Mark Metcalfe/Getty ImagesTaylorSwift recently answered a pair of young Texas girls' pitch for donations with a generous one of her own.
Humble, Texas cousins Jordan Fox and Makaylee Duhon, both 12, rewrote Swift's hit "Blank Space" and posted the video on YouTube in an effort to get donations for a therapy dog for Jordan's 5-year-old brother, Jacob, who is autistic.
Last week, Swift surprised the girls when she herself donated $10,000.
Makaylee tells Houston TV station KPRC they got the news from Jacob's mom, Allison Hill. "She was like, 'Taylor Swift just donated $10,000,'" recalls Makaylee. "And we were all like, 'Oh my gosh!'"
The idea for the video came from Jordan, who figured she could pay tribute to one of her favorite stars while making a difference for her brother.
"Jacob has a hard time making connections with people," explains Hill. "So this is going to be probably Jacob's first friend."
Swift's donation, combined with the more than $3,000 donated by others, helped the family pay for the therapy dog, which will be trained and sent to Jacob in the next year and a half to two years.
Fantasia with contestant Jordan Sasser; Michael Becker/FOXThe Top 24 have been chosen, and on Wednesday night's one-hour edition of American Idol, it was time for them to show judges Keith Urban, Harry Connick, Jr. and Jennifer Lopez that they are here to stay.
Each contestant performed a solo song of their choosing in front of the judges and an intimate crowd at the Vibiana in Los Angeles. Thursday night, they’ll be paired up with Idol favorites, including Fantasia, Ruben Studdard, Nick Fradiani, Caleb Johnson, Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery.
Here are Wednesday’s highlights:
Stephany Negrete kicked things off with Jessie J’s “Mama Knows Best.” Keith praised the song choice, but thought she could’ve loosened up a little more. Jennifer said Stephany had the “full package” to be a pop star -- voice, looks and stage presence, but felt she could’ve been a little more connected to the song. Harry agreed, noting that “something was missing,” although he still thought it was a strong performance.
Next up was Mackenzie Bourg with Great Big World’s “Say Something.” Lopez said Bourg looked natural, noting that he “did what Mackenzie does.” Connick enjoyed the performance, in particular that Mackenzie changed the melody, but kept the integrity of the song. Urban added that it sounded like a song Bourg could’ve written himself.
Multi-instrumentalist Jeneve Rose Mitchell played the harp this time as she sang Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.” Harry thought she did a disservice to herself by playing the harp on this song because it hindered her vocal performance. Keith called Jeneve “the real deal,” noting that playing the harp standing up as she did was not easy. Jennifer admitted she wasn’t sure about Jeneve at first, but “had goosies everywhere” after the performance.
Country singer Jenna Renae chose “My Church” by Maren Morris for her solo performance. Urban loved the song choice, but was still curious to hear “other sides” of her. J-Lo thought Jenna sounded like she was in her element, displaying a joy in her singing she hadn’t seen before. Harry liked the energy and enthusiasm, but warned that there is a fine line between singing with enthusiasm and shouting, and her pitch suffered because of it.
James VIII‘s version of Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” was a hit with the studio audience, who booed Jennifer when she said the song didn’t grab her or the crowd the way it could have. Harry agreed with J-Lo, noting that the tune was “super easy,” which was fine, but he wondered when it was going to become “more complex.” Keith warned James to be careful choosing between “being chill and being indulgent.”
Sonika Vaid performed “Safe and Sound,” by Taylor Swift featuring the Civil Wars. Harry said it was one of the more emotional performances of the night. Lopez complimented the singer for having a “beautiful voice,” but suggested Sonika choose songs that aren’t only suited to her voice, but make her “feel something” as well.
Gianna Isabella, daughter of dance diva Brenda K. Starr, slayed with her delivery of Annie Lennox’s version of “I Put a Spell on You.” Urban declared that Gianna’s voice is “undeniable.” However, he also noted that while she had moments of owning the stage, the performance was a little inconsistent. Harry said Gianna was a student of American Idol and pleased the crowd with “big, loud notes in the right places,” but urged her to challenge herself and find as much “meat” in her performance as she can.
