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Interview with Sara Bareilles; YouTube Replaces MTV for Music Videos; Darius Rucker Talks Music Career.

Aired January 25, 2014 - 18:30   ET


ROBIN MEADE, CNN HOST: How many times did you walk over?

ANNOUNCER: This is BACKSTAGE EXPRESS, your all-access pass inside of music's biggest night, the Grammys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is like being at the Super Bowl.

ANNOUNCER: Featuring surprise album of the year nominee, Sara Bareilles.

MEADE: Have you practiced your winning faces?

ANNOUNCER: On the Red Carpet with Tamar Braxton, Faith Evans and Fantasia.

Plus, Robin goes country with Darius Rucker.


MEADE: All right, kids.




MEADE: Good.

BAREILLES: Good, yeah.

MEADE: We will have you sit right here. This is a rad venue. I have seen a couple of shows here.

If you watch the Grammys, you know what happens on stage at the Grammys, but what must it be like behind the curtain for people like Sara Bareilles, who is nominated for album of the year.

Can you believe that? It's nuts right now.

BAREILLES: It's a little crazy, yeah. Well, I don't want to be ending up on the worst-dressed list and all of those things that are going through your mind. (LAUGHTER)


MEADE: We're going to be talking musician to musician and kind of getting information from Sara about what goes on for them behind the scenes, but right now, this is what to expect, here is what we know is happening.


MEADE: Get lucky, one of the most-played songs in 2013. And for the first time in six years, the robot-headed duo Daft Punk will perform live on stage.


MEADE: Pink and Nate Ruess will perform together for the first time on television.


MEADE: And Blake Shelton will join country legends Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson for a country jam.

But let's be honest. Don't you want to know who is going to walk away with the hardware?


MEADE: Veteran rapper Jay-Z leads the Grammy nods with nine.


MEADE: Right behind him, fellow suit-and-tie wearer Justin Timberlake, one of four artists with seven nominations each.

The 56th Grammy Awards also marks the return of classic rockers like Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath. They have all been nominated.

TED STRYKER, DISC JOCKEY: Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, the album 13, number one. And here's the crazy thing. It's their first number-one album ever.

MEADE: Finally, let's talk about the Grammy face-off, husband versus wife. Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton are squaring off against each other in the country solo category.


MEADE: Do you hear similarities between those songs? A number of pop fans swear they do, and they will be tweeting about it when Katy Perry's "Roar" and Sara Bareilles' "Brave" go head-to-head in the same category.



MEADE: The one and only Sara Bareilles has been kind enough to join us here at the Cutting Room in New York City.

And what about the whole thing, where people saying, gosh, "Brave" and "Roar," sounding alike, and now you are nominated in the same category?

BAREILLES: To get my name in the same sentence as hers is great for me.


It was strange to watch two songs that are both powerful and empowerment messages. And somehow, we are trying to pit each other against each other. And Katy and I are friends and we have known each other a long time, and I wish her all of the best, and I know she feels the same for me.

MEADE: And why were you leaping and skipping and screaming throughout the hotel room when you heard that you were nominated for album of the year?

BAREILLES: Because, really, it was a huge shock, and I wish I could play it cooler and be all like, yeah, I deserve that. It is a huge honor. It is one of the biggest things that has happened to me in my entire career. This record was reflective of how I was feeling at that time in my life which is trying to sort of bust out of my own skin in a lot of ways. I made some big changes and I left a long-term relationship, and moved to New York after being in L.A. For 14 years. It felt like this expression of my heart. And to have that acknowledged in this way was just unbelievable.

MEADE: And so why is it that you think that other people were surprised?

BAREILLES: Well, "Blessed Unrest" did well, but it did not break records, and that is almost more special to me.

MEADE: For the person at home, they are going to see the Grammys and the performances, and you and Carole King.

BAREILLES: The opportunity to get to collaborate with a legend and a hero of mine.


