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Meet This Year's Album Of The Year Nominees | 2022 GRAMMYs Awards Show

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Meet This Year's Album Of The Year Nominees | 2022 GRAMMYs Awards Show

Here's who's up for the coveted GRAMMY for Album Of The Year at the 2022 GRAMMYs Awards Show: Jon Batiste, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, Billie Eilish, H.E.R., Lil Nas X, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift and Kanye West

GRAMMYs/Nov 23, 2021 - 10:53 pm

Editor's Note: The 2022 GRAMMYs Awards show, officially known as the 64th GRAMMY Awards, <a href="https://www.grammy.com/grammys/news/2022-grammys-awards-64th-new-air-show-date-location-las-vegas-april-3-announcement "https://www.grammy.com/grammys/news/2022-grammys-awards-64th-new-air-show-date-location-las-vegas-april-3-announcement"">has been rescheduled to Sunday, April 3, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The below article was updated on Tuesday, Jan. 18, to reflect the new show date and location.

The GRAMMY for Album Of The Year is one of the most prestigious and coveted awards a musician can receive. At the 2022 GRAMMYs Awards show, officially known as the 64th GRAMMY Awards, there will be some heady competition for the title.

For the 2022 GRAMMYs, Jon Batiste's WE ARE, Tony Bennett's and Lady Gaga's Love for Sale, Justin Bieber's Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe), Doja Cat's Planet Her (Deluxe), Billie Eilish's Happier Than Ever, H.E.R.'s Back of My Mind, Lil Nas X's Montero, Olivia Rodrigo's Sour, Taylor Swift's Evermore and Kanye West's Donda have been nominated for Album Of The Year.

Who will take home the golden gramophone in this most vaunted of categories? Will it be Bennett, who just gave the world his farewell gift? Lil Nas X, who metamorphosed from novelty act to a full-fledged, out-and-proud pop star? Perhaps Olivia Rodrigo, who synthesized pop-punk, emo and indie pop like few before her? Or any of the other luminaries on the list?

Ahead of the 2022 GRAMMYs ceremony on April 3, here's a rundown of the Album Of The Year nominees.

Nominations for the 2022 GRAMMYs Awards show are officially here! See the full list of nominations.\

 

Jon Batiste — WE ARE

The Stay Human bandleader works in a multitude of formats, from film soundtracks to American Symphony, an upcoming large-scale work at Carnegie Hall.

"I'm involved in so many different types of things that so much of my life is balancing the amount of things I have going on and maintaining artistic integrity and keeping my values intact," he told GRAMMY.com in 2021. "It's hard to even encapsulate in one presentation of a thought."

But as a plain old album artist, he's as inventive and luminous as ever — as attests his genre-straddling 2021 album WE ARE — which features other rootsy, GRAMMY-honored greats like PJ Morton, Trombone Shorty and the Hot 8 Brass Band.

Tracks like "FREEDOM," "TELL THE TRUTH" and the title track show that this unique American talent may be kaleidoscopic in his pursuits, but he's able to hone his multifarious talents to a fine point.

Read More: Jon Batiste Talks New Album We Are, His Brain-Breaking Itinerary & Achieving "Freedom" From Genre

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Love for Sale

After more than seven decades in the game, Bennett is hanging up his mic: the vocal jazz titan (and Frank Sinatra's BFF) recently retired at 95 due to his worsening Alzheimer's.

Before he did, though, the 18-time GRAMMY winner signed off with this classy program of well-worn Cole Porterstandards with Lady Gaga — herself a 12-time GRAMMY winner. 

"There's a lot about him that I miss because he's not the old Tony anymore," Bennett's wife, Susan Benedetto, recently expressed in light of his diagnosis. "But when he sings, he's the old Tony."

Indeed, Love for Sale is the work of an American icon not fading away, but going out on top — and Gaga's inspired counterpoint is a fundamental reason it works so well.

Take A Look Back: For The Record: The Liberating Joy Of Lady Gaga's Born This Way At 10

Justin Bieber — Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe)

The cherubic teenybopper turned mature artist made a quantum leap with his 2020 album Changes. And if its follow-up is any indicator, that momentum shows no signs of slowing.

Justice, which arrived in the spring of 2021, is where the two-time GRAMMY winner and 14-time nominee got rangier than ever and trumpeted his personal values loudest. No longer was he projecting a bad-boy image or a redemption arc, but simply being an artist.

On tracks like "As I Am," "Hold On" and "Peaches," Bieber came to the table with a clear message to the world — both personal and apropos to the wild world where he grew up in public.

Take A Look Back: The GRAMMY Oral History: Justin Bieber's Purpose

Doja Cat — Planet Her (Deluxe)

As pop trajectories go, Doja Cat has had one of the oddest in recent memory — the TikTok wunderkind undulating in a cow costume has now perforated the highest echelon of the music industry. But the mind-blowing success of Planet Her shows her zenith is still ahead of her.

With a little help from collaborators Young Thug, Ariana Grande, the Weeknd, J.I.D. and SZA, she cooks up an assemblage of pop pleasures, like "Payday," "Need to Know" and "Kiss Me More." With "Mooo!" in the rearview and a massive debut album under her belt, the world is Doja Cat's oyster.

