PHOTOS: Jingle Ball Tour Brings Music's Biggest Stars To Boston

Ellie Goulding performs during Boston's Jingle Ball tour stop on December 11th, 2016 (Benjamin Esakof/Roman's Rap-Up).

Ellie Goulding performs during Boston's Jingle Ball tour stop on December 11th, 2016 (Benjamin Esakof/Roman's Rap-Up).

As part of a yearly holiday tradition, iHeartRadio's Jingle Ball tour roared through Boston's TD Garden with an A-list lineup. This year's star-studded bill included Ariana Grande, Shawn Mendes, Diplo, Ellie Goulding, DNCE, Tove Lo, Alessia Cara and Daya, plus a Special Guest appearance from Niall Horan.

Check out photos from the red carpet and performances below:

Red Carpet: 

Shawn Mendes:

Ellie Goulding:


Alessia Cara:


Niall Horan:

Ariana Grande:

Tove Lo:

Red Carpet photos by Robert Jaczko, performance photos by Ben Esakof. 

Billboard Takes Over Long Island for Second Annual "Hot 100" Music Festival

J. Cole performs at the Billboard "Hot 100" Music Fest on August 21st, 2016 (Benjamin Esakof).

Billboard’s “Hot 100” Music Festival came to Long Island’s Nikon at Jones Beach Theater this past weekend. Saturday’s lineup included huge pop stars such as Ariana Grande and hip-hop artists such as Fetty Wap. The venue itself is worth praise; as the name insinuates, the outdoor theater sits directly on Jones Beach pointing towards the Atlantic Ocean side of Long Island’ shoreline. On the water is not an over exaggeration. The venue’s stage literally hovers over the water protected in a small bay; therefore, artists and crew can only access backstage through side entrances or a tunnel underneath the venue. After the rain showers cleared up Saturday, the comfortable temperatures and fair skies created a perfect background for the outdoor music festival. 

Fetty Wap performs at the Billboard "Hot 100" Music Fest on August 20th, 2016 (Benjamin Esakof).

Though the Billboard Music Festival included three stages in total, the two side stages were immensely smaller than the main stage that is the original Jones Beach Theater seating. Therefore, the bigger artists such as Fetty Wap, Rachel Platten, Martin Garrix, and Ariana Grande were all on the main stage. Fetty Wap came onstage with his entourage and feature artist Monty, a rapper highlighted in hits such as “679” and “My Way.” It was everything a typical hip-hop star’s performance includes: fun excitement from his hype man and crew, sing-a-longs to hits, and fun stage effects that support the badass nature of Fetty. From his mostly-shirtless set to his eye slit, Fetty is not someone to be taken lightly. He’s intense, and his hit-after-hit streak is not something to be taken lightly. 

Ariana Grande was the headliner of the evening, beginning her set around ten o’oclock. Her cute, perky yet sassy nature exudes onstage. Grande adorned a casual, army green outfit with sunglasses for the beginning of her act that reinforces her diva attitude that comes across in her lyrics. That’s partially the appeal of Grande; she began crashing the charts and gaining Billboard attention because she boldly stated that she has “one less problem without ya.” Grande has only grown, as she grew out of her teenage looks to a full-blown young woman. “Dangerous Woman” is an example of the sophisticated sensuality in her new album. Grande made sure to sing her new hits such as “Into You” in addition to old hits like “Bang Bang” and “Problem.” Like her personality, Grande’s performance was upbeat and full of activity. Dancers accompanied her, as she quickly lost the sunglasses and bounced around the stage. It was a fun and fresh way to end the first night of the beautiful, coastal festival. 

Sunday’s lineup was a mix of old stardom and new. J. Cole, a rapper known for his intricate lyrics and limited flashiness, was one of the main acts that brought a crowd. His energy is always palpable, and the rapper is a great asset to the hip-hop industry because he brings the witty, deep level to rap music that is sometimes ignored with other artists. Desiigner, a smaller rapper known for his big hit “Panda,” also performed Sunday at one of the smaller stages. He ran through the crowd and seemed to really enjoy himself, but it is still a question whether or not Desiigner can continue his fame and not become a one hit wonder. Calvin Harris was the newer talent that rose to the main stage for his headliner performance. His status has really picked up the past few years, with almost ever song he makes becoming a major radio hit.  His time onstage was a total production; from the lights to high-energy music, it was exactly what a DJ performance should be.

Check out photos from the weekend below:

Day 1

Day 2

Album Review: Ariana Grande is Strictly Pop on "Dangerous Woman"

(Republic Records)

Almost two years since the release of her sophomore album, My Everything, pop singer Ariana Grande is back with her new project Dangerous Woman.

When you compare Dangerous Woman to Ariana Grande’s debut album Yours Truly, it’s next to impossible not to realize how much the 22-year-old pop sensation has grown in just three years. Besides the fact that she is now an adult, it is very apparent that she is no longer the teenage Nickelodeon-actor-turned-singer. Dangerous Woman is a full-fledged attempt from Grande to strip away the G-rated perceptions that surround her.

While Dangerous Woman does lack the ballads that made Yours Truly and My Everything so notable, Ariana Grande’s new direction proves to be successful. She leads the album off with “Moonlight,” which is reminiscent of her old sound, a slow, sweet and sensual song dedicated to her new love. The tone of “Moonlight” is echoed later on in the album with the cute song “Sometimes,” where Grande admits that her current relationship is one that she wants to last. But the slow and sweet vibes on Dangerous Woman are rare, as the album immediately changes tone with Grande’s hit single named after the album; “Dangerous Woman,” a song that encompasses exactly where Grande is now. She’s more mature, more edgy, and more dangerous. She continues this theme on “Into You,” which is essentially an open letter to her lover, inviting him to come over and touch her body. “Side to Side” is a boastful track that features a verse from Nicki Minaj. With some extremely creative punchlines ("Curry with the me Stephanie"), Nicki raps about how she is the queen of rap, and no one is about to take that from her. She also co-signs Ariana Grande, letting the audience know that she is running pop music.

Nicki isn’t the only rapper who Grande recruited to help her out. On “Let Me Love You,” one of the sexier songs on Dangerous Woman, Lil Wayne provides his own verse. He reminds the listener that they should say “goodbye to the good girl,” (again referring to Grande’s transformation) and even explicitly describes a promiscuous encounter that he either has had or wishes to have with Ariana Grande herself.

Dangerous Woman continues the trend of sexy duets with big name rappers on “Everyday,” an upbeat song featuring Future, where the two highlight their sexual experiences, including how often the do it (everyday), with their respectful partners. “I Don’t Care” continues the theme of the album, and is basically Grande’s wave goodbye to her Nickelodeon days. It serves as the perfect segway to “Bad Decisions,” where she highlights the love she has for her partner in much more detail than she has on her previous projects. The album culminates with “Thinking Bout You,” where Grande tones it back down to complement the title track. In the sweet ballad, she remembers her previous lover. It serves as the perfect closer for the album. 

Despite missing out on some of the more big and catchy ballads that Ariana Grande had become known for, Dangerous Woman proves to be just as, if not more, successful as her previous projects. There are no inherently “bad” tracks on the album, and each one provides us with a deeper glimpse into Grande’s life, proving just how much more comfortable she is and how much she is willing to expose with her fans. 

Billboard Announces Line-Up for 2nd Annual Hot 100 Festival

Justin Bieber performing at the 2015 Billboard Hot 100 Fest in New York (Benjamin Esakof/Roman's Rap-Up). 

Billboard announced the lineup for their second annual "Hot 100 Festival" Wednesday morning. On August 20th and 21st at Long Island's Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, headliners Ariana Grande, Calvin Harris, J. Cole, Martin Garrix, and Fetty Wap will take the main stage by storm. Other confirmed performers include the likes of Rae Sremmurd, Desiigner, Wale and almost 40 other performers. More performers are to be announced soon. Tickets for the "Hot 100 Festival" go on sale this Saturday, May 21 at 10:00 am EDT at Live Nation. Last year, more than 40,000 fans attended the show, so it’s guaranteed to be a huge success again this year.

See the full line-up below.

The #hot100fest lineup revealed 🔥💯 (pre-sale link in bio) | Regram: @hot100fest

A photo posted by Billboard (@billboard) on

New Music From Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea, Kygo, & Zayn Malik

Iggy Azalea "Team" Cover Art (Def Jam Recordings) 

This past week has been filled with hot singles dropped by some of the industry’s brightest stars. ZAYN, who left One Direction behind in 2015, has been on fire with his first solo album, dropping “LIKE I WOULD” this past week. Though the song is quicker than “PILLOWTALK”’s sensual, slow rhythm, its energy demonstrates another side to the solo artist as he steps out of the shadow of One Direction. ZAYN has always been evidently talented, but his release of the singles from his upcoming album, “Mind of Mine,” coming out March 25th has validated his talent to awaiting fans. In addition, ZAYN has released two other singles, “BeFoUr” and and “iT’s YoU” that do not carry the punch that “PILLOWTALK” or “LIKE I WOULD” do, but they are still heavy contenders in demonstrating ZAYN’s new pop artistic identity.

Another recently single lighting the charts on fire is Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman.” This single carries the same name as the title of her new album, dropping mid-May. The vibe of the song is extremely sexual and slow, creating a more mature image to the young artist as she breaks into her newest album since “My Everything” from 2014 when her star originally exploded. The single is the perfect demonstration of her growth and maturity since “Problem” and “Love Me Harder,” two hits from her original album that carry a more pop-typical feeling. “Dangerous Woman” unveils Grande’s voice as a powerful, dangerous seductress. She has also released “Be Alright” that holds a beat good for an upbeat shopping venture or jog. It is enjoyably lighthearted and fun in contrast to “Dangerous Woman.” 

Kygo also released a new single, “Fragile,” today. It is slow and includes many unique backbeats that compliment that pop/R&B genre that “Fragile” falls into. Kygo’s beautiful vocal range is shown off in the song, as well; he hits the high notes that many male singers cannot reach, which adds a level of talent to Kygo’s resume. The song is relative to what listeners hear from bands like OneRepublic. 

Iggy Azalea dropped “Team;” she also is building her next album since releasing music around the time of Ariana Grande’s last musical climax. The song’s sound is similar to the Iggy listeners hear in “Black Widow.” Her unique rap tone in combination with a pop chorus is typical to the hip-hop artist’s repertoire. “Team” is a catchy tune that could easily land a common listen on the radio, but it does not have much depth to climb out of the box of Iggy’s music that first landed her a rising star a few years ago.