“Rising Star” Recap: On the Final Night of Head-to-Head Duels, Five More Contestants Advance

ABCABC's interactive singing competition, Rising Star, concluded its live head-to-head singing duels Sunday night with four contestants advancing after the East Coast vote and one additional singer being saved after the West Coast broadcast. Three other acts were sent home.

Maneepat Molloy, Shameia Crawford, Audrey Kate Geiger and Joshua Peavy advanced to next week's quarterfinals.

Dana Williams was saved by the West Coast vote and also advanced to the quarterfinals.

Morgan Higgins, Karen Hornsby and the group Unselfish were sent home.

For the duels, two acts were selected to go head-to-head, with a coin toss determining which one would sing first with the wall up. The winner of the coin toss got to decide the order of performance. Viewers who downloaded the Rising Star app were asked to vote “yes” or “no,” just as they did in the audition round. The competing act then sang with the wall down and had to beat the mark set by the first contestant in order to raise it.

The one-hour show aired live on the East Coast, but viewers on the other side of the country had the chance to “save” the performer with the highest-combined percentage of votes who hadn't won his or her matchup.

Host Josh Groban and the Rising Star "experts" -- Kesha, Ludacris and Brad Paisley -- presided over the duels. The "experts" were allowed to vote. So were West Coast viewers, even though they watched the show on delay.

The experts also mentored each contestant before their performances.  The ultimate winner receives a contract with Capitol Records.

Here are the highlights from Sunday night:

Morgan Higgins vs. Maneepat Molloy:

The experts agreed that Higgins waited too long to show off her range when she auditioned and that she needed to come out swinging this time. Her version of Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” collected 45 percent of the vote, including a "yes" from Paisley, who noted that Higgins was a “pro,” but the 17-year-old still needed a lot of work. The performance didn’t impress Ludacris, who thought Higgins held back and didn’t give it her all. Kesha called the performance “very convincing,” adding the singer “came a long way.”

Ludacris felt Molloy’s voice was “more pure” than her competitor, but she didn’t have as much “energy.” Before Molloy's performance, Ludacris and the other experts urged her to be in the moment. The 16-year-old raised the wall with her version of Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity,” racking up 66 percent of the vote. Kesha voted “yes,” but admitted that she didn’t want to see either singer go. Brad was not as pleased with the performance, calling it “pitchy.” He voted “no.” Ludacris voted “yes.”

Shameia Crawford vs. Unselfish:

Crawford, who had to wait for the West Coast to save her last time, chose to go first. Kesha was “on the fence” about her song choice, the standard, “Cry Me a River,” but agreed she “killed it” in rehearsal. Brad’s only suggestion was that Crawford needed to get her nerves under control. She managed to do that and collected 70 percent of the vote.  Afterward, Ludacris called her presence “unprecedented.” Kesha agreed, adding the full-time musician and Georgia native “looked stunning” and “set the bar high” with her singing voice. She voted “yes,” as did Paisley.

The five-man group Unselfish also failed to raise the wall last time. The experts advised them to clean up their harmonies, but their version of Maroon 5’s “Payphone” still failed to impress voters, earning just 33 percent. They did, however, get a “yes” from Kesha, who explained she was “not a dream crusher.” She added that while it was “not the best performance,” she thought they could improve and wanted the group to know she was rooting for them. Ludacris voted “no,” saying their harmonies “needed work,” and Paisley also gave them a “no.”

Dana Williams vs. Audrey Kate Geiger:

Williams led off this duel. Using a guitar that belonged to her late father, who once backed Michael Jackson, she sang The Shirelles’ “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” She said the guitar was a lucky charm.  The performance earned 67 percent of the vote, but didn’t impress Brad, who gave her a “no.” He explained the singing was great, but the performance sounded like Williams was “rehearsing.” Kesha, reminding Brad this was a singing show, praised Williams' voice as “delicate” and “beautiful,” adding she was one of her “favorite performers on the show.” Ludacris also voted “yes.”

