meta-scriptHow 1995 Became A Blockbuster Year For Movie Soundtracks | GRAMMY.com
Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz in 'Clueless' (1995)

Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz in 'Clueless' (1995)

Courtesy Photo: CBS via Getty Images

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How 1995 Became A Blockbuster Year For Movie Soundtracks

From 'Clueless' to 'Dangerous Minds,' soundtracks were big business in 1995, but the year's hits offered no clear formula for success

GRAMMYs/Aug 9, 2020 - 03:00 pm

Mariah Carey, Alanis Morissette, 2Pac and The Smashing Pumpkins all had No. 1 albums in 1995. Despite such hallowed competition, four movie soundtracks also topped the Billboard 200 chart that year. Two were family-friendly Disney behemoths: Pocahontas and The Lion King, the latter still powering from the previous year. The other chart-topping soundtracks, for the Michelle Pfeiffer vehicle Dangerous Minds and the stoner comedy Friday, were no one's idea of kids' entertainment. 

Beyond those No. 1 spots, 1995 marked a fascinating midpoint in a soundtrack-heavy decade. According to a New York Times report, a new release CD that year typically cost anywhere between $13-$19. At that price, a soundtrack needed major star power or an undeniable concept. 

For movie studios and musicians alike, the format was rich with opportunity. However, there was no certain formula for success. Some soundtracks were guided by a single producer, while others drew on a grab bag of then-current songs. Several featured one clear hit that eclipsed the soundtrack, or occasionally the movie itself. For all their differing approaches, the soundtracks of 1995 epitomized the energy and audacity of the decade, while also establishing tropes for the next 25 years. 

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The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album (1992) set the bar high for the decade. With a 20-week reign at No. 1, it remains the biggest-selling soundtrack of all time. Whitney Houston performed six songs on the album, including the titanic power ballad, "I Will Always Love You." (At the 1994 GRAMMYs, the track won the GRAMMY for Record Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, while the soundtrack itself earned the Album Of The Year award.)

While The Bodyguard magnified their commercial potential, movie soundtracks like Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994) framed the medium as an artistic showpiece. Throughout the '90s, Tarantino and fellow indie auteurs Paul Thomas Anderson, Richard Linklater and Spike Lee made music a key character in their films. (The latter continues the trend on his latest movie, Da 5 Bloods, alongside six-time GRAMMY-winning composer and trumpeter Terence Blanchard.) Both instincts, for commercial returns and artistic validation, were well-represented in 1995. 

Read: 'The Bodyguard' Soundtrack: 25 Years After Whitney Houston's Masterpiece

Batman Forever (1995) epitomized the big-budget, mass-appeal mid-'90s soundtrack. Spanning PJ Harvey to Method Man, the 14-track set employed some tried-and-true tactics. First, only five songs on the track list appear in the movie itself, ushering in a rash of "Music From And Inspired By" soundtracks. Second, its featured artists largely contributed songs you couldn't find on other albums: According to Entertainment Weekly in 1995, U2 landed a reported $500,000 advance for "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me," an offcut from the band's Zooropa album sessions. 

Most significantly, Batman Forever backed a surprise smash in Seal's "Kiss From A Rose." Originally released as a single in 1994, the ballad blew up as the movie's "love theme." In its music video, Seal croons in the light of the Bat-Signal, intercut with not-very-romantic scenes from the film. Outshining U2, "Kiss From A Rose" reached No. 1 in 1995; one year later, the song won for Song Of The Year, Record Of The Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 38th GRAMMY Awards.

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Both Bad Boys and Dangerous Minds had their "Kiss From A Rose" equivalent in 1995. Diana King's reggae-fusion jam "Shy Guy" proved the breakout star of Bad Boys, transcending an R&B- and hip-hop-heavy soundtrack. Meanwhile, Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise," featuring singer L.V., the key track on Dangerous Minds, became the top-selling single of 1995; it won the rapper his first, and only, GRAMMY for Best Rap Solo Performance the next year. 

Other soundtracks from 1995 endure as perfect documents of their time and place. Clueless compiled a cast from '90s rock radio to accompany the adventures of Alicia Silverstone's Cher Horowitz and her high school clique: Counting Crows, Smoking Popes, Cracker and The Muffs. Coolio, the everywhere man of 1995, contributed "Rollin' With My Homies." 

From the same city, but a world outside Cher's Beverly Hills bubble, came the Ice Cube- and Chris Tucker-starring Friday. Its soundtrack took a whistle-stop tour of West Coast hip-hop and G-funk via Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Tha Alkaholiks and Mack 10. True to the era, the music video for Dr. Dre's "Keep Their Heads Ringin'" is half stoner comedy, half cheesy action movie. 

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Waiting To Exhale, the 1995 drama directed by Forest Whitaker, boasted a soundtrack with a clear author. Babyface, the R&B superproducer with 11 GRAMMY wins for his work with the likes of Boyz II Men and Toni Braxton, produced the set in full. Following Babyface's co-producer role on The Bodyguard soundtrack three years prior, Waiting To Exhale featured two new songs from the movie's star, Whitney Houston. 

Read: 'Score': Soundtracks take us on an emotional ride

Houston's "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" and "Why Does It Hurt So Bad" led a track list that also featured Aretha Franklin, TLC, Chaka Khan, Mary J. Blige and then-newcomer Brandy. A powerful showcase of Black women across generations, the soundtrack has prevailed as a standalone work, going on to receive multiple nominations, including Album Of The Year, at the 1997 GRAMMYs. In a crowded year for soundtracks, which also included Dinosaur Jr. founder Lou Barlow's work on Larry Clark's contentious KidsWaiting To Exhale demonstrated the power of a singular vision. 