BAREILLES: I am not allowed to say what we are performing but I'm just -- I'm nervous.

MEADE: Don't screw this up, Bareilles.


BAREILLES: I've been practicing and practicing.

MEADE: You're a fabulous song writer.

BAREILLES: Thank you.

MEADE: Do you co-write with people or is it just, there is just jogging in the park and it's just there?

BAREILLES: Sara doesn't' jog that often --



BAREILLES: Usually, for me, it's music first, then lyrics come later.


BAREILLES: I mean, sometimes it will be as simple as I'll literally just put my hands on the keys and see if a chord progression sparks something.

MEADE: I was fascinated by the story of "Brave" that you wrote it for thinking about a friend that you were encouraging to come out. Did they? Did it work?

BAREILLES: They did.


BAREILLES: It was a beautiful experience to share.


BAREILLES: And now people are connecting to this in ways that it wasn't intended, and that, to me, is the greatest gift of music.

MEADE: What has been the best and the moving experience that you have had with it?

BAREILLES: I have to say the U of M Children's War, Cancer Ward that they made a video.


BAREILLES: I watched that and I cried my eyes out.

MEADE: OK. So we asked the viewers to send us in their questions for you. And so, ready? Rapid fire, you all.

This is Haley and her Twitter handle is halfpastnever. "What makes you the most excited nervous when you think of performing at the Grammys"?

BAREILLES: Forgetting the words makes me the most nervous. MEADE: No prompter with the words on it?

BAREILLES: Could there be a prompter?


MEADE: I have seen it before. I have totally seen it.

BAREILLES: You have healed me.

MEADE: Mikayla, "Has she met Betty White yet"?


MEADE: Do you have any desire?

BAREILLES: I am a huge "Golden Girls" fan and Betty White in particular. She is my unicorn. I love her.

MEADE: Ruby writes, "If you could work with any artist, who would it be"?

BAREILLES: I would like to work with Frank Ocean.

MEADE: And have you practiced your winning face or the "I'm happy for everyone else face"?


BAREILLES: Well, one of the things that I cannot do very well is fake it. I feel so tickled to be there. I'm bringing my big sister as my date, and she is going to die. If she gets to meet Justin Timberlake, she is going to die.

MEADE: Who are you going to die if you get to meet them?

BAREILLES: Well, Justin is up there for me.

MEADE: Do you know what to wear?

BAREILLES: Well, because it is so special, and to be acknowledged for album of the year feels really important. So I think that I'm going to go with the extra fancy.

MEADE: Where is your heart for the future?

BAREILLES: Right now, I'm working on a book. And I'm also working on writing the music for a musical. And then probably go on a summer tour. I want to be intentional about what happens next. And I am a little bit in the whirlwind right now.

MEADE: I enjoy the album so much. And it is nice to lift the veil and show the audience what you are about and what that event is going to be about for you.

Good luck! BAREILLES: Thank you so much. I'm so excited.


MEADE: We have a lot more ahead. Find out this year's leading ladies, how they are getting ready for the big night. And then, Darius Rucker taking us back to his musical roots.


BAREILLES: Hello, Darius, I'm Sara Bareilles. I'm a big fan. I wish you all the best at the Grammys. And watch out for this girl, because she is gorgeous.




MEADE: Hey, welcome back.

The first time that you saw some of the newer Grammy nominees may have been on YouTube. YouTube has such a huge impact now on the music biz. And it is hard to imagine when we didn't have it.


ANNOUNCER: I want my MTV. All right!

MEADE: Where MTV left off as the one-stop destination for music videos, YouTube has taken over for artists to speak directly to fans.

BEYONCE, SINGER: I want this to come out when it is ready, and from me to my fans.

MEADE: The YouTube factor is no fluke. Five of the Grammy nominees have racked up more than 800 million views for their official videos on YouTube, but will the views help them to snag a Grammy?

