the beginning! Me and Keaton started this band when we were 9 and 11 years old and we will continue making music for our fans. We love you with all our heart. E3 has always been about a partnership of like minded musicians and we’re committed to continuing this journey alongside you all. And who knows, you may also start seeing some very familiar faces popping up .

Not surprised at all.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Pete Wentz interview

We are backstage at KROQ Weenie Roast when we catch up with Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz. Having known him for years the conversation starts very casually, "What is new?"

"Same old same old," he says. But that is definitely not the case, as Wentz, who was just working on new material with lead vocalist Patrick Stump right before we meet him, is very excited by and has a lot to say about the current state of popular music. In this entertaining chat Wentz explains why the album is the only thing off limits right now, gives a timeline for new Fall Out Boy music and discusses child actors.

How's the tour been going?
Good, we just got back, we did South America and then we went over and played in Monte Carlo randomly for the World Music Awards. Then we're getting ready to go out, we're doing festivals this summer and then go out with Paramore.

Did you gamble in Monte Carlo?
I did not, I tried to. I went for the James Bond vibe or whatever and you couldn't get in if you did not have the right attire.

What would be James Bond's games of choice?
He's a roulette player. The funny thing is I don't know any gambling at all. I spent my last few days in Vermont at my parents' house and we played War, we learned how to play with my kid. It's not a hard game to master (laughs).

How old is your son now?
Five and a half, crazy.

How is he as a War player?
He calls two's "crummy two's" and he's an ace hogger, so he's a kid after my heart (laughs).

What is coming up for you guys musically?
We're writing. I was just listening to something Patrick had written in the trailer. So we're writing, finishing out the album cycle in South Africa in September and then I feel like the great thing about what internet culture has morphed into, we were goofing around with this weird French producer the other day just for the heck of it. And I feel like you can just put out whatever and as long as it's authentic to who you are. It can be singles or an EP, it's just whatever you want.

Is there an idea then of when new stuff will filter out?
I feel like it has to be before the end of the year. But we haven't set a date yet or what it's going to be like. I feel like you can just put out songs that you care about now.

Full story

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Demi Lovato: 'I'm really excited to work with Ed Sheeran'

Demi Lovato has spoken about her collaboration with Ed Sheeran, saying she's "really excited" to work with the singer.

The singer confirmed to Capital FM's Max that she and Sheeran will work together.

"He's just so talented so I'm really excited to work with him," the 'Neon Lights' singer said, also revealing that the pair had intended to get together to write this week before Sheeran had a change of plans.

"He was supposed to be here [London] this week, so we were gonna write. And now he's not, so we're trying to figure out a time when we can write together," Lovato explained.

The singer also spoke about Cheryl Cole, admitting that while she's never met the singer, she thinks she's "sweet".

"We've talked on Twitter, she said something about my documentary a while ago and it was really, really sweet and ever since then I was like, 'Ah she's so nice!'" Lovato said.

"So I don't 'know' know her but I'd like to pretend that I do!" she elaborated.

For the full interview with Demi Lovato tune into Max on Capital tonight from 10pm.

Read more:

Leona Lewis leaves Syco records for Island Records

Long-term Sony artist Leona Lewis has signed an exclusive recording contract with Universal's Island Records.

Lewis released four studio albums at Sony, clocking up sales of over 20 million globally. Her hit singles include the chart-topping Bleeding Love, which became the best-selling single worldwide in 2008.

When her 2012 studio album Glassheart - released on Syco/Sony - was a commercial disappointment in the UK and failed to be granted a full released in the US, her career appeared to have taken a serious knock.

But Lewis's 2013 Christmas-themed single One More Sleep breathed life back into her prospects, hitting No.3 on the Official UK Chart after being released in late November. The track's heavy airplay rotation helped propel festive album Christmas, With Love - another Syco release - to gold sales status in the UK.

Speaking about her signing to Island - a label of Sony rival Universal - Lewis said: “After seven incredible years at Sony I feel honoured to be given the opportunity to sign to perhaps the most iconic label of all, Island Records.