For the most part, the soundtracks of 1995 tried a bit of everything. The previous year, The Crow: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack went all-in on covers, including Nine Inch Nails overhauling Joy Division's "Dead Souls." That trend continued into 1995, from Tori Amos covering R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" for Higher Learning to Evan Dando's update of Big Star's "The Ballad Of El Goodo" in Empire Records to Tom Jones gamely taking on Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way"' for The Jerky Boys movie. (Is there a more '90s sentence than that?) 

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Elsewhere, the Mortal Kombat soundtrack blended metal and industrial rock (Fear Factory, Gravity) with dance music (Utah Saints, Orbital). For every Dead Presidents, which zeroed in on '70s funk and soul, there was a Tank Girl, which threw together Bush, Björk, Veruca Salt and Ice-T to match the movie's manic tone. 

Continuing from their '90s winning streak, grown-up soundtracks have proven surprisingly resilient. In an echo of Babyface's role on Waiting To Exhale, Kendrick Lamar oversaw production on 2018's chart-topping, multi-GRAMMY-nominated Black Panther: The Album, uniting an A-list cast under his creative direction. On the same front, Beyonce executive-produced and curated The Lion King: The Gift, the soundtrack album for the 2019 remake of the Disney classic, which spotlighted African and Afrobeats artists. In 2016, Taylor Swift and One Direction's Zayn recorded "I Don't Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)," pitching for the movie tie-in bump enjoyed in 1995 by Seal and Coolio. (The millennial stars stopped short of including scenes from the movie in their music video.) 

Like Batman Forever back in the day, the DC Universe continues to put stock in soundtracks. Both Suicide Squad (2016) and its follow-up, Birds Of Prey (2020), are packed tight with to-the-minute pop, R&B and hip-hop. Each soundtrack reads like a who's who of the musical zeitgeist. In 1995, Mazzy Star, Brandy and U2 grouped up behind Batman. In 2016, Twenty One Pilots, Skrillex and Rick Ross powered the Suicide Squad. In 2020, everyone from Doja Cat to Halsey to YouTube star Maisie Peters form Team Harley Quinn. 

As 1995 taught us time and time again, nothing traps a year in amber quite like a movie soundtrack. 

How 1995 Became The Year Dance Music Albums Came Of Age

Ice Spice performs at the Sahara Tent during the 2024 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival at Empire Polo Club on April 13, 2024 in Indio, California.
Ice Spice

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer

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New Music Friday: Listen To New Songs From Ice Spice, Ariana Grande, Post Malone, Coldplay & More

As we slip into summer, get the season started by listening to these new songs, albums and collaborations from Gracie Abrams, Kygo, The Joy and more that dropped on June 21.

GRAMMYs/Jun 21, 2024 - 05:52 pm

The first New Music Friday of the summer delivers us fresh jams packed with exciting collaborations and debuts.

This week features releases from big name, genre-crossing collaborations, including Ariana Grande's remix of "the boy is mine" with Brandy and Monica, and Post Malone teaming up with Blake Shelton on their new track "Pour Me a Drink." As you build your new summer playlist, make sure you don't miss out on these ten must-hear tunes.  

Ice Spice — "Phat Butt"

After a massive year with the release of her EP Like..? and four nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs, Ice Spice is ready to level up once again with her newest single, "Phat Butt." With self-assured lyricism on top of a classic drill beat that is true to her sound, the track serves as the second single to be released from her debut album, Y2K!. "Phat Butt" comes as both a message to those who lacked belief in Ice Spice’s music career, but also as a quintessential summer anthem.

In the self-directed music video, the rapper is shown performing in front of a wall of graffiti with grainy video filters, emphasizing the Y2K feel. Ice Spice is set to take on her Y2K World Tour next month and it's no doubt that this "Phat Butt" will be a highlight on her setlist.

Explore More: The Rise Of Ice Spice: How The "Barbie World" Rapper Turned Viral Moments Into A Full-On Franchise 

Ariana Grande, Brandy, & Monica — "the boy is mine (remix)"

When asking different groups who sings the song "the boy is mine," you're likely to get two answers. Some will say pop star Ariana Grande, while others will think of the original 1998 R&B hit by Brandy and Monica, which won the GRAMMY for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal in 1999. Doubling down on the shared name of the track and bridging the generational gap among music lovers, Grande, Brandy, and Monica have come together for a fresh remix of "the boy is mine," and the internet couldn't be more ecstatic. 

"My deepest and sincerest thank you to Brandy and Monica, not only for joining me for this moment, but for your generosity, your kindness, and for the countless ways in which you have inspired me," said Grande in an Instagram post announcing the collaboration. "This is in celebration of you both and the impact that you have had on every vocalist, vocal producer, musician, artist that is creating today."

Read More: 5 Takeaways From Ariana Grande's New Album Eternal Sunshine 

Post Malone & Blake Shelton — "Pour Me a Drink"

Post Malone has been dipping his toes into the country genre for some time now and fans have been anxiously awaiting his promised western era post Cowboy Carter.

Malone and Shelton first ignited excitement with a sneak peek of their song, "Pour Me a Drink" at the CMA Fest earlier this month. Since Posty announced the official release on Instagram, fans have eagerly awaited its arrival on streaming services. The track serves as a tantalizing preview of Post Malone's upcoming country album, F-1 Trillion, coming August 16. 

Read More: Post Malone's Country Roots: 8 Key Moments In Covers and Collaborations 

Coldplay — "feelslikeimfallinginlove"

Coldplay has been generating excitement as they embark on their next chapter, with the release of their latest single, "feelslikeimfallinginlove." Over the past few weeks, they've been feeding fans with sneak peeks on social media and performing the song live on their world tour.

