(Source Photos L - R): Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp; Jason Koerner/Getty Images; Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for iHeartRadio; Marc Grimwade/WireImage; Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
(L - R): Machine Gun Kelly, Charli XCX, Saweetie, Earl Sweatshirt, Rosalía
30 Must-Hear Albums In 2022: Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, Rosalía, Machine Gun Kelly, Charli XCX, Saweetie & More
2022 has no shortage of new albums to keep your shuffle hard at work. GRAMMY.com compiled a list of 30 upcoming releases — from Kid Cudi, Earl Sweatshirt, Combo Chimbita, Dolly Parton, and Guns N' Roses — to keep you moving in the new year.
Editor's Note: This piece has been updated to reflect release dates and album titles announced after publishing.
While it may feel like there's not much to look forward to during yet another wave of COVID-19, music fans around the world are eagerly waiting to load their playlists with new releases as 2022 gets underway.
And there's certainly plenty to look forward to: Along with The Weeknd, who released his fifth studio album, Dawn FM, on Jan. 7, superstars like Machine Gun Kelly, Camila Cabello, Dolly Parton, Guns N' Roses, and Rosalía have all announced or teased albums coming this year.
The pandemic may have slowed things down, but there's no stopping artists in 2022. Keep an eye out for these 30 albums from ENHYPEN, Mitski, Saweetie, Bastille, and many more.
The Weeknd, Dawn FM
Release date: Jan. 7
Only a year removed from his incendiary Super Bowl Halftime Show performance, the crowned pop prince of Canada returns with the semi-surprise Dawn FM, a hotly anticipated follow-up to his record-breaking 2020 release, After Hours (you know, the one with "Blinding Lights" and "Save Your Tears" on it).
As The Weeknd's album teasers promised, Dawn FM delivered sinister synthesizers, a vocal appearance from Jim Carrey, and old-man makeup that's arguably only slightly less distressing than his wax-faced After Hours persona.Max Martin is back (on lead single "Take My Breath"), and other guests include Tyler, the Creator and Oneohtrix Point Never.
As for what the three-time GRAMMY winner wants his listeners to take away from his latest work? "Picture the album being like the listener is dead," The Weeknd told Billboard. Capisce? — Brennan Carley
ENHYPEN, DIMENSION : ANSWER
Release date: January 10
Seven-piece boy group ENHYPEN may still be relatively new to the K-pop scene (the band formed in 2020 on the Korean survival competition show "I-Land"), but they're already making moves to put themselves in the ranks of BTS and EXO. Their latest release, DIMENSION : ANSWER, marks the group's first studio repackage album, expanding on their 2021 debut set, DIMENSION : DILEMMA.
DIMENSION : ANSWER will feature three new tracks,: "Polaroid Love," "Outro : Day 2," and lead single "Blessed-Cursed." Fans got a first taste of the three B-sides thanks to an album preview the group released on Jan. 4, which teased a wide array of sounds: punchy pop-sprinkled production on "Polaroid Love," sultry R&B vocals with "Outro : Day 2," and guitar-heavy rock on "Blessed-Cursed." With such vast musical prowess, DIMENSION : ANSWER may just be the group's ticket to K-pop superstardom. — Taylor Weatherby
Cordae, From a Bird's Eye View
Release date: Jan. 14
Cordae set the bar high with his GRAMMY-nominated debut album The Lost Boy and emerged as one of the most exciting new talents of 2019, making his return to the game with his hotly anticipated second album.
The Maryland-raised rapper held fans over with his Just Until… EP last April before launching into his album rollout with the braggadocious hit, "Super" and a collaboration with Lil Wayne, "Sinister." The 24-year-old wordsmith — known for his reflective, carefully-crafted raps — said From a Bird's Eye View was inspired by "a life-changing trip to Africa, enduring the loss of a friend gone too soon and evolving as an artist and a man."
The album will also mark Cordae's first full-length effort since the official disbanding of his YBN collective in 2020. — Victoria Moorwood
Animal Collective, Time Skiffs
Release date: Feb. 4
Followers of experimental pop adventurers Animal Collective have waited six years for a new album following 2016's Painting With. At last, the four-piece will release Time Skiffs, an album full of otherworldly harmonies and mind-opening melodies.
Animal Collective has released two singles from the LP so far: the gently psychedelic "Prester John" and the equally trippy "Walker." The latter is a tribute to Scott Walker, the prolific singer-songwriter who died in 2019. Its beautifully intricate music video, directed by band member Dave Portner and his sister Abby, brings the Time Skiffs album cover to life in vivid detail. — Jack Tregoning
Avril Lavigne, Love Sux
Release date: Feb 25
Like everything Y2K, pop-punk is making a comeback. And nearly 20 years since the release of her seminal pop-punk debut Let Go, Avril Lavigne brings back her pop-punk princess persona in all its glory — combat boots and all. In early November, the "Sk8r Boi" singer shared her the angsty anthem "Bite Me," first new single in over two years, featuring Travis Barker.
With the new music, Lavigne also shared she had signed to the drummer extraordinaire's label DTA Records. Her seventh studio album is set to be the artist's first LP since her more traditional pop LP Head Above Water in 2019. — I.K.
Release date: Jan. 14
Like everyone else around the world, electronic shapeshifter Simon Green had a very unusual past two years. The British musician and DJ, better known as Bonobo, found himself grounded in his adopted home of Los Angeles, itching for new inspiration to get through the pandemic. His wanderings took him from a tent in the Californian desert to a new appreciation for modular synths back home in lockdown, all with a nervous eye on the precarious state of the world.
This activity fed into a flood of music which we'll soon hear on Bonobo's seventh studio album, Fragments, out on Ninja Tune. Fragments features guests including Jamila Woods, Joji and Kadhja Bonet, while channeling influences from UK bass, Detroit techno and global music through Bonobo's widescreen lens. The producer is already up for two Best Dance/Electronic Recording awards at this year's GRAMMYs, for "Heartbreak," his collaboration with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, and "Loom," with Ólafur Arnalds. Bonobo begins a tour of the US in February, giving fans a few precious weeks to soak up the album before its live debut. — J.T.