"To me Island has always been a label where artists can really flourish and are encouraged to express themselves. Island stands for quality music and signing with such a legendary label is really like a dream come true for me. I can’t wait to start making music with my new team.“

Darcus Beese president of Island added: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Leona into the Island family. I’ve watched and admired Miss Lewis from afar, witnessed her grow into one of this country’s most formidable female artists. Witnessed a girl from Hackney making and breaking records, topping the UK and US charts, earning numerous Brit and Grammy nominations, while remaining true to herself and her principles. All the while maintaining a genuine down to earth appeal. Soon as the ink dries, it’s on to the most exciting part of all, getting into the studio and making the record we know Leona has in her."

Lewis has been nominated for seven BRIT Awards, three Grammy Awards and won an Ivor Novello award.

She was recently confirmed as the most successful British female solo artist in UK chart history, with more Top 5 hits to her name (8 ) than any other British female.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lea Michele: 25 Things You Don't Know About Me

This year, Lea Michele has been hitting all the right notes: Along with with wrapping up season 5 of Glee, she's also released her solo album Louder, and her new book, Brunette Ambition is out now. Below, the 27-year-old star shares 25 things you don't know about her with Us Weekly.

1. I love homemade beauty remedies like cucumber face masks.
2. I love to cook! My go-to recipe is shaved radicchio, Parm and truffle whole-wheat pizza with a sunny side-up egg.
3. I worked at my dad's Jewish deli as a kid.
4. I have a cat named Sheila that I found with her litter under a bush on the Paramount lot. [Glee costar] Heather Morris has her brother.
5. Aliens was one of the first movies I ever saw. I'm still scared of scary movies, but I love them.
6. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill was the first CD I ever bought, and I still have it.
7. Growing up, hermit crabs were my favorite pet. I had about 20.
8. Almost Famous and Funny Girl are my top two movies.
9. I keep Gummi bears in the freezer and eat them in bed at night.
10. Drinking coffee in the morning is the most cherished part of my day.
11. I have a scar on my forehead from a boy throwing a tap shoe at my head in preschool.
12. I was a varsity debater in high school, and it's still one of the best things I've ever done.
13. I stole toilet paper from the White House when the Glee cast sang for Barack Obama.
14. I can open up a Starburst in my mouth.
15. My parents have been together since they were 13 years old.
16. I have 14 tattoos.
17. The first song I sang was Phantom of the Opera's "Angel of Music."
18. Watching angry news bloopers on YouTube is my guilty pleasure.
19. I can recite all of Maria's lines in West Side Story in Spanish. That's the only Spanish I know.
20. My parents are fluent in Spanish, but they made me try to learn French.
21. I was electrocuted by a horse fence while visiting Jonathan Groff's family farm.
22. As a child, I told my mom that I would one day marry Michael Jordan.
23. Stevie Nicks gave me one of her moon necklaces, and it's one of my most treasured possessions.
24. In Broadway's Spring Awakening, I got naked on stage every night.
25. I'm terrified of sharks and dark water.

Jamie Lynn Spears The Stories Behind 'The Journey' EP Songs

Video can be seen here

Fans of rising country sensation Jamie Lynn Spears will be very happy about the release of her new EP, "The Journey," today (May 27). As she shares a special playlist of video clips in which she explains the stories behind the songs, the singer tells Billboard says she's ready to give more to the the listeners who have been waiting a while for the music.

"For the past few years, I've been writing, working with different people, demoing songs, and really trying to figure out what the exact sound I wanted to put out there," Spears says. "My first exposure as an artist is really important. My fans have been so supportive, and have been so patient for me to get the music to them. They have heard all the YouTube clips, and my live shows, but they deserve to have something they can listen to in the car. I just want to connect with them, and them to get a grasp of who I am as an artist. It's time to release something to them."

The EP, which can be purchased via iTunes, was led by the release of her debut single, "How Could I Want More," last fall. Spears says the song, which is about her husband, is very personal to her.

"The single is the most personal thing I have ever put out. I wrote it about four years ago. I was in a vulnerable place and at a vulnerable moment. It's definitely one of the most personal songs and has been really well-received by my fans – and even by people who weren't familiar with my music. I think that being that personal and being that honest really translated well to the song."

