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Grammy Awards 2011: Backstage with Justin Bieber, Usher, Esperanza Spalding, Matthew Morrison, and many more

esparanza-spaldingImage Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesAs you might imagine, backstage at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards is a press feeding frenzy, with golden gramophone winners — and even some presenters — parading behind-the-scenes to various media outlets to take their questions and revel in the celebratory mood of the evening. The bold-faced names trek from the radio press to TV shows like Extra and — you guessed it — even us here in the print and online world. I resided backstage for the show and waited for folks like Esperanza Spalding, Usher, Justin Bieber, Train, and Matthew Morrison to come and bask with the reporters for a bit. Here’s what minute-by-minute account of what transpired:

6:15 P.M. PT: The band Train, winners for Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocals for their smash single “Hey, Soul Sister,” are both the first winners of the evening and the first winners to come backstage for the evening. The first question for the group is about their surprising comeback last year with “Soul Sister.” “We’ve been through a lot, and to be here after so many years, it’s such an honor to be nominated,” says vocalist Patrick Monahan. “This was a beautiful comeback nomination. We feel we have many more albums to come that are going to be better. To have won this makes up for things that didn’t even exist.”


Bieber and Usher relive their history for Grammy performance

Justin Bieber and Usher teamed up for an irresistibly sweet Grammy performance, starting with the little Biebs’ 2007 audition for his mentor on video — singing “U Got It Bad.” Their banter onstage was pretty eye-rollingly sentimental: “Now it’s your time,” Usher told Bieber as he left the coiffed teen idol to perform an acoustic version of his massive hit “Baby.” What no mention of his origin-story documentary, Never Say Never 3D, in theaters now? Biebs has been promoting that thing everywhere — even the freaking Daily Show! — so I was a little shocked to see him actually singing again.

Fact was, though, he sounded great, especially on the stripped down “Baby.” His movie theme song, “Never Say Never,” was up next, and while it’s just not as beautifully pure a pop song as “Baby,” the Ninja drum corps/gymnasts really spiced it up nicely. We were also treated to yet another omnipresent tiny entity, Jaden Smith, of the Will and Jada and Willow Smiths, rapping. (And, man, were his parents proud during those reaction shots!)

Usher had to follow all of that up with his performance of his own hit “Oh My Gosh,” which was, well, pure Usher: Great dancing, rousing beats, and a nice dance bit at the end with Justin. Count this as one more way pop culture is beating every last one of us into submission: We will like Justin Bieber. Oh yes we will.

What did you think, PopWatchers? What was the best part of the Bieber-Usher performance? Bieber? Usher? The tiny Smith? Or the Ninja drummers?

Image Credit: Michael Caulfield/

More on the Grammys from
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Lady Gaga Performs “Born This Way” at the Grammys
Grammys 2011: The winners list

Black Eyed Peas perform at Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show: Missing the feeling

black-eyed-peas_320.jpg Image Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP Images In theory, the Black Eyed Peas are the perfect band to play at the Super Bowl halftime show. They’re glitzy, entertaining, and it’s hard to believe that any sporting event of the last five years hasn’t played a song by the group at some point during play. Yet, they seemed to fall short during the halftime show — standing up in front of a live crowd of more than 100,000 people, the Black Eyed Peas seemed… well, as small as peas themselves. The dancers surrounding them might have had to adhere to strict choreography, but the Peas, merely standing next to each other in a line, looked awkward, as if they didn’t have a concrete plan for what would happen after they descended from the sky (a cool effect, I’ll admit) at the beginning of the show. No matter how many awesome LED effects they could distract us with, you couldn’t mistake the fact that we were watching a small pack of four musicians — with plenty of sound problems. READ FULL STORY

Usher, Slash join Super Bowl halftime show

usher-slash_320.jpg Image Credit: David Gabber/PR Photos; PRN/PR PhotosUsher and Slash will be joining the Black Eyed Peas onstage during the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday, according to the AP. Both artists have collaborated with members of the Black Eyed Peas in the past; is featured in Usher’s song “OMG,” and Slash has appeared with the band in concert, even joining them to sing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” at the 2009 Rose Bowl.

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Grammys announce more performers: Justin Bieber, Usher, Jaden Smith, Bruno Mars, B.o.B, and others

Justin-Bieber-UsherImage Credit: Michael Caulfield/Getty ImagesThis morning a new batch of performers for the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards were announced. Usher and his protege Justin Bieber are set the hit the stage alongside Will Smith’s son, Jaden. Though the young Smith is known more as an actor, he did collaborate with Bieber last year on “Never Say Never.” Maybe he’ll bust some more raps next month. Hip-hop upstart B.o.B, R&B crooner Bruno Mars, and energetic soul star Janelle Monáe will all make their debut appearances at the Grammys, performing together in what’s described as “a rare never-before-seen presentation.” No doubt, Mars and B.o.B will spend a bit of time performing their summer smash “Nothin’ On You,” but it’ll be interesting to see where Monae fits in to the set.


Usher's 'OMG' and Homer Simpson's Christmas carol: Rip-off or coincidence? Listen here

Usher-Homer-SimpsonImage Credit: Noel Vasquez/; FoxDid Usher rip off an old episode of The Simpsons for his smash hit “OMG”? Probably not. But as the morning DJs at Jackson, Miss.’s Y101.7 radio discovered earlier this year, Usher’s tune sounds amusingly similar in places to a Christmas carol that Homer Simpson attempted to compose in a 2003 episode of the animated Fox sitcom.