Earl Sweatshirt, SICK
Release date: Jan. 14
With a decade-plus of acclaimed projects such as 2018's Some Rap Songs, Earl Sweatshirt is both an underground hero and a critic's darling. He hasn't achieved the same level of mainstream success as former Odd Future colleagues Tyler, the Creator and Syd – which is fine with him.
Judging from SICK's lead track "2010," where he pays homage to his mother in cryptic terms, the 10-track album promises to be another collection of stylized verses, dusty beats and autobiographical confessions (albeit rendered in a clearer voice than his previous album, 2019's lo-fi affair Feet of Clay). As its title suggests, SICK was inspired by the pandemic. "My whole thing is grading things on the truth, you know what I mean? However expansive or detailed the truth is," he told Rolling Stone. — Mosi Reeves
iann dior, On To Better Things
Release date: January 21
After blasting onto the scene with his 24kgoldn team-up (and runaway smash) "Mood" in 2020, iann dior hasn't slowed down, releasing an EP and countless other collabs. On To Better Things marks dior's first full-length album since 2019, serving up 15 tracks that will help the rapper truly come into his own.
Like the Lil Uzi Vert-assisted "V12" and the racing single "Let You," On To Better Things will see dior further explore his capabilities as a rapper while also tapping into his alt-pop/rock sensibilities. Judging by his previous releases, dior won't be afraid to get raw and real on his latest project as he opens up about love, relationships and loyalty. There may be glimmers of hope on the album, though, as dior captioned a post teasing the album, "life is better now." — T.W.
Combo Chimbita, IRÉ
Release date: Jan. 28
The melding of cumbia beats and psychedelic vibes was embraced during the '70s by many pioneering outfits in Peru and Colombia. Since the release of their 2017 debut, New York quartet Combo Chimbita has built on that foundation, amping up the mystical tinge of its material through the soulful chanting of extraordinary vocalist Carolina Oliveros.
Always ready to speak up on social and political issues, Chimbita uses cumbia as a starting point, adding swashes of funk and soul, Afro guitar lines and atmospheric samples. The band's new album expands its palette, enhancing lead single "Oya" with a video shot at the ruins of Puerto Rico's abandoned Intercontinental Hotel. A tour with the awesomeLido Pimienta will follow soon. — Ernesto Lechner
Release date: January 2022
Anticipation surrounding Aaliyah's fourth album has been building since 2012, when Blackground Records released "Don't Think They Know," which paired the late singer's vocals with Chris Brown, and a Drake collaboration, "Enough Said." The long-awaited arrival of her back catalog to streaming last fall added fresh fuel for a project that has been controversial, with some diehard fans questioning whether it honors Aaliyah's legacy.
Unstoppable includes guests like Snoop Dogg, Future and Ne-Yo. The first single, a woozy ballad titled "Poison," features The Weeknd as well as lyrics originally written by the late Static Major. "Some of the people Aaliyah liked are on the album. She loved Snoop Dogg," Blackground CEO and Aaliyah's uncle Jomo Hankerson told Billboard. "Everything I do at Blackground is always with her in my heart and my mind." — M.R.
Bastille, Give Me the Future
Release date: Feb. 4
If the pandemic had even a glimmer of a bright side, it comes courtesy of musicians like Bastille pivoting and positioning their art to address the present, as Give Me the Future promises to do.
Bandleader Dan Smith had already begun work on the English pop-rock group's fourth album before COVID-19 threw a wrench in his plans, but the pandemic made the album's probing themes seem that much more prescient. Glistening songs like "Thelma + Louise" and the vocoded "Distorted Light Beam" dig more deeply into Bastille's exploration of escapism when the troubles of the world are thundering outside our windows, all with the help of new collaborators Rami Yacoub and One Republic's Ryan Tedder. We promise it's way more fun than it sounds. — B.C.
Mitski, Laurel Hell
Release date: Feb. 4
Mitski almost pressed pause on her music career which, according to a Rolling Stone interview, was "shaving away my soul little by little." After a final performance, "I would quit and find another life." Fortunately, though, Mitski has stuck with it.
Three years since the release of her fifth studio album Be the Cowboy, the indie singer-songwriter is set to share her forthcoming project Laurel Hell. While the majority of the LP was penned in 2018, it wasn't mixed until 2021, making it the longest the singer has spent on one of her records. What listeners can expect is a transformative set of songs that pair Mitski's signature vulnerability with uptempo dance beats and, ultimately, catharsis. — Ilana Kaplan
Guns N' Roses, Hard Skool EP
Release date: Feb. 25
In 2021, 36 years after the band first formed in the hard rock hotbed of Los Angeles, Guns N' Roses returned with two new singles. This productive streak was remarkable enough in itself given the group's notoriously haphazard release schedule. The singles "ABSUЯD" and "Hard Skool" are doubly remarkable, though, because they usher in a new EP that brings beloved members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan together again after 28 years.
Reinterpreted from the band's Chinese Democracy sessions, "ABSUЯD" features a raw, punk-tinged sound that surprised some fans before rewarding repeat listens. "Hard Skool," meanwhile, harkens back to the classic sound that Guns N' Roses perfected in the late 1980s. The Hard Skool EP will feature the two 2021 singles alongside live renditions of GNR favorites "Don't Cry" and "You're Crazy." To mark this new era, the band is touring arenas throughout 2022, reuniting Axl, Slash and Duff as a powerhouse onstage trio. — J.T.
Take a Look Back: Guns N' Roses' 'Appetite For Destruction' | For The Record
Charli XCX, CRASH
Release date: March 18
Pop polymorph Charli XCX has been promising fans her sellout era for months now ("tip for new artists: sell your soul for money and fame," she tweeted last July), ushered in with last summer's "Good Ones" and buoyed into the holidays with "New Shapes," a powerhouse team-up with Caroline Polachek and Christine and the Queens.
