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Backstage at the iHeartRadio Music Awards With Katy Perry, Bebe Rexha, 5SOS, More

Variety — Shirley Halperin

The iHeartRadio Music Awards felt like a more intimate affair this year. That may be because of a change in venue, from The Forum to the smaller Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles’, with a capacity of just over 7,000. But you could also credit the tight and exclusive club of artists who churn out hit songs, played on the radio giant’s network of more than 800 stations, many of whom mingled backstage enthusiastically at the March 14 event. What didn’t you see on the Fox broadcast? Read on…

+ “I’ve never read a prompter before,” cracked Katy Perry as she received last-minute touch-ups before an interview with syndicated radio personality Elvis Duran. Ever the romantic, the newly engaged Duran wooed Perry out of her black gloves so that all could see the massive rock on her left ring finger. “Hi everyone, I’m spoken for,” she teased of groom-to-be Orlando Bloom. Despite her chipper demeanor, Perry was fighting off the sniffles, but stayed long enough to watch former tourmate Kacey Musgraves’ performance of “Rainbow” (with Coldplay’s Chris Martin on piano) on a backstage monitor. 

+ 5 Seconds of Summer put out what is arguably one of the strongest albums of the last year with “Youngblood,” not to be confused with Yungblud with whom they posed following his red carpet debut with Halsey.

+ Bebe Rexha, a winner for country song of the year for “Meant to Be,” her duet with Florida Georgia Line, spent much of her time backstage squealing. First, it was after meeting Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx, and later, she revealed herself to be a Backstreet Boys stan, joining the guys for a verse from “I Want It That Way.”

+ Backstreet Boys’ AJ McLean was also in a singing mood. Popping out of the group’s trailer, he launched into the theme from “Mighty Mouse” to a couple of perplexed looks nearby. The uninitiated were schooled soon enough.

+ Marshmello is among the more recognizable of the DJ stars, but could you spot the hitmaker without his X-eyed mask? Nicole Scherzinger can, she boasted backstage pointing to a hoodie-wearing Christopher Comstock (aka Marshmello). Almost as if on cue, Comstock then ran up to Christopher Pratt and introduced himself as, what else, Marshmello.

+ Alicia Keys was beaming backstage following her performance with son Egypt and acceptance of the iHeartRadio innovator award. Also at her side, husband Swizz Beatz, son Genesis and manager Johnny Wright, who appears in the new documentary “The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story.” Wright, who co-managed NSYNC and BSB during their peak years, decided to participate in the Lance Bass-directed film after screening an early version, he revealed to Variety, hoping to bring some levity to the doc and remind those watching that there were “good times, too.”

+ It should come as no surprise that Garth Brooks has quite the firm grip when shaking someone’s hand, as some backstage learned the hard way, but less expected was hearing the Wrangler Jeans-wearing country star remark to a young lady wearing red leopard print stilettos: “nice shoes.”

Head here to read Variety‘s review of the iHeartRadio Music Awards along with a full list of winners.

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