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A History of Super Bowl Halftime Performances


Kevin Mazur/WireImageThe Super Bowl halftime show normally features the biggest names in music, who are usually veteran performers.  This year, however, marks the second year in a row that the headline performer is age 30 or under. 

Last year, Bruno Mars, who was 28 at the time, set the record for halftime show viewers when 115 million people tuned in to see his perform with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  This year, Katy Perry, who just turned 30 in October, will take the stage.  Beyonce was 31 when she did the halftime show in 2013.  As Bruno was last year, though, Katy will be joined by an older rock act: Lenny Kravitz.

Still, the NFL's willingness to continue to book contemporary female pop acts like Katy Perry indicates it might finally be getting over Janet Jackson's notorious "wardrobe malfunction" scandal of 2004.  Following that disaster, Super Bowl organizers turned to classic rock acts like Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, The Who, and Tom Petty, since they were considered to be "safe" and less controversial.  Contemporary pop returned to the scene in 2011, when the Black Eyed Peas took the stage; no wardrobe malfunctions ensued.

The NFL took a risk in 2012 with one of pop music's most controversial stars, Madonna, but the only controversy that emerged from that was courtesy of one of her invited guests, M.I.A., who flipped the bird during the performance.  In 2013, Beyonce delivered a widely-acclaimed performance, though some felt her outfit and her gyrations were a bit racy.  

Early in her career, Katy had been a bit controversial due to her #1 hit "I Kissed a Girl," and for her cleavage-baring outfits, but these days, she's mostly seen as a family-friendly performer who makes great pop records and puts on a spectacular, colorful live show.

Believe it or not, the trend of having major pop, rock and country music stars appear at the Super Bowl halftime show only dates back to 1991, when New Kids on the Block performed. Before that, the halftime show usually consisted of marching bands, older stars like Chubby Checker and Ella Fitzgerald, or the G-rated vocal troupe Up with People. But after '91, it was all stars, all the time.  Here's a reminder of who's played Super Bowl halftime shows since then:

1991 -- New Kids on the Block
1992 -- Gloria Estefan
1993 -- Michael Jackson, performing with 3,500 children
1994 -- Country stars Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, Wynonna, and Naomi Judd
1995 -- Patti Labelle, Miami Sound Machine & Tony Bennett
1996 -- Diana Ross
1997 -- ZZ Top, James Brown, the Blues Brothers featuring Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman and James Belushi
1998 -- Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, the Temptations, Queen Latifah
1999 -- Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
2000 -- Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton
2001 -- Aerosmith, 'N Sync, Britney Spears, Nelly, Mary J. Blige
2002 -- U2
2003 -- Shania Twain, No Doubt, Sting
2004 -- Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Nelly, Kid Rock, P. Diddy
2005 -- Paul McCartney
2006 -- The Rolling Stones
2007 -- Prince
2008 -- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
2009 -- Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
2010 -- The Who
2011 -- Black Eyed Peas
2012 -- Madonna
2013 -- Beyonce (and Destiny's Child, briefly)
2014 -- Bruno Mars feat. Red Hot Chili Peppers
2015 -- Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz & surprise guest

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Justin Timberlake Finally Confirms He & Jessica Biel Are Expecting


Tom Munro/RCA RecordsEveryone has known for a while now that Justin Timberlake and his wife Jessica Biel are expecting a baby, because Justin's 'N SYNC bandmate Joey Fatone spilled the beans to a magazine in December.  But neither JT nor Jessica had ever confirmed it...until now.

On Saturday, Justin's 34th birthday, he posed a photo on Instagram of himself kissing what we assume is Biel's bare pregnant belly.  The caption reads, "Thank you EVERYONE for the Bday wishes! This year, I'm getting the GREATEST GIFT EVER. CAN'T WAIT."

He added the hashtags, "#BoyOrGirl #YouNeverKnow #WeDontEvenKnow #WeAreTakingBets."