CRASH is the fifth and final album she owes Atlantic Records — a benchmark not lost on fans or Charli herself. For it, Charli promises edge-of-your-seat appearances from Rina Sawayama, frequent collaborator A. G. Cook, and frequent Weeknd cohort Oneohtrix Point Never. Come for the bloody album artwork, stay for the cheeky, self-aware pop concoctions contained within. — B.C.
Dolly Parton, Run, Rose, Run
Release date: March 2022
The beloved, multi-GRAMMY Award-winning singer-songwriter Dolly Parton has built a career as a trailblazer, so it stands to reason that her next musical effort would carry on that grand tradition. Run, Rose, Run is an album of original tunes taking its energetic moniker from a companion novel that Parton co-authored with the acclaimed writer James Patterson.
According to Parton, the accompanying album consists of "all new songs written based on the characters and situations in the book" and centers on a tale about a girl who treks to Nashville to pursue her dreams. Adds Patterson, "the mind-blowing thing about this project is that reading the novel is enhanced by listening to the album and vice versa." Both projects are dropping in tandem. It's a unique undertaking that celebrates a smoldering passion for music; but if you've been following the legend's career, would you expect anything less? — Rob LeDonne
Maren Morris, Humble Quest
Release date: March 25
GRAMMY-winning singer Maren Morris has conquered modern country music with her soulful solo material and even forayed into pop (just mentioning "The Middle" will glue its sticky chorus to your every waking moment for the next week). So whatever magic Morris might make with her highly anticipated third album, Humble Quest, is cause enough for celebration.
Morris kicked off her next LP with "Circles Around This Town," an expansive, freewheeling single that blends the echoing production of her 2016 debut HERO and super-personal lyrics of 2019's GIRL. The album will be Morris' first since the untimely 2019 passing of her longtime creative partner busbee, but her partnership with pop hitmaker Greg Kurstin (who produced "Circles Around This Town" as well as four GIRL tracks) hints that this next project is going to be a timeless trip and an emotional walloping. — B.C.
Thomas Rhett, Where We Started / Country Again: Side B
Release date: April 1 / Fall 2022
Though country music has always been the core of what Thomas Rhett has done since his debut album (2013's It Goes Like This), the star's 2021 set, Country Again: Side A, was more traditional than his past projects. Clearly his roots (along with the unexpected pandemic-induced downtime) sparked a bout of inspiration, as Rhett announced in November that he'll be releasing Side B as well as another LP, titled Where We Started, in 2022.
Surprisingly, Side B won't be coming first. But it will create one cohesive Country Again narrative once it arrives, as Rhett promised in an interview with Rolling Stone last year — though he did hint that Side B will feature production that's "a smidge more experimental" than Side A. His latest single, the wistful "Slow Down Summer" hints that Where We Started will also bring back more of the pop-leaning production he's incorporated in his previous albums.
Still, that doesn't mean he'll lose sight of the country boy that has been unleashed: In writing all of this music, Rhett told his producers (per Rolling Stone), "This is the direction I'm headed in, and I think I'm gonna be here for a long time." — T.W.
Jack White, Fear of the Dawn / Entering Heaven Alive
Release date: April 8 / July 22
Epic ambition fuels the very essence of rock 'n' roll and Jack White has embodied the genre's weakness for glamour, dissonance and excess since his days with The White Stripes. The reckless propulsion of "Over and Over and Over" — off 2018's Boarding House Reach — proved that he has kept the bravado in his songwriting very much alive.
2022 will find the multi-GRAMMY Award winning singer/guitarist releasing two full-length albums: Fear of the Dawn, led by the wonderfully bombastic single "Taking Me Back," will also include a collaboration with rapper Q-Tip. No details are available on July's Entering Heaven Alive, but the appearance of two albums in the same year is the kind of grandiloquent gesture that rock is in need of more than ever before. — E.L.
Swedish House Mafia, Paradise Again
Release date: TBA, ships April 15
When GRAMMY-nominated Swedish House Mafia announced they were getting back together (and this time for good), fans were cautiously optimistic. The trio of DJ-producers — Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell — promised a host of new music to mark their return, and so far they've kept to their word. The comeback began with the dark, guest-free "It Gets Better," which deviated from the big-room EDM sound championed by the Swedes up to their split in 2013.
From there, the trio delivered "Lifetime," featuring Ty Dolla $ign and 070 Shake, and "Moth to a Flame," featuring The Weeknd, which became their first major hit of the new era. This flurry of activity sets the stage for Swedish House Mafia's first full album, Paradise Again. As Ingrosso told NME, the album will combine their trademark "Scandinavian melodies with dark production and hard sounds." Starting July 2022, the DJs embark on their first tour in a decade, playing 44 dates throughout the US, UK and Europe. — J.T.
Jason Aldean, Georgia
Release date: April 22
Jumping on country music's 2021 double album trend, Jason Aldean issued Macon, the first half of his own two-disc set, Macon, Georgia, in November. The title is an homage to his hometown, which he refers to as a "melting pot" that shaped his music, according to Country Now. Yet, the 30-song project expands on Aldean's signature country-rock sound without steering too far away from what fans have grown to love, as evidenced with both Macon and Georgia's crooning lead single, "Whiskey Me Away."
Like its predecessor, Georgia will include 10 new songs and five live recordings of his biggest hits, essentially creating Aldean's first-ever live album.With the aptly titled track "Rock and Roll Cowboy" to boot, Georgia helps make Macon, Georgia a career highlight for Aldean. — T.W.
Machine Gun Kelly, Born with Horns
Release date: TBD
The upcoming sixth studio album from enigmatic rocker Machine Gun Kelly, ominously titled Born with Horns, was rumored to drop on New Year's Eve 2021, but it seems Kelly had a change of heart tweeting "See you in 2022." While the release date continues to be murky, there is some solid information about the highly anticipated fresh slate of music from the multi-hyphenate rockstar.