ALICIA QUARLES, E! NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This is not the age where the music studios are producing the stars, but it is the age where the stars are showing that we have talent, we don't necessarily need you, because we have a platform called the Internet, and we can spread a word like that and make money and become famous.


MEADE: Hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have developed a devoted following on YouTube to help their breakout hit top the charts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We treat our music videos like they were the most important thing outside of the music. And it got us here and it's really cool. MEADE: In a year, they became self-made music kings without even signing to a major record label or agent. And they are nominated for seven Grammys, including album of the year and best new artist.


MEADE: The Macklemore and Ryan Lewis hit "Love" was also huge on YouTube.


MEADE: The female voice is Mary Lambert. And I had to stop in the office when A.J. Hammer from "Showbiz" interviewed her. It was a cute interview and authentic with how she feels about going to the Grammys. A.J. caught up with some other ladies, too.


A.J. HAMMER, HOST, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT: Take me back to the moment that you found out that you were nominated?

MARY LAMBERT, SINGER: Laura was nominated be before I was, and then they were all like really excited and I was like, oh, I love that album, and then they said "Same Love" and I started screaming and jumping around and I screamed, "That is me, that is me"!



HAMMER: If I have done the math correctly, eight nominations in the last 16 years, and it does not get old, does it?

FAITH EVANS, SINGER: No, it doesn't.

HAMMER: How did you find out?

EVANS: One of my fans tweeted congrats --


-- and much deserved, and I was like, congrats on what? And they were like, you got nominated for a Grammy. I was like, get out of here!


TAMAR BRAXTON, SINGER: I try not to think about it. So, Vince and I decided to go to one of our favorite restaurants, which is the Cheesecake Factory, and --


-- and that is why all of the tweets have Cheesecake Factory bags in the background. FANTASIA, SINGER: For me, this year is difference because I did not go to the Grammys the year I won the Grammys because I was being a rebel. Almost a new Fantasia that is going to be hitting the red carpet.


HAMMER: And they say that winning is terrific. It's great to be nominated. But let's face it, winning is best.

EVANS: Well, you know, I can't say that, because I'm and in independent artist and I don't have the support of a major record label. This is the second nomination under my own imprint and that is a win in its own.

FANTASIA: And as an artist, you put your all into the album, and just to be nominated is a good feeling.

LAMBERT: Well, I think that it going to be real exciting and I will cry when it is time, so waterproof mascara. So I am honored to be there and I want to hold every moment and treasure it.


MEADE: And when we come back, we are at the Music Farm here in South Carolina with Darius Rucker. And, yes, we want to ask him about how the music career was birthed here in this very room. But then what got him all of the way to the Grammys again with "Wagon Wheel."

I will shut up, and you tell me.







MEADE: Welcome back.

And look at who is with us. It is Darius Rucker, who is nominated for a Grammy this year.

This is in South Carolina at the Music Farm.

Your first musical home, and I will call it that.

RUCKER: Yes, lots of great times here.

MEADE: And you have been to the Grammys before, a nominee before? RUCKER: Yes, but it has been 20 years, a long time between the Grammy nominations.

MEADE: And you remember being the first time around, being the newcomer then.

RUCKER: Absolutely.

MEADE: As Hootie and the Blow Fish at the Grammys?

RUCKER: Yes, and I remember feeling that "Sesame Street" song "One of These Things Is Not Like the Other."


MEADE: "One of These Things Is Not Like the Other."

RUCKER: Yeah. "One of These Things Is Not Like the Other." But it was a fun night.

MEADE: I wonder if some of these newcomers feel the same way.




MEADE: The Grammy freshman class is here to play. Rapper Kendrick Lamar, seven nominations. Seattle Sons, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, also pop sensation Lauren, four nominations. And country singer Kacey Musgraves with four nominations.

KACEY MUSGRAVES, SINGER: It makes you feel like you are doing something right when the music industry and your peers are recognizing what you are doing.

MEADE: Collectively, those four have racked up millions of views on YouTube. Their songs are also resonating with fans. The newcomers are raking in the sales in the millions.