Though pop music has been a part of her family's life -- older sister Britney Spears has famously made a career of it -- Country music has always had a close spot in Jamie Lynn's heart. She says it was among her earliest memories growing up in Louisiana. Have a conversation with the singer and you just might be surprised how deep her roots into the genre go. "My first musical memories would have to be with my daddy at the dirt bike track. He loved Merle Haggard and all the greats. I love Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty – especially the duets they had together. I am a big Patsy Cline fan, but I also love Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson. What you grow up on will always have a special place in your heart."

One key track from the EP that Spears has received a lot of feedback from is the touching "Big Bad World." The lyrics are particularly effective, with a clever line in the song being "I Dig Out A Dollar For The Homeless Man, But I'm The One That Could Use The Change." The singer told Billboard that her co-writer, Chris Tompkins, gets the credit for that one.

"Everyone I've talked to says 'Big Bad World' is their song. To me, I love it. You never know what song people are going to grab on to, but people have consistently grabbed on to it. We were talking about how lonely I was feeling, and really wanted something familiar. It was a cold day in Nashville. I was missing home. Being the genius that he is, Chris put that emotion in such a way, and that line came from that."

Since the release of her single, it's been a whirlwind for Jamie Lynn. The former "Zoey 101" star opened several dates for Alan Jackson this spring, which she said were a highlight.

"That was a dream come true. I've always been a huge Alan Jackson fan. My daddy and I danced to one of his songs at my wedding. Being able to be in the same room with him -- much less the same stage -- was an honor. I was nervous as you can imagine, but I was so honored to be considered to sing in front of the same fans that he has."

Jamie Lynn Spears is definitely one newer country singer that isn't afraid about showing a little bit of twangier side to her voice. After all, she admitted it comes naturally – and that's what "The Journey" is all about. "I grew up on that sound. When I moved to Nashville, and was in a writing room with different writers, 'Shotgun Wedding' was one of the first songs we came up with. Chris says 'If that's what happened, you can sing it.' That made me feel so great – to be myself and who I am.' It makes me proud."

Spears is currently in the midst of a radio tour, and if you think it might upset her if you ask her about sister, Britney – think again. She beams when discussing her older sibling, saying "I'm proud of my sister. She's worked hard to become extremely successful. It makes me proud, but it also gives me an outlet to prove who I am as a person and what I love."

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ariana Grande Rolling Stone Interview

How Ariana Grande and Max Martin Made 'Problem' the Song of the Summer
"Acting is fun," says Grande. "But music has always been first and foremost with me."

By Andy Greene
May 22, 2014 10:10 AM ET
There’s still another month of spring left, but it seems as though we’ve already heard the song of the summer: 20-year-old Nickelodeon vet Ariana Grande’s "Problem" – a sax-driven, 1990s-throwback-R&B jam featuring a guest rap by Iggy Azalea – has exploded online and on radio, selling 438,000 copies in its first week. It was the fourth-largest debut week for a woman, and the biggest-ever debut for someone under 21; the song has topped the iTunes chart in more than 50 countries. "What it’s done so far is just incredible in this day and age," says Tom Poleman, the president of National Programming Platforms for Clear Channel. “She could become one of pop music’s core artists.”
Watch Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea's 'Problem' Lyric Video
Grande was already a superstar before "Problem" – but mostly among junior-high students. The Florida native spent the past five years in the Nickelodeon trenches, putting in grueling days in her role as the dimwitted Cat Valentine on the megahit kiddie comedy Victorious, and then its new spin-off, Sam & Cat. The role transformed Grande into a tween idol, with 15 million Twitter followers, but she was much more interested in a music career. "I hate acting,” says Grande with a laugh – she grew up worshipping Whitney Houston and Destiny's Child, and has serious vocal range and power of her own. "It’s fun, but music has always been first and foremost with me."
Grande was raised in Boca Raton by her graphic designer father and CEO mother, who runs a company that provides communication equipment for the armed forces, and has been singing and acting since she was six. She was signed by Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, in 2013, but her professional music career got off to a rocky start with 2011’s "Put Your Hearts Up," a bubblegum-pop song she can barely bring herself to talk about. "It was geared toward kids and felt so inauthentic and fake," she says. "That was the worst moment of my life. For the video, they gave me a bad spray tan and put me in a princess dress and had me frolic around the street. The whole thing was straight out of hell. I still have nightmares about it, and I made them hide it on my Vevo page."
Republic, Grande’s record label, gave her more freedom on her 2013 album, Yours Truly, an adult R&B collection that featured guest rhymes by Mac Miller and Big Sean. It produced a Top 10 hit ("The Way") and debuted at Number One. But the intense shooting schedule of Sam & Cat, which produced 40 episodes for its first season, made promoting the record extremely difficult, and the album didn’t stay on the charts for long.
It did, however, make a big enough splash to grab the attention of Max Martin. The 43-year-old Swede is the most successful producer-songwriter of the past 20 years, having sold an astonishing 135 million singles. Thirty-eight of his songs have moved more than a million units, and he’s worked with everyone from Britney Spears and Bon Jovi to Taylor Swift and Maroon 5.
Wendy Goldstein, Grande’s A&R rep at Republic, spent two years trying to get Martin involved; finally, when work was about to begin on Grande’s album, he said he was in. "He has a young daughter that’s a huge Ariana fan," says Goldstein. "He said, ‘I’ve never seen my daughter excited about someone that I’ve worked with, and that’s really saying something.’"
Martin, who quietly moved to Los Angeles from Stockholm a few years ago, has cultivated an A-team of mostly Swedish writers and producers. "He’s the master of his craft because he knows how to teach it,” says protégé Savan Kotecha, who has worked closely with Martin for the past seven years. For about three weeks earlier this year, Martin and Kotecha holed up in a Los Angeles studio cooking up a half-dozen songs, with Grande popping in to help write lyrics; Martin’s main deputy, Shellback, and Ilya Salmanzadeh, a 27-year-old songwriter who’s one of the newest members of the crew, came in to help on "Problem."
"Problem" began as an untitled track by Kotecha that he nicknamed "The Whisper Song," after a 2005 Ying Yang Twins hit. "I don’t remember where I came up with it," says Kotecha, who has written most of One Direction’s biggest hits. "Maybe in an airplane bathroom. On my phone I have an audio note where I whisper, ‘One less problem.’"
Grande, who leans toward high-octane belting, was confused at first by the muted chorus. "I was scared to approach it, because of the whispers," she says. "Their objective was to do the opposite of a traditional song structure. The idea was to have a really belt-y verse and then a completely minimalistic, whispering, basic chorus. At first, I just didn’t like being all belt-y right away."
The next step was injecting some hip-hop into the song. "Scooter was obsessed with bringing in the Ying Yang Twins," says Goldstein. "We had them try, but they just flopped it. They couldn’t get it together." Grande pushed to get Iggy Azalea on the track. "We figured it had to be a girl," says Kotecha. "And there’s so few big-name -female rappers in hip-hop. She came in without any drama, got behind the mic and just killed it."
Martin put the song over the top: "He came up with the horns and all those -melodic things in the pre-chorus," says Kotecha. "Part of his genius is knowing that little thing that takes a song from 80 percent to 100 percent."
"Problem" became the first single from Grande’s still-untitled second album, due later this year. After days of teasing the track on her Twitter and Instagram pages, it was released on iTunes at midnight on April 28th. It shot to Number One on the iTunes chart in 37 minutes, before it had a single spin on the radio.
Charlie Walk, the Executive Vice President of Republic Records, says he suspected the song would be a hit the first time he heard it. "It's the 30-second rule," he says ."You know the difference between good and great in 30 seconds. . . And in pop music now, there's a desperate need for proper vocalists that can sing a song the same way live it sounds on record. Kids can smell bulls**t."
Grande has several other Max Martin songs slated for the new album, which the label hopes will solidify her as 2014’s breakout pop star. "I hear a half-dozen songs that are going to resonate in the marketplace," says Monte Lipman, CEO and founder of Republic Records. "We have a lot of wood to chop."
For Grande, the song was a life-changing moment; for Martin and his song factory, it’s just another in a long series of pop smashes. "He has this Swedish-ness in the back of his mind," says Kotecha. "He never got caught up in his own hype or being a hotshot producer. He just keeps doing the work."