Justin and Jessica tied the knot in 2012.


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Whitney Houston's Daughter Alive After Being Found Unresponsive in Tub & Hospitalized


Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Bobbi Kristina Brown, the only child of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, was transported to a Georgia hospital on Saturday morning after she was found unresponsive.

Police responded to a 911 call at a home in Roswell, Georgia; Bobbi's husband Nick Gordon and a friend had discovered her in the tub and had begun CPR.  When police arrived on scene, they started life-saving measures until rescue personnel arrived.  Bobbi, 21, was transported to North Fulton Hospital.  Roswell Police confirmed that Bobbi Kristina is alive. 

As for why Bobbi was found in the tub, a police spokeswoman said, "We don't know if this was a medical condition where she had a problem in the tub or if it was any type of self-initiated or overdose type of situation."

A search warrant was issued for the home, but police would not comment if any drugs were found at the scene.  Investigators said that prior to Saturday, on January 23, police were dispatched to the home following an "incident," but no charges were filed and nothing was found.

On February 11, 2012, Bobbi's mother Whitney Houston was found unconscious in a hotel room bathtub in Beverly Hills, CA, and was later pronounced dead.

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Geronimo! Sheppard Lines Up TV Performances, Sets Debut Album Release Date


Republic RecordsAustralian band Sheppard, which is making waves on the charts with their single "Geronimo," has set a March 10 release date for their debut album, Bombs Away. The band, which will be opening for Meghan Trainor on her upcoming tour starting February 11, also has booked a slew of TV appearances.

Sheppard, which takes its name from the three Sheppard siblings who are part of the lineup, will perform February 9 on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and March 10 on NBC's Today show.  On March 13, they'll perform on ABC's Live with Kelly and Michael.

"Geronimo" and Bombs Away were massive hits in Sheppard's native Australia, and they've already won an ARIA Award, Australia's equivalent of a Grammy.

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Super Bowl National Anthem Singers: A History


NFL MediaThis Sunday, Idina Menzel will take the stage to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl, marking the second year in a row that the NFL has chosen a female performer who isn't a pop superstar to do the honors.

While Idina scored her first top-10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 this past year with "Let It Go," she's better known as a Tony-winning Broadway star, or as an actress, having appeared in Glee and movies like Enchanted.  Last year's Super Bowl anthem singer was opera legend Renee Fleming.  Prior to that, we had six years of female pop divas taking the mic, including Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, and four American Idol alums: Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, and Carrie Underwood

The last time a male performer sang the anthem was in 2007, at Super Bowl 41, when Billy Joel did the honors.  By the way, Billy is one of only two artists ever to have done it twice.  In addition to Super Bowl 41, he also did the honors at Super Bowl 23 back in 1989.  The other artist who's done it twice is Aaron Neville, in 1990 and in 2006.

Most cite Whitney Houston's performance of the national anthem in 1991 as one of the best Super Bowl anthem performances ever.  Idina Menzel certainly agrees.  Whitney's performance made a big impact, not just because she sang so well, but because it came during the Gulf War.  Her rendition was so popular that it was released as a single, was included on her greatest hits album, and was re-released to capture the patriotic spirit after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

For a historical perspective, here's a list of everyone who's ever performed or sung the National Anthem at the Super Bowl:

1 -- Universities of Arizona & Michigan Bands (1967)
2 -- Grambling University Band (1968)
3 -- Anita Bryant (1969)
4 -- Al Hirt (trumpeter) (1970)
5 -- Tommy Loy (trumpeter) (1971)
6 -- U.S. Air Force Academy Chorale (1972)
7 -- Little Angels of Holy Angels Church (Chicago) (1973)
8 -- Charley Pride (1974)
9 -- Grambling University Band (1975)
10 -- Tom Sullivan (1976)
11 -- Vicki Carr (sang "America the Beautiful") (1977)
12 -- Phyllis Kelly of NE Louisiana State University (1978)
13 -- The Colgate Thirteen (1979)
14 -- Cheryl Ladd (1980)
15 -- Helen O'Connell (1981)
16 -- Diana Ross (1982)
17 -- Leslie Easterbrook (1983)
18 -- Barry Manilow (1984)
19 -- Children's Choir of San Francisco (1985)
20 -- Wynton Marsalis (1986)
21 -- Neil Diamond (1987)
22 -- Herb Alpert (1988)
23 -- Billy Joel (1989)
24 -- Aaron Neville (1990)
25 -- Whitney Houston (1991)
26 -- Harry Connick Jr. (1992)
27 -- Garth Brooks (1993)
28 -- Natalie Cole (1994)
29 -- Kathie Lee Gifford (1995)
30 -- Vanessa Williams (1996)
31 -- Luther Vandross (1997)
32 -- Jewel (1998)
33 -- Cher (1999)
34 -- Faith Hill (2000)
35 -- Backstreet Boys; “America the Beautiful” performed by Ray Charles (2001)
36 -- Mariah Carey (2002)
37 -- Dixie Chicks (2003)
38 -- Beyoncé Knowles (2004)
39 -- Combined Choirs of the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, U.S. Coast Guard Academy and U.S. Army Herald Trumpets (2005)
40 -- Aaron Neville with Dr. John And Aretha Franklin (2006)
41 -- Billy Joel (2007)
42 -- Jordin Sparks (2008)
43 -- Jennifer Hudson (2009)
44 -- Carrie Underwood (2010)
45 -- Christina Aguilera (2011)
46 -- Kelly Clarkson (2012)
47 -- Alicia Keys (2013)
48 -- Renee Fleming (2014)
49 -- Idina Menzel (2015)

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Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Rihanna's New Video with Kanye West & Paul McCartney


Westbury Road Entertainment/Roc Nation RecordsRihanna has debuted a behind-the-scenes look at at the upcoming video for "FourFiveSeconds," her collaboration with Kanye West and Paul McCartney.

In the video, we don't hear from Paul or Kanye; they just walk around, and Paul strums a guitar.  But speaking directly to the camera, a nearly make-up free Rihanna, with slicked-back hair, says, "This is the first song that fans are gonna hear from the new album, and the first visual they see." 

We then see Rihanna choosing clothes for the shoot, and explaining that Kanye had the vision for the clip's stripped-down fashion.

"Kanye came up with the idea of doing just some real street denim, All-American look," she explains.  Modeling her denim shirt, she adds, "This is actually his jacket, that is some Sean John throwback vintage jacket, that is f***ing major."

"That's the look. That's the fashion tip," she continues.  "Denim never goes out of style. It's classic. It's iconic, just like the f**ing Beatles."

No word on when the video will debut, or when Rihanna's new album will drop. There are rumors that the unlikely trio will perform together at the Grammys next weekend.

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Hozier Rocks Out with Ariana Grande's "Problem" on British Radio


Alex LakeThe music of Hozier and Ariana Grande couldn't be more different, and that's why it's so much fun to hear the Irish singer/songwriter put his own spin on the pop diva's smash hit "Problem."

Hozier covered Ariana's hit for BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge program, which features artists doing cover versions of other artists' current tunes.  Hozier gave the song a rock feel, performing with a full band and even a 10-person choir.  Hozier told BBC Radio 1 that he chose the song because he "always found it to be quite an irresistible little beat in the verse and we could have a lot of fun with it."

Hozier and Ariana are both Grammy nominees.  Both will perform on the Grammy telecast February 8, and both are kicking off U.S. headlining tours in February.

