Sam Smith, Taylor Swift & Ed Sheeran Win Big at Brit Awards; Madonna Takes a Tumble During Her Performance

David M. Benett/Getty ImagesTaylor Swift and her pals Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith were all big winners Wednesday at the 2015 Brit Awards in London…while Madonna narrowly escaped injury during her performance.

Ed took home the night’s top prize — MasterCard British Album of the Year — for his album X [Multiply] and beat out recent Grammy winner Sam for the British Male Solo Artist award. But Sam won the Global Success Award and the British Breakthrough Act award. Taylor nabbed the International Female Solo Artist prize.

The unstoppable trio also delivered separate performances during the night. After walking the red carpet in a stunning black gown with a red dragon emblazoned on the back, Taylor changed into a black tuxedo jacket and took the stage to belt out her hit “Blank Space.” Sam soulfully performed “Lay Me Down,” and Ed serenaded the audience with his song “Bloodstream.”

Best British Single went to “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. Pharrell Williams picked up the award for International Male Solo Artist award, and One Direction snagged British Artist Video of the Year for the “You & I” video. The boy band wasn’t there to claim their prize, but they recorded a thank you message for everyone who voted for them.

A highly-anticipated performance by Madonna — her first appearance on the Brits in 20 years — closed out the show. The performance of “Living for Love” hit a snag when a dancer tried to remove the singer’s black cape; the action sent the singer tumbling backwards down some stairs. Despite the nasty fall, Madonna barely missed a beat and finished the song like pro.  Later, on Instagram, she posted, “My beautiful cape was tied too tight! But nothing can stop me and love really lifted me up! Thanks for your good wishes! I’m fine!”

Earlier in the day, before her Brit Awards appearance, Taylor surprised a fan who camped out for 20 hours just to catch a glimpse of the star as she stopped by BBC Radio 1. “I just sat near the entrance. More people started arriving from 5 p.m. and throughout the night. It was freezing cold but the atmosphere was so exciting,” fan Sinead Murray told Buzzfeed. “Taylor followed me on Tumblr a few months ago and so I had been uploading pictures to show her there were lots of people there and that we were excited to see her.”

Taylor apparently noticed the Tumblr posts and tracked down Sinead. They chatted and took selfies together. “I am completely blown away that my idol wanted to meet me and I can’t thank her enough,” Sinead said. “She’s even more of an angel in person – if that’s at all possible.”

Here is the complete list of Brit Awards winners:

British Male Solo Artist
Ed Sheeran

British Female Solo Artist
Paloma Faith

British Group
Royal Blood

British Breakthrough Act
Sam Smith

Critics’ Choice
James Bay

British Single
Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars — “Uptown Funk”

MasterCard British Album of the Year
Ed Sheeran — x

British Producer of the Year
Paul Epworth

British Artist Video of the Year
One Direction — “You & I”

International Male Solo Artist
Pharrell Williams

International Female Solo Artist
Taylor Swift

International Group
Foo Fighters

Global Success
Sam Smith


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Robin Thicke Testifies in “Blurred Lines” Copyright Infringement Trial

Credit: Harper SmithRobin Thicke took the stand in federal court in Los Angeles Wednesday, facing the family of late R&B legend Marvin Gaye.  They’ve sued, claiming that Robin’s 2013 smash “Blurred Lines” borrowed improperly from Marvin’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.”

In testimony before the court, Robin acknowledged that “Got to Give It Up” is both a classic and one of his personal favorites. Robin’s co-writer and co-defendent, Pharrell Williams, was also in the courthouse Wednesday morning, but had not yet made a courtroom appearance.

Earlier in the day, Janis Gaye, Marvin’s second wife, took the stand to say that at first, she thought “Blurred Lines” was great and had brought new life to “Got to Give It Up,” but later realized the song’s creators had not licensed the rights to her husband’s song.

Whether or not “Blurred Lines” was merely influenced by the feel of the Marvin Gaye hit, or actually infringes on the copyright of the earlier song by using its key musical elements — especially its melody — is at the heart of the arguments in the case, which is expected to last around two weeks.  One expert believes that the Gaye family doesn’t really have a case.

“Nothing original has been copied by Robin Thicke,”  Professor Michael Harrington, Music Business Program chair at SAE Institute Nashville, tells ABC News Radio. “The only things that are similar, I think, are the style and the speed and the instrumentation. But that’s really not enough.”