Read More: From Meme Queen To Popstar: Revisiting Doja Cat's Inevitable Breakout

Billie Eilish — Happier Than Ever

It was anyone's guess where Eilish (and her talented brother FINNEAS) could have gone after When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, but the seven-time GRAMMY winner went deeper than any of us could have imagined.

With a dyed-blonde Billie on the cover and gems like "My Future,” "Your Power" and the title track in the grooves, Happier Than Ever is a masterclass in candor, restraint and elegance.

Happier Than Ever arguably crescendos with the interlude "Not My Responsibility," where Eilish has a few words for online vultures who judge her appearance — a musical mirror to the IDGAF approach she’s taken in this new era, kicking off with her viral Vogue cover story in May.

"Do my shoulders provoke you? Does my chest?/ Am I my stomach? My hips?" she asks in the track, in just above a whisper. "The body I was born with / Is it not what you wanted?"

Read More: Billie Eilish's Road To Happier Than Ever: How The Superstar Continues To Break Pop's Status Quo

H.E.R. — Back of My Mind

As the traditional template of a Prince-style triple threat goes, H.E.R. has the whole package. Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson is an equally talented singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Now, the four-time GRAMMY winner is out with her bold and revealing debut album (but third Album of the Year contender overall), Back of My Mind.

"I often say things that I think we're afraid to say," Wilson told MTV News in 2021. "I sing the things that are sometimes hard to articulate, the things that sit in the back of our minds that we don't pay much attention to." 

She's a smashing success at this spiritual work — personal-yet-universal tunes like "We Made It," "Bloody Waters" and "Hold On" express the hard emotions we're collectively feeling.

Take A Look Back: H.E.R. Wins Song Of The Year For "I Can't Breathe" | 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show

Lil Nas X — Montero

Some thought Lil Nas X had peaked with his Trent Reznor- and Atticus Ross-assisted "Old Town Road" and its various remixes — that his legacy would forever be hung on a single tune, "Mambo No. 5" or "Incense and Peppermints" style.

Of course, that's not what happened: The proudly gay and Black rapper, singer and songwriter let his critics eat crow with his debut album, Montero.

Colorful and heartfelt highlights like "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)," "Industry Baby" and "Thats What I Want" demonstrate that Lil Nas X has a multiplicity of roads ahead of him — all which lead straight into the heart of pop's future.

Take A Look Back: Lil Nas X, BTS & Billy Ray Cyrus Enter The "Old Town Road" Multiverse At The 2020 GRAMMYs

Olivia Rodrigo — Sour

"Driver's License" would be enough for any artist to hang their hat on, but it was only the beginning for Rodrigo. As it turns out, all the various subgenres of the iPod generation — indie pop, pop-punk, emo — are grist for the mill.

Her debut album, Sour, is a freewheeling, emotionally rending trip through all those styles and more, the work of an artist who arrived fully-formed just shy of her 18th birthday.

Rodrigo's myriad of influences aside — Paramore and Billie Eilish are just two of the artists swimming around her consciousness — there's no mistaking her for anyone else. And that has a lot to do with her music's depth of emotional information.

"I hope people know that deep down, all that I do is write songs and talk about how I feel, and that's the most important thing to me," Rodrigo told Teen Vogue in 2021. "Everything else, I think, is not so important."

Taylor Swift — Evermore

We're so deep into the Taylor's Version era — and punch-drunk from the 10-minute version of "All Too Well" — that it's worth reminding ourselves just how paradigm-shifting Folklore and Evermore were back in 2020. 

First, Swift ripped up the rulebook with Folklore, establishing her cottagecore aesthetic and deepening her storytelling acumen. Then she leaned into both even more — with a little help from go-to collaborators Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff.

"To put it plainly, we just couldn't stop writing songs," Swift said in a social media post. "To try and put it more poetically, it feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music."

Jewels like "Willow," "No Body, No Crime" (feat. Haim) and "Coney Island" (feat. the National)" show that Evermore doesn't suffer from sequelitis one iota — it's an equal and parallel force to its revelatory predecessor.

Read More: Taylor Swift's Road To Folklore: How The Superstar Evolved From 'Diaristic' Country Tunes To Her Most Progressive Music Yet

Kanye West — Donda

We only get one of these artists per generation — it was John Lennon, then Kurt Cobain, and now Kanye West.

Now that the compounding controversies, tabloid drama, on-and-off Drake beef and parade of album delaysare behind us, Donda reveals itself for what it is. Ye's latest is a messy, sprawling, experimental ode to grief and God from a Govinda-like searcher.

Follow the trajectory of these songs and you get a more-or-less clean arc from pure bluster ("I'm pulled over and I got priors!" from "Jail") to a plea for divine redemption ("Come and purify me, come and sanctify me/ You the air that I breathe, the ultra-ultralight beam," from "Come to Life.")

Take it all as a whole with the staggering, shocking performance-art events, and one message shines brightly through the smoke and mirrors: we can't do this on our own.

2022 GRAMMYs Awards Show: Complete Nominations List​

10 Songs That Show Doja Cat’s Rap Skills: From "Vegas" To "Tia Tamara" & "Rules"
Doja Cat

Photo: Christopher Polk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

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10 Songs That Show Doja Cat’s Rap Skills: From "Vegas" To "Tia Tamara" & "Rules"

Doja Cat’s rap skills are often overshadowed by her many other talents. Yet her bars are too solid to be negated, and her inventive vocal stylings worthy of adulation.