The track sets the stage for the release of Coldplay's highly anticipated tenth studio album, Moon Music, set to land in early October. True to their brand, this song is geared to uplift your spirits, making it the perfect anthem for carefree summer car rides with the windows down.

Read More: How Coldplay's Parachutes Ushered In A New Wave Of Mild-Mannered Guitar Bands 

Kygo — 'Kygo'

Ten years into his career, Norwegian DJ Kygo is dropping his self-titled album, Kygo, which he teased last week with the single "Me Before You" featuring Plested. The song, backed by a thumping mid-tempo instrumental, vividly narrates the transformative experience of being deeply influenced by someone in a relationship and not wanting to return to who you were before. The 18-track project features diverse and vibrant collaborations with unexpected guests like the Jonas Brothers and Ava Max.

Maren Morris & Julia Michaels — "cut!"

Maren Morris and Julia Michaels, GRAMMY-winners both independently renowned for their iconic music collaborations, are now joining forces to release their electrifying new track, "cut!" The duo has been working together for a few years, with Michaels' co-writing Morris' "Circles Around Town," which received a nomination for Best Country Song at the 2023 GRAMMYs. So, while this collaboration might not come as a surprise, it is still certainly a welcomed one. 

After a two-year hiatus from releasing music, pop enthusiasts have been eagerly anticipating Morris' return to the spotlight. "Can't wait to cathartically scream f*ck at the top of our lungs together," Morris said in an Instagram post announcing the track.

Learn More: Behind Julia Michaels' Hits: From Working With Britney & Bieber To Writing For Wish 

Gracie Abrams — 'The Secret of Us'

Building on the success of her debut album, Good Riddance, and the skyrocketing momentum of her career after opening The Eras Tour, California-native Gracie Abrams has unveiled her much-anticipated sophomore album, The Secret of Us.

The album includes the track, "Close to You," which was released ahead of the album drop as the full realization of a 20-second snippet that Abrams posted on Instagram back in 2018. After sitting on the track for six years and relentless pleas from fans, the pop artist finally delivered the full song — a mesmerizing blend of Abrams’ vocal prowess and heartfelt lyricism.  

Learn More: How Making Good Riddance Helped Gracie Abrams Surrender To Change And Lean Into The Present 

6LACK — "F**k The Rap Game"

6LACK is rebranding himself and making sure everyone knows. The release of his newest track, "F**k The Rap Game" addresses the phenomenon of getting caught up in the glitz and glamor of the entertainment business, tying in the importance of staying true to one's roots. The Atlanta-raised artist is currently on tour with rapper Russ, with whom he recently released the single "Workin On Me,” another nod to 6LACK's ongoing mission of self-reflection and deep introspection.

“A better me equals a better you equals a better us. That’s been the formula of my life. I can’t thrive unless I’m around people who are constantly trying to better themselves as individuals,” 6LACK said in an interview with GRAMMY.com last year. “It took a second of me really looking at myself in the mirror, being honest and saying: I am not doing as much work on myself as I claim to be doing and want to be doing on myself.”

Read More: 6lack On His Comeback Album SIHAL: "I’m Playing A Different Game" 

The Joy — 'The Joy'

Months after their buzzworthy performance with Doja Cat at Coachella, South African quintet The Joy has released their self-titled album through Transgressive Records. The album was recorded live, in real time, at Church Studios in London and features no instruments or overdubs — just pure, raw vocals that capture the group's authentic sound.

The Joy came together through a serendipitous twist of fate. Years back, five boys arrived early to their school choir practice and decided to have an impromptu jam session. Realizing their undeniable musical chemistry, The Joy was born, quickly garnering global acclaim. "They are, like, my favorite group," Jennifer Hudson exclaimed on her talk show. 

Surfaces — 'good morning'

Known for their feel-good tunes that took over TikTok in 2019, Surfaces presents their sixth album, Good Morning. In tracks like, “Real Estate,” the band chronicles the idea of exploring one’s mind and thoughts, above all other features, backed by a tropical lo-fi instrumental, as well as a steady thump of a bass, and trilling trumpets. 

“’Real Estate’ is about the infatuation with that place in someone’s mind that you can’t get enough of,” Surfaces explained in a press statement. “It’s a familiar place to call home that feels safe and deserves all the love in the world. We wanted to capture the bliss of finding that space and reveling in it.” 

Lauren Watkins — 'The Heartbroken Record'

Lauren Watkins has a packed summer schedule, which includes opening for country artist Morgan Wallen and releasing her second studio album, The Heartbroken Record. This project draws inspiration from music industry veterans like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, while also infusing influences from contemporary artists like Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert. Each track from the album underscores stories of love and loss, woven together by the overarching theme of heartbreak. 

"I didn't want to just put an album out — I wanted it to be purposeful," Watkins said in a press statement. "It's the past several years of my life, and that was just so much heartbreak and dramatic girl-feelings, but I think in a really deep and relatable way… and it just needs to get off my chest."

Why 2024 Is The Year Women In Country Music Will Finally Have Their Moment 

Metro Boomin Performs at Future & Friends' One Big Party Tour in 2023
Metro Boomin performs during Future & Friends' One Big Party Tour in 2023

Photo: Prince Williams/Wireimage 

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Metro Boomin's Essential Songs: 10 Must-Know Tracks, From "Creepin" To "Like That"

The 2024 GRAMMY nominee for Producer Of The Year is one of hip-hop's most in-demand minds. Between his collab albums with Future and some highly debated beefs with rap's biggest stars, it's the perfect time to revisit the Metro-verse.