For one, the album is produced by fellow rock luminary Travis Barker and includes the decidedly dark single "Papercuts." "It feels more guitar-heavy for sure, lyrically it definitely goes deeper, but I never like to do anything the same," Kelly said of Born with Horns in an interview with Sunday TODAY, noting it'll also mark a personal evolution. "I'm not scared anymore, there's nothing holding me back from being my true self — and my true self can't be silenced, can't be restrained." — R.L.
Camila Cabello, Familia
Release date: TBD
There's perhaps never been a better advertisement for an album than Camila Cabello's edition of NPR's Tiny Desk. Released last fall, the session begins with three old songs and ends with two Familia cuts strong enough to bowl you over. In just 20 minutes, the former Fifth Harmony singer genuflects at the altar of pop's past while steering its ship into the future.
"Don't Go Yet" brims with the promise of comfort as it opens with a warm flamenco guitar. "La Buena Vida" is a Mariachi-based explosion of emotion and evocation, anchored by Cabello's arresting vocals. Whereas her prior albums sought to cement the 24-year-old amidst her contemporaries, the uber-personal Familia seems likely to propel her into a whole new pedigree of artistry. — B.C.
Release date: TBD
In 2018, Rosalía's cinematic El Mal Querer signified a before-and-after for the music of Spain and Latin America. A visionary blend of flamenco, hip-hop and confessional torch song, the album introduced her to the world as an intellectual, musicologist and pop diva wrapped up into one slick sonic package. Subsequent singles (2019's "Haute Couture" was a gorgeous slice of electro-pop) demonstrated that Rosalía's path to global domination relies on a voracious curiosity for disparate styles and high-profile collaborators such as Billie Eilish and Bad Bunny.
Titled MOTOMAMI, Rosalía's much anticipated release includes "LA FAMA," a deliciously distorted bachata duet with The Weeknd. We can only imagine what other wonders Rosalía's remarkable imagination has dreamed up for this, her first full-length album since becoming a cultural icon. — E.L.
Saweetie, Pretty Bitch Music
Release date: TBD
Saweetie is set to finally release her debut album, Pretty Bitch Music, this year. After first announcing the project in 2020, the Bay Area native's star power has exploded, reaching new heights last year with major endorsements, her first GRAMMY nominations and a "Saturday Night Live" debut. Pretty Bitch Music was initially slated to arrive in 2021, but Saweetie postponed the effort for some additional fine-tuning.
"I'm just living with it to ensure it's perfect," she told Hollywood Life in August. "I'm really challenging myself and I just want to ensure that I put out a body of work that [will] symbolize art."
Pretty Bitch Music is expected to include Saweetie's 2x Platinum-certified collaboration with Doja Cat, "Best Friend" and her single "Tap In" with production by Timbaland, Lil Jon and Murda Beatz, among other heavy-hitters. — V.M.
Kid Cudi, Entergalactic
Release date: TBD
Three years after it was announced, Kid Cudi's animated music adventure for Netflix is set to arrive this summer, as the rapper declared during his set at Rolling Loud California in December. "I got some tasty surprises," he told fans before offering a snippet of unreleased music that may be on the soundtrack.
Not much else is known about the project, which takes its title from a song on Cudi's 2009 debut Man on the Moon: The End of Day, and which co-creator Kenya Barris referred to as "the most ambitious thing" in a 2019 interview with Complex.
Entergalactic might not be where Kid Cudi stops in 2022, either: Amid his Rolling Loud teases, he said, "I want to drop another album before [Entergalactic]... I really am excited about all this new s, this new music to give to you guys. So that's why I'm teasing this s now, 'cause it's comin' out soon." — M.R.
Beach House, Once Twice Melody
Release date: throughout 2022
Nearly four years since the release of their seventh studio album aptly titled 7, Beach House is slowly unveiling their latest record Once Twice Melody. But instead of dropping all 18 tracks at once, the dreamy indie duo has been giving fans a taste of their new sound in four chapters.
Once Twice Melody is a significant shift as it's the first album produced in full by the band. Beach House also thought about its structure completely differently than they had in the past. "It didn't just feel like a regular, like another album of ours, it felt like a larger, newer kind of way of looking at our music," singer Victoria Legrand told Apple Music. Instead, they view it as "cinematic" and "literary." What fans can expect, they say, is "a lot of love" and "a sacredness of nature." — I.K.
Kendrick Lamar, TBA
Release date: TBD
One of our most celebrated artists of his generation may make his triumphant return this year. Although it's been nearly five years since Kendrick Lamar released his GRAMMY- and Pulitzer Prize-winning album DAMN, Lamar has remained busy. In 2018, Lamar curated the Black Panther soundtrack and he's also made guest appearances on tracks by artists as varied as Nipsey Hussle, Anderson .Paak, U2 and his cousin, Baby Keem.
But Lamar has been mostly mum about his own music, save for an August blog post titled "nu thoughts." "Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family," he wrote, adding that his next album will be his last with Top Dawg Entertainment. It's the sort of thoughtful, precise announcement (and perhaps a hint to his album's content) that fans have come to expect from the notoriously private rapper. Lamar will thankfully make an appearance at this year's Super Bowl in February. — Britt Julious
Cardi B, TBA
Release date: TBD
Despite the slow-burning success of her single "Bodak Yellow," few could have predicted the popularity of Cardi B'sdebut album, Invasion of Privacy. A critical and commercial success, "Invasion of Privacy" won Best Rap Album at the 61st Grammy Awards, making Cardi the first woman to win in the category. That's why anticipation for her sophomore record is so high.
