meta-scriptAlana Springsteen Isn't Just Living Her Teenage Dream. She's Speaking To An Entire Generation. | GRAMMY.com
Alana Springsteen Press Photo 2023
Alana Springsteen

Photo: Lily Nelson

interview

Alana Springsteen Isn't Just Living Her Teenage Dream. She's Speaking To An Entire Generation.

Budding country star Alana Springsteen details how her debut album, 'TWENTY SOMETHING,' completes a journey of self-expression — and helps others do the same.

GRAMMYs/Aug 23, 2023 - 07:28 pm

By the time Alana Springsteen was 9 years old, she knew she was destined to be a singer/songwriter — so much so that she wrote a song about it.

"It was called 'Believe,' as cheesy as it sounds," the rising country star recalls with a laugh. "It was about believing in myself and how my parents believed in me, and knowing, even from that young, that I was going to do this and I could do this. I remember playing it for my parents and they were in tears. They were like, 'Okay, we get it. We're gonna do this. We're gonna take you to Nashville.'"

Sure enough, that November, Springsteen and her family headed to Nashville, meeting with folks at Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and Broadcast Music Inc (BMI). Instead of brushing off the then-10-year-old, each person she met invited more people to come hear her, and eventually got her set up with some writing sessions. At 14, she moved to Nashville, and officially began her career with her first publishing deal.

Now 22, Springsteen just released her debut studio album, TWENTY SOMETHING. The album carries the same conviction and authenticity that she showed in those rooms when she was 10. Over its 18 tracks, TWENTY SOMETHING intricately details the woes of growing up in three parts: messing it up, figuring it out and getting it right.

A major theme on TWENTY SOMETHING is also one of Springsteen's mantras: "we don't chase, we attract" (a line that sneaks its way into the flirty "look i like"). While that sentiment can seem ironic for someone who has been chasing her dream for 13 years, it's a perfect portrayal of who she is as an artist — one whose confidence radiates and resonates.

Whether she's owning her own faults on "if you love me now" and "hypocrite," expressing insecurities on "chameleon" and the title track, or reclaiming her narrative post-breakup on "you don't deserve a country song" and "tennessee is mine," Springsteen's self-awareness is remarkable for someone so young. Her perceptive storytelling and pop sensibilities make for a captivating kind of country reminiscent of young Taylor Swift (who is, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of Springsteen's biggest inspirations, as she details in "taylor did").

One of her most powerful statements comes on album closer "amen," an acoustic tune in which she gives herself permission to navigate life on her terms. At her album release party in Nashville on Aug. 15, Springsteen closed her set singing "amen" on her own, stepping out into the crowd to declare its final verse a cappella: "And no I ain't got all the answers/ But I'm finding mine for damn sure/ And I mean it, so I'm sayin' it again/ Amen."

"The best thing that I ever did was double down on my truth and my story," Springsteen says. "Never giving up on that vision that I had in my gut, listening to that. My blind faith and blind confidence has been my superpower."

One of the biggest factors in Springsteen's decade-plus journey to TWENTY SOMETHING was the struggle to find the right team, which she's now found in people like her manager, Basak Kizilisik. But even before she felt things were completely right, others around her could feel her star power — including superstar songwriter Liz Rose, with whom Springsteen co-wrote two songs on the album.

"I've known her since she moved to town, and we never really wrote until the last year and a half. I was like, 'Why the f— am I not writing with Alana Springsteen?'" Rose says. "She knows who she is as an artist, and she's spent a lot of time not taking anything for granted. She just knows that she doesn't know everything, [which makes her] a fantastic songwriter."

Country star Mitchell Tenpenny — who co-wrote and features on "goodbye looks good on you" — has seen that same spark since he began working with Springsteen in 2021, and especially while they were on tour together in early 2022. "I watched her control the crowd with just an acoustic guitar. And that's when you know, man," Tenpenny says, referring to Springsteen as a "little sister." "She is just the total freaking package." 