GRAMMYs/Jun 4, 2024 - 01:38 pm

Metro Boomin has spent more than a decade redefining rap music. The gloomy, 808-induced trap beats that flood radio airwaves and blare from nightclub speakers are a symbol of his influence. But now, the Atlanta-based superproducer is on one of his biggest musical runs to date.  

In April, Metro released the second of two joint albums with Future, hinted at a third release this year, sold out a concert at the Kundalini Grand Pyramids in Egypt, and clinched the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 with "Like That" featuring Kendrick Lamar. He also delivered a first-of-its-kind instrumental diss aimed at Drake called "BBL Drizzy," accusing the Toronto rapper of going under the knife.  

The diss was in response to Drake’s "Push Ups" and subsequent disses toward Kendrick Lamar. "Metro shut your hoe ass up and make some drums" he rapped. The verbal blow inspired Metro to release the hilarious instrumental, which he encouraged fans to rap on for a chance to win a free beat.  

Months before the feud, Metro celebrated two nominations for Best Rap Album and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical at the 66th GRAMMY Awards. While he didn’t take home a coveted golden gramophone, the momentum has elevated his career to new heights.  

Before the St. Louis-bred producer kicks off the We Trust You tour with Future on July 30, revisit 10 of Metro Boomin's biggest releases.  

"Karate Chop" (2013) 

A 19-year-old Metro crafted his first charting single right before making a life-changing move to Atlanta. With piercing synths and bubbly arpeggios, the song was the lead single for Future’s highly anticipated sophomore album, Honest. 

But Metro, a freshman at Morehouse College at the time, wasn’t sold on its success. "I never really like it," Metro told XXL. "Then every time people would come into the studio, he would always play the record and I was like, ‘Why are you so stuck on this s—? We have way harder records.’"  

But after cranking out a new mix on the original track, "Karate Chop" went on to become his first placement on a major label album. The remix with Lil Wayne further elevated the record and, by virtue, Metro’s profile as a musical craftsman.  

"Jumpman" (2015) 

 Metro mastered the late-summer anthem in 2015 with "Jumpman." The song was the most notable hit from Drake and Future’s collaborative mixtape, What a Time to Be Alive, and went on to shut down bustling nightclubs and obscure strip joints. And while the record didn’t perform as well as other songs on this list, it secured Future his first Top 20 hit.  

The song — which features Metro’s signature bass and a screeching raven sound effect — also saw a streaming boost after an Apple Music commercial featuring Taylor Swift rapping to the song. According to Adweek, the campaign helped generate a 431 percent increase in global sales 

 What makes "Jumpman" even more special is that a collab between Future, Metro, and Drake may never happen again. Reportedly, the duo is at odds with Drake because the OVO artist decided to link with 21 Savage on Her Loss instead of doing a follow-up project with Future.  

"Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" (2016) 

"Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" is the song that set Kanye West’s album, Life of Pablo, ablaze. Opening with a clip of gospel musician and singer T.L. Barrett’s Father I Stretch My Hands,” Metro’s signature producer tag kicks the record into full gear. The pulsating synthesizers and bouncy percussion match West’s raunchy and sexually explicit lyrics.  

Metro’s production received significant praise, with several publications pointing to his contributions on end-of-year listings. And in the eight years since its release, "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" has been certified six times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, making it one of Ye’s most-sold records of all time. 

"Congratulations" (2016) 

After the success of "White Iverson," a young Post Malone was on the hunt for the hottest producers in the rap game. He managed to land Metro, who worked with fellow producers Frank Dukes and the prolific Louis Bell on the triumphant trap record "Congratulations."  

On a 2022 episode of the podcast "Full Send," Metro revealed that the celebratory song was made after watching the world’s greatest athletes eclipse historic feats of their own. "I remember the Olympics was on TV, and just how the music was sounding, it sounded like some champion s—," he said.  

"Congratulations" marked Post Malone’s second Top 20 hit following his debut, "White Iverson." The song was certified diamond after totaling more than 11 million combined sales. Today, it remains one of Metro’s biggest achievements.

"Bad and Boujee" (2017) 

Fueled by virality and a shoutout from Donald Glover at the 2017 Golden Globes, the Migos and Lil Uzi Vert’s "Bad and Boujee" landed Metro Boomin his first No. 1 Billboard hit as a producer.  

The song has every element Metro fans have grown to love: moody keys, hard-hitting bass, and plenty of room for the artists’ adlibs to pierce through the track.  

Two months before its eventual ascension, the song had a steep hill to climb atop the Billboard charts. But Metro’s production and the chemistry between Quavo, Offset, and Uzi helped the record shoot up to its rightful place. It continues to garner praise In the years since its 2016 release, too. It was ranked No. 451 on Rolling Stone’s "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list 

"Mask Off" (2017) 

When "Mask Off" dropped in 2017, it scorched the Billboard charts. Hip-hop was flirting with flutes (as heard on songs like Drake’s "Portland" and Kodak Black’s "Tunnel Vision" — another Metro-produced beat) — but "Mask Off" stands out as the biggest song of the short-lived era.  

Metro infused jazz-like undertones to perfectly meld the flute lick into the dark and mystic beat. The record led to the remix with Kendrick Lamar, with his verse breathing new life into the already-seismic hit. It’s now certified nine times platinum.  

Years after the song’s release, Future said "Mask Off" initially put radio programmers in disarray. In his East Atlanta rapper’s Apple Music documentary The WIZRD, he revealed that the song dropped before Carlton WIlliams’ "Prison Song" sample was officially cleared. "Out of all the songs, ‘Mask Off’ wasn’t even legit," he said. "The s— was on the radio, they’re thinking it’s not a sample, but it got so big they were like, ‘It’s a sample.’" 