But it remains to be seen whether or not the jury of five women and three men hearing the case will agree with Harrington’s analysis.

At stake is an enormous portion of the money generated by Robin’s six-times platinum single.  “It could be anywhere from a quarter to 25 percent of the money earned, to 100 percent, at the most crazy,” says Harrington. “It could be very substantial.”


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Imagine Dragons Score #1 Debut with “Smoke + Mirrors”

KIDinaKORNER/Interscope RecordsDespite being a top seller, Imagine Dragons‘ debut album, Night Visions, never got higher than #2 on the Billboard chart.  However, their new album, Smoke + Mirrors, has debuted at #1.

The disc, featuring lead single “I Bet My Life,” sold 192,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen Music.  Night Visions, which produced three hit singles, is actually still on the Billboard 200 album chart, despite having been released 129 weeks ago.

Imagine Dragons’ album is the only top-10 debut this week. The rest of the top 10 is full of holdovers from the past few weeks, including albums by Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and Meghan Trainor, as well as the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack.



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Ariana Grande Posts Touching Message from Her Late Grandfather

Republic RecordsAriana Grande’s beloved grandfather passed away last year, but his words of wisdom live on. The singer posted a touching message from her grandpa on Instagram Wednesday.

In the recording, her grandfather says, “Don’t let them challenge you, don’t let them intimidate you… And you do your thing. That’s the only way to do it.” Ariana tells him she loves him, and he responds, “I love you too.”

The message moved some fans to tears, and many were posting words of support and comfort on Ariana’s Instagram page. 

Ariana, who once described her grandfather as her “favorite person to ever exist,” was likely reminding herself of his encouraging words in preparation for kicking off her Honeymoon Tour Wednesday night in Kansas City.

A video posted by Ariana Grande (@arianagrande) on



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Kelly Clarkson Says Being a Mom “Changed My World in the Most Awesome Way”

Courtesy of PeopleKelly Clarkson’s new album drops next week, but her music career is no longer her number-one priority. That honor belongs to her 8-month-old daughter, River Rose. Mommy and baby appear together on the latest cover of People, and Kelly tells the mag how motherhood has completely changed her life.

“My whole life took a big 180,” Kelly tells People. “I never thought I was going to be a mom, so it’s very much changed my world in the most awesome way.”

Not only is she a mom to River, but the 32-year-old is also a stepmom to her husband Brandon Blackstock’s two children from a previous marriage — Savannah, 13, and Seth, 8. “Seth and Savannah made me want to have a baby,” Kelly says. “I didn’t realize how much I would love [being a mom].”

It’s a role that’s made Kelly realize a entirely new kind of success. “I love what I do, but I feel like I relied on my career a lot for my self-worth. And now I’m more than that,” she says. “I’m a mother and a wife and have this whole other thing going on.”

Kelly calls River “the happiest baby on the planet” and credits her birth for bringing an unexpected peacefulness to her life. She says her daughter has helped heal some of the old wounds caused by her own parents’ divorce. “My best friend always says, ‘You just want to create the family you never had.’ I might be doing that,” she says.

Kelly’s new album, Piece by Piece, drops March 3 and she’ll kick off a world tour later this year. Looking ahead, Kelly also says she has “a country record on the back burner” and wants to make her theater debut. She’d also like to give River a little brother or sister someday. Kelly says, “I’ve accomplished a lot, but I guess the biggest success I want is that whenever I die people will say, ‘She was so successful as a mother, and as a wife.’ That’s kind of my big goal.”

The new issue of People hits stands Friday.



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Madonna Sounds Off on Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Kanye West & Ageism in New “Rolling Stone”

Mert Alas & Marcus PiggotMadonna covers the new issue ofRolling Stone magazine, and inside, The Queen of Pop takes on such topics as her alleged rivalry with Lady Gaga, her feelings about Taylor Swift and Kanye West, her ex-husband’s disapproval of some of her more provocative stunts, and her disgust with those comments about how she should “act her age.”

Speaking about Gaga, Madonna says she doesn’t have a problem with the singer and doesn’t like the fact that “people like to pit women against each other.”

She explains, “The only time I ever criticized Lady Gaga was when I felt like she blatantly ripped off one of my songs. …It was just that one issue.”  Madonna says their alleged “feud” is “really boring,” adding, “One day everyone’s going to shut up about it. You’ll see! I have a plan.”

