Taylor Swift Serenaded by Aretha Franklin, Other Top Female Artists Honored at “Billboard” Women in Music Awards in NYC

Monica Schipper/Getty Images“Thank you so much. Billboard Woman of the Year for the second time is kind of an early birthday present.”  That’s what Taylor Swift told the crowd in New York City Friday afternoon at the publication’s annual Women in Music gala, which took place the day before her 25th birthday.  And she got a pretty amazing extra present as well: fellow honoree Aretha Franklin sang “Happy Birthday” to her.  Her reaction? She tweeted, “It will take me decades to recover.”

Taylor also spoke about the importance of encouraging and supporting girls’ interests in the arts, noting, “Somewhere right now, your future Woman of the Year is sitting at a piano lesson & we need to take care of her.”

Taylor’s friend Ingrid Michaelson was on hand to perform a tribute to her, performing “Clean,” a song from Taylor’s new album 1989.  Another of Taylor’s friends, Colbie Caillat, who won the Rising Star award at the same event five years ago, told ABC News Radio on the red carpet why Taylor deserved to win the top honor two times in three years.

“She works so hard and she’s so talented. And y’know, not only the music she creates, but the business side of it, she really knows what she’s doing and she’s leading the way for so many women and artists in general, so she deserves it,” Colbie said.

Paramore‘s Hayley Williams, whose band scored their first top 10 hit this year with “Ain’t It Fun,” was given the Trailblazer Award, and told the crowd, “It’s an amazing and powerful thing to be celebrated for who you are. There are a lot of girls who never feel that way, and I want to spend my life making them seen and heard.”

Hayley is also a friend of fellow nominee Taylor Swift’s, and on the red carpet, she told ABC News Radio, “It’s very cool and very exciting for me to watch: the way that she’s carrying herself and the confidence she exudes on stage, it’s a whole new Taylor.  I mean, it’s still Taylor….[but] it’s so genuine, her growth, it’s so exciting to watch, and she completely deserves this.”

“I just can’t imagine the pride that her mom must have,” adds Hayley.  “I think I would explode!”

Charli XCX was given the Hitmaker Award at the event, and the outspoken British singer told the crowd, “It’s really cool to be at a music industry event where over half the people in the room have vaginas.”

On the red carpet beforehand, Charli told ABC News Radio, “It’s amazing to be here with such incredible women in the room and I think it’s amazing that Billboard takes time to honor females.  And to receive an award for something I’m doing behind the scenes as a songwriter, that’s really incredible.”

One of the songs Charli co-wrote, of course, was “Fancy,” the smash hit by Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, who received the Charttopper Award at the event.  She told the crowd that she never could have imagined her current success, noting, “I thought I was going to get this massive record deal, and then I didn’t. And I thought my life and career was over — no one would return my phone calls.”

Ariana Grande was honored with the Billboard Rising Star Award, and told the crowd, “I want to thank my mama for teaching me to work hard, and that behind every successful woman is herself.”  On the red carpet, her brother, reality TV star Frankie Grande, told ABC News Radio why his sister was deserving of the award.

“Because she has worked very hard against a lot of push back in the music industry,” he said. “They didn’t believe that she would make it to this level…but she said, ‘No, no no. I want to sing this way. I want real instruments on my music.’  And she had to stand up for herself. And that’s why her being here and being honored is so full circle for her, because she stuck to her guns and now it’s paying off.”

The event’s other honorees included Idina Menzel, the Breakthrough Artist of the Year, who told the crowd, “I was given this amazing song ['Let It Go'] at such a crossroads in my life. Thank you for noticing me…I finally had my breakthrough!”  Asked on the red carpet what the award meant to her, she told reporters, “It’s hard for me to put into words. I’ve been wanting something like this my whole career.”

Jessie J was given the Powerhouse award, and she noted that it was her “first-ever” U.S. award.  Referring to the success of her hit “Bang Bang” and her album Sweet Talker, Jessie said, “I never thought I would have this moment in America. This is one of the most incredible moments of my career so far. And thank you for listening to me sing. It’s all I want to do.”

Everyone woman in the room, though, owed a debt to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who received the Icon Award.  Among her achievements this year was becoming the first woman to score 100 hits on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.  Asked what the award, and the event, means to her, the music legend, sporting blonde hair, told ABC News Radio on the red carpet, “It’s wonderful.  It’s a first, as they said, and I’m an avid reader of Billboard and have been for many years now, checking my records and other records.” 

“I don’t get a chance to come to New York that often, so it’s really nice to be with other [music] industry people and spend some time with them,” she added, and named “Bang Bang” and “Shake It Off” as two of her current favorite hits. 

One surprise on the Billboard Women in Music red carpet: the appearance of Beyonce, whose manager was being honored at the event.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


OneRepublic Performs on “GMA,” Discusses New Single

Mosley Music Group/Interscope RecordsOneRepublic appeared on Good Morning America Thursday to perform their new hit song “I Lived.”