Cardi's brand of hip-hop is provocative and fun, and her two singles (possibly from the record) seem to confirm that same mood is still present in her music. In 2020, she dropped "WAP," a cultural reset of a collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion, and in 2021, she released "Up," which later inspired a viral TikTok dance challenge. As with many artists, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the release of Cardi's new album. But late last year on Instagram Live, Cardi said she has "lots of jobs now" and one of them is to "put out this album next year." Hopefully fans won't have to wait too long. — B.J.
Release date: TBD
If Koffee's latest single is any indication, the youngest GRAMMY Award winner for Best Reggae Album is planning a glorious homecoming in 2022. Sung with a wide smile you can nearly hear, "West Indies" is a dancehall love letter to the islands and an upbeat promise for what the singer has in store on her first full-length.
"I want to speak of a solution and of a way that we can come together and get along, even when things are going wrong," Koffee told Rolling Stone.
Although the pandemic halted her album recording and nixed her first Coachella performance, Koffee defies the dour attitude of much of the past two years. On "West Indies," Koffee assures that she's partying and having the time of her life — her as-yet-untitled album will likely soundtrack yours while you do the same. — Jessica Lipsky
Read More: The Women Essential To Reggae And Dancehall
Girl Ultra, TBA
Release date: TBD
Few musical experiences are as uplifting as listening to a singer/songwriter's follow-up to a brilliant debut, where they enhance the scope of their craft with new influences and sounds. Nuevos Aires, Girl Ultra's first full-length album, was just that – a breath of fresh air for Latin R&B, anchored on the purity of her voice and collaborations with Ximena Sariñana and Cuco (for the languid hit "DameLove.")
Following that 2019 release, the artist also known as Mariana de Miguel returns with a new EP. Lead single "Amores de Droga" evokes the sophistication of Everything But The Girl, combining smoldering vocalizing with cool electro grooves. A study in contrasts, it finds the Mexico City chanteuse reaching a pinnacle of inspiration. — E.L.
Photo: Mauricio Santana/Getty Images
Mitski's Road To 'The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We': How Expanding Sonically Illuminated The Liminal Space Between Brutality & Love
The singer/songwriter's seventh LP embraces Western soundtrack tones, experimental pop twitches, and lithe ache, building a new set of concentric orbital rings without losing any of Mitski's trademark intimate intensity.
Mitski likely didn't know the Pandora's Box she was opening while producing her debut album. Though the 2012 LP, Lush, was self-released — and reportedly doubled as a project for her junior year at SUNY Purchase — it carries the grand orchestral drama of a seasoned singer/songwriter, her already clarion vocals bolstered by clever songwriting. Just over a decade later, she's now idolized as a celestial being in a pantheon somewhere between indie pop star, poetic genius, and voice of a generation.
But Mitski's level of success has had its pitfalls. Despite her rather coy image and indie background, Mitski has garnered a rabid following with the stan culture of a stadium-filling act (for one, there's a Twitter account called "mitski's archive" that managed to track down rare footage of her college days). In turn, Mitski's career has often rung with a certain tension and internal conflict — yet, remarkably, the music has always remained transcendent.
Resilience has long been part of Mitski's journey, even before she realized she could turn to music as an outlet. Born in Japan to a Japanese mother and American father, Mitsuki Miyawaki spent much of her youth traveling internationally because of her father's job. Having to do that over and over — let alone as a mixed-race, Japanese-American child dropped into the Czech Republic or the Democratic Republic of Congo — was likely bewildering. But music gave some sense of home, of certainty: "Whenever she was lonely in a new house or city or country, she'd walk around and hum invented fragments of melody," Margaret Talbot wrote in a profile of Mitski for The New Yorker.
But still, she didn't fully find what she was looking for until high school, when she joined a choir, and then began writing songs in her teens. "As a teenager, I didn't want to be alive…I just wanted to be dead. I didn't have anything I was good at, because I didn't know I could make music yet," she told Talbot.
Settling into the United States for high school and then college, she dove head first into what music could offer. As Lush proved an incredible first step, another college-era project, 2013's Retired from Sad, New Career in Business, reinforced its predecessor's blend of chamber pop and indie rock flourishes; it was also her first in partnership with producer Patrick Hyland, who has worked on every Mitski album since. Both heady and delivered straight from the heart, poetic yet knifepoint-sharp, the one-two punch of Retired and Lush introduced a well of great potential.
Mitski's third album, 2014's Bury Me At Makeout Creek, served as a tidy turning point as her spotlight warmed up — especially because it was her first release with an independent label, Double Double Whammy. It's as if Mitski realized that people were drawn more to her than to the piano, and began exploring other ways that her intimate songs of pain and love could play out.
Rather than rely on the orchestra to underscore her rich, low-slung vocals, the fuzzier compositions embrace the roiling emotion they convey — ragged edges of distorted guitar and squared synth where once Mitski would have pinned everything together with a string section. What's more, the album's guitar-driven indie rock gave the feeling that she's sonically exploring her newly minted status as a signed indie rock touring act.
Removed from some of the preciousness of her college records, the distortion propelling "Townie" or the electronic percussion on "I Don't Smoke" pushed a rough-hewn color through Mitski's lyrics — underlining the uncertainty, the struggle, the hurt feelings that her storytelling implies. The musical complexities emphasized the lyrical conflict, and the propulsive energy was undeniable.
"The craft here is obvious, as is the accruing confidence of someone who's developed a compelling voice in obscurity," Ian Cohen wrote in a Pitchfork review of Bury Me.
The concept of obscurity is one that would be increasingly important over the following years. While her poetic lyricism is emotionally and visually evocative, Bury Me showed that it never feels diaristic; her internal reality and experiences are lightly obscured, but still essential to the process.
By completely reinventing her sonic palette while simultaneously deepening her lyrical vision, Bury Me hinted at an even brighter future — and set into motion the bind that Mitski has fought against ever since. As her music improved, her fame grew, and she soon found that her success was actually taking away from her ability to explore her musicality.