Emily Brooke belted out Cassadee Pope’s “I Am Invincible” -- a poor choice in the judges’ opinions. Jennifer didn’t think the song played to Brooke’s vocal strengths. Harry added that he didn’t think Emily “sold” the lyrics, noting that he’d never seen her struggle with her pitch as much as she did on Wednesday. Keith agreed, but was a little kinder, praising Emily for “exploring” and searching for more of her artistry.
A makeup-less, dressed-down Avalon Young performed “Love Yourself,” by Justin Bieber. Connick praised Young for being “in tune” with who she is, adding that it was a strong performance. Urban agreed, but urged her to “take charge” more. Lopez noted that Avalon had the audience in the palm of her hand, and urged her not to be too self-conscious.
Jordan Sasser delivered an overly dramatic performance of Celine Dion’s “All by Myself.” Keith thought the performance was “a little too theatrical,” causing Jordan to lose the emotion of the song. Harry noted Sasser has a great voice, but called Wednesday’s performance "show-offy.”
Thomas Stringfellow was up next with “Creep” by Radiohead. Lopez was impressed with the way he “played” with his voice in a way she hadn’t heard before, adding that his emotion “filled the room.” Harry called it a “tremendous” performance, complimenting him on being “aware of the words.” Keith was also impressed with Thomas’ tendency to “lean into abandonment,” urging him never to pull himself out of that and “let yourself go.”
Closing out Wednesday’s show was La’Porsha Renae, who won the night with her performance of Ike & Tina Turner’s version of “Proud Mary,” dancing around the stage as she did. Connick predicted the performance would push other competitors to get better or make them quit. Urban praised La’Porsha for not allowing the praise she’s received in the past for her powerful voice “wreck” it for her by becoming too self-conscious of it.
American Idol continues with a two-hour edition on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.
Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup/FXWhen awards shows collide: Lady Gaga tells Variety that she found out about her Oscar nomination while working on her Grammys tribute to David Bowie.
The morning the nominations were announced, Gaga says kept waking up to check her cell phone in nervous anticipation. “Then I got distracted working on the David Bowie tribute,” she says. “I was creating the mix tape I was going to submit to [producer/musician] Nile Rodgers and I had my headphones on and was getting really into it and I missed the very beginning of the nominations.”
When she finally saw that her song, “Til It Happens to You,” was nominated, she says, “It was crazy, it was really special.”
Gaga adds, “I had the computer on my lap, working on Bowie’s music, and I already felt so honored and privileged to be doing that. And I looked up and saw ‘Til It Happens To You’ on the screen.”
The song, which she co-wrote with Diane Warren for the campus rape documentary The Hunting Ground, is up for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards on February 28. Gaga also will be performing during the ceremony. On Monday, Gaga will be performing her Bowie tribute at the Grammys.
ABC/John Fleenor Last year, Carly Rae Jepsen released her album EMOTION, which received across-the-board raves from nearly every critic and landed on many year-end "best" lists. Now, she's ready to take those songs on the road, as she kicks off her Gimmie Love tour Friday night. She says she's expecting a different kind of crowd to show up to her concerts this time around -- and she's thrilled about it.
Carly did a mini-tour last year to gauge audience reaction to her new material, and was surprised to see that her audience seems to have changed completely, thanks to the critical acclaim EMOTION received. "It was a totally different audience than what I had with my last album Kiss, where it was kind of a lot of Bieber fans and younger girls which was great," she tells ABC Radio. "[But it's] now turned into people [my] age who are just lovers of pop music, and adults, and it’s a new kind of show for us."
"I can say with complete honesty I’ve never had so much fun performing," Carly says of playing for a more mature crowd. "You can tell different stories, be a lot more authentic and, um, I’m just having the time of my life with it."
While her music is pop, Carly says don't expect the kind of over-the-top spectacle many female pop stars put on these days. "We actually don’t put too much into production or any kind of crazy costuming or things like that," she tells ABC Radio. "Not to be a boring show, but to actually keep the focus where we want it to be on: great music, a great band and hopefully, an amazing lighting show that just makes you [get] lost and be able to focus on those things."
Don't expect the "Call Me Maybe" singer to be busting out any dance moves, either, though it's not like she'll be standing still. "I, myself, don’t jump around with skill, but I jump around anyways because I can’t help it," she laughs. "And we want that to be sort of an infectious type of energy that the audience feels like they can come and dance and celebrate with us."
