The iHeartRadio Music Awards return to Los Angeles on Sunday for the second year, and fans can look forward to a lot more than just blowout performances from its superstar lineup.
While the evening will feature global artists such as Rihanna, Iggy Azalea, Sam Smith, Madonna, Jason Aldean, Jamie Foxx, Meghan Trainor, Jason Derulo, Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson, Snoop Dogg, Nate Ruess, Alesso and Florida Georgia Line, the three-hour telecast will be very different from your typical, self-congratulatory Hollywood back pat.
“The thing I try to fight against is award fatigue, where it is all about someone getting an award and someone else presenting it,” Ian Stewart, executive producer and president of Done + Dusted, told TheWrap. “We try to break it up. I tell the writers to make me laugh, make me cry and make me think. So we have these palate cleansings before the next performance.”
The 2015 iHeartRadio Music Awards has “reaped the benefits of what we did last year,” Stewart said, when it was “put together very fast and no one knew what to expect.
“This year, we have Jamie Foxx hosting and I really feel like it is coming of age.”
Here are seven things you should expect from this year’s show, which takes place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and airs live Sunday, Mar. 29th at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
Stars reveal their “journeys” to success
The theme of the night is “My Journey,” so stars will reveal the trials and tribulations that many of them endured to reach the top of the industry in pre-filmed segments. “Fans really find out why they are there. Some of the stories are really affecting in just a few minutes of insight,” said Stewart. “It’s about those stutters along the way, how they got knocked down and picked themselves up again. It really humanizes the artists.”
For example, Azalea recounts how she couldn’t make it as a singer for a long time, and Clarkson reveals how nothing happened for her at first after “American Idol,” then she had to fight her way up again, he explained. “Maybe the Uber didn’t arrive and they missed the meeting and had go back to Arkansas. There are so many things that had to happen to get them onto that stage for the iHeartRadio Media Awards.”
Justin Timberlake gets the honor that he deserves
Timberlake will be presented with the most prestigious award of the evening, the 2015 iHeartRadio Innovator Award, for transcending the worlds of music, acting, comedy and variety. “Justin is the world’s undisputed 360-degree entertainer. Put simply, he’s ‘The Man.’ We are delighted to give him the honor he deserves,” said Stewart.
The artists get to party too
Unlike many awards shows in which the famous guests are sat stiffly in their seats all night, the stars at iHeartRadio are encouraged to get in on the fun. “We pay so much attention to the artists having a good time,” Stewart told TheWrap. “They can enjoy it in a relaxed atmosphere, having something eat and drink. Then every fan watching at home enjoys the performance more.”
Artist performances will be very diverse
During the first time around, “we almost went too far with the grand scale of the performances,” said Stewart, “so we’ve tried to drill it down to really craft moments that reflect the artist and the songs.”
And no two performances will be the same, “Snoop Dogg is going to have a big party, and others will simplify it with an acoustic set.”
It’s a live show — so if there’s a hiccup they just have to run with it
As anyone who’s watched live TV knows, mistakes will happen — but it’s all about how you react to them. “Last year, Rihanna got stuck in traffic on the 405 and wasn’t there to pick up her first award,” recalled Stewart. “You can’t account for everything because it is live TV. It is hell as a producer, but genius if you are watching it!”
The fans really do decide
While voters for the Oscars or the Golden Globes are a tightly-kept Hollywood secret, the iHeartRadio Music Awards are voted on by the fans. “A lot of the time you are never quite sure who voted those people in, but [these awards are] directly reflected by what people are listening too,” said Stewart, as voting was done by listeners either through iHeartRadio stations nationwide, the website or Twitter.
The show is very social media-heavy
Last year, according to Nielsen, 7.11 million accounts viewed 915,000 tweets sent out during the live show which resulted in 46.65 million impressions and made the program the most successful social show of the week. Expect Sunday’s social media presence to be just as strong and very similar. “The social media was so successful last year, so we’re not going to do anything different,” said Stewart.