As for another young female superstar, Madonna says she feels Taylor Swift is “similar to me” because “she has an opinion, and she’s going against the norm.”  Madonna, who was photographed backstage at the Grammys with Taylor, adds, “People just want to give her a hard time all the time because they think she’s a goody-two-shoes, so of course I want to embrace her.”

Taylor’s one-time rival, Kanye West, is a “brilliant madman” and a “beautiful mess,” according to Madonna. She says of the rapper, “He can’t help himself. Like, he doesn’t have the same filters other people have. He has to blurt things out – he’s always saying inappropriate stuff. But he also has brilliant ideas in the studio, if you can get him to pay attention long enough.” 

Madonna, who divorced filmmaker Guy Ritchie in 2008, says she was “less provocative” when she was married to him.  “I don’t think he understood my provocation. He was not a fan of me kissing Britney Spears onstage, for instance,” she tells Rolling Stone. “Was that provocative? I think it was. I mean, now it wouldn’t be. [But in marriage,] I think all of us make the mistake of thinking we’re going to change people when we get together. But we’re not.”

As for the constant criticism she’s acting or dressing inappropriately for a 56-year-old woman, Madonna tells Rolling Stone, “It’s still the one area where you can totally discriminate against somebody…Because of their age.  Only females, though. Not males. So in that respect we still live in a very sexist society.”

You can read the full interview with Madonna in Rolling Stone when the new issue hits stands on Friday.



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Lady Gaga to Star in “American Horror Story” Season Five

Inez + VinoodhAfter you bring the house down at the Academy Awards, what do you do for an encore?  Land a starring role in a buzzed-about TV show, that’s what. Variety reports that Lady Gaga will star in the upcoming fifth season of FX’s American Horror Story.

While Gaga has done some acting in the past, this will serve as the singer’s first big TV role.  Season five will premiere in October, and creator Ryan Murphy has revealed that there have already been clues about the upcoming season’s theme, scattered throughout the fourth season, Freak Show.

Gaga herself confirmed the news by tweeting, “Make your reservation now. .”  She also posted a video in which she says, “American Horror Story Season Five. Hotel,” revealing the title of the new season.

American Horror Story has landed major stars to its previous seasons, including Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Michael Chiklis and, of course, Jessica Lange.  Gaga won’t even be the first chart-topping singer to appear on the show: Stevie Nicks guest-starred in the third season, American Horror Story: Coven.



Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Lady Gaga Practiced for Six Months for Oscar Performance

A.M.P.A.S.(r)/Michael YadaEveryone agrees that Lady Gaga sounded fantastic on Oscar night performing a medley of songs from The Sound of Music.  Turns out that performance wasn’t exactly effortless: the singer practiced for months to perfect her vocals.

The show’s executive producer, Craig Zadan, told Entertainment Tonight that Gaga “worked with a vocal coach every day for half a year to do that.”  The show’s other executive producer, Neil Meron, added, “She’s the real deal. She can do anything. She said that if she pulls it off, it’s going to change the focus of her career and she pulled it off.”

Sound of Music star Julie Andrews told Access Hollywood of Gaga, “I have always been a fan, but [the night of the Oscars] we bonded and now I have a new friend.”


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Rixton Ready to “Get the Audience on Their Side” While Opening for Ariana Grande

Image credit: Lindsey ByrnesLast year, Rixton broke out big with “Me and My Broken Heart” and did plenty of live dates all over the world.  But tonight, they’re starting what may be their most prestigious live gig yet: opening for Ariana Grande on her hotly-anticipated Honeymoon Tour.  Their mission: having fun and winning over Ariana’s fans every night.

“I think it’s just about stepping up now and showing people that, you know, we are a live act and we do write and play all our own stuff,” lead singer Jake Roche tells ABC News Radio. “So I think it’s just about having as much fun as possible, getting the audience on your side and just letting your hair down, having fun, a bit of a dance and a bit of groove.”

While Rixton and Ariana Grande are both managed by Scooter Braun, their music isn’t exactly the same.  Still, the band thinks that Ariana’s fan base will respond to their material pretty well.

“We’ve got a nice touch of R&B and hip-hop in our songs as well so, I think that gets it across,” says Rixton guitarist Charley Bagnall. “And Ariana’s got a big wide fan base, I think.  She’s got young kids that like her, but there’s a lot of adults who like her as well so I think that helps for us.”