"Heartless" (2019) 

The Weeknd's "Heartless" is a pop and electro-clash classic that fires on all cylinders. The visuals are atmospheric, the lyrics are ultra-stimulating, and the production — partly handled by Metro — makes for a lasting club banger.  

The leading single for The Weeknd’s fourth studio album, After Hours, topped the Billboard charts. It marked the Toronto-born crooner’s fourth No. 1 hit and unveiled the depths of Metro’s musical arsenal.  

Metro produced four tracks on After Hours: "Faith," "Escape from L.A.," "Until I Bleed Out" and "Heartless." On the latter and in his other collaborations with The Weeknd, James Blake, and Solange, Metro’s creative sorcery was tested. He proved, once again, that he could generate a hit outside the confines of trap music.  

"Creepin" (2022)

After a solid outing on his first album Not All Heroes Wear Capes, Metro returned with another series of hard-hitting records. His second solo venture, Heroes & Villains, featured John Legend, Don Tolliver, Travis Scott, and other premiere artists. But the biggest song to come out of the star-studded lineup was "Creepin’" featuring 21 Savage and The Weeknd 

The only single to Metro’s second solo album struck sonic gold. The Weeknd’s flowy vocals overlay the silky and harmonic record, which transitions to a more trap-induced beat once 21 Savage’s verse kicks in. The remake of Mario Winans’ "I Don’t Wanna Know" was a notable departure from Metro’s past singles, which heavily lean on his trap roots. But it still managed to connect with his audience – and even beyond it. "Creepin" peaked at No. 3 on Billboard, which was Metro’s highest-charting solo record up until that point.

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (2023) 

Following the success of "Creepin’" and his other smash singles, Metro extended his creative powers to the film world. He was given the green light to executive produce the soundtrack for Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. 

Metro Boomin told Indie Wire that he crafted songs from rough animations and selected scenes "just to get in the world and the story of Miles [Morales] and what he’s going through," He even exchanged phone calls and texts with the film’s composer Daniel Pemberton to ensure the soundtrack and score were on the same accord.  

From the classical serenade "Am I Dreaming" to the Latin swing of "Silk & Cologne" and the Timbaland-stomping "Nas Morales," the result was an equally transformative musical experience. Each record ranged in musicality and tone while beautifully complementing the vibrant animated superhero flick.

"Like That" (2024) 

"Like That" is easily one of the best beats in Metro’s catalog, and may end up being one of the most memorable. Samples from Rodney O & Joe Cooley’s "Everlasting Bass" and Eazy-E’s 1989 classic "Eazy-Duz-It" shaped the bouncy trap beat, sinister synths, and spine-chilling baseline. But Kendrick Lamar’s verse turned it into a heat-seeking missile.  

With the song’s thunderous bass and rapid hi-hats in the background, Kendrick dissed J. Cole and Drake for their recent claims of rap supremacy, particularly on 2023’s "First Person Shooter." The lyrical nuke sparked the Civil War-style rap feud, which led to a seven-song exchange between Kendrick and Drake.  

The initial musical blow made the genre stand still. It also led to the massive success of the record, which notched Future and Metro another No. 1 hit song. It also helped the pair’s album, We Don’t Trust You, claim the top spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart.  

Inside The Metro-Verse: How Metro Boomin Went From Behind-The-Scenes Mastermind To Rap's Most In-Demand Producer 

Elton John with Lion King Broadway cast in 1999
Elton John (center) with actors Paulette Ivory as 'Nala' (left) and Roger Wright as 'Simba' (right) at the opening night 'The Lion King' musical in London in 1999.

Photo: Dave Benett/Getty Images

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9 Reasons Why 'The Lion King' Is The Defining Disney Soundtrack

Thirty years after 'The Lion King: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack' was released, revisit all the ways it became Disney's ultimate musical moment, from multiple GRAMMYs to a Broadway smash.

GRAMMYs/May 31, 2024 - 05:14 pm

Following the untimely death of their regular composer Howard Ashman, who, alongside Alan Menken, had written the soundtracks for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, Walt Disney Feature Animation were forced to look elsewhere for 1994's The Lion King. As their first film ever based on an original story, and their first to consist entirely of animal characters, the Mouse House was already taking something of a gamble. And they further refused to play it safe by appointing a pop star with no prior experience of the Hollywood machine.

Luckily, the leftfield choice of British national treasure Elton John (then without his Sir title), proved to be a masterstroke. Alongside Tim Rice, the lyricist best-known for his musical theater work with Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Rocket Man delivered five instant classics. Not only did the likes of "Can You Feel The Love Tonight," "I Just Can't Wait To Be King," and "Circle of Life" perfectly help push forward the narrative, but they also helped push the film to awards glory at the Oscars and GRAMMYs, a colossal box office figure of nearly one billion dollars, and permanent residency in the pop culture landscape.

Of course, John and Rice can't take all the credit for Lion King's roaring success. Acclaimed composer Hans Zimmer also came on board to give an orchestral touch to the Shakespeare-inspired tale of an heir apparent, who after escaping his wicked uncle's clutches, returns years later to reclaim his rightful position. And professional singers Carmen Twillie, Sally Dworsky, and Kristle Edwards joined household names such as Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg, and Rowan Atkinson in the recording booth, further driving the massive impact of the movie and its music.

Thirty years after it first enamored the Blockbuster generation, we take a look at how The Lion King still sits at the top of the Disney soundtrack throne.

It's Still The Biggest Selling Disney Soundtrack 

Forget The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, or the more recent musical phenomenon that is Frozen. When it comes to pure sales, the runaway Disney soundtrack leader is The Lion King. The Rice/John/Zimmer collaboration shifted nearly five million copies domestically in 1994 alone. And its impressive worldwide total is now triple that amount.