A YouTube clip put together by the Y101.7 DJs has been making the Internet rounds today with words like “plagiarism” in the headlines. That’s a little silly. The clip presents just a couple of short lines from each song that share similar cadences. We’re talking about “pow-pow-pow/wow-oh-wow” versus “wow-wow-wow/now-now-now” – much more likely a random coincidence than any kind of conscious or unconscious theft. It’s pretty funny to juxtapose these parts of the two songs out of context, but that’s about it.

Right? Check out the YouTube clip for yourself after the jump and sound off in the comments. READ FULL STORY

Usher accidentally kicked in the face while seducing a fan on stage

Usher‘s OMG tour made its way through New York’s Madison Square Garden on Monday (Dec. 13). As I said in my review, it was filled with booms and pows from pyrotechnics and explosions. But there was one bang received that Usher totally didn’t expect when brought a fan on stage to sing “Trading Places.”  Excited, she was eager to get close to the R&B stud. Seemingly living out a dream, she wrapped her legs around him during their hug and then the two slow danced. But things got a little rough after he led her to the couch.

She started off lying on his chest as he sang into her ear and pecked her on the cheek. Then as he prepared to cap off the song–just eight words away from the end–she sprouted up. Attempting to straddle Usher, she whipped her leg up and almost across him. Her heeled shoe caught Usher’s face before it got there, though. Ouch. Gasps filled the Garden. Embarrassed and so very sorry, she immediately apologized. The star took it all in stride. “We play rough in the bed,” he joked. “We kick each other in the face and all kind of good stuff.” They hugged and that was that.

Check out the video below. Things go south around the 9:15 mark.

I’ve seen fans try some bold stuff at shows before but this is by far the most awkward moment I’ve laid eyes on. Can you think of any you’ve seen in the past? What would you have done had you been in that position? Let us know.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

Usher brings explosive OMG tour to NYC's Madison Square Garden

usherImage Credit: Lyle A. Waisman/Getty ImagesLast night, R&B’s present and future pulled into New York City for the first of two nights at Madison Square Garden for Usher’s OMG tour. Upstart vocalist Miguel, riding high off the success of his “All I Want is You” single, warmed up the audience. But Trey Songz, with his recent surge of aggressive yet smooth sex-pop hits, made things sizzle.

After breezing through recent jams like “Say Aah” and even covering Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody,” Songz took some time to appreciate the signs out in the audience. “Can I have your t-shirt, tie, or towel?” one girl’s poster asked. Trey did her one better. He peeled off his sweaty tank top and lowered it into her eager arms. Her night was made. Then it was time for Usher to please everyone else.

While most stared at the stage watching his stick-wielding dancers flash lights, Usher opened the show hovering over the audience before eventually floating down front and center. In a black leather jacket with matching sunglasses and pants, Usher wasted no time getting to his smashes. He has plenty. “Yeah” was the first he leaped into. His dancing, crisp and precise as usual, mirrored the 2004 video. Next was “U Remind Me,” which was followed by a brief skit with his four lovely dancers. “You know I have a past,” he said to his irritated “girlfriend” as he pointed to three jealous women behind him. “But you’re my future.” Nice try, but the line didn’t work—his exes strutted off. As did his new girl. “That’s not how we rehearsed the s— earlier,” he joked. Such was the evening’s loosely tied storyline: a thriving playboy trying to walk the straight and narrow path of monogamy.

Alone again, Usher looked to the crowd to find his next girl to the tune of his steamy, role-reversing “Trading Places.” He pulled an absolutely giddy woman out of the crowd to join him onstage. Excited but poised, she had no problem grinding against the superstar on a chair in front of the sold out arena. Though as the song wound down she got a little too loose, attempting to swing her leg across Usher’s chest. Whap! Instead, she kicked the side of Usher’s face. Embarrassed and profusely apologetic, she quickly rose to see if her clumsy stunt left a mark on his dimpled cheek. Luckily there wasn’t one, and ever the gentleman, he was all smiles. “We play rough in the bed,” he quipped. “We kick each other in the face and all kind of good stuff.”


Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, and Usher will quit Twitter for AIDS charity

gaga-keys_320.jpg Image Credit: Neil Mockford/; Janet Mayer/PR PhotosLady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, and Usher are among the celebrities who will sign off from social media platforms this Wednesday to benefit Alicia Keys’ AIDS charity, Keep a Child Alive, according to the AP. The charity will accept donations through text messages and the participants will sign back on when the charity raises $1m. “I have a feeling that Gaga is going to raise it all by herself,” said Keep a Child Alive president Leigh Blake. Contributions will support families affected by HIV and AIDS in Africa.

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AMAs: Artist of the Year goes to...

Christopher Polk/AMA2010/Getty Images for DCP

Baby, baby, baby, oh, did Justin Bieber have a big night at the American Music Awards! The tween sensation picked up three awards during the evening (and a fourth off-air), including the night’s biggest honor: Artist of the Year. (Fun fact: Bieber is officially the youngest to take home the top prize.) And though he dedicated his first two awards to God and Michael Jackson, he saved the third win for his mentor — taking the stage for his acceptance speech, Bieber said, “You know, I really got this opportunity really about a year-and-a-half ago, and really was embraced by a man named Usher Raymond. And I don’t know, but I feel like he’s had such an amazing ride, and it would only be right if I invited up here to share this with me. Not only my mentor, but my best friend and my big brother. I love you man.”

Sweet gesture?

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