Springsteen is the lead songwriter on all 18 tracks and co-producer on all but two, with guitar and piano credits across the album as well. Not only does that add to the intention behind her music, but it's an indication of the growth that she's felt — and presented — with TWENTY SOMETHING.

"The entire goal of this record, for me, is to really get to know myself for the first time," she says. "It was about acceptance, growth, empowerment, learning to trust myself again. And that's a journey that I hope everybody has the courage to go on when they listen to this album."

While the numbers show that she is certainly making an impact — with more than 100 million career streams to date — Springsteen's autobiographical style and knack for catchy melodies resulted in a slew of recognition even before TWENTY SOMETHING arrived. Along with being honored as part of 2023's CMT Next Women of Country Class and MusicRow's Next Big Thing, the singer was also one of eight rising country stars selected to perform at Nissan Stadium during CMA Fest in June.

And accolades aside, the fan reaction is enough evidence that she's achieving her goals. "As someone who just turned 18 and about to go to college this album to me is like a guidebook on how to navigate this part," one fan wrote in an Instagram comment. As another added, "This is what new + upcoming artists should be aiming for on debut or sophomore releases."

As she continues to grow her budding career, Springsteen will likely also continue hearing the inevitable question, "Are you related to Bruce?" The answer is no — but she's also not keeping the name for clout.

"I never wanted it to feel like I'm just taking advantage of that name and using that as, like, clickbait or anything," she asserts. "That's the opposite of what I'm trying to do." 

Though Springsteen says that she's "definitely thought about" a stage name in the past, using her birth name is the only way her music would feel as true as she's always intended it to be. And as she's proved so far, she knows she has what it takes to compete with big guns like The Boss: "I'm making my own name."

Is Nashville Really A 10-Year Town? Walker Hayes, HARDY, Lainey Wilson & More Country Hitmakers On How The Wait Pays Off

Brittney Spencer performing on "Fallon"
(L-R) Brittney Spencer, Mickey Guyton and Maren Morris perform on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" in November 2023.

Photo: Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images

feature

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

Between Lainey Wilson's first-ever GRAMMY nominations and Brittney Spencer's highly-anticipated album arriving Jan. 19, female country artists are making bigger statements and waves than they have in decades — and there's plenty more where that came from.

GRAMMYs/Jan 18, 2024 - 06:46 pm

Country music has long felt like a boy's club.

From the genre's humble beginnings of Hank Williams, Roy Acuff and Jimmie Rodgers, through the outlaw movement of Johnny Cash, George Jones and Merle Haggard, to more modern day giants like Garth Brooks, George Strait and Tim McGraw, men have been dominating the genre for nearly a century.

Even now, megastars like Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs and Zach Bryan have comfortably inherited the position, virtually ruling the airwaves of country music and beyond for the majority of 2023. Those three have almost single-handedly helped the genre become arguably the biggest it's ever been — and it's finally opening the door for women to join in.

As the genre has boomed over the last year or so, it's created an opportunity for female artists to get in on a bigger slice of the pie. While the guys were out there wooing the mainstream, a handful of ladies were making their own fair share of noise with superstars Lainey Wilson, Kelsea Ballerini, Kacey Musgraves and Carly Pearce showing the genre what girl power is all about, and representing at the 2024 GRAMMYs as a result.

Of course, a handful of female artists have been able to push through the cracks through the years, from Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton to Shania Twain and Carrie Underwood. But historically, women have largely been chasing equal stature in the country music limelight. The genre's gender gap came to a head with 2015's "Tomato-gate" controversy, when radio consultant Keith Hill compared radio airplay to a salad, with the men as the lettuce and women as a tomato garnish.

Although airplay hasn't necessarily grown (a recent study found that female artists received an abysmal 11 percent of airplay in 2022), that hasn't stopped women in the genre from making an impact. In the last few years, a growing group of women have been rewriting the rules, nabbing major award nominations and wins, selling out headlining tours, notching No. 1s and breaking records — and they only seem to be gaining speed.