Audrey Kate started her performance of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” a cappella, a risk that earned Brad’s respect and kudos from the other judges as well. America also agreed, as Geiger raised the wall with an impressive 88 percent of the vote. Ludacris gave her a “yes,” declaring, she had a voice he “could listen to and never get tired of.” Paisley said simply, it was the kind of voice he “signed up for this show for.” Kesha also voted “yes.”  Geiger won the battle, but Williams was later saved by West Coast viewers.

Joshua Peavy vs. Karen Hornsby

Hornsby's daughter, Gabrielle, was left blind and unable to talk following treatment for brain cancer. She was in the audience for Sunday's performance, making it extra special because it was the first time Gabrielle would hear her mom sing. Ludacris advised Hornsby to go for the high notes, because that was her strength and would earn her “yes” votes. Hornsby sang Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman,” drawing 67 percent of the vote, and a “yes” from Kesha, who called the performance “phenomenal.” Kesha said the Jacksonville, Florida, native looked like “a natural woman.” Paisley said the performance wasn’t perfect, but Hornsby was still the most “inspiring” performer.

Peavy has the distinction of being the first person to ever raise the wall on Rising Star. He originally chose Rascal Flatts’ “Life Is a Highway” for the duel, but after getting advice from the experts, opted for “Too Close” by Alex Clare instead. It turned out being the right move, as Joshua bested Karen with 75 percent of the vote. Ludacris thought the performance was “soulful” and he was “very proud” of Peavy and voted “yes.” However, he also predicted that Hornsby would be saved by the West Coast. Kesha voted “no,” admitting it was because she didn’t want to see Karen go home. Brad voted “Yes.” Hornsby did not advance.

Rising Star continues next Sunday on ABC.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Former Mouseketeer Britney Spears Takes Her Sons to Disneyland

Image Courtesy Michelangelo Di Battista/RCA RecordsFormer Mickey Mouse Club cast member Britney Spears took her two sons to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, on Saturday. 

The 32-year-old singer posted a photo on Instagram of her with 8-year-old Sean and 7-year-old Jayden with the caption, "Took these two little Mouseketeers to @Disneyland today, Like mama like sons ;)" 

Spears is wearing dark shorts and a purple tank top in the photo. Sean and Jayden are the singer's sons with ex-husband Kevin Federline.


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Lily Allen’s Fake Arrest Photo Gets Australian Police Busted

Ollie Millington/Getty ImagesSeveral Australian Federal Police officers are being investigated after taking part in a prank Sunday afternoon that made it appear as if singer Lily Allen was being arrested at Gold Coast Airport in Queensland, Australia.

In a photo that has since been taken down from the 29-year-old British singer's Instagram account, Allen is seen on her knees with her hands behind her back as if she were under arrest.  The officers placed open handcuffs on Allen's wrists.

An Australian Federal Police spokesperson told the Sydney Morning Herald that Allen asked the officers to slap the cuffs on her.

"On 27 July, AFP members escorted Ms. Lilly Allen as she was transiting through Gold Coast Airport," the spokesperson said. "At her request, the members involved placed open handcuffs on Ms. Allen for a photo opportunity.  It appears the members involved were caught up in the moment and standard protocols were breached. This matter is now subject to internal processes."


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Maroon 5′s “Maps” Is About “Bad Patterns of Behavior,” Says Guitarist

222 Records/Interscope RecordsMaroon 5 has been friendly with OneRepublic for a while, but it wasn't until their last album, Overexposed, that they finally got into the studio with OneRepublic frontman and certified hitmaker Ryan Tedder.  Ryan co-wrote and co-produced the band's hit "Love Somebody," and he's done the same with their latest hit, "Maps."  Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine says Ryan and Adam are a great combination, musically-speaking.