It's a figure that also places The Lion King in the top 10 best-selling soundtracks of all time. Indeed, it's Disney's only representative in the list, which includes Prince's Purple Rain, James Horner's Titanic, and Bee Gees' Saturday Night Fever, as well as the "I Will Always Love You"-featuring The Bodyguard at No. 1. (It still has a way to go to beat John's commercial peak, though. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road has reportedly sold an astonishing 20 million since its release in 1973.)

It Made GRAMMY History 

It wasn't just at the box office where Disney firmly established its second golden age. Before the release of 1989's The Little Mermaid, the Mouse House hadn't attracted GRAMMYs attention once. By the turn of the century, however, they'd racked up a remarkable 30 nominations and 17 wins — and The Lion King played a major part in this awards dominance.

In fact, it made history by becoming the first Disney winner of both Best Male Pop Vocal Performance ("Can You Feel the Love Tonight") and Best Musical Album For Children, while "Circle of Life" picked up Best Instrumental Arrangement With Accompanying Vocals, too. The Lion King also followed in the footsteps of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin by picking up the Academy Awards for both Best Original Song and Best Original Score.

It Started A Trend Of Pop Artist Composers 

While Celine Dion, Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle had all previously lent their vocals to Disney's second golden age, The Lion King was the studio's first soundtrack to give a pop star composing duties. Alongside Tim Rice, the celebrated lyricist who'd worked on Aladdin, Elton John wrote all five of the album's vocal numbers. And it was a setup that appeared to give several of his peers ideas.

Randy Newman had already picked up Academy Award nods for his composing talents on 1981's Ragtime. But it wasn't until 1995's Toy Story that the singer/songwriter began the fruitful Disney animation partnership that would also take in the Monsters Inc. and Cars franchises. In 1999, Phil Collins co-wrote and performed the entirety of Tarzan's pop soundtrack. And four years later, Carly Simon decided to get in on the Mouse House action by pulling double duty on seven songs for Piglet's Big Movie.

It Introduced Hans Zimmer To Animation 

The Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado, Madagascar, and The Simpsons Movie are just a few of the hit animations to have benefitted from Hans Zimmer's Midas touch. But it wasn't until 12 years into his career that the German composer proved that his talents could be used just as effectively in the world of animation as live-action. And The Lion King was the catalyst.

Zimmer provided four instrumental pieces for the Disney phenomenon including "This Land," "To Die For," and "King of Pride Rock," also bagging two GRAMMYS, an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his efforts. And as he told Classic FM while promoting his work on the 2019 remake, he has a certain family member to thank. "My daughter was 6 years old. I'd never been able to take her to any premieres, and Dad likes to show off."

It Spawned Several Crossover Hits 

Although Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin had both spawned big Hot 100 hits (the chart-topping "Beauty and the Beast" and Dion and Bryson's "A Whole New World," respectively), The Lion King was the first Disney soundtrack to produce two. "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" reached No. 4 in the U.S. (and No.1 in Canada and France), while "Circle of Life" peaked at No. 18. Even "Hakuna Matata" saw some Billboard action, gracing both the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and Bubbling Under charts.

You're unlikely to ever see Elton John performing the latter – four of the film's cast members including Nathan Lane provided the vocals. But the two official singles have remained staples of both his live shows and countless compilations ever since. And they've crossed over to the Spotify age, too, with "Circle of Life" racking up103 million streams and "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" a whopping 322 million.

It Birthed Broadway's Biggest Hit 

Hitting the New Amsterdam Theatre in October 1997, The Lion King wasn't the first Disney animation to get a Broadway stage adaptation (Beauty and the Beast had opened at the Palace Theatre three years earlier) — but it remains the biggest. In fact, thanks to a run of 8,500 shows, its $1 billion-plus gross is now the highest in the theater district's history.

The Lion King has also made it around the world, picking up numerous Tony and Olivier Awards along the way. And as you'd expect, the film soundtrack's pop numbers have been just as pivotal to the theater production's success as its immersive set design, powerhouse performances, and jaw-dropping puppetry.

Those lucky enough to see the spectacle before 2010 would also have enjoyed something of a lost classic. Sung by Mufasa's hornbill advisor Zazu, the John/Rice-penned "The Morning Report" was omitted from the 1994 film but enjoyed a 13-year run in the stage show's opening act.

It Covers A Vast Range of Styles 

"The plan was that we wouldn't write the usual Broadway-style Disney score," John later wrote in his 2019 memoir, Me, about his and Rice's approach to the film. "But try and come up with pop songs that kids would like."

Indeed, while the partnership of Menken and Ashman grounded their Disney sing-alongs in the worlds of musical theater and Tin Pan Alley, the new dream team were determined to venture outside the Mouse House's comfort zone.

The Lion King OST boasts everything from carefree novelty sing-alongs ("Hakuna Matata") and emotive showstoppers ("Can You Feel The Love Tonight") to campy villain songs ("Be Prepared") and rumba rockabilly ("I Just Can't Wait To Be King"). And then there's Zimmer's instrumental pieces that typically begin with cinematic strings before building up to a Zulu choir crescendo, immediately transporting listeners to the vast landscape of Pride Rock.

It Kickstarted Elton John's Second Career 

"I sat there with a line of lyrics that began, 'When I was a young warthog,'" John told Time magazine in 1995 about the inception of The Lion King soundtrack, "and I thought, 'Has it come to this?'"

The pop legend needn't have worried. The song in question, "Hakuna Matata," might not have been his most lyrically sophisticated. But the comic interlude proved that John could put an infectious melody to literally any subject. And alongside his four other contributions, it gave him the impetus to further explore the world of musical theater.