Carly's about as far from a diva as you can get, so as she hits the road with her band, her list of backstage demands are pretty simple. "Forever, it’s been, like, chips, salsa, beers for the boys, wine for me," Carly says. "We try to keep it healthy with fruit plates -- nothing too extravagant." But, she laughs, "If it’s gonna be towards the end of the tour, we’ll start to call in for some whiskey!"
Courtesy of NetflixSia, Pink and James Bay are among a slew of artists tackling The Beatles catalog for a new animated children’s series inspired by the Fab Four’s classic tunes.
The artists will be covering famous Beatles songs for Beat Bugs, which is set to premiere on Netflix this August. The series, about a group of tiny insect pals who live in a suburban backyard, will incorporate the songs into its storylines
Sia will be singing "Blackbird" and Pink will do her own rendition of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." It's not yet known what song James Bay will be covering, but other songs to be featured in the program include "All You Need Is Love," "Come Together," "Help!," "Penny Lane," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Yellow Submarine."
The producers of Beat Bugs were able to secure a deal to use compositions from John Lennon and Paul McCartney's Northern Songs catalog.
You can check out the show's teaser trailer now on YouTube.
ABC/Randy HolmesCarly Rae Jepsen paid tribute to Fleetwood Mac Tuesday, during the first night of Fleetwood Mac Fest in Los Angeles. She opened the show with a cover of the classic rock band’s song “Hold Me.”
Others who performed at Fleetwood Mac Fest included Mark Ronson, comedian Sarah Silverman and rocker Courtney Love. At the end of the concert, the show’s participants joined in for a group cover of "The Chain."
The second night of Fleetwood Mac Fest will be held tonight, February 10 at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles.
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagicBruno Mars has finally processed his thoughts about that epic Super Bowl 50 halftime performance on Sunday. In an Instagram post Tuesday, he thanked Coldplay and Beyonce for the experience.
“I had front row seats and witnessed these two incredible artist do their thing,” Bruno writes. “Thank you Coldplay for inviting the squad and I to perform our tune. We were all very honored to be a part of such a positive uplifting show. Thank You Beyonce for continuing to bless the world with that fire / hot sauce.”
He also showed his gratitude to the NFL for all their hard work, and to Versace, for dressing him and his dancers.
In another Instagram post, he hinted that he might be back on the halftime stage for Super Bowl 52. “See y'all at Super Bowl 52 Ayyyyyyyy!!” he writes. “I'm jus joking.. Or am I ??? You never know bro. You jus never knowwww.”
Bruno previously headlined the Super Bowl halftime show in 2014.
Eric Ray Davidson for GQPeople have been speculating about Justin Bieber’s relationship status with model Hailey Baldwin ever since he posted an Instagram photo of the two passionately smooching to ring in the New Year. The pair was most recently spotted spending Super Bowl weekend together. So are they dating or not?
Justin hasn’t yet confirmed if their friendship has turned romantic, but he reveals to GQ magazine that the two are quite close. In his first cover story with the mag, he says Hailey is “someone I really love,” adding that they “spend a lot of time together.”
While that doesn’t do much to clear up any rumors, Justin does clarify the meaning of his hit song “Sorry.” He tells GQ it’s not about apologizing for his past behavior.
“People ran with that,” he says, “that I was like, apologizing with that song and stuff. It really had nothing to do with that…It was about a girl.”
He adds, “Everyone when they start growing up realizes, ‘Man, I did some dumb sh** when I was younger.’ It’s not just me…If I could go back I wouldn’t really change much. I think it’s all my journey. That stuff made me who I am.”
Justin’s full GQ interview comes out tomorrow, February 11.
Image Group LA/ABCIs Demi Lovato itching to get hitched? During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Wednesday, the singer says her longtime boyfriend, Wilmer Valderrama, has yet to propose -- but drops the hint that maybe he should start ring shopping.
"I don't see a ring," she tells Ellen after being questioned about engagement rumors. "I wouldn't mind if I saw one, but there's time for everything."
While she’d love for Wilmer to put a ring on it, sounds like Demi won’t be giving him any ultimatums any time soon. "We've been together this long, obviously I'm not going anywhere and vice versa," she says.
The adorable couple -- who often sing each other’s praises on social media -- have been together on and off for about five-and-half years. Demi set her sights on the actor when she was just 17. "I met him six years ago,” she says. “We were friends at first -- I mean, I was head over heels and he was like, 'Stay away until you're old enough.’”