GRAMMYs/Jan 26, 2023 - 05:29 pm

Doja Cat is one of the most exciting talents of our time, and it’s partly thanks to her refusal to stick to one sound. A triple threat, the artist sings, raps and dances with a vigor that’s resulted in seven Top 10 hits and 16 GRAMMY nominations.

But due to the overwhelming popularity of her mainstream pop-forward smashes — including the twice-GRAMMY nominated "Say So," the SZA-assisted "Kiss Me More" (which scored the ladies their first win for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance last year) and her feature on Post Malone’s "I Like You (A Happier Song)" — Doja's rap skills often get overshadowed by her other talents.

Yet Doja Cat is no mere pop star. Her bars are too solid to be negated, and she currently has five 2023 GRAMMY nominations to prove it. Doja's Elvis original motion picture soundtrack cut "Vegas" earned a Best Rap Performance nod, while Planet Her single "Woman" (which fuses sensual Afrobeats with sharp hip-hop rhymes) has three nominations including Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Music Video and Record Of The Year.

In celebration of Doja Cat’s rap prowess, we’ve gathered her best rap songs, from solo album cuts to unforgettable guest features.

"Vegas" (2022)

What makes Doja Cat’s artistry so mesmerizing is the ease in which she floats from singing to spitting. On "Vegas," the surefire highlight from last year’s Elvis soundtrack, her delicate vocals play a supporting role in amplifying her fiery bars. Her rapping is the star of the show as she unleashes fury at an ex-lover who did her wrong: "Had your ass sittin' first class with your burnt ass out in Abu Dhabi / Coulda been what we shoulda been but you lost a bet."

"Vegas" is a perfect marriage of historical homage (it chops up Shonka Dukureh’s cover of Big Mama Thornton’s original rendition of "Hound Dog") and millennial s— talking that led to a Best Rap Performance nomination at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

"Do It" Remix - Chloe x Halle (2020)

Chloe x Halle gathered an all-star lineup of women rappers for the remix to their sultry hit single "Do It." While the City Girls and Latto brought their own heat, Doja Cat stole the show. Appointed the opening verse, the artist rides the twinkling beat effortlessly but also brings her signature cheeky energy (she literally coughs in the middle of the verse). It leaves you wondering why Doja wasn’t secured for the original version in the first place.

"Tia Tamera" feat. Rico Nasty (2019)

What makes Doja Cat so endearing is that she isn’t afraid to get weird. So when she called upon fellow rapper Rico Nasty for "Tia Tamera" — a track on the deluxe edition Amala, her debut album — we knew we were going to be in for a wild ride. The pair balances their kitschy flows and sheer silliness (Doja is comparing her breasts to the iconic ‘90s twins) with impressive wordplay ("Dug in the guts and I skeet her") to remind you how much they take their rapping seriously.

The Roxana Baldovin-directed video revs up the raucous factor with a neon-colored, ‘90s-inspired explosion featuring homages to "Sister, Sister," Lisa Frank and Nickelodeon’s "Double Dare" game show.

"Rules" (2019)

Doja Cat’s rapping often gets compared to Kendrick Lamar for her ability to twist her vocal stylings to invent new effects. On "Rules," Doja Cat’s timbre creates an earworm rollercoaster, leaping from a helium-like tone to velvety seduction.

The Hot Pink song is also one of her most serious, which forces you to pay attention to her lyrical adaptability. "Said play with my p—y/ But don’t play with my emotions," she commands over a Western-inspired production. And better believe listeners obliged. 

"Need To Know" (2021)

The GRAMMY-nominated Planet Her was an adventure into Doja’s kooky world, and "Need To Know" was the spaceship to launch us into the stratosphere. Doja Cat transforms into a full alien as she rides on icy synths and crashing snares. It’s maddening how she confidently jumps from cocky ("I don’t play with my pen / I mean what I write") to erotic "Oh, wait, you a fan of the magic? / Poof, p—y like an Alakazam" while never losing her sense of humor. It comes as no surprise that "Need To Know" earned a Best Melodic Rap Performance nomination at the 2022 GRAMMYs.

"Up And Down"  (2021)

Doja Cat loves teasing her fans on social media, often sharing songs that she’s working on but likely won't release. Luckily, she gifted listeners with "Up And Down," which she first previewed during an Instagram Live in 2018. She recorded the song in real time, but fans had to hold their breath for three years to hear the official version on the deluxe edition of Planet Her. The wait was worth it, of course, as Doja’s staccato flow and signature cheekiness ("Y'all ain't s— but I flush") still sounded fresh.

"Pu**y Talk - City Girls (2020)

City Girls and Doja Cat are all known for unapologetic praising the power of the woman, so it was only a matter of time when they linked up for this raunchy banger. There is nothing subtle about the song, as Miami-based City Girls explicitly stating how wealthy they need their sexual partners to be. Doja Cat holds her own, dishing a platter of R-rated afterhours innuendos that would make Lil Kim' proud.