The Brit subsequently reunited with Rice for 2000's Aida, a pop-oriented adaptation of Giuseppi Verdi's same-named opera which earned a GRAMMY for Best Musical Show Album in 2001. And then in 2005, John struck Broadway gold once again with the multiple Tony Award-winning screen-to-stage transfer of ballet drama Billy Elliot. That same year, he also teamed up with regular collaboratorBernie Taupin on the score for Lestat, a musical version of Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles.

It Formed Part Of The 2019 Remake 

Proof of just how well The Lion King soundtrack has endured came in 2019 when Jon Favreau's live-action remake borrowed all five of its vocal numbers. The performers were different, of course — see the likes of John Oliver on "I Just Can't Wait To Be King," Beyoncé and Donald Glover on "Can You Feel The Love Tonight," and Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner on "Hakuna Matata." But while Zimmer's reimaginings gave them an additional African flavor, the songs didn't stray too far from the source material.

But even with a starrier cast and a bunch of new compositions and covers, the new Lion King OST failed to strike the same chord with the cinemagoing public, selling just a fraction of its predecessor. Even Beyoncé's flagship single "Spirit" failed to peak any higher than No. 98 on the Hot 100. Sometimes, the originals truly are the best.

How 1995 Became A Blockbuster Year For Movie Soundtracks

Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction on stage at Lollapalooza 2003.
Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction at Lollapalooza 2003.

Photo: J. Shearer/WireImage/GettyImages

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'Lolla: The Story of Lollapalooza' Recounts How An Alt Rock Fest Laid The Blueprint For Bonnaroo & More

A new three-part documentary on Paramount+ traces the origin of Lollapalooza from its early days as a traveling alt-rock showcase initially conceived as a farewell tour for Jane's Addiction, to the three-day Chicago-based festival that exists today.

GRAMMYs/May 22, 2024 - 09:27 pm

Few music festivals have had the cultural impact of Lollapalooza. 

Conceived in 1991 as a farewell tour for Jane's Addiction by lead singer Perry Farrell, the festival quickly became a traveling showcase for alt-rock and counterculture. Its eclectic lineups, which also included punk, metal, and hip-hop acts, helped define a generation's musical tastes. 

A new, three-episode documentary, "Lolla: The Story of Lollapalooza," takes an in-depth look at the festival's journey over three decades. From its early days of bringing together alt acts including Nine Inch Nails, Living Colour, Pearl Jam, and the Beastie Boys, Lollapalooza has evolved into what it is today: a three-day festival based in Chicago's Grant Park since 2005. The festival remains an enduring celebration of alternative music.

"Lolla" explores how Lollapalooza defied expectations by both embracing and helping shape the emerging youth culture of the '90s — a rebellious, introspective shift from the flashy excess of the '80s. The docuseries highlights the festival's influence through a trove of archival footage and exclusive interviews with Lollapalooza co-founders, show promoters, bookers, MTV hosts. Of course, "Lolla" features a who's who of '90s-era rockers — including Farrell himself, Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, Donita Sparks from L7, Ice-T

To watch "Lolla" is to open a time capsule for alternative culture, one where the stage becomes a symbol of generational change. Read on for five takeaways from the documentary, which is now streaming on Paramount+. 

The Reading Festival Served As Inspiration

For their farewell tour, Jane's Addiction decided to emulate the UK Reading Festival's approach to curating live music and alternative acts in a multi-day, open-air forum (where bands like the Buzzcocks and Pixies played to crowds of 40,000). 

Jane's Addiction had been scheduled to play the 1990 Reading Festival, but Farrell partied too much the night before after a club gig and lost his voice, and the band had to cancel. Drummer Stephen Perkins and future Lollapalooza co-founder Marc Geiger decided to check out the event anyway, which planted the seed for the future tour. 

"Reading was a cornucopia of artists, and scenes, and curation, and it was such a vibe," recalled Geiger in an interview scene from the doc. "I remember saying, 'Perry, we have to do it.'"

Farrell was game after missing his chance to see Reading first-hand. So Lollapalooza co-founders Geiger, Don Muller and Ted Gardner, who was also Jane's Addiction band manager, got to work emulating the Reading model. In addition to live music, Farrell wanted something "completely subversive" with booths to engage festival goers with everything from henna tattoos and art galleries, to nonprofit and political organizations like Greenpeace, PETA, the Surfrider Foundation, and even voter registration for the Rock The Vote campaign. The result was art and activism combined with commerce.

Lolla Was Born From The Death Of Jane's Addiction

Although Jane's Addiction had a big buzz with their third album, Ritual de lo Habitual, the band was on the edge of  dissolution. "We really couldn't stand each other," admitted Farrell. Ready for his next act, Farrell saw the opportunity to end on a high note with Jane's Addiction. "The best work we did, we left on the stage at Lolla," he said in the doc. 

In the early '90s, alternative acts were not selling out massive venues. Organizers were on edge, hoping fans would buy tickets and show up to not one, but 28 U.S. tour dates featuring the seven-act lineup for the first-ever Lollapalooza.

What nobody expected was the watershed success. The first show saw fans sweat it out to see their favorite acts in Phoenix, on a day with temperatures well over 100 degrees. Nine Inch Nails' equipment melted in the heat, leading the band to destroy their failing gear before walking off the stage. 

Despite initial hiccups, the tour wasn't hindered. Lollapalooza's first year sold out in a majority of venues holding 15-18,000 people, driven largely by word-of-mouth and favorable coverage by MTV.  

"I think everybody knew and ultimately felt, 'wow, I'm sort of lucky to be here — I'm part of something,'" recalled Geiger in the doc. "It was bigger than anything these artists or fans had seen at that time."