Frontman Ryan Tedder spoke to Robin Roberts about the influences behind the inspirational tune. “The lyrics of ‘I Lived’ I wrote for my son, but once I finished writing I was like, ‘Wait this works for everybody,’” he said.

He added that the song speaks to the universal notion of living life to the fullest. “This song is about carpe diem,” he said. “Squeeze every drop out of every day, ’cause you’re not promised another day.”

“I Lived” is the sixth single from the band’s third album, Native.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Imagine Dragons Unveil Video for “I Bet My Life”

Image Courtesy of Eliot Lee HazelImagine Dragons have released the video for their new single, “I Bet My Life.”

While it’s not as bizarre as the stuffed-animal fighting ring featured in the “Radioactive” video,  the clip for “I Bet My Life” does feature Dane DeHaan, the Green Goblin himself, getting into a fist fight on the shores above the Theodore Roosevelt Dam. Things get stranger from there. You can view the new video, directed by Canadian filmmaker Jodeb, on Vevo.

“As the first video on our new album, it was especially important that we capture the emotion of the song,” says frontman Dan Reynolds in a statement.  “Although it was written about my sometimes strained relationship with my parents, our director Jodeb had a powerful vision for how the feeling of the story could be portrayed. We were also lucky to have such amazing talent to work with in our lead actor Dane DeHaan.”

“I Bet My Life” is the first single from Imagine Dragons’ follow-up to their smash debut album, Night Visions. The band’s currently untitled sophomore release will be released in 2015.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Beyonce Releases Yours and Mine Retrospective Film

Eric McCandless/CBSBeyonce released an emotionally-charged retrospective film Friday in honor of the one-year anniversary of her self-titled, Grammy-nominated album.

The 11-minute video, entitled “Yours and Mine,” features the singer reflecting on feminism, fame, marriage and pursuing her passions.

“I sometimes wish I could just be anonymous and walk down a street, just like everyone else,” she says in a voiceover that opens the film. “Now that I’m famous, it’s really, really difficult to do very simple things. I think it’s the hardest thing to give up, but my mother always taught me to be strong and to never be a victim, never make excuses, never expect anyone else to provide for me things that I can provide for myself. I have dreams, and I feel like I have a power to make those dreams actually become a reality.”

As black-and-white images of the singer flash across the screen, Beyonce makes confessions and gives advice. 

“I grew up with a lot of conflict and traumas, and I’ve been through a lot, just like everyone else,” the 33-year-old singer says. “My escape was always music, and I’m so lucky that that’s my job. But if I accomplished all of these things and had no one to share it with, it would be worth nothing. You know you need something real in order for any of this stuff to matter. You have to have something that is forever, something that’s invisible.”

Mrs. Carter also talks about the merits of her marriage to Jay-Z, saying, “There’s nothing more exciting than having a witness to your life.” She shares her views about men and women as well: “I always considered myself a feminist, although I was always afraid of that word because people put so much on it,” she says. “When, honestly it’s very simple. It’s just a person that believes in equality for men and women. Men and women balance each other out and we have to get to a point where we’re comfortable appreciating each other.”

The video concludes with images of Beyonce’s family, Jay-Z, and her daughter Blue Ivy.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Rihanna Performs with Live Orchestra at Diamond Ball

Eric McCandless/CBSRihanna‘s inaugural Diamond Ball proved to be a star-studded affair Thursday night.

The black-tie charity event in Beverly Hills, which benefited Rihanna’s The Clara Lionel Foundation, featured a performance by the singer backed by an orchestra.

Jimmy Kimmel hosted the festivities and Brad Pitt provided a memorable introduction for the 26-year-old pop star, E! Online reports. Pitt said Rihanna landed in New York City at just 16 years old and jokingly added that she “soon fell in with a bad crowd led by the dubious and nefarious character known as The Jay Z.”

After some more ribbing from Pitt, Rihanna took the stage in a dark blue gown and Chopard diamond necklace to sing a medley of her hits, including “Diamonds,” “Umbrella,” and “Run This Town.”

The night also featured a live auction, during which actress Salma Hayek won a Damien Hirst work of art for $190,000.

The Clara Lionel Foundation was founded by Rihanna in 2012 and works to improve the quality of life for global communities in the areas of health, education, arts, and culture.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

When Will Adam Levine and His Wife Have Kids?

Terry Richardson/Press Here PublicityAdam Levine and his wife, Behati Prinsloo, plan to start a family, but he’s vague about when that will actually happen.

In an interview with E! News, The Voice coach discloses, “Yeah, we’re gonna do it at some point in the not-so-distant-slash-undisclosed-slash-I-really-have-no-idea-big-question-mark future.”

“Is that ambiguous enough for you?” he added.

Adam was equally as mysterious when asked how many kids he wants. He said, “Like, 17. Is that reasonable?” He continued, “I love kids so much, though. I love seeing kids on the set, too.”

Adam and Behati tied the knot in Mexico last July.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio 

Selena Still Has Love for Justin

ABC/Lou RoccoSelena Gomez still has nothing but love for her ex, Justin Bieber.