"Best Friend" - Saweetie (2021)

You know the musical chemistry is undeniable when it scores you a GRAMMY nomination for Best Rap Song. That’s the case for Saweetie and Doja Cat, whose "Best Friend" was filled to the brim with feel-good energy. The single is all about celebrating friendship and sisterhood, and the song poses the two in an unofficial competition on who can give the other the most compliments. Doja Cat serves double-duty on the twerk-friendly chorus and a verse that shows she’s a ride-or-die friend: "That's my best friend, if you need a freak / I ain't dumb, but motherf—er, she my Tweedledee."

"Make That Cake" Remix - LunchMoney Lewis (2019)

LunchMoney Lewis’ "Make That Cake" single didn’t gather much attention when it first dropped in the summer of 2019, but that all changed when he called upon Doja Cat for the remix not too longer after. Often credited as the artist’s most underrated guest features, it’s the best showcase of her clever and technical wordplay. "Mark my words, hit a billion like I'm Mark Zucker / Big news, Takanawa, Tom Tucker," she spits, making a handful of pop culture references (the Facebook CEO’s wealth, Family Guy news reporters and "zucker" translating to "sugar" in German) in a single bar.

"Get Into It (Yuh)"  (2021)

Nicki Minaj is a big influence on Doja Cat’s love for rap. After their "Say So" remix earned both of them their first No. 1 hit, Doja Cat continued to pay homage with "Get Into It (Yuh)."

Minaj is known for her frenetic and unpredictable style, and on the Planet Her highlight Doja Cat channels her inner Barb. Her quickfire flow is downright dizzying, taking brief pauses to catch her breath before hopping right back into her quirky wordplay. "Thank you, Nicki, I love you," she sweetly exclaims in the song’s outro. There’s no doubt she made the millennial Queen of Rap proud.

The Official 2023 GRAMMYs Playlist Is Here: Listen To 115 Songs By Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Bad Bunny, Kendrick Lamar & More

The Taylor Swift Essentials: 13 Songs That Display Her Storytelling Prowess And Genre-Bouncing Genius
Taylor Swift in 2021, 2013, 2010, 2016, and 2009

PHOTOS (CLOCKWISE, L-R): KEVIN MAZUR/GETTY IMAGES FOR THE RECORDING ACADEMY, JEFF KRAVITZ/FILMMAGIC, MICHAEL CAULFIELD/GETTY IMAGES, CLIFF LIPSON/CBS VIA GETTY IMAGES, KEVIN MAZUR/WIREIMAGE

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The Taylor Swift Essentials: 13 Songs That Display Her Storytelling Prowess And Genre-Bouncing Genius

Ahead of the 2023 GRAMMYs on Feb. 5 and Taylor Swift's "The Eras Tour" kicking off in March, revisit these 13 hits and beloved classics by the 11-time GRAMMY winner.

GRAMMYs/Jan 26, 2023 - 04:00 pm

We're all under Taylor Swift's spell. From her poppy radio hits to her crying-on-the-floor anthems, her discography is as enthralling as it is extensive. She enchants with stories about not just heartbreak and lost loves, but also about wider reflections on life — self-worth, fame, politics, family, moving on, change.

Though Swift emerged as a country icon in high school, she has leapt across genres with ease in the years since, mastering them as well as shaping them. Whether she's busy conquering synth pop or molding indie folk, her songwriting cultivates a divine magic, one that merges reality and fiction with profound intimacy.

After expanding her sonic universe further with Midnights last year, Swift will kick off her "Eras Tour" in March. Simply the name of her tour indicates the expanse and power of her musical career thus far: as she bridges her eras, she builds her legacy.

Her legacy receives a unique nod through her four nominations for the 2023 GRAMMYs: while Swift is nominated for her Where The Crawdads Sing track, "Carolina," she's also nominated for songs that she wrote years ago, around the time of her original Red release. And just this month, Midnights' "Anti-Hero" broke Swift's personal record for her longest-running No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, further proving that she hasn't lost her touch.

By cherishing her past while continuing to mold her musical future, Swift strikingly dominates with staying power. Ahead of the 2023 GRAMMYs and Swift's upcoming "The Eras Tour," here are 13 tracks that highlight Swift's evolution up to Midnights, honoring her trailblazing creativity and versatility.

"Our Song," Taylor Swift (2006)

A song about a song, how meta of Swift. One of her earliest meta songwriting moves, "Our Song" encapsulates a relationship's everlasting beauty with the warm breeziness of riding shotgun. Its lighthearted conversational lyricism emits an infectious joy that helped introduce Swift as a songwriter who is both relatable and captivating.

The banjo-led tune establishes the singer's country roots with a casual, but vivid image: Swift grinning with her elbow on the car door, hair windswept with the windows down. She may have written "Our Song" for a talent show back in high school, but Swift clearly had the songwriting prowess of a superstar — one that grew well beyond freshman year.

"White Horse," Fearless (2008)

Just two tracks after the whirlwind romance of "Love Story," Swift finds herself closing her fairytale storybook to disappointment. While "White Horse" sees the singer question her self-worth and cradle her crushed dreams, the heartbreaking track ended up earning Swift two GRAMMY Awards for Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 2010. (The singer scored her first GRAMMY wins that year, taking home four GRAMMYs total. To date, Taylor Swift has won 11 GRAMMYs and received 42 nominations overall.)