Demi is now 23, and Wilmer is 36. On Monday, the two went on a pre-Valentine’s Day date and Demi documented it on Instagram. "I'm SO IN LOVE WITH THIS MAN," she captions the pic. "I went makeup free on a super romantic date we had because that's when he thinks I'm the prettiest.”
Image Group LA/ABC By the end of this month, Sam Smith could very well be an Oscar winner -- his James Bond theme "The Writing's on the Wall" is nominated for Best Original song at the February 28 ceremony. But Sam says he'd like to see a three-time Oscar-winner play him in a future biopic...just not one you'd expect.
Asked by E! who he'd cast as himself if a movie were to be made of his life, Sam thought a bit and then answered, "Meryl Streep. For sure. 100 percent. I think she could smash it!"
Sam and his writing partner Jimmy Napes also told E! why it seemed to be destiny that they'd be tapped to write a James Bond theme.
"It's actually quite amazing for us," Sam said. "On one of our first ever sessions that we had together, we wrote a song that had a kind of Bond sound to it and from then, we were saying that it [would be] just a dream for us to do this. But I never thought it was gonna happen in, like, the first few years of my career. So it's truly a gift, y'know? We feel like we've already won."
Sam's competition in the Best Original Song category includes such heavy hitters as Lady Gaga and The Weeknd, so perhaps he shouldn't clear a space on his trophy shelf quite yet.
Alasdair McLellan Surprise: Adele will be playing a special one-night only show in Los Angeles Friday. The exclusive concert will take place at The Wiltern.
Don't bother with that plane ticket, though. To score admission to the event, you must be a California-area resident registered with Adele.com.
The L.A. show comes ahead of the European leg of Adele's tour, which kicks off February 29 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Adele will be back in the States for her North American tour on July 5. That trek includes six shows at Los Angeles’ Staples Center.
Back in November, Adele played a one-night only engagement at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, a few days before the release of her album 25.
Interscope RecordsAfter teasing the track listing for her long-awaited new solo album online Tuesday night, Gwen Stefani has now confirmed the disc's title and release date.
As Gwen hinted, the album is indeed called This Is What the Truth Feels Like. The cover is a close-up glamour shot of the singer, with flowers, hearts and tears scribbled in marker over it. The album title and her name are also scrawled in marker. A deluxe version of the album is now available for pre-order at Target.com; the standard version of the album will be available for pre-order on Friday at all other outlets. The album itself is due March 18.
Gwen will make a big splash at the Grammy Awards Monday night by shooting her new music video live during the telecast. That will take place during a four-minute commercial break at some point during the evening. The clip will be for the song "Make Me Like You," which is being released Friday, directed by Sophie Muller. In addition to catching it during the telecast on CBS, fans will also be able to see a "second view" of the action via Periscope, Facebook Live and Snapchat.
“Target has an incredible legacy of creating unexpected moments in music, and I’m thrilled to be partnering with them to create my new music video on live television next Monday,” says Gwen in a statement.
So far, Gwen has released the single "Used to Love You" from the disc. The song she put out last year, "Spark the Fire," isn't on the album.
Here is the official track listing for the Target edition of This Is What the Truth Feels Like:
1. "Misery" 2. "You’re My Favorite" 3. "Where Would I Be" 4. "Make Me Like You" 5. "Truth" 6. "Used to Love You" 7. "Send Me a Picture" 8. "Red Flag" 9. "Asking for It" 10. "Naughty" 11. "Me Without You" 12. "Rare" 13. "Rocket Ship" (Target exclusive) 14. "Getting Warmer" (Target exclusive) 15. "Obsessed" (Target exclusive) 16. "Splash" (Target exclusive)
Jennifer CuellarRihanna released her new album ANTI a couple of weeks ago, but if that wasn’t baby-friendly enough for you, the children’s music series Rockabye Baby! will be releasing Lullaby Renditions of Rihanna next month.
The compilation album features soothing instrumental interpretations of Rihanna’s hits including, "We Found Love," "Diamonds" and "Rude Boy." It comes out March 25.
The CD liner notes include Rihanna-themed children's games and a baby food recipe based on one of her song titles: “Umpearella.”
