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Los Angeles
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“iHeart” LA Awards Season

By Franklin F Franco

April 2019

Growing up in the heart of LA, awards season always meant two things: (1) a glimpse at celebs and (2) traffic. I remember walking out of the Hollywood/Highland station on my way to high school and seeing the Oscars building their red carpet. I remember stalking artists with my friends at LA Live and visiting the Grammy museum. Awards season was fun but the one thing that I knew for sure was: I was too broke to ever sit in one.

That changed tonight. A professor of mine at SULA was fortunate enough to finesse 4 tickets to the iHeart Radio 2019 Music Awards, and because of a swift email response, I was one of the four students who got to go. It was truly a different kind of experience. I felt so exclusive walking up to will call and having VIP tickets waiting under my name and when I realized how close the seats were, well we all started geeking out.

It was certainly the most time efficient show I have ever seen. Usually all these awards shows run a couple minutes late, but this was on time and punctual. It was almost odd being able to see what goes on in the room when you cut to commercial. People walked around, grabbed snacks. Fans were trying to tackle a security guard for a chance to say hi to Taylor, and the set was being prepped for the next performance. Then on que, the world on that stage came back to life. It was almost wild seeing how staged it all really is.

Have you ever been in a room where you’re literally six rows away from Taylor Swift, Alicia Keys, Pharell, Halsey, and more? Neither had I, until that night. The iHeart Radio Awards show was a fun and dynamic spectacle! T-Pain was such a lively host, singing along to his old and recent bops. It was great. The entire show felt like one concert, showcases music and the artist. It wasn’t the kind of show where nominees were named, trophies were given, and speeches were delivered. It allowed these performers to prove on the stage why they were deserving of these awards and nominations in the first place.

Now I am no “Swiftie” but something about being so close to her and hearing her accept an award in person felt so different. It was moving and for a second, I felt like a fan. Seeing Halsey perform was epic because I’ve been wanting to see her live since her Hopeless Fountain Kingdom album dropped. The best part for me however, was waiting for Ariana Grande’s award for Artist of the Year and Pop Album of the Year. So, you could imagine how heart shattering it was to find out she was unable to attend the show and accept her award in person. Nonetheless, as a true artist she provided a pre-recorded performance of one of my favorite songs of her epic Thank U, Next album, “needy.” It was soulful and full of heart and now I am dying to get tickets for her Sweetener/Thank U, Next tour this summer.

It’s funny isn’t it? How life can really come full circle for you. I love music and loved observing award season from afar as a bystander and now I got to be lucky enough to see it in a VIP audience seat. Never thought that would happen, and I am thankful to SULA for the connections that let me, and my friends have this experience together. Everyone I know was messaging me asking how I managed to be there. Well, my answer was simple: “just the perks of SULA.”