Although the acoustic ballad wallows in sorrow, gloom eventually blooms into a necessary epiphany: "I'm gonna find someone someday who might actually treat me well," Swift realizes in the final chorus. In this way, "White Horse" prevails as one of the singer's most powerful ballads to date — and judging by what Swift has said about Midnights track "Lavender Haze," that realization has come true.

"Forever & Always," Fearless (2008)

"Forever & Always" is arguably one of Fearless' staple tracks, but what many fans may not know is that the timeless track almost didn't make the album. The pop-rock anthem track sees Swift denounce a hypocritical ex who misled her, and she criticizes them with a slew of questions she already knows the answers to: "Were you just kidding?" "Was I out of line?" "Did you forget everything?" From distress to confusion to anger, the song bursts with warranted rage at a betrayal, cementing Swift as a master of channeling heartbreak.

"Enchanted," Speak Now (2010)

Long before "Enchanted" spiraled into one of Swift's many viral TikTok moments, the Speak Now deep cut bewitched listeners from the second it arrived more than a decade ago. The song hums with anticipation, with early acoustic guitar later giving way to overwhelming yearning and anthemic production.

The way the song progresses is almost like a fairytale, starting with a longing stare and playful conversation before ending with a rosy-cheeked walk home. It's a near-perfect display of Swift's ability to capture an incisive, fleeting romance in song, from the smitten lyrics to cinematic production. And though the love song serves more of a captivating cliffhanger than a finished chapter, its story still leaves listeners blushing all the way home.

"Back To December," Speak Now (2010)

On Speak Now's "Back to December," Swift sifts through wilting roses and missed birthdays to unearth a sorrowful confession. As she comes to terms with her regret over ending a healthy relationship, the track swells with guilt and sincerity. While many of Swift's preceding romantic songs were characterized by longing or criticism, "Back to December" takes the rare form of a bittersweet, candid apology that exhibits maturity and grace.

"Mean," Speak Now (2010)

Complete with banjo and fiddle, "Mean" isn't just the only country-driven track on Speak Now, but it's also one of the last truly classic country songs of her catalog. The album's spunky sixth track goes down as one of Swift's most beautifully berating to date — even alongside "Look What You Made Me Do," "Bad Blood," and "Picture to Burn" — as she lambastes a cruel critic and realizes her self-worth.

Ironically, the Swift track that most put haters on blast is one of her most critically acclaimed, as the song won Swift two GRAMMY Awards for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song in 2012. "Mean" also thrives as a manifestation — she has certainly become big enough that they can't hit her.

"Blank Space," 1989 (2014)

Nice to meet you, where you been? Swift's 1989 era submerged the singer in heavy synth and kaleidoscopic pop, and the record's exuberant second single "Blank Space" best flaunts Swift's multifaceted artist persona. The illustrious pop song satirizes the media's image of Swift as a serial dater, coasting with a sultry liveliness before escalating into ferocity.

Swift is scathingly and brilliantly self-aware as she acknowledges the world's view of her reputation: "Got a long list of ex-lovers/ They'll tell you I'm insane/ 'Cause you know I love the players/ And you love the game."

She continued poking fun at the "crazy ex-girlfriend" trope in the music video, from wrecking her former lover's car to setting his clothes on fire. The cleverly self-deprecating narrative (and genius visual) helped "Blank Space" become Swift's biggest streaming song to date, garnering a whopping 3 billion views on YouTube alone. 

Accolades aside, "Blank Space" marked an important turning point for Swift. It was the first time she used her autobiographical songwriting style to take the power back — and most importantly, prove that no matter what is said about her, she'll keep cranking out the hits.

"Don't Blame Me," reputation (2017)

Defiance defines "Don't Blame Me," the fourth track from Swift's intrepid — and perhaps most unexpected — album reputation. The track personifies catharsis, uplifted by heavy bass and hard-hitting synth. Although the song is loosely about an intoxicating love, its ambition also represents Swift reclaiming her narrative once again.

Drawing comparisons to Madonna's "Like a Prayer" and Hozier's "Take Me to Church," the song marks more than moody melodrama, but shamelessly moving forward. Amid public quarrels with other celebrities — as well as the tabloids' obsession with her personal life — she makes a very definitive statement: don't blame her.

"Cruel Summer," Lover (2019)

"Cruel Summer" strikes Swift's discography in a zealous way, recalling the dreamy worlds of 1989's "Style" or reputation's "Getaway Car." The song sees Swift reminisce about a whirlwind summer romance with bittersweet intensity.

The track's assertive, immaculate electropop writhes irresistibly as Swift navigates the stark pain of secrets and love. Everything about "Cruel Summer" is sharp and exquisite, and the way its bridge bursts with melodramatic vigor is enough alone to make this a vital Swift track, even if it wasn't a single.

"the last great american dynasty," folklore (2020)

"the last great american dynasty" flourishes as one of Swift's most lucid, exquisite storytelling ventures — and as any Swiftie knows, that's saying something.

Reading like a short story, the crisp indie track recounts the life of American socialite Rebekah Harkness, one of the former owners of Swift's Rhode Island mansion. Swift weaves the past and present together seamlessly, drawing parallels between herself and Harkness with vivid detail and keen clarity. On this folklore track, Swift presents a refreshing creative vision by flaunting a new, innovative facet of her songwriting prowess.