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Jordin Sparks & Idina Menzel Join Charli XCX & FOB for Tonight's "VH1 Super Bowl Blitz"


Courtesy VH1Jordin Sparks and Idina Menzel have joined the lineup of VH1 Papa John's Super Bowl Blitz: A Concert for the Troops, which will air tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Hosted by Nick Lachey, the concert will feature headline performances by Fall Out Boy and Charli XCX.  Arizona native and football fanatic Jordin will introduce a group of top NFL players who'll be saluting the troops, while Idina, who'll perform the national anthem at the Super Bowl on Sunday, will discuss how important the anthem is to the military.

NFL stars Charles Tillman, Jeremy Hill and Maurice Jones-Drew will also appear on the show, which in addition to airing on TV will also stream live at VH1.com and on the VH1 app. 

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Sam Smith Reveals How He Stays "Normal"


Theo Wenner for Rolling StoneIn the past year, Sam Smith has managed to hit career highlights that some artists who've been around for 20 years have yet to do: he's appeared on Saturday Night Live, graced the cover of Rolling Stone, sold out Madison Square Garden, duetted with Mary J. Blige, partied with Taylor Swift and been showered with Grammy nominations.  With all this success, how does he keep himself from believing his own hype?  By going with his gut.

In a video posted on Rolling Stone's website, Sam explains, "When I’m sad, I’m sad. And when I’m having a down day, I’m having a down day. It’s important not to pretend everything’s OK because sometimes things aren’t OK, and that’s all right. It’s all right to have moody days and to be upset, you know, and be tired. I’m a human being, that’s how it should be."

"And so the way I stay normal," he adds, "is by letting my feelings take over and letting my feelings lead, not my mind."

It also helps, Sam says, that he never thought that he'd be an instant smash hit as soon as he launched his career, even though that's exactly what happened.

"I wanted to be well known at 22 and be making music, but for the success that I’ve had, I never dreamed of that happening now," he tells Rolling Stone. "I wouldn’t think I’d be playing Madison Square Garden on my first record, didn’t think I would get six Grammy nominations on my first album, I didn’t think I’d sell five million records on my first album, especially in the first year."

We'll see if Sam can continue being "normal" after the Grammys on February 8, where he's sure to take home at least a couple of trophies.

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J. Lo Selling L.A. Mansion for $17 Million


Matthias Vriens-McGrath/FOXAnyone in the market for a $17 million Hidden Hills, California mansion? Jennifer Lopez just put her nine-bedroom property up for sale, according to Variety.

Records show J.Lo and her third ex-husband Marc Anthony paid $8.2 million for the 17,129-square foot property in late 2010. The main house has an unassuming brick facade, but the interior is as swanky as it gets. The master suite reportedly occupies the upper floor’s entire south wing and includes a corner fireplace, a private stone terrace with a gorgeous view and a pair of walk-in closets.

Other famous residents within the Hidden Hills gated community include Jessica Simpson and her hubby Eric Johnson, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, and singer Colbie Caillat.

It’s not yet known if Jennifer has plans to buy another house in Los Angeles, but the American Idol judge has been snapping up East Coast properties of late. In May 2013, she purchased a Hamptons mansion for nearly $10 million, and in October 2014 she dropped $20 million for a duplex penthouse in a New York City boutique building.

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T.I. Weighs In on Iggy Azalea's Steven Madden Beef


ABC/Randy HolmesIggy Azalea seems to have no problem venting her frustrations via social media. Following beefs with Snoop Dog and Azalea Banks, the rapper has called out designer Steve Madden for releasing unauthorized modeling images for their latest shoe collaboration. Although she's since apologized via Instagram, her mentor T.I. feels the rap rookie is handling her Twitter rants the wrong way.

A TMZ photographer caught up with Tip to ask if he agreed with Iggy's actions. 

"Absolutely not, I think she should focus on what got her here and that's her music, her performing, and continue to just present her talents to the world," he said. When the photog asked if she should just leave the drama alone, Tip replied, "Pretty much, man."

On Thursday, Madden released images via Tumblr from what Azalea says was an unapproved photo shoot, which prompted the rapper to tweet about how "livid" she was at the time.