Here’s the Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Rihanna track list:
"We Found Love" "Diamonds" "Umbrella" "Don't Stop the Music" "SOS" "Disturbia" "Only Girl (in the World)" "Pour It Up" "Rude Boy" "Love the Way You Lie (Part II)" "Stay" "Take a Bow"
Jeff Kravitz/MTV1415/FilmMagicKanyeWest is apparently standing by Bill Cosby amid numerous sexual assault allegations against the comedian.
West voiced his support for Cosby in a tweet on Tuesday that simply read, "BILL COSBY INNOCENT !!!!!!!!!!"
The rapper hasn't offered any further explanations for the post.
It's the first time West has weighed in on the Cosby scandal, although in his song "Facts" -- released at the end of December -- he raps, "Do anybody feel bad for Bill Cosby? Did he forget the names just like Steve Harvey?"
Cosby has been charged with aggravated indecent assault in a sexual assault case in Pennsylvania. Dozens of other women have accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them, though the comedian hasn't been criminally charged in any other case.
ABC/Fred LeeRachel Platten's smash hit "Fight Song" was an empowerment anthem which she specifically wrote to give herself a boost because she was so frustrated with her career. Fans have adopted her current hit, "Stand by You," as an anthem as well, but she says she didn't really write it with such lofty goals in mind.
"I don’t write normally with an intention to bring a message. I wish could do that more intentionally, but I think when I try too hard, those come off forced and fake earnest," she tells ABC Radio. "'Stand by You' was just... I was truly feeling strong and I have someone in my life I love very much, and the song was just a love song for that person."
Like "Fight Song," "Stand by You" has now topped Billboard's Adult Pop Songs chart. They're both from Rachel's major label debut, Wildfire, and you'll hear both those songs when she kicks off her headlining tour February 26. Rachel says she plans to apply what she learned touring last year with Colbie Caillat and Christina Perri to her own tour. Her takeaway? That no matter how many bells and whistles you have, the music is always the most important thing about a concert.
"I hope to -- even as I’m growing in the pop sphere and getting excited with production and learning to dance and loving all of that -- I am gonna absolutely remain true to my roots and have a band, have a live band," she tells ABC Radio. "And have moments just like it used to be with me [playing clubs in New York City], just jamming with my best friends on stage."
This week, Rachel will get a chance to warm up for the tour by performing a series of shows aboard a cruise ship. She, as well as Andy Grammer and Phillip Phillips, is one of several performers on Train's annual Sail Across the Sun fan cruise, which sets sail from Miami on Thursday. Rachel says during the cruise, she'll mostly be focused, not on playing, but on trying not to throw up.
"I imagine it’s going to be me taking a lot of Dramamine and sitting in one place and hopefully not getting nauseous!" she laughs.
Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup/FXNow that Lady Gaga’s a Golden Globe-winning actress, she’ll likely be in high demand for more acting gigs. But her fiancé, Taylor Kinney, is holding out hope that she’ll one day appear on his show, Chicago Fire.
He tells People magazine Gaga is welcome to guest-star on the NBC series any time. "I feel like that's always an open invitation,” he says. “Sure, yeah."
Taylor has long been supportive of Gaga’s acting career, and even helped her read lines for her role on American Horror Story: Hotel. While they may not be sharing the screen together just yet, they are sharing wedding planning duties.
Taylor addresses rumors that they’re considering an Italian destination ceremony. “I heard that I was getting married in Italy,” he says. “I want to know if I can go. Do I get to come to this thing? It sounds like an amazing party. I want to go.”
He wouldn’t reveal any actual details about their nuptials but he did predict Gaga would be wearing “something special.”
And for those of you wondering why he wasn’t at the Super Bowl to witness his future bride belt the national anthem on Sunday, Taylor says he was at an event celebrating his TV Guide cover.
"I'm just proud. I just wanted her to take her time and really just enjoy the moment for what it was," he says of Gaga's performance, adding, "To be on that stage in front of as many people that were watching and to represent not only the song but the country was a pretty big deal. I thought that she really took the bull by the horns and did a great job.”
All eyes will be on Gaga again on Monday, when she takes the stage at the Grammy Awards to pay tribute to late rock legend David Bowie, who she cites as her biggest inspiration. She tells Extra, "It's hard to talk about. I would never be here without him — I would've thought I was too weird — and I never gave up because I thought he was the coolest ever.”