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Luke Bryan defends Katy Perry's "American Idol" kiss: "Our hearts are in the right place"

ABC/Mark LevineAfter the premiere of American Idol last week, some viewers were in an uproar over the fact that judge Katy Perry kissed contestant Ben Glaze on the lips after he said he'd never been smooched.  Now, fellow judge Luke Bryan is defending Katy, saying she's just trying to "make fun TV."

Glaze told several media outlets that Katy's kiss made him uncomfortable because he didn't know her, and he was disappointed that his "first kiss" was the special moment he'd always dreamed it would be.

But when viewers began accusing Katy of harassment, Glaze, who didn't make it through to Hollywood, took to Instagram to say, "I do not think I was sexually harassed by Katy Perry...I was uncomfortable in a sense of how I have never been kissed before and was not expecting it."

While touring in Australia this week, Luke appeared on the Australian talk show The Morning Show and said he was surprised that the whole moment became such a big deal.

"It's unfortunate that stuff like that turns into a story that big," Luke told the interviewer. "I watched an actual interview where Ben, the kid that was involved, he said he was cool with everything.  And I gotta back Katy on that, y'know?  She's in there working hard and making fun TV."

"You know, we're gonna get it right sometimes and we're gonna get it wrong sometimes," Luke continued. "We're in there critiquing people and I may say something one day that everybody's not gonna like.  That's just what you sign up for."

But, Luke points out, "At the end of the day, me and Lionel [Richie] and Katy and Ryan [Seacrest]...our hearts are in the right place."

American Idol continues this Sunday with the final round of auditions.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Taylor Swift sends bottle of bubbly to New York couple on their wedding day

ABC/Fred Lee;Cheers...from Taylor Swift.

The singer honored a New York couple’s wedding day last weekend by sending them a surprise bottle of champagne along with a handwritten note.

Taylor somehow found out that the couple, Edward and Margaret McNoble, were planning to play her music at their celebration at The Carltun at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, New York Saturday.

“Rumor has it you might be using my song in your wedding celebration which makes me so happy!” Taylor wrote in the note. “Here’s to this amazing day of your continuing love story. Love, Taylor.”

“When we got to the wedding venue, they told us, ‘There [is] a special gift upstairs for you from a very special person,’” the newlyweds tell Us Weekly. “It was awesome. It was such a great day. With all the moving parts, this was a great surprise! To get a bottle of Dom is a very nice gift, and then to see it’s from Taylor Swift is an even better gift!”

The couple kicked off their reception with Taylor's “Welcome to New York” and had their first dance to “Love Story.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Kelly Clarkson is empowered by her past in "I Don't Think About You" video

Vincent PetersKelly Clarkson looks back at her younger selves in the new video for “I Don’t Think About You.”

The clip features a younger Kelly at various stages in her life: as a child watching her parents fight, as a teen breaking up with a boyfriend, and as a budding recording artist being told what to do by male executives.

In the end, the ghosts of her former selves join together to form the strong, confident Kelly we know today.

“'I Don’t Think About You’ is the moment you realize something has no power over you anymore” Kelly explains in a statement. “We all have people and/or situations in life that mold us and sometimes those situations can feel like they’re about to break us, but this song is about that morning you wake up and you don’t even think about it anymore.”

Kelly continues, “It holds no power, no weight in your world, and consumes your thoughts no longer. It’s a song about freedom, honestly.”

The empowering ballad is the latest single off Kelly’s eighth studio album, Meaning of Life.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Two new songs coming this week from Shawn Mendes?

ABC/Matt BrownFans are convinced Shawn Mendes is pulling an Ed Sheeran and dropping not one, but two new songs this week.

The evidence?  Well, he posted "March 22. March 23" on his Instagram.  He's appearing on Spotify ad posters in major cities with the words "Coming Soon."  He also posted a new promotional picture, and two blank squares of color, one orangey pink and one brownish-grey.

And finally, fans are convinced that not only are two songs coming, but that they know the song titles: "In the Blood" and "Lost in Japan."  According to fans, "In the Blood" will come Thursday, followed by "Lost in Japan" on Friday.

Of course, none of this has been confirmed yet, but Shawn is definitely planning something.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sing it with feeling: "American Idol" judges look for emotional connection in latest round of auditions

ABC/Mark LevineAmerican Idol nearly went to the dogs -- quite literally -- Monday night during another round of auditions, but a few emotional performances really turned things around. 

As Lionel Richie said early on in the episode, the judges were looking for “the real note,” not just “the right note.” They wanted chills and goosebumps. Some contestants delivered, and others didn’t.

Here’s a rundown of some who delivered:

Brandon Elder, 22, Arab, AL: Brandon nearly brought the judges to tears with an original song he wrote for his adoptive mother after she passed away from breast cancer. They felt the emotion in his songwriting and voted a unanimous yes.

Dominique Posey, 26, Birmingham, AL: The judges were looking for chills and they got it with Dominique’s soulful rendition of Donny Hathaway’s “Song for You.” They all advised him to quit his job as a legal secretary and sent him off with a golden ticket. 