"Everything in a collaboration is supposed to be mutually approved. But Steve madden did the most disgusting photo shoot ever and never Even told me about it, I'm just now seeing it as its uploaded on some random tumblr page and iam livid," she wrote in a series of tweets, which were deleted but captured by Fader.

Steve Madden has not only password-protected the Tumblr page, but the brand has addressed this misunderstanding.

"This was a lover's quarrel," the company tells USA Today in a statement. "We love Iggy and are very excited about our collaboration. When you get two artists working together sometimes there are fireworks. It's our creative differences that allow us to design an incredible collection and we are looking forward to sharing it with the world!"

Meanwhile, fans can expect Iggy's upcoming capsule collection of shoes to arrive in February.

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New Promo Teases "Epic" Season of "The Voice"


Courtesy NBCIf the new promo is any indication, season eight of The Voice is going to be epic. The commercial for the new season, set to air during the Super Bowl on Sunday, shows the four judges arriving for a gritty, underground cage battle, clearly inspired by the 1985 action movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

Adam Levine enters the thunderdome-like cage, where he’s met by Blake Shelton, who teases, “You’re late again.” Then, returning judge Christina Aguilera shows up and taunts them: “Hey boys! You’re both late to the party. My party!” Pharrell Williams drops down from the ceiling and the judges all take their places in their red spinning chairs.

Host Carson Daly commands the battle to begin and a singer starts belting out a tune -- "We Don't Need Another Hero," Tina Turner's hit theme song from the movie.  The coaches hit their buttons and are ejected from their chairs. The clip ends with the four of them flying straight at each other, ready to duke it out.

The new season of The Voice premieres on February 23 on NBC.

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Hozier “Never Thought” Radio Stations Would Play His Music


Alex LakeHozier’s “Take Me to Church” is being worshipped around the globe. It hit number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, gained admiration from famous fans like Taylor Swift and Adele, landed the Irish singer gigs on Saturday Night Live and the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and nabbed him a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year. Not bad for a tune that was initially recorded in his parents’ attic fewer than two years ago.

"I always thought of myself as a very, very obscure artist," the Irish singer tells Rolling Stone. "I never thought Irish radio would be turned on by my music -- or any f**king radio station, excuse my French."

It’s true that the ballad, which takes aim at the Catholic Church and mixes blues, gospel, folk and soul, sounds like almost nothing else currently on top 40 radio. That’s because Hozier, born Andrew Hozier-Byrne, didn’t grow up listening to modern-day hitmakers. "We lived far out in the Irish countryside," the 24-year-old says. "We had a very, very bad Internet connection."

His main source of musical education was his father, who played drums in blues-rock bands and owned a collection of vinyl and cassettes. "I developed a fascination with the roots of African-American music," Hozier says. "I love Muddy Waters and Nina Simone. I also watched The Blues Brothers movie over and over."

Eventually, he taught himself to play guitar and started writing songs. His crude attic demo of “Take Me to Church” got him noticed by the indie label Rubywords, who teamed him up with producer Rob Kirwan. After his music video for the song went viral in 2013, he attracted the interest of labels from around the world. Columbia signed him in the U.S. and the song took over American airwaves shortly after.

While Hozier’s happy that “Take Me to Church” is a huge hit, he says he worries about the possibility of it becoming too big. "You don't want a song to be bigger than yourself," he says. "I mean, do you? Maybe you do. I don't know. I guess I'll find out."

As of right now, he’s too busy accepting the offers brought on by newfound fame to start working on a second album. "Sadly, I'm too busy to work on my second album in any meaningful way," he says. "But I have a guitar with me everywhere I go and I'll try to keep the ideas coming. I just won't be able to do much meaningful work until 2016, I think. We've just had some fantastic offers this year and we don't want to pull any punches. We're really going for it."