"betty," folklore (2020)

Swift's first indie-folk foray, folklore, spins a tantalizing fictional love triangle across three tracks: "cardigan," "august," and "betty." The latter shimmers with reflective hope and heartache from the perspective of a character named James.

The apologetic, harmonica-driven folk rock track is reminiscent of Swift's earlier, country-rooted music — yet, the way its intricate narration uniquely interlocks with other album tracks is more characteristic of Swift's modern storytelling craft. Swinging between lighthearted and forlorn, "betty" cements Swift as a mystical mastermind.

"All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)," Red (Taylor's Version) (2021)

Swift's "All Too Well (10 Minute Version)" might very well be her magnum opus. Although the original beloved song from Red was never released as a single, it emerged as a fan favorite for its tragic retelling of visceral heartbreak. And once Swift released a new — and much longer — 10-minute edition of the gut-wrenching track on Red (Taylor's Version) nearly a decade later, it almost instantly became the fan favorite.

The song broke the Guinness World Record for being the longest song to reach No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 (beating out Don McLean's "American Pie"!), and its cinematic music video "All Too Well: The Short Film" continued to stretch the Swift multiverse. With lucid lyricism, cathartic storytelling, and riveting melodies, "All Too Well (10 Minute Version)" triumphs as the pinnacle example of everything that makes Swift a revered songwriter and certified star — one who continues to shine like an ever-lovely jewel.

"Anti-Hero," Midnights (2022)

"It's me, hi, I'm the problem, it's me," Swift sighs on "Anti-Hero." Self-hatred takes center stage on the lead single from Midnights, inspired by the singer's insecurities, nightmares and fear of depersonalization.

Over a swirl of steady upbeat production, the pop song draws comparisons to the heartbreaking honesty of Lover's "The Archer." Her poetic candor takes on a self-destructive quality ("I'll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror," she admits) that conveys an all-consuming loneliness — and at the same time, stark self-awareness.

Yet, Swift isn't an anti-hero, she's a mastermind. Serving as a "guided tour" of the things she tends to hate about herself, "Anti-Hero" spotlights not only the weight of Swift's vulnerability, but also its power. This capability transcends beyond Midnights; her sweeping creative force stretches across her past records and conquered genres. And even despite any insecurities, her influence has only continued to grow — showing that Taylor Swift will never go out of style.

2022 In Review: 8 Trends That Defined Pop Music

A Look Inside The 2023 Recording Academy Nashville Chapter Nominee Celebration, A Tribute To Its Supportive Musical Community
(L-R) Nashville Chapter Senior Executive Director Alicia Warwick, Lori McKenna, Molly Tuttle, Laura Veltz, Hillary Scott, Chapter President Ruby Amanfu

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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A Look Inside The 2023 Recording Academy Nashville Chapter Nominee Celebration, A Tribute To Its Supportive Musical Community

Two weeks before the 2023 GRAMMYs, the Recording Academy's Nashville Chapter celebrated its impressive 91 nominees with a slew of energetic performances and happy reunions.

GRAMMYs/Jan 25, 2023 - 12:10 am

If there's one way to sum up the Nashville Chapter of the Recording Academy, Chapter President, Ruby Amanfu, says it best: "It's about camaraderie, not competition."

That was exactly the feeling that resonated on Jan. 18, when Chapter members came together for the Nashville Chapter Nominee Celebration, honoring its 2023 GRAMMYs nominees. The three-hour event featured hors d'oeuvres (including hot chicken biscuits, a Nashville staple, and perhaps the largest charcuterie board you'll ever see), an open bar with signature cocktails from GRAMMYs sponsor Grey Goose, a red carpet, a photo booth, and performances from GRAMMY-winning Chapter members — and, of course, plenty of camaraderie.

"Nashville is really excellent at loving itself, in a lovely way. Supporting itself, and being proud of each other," Laura Veltz, one of the inaugural nominees in the new Songwriter Of The Year, Non-Classical category, told GRAMMY.com on the red carpet. "Everyone's coming with me, because this is validating us as a community."

Love and respect was abundant as attendees mingled — so much so that it was hard to tell who were the celebrators and who were the celebratees (well, other than silver gramophone pins that nominees sported). But it's quite possible that almost everyone in the room was nominated, because the Nashville Chapter boasts 91 nominees at the 2023 GRAMMYs. 

As Amanfu noted before performers took the stage, the Nashville Chapter is the leader in 2023 GRAMMY nominations in the Americana, Bluegrass, Gospel, Contemporary Christian, and Country Fields; the Chapter also received nominations in all four General Field categories, as well as a wide array of categories from Best Contemporary Blues Album to Best Metal Performance.

The Chapter's diversity was celebrated with performances from rising pop singer/songwriter Morgxn, rap multihyphenate Derek Minor, spoken word artists S-Wrap and Minton Sparks, renowned bassist/songwriter Tommy Sims, country singer/songwriter Maggie Rose, banjo star Alison Brown, and Charles Kelley of country trio Lady A.