As a new year begins, take a look at a few of the ways women are breaking through in country music.

GRAMMY Representation

For the past few GRAMMYs ceremonies, we've been seeing more and more female names in country music listed among the nominees.

The shift was first really felt at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards in 2021, when women dominated the nominations thanks to the colossal successes of Best New Artist nominee Ingrid Andress, country stalwart Miranda Lambert and female supergroup the Highwomen (comprised of previous GRAMMY winners Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby and Amanda Shires).

Female artists have continued to carve out their spot in GRAMMY history with nominations and wins. One of the most notable wins came in 2023, when Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde's history-making duet, "Never Wanted To Be That Girl," claimed Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

Pearce is once again nominated in the Best Country Duo/Group Performance category at the 2024 GRAMMYs, this year for her chilling duet with decorated tunesmith Chris Stapleton, "We Don't Fight Anymore," which could find her claiming the prize for a second consecutive year.

While women don't dominate the Country Field nominees at the 2024 GRAMMYs, Pearce isn't alone. There's plenty of success stories throughout the categories, and one of the people leading that charge is Lainey Wilson.

More than a decade after moving to Nashville, Wilson's fourth studio album, Bell Bottom Country, has been propelling her to the forefront of the genre. The album helped earn Wilson a nomination for Best Country Album — one of her first two career GRAMMY nominations, the other for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for "Save Me," her evocative collaboration with country-rap trailblazer (and 2024 Best New Artist nominee), Jelly Roll.

One of the genre's most enduring duets of 2023, Zach Bryan and Kacey Muscgraves' "I Remember Everything," is also in the running for Best Country Duo/Group Performance. Along with debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reigning atop Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for 16 weeks as of press time, the collab continued Musgraves' GRAMMY success. Also nominated for Best Country Song, "I Remember Everything" brings Musgraves' nomination total to 13; as of press time, she's won 6 GRAMMYs, including the coveted Album Of The Year in 2019 for Golden Hour.

Seasoned singer/songwriter Brandy Clark secured the most nominations of all the female country artists, with 6 nods across the Musical Theater, Americana and Country categories. Notably, her twice-nominated "Buried," included on her self-titled LP, nabbed nominations for both Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance.

Dolly Parton earned her 54th GRAMMY nomination this year, for Best Country Solo Performance for her solo version of one of her earliest hits, "The Last Thing On My Mind." First released in 1967 as her debut duet with Porter Wagoner, the 2023 version of the song features Parton's signature, soulful vocals and was included in the I Am a Pilgrim: Doc Watson at 100 tribute album.

Elsewhere in the 2024 GRAMMY nominations, pop-country darling Kelsea Ballerini is nominated alongside Wilson in the Best Country Album category with her Rolling Up the Welcome Mat EP. The triumphant and soul-bearing project led to one of her most commercially and critically successful years to date (more on that later).

Growing Success At Country Radio & Beyond

As her two GRAMMY nominations indicate, Lainey Wilson was arguably country music's woman of 2023. Notching four trips to the top of the Mediabase Country Airplay chart in 2023, she set two records: most No. 1s by a female country artist in a calendar year and most No. 1's on Billboard's Country Airplay chart by a female artist this decade. This was thanks to her own "Heart Like A Truck" and "Watermelon Moonshine," as well as her HARDY collaboration "wait in the truck" and the aforementioned Jelly Roll team-up "Save Me."

Beyond her profound radio success, 2023 also saw Wilson nab four ACM Awards and five CMA trophies; at the latter, she won Female Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year and the coveted Entertainer of the Year, whose last female winner came in 2011 with country-turned-pop superstar, Taylor Swift.

Wilson's fellow Best Country Album nominee, Kelsea Ballerini, also had a banner year. While her nominated Rolling Up the Welcome Mat EP didn't spawn a radio hit, it made quite an impression on streaming and social media. Due to its raw account of her public divorce from singer Morgan Evans, Ballerini's latest project helped her sell out her headlining tour, receive an invite to perform on Saturday Night Live, and earn an array of major award nominations.