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Christina Aguilera Collaborating with Pharrell on Next Album


Brian Bowen Smith/NBCThose Voice coaches stick together. We know Pharrell Williams collaborated with his season seven The Voice co-star Gwen Stefani, but now he’s teaming up with Voice veteran Christina Aguilera.

Christina tells Extra TV that Pharrell is helping her realize her vision for her next album. "During my pregnancy, I had a meeting with him and just connected on where I want to take the next album," she says. "And we started talking music, and he has one song in particular that I love."

The 34-year-old pop diva didn’t give a time frame for when her follow-up to 2012’s Lotus would be released, but she did say she’s hard at work on it. "I just have to make sure it's right, and it's genuine and it's heartfelt, and I'm very excited to pour my heart out into this record fully,” Christina says. “I've been gathering and writing and coming up with these amazing ideas for different parts of how I was feeling the past year, so I'm really excited to vocalize all of it and make it all come together.”

Christina also hints that “hopefully more duets and discovering new talent” will be in her future.

Aguilera, who’s nominated for a Grammy for her duet “Say Something” with A Great Big World, will be opening the NBA All-Star Game with a special performance on February 15. She’ll then join Pharrell, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine as a coach on The Voice for season eight when the show returns on February 23, effectively ending her maternity leave from the program. Her second child, daughter Summer Rain, was born in August.

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Sia Reveals She'll Perform on Grammy Awards


RCA RecordsNow we know there will be at least one completely strange and unexpected performance on this year's Grammy Awards telecast.

Appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Friday, Sia revealed she'll be taking the stage February 8 for the 57th annual Grammys.  Since the Australian singer/songwriter never shows her face publicly, her performance will no doubt incorporate some interesting staging, and may even feature young Maddie Ziegler, the Dance Moms star who appeared in Sia's videos for "Chandelier" and "Elastic Heart," and who performed with her on Saturday Night Live and on today's Ellen show.

For theEllen performance of "Elastic Heart," Sia was in a large white box with only her head showing; her face was covered by the extremely long bangs on her signature blonde bob wig.  Also on stage were a number of young children, also in boxes with only their heads showing, all wearing blonde bob wigs.  As Sia sang, the children mouthed the words to the song. 

Front and center, in a box which only covered her from the waist down, was Maddie, in a nude leotard and blonde wig, with pink stains on her hands and leotard.  She performed a mostly static routine, using her arms, hands and face to convey a range of emotions. 

Maddie eventually did pick up her box and move around from one side of the stage to the other, but she was the only one who moved: Sia and the other kids remained in one place the whole time.  At the end of the performance, Ellen walked over with her midsection covered in a large white box to talk to Sia about the Grammy announcement.

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Katy Perry Talks Relationships, Taylor Swift "Feud" & More in "Billboard" Super Bowl Cover Story


Miller Mobley for BillboardOn the eve of her Super Bowl halftime performance, Katy Perry graces the cover of the new issue of Billboard magazine.  Inside, she talks about the Super Bowl gig, as well as her alleged "feud" with Taylor Swift and the status of her love life.

There have been plenty of rumors that Katy would use her Super Bowl set to "get back" or "diss" Taylor, following Taylor's comments to Rolling Stone about a certain female star who tried to "sabotage [my] entire arena tour."  Many assumed Taylor was talking about Katy, and their assumptions seemed to be confirmed when, the next day, Katy tweeted the Mean Girls reference, "Watch out for the Regina George in sheep's clothing."  Speaking to Billboard now, though, Katy doesn't offer any more clues, but will only say, "If somebody is trying to defame my character, you're going to hear about it."

As for her current romantic status, Katy is thought to have rekindled her relationship with John Mayer, whom she's dated on and off since 2012.  According to Billboard, Katy wasn't happy with the question.  She tells the magazine, "What I will say is that to have any relationship at this level you have to just be protective and figure out how to navigate it. There is no handbook."  She adds, "In all my relationships, I've learned how I have to be more careful and that it's not up for public consumption."