Bass player Danny Wilkin says that Rixton’s improved as a live act in the past year, and audiences will get to see that as well.

“I think basically just the confidence has grown and  we realize what we’re all capable of,” he explains. “And we all rely on each other when we’re on stage and we just have a laugh. I mean, the amount of times that I’ve messed up and Jake just smirks at me…and it’s just so funny and we just enjoy ourselves. It’s just about having fun.”

And as for those rumors that Ariana is some kind of demanding diva?  Drummer Lewi Morgan says don’t believe everything you hear.

“She’s absolutely lovely to us,” he tells ABC News Radio. “She spent two hours in our dressing room eating carrot sticks and hummus. I don’t think you get more un-diva-ish than that…and you know, we’re part of the family, which is a big thing for us.” 

For the band, one of the highlights of the Ariana tour will come next Tuesday, when Rixton’s long-awaited debut album, Let the Road, finally arrives in stores.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sheeran vs. Smith: Which Taylor Swift Pal Will Win at the Brit Awards Tonight?

Image Group LA/ABC; Eric McCandless/CBSWednesday night at London’s O2 Arena — or Wednesday afternoon, in the U.S. — the stars will turn out for the Brit Awards, the U.K. equivalent of the Grammy Awards.  This year’s big battle is between two hugely successful British singer songwriters: Sam Smith, who has five nominations, and Ed Sheeran, who has four.  Both men are also performing at the awards ceremony, as is their mutual pal Taylor Swift.  So who does she think will win?  She’s hedging her bets.

Asked to predict who’ll come out on top, Sam or Ed, Taylor told London’s Capital FM radio, “I mean, if we’re talking about the Brits, it’s Sam’s year, he’s having an amazing year. I love him. Ed’s one of my best friends, so I want him to win something too.  I think they’re both gonna win stuff, right?”  Taylor says that in a perfect world, “we would accurately reflect what has been happening in the world and in the U.K., which is that Ed and Sam are both killing it.”

However, when it comes to the two battling it physically, Taylor says there’s a clear winner.  Asked who would win if the two got into a brawl in a parking lot, Taylor says, “Ed could beat anyone in a fight just ‘cause he’s just like, a little street urchin. [He's] only sensitive when writing songs…in a conversation about competition or anything, like, [he's] scrappy.”

In addition to Taylor, Ed and Sam performing on the show, Madonna will be playing live also, and will receive a special award.  Rising British singer-songwriter George Ezra is also on the bill, and Rihanna is rumored to be making a surprise appearance.  Even if you’re not in the U.K, you can watch the whole thing go down starting at 3 p.m. ET online at Brits.co.uk.

Here are the nominees:

Best British Solo Male
Damon Albarn
Ed Sheeran
George Ezra
Paulo Nutini
Sam Smith

British Solo Female
Ella Henderson
FKA Twigs
Jessie Ware
Lily Allen
Paloma Faith

British Group
Alt-J
Clean Bandit
Coldplay
One Direction
Royal Blood

British Breakthrough Act
Chvrches
FKA Twigs
George Ezra
Royal Blood
Sam Smith

Critics’ Choice Winner
James Bay

British Single
Calvin Harris, “Summer”
Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne, “Rather Be”
Duke Dumont feat. Jax Jones, “I Got U”
Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”
Ella Henderson, “Ghost”
George Ezra, “Budapest”
Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”
Route 94 feat. Jess Glynne, “My Love”
Sam Smith, “Stay with Me”
Sigma, “Nobody to Love”

Mastercard British Album of the Year
Alt-J, This Is All Yours
Ed Sheeran, X
George Ezra, Wanted on Voyage
Royal Blood, Royal Blood
Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour

British Artist Video of the Year
Calvin Harris, “Summer”
Charlie XCX, “Boom Clap”
Duke Dumont feat. Jax Jones, “I Got U”
Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”
Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”
One Direction, “You & I”
Rita Ora, “I Will Never Let You Down”
Route 94 feat. Jess Glynne, “My Love”
Sam Smith, “Stay with Me”
Sigma, “Nobody to Love”

International Male Solo
Beck
Hozier
Jack White
John Legend
Pharrell Williams

International Female Solo
Beyonce
Lana Del Rey
Sia
St Vincent
Taylor Swift

International Group
5 Seconds of Summer
The Black Keys
First Aid Kit
Foo Fighters
The War on Drugs

 
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