Amalia Watty, 28, Brooklyn, NY: She came to New York from the Caribbean in order to connect with the father she barely knew. While she shared her dad’s passion for music, their reunion didn’t go as planned. Her audition -- singing Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” -- had a happier ending, and she got sent through to Hollywood.

Genavieve Linkowski, 18, Goodrich, MI: Genavieve, the oldest of 10 children, wowed the judges by performing Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up on Us” at the piano. Lionel compared her to a young Celine Dion

Kenedee Rittenhouse, 19, Checotah, OK: Kenedee scored major points with Katy by wearing a cute dress. She also scored some points from being from Carrie Underwood’s hometown. Her rendition of Carrie’s “I Told You So” didn’t grab the judges right away, but she followed it up with Katy’s “Firework” and they put her through. Lionel and Luke later surprised Katy by giving her the dress Kenedee was wearing as a birthday gift.

Victoria McQueen, 15, East Point, GA: Talk about destiny! Victoria was born on June 11, 2002 – the same day the original American Idol premiered on television. A lot to live up to be, but lucky for her, she can actually sing. Her bubbly personality and powerhouse rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry Bout a Thing” got her three yeses.

Taryn Coccia, 17, and Peyton Coccia, 20, Nashville, TN: Older sister Peyton was content to play guitar in the background and let Taryn have her singing moment, but the judges got both sisters to audition and they both ended up making it through. Hollywood Week just gained a little sibling rivalry.

Samothias, 20, Wheaton, IL: He caught the judges’ attention with his unique hairdo, then kept it with his rendition of Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey.” Lionel even compared him to Prince

Cody Martin, 26, Louisville, KY: He came out singing “Happy Birthday” to Katy Perry and the judges put him through right then and there. OK, so it wasn’t exactly goosebumps-inducing, but it was pretty funny.

Marcio Donaldson, 28, Compton, CA: Perhaps the most emotional story of the night belongs to Marcio. As a kid growing up in Compton, he was put into the foster system. When his week-old nephew, Rashad, was about to face the same fate, Marcio took him in and is raising the baby as his own. He brought baby Rashad to his audition and sang “Jealous” by Labrinth. “It’s not technically perfect, but it’s real,” Luke said. Marcio accepted his golden ticket through tears of joy.

And here are some who didn’t quite connect with the judges:

Audriana Bolton, 20, Portland, OR: Audriana attempted “Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin, but fell short of meeting the judges’ expectations. She also nearly broke their eardrums when she attempted a Mariah Carey-style “whistle tone.”

Britney Holmes, 28, Frisco, TX: As a vocal coach, Britney was technically perfect in her rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” But the judges were looking for more than just the right notes and didn’t feel connected to her performance. She was sent packing. 

And then there were the dogs:

Here’s why you should never bring a dog on an audition. One unnamed contestant brought her peekapoo with her and let’s just say the dog lived up to its name. Each time the poor girl started to sing, the dog decided to relieve itself on the floor. Needless to say, the girl did not make it through -- but she certainly made a lasting impression.

There were even more dogs to be had as Katy Perry celebrated her birthday on set. Lionel, Luke and Ryan surprised her with a room full of puppies and had her own dog, Nugget, pop out of a giant cake. 

The final rounds of auditions continue Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Taylor Hicks imparts grey-haired wisdom to "American Idol" hopefuls: “Cell phones are not your friend”

Steve Zak Photography/FilmMagicTaylor Hicks, the soulful salt-and-pepper-haired crooner who won season five of American Idol, has some advice for this season’s contestants: put down the cell phones.

“Cell phones are not your friend,” he tells ABC Radio. “When I went through Hollywood Week, I watched numerous contestants lose their voice because they talked all night and they talked all day on their cell phones and then when it was time to perform, they couldn't or they didn't have that richness and their voice was not rested.”

Hicks adds, “You have to be careful about mom calling too many times.”

If this season’s hopefuls can't resist using their cell phones, Taylor thinks that time would be better spent building their social media presence on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. In addition to a unique voice and a memorable backstory, Hicks believes a strong social media following will be the key to winning American Idol.

Taylor, a harmonica player, also says playing your own music can’t hurt your chances, but warns hopefuls not to hide behind their instruments.  As for his thoughts on judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan, he says he loves how interactive and playful they are with the contestants.

“They're down home,” he says. “They can interact, they're not this sort of stoic star that you can't really be tangible with or you can't feel and touch and go up and hug.”

American Idol airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Elle King debuts new songs at South by Southwest gig

Erika Goldring for BudweiserElle King fans are anxiously awaiting new music from the singer, and she gave some lucky folks a taste of it last week during this year's South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.

Elle and other artists, including country star Kane Brown, attracted more than 2500 guests to the Budweiser Country Club event at the annual festival. Elle's eight-song set included her hit "Ex's and Oh's," a cover of Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man," and three brand-new songs: "Good Thing Gone," "Baby Outlaw" and "The Compromise."

According to a rep for Elle, it's not known whether or not those three songs will be included on the singer's upcoming album. 

Last fall, Elle told ABC Radio that the new album was "cathartic" and "really good," adding, "It's a lot of rock and roll and's bad a**.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.