Another proven hitmaker, Carly Pearce, nabbed her fourth No. 1 with her heartbreak anthem, "What He Didn't Do," which reached the top of the Country Aircheck/Mediabase chart last March. Newcomer Megan Moroney topped the same chart in June with her 2022 debut single, "Tennessee Orange," which helped her have a remarkable breakout year including her first award and a sold-out tour.

Rising country star Priscilla Block also secured a No. 1 on Mediabase's Country Airplay chart with her Justin Moore duet, "You, Me, and Whiskey," while more veteran act Gabby Barrett — who scored back-to-back No. 1 hits on Billboard's Country Airplay chart in 2020 and 2021 — reached the top 10 of the chart in 2023 with her single "Pick Me Up."

Female Artists On the Horizon

In the last 12 months, rising female country artists hit their stride, bringing a lot of promise to tackling the genre's gender gap. Hailey Whitters landed her first chart entry on both Billboard's Country Airplay and Hot 100 charts with her breakthrough single, "Everything She Ain't," which broke the top 20 on the former tally. Sister duo Tigirlily Gold saw their debut single, "Shoot Tequila," surge into the top 40 on country radio while they also juggled making their Opry debut, a loaded touring schedule and the release of their acclaimed Blonde EP.

Aside from the radio dial, women also had massive years on the road, earning major touring slots with some of the genre's big hitters. Big Loud prodigy Ashley Cooke put out her debut effort, Shot in the Dark, which propelled her onto Luke Bryan's Country Again Tour and Jordan Davis' Damn Good Time Tour. Meanwhile, Ella Langley, a country-rocker in the making, spent her year alongside Riley Green and Jon Pardi, as songs from her debut EP, Excuse the Mess, garnered millions of streams.

Beyond commercial success, there are a slew of burgeoning female singer/songwriters who are also poised to break through. Alana Springsteen, who released her three-part twenty something project in 2023, is establishing herself as one of the newest (and most relatable) voices in the country-pop world. Meanwhile, Lauren Watkins — who doubled down in 2023 with two EPs, Introducing: Lauren Watkins and Introducing: The Heartbreak — is reinventing the neo-traditional, retro country music of generations past.

Similarly, "The Voice" alum Emily Ann Roberts is out to make traditional country cool again as demonstrated on her debut LP, Can't Hide Country, while Catie Offerman, a powerhouse multi-instrumentalist, is bringing her Texas charm and clever turns of phrase into the country mainstream one infectious single at a time.

Next up is Brittney Spencer, who will release her debut album, My Stupid Life, on Jan. 19. As her glistening, genre-bending music continues to gain commercial traction, she's already loved by critics and artists alike; Maren Morris just recruited her for a dynamic performance of "The Tree" on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" alongside Mickey Guyton.

While it's impossible to mention all of the country women out there making moves, it's more than evident that female artists are ready to take up more of the country music landscape than ever before — and 2024 might just be the year that women finally get their due.

2023 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined Country Music

Clipse perform onstage during the BET Hip Hop Awards 2022 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on September 30, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia
Clipse perform in 2022

Photo: Terence Rushin/Getty Images

news

Everything We Know About Clipse's First Album In 15 Years: Pusha T And No Malice Rise Again

While there's no title or release date for the new Clipse album, brothers Pusha T and No Malice have teased the essence of the project.

GRAMMYs/Jun 21, 2024 - 06:02 pm

Legendary Virginia Beach rap duo Clipse have mostly been on ice since 2009's Til the Casket Drops — and that decade and a half off ends now.

The duo of brothers and rap phenoms Pusha T and No Malice (formerly known as Malice) are back with a new, John Legend-featuring song, "Birds Don't Sing," from a reunion project whose title has yet to be disclosed.

It's bracing to hear purveyors of witty, sneakily profound coke raps get real about the deaths of their parents: "Lost in emotion, mama's youngest/ Tryna navigate life without my compass," King Push raps at the outset. "Some experience death and feel numbness/ But not me, I felt it all and couldn't function.