Each performer delivered covers of previous GRAMMY-winning and -nominated tunes, including Song Of The Year winners like Lorde's "Royals," Adele's "Rollin' in the Deep" and Eric Clapton's "Change the World" — the latter of which was co-written by Sims. (Musicians Tyler Cain, Rob Cureton, Jon Lucas, and Marcus Perry served as the backing band; three-time GRAMMY-winning producer Shannon Sanders emceed the event.)

Even those who are nominees couldn't help but salute other artists, including hitmaking songwriters Liz Rose and Lori McKenna, who walked the red carpet together. Each of them are nominated for a Taylor Swift song this year, Rose for Song Of The Year nominee "All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (The Short Film)," and McKenna for Best Country Song nominee "I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor's Version) [From the Vault]."

Rose touted Swift's efforts in creating a new world around the fan-favorite track — which also featured a short film that is nominated for Best Music Video — as well as her ability as a writer. "She's one of the biggest artists in the world, but she's also one of the best songwriters that ever lived, and we will always say that," Rose says. "For her to be recognized as a songwriter in the country category and overall is huge."

McKenna particularly loved the country recognition, as it's only Swift's second nomination in the Country Field since she transitioned to pop in 2014. (Swift was nominated for Best Country Song in 2018 for Little Big Town's "Better Man," which she wrote herself.) 

"I was just kind of honored that the country community understood that she's part of our genre, she's part of our world," McKenna says. "We're always going to love our Taylor Swift, and she's always going to love us."

Read More: A Look At The Nominees For Song Of The Year At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

Country veteran Bill Anderson was celebrating his first nomination as an artist, Best American Roots Performance for his song "Someday It'll All Make Sense (Bluegrass Version)" with Dolly Parton. Though Parton couldn't be there to toast with him, Anderson says she did send him a note upon their nomination, and she was top of mind as he discussed the honor. 

"If her name hadn't been attached to this, I probably wouldn't have this nomination," he says. "So thank you, Dolly, wherever you are."

The love for one another even rang true on stage, as Charles Kelley gave a congratulatory shout-out to his Lady A bandmate Hillary Scott — whom he referred to as "my family" — before closing out the event with a rendition of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." This year, Scott is nominated alongside two male artists that aren't her bandmates, but are good friends, Christian pop duo FOR KING & COUNTRY. (Their collaboration "For God Is With Us" is nominated for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song.)

Once the performances finished, several attendees stuck around — taking photos together, congratulating each other and giving each other hugs. After all, it's all about the camaraderie, not the competition. 

The Official 2023 GRAMMYs Playlist Is Here: Listen To 115 Songs By Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Bad Bunny, Kendrick Lamar & More

Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: GAYLE On The Real-Life Pain Behind "abcdefu," Nashville Beginnings And Taylor Swift
GAYLE

Photo: Acacia Evans

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Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: GAYLE On The Real-Life Pain Behind "abcdefu," Nashville Beginnings And Taylor Swift

GAYLE’s very first label release became a viral smash and landed her a GRAMMY nomination for Song Of The Year. Now, the teenage star is ready for her next chapter, including a debut album and tour with Taylor Swift.

GRAMMYs/Jan 16, 2023 - 05:00 pm

If you've had an issue with an ex in the past 18 months, GAYLE has probably provided some catharsis for you.

Born Taylor Gayle Rutherford, she's the singer behind 'abcdefu,' a kiss-off anthem that offers both deep emotion and inherent irreverence. And just as much as the song offered release for many listeners, it did for GAYLE herself, too.

The pop smash was based on a real-life relationship and subsequent heartbreak GAYLE would later refer to as toxic — making the breakup tune a powerful call for independence as well as an outright display of both anger and the strength of moving on. 

"abcdefu" was also a depiction of teenage angst, as GAYLE was just 16 when she co-wrote the song as a fledgling artist in Nashville. Two years later, the song helped the now 18-year-old GAYLE earn her first GRAMMY nomination, and a coveted one at that: Song Of The Year. 

The nomination comes on the heels of monumental commercial success for the young singer, with her hit going triple platinum, topping Billboard’s Global 200 chart and garnering more than a billion streams. Along the way, she’s released her first two EPS (the aptly-titled A Study of the Human Experience, Volumes One and Two). And just recently, Taylor Swift invited her to open several dates on the superstar’s highly anticipated (and Ticketmaster-breaking) Eras Tour, which kicks off in March.

Ahead of the 2023 GRAMMY Awards, GAYLE gets candid about the song that changed her life, the creative community in Nashville and what’s next. 

Tell me about the genesis of "abcdefu" — where were you when it came together?

We were in Nashville, Tennessee. It was me and [co-writer] Dave Pittenger, along with Sara Davis, who I [have been] writing with since I was 12 and she was 15. Me and Sara were two young girls in Nashville who thought, We can curse in our songs and our moms won’t get mad at us? This is cool

We’d write songs in my bedroom, but after a couple years of writing with each other, we started teaming up with producers and writing with guitars and pianos. We started writing with Dave, who had a lot of success with country music and less so pop, so we’d just write songs on a guitar. 

Normally I come in with a vision, because I feel it’s your job as an artist to lead writers where you want to go. But it was in the middle of COVID, and this was my first in-person write in a long time. I said, "I have to be honest, I have no ideas. I really hate being that person." Dave laughed and he said, "Well, I have a bunch." Thank God for him. 

For his first idea, he looked at us, looked back down and looked at us again and was like, "ABCD F— Off!" and me and Sara just burst out laughing. I had never heard that phrase.

The song centers on a breakup where you want nothing to do with your ex. Was there a real inspiration behind that?

My actual ex and my best friend hated each other; they had beef the whole entire time [my ex and I dated]. They never really hung out and I kept them very separated. I was also in a very self-deprecating place the whole entire relationship. 

So you had all of this bottled-up energy you brought into the song?

I had written a million songs about this person, but I was really angry at him and was angry at the people who enabled him and his behavior. One of the reasons why he treats people improperly is because he was treated improperly. So I was mad at him and everyone who enabled him.

Did he actually have a dog?

He does have a dog! It’s a Shih-Poo.

Does this person know the song is about him, and have you heard from him?

I have not heard from him. I blocked him in February 2021, after hitting a point where I said, "I have to be done." It was a very specific moment in time, and I hope he has a happy life. I just want to be as far away from him as possible. I also don’t get any validation from him thinking anything I’m doing is impressive, even if he looked at the charts. 

When did you realize your life was going to change thanks to the success of "abcdefu?"

The first moment I knew something was happening was when it started to hit the Shazam charts in other countries, like Poland or South Korea. That meant it was playing in random places and people were wondering what the song was. I think it was in the top five in Mexico, and it was weird to be in Nashville and know that it was playing somewhere else in a random coffeeshop.

[When a song is rising like that,] whenever it does one thing you hope it does another thing. If it gets on a playlist, you hope it goes higher up on that playlist. So for a while I was playing that game. 

I remember the day it hit the Spotify playlist Today’s Top Hits. I was on tour with the band Winnetka Bowling League as their opener in small clubs. We were just jumping up and down backstage, so excited that it would reach that. But when it hit the radio, I knew that things were going to be different.

You’re also 18 years old experiencing all of this, but at the same time have been working at it for a while. Can you tell me about growing up with these dreams and creative goals, which you’re now experiencing the materialization of?

It’s interesting; why you get into music at 10 is a very different reason why you stay in it at 18. I’m very aware that I’m living my dreams and getting to do all the things I wanted to do as a kid, but at the same time, it’s very real, and there are difficulties that come with those things that I guess I didn’t always expect. [My success] has changed my life and benefited me in so many ways, but it also gave me new difficulties that I have to deal with. 

After this past year, what I’m grateful for is that nobody can make me do something I don’t want to do. The music that I’m making, and the things that I’m doing, I really love and stand behind. I’m trying to appreciate things that happen in the moment and not be too scared for my future as well. I know I have time. 

I just happened to put out my first song through a label that did what it did, and that is amazing. Now I want to build a career that I can stick with. So it’s very exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Sometimes it’s hard to breathe, but I’m very hopeful for the next year. 

You’ve said in the past that you feel kind of like an underdog in the sense that you’re a pop artist coming from Nashville, which is so known for its country scene. Can you elaborate on that?

It’s interesting because there is a lot of pop music in Nashville, and now more than ever, the lines are being blurred on genres. But one thing I really appreciate about the city is how the community really loves you if you’re developing and have nothing. I’ve never felt like I had more of a family than when I was up-and-coming here. I came to Nashville when I was 12, and found people I felt so connected to because we had this unexplainable and undying love and passion for music — [and we] couldn’t help but be a crazy person and move here. 

Also, Nashville for a 12 year old is very different than LA for a 12 year old. In LA, people would always tell me who I was — "You’re this, you’re that." But any meeting I ever had in Nashville was, "Tell me who you are." I needed to find out who I was there in order to work in other places. It’s a community of writers who want to collaborate with each other, and that’s something really beautiful about the Nashville scene. 

You’re now about to join Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour as an opener, one of the most culturally significant tours in many years. What does that mean to you, both personally and as an artist?

She’s been in the music industry for 15 years, so I was 3 when she got her start. As a young, female pop songwriter in Nashville, it means the absolute world that she’d believe in me enough to put me on that tour. 

She’s been such an inspiration my entire time in Nashville, especially since I started out in country music and moved over to pop. I didn’t even know that was a possibility until I saw Taylor do that very successfully. I don’t know if my mom would have even moved me to Nashville if she didn’t see Taylor Swift’s parents do it first. 

Has she ever given you advice?

It’s never been straightforward advice, but more about just the struggles beginning in music. When I met her, I genuinely was just so happy to have the opportunity to thank her for everything she’s done in the Nashville scene, and the writing community there as an iconic representative. 

I barely know what I’m doing and I feel no guarantees about my future. I’m trying to work on having a stable career. I’ve been in the music industry for a year and I’m making my first album. So it’s like, "I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m really scared and tired" and she’s like "It’s okay, baby." She is the biggest star in the world, and [she understands] that is a double-edged sword. 

She knows what it's like to be a young, up-and-coming woman in the industry with social media; it’s an exciting and terrifying time where the highs are really high and the lows are really low. For her to just take me under her wing in any way with belief, hope and inspiration and kindness [is amazing]. Because when all is said and done, [she sees] I’m just a teenage girl who really loves music. 

A Look At The Nominees For Song Of The Year At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards