Billboard Music Awards 2014: 10 Things Seen and Heard Backstage

Carrie Underwood brainstorms collaborations, L.A. Reid speaks on releasing a second Michael Jackson single, Ludacris and Josh Groban tease "Rising Star."
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Carrie Underwood


Epic Records chairman L.A. Reid said the BBMA premiere of Michael Jackson's "Slave to the Rhythm" did not necessarily mean it would be the follow-up single to "Love Never Felt So Good." "It's certainly one of the songs (being considered)," Reid said, noting they would be studying feedback from Sunday's performance. "We pick the first single; fans pick the second."

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Jackie Jackson started to tear up as he recalled watching "Slave to the Rhythm" in the audience at the MGM Grand Arena. "When he started walking and dancing, I was teary-eyed," he said as he hugged the choreographers Rich and Tone Talauega. "It's hard to please Michael's fans and Michael... I'm telling you it's amazing."

Florida Georgia Line is halfway through writing and selecting songs for their second Republic Nashville album. They figure it will be ready for release in October. Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley threw out a few names of collaborators from the hip-hop and pop world they would like to work with -- Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Rihanna. "Every genre is filled with people getting out of the box," Hubbard said. "For us, it's a cool spot to be in, to be in country and bring pop and hip-hop together. Maybe someday there won't be genres, there'll just be music."

Carrie Underwood seconded FGL's motion, suggesting that she is up for any sort of collaboration with another woman. "I'm all about female power, Underwood said an hour after performing "Somethin' Bad" with Miranda Lambert, noting she would be open to working with Shakira, for example. "I'm a lover of music and so many people don't listen to just one type of music."

Luke Bryan naturally favored the Lambert-Underwood duet but had complimentary words for numerous performances. "Imagine Dragons, the things they do rhythmically, I thought, was amazing. I love 'Talk Dirty' and seeing Snoop and 2 Chainz, that stuff's fun to me. Ariana Grande -- I got in a little trouble for a picture I tweeted, but she's cute as pie and sings her tail off. Any time you're in a room with Jennifer Lopez it's exciting. Seeing John Legend, he's the missing link in that style," he said, mentioning Frank Sinatra and that people are foolish to suggest no one croons like that any more. "Your iconic figure is right there playing piano for you. He's smooth. It's perfect."

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Host Ludacris came backstage a half-hour into the show to discuss the live summer singing competition he will appear on, Rising Star. "The reason I signed on," he said of the ABC show that premieres June 22, "is the future has [arrived] prematurely. People at home are the judges... they have the opportunity to make somebody a star." Voting from home is done via an app that he says he has been assured will not malfunction. "It continues to blow my mind." The other members of the team from Rising Star -- host Josh Groban and experts Brad Paisley and Kesha -- came backstage to pitch the show's concept, though they could not provide many details on how the voting will work. "It's very very new technology," Groban said, "and [the experts'] job is really critiquing and giving advice and they'll have a vote." The show will be taped through August. "We only have a certain amount of say-so," Ludacris said, "and that creates great entertainment."

"I'm a film nerd," violinist Lindsey Stirling said, explaining how she made such professional looking videos to accompany her classical-electronica music. "When I was in college I went to film school and when no label wanted to sign me I knew how to direct a film, how to location scout, how to edit. All I had to do hire was a cinematographer and I had friends do that. I still direct or co-direct and I still edit."

The dancers who accompanied the Michael Jackson hologram performance were ecstatic when they returned to their dressing room. Hoots and hollers filled the hallways as Shakira made her way backstage for photos. "Let's do it again," one dancer shouted, which his mates greeted with more hearty cheers.

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Jason Derulo should receive an honorary BBMA for all the travel he has done to make his appearance happen. Early Friday morning he left Chicago to make it to Las Vegas for an 11:30 a.m. rehearsal from which he immediately left for a show in Minneapolis. Saturday he was in Milwaukee, after which he flew to Vegas to perform with 2 Chainz and Snoop Dogg. He added about 4,600 miles to his frequent flier accounts. His next flight, though, is to France where he will perform at a party at the Cannes Film Festival on May 20.

The shortest commute belonged to Imagine Dragons who are working on their second album in Las Vegas in a house they have turned into a recording studio. "We hopped on the 215 and drove over here," said lead singer Dan Reynolds. "A lot of people are complaining backstage about the heat. This is sweater weather."

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