Lollapalooza '92 further mixed genres on the main stage — like gangsta rap (Ice Cube), grunge (Pearl Jam) and shoegaze (Lush) — while greatly expanding the line-up on a side stage upon which Farrell and Perkins introduced their new band Porno For Pyros, alongside many other acts. Lollapalooza's model was born. 

Early Years Embraced Racial Inclusivity, But Lagged Gender-Wise

Right from the start, Lollapalooza organizers mixed up the bill beyond white artists that traditionally headlined rock concerts long before and after Jimi Hendrix performed at Woodstock and Monterey Pop. Part of why Lollapalooza thrived is the inclusion of bands like Ice-T's Body Count, Fishbone, and Living Colour — favorite headliners during the early tours.

Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello credited Living Colour with helping build "the alternative arc" and opening doors for Rage. "Without Living Colour, Rage Against The Machine doesn't get a record deal. Ever," Morello said. 

A big moment came near the end of the '91 tour when Ice-T and Farrell squared off to cover Sly and the Family Stone's "Don't Call Me ******, Whitey" in which they tersely trade verses, then end up tangoing across the stage. It was a provocative performance that grabbed headlines and the audience's attention months after the high profile police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles. In '92, Soundgarden showed solidarity with Body Count by performing their controversial track "Cop Killer" with their guitarist Ernie C onstage in Miami. 

While Lolla embraced racial diversity, the early line-ups were male-dominated. Lone female act Siouxsie and the Banshees were a favorite in '91 and later Lollapalooza main stage artists, like Sonic Youth, Babes In Toyland, Lush, and the Breeders — which had more if not all female members — were outnumbered by their male counterparts.

Read more: 6 Female-Fronted Acts Reviving Rock: Wet Leg, Larkin Poe, Gretel Hänlyn & More

Donita Sparks noted that L7 got booked in '94 only after they fired off a bluntly worded fax to the organizers. "We got the offer," Sparks said, "but we had to push the issue. And we had to fight for it. 'Cause that's how much we wanted to be on Lollapalooza, and more importantly, that's how much we felt we deserved to be on Lollapalooza.

Female artists would eventually receive their Lolla dues, with Billie Eilish, Lorde, HAIM, Miley Cyrus and Karol G performing as festival headliners, and artists like Lady Gaga starting out as side stage artists before exploding in popularity and returning to headline the fest a few short years later. 

It Became A Victim Of Its Own Success

Lollapalooza from years '91 to '93 were the purest in terms of alt-rock acts, but as the event drew a wider range of talent and demand, it began to suffer a bit of an identity crisis. After all, it's hard to be a beacon for the underground scene once that culture is above ground.

By Lolla '94, attendance set records and alt-rock had hit the mainstream while grunge peaked and critics bemoaned its growing conventional status. Former second stage booker John Rubeli revealed that Nirvana turned down a $6 million offer to headline the '94 tour because of frontman Kurt Cobain's fear of selling out. Cobain's suicide a few short weeks later changed the scene. 

In '95, the festival returned with more indie bands on the mainstage, but some were eclipsed by bigger artists like Coolio, who drew a bigger crowd to the parking lot side stage. Increased popularity drove commercial sponsorship, and the event became more expensive. Ticket sales dropped. Then in '96, Farrell quit his involvement with the festival for a year in protest over the booking of Metallica, whose aggressive music and audience he felt were out of step with his vision.

"I felt disrespected," Farrell said. "I'm not putting this thing together to make the most money. I'm putting this thing together to make the most joy."

Upon his return in 1997, Farrell's inclusion of electronic acts like the Orbital and the Prodigy were, to some ears, ahead of the curve. The festival then went on a six-year hiatus. 

Lollapalooza returned on shaky legs for its 2003 tour, which included Audioslave, Incubus, the Donnas, and the reunion of Jane's Addiction. But it was truly reborn in 2005 as a three-day event in Chicago through concert promoters C3 Presents (who co-executive produced the "Lolla" doc).  Admittedly, some of the 21st century headliners like Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Journey, and Paul McCartney would never have fit the '90s festival bill. 

Times have changed and, today, the festival has embraced its conventional success while retaining its original genre-spanning reach with the Killers, Melanie Martinez, Skrillex, and Tyler, the Creator included on this summer's lineup.

Lolla Was A Model For Coachella, Bonnaroo, And Beyond

Prior to the arrival of Lollapalooza, rock festivals were usually single weekend events that took place in a fixed location, like Woodstock in '69, Steve Wozniak's US Festival in '82 and '83, and European festivals like Reading. "I just think it's the first American, truly eclectic concert series since Woodstock," said Ice-T. "And even Woodstock wasn't as eclectic because Woodstock was pretty much all rock."

Lollapalooza's successful tour format inspired other popular tours and live events, especially in the mid-'90s. During the festival's break during the late '90s and early 00's, niche festivals like Ozzfest, Vans Warped Tour, and Lilith Fair stole the show. These festivals not only continued Lollapalooza's legacy by bringing diverse genres to cities across the country, but transformed the live music scene into a cultural phenomenon. 

While epic, genre-spanning weekend festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo have been raging since the early aughts, Lollapalooza first proved that a seemingly radical idea could grow and thrive. Incorporating a mix of rock, hip-hop, electronic, and alternative acts, inclusivity and mobility became a festival blueprint. Today, Lollapalooza is tapping into international audiences and local music scenes with versions of the festival in Argentina, Berlin, Stockholm, Paris, and even Mumbai. 

Lollapalooza's success proves that the media and music industry often don't realize the size and passion of certain scenes and subcultures until they're brought together in the right setting. By uniting diverse musical acts and their fans, Lollapalooza highlights eclectic talent but also shows just how much people crave that representation and diversity.

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