MEADE: "The Heist," the debut album for rappers Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have sold millions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think this is ever going to feel normal. A year and a half ago, we were an underground rap group.

MEADE: Lauren, 17-year-old from New Zealand.


MEADE: She can buy a few diamonds of her own now. Her hit record, "Royal," has raked in more than $3 million of sales. But if you listen to the lyrics, all of these artists sing about the anti- glamorous life.


MEADE: How many times did you walk out over here?

RUCKER: Well, hundreds of times walking out on this stage. This is where we learned to work a stage, because you could not stand in a spot. Those were the days.

MEADE: How many people in those days?

RUCKER: About 1,000 or 1,200. It always seems like more because we have people up here and tons of people up there. It's a great room to play in. It's still one of the best rooms in Charleston, and it is a great southeastern bar.


RUCKER: We used to play here every six weeks. This is one of the places that your parents decided you could do this. We would pull up to the show and here would be a line all of the way down King Street, people trying to get in. Those were the days. We used to kill this place.

MEADE: Did you ever say to your mom, I want to go to college, but I will go in music.

RUCKER: Since I was 4.

MEADE: Since you were 4?

RUCKER: Yeah. I always said I will be a singer one day. And when I started the band in college, she was happy for me, because I had not been in a band before. Then I started Hootie, and she said, cool, you are finally getting to sing and have fun.

MEADE: Isn't that funny? My dad is a preacher, and he forbade me from it.


RUCKER: Yeah. I'm a singer and I'm trying to forbade my kids from doing it.



MEADE: And you know what is strange about this song, "Wagon Wheel," I'm not quite sure how I knew the original version, because it did not get any radio play, "Wagon Wheel."


MEADE: How is it we all new it. I have never been to the Old Crow Medicine Show. RUCKER: Well, it is a classic bluegrass song.


MEADE: Darius Rucker.



You know, when I think of you, I think of you as not only a great baritone singer that we are familiar with, but I think of you as a prolific writer. And here we are going to the Grammys with a song that you didn't write.

RUCKER: I know, that is cool. And especially with a song like "Wagon Wheel." I am a huge Old Crow Medicine Show fan. And I never felt of cutting it, but when I got up at my daughter's school, and the teachers were doing a song with slide guitar and I said, oh, that is really country. I never thought of it that way. Before they were done, I was texting with my producer, we have to cut "Wagon Wheel."

MEADE: Yeah. Don't you do that for a lot of songs? Don't you listen to it and go, that would be good. I will have to put that in my back pocket for a while?

RUCKER: Yes, and I never cut them.


I do that all the time. And this song, the instant they started to play it, I thought, I never thought of "Wagon Wheel" that way, and it is awesome.

MEADE: Have you been to the Grammys as a spectator in the audience?

RUCKER: Once in the last 20 years to just go.

MEADE: Once?


MEADE: OK, so this is a new wrinkle for you?

RUCKER: Well, this is crazy. McCartney is going to be there. If I'm going to be in the same room with McCartney, it is going to be tough for me not to go all fan girl.


MEADE: Who would you like to collaborate with, other than Paul McCartney, that you would like to work with but you are too bashful.

RUCKER: I'd love to work with, of course, McCartney. I'd love to work with Reba McIntyre. I'd love to work with Miranda, Jay-Z. That's one of my bucket-list things is to sing a hook on a big rap song. That's something I want to do so bad.

MEADE: Why can't we make it happen?

RUCKER: I don't know. Nobody has ever called me.


MEADE: And it is so great to see you. And our viewers are just really grateful. We wish the best for you. We will see you in each of our cities, because you returned to tour.


MEADE: In spring, in February, right?


MEADE: True believers. Many, many cities. So it might be yours as well.


MEADE: Thank you for letting us kind of sit here with you. I appreciate it.

RUCKER: Thank you.

MEADE: Would you be so kind to play whatever is on your heart?