"Ryan and Adam have a great chemistry together as writers and actually, personality-wise, they kind of remind me of each other," James tells ABC News Radio. "They're both sort of all over the place, in a good way, which can be good creatively, as long as you can wrangle it."  He laughs, "So, they've wrangled it a couple of times and got some great songs out of it."

As for what "Maps" is about, James says not having written it, he can't say for sure, but he believes it's about something Maroon 5 has explored in many other songs: toxic relationships.

"For me, the map [in the song] originally lead to this good place, that was this positive nurturing sort of relationship," he explains. "And when it fell apart, and when the trust was broken...he still followed the map back to that person, despite the fact that this was no good for him. So it's about sort of bad patterns of behavior."

"That's my interpretation," he laughs. "Now, I did not write those lyrics, so maybe Ryan Tedder and Adam Levine would have a different opinion of that!"  

"Maps" is Maroon 5's sixth straight top-10 hit.  It's the lead single for their fifth album, V, due September 2.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Charli XCX’s Bizarre Tour Rider Request

Kaitlin Christy/Atlantic RecordsWe've all heard the stories about stars and their backstage diva demands when they're on tour: they've got to have bouquets of white lilies, or water at exactly 68 degrees, or black plastic cups, or specific brands of cereal and snack foods.  But Charli XCX has a request for her rider -- that's what those demands are called -- that is completely bizarre.

Speaking to the U.K. publication Metro, Charli says she's a huge fan of actor Bill Murray.  How huge?  "I sometimes ask for a framed picture of Bill Murray on my rider just because I think he is really cool," she reveals. "‘There are a few I have collected, and some of them have been in nice frames!"

"‘I have a weird Bill Murray collection, I guess. Although it’s not some weird obsession," she insists.  The British "Boom Clap" singer says it'd be "sick" to have Murray appear in one of her music videos.

The "Fancy" co-writer also says she'd love to collaborate with Coldplay's Chris Martin.

"I actually listened to [Coldplay's new album] on a plane the other day and I cried! I think that album is so good," she tells Metro. "To collaborate definitely would be cool. I think Chris Martin is one of the best, top line writers around at the moment. I’ve always thought his melodies are incredible."


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Tough-Guy Actor Danny Trejo on Starring in Train’s “Angel in Blue Jeans” Video: “It’s Awesome!”

Columbia Records70-year-old tough-guy actor Danny Trejo, best known for playing a badass in movies like Machete Kills and on TV shows like Breaking Bad, is an unlikely music video star, but he's front and center in Train's new clip for "Angel in Blue Jeans."  He tells Entertainment Weekly that when the band reached out to him, he said yes right away.

"It's awesome," Trejo tells EW. "You know what? That band was really, really cool. I’d heard of them before, and when they asked me to do it I said 'absolutely.' It came out really good. All my friends say, we didn’t know you could sing!"

Trejo doesn't actually sing in the video -- he lip syncs to Train singer Pat Monahan's voice.  But he does it so well that the effect is startling. "The minute I open my mouth everyone screams," he laughs.

In the video, Trejo plays a motorcycle-riding tough guy in the desert who's pining for his lost love, stolen by an evil sheriff played by Pat Monahan.  In the end, Trejo gets the girl back, and gets to pistol-whip Pat as well.

"The shoot was hot. We were out in the desert. But we kept it going. We shot all day," Trejo tells EW.  "It was so funny, they were all worried about asking me, can you ride a motorcycle? I’ve been riding a motorcycle since I was about 12!"

Over the years, Trejo has also appeared in videos for artists ranging from Enrique Iglesias, to the Jonas Brothers, to the Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura.  "I love doing them," he tells EW. "I love doing them because I meet a completely different bunch of people than in the movie business. A lot of the rock stars are really a lot of fun."

Trejo says he personally prefers to listen to oldies and hip-hop, but adds, "Any kind of music, I don’t care."