But enough about that -- what about the Super Bowl?  Katy says unlike many artists who use a halftime performance to set up a tour or album release, "There isn't any selling point going up the day after. I'm just selling my music to the broadest, widest audience ever." 

The magazine has details of what Katy has been doing to prepare for Sunday night's performance.  One of those things is wearing the same exact outfit every day: a black Adidas track suit with white stripes and matching slippers.  She explains, "I'm just not playing the picture game. If I wear the same thing every day, the pictures don't sell."

Regarding her performance, Katy adds, "I want the show to be quintessential Katy. It's like the exclamation point on the whole last cycle. This is the cherry on top of everything I've already done."

You can read the entire interview over at Billboard.

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Taylor Swift Gushes About Sam Smith to "Rolling Stone": "I Had This Feeling We'll Be Friends for Life"


Christopher Polk/AMA2014/Getty Images for DCPSam Smith graces the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, but the publication also contacted his pal Taylor Swift to get her thoughts on why he and his music have taken the world by storm.  She knows what she's talking about, because she realized a year ago that he was a potential superstar.

As Taylor explains to Rolling Stone, she tapped Sam to open for her on her RED tour in London after hearing his song "Money on My Mind."  "[The] hook sounded nothing like anything else I'd heard," she tells the magazine. "I learned that he was a brand-new artist who hadn't even been launched in the U.S. yet, but I felt this strange inclination to introduce my fans to him out at the O2 [Arena]. When I love something immediately, they usually react the same way."

She says of his performance, "The effortlessness of Sam's singing is what absolutely took our breath away. And that night, he had the same effect on the crowd. They weren't necessarily screaming for him because he was famous or recognizable to them....They were screaming for Sam because all 20,000 of them were realizing at the same time that they would remember seeing Sam Smith sing early on in his career for the rest of their lives. I know I will."

Taylor thinks Sam's music is connecting because "there's something very pure and direct about the way [he] lives his life," she explains. "And he's very transparent in his portrayal of his image. People just want someone real to listen to, and the vulnerability Sam is willing to project comes off as bravery because it's authentic."

She says her favorite Sam Smith moment, which really cemented their friendship, came during the American Music Awards this past November.

"We were front row watching watching Ariana Grande, loving her performance," she recalls. "At the end...she did some dance move that was so sexy and so cool, and at the same time, Sam and I both screamed out 'YAS B***H YAS!!'" and then looked at each other and died laughing. I had this feeling that we'll be friends for life."

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Shakira and Partner Welcome Second Son, Sasha


worldbabyshower.org/Jaume de la IguanaShakira is a mother for the second time.  The singer confirmed on her website that she and her partner, soccer star Gerard Piqué, have welcomed their second child, a boy.

"We are happy to announce the birth of Sasha Piqué Mebarak, son of Shakira Mebarak and Gerard Piqué, born January 29 at 9:54pm, in Barcelona," reads the message on Shakira's website. "The name Sasha is of Greek and Russian descent and means 'defender of mankind' and 'warrior.' The hospital confirmed that both mother and child are in excellent health."

Sasha joins big brother Milan, who was born in January of 2013.

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"American Idol" Recap: Four Teens Head to Hollywood


FOXAmerican Idol's auditions concluded Thursday night with tryouts in San Francisco. Seven contestants, including four teenagers, advanced to the next round of the competition on Thursday's show, bringing the total number of contestants going to Hollywood to over 200.

Back behind the judges' table were Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr.

During the show, host Ryan Seacrest once again gave Idol fans a chance to decide via an online poll if a contestant would advance or be sent home. This week, they voted to send a contestant named Sophia home.

Here are the highlights of Thursday's one-hour episode:

Adanna Duru, 17, kicked things off by declaring that singing was her life. She belted out Lady Gaga’s “You and I.” Jennifer called her the “full package.” Harry enjoyed the performance, but advised her when learning songs to “look at every line and think about what every single lyric means.” Keith noted she hit every great part of her voice. Duru was handed a ticket to Hollywood and a shot in the next round.

Christopher Michael, 26, wasn’t as successful. His performance of an original song was “passionate,” according to Keith, but that was it. He voted “no.” It was another “no” from Harry, who admitted Christopher fired him up, but the music wasn’t there. Jennifer agreed with her fellow judges and added the final “no” that sent Christopher home.

Twenty-year-old Malibu, California, native Hunter Larsen performed Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life," and drew positive responses from the panel. Jennifer thought Hunter was “really interesting,” noting she had a great voice with a “gritty tone to it that makes it really unusual.” Keith liked Hunter immediately, as did Harry. She received three “yeses” from the judges and was on her way to Hollywood.

Fifteen-year-old Portland, Oregon, native Daniel Seavey is a multi-instrumentalist who performed Leonard Cohen's “Hallelujah,” on the piano and Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” on the guitar. Jennifer said she sensed Daniel was nervous, but acknowledged he had a good voice. J-Lo said she felt the performance wasn’t complete. Harry agreed that Daniel needed a little more time to mature and voted “no.” Keith echoed Jennifer and Harry’s sentiments, but thought he deserved one more chance and voted “yes.” Lopez, who thought Daniel was “talented and adorable,” was on the fence and had the deciding vote. Her decision was revealed after a commercial break when Daniel was seen running out of the audition room waving a golden ticket to Hollywood.

Rocky Peter, a 27-year-old native of Nigeria who grew up poor and begging for food with his brother, thanked the panel for the chance to audition. He sang an original song called, “Wrong Places.” J-Lo noted she could hear both beauty and pain in his voice. She voted “yes” to let him advance. Keith wasn’t sure Rocky's voice was “compatible” with Idol, but still voted “yes.” Harry said he loved the song as much as Rocky's voice, and also voted to send him to Hollywood.

Jaq Mackenzie is “15-and-a-half-years-old.” After she sang an original song, all three judges were on the fence about sending her on to the next round. Jennifer thought Jaq had the makings of a great artist and sang well in her style, but didn’t know if she was ready to handle all the other styles she’d be required to tackle during the competition. Harry was also pleased with the performance, but wondered if the added pressure she’d face in the next round would help or hurt her. Keith loved her artistry, but agreed the choice was difficult. All three judges ultimately agreed they wanted to see Jaq Mackenzie at least one more time in Hollywood.

Florida native Tyanna Jones, 16, is one of 11 children and no stranger to hard times. Her family struggled to make ends meet and was homeless for a while. Jones blew the judges away with her version of Little Mix’s “Wings.” Jennifer declared the singer was “very talented” and voted “yes.” Harry went even further, calling the teen “extremely talented” and “a special young lady.” He also voted “yes.” Jones even managed to give Keith the answer he was looking for when he asked what parts of her voice needed work and she replied it was her pitch. Keith pointed out that Jones tends to be a little sharp at times and her response was his confirmation that she knew the challenges she faced moving forward. She got a “yes” vote from him and was on her way to Hollywood.

The American Idol Hollywood Rounds begin next Wednesday night at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Fox.

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Backstreet Boys' New Documentary Shows the Guys at Their "Most Vulnerable"


Francesca FoleyThe Backstreet Boys give fans a behind-the-scenes look at their band in a new documentary, out Friday in theaters and on video-on-demand platforms.

Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean and Kevin Richardson were filmed over two years for Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of, opening up their personal and professional lives for the cameras. A.J. told ABC News Radio at the movie's Hollywood premiere Thursday night, "You'll learn a lot of stuff, and you'll see us in our most vulnerable, ever."

The band was met at the premiere by screaming fans, which Brian said is still a "good feeling" after two decades as a Backstreet Boy. He explained, "It's good, a blessing to do what we do every day and love it and be passionate about it."

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Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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