It only gets realer from there: "You told me that you loved me, it was all in your tone/ 'I love my two sons' was the code to your phone," No Malice raps in his verse. If "Birds Don't Sing" is any indication, Clipse's first album in forever will be illuminating indeed.

We don't know much about the "Grindin'" hitmakers' reunion album, other than what Pusha T and No Malice revealed in a wide-ranging Vulture interview. But for hip-hop fans, the breadcrumbs they dropped are enticing indeed.

Read more: For The Record: How Clipse's Lord Willin' Established Virginia's Foothold In Rap

It Will Reflect The Clipse's Maturation

Pusha T is vocal about hating the Pharrell-produced Til The Casket Drops, which has always left their story hanging. They seem to be all in on this LP — one that's designed on their own terms.

"I think the album shows the supreme maturation of a rap duo," said Push. "I think this is where you get the difference between taste and filler. This music is curated. This is a high taste-level piece of work.

"You can only have that level of taste when you have the fundamentals down to a science," he continued. "I think it's been definitely missing. Then there's the competitive aspect." Added No Malice: "This is smart basketball. It's fundamentals."

Pharrell Williams Produced The Entire Album

Despite Pusha T's reservations about Til The Casket Drops, Pharrell Williams has been an integral part of the Clipse's operation since the beginning — and he returns to produce the new project.

"Pharrell producing everything is also an ode to the type of music and the type of albums we want to make," he added. "We still want to make full bodies of work. These are movies, man. These aren't just songs. This isn't just a collection of joints we went in and banged out."

Maturation Doesn't Mean Abandoning Coke Raps

As Pusha T points out in the interview — yes, they rap about selling coke, but to reduce it to that is to miss the point entirely.

"There's no way that you can listen to that level of storytelling and experience and just walk away just saying 'That's coke rap.'" No Malice says. "If you just want to say that it's just crack rap, then you can't even assess what's really being said or what's going on."

Indeed, what the Clipse staked their claim on isn't off the table. In fact, it's lined up and ready. 

Get Ready For A Bona Fide Clipse Era

As Pusha T stresses, this Clipse revisitation will come from multiple directions: "Appearances, touring, and a rap album of the year" are coming down the pike.

As more information about the forthcoming Clipse album flows in, keep GRAMMY.com bookmarked so you know the details — as these fraternal MCs join forces once more.

5 Takeaways From Pusha T's New Album It's Almost Dry

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

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer

list

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

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

GRAMMYs/Jun 21, 2024 - 05:52 pm

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

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

Ice Spice — "Phat Butt"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coldplay — "feelslikeimfallinginlove"

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

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

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

Kygo — 'Kygo'

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

Maren Morris & Julia Michaels — "cut!"

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

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

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

Gracie Abrams — 'The Secret of Us'

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

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

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

6LACK — "F**k The Rap Game"

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

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

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

The Joy — 'The Joy'

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

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

Surfaces — 'good morning'

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

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

Lauren Watkins — 'The Heartbroken Record'

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

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

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

Prince performing in 2004
Prince performing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in 2004

Photo: Kevin Kane/WireImage via Getty Images

list

7 Legendary Prince Performances You Can Watch Online In Honor Of 'Purple Rain'

Fans of the Purple One, unite: it's time to celebrate 40 years of 'Purple Rain.' Crank up these classic Prince performances in tribute to that epochal album, and beyond.

GRAMMYs/Jun 21, 2024 - 02:35 pm

Have we really been living in a Princeless world for eight years? It doesn't feel like it. With every passing year, Planet Earth feels more of the magnitude of the Purple One's unbelievable accomplishments. Which includes the sheer body of work he left behind: his rumored mountain of unreleased material aside, have you heard all 39 of the albums he did release?