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Billboard Music Awards hit 13 year high

The three-hour Billboard Music Awards were the most-watched program Sunday night, guiding ABC to a win for the night. It was the most-watched edition of the awards program in 13 years.

The BBMAs had an average audience of 10.5 million people, according to Nielsen's fast nationals ratings that measure overnight markets, an 11 percent spike over last year's fast nationals. Final ratings numbers will be available later on Monday.

The awards show, featuring performances from Jennifer Lopez, a Miranda Lambert-Carrie Underwood duet and the premiere of a Michael Jackson hologram, pulled in 4.48 million viewers in the 18-49 demographic, dwarfing the competition.

The BBMAs had its largest audience between 9 and 10 p.m. when 11.2 million viewers tuned in.

The night's other music program, NBC's Coldplay special "Coldplay: Ghost Stories," had a viewing audience of 1.7 million in the 7 p.m. hour. Its demo audience was 511,000.

Imagine Dragons Talk Second Album, ‘Radioactive’ Success

Imagine Dragons took a few minutes during their 2014 Billboard Music Awards rehearsal to talk about the band’s steady growth, the monster success of single “Radioactive” and the progress of their second full-length album.

“We took a house here in Vegas, cleared it, renovated it and turned it into a studio,” Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds tells Billboard. “It was like a dream for us, because some of these guys are big-time gear heads. We’re recording the album in that studio here in Las Vegas.”

Reynolds says many of the new songs were written over the past two-and-a-half years while while Imagine Dragons were touring behind its debut album, “Night Visions.”

“There are a lot of road songs and all the emotions that come with that,” he says. “I think it will be a special record because it really encapsulated the whole process of going from being a small nothing band to actually playing arenas. There are a lot of interesting things that go on between that. We’re excited with how it’s turning out.”

Imagine Dragons, who along with Lorde lead the pack of artists who are finalists in the most 2014 Billboard Music Awards categories, are in contention for a whopping 12 BBMAs, including top artist, top duo/group, top rock artist and top rock album. The quartet burned up the charts in 2013 with its album "Night Visions" and its many hit singles, including "Radioactive," which broke the record for the most weeks ever on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“I don’t think any of us expected it to have any life like that,” Reynolds says of the song. “It just kept going. Playing live, honestly, we didn’t burn out on it because … we don’t really listen to our music unless we’re on a stage playing it. If you do that, it keeps it fresh for you. Maybe in 20 years I’ll be telling you we’re very tired of playing that song, but right now … we have good memories associated with it.”

Reynolds also discussed writing the new song “Battle Cry” for the upcoming film “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” due in theaters June 27.

“They reached out and asked if we wanted to do something with (composers) Hans Zimmer and Steve Jablonsky, who are two of our all-time favorites — they’re legends,” he says. “It’s incredible to work with them. We all grew up watching the ‘Transformers’ cartoon, it was part of our youth, we’re children of the ‘80s.”

Watch the 2014 Billboard Music Awards May 18 at 8/7c on ABC live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas as host Ludacris welcomes the biggest names in music to the stage.

Sia Gives Rihanna Another Record

Have there been any songs you’ve given to other artists that you wish you recorded and released as your own?

There’s one that a I just gave to Rihanna. [Laughs] Like as soon as I played it for her manager, he flipped over it and [when] he left the house I felt sick. I was like, “F–k.” It was going to be on my record, but he was over and I was playing him loads of jams. And I was like, “Maybe you’ll like this one…” [Other than that] not really, I mean I did like “Perfume.” I would have kept that for myself, but Britney [Spears] is a really sweet gal and I was happy to give it away.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Jennifer lopez A.K.A. Tracklisting

1. A.k.a.
2. First love
3. Never satisfied
4. I luh ya papi
5. Acting like that
6. Emotions
7. So good
8. Let it be me
9. Worry no more
10. Booty
11. Tens
12. Troubeaux
13. Expertease (ready set go)
14. Same girl