To prepare for the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas this weekend, Grammy-winning country star Brad Paisley is doing some research.
Paisley said he cannot wait to see Calvin Harris perform, but doesn’t know much about him.
“I don’t even know what he looks like, because the (“Feels So Close”) video is of an old man with a horse and a lasso,” Paisley said in a phone interview. “If I saw him backstage, I won’t know him. I’m going to have to do some Wikipedia.”
The two-day festival at the MGM Grand, which opens Friday, features an A-List lineup of stars including Taylor Swift, Aerosmith, Rihanna, Usher, Bon Jovi, Lil Wayne, Green Day, Swedish House Mafia, No Doubt, Pitbull, deadmau5, Miranda Lambert, Enrique Iglesias, Linkin Park, Jason Aldean, P!nk and Mary J. Blige. As fate would have it, Paisley and Harris are in back-to-back performing blocks Saturday night.
The second-annual event will be aired through the iHeartRadio digital music platform and broadcast on Clear Channel radio stations. Fans can watch it live on Yahoo! and Xbox.
Host Ryan Seacrest believes the sheer volume and caliber of the lineup sets the event apart from other festivals. He said the spark for the most unexpected collaborations can happen at events like this one.
“To see all those artists backstage is kind of cool, because this is the type of environment where there are so many artists and there’s such little space that they end up mingling together,” he said. “I remember last year I was walking off stage and Chris Martin and Jay-Z were leaning against the wall talking about something with nobody around them … just having a cool moment together.”
Paisley said he hopes to watch some of the other performances and looks forward to having his mind blown. He will be debuting his new single, “Southern Comfort Zone,” during his set. It is the first song from his upcoming album due out April 9.
Paisley co-wrote the tune and recorded it in an old farmhouse he turned into a studio. He said the song blends a lot of genres. It starts to rock in the middle, and his church choir comes in at the end.
“It’s an interesting thing to try because the song is about leaving your comfort zone. I couldn’t be doing that more literally than to stand in front of an audience of people that are primarily probably not there to see me,” he said. “It’s sort of like, `Here’s a new song, and you may not even know my others.'”
But it won’t stop the Country Music Association entertainer of the year nominee from trying to win over some pop, hip-hop and rock fans.
“In America, we like to label stuff a little more, and so people get in their bubble and they don’t look outside of it,” he said. “This festival is one of those things that helps to break that barrier down a little bit.”
By CAITLIN R. KING