"Angel in Blue Jeans" also stars Hannah Simone from New Girl as Trejo's love interest.  The song is the first release from Train's upcoming album Bulletproof Picasso.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Pitbull Releases New Single “Fireball” from Upcoming Disc “Globalization”

Gregg Waterman/RCA RecordsPitbull never seems to be off the charts for more than a couple of minutes.  He's just released a new single called "Fireball," which will be the lead single from a brand-new album.

"Fireball" is somewhat reminiscent of "Tequila," the old Latin flavored rock hit from the fifties. Like that song, it features horns and a Latin feel. Pitbull raps in his usual style but throws in references to Run-DMC's "Walk this Way" and "The Roof Is on Fire" by Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three. There are also vocals by a soulful singer called John Ryan.  As with Pitbull's previous hit "Timber," the song sounds organic, but also modern.

"Fireball" is the first single from Mr. Worldwide's new disc Globalization, the followup to his most recent disc, Global Warming.  It's due in the fall.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

J-Lo’s 45th Birthday Bash Brought Out the Stars

Joe PuglieseJennifer Lopez marked her 45th birthday Thursday night with a star-studded bash in New York's ritzy Hamptons, E! Online reports.  Among the attendees: the American Idol judge's rumored boyfriend, Dancing with the Stars pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

According to E!, the party started at 9 p.m. at the Green restaurant Nammos in Southhampton, New York, but Maks didn't get there until 1 a.m.  When he arrived, though, the pair were "affectionate," says a source, adding, "They seemed really happy to see each other."

Also on the guest list: Khloe Kardashian and her boyfriend French Montana, Leah Remini, Kelly Ripa and hubby Mark Consuelos, Bravo's Andy Cohen and more.  Jen showed up with her sisters, "glowing," according to a source in a white crop bustier under a white pantsuit.  A formal dinner was served on the patio, followed by an enormous cake, and then dancing all night, with J-Lo, of course, leading the charge.

"She barely sat down all night! Of course, the DJ played some of her hits. She was really tearing it up, dancing until the very end," said a source.

Even Jennifer's ex, Caspar Smart, jumped on Twitter and Instagram to send her birthday wishes.  "Happppppppy Birthday to the most Beautiful lil bear in the world!!!! May all your wishes come true!! @Jlo," he wrote.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Taylor Swift Pleases Photo-Snapping Fans in NY’s Central Park

Big Machine RecordsTaylor Swift wrote recently that autographs are obsolete, and all people want from her these days are photographs.  It's no surprise, considering how accommodating the superstar is when fans request them.

The New York Daily News reports that when Taylor was strolling in New York's Central Park recently, she was spotted by excited fans, all of whom wanted a picture with her.  She obliged them, and even waited patiently for one to get out a rowboat in one of the park's lakes so she could pose with her.

That same day, the News reports, Taylor, who was wearing sky-high pink heels and a crop top with a matching miniskirt, was spotted dropping $20 into a street musician's hat.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Demi Lovato, Cher Lloyd & Rita Ora Added to Teen Choice Awards Lineup

ABC/Ida Mae AstuteThe lineup of performers for the 2014 Teen Choice Awards continues to grow.  The latest acts added to the bill: Demi Lovato, Cher Lloyd and Rita Ora.

Demi and Cher will team up for a live performance of their collabo "Really Don't Care" on the telecast, which airs next month on Fox.  British singer Rita Ora -- who can currently be heard on Iggy Azalea's latest hit "Black Widow," will perform her new solo hit "I Will Never Let You Down."

Rita is nominated for Choice Breakout Artist, while "Really Don't Care" is up for Choice Break-Up Song.  Demi is also nominated for Choice Smile.

In addition, Hilary Duff, Fifth Harmony, Lea Michele, Kevin Hart and Kim Kardashian have all been added to the lineup of presenters on the show.

Previously announced performers include Jason Derulo, MAGIC! and Rixton.

The 2014 Teen Choice Awards air live on Fox, August 10 at 8 p.m. ET.  The show is tape-delayed in Pacific time.


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