"When I record, it's this very precious and insular thing," she told Stereogum ahead of releasing 2016's Puberty 2. "With promoting Bury Me, I was so out of touch with music."
In that same interview, Mitski discussed how the songs for Puberty 2 were written without consideration of how they'd be performed live, as if she were attempting to retain some ownership of her experience before giving it over to the growing audiences. (Even so, Mitski toured both Europe and North America that fall.)
Puberty 2 did take a step back from the distorted, brash edge of Bury Me, but doesn't fully return to her orchestral roots either. No genre was safe, no sonic touchstone outside of her palette — everything swirled and caught up in her evocative storytelling, from jumpy electronic touches and burnished horns to surfy guitar. Her vocals ranged from skyscraping pop adventurism to deadpan chop.
The wide-ranging approach worked, as Puberty 2 landed on several "Best Of 2016" album lists and helped Mitski earn opening slots with the Pixies and Lorde in 2017. But as she announced the album's follow-up, 2018's Be the Cowboy, there were hints yet again that Mitski was exhausted by the realities of being a star, not just a creator: "A lot of this record was me not having any feelings, being completely spent but then trying to rally myself and wake up and get back to Mitski," she said in a press release.
Ironically, "not having any feelings" would be the last thing that comes to mind upon hearing Be the Cowboy. The record's scope widened even further than its predecessors; in an almost Bjork-like career trajectory, Mitski continued to find new levels of intensity and beauty without ever repeating herself.
Songs like the explosive and grandiose "Geyser," the disco-tinged "Nobody," and the stomp-clamp wonderland "Washing Machine Heart" showcased the maturation of Mitski's approach, each song creating a world of its own — and the album's universe all spinning beautifully together. While she may have struggled during the creation of Be the Cowboy, something clearly worked: the album became her first to land on the all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart and was her first to be certified Gold in the U.S.
As the attention levels rose like a precipitous tide, Mitski continued to seem wary, if not outright frustrated. "All the sort of aggrandizing, strangely worshipful commentary about me, it doesn't make any sense," she told PBS Newshour.
When touring the record, Mitski opted to work with a choreographer named Jas Lin. The duo developed dance moves inspired by a Japanese form called butoh, resulting in what i-D called "slow, hyper-controlled motions, exaggerated facial expressions, and a fixation on hard emotions and absurdity." In another ironic turn, adding this performative layer between her inner self and her audience resulted in an even more rabid following on social media.
At the end of the tour, Mitski announced an indefinite hiatus from music, leaving social media behind as well — though, meanwhile, her songs were infiltrating thousands and thousands of TikToks. At the time, she told Rolling Stone that she expected to be done for good, to "find another life."
But the music kept calling, and it took less than a year for her return. "What it came down to was, 'I have to do this even though it hurts me, because I love it,'" she told Rolling Stone for a 2021 cover story, six weeks before Laurel Hell arrived in February 2022.
In a press release for that album, Mitski seemed to explain the urge as needing to deal with fame as a side effect of life as a creator: "I don't want to put on a front where I'm a role model, but I'm also not a bad person. I needed to create this space mostly for myself where I sat in that gray area."
For Mitski, that gray area resulted in an '80s synthpop record full of neon blue, splashes erupting from raindrops falling into puddles, and wafts of hazy smoke. Across its 11 tracks, there were love songs with reminders of death and explosively moving songs about feeling stuck — every track a blend of pleasure and pain.
Though various interviews saw her comparing herself to a bathroom stall ready to "take s—" from others, a "black hole" where people dump their feelings, and a "product" to be bought and sold, Mitski seemed to have turned a corner with Laurel Hell. As the album's beatific vibes suggest, she found a sense of acceptance during her hiatus.
"If I truly want the greatest magic in the world, the highest euphoria, the best thing, if I want to do that, I'm going to have to pay an equivalent price," she told Vulture. (She still maintained boundaries, though, declining to answer questions about her personal life.)
Mitski furthers that clarity-achieving experience with The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, an 11-song ode to the one thing that still feels like hers: love. "The best thing I ever did in my life was to love people," Mitski said in a statement.
The first single, "Bug Like an Angel," balances immensities: the ecstatic and the mundane, rock bottom and ecstasy. Mitski embraces the dichotomy sonically as well, with lightly echoed vocals and acoustic guitars interrupted by a sudden choral interjection. "Sometimes a drink feels like family," she sings, the irony of 17 people harmonizing that last word played out in heartbreaking majesty.
The dizzying meteor shower of "Star" and the string-laden "Heaven" reinforce that blend of subtlety and theatrics. At times, The Land is Inhospitable feels like the soundtrack to a tragicomedy epic — a cohesive story of hope, love and hurt colliding.
Mitski has made unique choices in her live performances in support of the record, too — perhaps, in a way, to prevent the burnout and struggle she experienced after releasing albums in the past. A week before the album's release, she put on "Double Features," a limited run of listening parties in which playback of the album was followed by a classic film (like Drugstore Cowboy or Days of Heaven).
In terms of touring, she has opted for intimate, acoustic "Amateur Mistake" performances, with only 10 shows stretched across 39 days. The venues are smaller (New York's 1,500 seat Town Hall subs in for the Laurel Hell tour's 6,000 seat Radio City Music Hall), another sign of Mitski setting another boundary for herself. Judging by a video of her first stop in Mexico City, all of the moves she's made have resulted in something that feels sincere, beautiful and loving.
In a career of unlocking new formulas to convey her stratospheric talent, it seems Mitski may have found one that also supports her heart — a way to square the self that is hers when creating art, and the self that exists in the world for others.
"You have to go to both worlds all the time," she said in a press release. "I don't have a self. I have a million selves, and they're all me, and I inhabit them, and they all live inside me."
With The Land is Inhospitable, those selves populate an expansive, haunting world threaded through with love and care — finally living in harmony with the surrounding darkness.
Graphic Courtesy of the Latin Recording Academy
Latin GRAMMYs 2023: Record Of The Year Nominees — Read Them Here
Here are the nominees for Record Of The Year at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, which will air Thursday, Nov. 16 from Sevilla, Spain.
The Latin Recording Academy has just announced the nominees for the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, which air Thursday, Nov. 16, from Sevilla's Conference and Exhibition Centre (FIBES), marking the first-ever international telecast in the history of the organization and awards. This year, 11 performing artists and producers have a chance at one of the night's top awards: Record Of The Year. Christina Aguilera, Pablo Alborán, Paula Arenas with Jesús Navarro, Bizarrap with Shakira, Fonseca with Juan Luis Guerra, Karol G, Natalia Lafourcade, Lasso, Maluma with Marc Anthony, Rosalía, and Alejandro Sanz with Danny Ocean have been nominated in the category this year.
Below, get to know all of the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs Record of the Year nominees. Then, be sure to tune into the 24th Latin GRAMMY Awards on Univision at 8 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. CT) to see who wins!
"No Es Que Te Extrañe" – Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera rounded out her self-titled Latin album last fall with "No Es Que Te Extrañe," one of her most personal songs. The pop icon highlighted her Latina heritage by embracing the music stylings of pasillo, a popular genre in Ecuador.
Aguilera's powerhouse voice soars as she sings about finding healing and closure from a traumatic childhood experience. The song builds from a vulnerable ballad to a moment of flamenco-infused catharsis.
"Carretera y Manta" – Pablo Alborán
Musical worlds collide in Pablo Alborán's "Carretera y Manta," in which the Spanish singer/songwriter blends '80s-inspired pop with elements of contemporary Latin urbano beats.
The standout single from his La Cuarta Hoja album, Alborán sings about not worrying about the destination, but instead enjoying the journey to get there. Alborán is known for big ballads and with this carpe diem anthem, he shows off a more upbeat and danceable side to his artistry.
"Déjame Llorarte" – Paula Arenas Feat. Jesús Navarro
Colombian singer/songwriter Paula Arenas explores the emotional depth of Latin pop music in "Déjame Llorarte," teaming up with Jesús Navarro, the powerhouse voice behind Mexican group Reik.
The heartfelt ballad is centered by Arenas and Navarro's sweet shared harmonies, which detail moving on from a breakup. Backed by piano and strings, the soulful collaboration was included on Arenas' A Ciegas album.
"Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53" – Bizarrap Feat. Shakira
Shakira turned a difficult time in her personal life into a global moment of empowerment. The Colombian pop icon teamed up with Argentinian producer Bizarrap for "Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53."
Bizarrap seamlessly blends elements of EDM and Latin urbano music, as Shakira unleashes her inner "She Wolf" once again. In her Bzrp session, Shakira gave women wronged by an ex a kiss-off anthem that is packed with plenty of punchlines. "Women no longer cry, women get paid," she sings in Spanish.
"Si Tú Me Quieres" – Fonseca & Juan Luis Guerra
Two giants in Latin music joined forces on the romantic "Si Tú Me Quieres." Colombia's Fonseca teamed up with Juan Luis Guerra, who hails from the Dominican Republic. The traditional vallenato sound of Fonseca's country is beautifully blended with the tropical music that Guerra is known for.
The dreamy duo serenade listeners around the world, trading verses about the power of love behind a kiss.
"Mientras Me Curo Del Cora" – Karol G
In addition to scoring further reggaetón hits from Mañana Será Bonito, Karol G also showed versatility to her artistry on her latest album.
The Colombian superstar sampled the feel-good classic "Don’t Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin in "Mientras Me Curo Del Cora." With a bit of reggaetón in the mix, she turns a dark moment in her life into Latin pop positivity and allows listeners get to know Carolina Giraldo Navarro — the woman behind Karol G.
"De Todas Las Flores" – Natalia Lafourcade
After paying homage to the music of Mexico and Latin America in her past few releases, Natalia Lafourcade returned last year with De Todas Las Flores, an album of all original music.
On the hypnotic title track, Lafourcade shows why she is one of Mexico's most exciting and innovative alternative acts. Lafourcade masterfully melds the sound of her guitar, folkloric Latin music, and jazz in the song where she mourns the memories of a past romance.
"Ojos Marrones" – Lasso
Last year, Lasso scored one of the biggest global hits that was outside the Latin urbano genre. The Venezuelan singer/songwriter channeled the spirit of '70s soft rock in "Ojos Marrones, citing Fleetwood Mac as one of his inspirations for the alluring love song.
With his raspy voice, Lasso sings about getting lost in his partner's brown eyes. Lasso continued to put a refreshing spin on the music of pop past throughout his album Eva.
"La Fórmula" – Maluma & Marc Anthony
To tap into the sound of salsa music, Maluma teamed up with one of the genre's giants. In "La Fórmula," the Colombian superstar joined forces with Nuyorican icon Marc Anthony for a charming duet.
The colorful and sweeping song was included on Maluma's Don Juan album. Backed by a full band and tropical beats, Maluma and Anthony sing about wanting to reignite the romance with an old flame.
"Despechá" – Rosalía
Rosalía continued to push Latin music to new places in the deluxe version Motomami, last year's Latin GRAMMY Album Of The Year winner.
This year, the Spanish pop star blended elements of merengue, pop, and house music in "Despechá." Instead of being bogged down by a breakup, Rosalía gets the mambo dance line started while singing about cutting loose with her close friends. The genre-bending track was Rosalía's fierce remedy for channeling spiteful feelings into a cathartic club experience.
"Correcaminos" – Alejandro Sanz Featuring Danny Ocean
Spanish pop icon Alejandro Sanz teamed up with rising Venezuelan star Danny Ocean for "Correcaminos." The sultry collaboration combines the alternative reggaetón sound of Ocean with flamenco influences from Sanz's home country.
Sanz and Ocean sing from the heart about winning over the women of their dreams. Whether that happens in this lifetime or the next, both singers are determined to make that happen in this magical duet.
Image courtesy of the Latin Recording Academy
Rewatch The 2023 Latin GRAMMYs Nominations Livestream Now: See All The Nominees
Rewatch as Rosalía, Shakira, Jorge Drexler, Christian Nodal, Mon Laferte, and more of the biggest artists in Latin music announce the nominations for the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs. Get ready for the Biggest Night in Latin Music!
We’re officially gearing up for the Biggest Night in Latin Music, and the Latin Recording Academy has announced the nominations for the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs live from Seville, Spain.
If you missed the nominations livestream, you can rewatch the full nominations livestream below and watch as Rosalía, Shakira, Jorge Drexler, Christian Nodal, Mon Laferte, and more of the biggest artists in Latin music reveal the nominations for the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs.
The Latin GRAMMYs will return to our eyes and ears on Thursday, Nov. 16, from the Conference and Exhibition Centre (FIBES), in Seville, Spain. Officially known as the 24th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards, the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs mark the first-ever international telecast in the history of the organization and awards.
The 2023 Latin GRAMMYs will debut several new Latin GRAMMY Award categories and a new field, including Best Songwriter Of The Year, Best Singer-Songwriter Song and Best Portuguese-Language Urban Performance.
Enjoy rewatching the nominations livestream announcement above, and keep checking GRAMMY.com for more information about the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs. We’ll see you on Nov. 16!
Photo: Andrew Chin/Getty Images
New Music Friday: Listen To New Songs From SZA With Drake & Justin Bieber, Offset, Tate McRae & More
From highly anticipated collabs to long-awaited album teasers, take a listen to six new tracks that arrived on Sept. 15.
It’s yet another big day for music enthusiasts, as listeners were gifted with unexpected collaborations and fresh new melodies from artists of every genre on Sept. 15.
With an Instagram caption-worthy single from Drake and SZA , a playful, self-confident anthem from Tate McRae, and a chill, euphoric vibe from Noah Kahan & Lizzy McAlphine, there’s plenty of different sounds to dive into.
As you’re putting together your autumn 2023 playlist, add these six new tracks to the mix.
Drake feat. SZA - "Slime You Out"
Just hours after GRAMMY winners Drake and SZA announced they’d be teaming up for a new track, the pair unleashed "Slime You Out" promptly at noon ET on Sept. 15.
As the song’s title insinuates, the duo seem to express their thoughts on someone "sliming" them out — which, in this case, refers to someone playing with their feelings. "Tryna build trust, showin’ me your DMS, how they tryna bag you / Ironic how the news I got about you ended up bein’ bad news."
Drake’s clever wordplay paired with SZA’s mellow, hypnotic voice make the single a memorable one. But perhaps it’s even more memorable because it’s been a team-up long in the making: according to Drake’s eyebrow-raising line in his 21 Savage collab "Mr. Right Now," the two used to date "back in '08."
SZA feat. Justin Bieber - "Snooze (Acoustic Remix)"
As SZA fans awaited her song with Drake, she gave them another high-profile collab in the form of a "Snooze" remix with Justin Bieber. An alluring, stripped-down version of the original SOS track, the "Snooze" remix sees SZA and Bieber passionately harmonize; added guitar chords add a dreamy touch to the song.
The remix also marks a full-circle moment for the pair, as Bieber starred in the original "Snooze" music video, which was released on Aug. 25.
Offset - "Fan"
Kicking off what seems to be his Michael Jackson era, Offset has released this newest single, "Fan." This song features an infectious, hype beat with lyrics presenting a nonchalant ‘IDGAF’ attitude: "You supposed to hold me down, but it didn't happen (You supposed to hold me down)/ Now I'm over it."
"Fan" is a taste of Offset’s forthcoming second album, Set It Off, which he will release on October 13. The LP follows his debut solo album, 2019’s Father of 4, which landed him a Best Rap Performance GRAMMY nomination for the single "Clout" featuring his wife, Cardi B.
In the "Fan" music video, Michael Jackson is heavily referenced, with moments including Offset transforming into werewolf and zombie, and dance moves like the reverse moonwalk.
Tate McRae - "Greedy"
self-confidence single "greedy." This song is a testament to McRae’s inner thoughts, as the lyrics let listeners know she’s not tolerating insecurities — and definitely not enabling any "greedy" men.
"I would want myself/ Baby, please believe me/ I'll put you through hell/ Just to know me, yeah, yeah," she sings on the chorus.
Noah Kahan feat. Lizzy McAlpine - "Call Your Mom"
Folk-pop favorite Noah Kahan teamed up with rising pop singer Lizzy McAlpine to create a new version of "Call Your Mom," an emotional track from his hit 2022 album Stick Season.
Kahan recently brought McAlpine out as a surprise guest during his sold-out show at L.A.'s Greek Theatre on Aug.11, where the two singer/songwriters performed the song for the first time together.
Written about giving unconditional support to a loved one struggling with mental health issues and depression, the moving song reaches new heights with two voices on it. Kahan’s and McAlpine’s voices perfectly blend together and capture the lyrics’ powerful emotions.
Maren Morris - The Bridge
Maren Morris dropped not one, but two new songs, "The Tree" and "Get The Hell Out of Here," which both seem to focus on a new chapter in Morris’s life. "The Tree" feels like a farewell, as she proudly sings,"I'm done fillin' a cup with a hole in the bottom/ I'm takin' an axe to the tree/ The rot at the roots is the root of the problem/ But you wanna blame it on me."
"Get The Hell Out of Here" has a more mellow country melody that also talks about growth and navigating different areas of her life. Both songs share a different story, yet share the same theme of a transitional period in her life — and tease what’s to come on her next album, which will follow 2022’s Humble Quest.
As Morris said in a statement, "These two songs are incredibly key to my next step because they express a very righteously angry and liberating phase of my life these last couple of years, but also how my navigation is finally pointing toward the future."