Yes, Prince Rogers Nelson was an impressive triple threat, and we'll likely never see his like again. In pop and rock history, some were wizards in the studio, but lacked charisma onstage, or vice versa: Prince was equally as mindblowing in both frameworks.

His iconic, GRAMMY Hall of Fame-inducted 1984 album Purple Rain — a soundtrack to the equally classic film — turns 40 on June 25. Of course, crank up that album's highlights — like "Let's Go Crazy," "When Doves Cry," and the immortal title track — and spin out from there to his other classics, like Dirty Mind, 1999, and Sign o' the Times.

To get a full dose of Prince, though, you've got to raid YouTube for performance footage of the seven-time GRAMMY winner through the years. Here are seven clips you've got to see.

Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland (1984)

Feast your eyes on Prince, the year Purple Rain came out. With guitarist Wendy Melvoin, keyboardist Dr. Fink, drummer Bobby Z., flanking him, even suboptimal YouTube resolution can't smother the magic and beauty. Check out this killing performance of Purple Rain's "I Would Die 4 U," where Prince's moves burn up the stage, with Sheila E. as much a percussion juggernaut as ever.

Read More: Living Legends: Sheila E. On Prince, Playing Salsa And Marching To The Beat Of Her Own Drum

Carrier Dome, Syracuse, New York (1985)

"Little Red Corvette," from 1982's 1999, has always been one of Prince's most magical pop songs — maybe the most magical? This performance in central New York state borders on definitive; bathed in violet and maroon, caped and cutting a rug, a 26-year-old Prince comes across as a force of divine talent.

Paisley Park, Minnesota (1999)

"I always laugh when people say he is doing a cover of this song… It's his song!" goes one YouTube commenter. That's absolutely right. Although "Nothing Compares 2 U" become an iconic hit through Sinead O'Connor's lens, it's bracing to hear the song's author nail its emotional thrust — as far fewer people have heard the original studio recording, on 1985's The Family — the sole album by the Prince-conceived and -led band of the same name.

Watch: Black Sounds Beautiful: Five Years After His Death, Prince’s Genius Remains Uncontainable

The Aladdin, Las Vegas (2002)

Let it be known that while Prince could shred with the best of them, he could equally hold down the pocket. This Vegas performance of "1+1+1=3," from 2001's The Rainbow Children, is a supremely funky workout — which also shows Prince's command as a bandleader, on top of the seeming dozens of other major musical roles he'd mastered by then.

Read More: Bobby Z. On Prince And The Revolution: Live & Why The Purple One Was Deeply Human

Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction (2004)

Words can't describe Prince's universe-destroying solo over the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," in front of an all-star band of classic rockers including Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, and George Harrison's son, Dhani. At song's end, Prince's guitar wails for a few more rounds, he tosses his Telecaster into the pit, and he struts offstage. We'll never see his like again.

Super Bowl Halftime Show (2007)

If you're the type of Super Bowl devotee who skips the Halftime Show, please — make time for Prince. When he digs into the trusty "Let's Go Crazy," it's hard not to follow suit. With fireworks blazing, and the Love Symbol brightly illumined, Prince arguably outshined the football game — as he tumbled through inspired cover after cover, by CCR, Dylan, and more. Naturally, he crescendoed with "Purple Rain," augmented by the drummers of the Marching 100.

Read More: Behind Diamonds and Pearls Super Deluxe Edition: A Fresh Look At Prince & The New Power Generation’s Creative Process

Coachella (2008)

At Coachella 2008, Prince offered a bounty of karaoke-style yet intriguing covers — of the B-52's ("Rock Lobster"), Sarah McLachlan ("Angel"), Santana ("Batuka"), and more. Chief among them was his eight-minute take on Radiohead's (in)famous first hit, "Creep," with a few quixotic twists, including flipping the personal pronoun I to a very Prince-like U.

"U wish U were special, / So do I," he yelps in the pre-chorus. Oh, Prince: to quote the radio-edited, de-vulgarized chorus of "Creep," you were so very special.

8 Ways Musicology Returned Prince To His Glory Days