Many have speculated her heartbreaking tune, “The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants,” is about Bieber, but the 22-year-old had only good things to say about her former beau during an interview with a Norwegian radio station Thursday.

“I definitely have so much respect and love for him,” she said. “And going in the studio is just very therapeutic….It was my way of having it be a message more to people in general. People everywhere feel this feeling, and they should understand when anybody goes through that.”

Gomez confirmed that she’s currently single and confessed she “doesn’t even know how to work [Tinder],” the mobile matchmaking app.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio 

Taylor Swift Says Receiving Her Second “Billboard” Woman of the Year Honor Is “Pretty Wild”

Miller Mobley for BillboardTaylor Swift will be experiencing a sense of deja vu this afternoon in New York City, as she receives Billboard’s Woman of the Year trophy at the publication’s annual Women in Music Awards.  That’s because she just won the award two years ago, a fact that she describes as “pretty wild.”

“It’s gonna be interesting,” she says of today’s gala luncheon, which will salute her and other top female stars, from Aretha Franklin and Idina Menzel, to Jessie J, Hayley Williams of Paramore and Ariana Grande.”They do this whole event..it’s a really, really wonderful thing that they do.  They make you feel really special, so, I’m excited about it.”

“It’s pretty wild to be Billboard Woman of the Year twice, especially when they told me that that was the only time they’ve ever given it out twice,” she adds. “What I respect about Billboard is every decision they make is based on stats and numbers and what you’re actually out there doing.”

In other words, Taylor says the decision to give her the award isn’t arbitrary, but is born out by the fact that she really has pulled off an astonishing number of sales and chart feats this year, according to Billboard.

“It feels really nice to get an honor from them because it’s not, like, ‘As a board we decided that you were worthy,’” she laughs. “It’s like, they’re going off of numbers, which is really nice because I feel like that actually honors what my fans went out and did.”

What they did is, of course, purchase more than a million copies of her album 1989 in its first week, making her the first artist ever to have three albums that have sold a million or more copies in their first week of release.

Taylor has something else to celebrate as well: on Saturday, she’ll turn 25.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Ed Sheeran Explains Why He’d Do a Lousy Job Singing the New James Bond Theme

Ben WattsEver since details of the new James Bond movie, Spectre, were released, talk has heated up about who will be tapped to sing the theme song, following in the footsteps of Adele, Madonna, Duran Duran, Tina Turner, Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys and many more.  Well, Ed Sheeran is one artist officially taking himself out of the running, saying that he “just wasn’t born with the James Bond voice.”

Speaking to the U.K. paper The Independent, Ed says, “I am a James Bond fan but I think the theme tune should be ba**sy and I feel like if I was going to do it, it would sound a bit wet.”  “Wet” is British slang for “weak” or “lame.”

“I’d love to but I just wasn’t born with the James Bond voice,” he adds, “You never know, I’m not ruling it out, maybe in ten years time when my ba**s drop.”

Ed has done a movie song before: “I See Fire,” which appeared in the movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which has just earned him a Grammy nomination.  But he says he’s much more suited to that type of tune, especially because of the way he looks.

“The Hobbit song was perfect for me to do as it’s folky and guitar-driven,” he explains, adding jokingly, “A hairy short man should be singing that kind of song!”

OK, so if Ed isn’t going to do it, who is?  Rumor has it that his pal Sam Smith has been tapped for the gig, but that’s not been confirmed.  Ed, however, is all for the idea.

“I think Sam Smith would be perfect suited up with his strong voice. I’m backing Sam,” he says, adding, “Anyone…who does the retro thing really f**king well should do it.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Jordin Sparks on Why She Recorded the Jason Derulo Diss Track: “I Want My Fans to Hear This Side of Me”

Image Group LA/ABCJordin Sparks surprised fans not long ago when she released a song that slams her ex-boyfriend Jason Derulo, but she says she felt the need to “just do it.”

The track, a remix of Drake‘s “How Bout Now,” contains the lines “Feeling like I have to get all of this off my chest/I know you are sitting there thinking ‘What is she going to do next?’/Remember I deleted all my other guys’ numbers out my phone for ya?/Remember when you broke your neck and I had to wash your back for ya?/You probably don’t remember half of the s**t that I did for ya.”

Speaking to E! Online, Jordin says, “I was nervous to put it out there because no one had ever heard me like this before,” adding, “but that day I was having one of those days where I was like, ‘I’m just going to do it and I want my fans to hear this side of me. They need to hear it.’”  However, she says she didn’t plan on going into the studio that day with revenge on her mind.

“My fans wanted to hear something but at the same time it wasn’t really planned and I just went into the studio and whatever came out, came out,” she explains.  The song will appear on Jordin’s upcoming, long-awaited new album Right Here, Right Now

By the way, she says she hasn’t heard from Jason since she released the track two weeks ago.  Maybe he’s still in shock.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio