Photo courtesy of the Recording Academy
A Look At The Nominees For Album Of The Year At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards
The 2023 GRAMMY Award nominees for Album Of The Year span the landscape of pop, R&B, rap, reggaeton, and more. Here are the nominees — by ABBA, Harry Styles, Beyoncé, Adele, Bad Bunny, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Coldplay, Kendrick Lamar, and Lizzo.
For what seems like ages, people have been portending the album's extinction as a viable format. To which we ask: when, exactly?
The GRAMMY for Album Of The Year is a precious honor among many — partly because it celebrates excellence in that timeless format. Ever since at least 1955, when Frank Sinatra released one of the earliest concept albums, the long-player has been a vehicle for transformative — and often world-changing — artistic expressions and achievements.
A big component of that is how songs talk to each other, which is what you lose when considering songs as single releases. And this ineffable commingling of ideas, emotions and narratives is apparent throughout the nominations for Album Of The Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs.
What happens when you meditate on the confluence between Adele's "Easy On Me" and "I Drink Wine"? Or Kendrick Lamar's "We Cry Together" and "Mother I Sober"? Or Coldplay's "Let Somebody Go" and "Coloratura"? And those are just a few examples — live with these albums for a while, and numberless other spiritual links appear.
To absorb how songs can live together — and fight, and make up, and everything else — is one of the true joys of music. And in a transparent, peer-to-peer process, the Recording Academy's voting members decided that these 10 nominees wove together albums that became far more than the sum of their inspired parts.
The 2023 GRAMMY nominations are officially here. See the complete list of nominees across all 91 GRAMMY categories.
ABBA — Voyage
Talk about a satisfying return for a band that seemed to never go away — even though ABBA did for a whopping 40 years. And what a comeback, by way of their new album, Voyage — which shared a title with their innovative, virtual concert residency.
The LP reminded the world of why legions of fans fell in love with "Dancing Queen," "Mamma Mia" and the like. While they were unabashedly pop, the palindromic quartet of Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Agnetha Fältskog were forward-thinking enough to bend Pete Townshend and John Lennon's ears.
Reunion albums after so much time away can raise suspicions, but Voyage put them all to bed. Like fellow pop tinkerers Electric Light Orchestra, the new material (like "Keep an Eye on Dan," "No Doubt About It" and "Don't Shut Me Down") could have been beamed from 1975.
This GRAMMY nomination for Album Of The Year follows their 2022 GRAMMY nomination for Record Of The Year — by way of "I Still Have Faith In You," the lead track from the album.
ABBA have stated that this is their last hurrah; if so, what a magical finale. Because Voyage hits just like the… well, hits.
Adele - 30
A new Adele album, with titles like "Cry Your Heart Out," "Oh My God" and "I Drink Wine" — casual onlookers might envision a soundtrack to an extended ugly-crying session. Well, it can be that if you want it to be.
But Adele is no one-dimensional artist — far from it. And her stunning latest, 30, is a cornucopia of wildly variable moods, production styles and flavors of ear candy.
This is partly due to the inspired production of Greg Kurstin, Max Martin, Shellback, Ludwig Göransson, and other leading lights — and mostly due to Adele hurtling forward as a prime communicator and expresser.
Adele has long been a sturdy presence at the GRAMMYs, earning 15 golden gramophones and 18 nominations up to this point. The 2023 GRAMMY nominations mark another chapter in her musical life.
And it goes beyond 30's GRAMMY nomination for Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. The majestic lead single "Easy On Me" was nominated for golden gramophones for Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Music Video. (Additionally, Adele: One Night Only is in the running for a GRAMMY for Best Music Film.)
Is 30 a work of bracing catharsis, in a very on-brand sense? Of course — this is Adele we're talking about. But the album maintains a pep in its step, and plenty of surprises in every song.
Here's just one, from before it even came out: "Is that really a feature from Erroll Garner, a jazz pianist who died in 1977?" Only you, Adele.
Bad Bunny — Un Verano Sin Ti
Un Verano Sin Ti may have been one of the hottest pop albums of the year — of any regional genre or national origin. It's the kind of work that bridges international markets, that sells out Yankee Stadium two nights in a row, that debuts at the top of the Billboard 200. (It was the second Spanish-language album to ever do that, to boot.)
And from a GRAMMYs standpoint, the Puerto Rican rapper and singer born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio has the wind in his sails. Not only has he previously won two golden gramophones and been nominated for six; at the 2023 GRAMMYs, Un Verano Sin Ti is up for a GRAMMY for Best Música Urbana Album, and "Moscow Mule" is up for another for Best Pop Solo Performance.
All that being said, Bad Bunny's latest bears a quality rare in offerings from artists of his caliber — it magically maintains a handmade, personal quality that sticks out among the pack.
Loosened-up, tropical-inflected tunes like "Me Porto Bonito," "Yo No Soy Celoso" and "Aguacero" don't chew the scenery to impress you; they seem as natural as breathing, which belies the level of craft involved in each song's construction, and the subtle emotional incisiveness of his messaging.
All of it adds up to a long-player that feels relaxed yet focused feels vaporous without being ephemeral. Un Verano Sin Ti is a summer dream — and an unforgettable one.
Beyoncé - Renaissance
The sociocultural shifts of the past few years have led to a reassessment of music history through the lens of identity. And one big win was the realization that disco, in fact, did not suck — thank you very much.
Not only was the lion's share of the music great, but the discotheque provided a haven for free expression among any number of marginalized groups, in regard to skin color, sexual orientation and gender identity.
The engine of RENAISSANCE, Beyoncé's first album in six and a half years, is the eternal power of the dancefloor — both in sound and spirit. Of course, this has been a throughline of her past work, for which she's picked up an astounding 28 GRAMMYs. But never before has it been contained and consolidated on one album like this.
This aesthetic doesn't render RENAISSANCE a mere throwback, but a future-forward addition to the dance/pop lineage. "Cozy" and "Thique" speak to radical self-acceptance; cornerstone track "Plastic Off the Sofa" is cinematic and immersive; despite the title, closer "SUMMER RENAISSANCE" is an on-ramp to revel in these sounds in fall, winter, and spring.
On the 2023 GRAMMYs nominations list, Beyoncé can be found all over the place: on top of this Album Of The Year GRAMMY nomination, RENAISSANCE is up for a GRAMMY for Best Dance/Electronic Album.
And on a track-by-track level, she's represented in the Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, Best Dance/Electronic Recording, Best R&B Performance, Best Traditional R&B Performance, Best R&B Song, and Best Remixed Recording categories. "BE ALIVE," Beyoncé's tune for the film King Richard, is nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Song Written For Visual Media.
Beyoncé has made clear that RENAISSANCE is the first in a three-part installment: it's anyone's guess as to where this boundary-breaker will venture next. But until then, this dance party is forever.
Read More: How Many GRAMMYs Has Beyoncé Won? 10 Questions About The Renaissance Singer Answered
Mary J. Blige — Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)
The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul returned in 2022 in multiple surprising ways. In February, she released Good Morning Gorgeous, a work of emotional depth with a surprising bite to it. (Would another R&B act of her generation drop a track like "On Top," with the cutting-edge MC Fivio Foreign?)
Thirty years after the release of her debut album, What's The 411, the previously nine-time GRAMMY winner hasn't lost one iota of her clarity of creative vision or cachet as an R&B innovator.
This is reflected not only in the bold, brassy sound throughout Good Morning Gorgeous, but the presence of other high-profile guests, like DJ Khaled on "Amazing," Anderson .Paak on "Here With Me," Dave East on "Rent Money," and Usher on "Need Love."
Two days after the album's release, Mary J. Blige stormed the Super Bowl with Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg, in a celebration of hip-hop as an ever-swelling force four decades in.
That performance made abundantly clear that this world would be unrecognizable without the soul edge Blige has brought and continues to bring.
At the 2023 GRAMMYs, she's not only nominated for golden gramophones for Album Of The Year, but Best R&B Album, Best R&B Performance ("Here With Me"), Best Traditional R&B Performance, and Best R&B Song ("Good Morning Gorgeous").
Clearly, the Queen's reign continues unabated.
Brandi Carlile — In These Silent Days
Brandi Carlile is a known quantity far outside of the singer/songwriter these days. She's swelling in the public sphere as a media personality, and friend and booster to a recovering (and returning!) Joni Mitchell.
And that's for a very good reason: few can weave words and melodies like her, and deliver them with such gravitas.
This was clear at the 2022 GRAMMYs, when two cuts from In These Silent Days — "Right on Time" and "A Beautiful Noise" — earned her four GRAMMY nominations, in the Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance categories. (She was also nominated for a GRAMMY for Best American Roots Performance, for her featured appearance on Brandy Clark's "Same Devil.")
But, again, it's how all the songs talk to each other — and Recording Academy members were ravished by all 10. Taken as a whole, In These Silent Days imparts a dizzying amount of literary detail, with the immediacy of a blast of Laurel Canyon air.
"You and Me on the Rock," featuring indie-poppers Lucius, brings the heartache and jubilation of Mitchell's Blue into the 21st century; the strummy abandon expertly disguises the next-level craft beneath the hood.
Elsewhere, the Fleetwood Mac-like "Broken Horses" swings like a pendulum — this is a heavyweight artist we're reckoning with. And it's bracing to hear Carlile almost completely unadorned on impassioned closer "Throwing Good After Bad," lifted by the subtlest strains of a string section.
At the 2023 GRAMMYs, Carlile is also represented in the Best Americana Album category; Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song, for "Broken Horses"; and Best Americana Performance, for "You and Me on the Rock."
On the cover of In These Silent Days, Carlile looks to be casually fixing her collar, as if the contents of the album amounted to a throat-clearing. The album might be partly a letter to the past, but heaven knows what's in her immediate future.
Coldplay — Music Of The Spheres
Coldplay won over the world for writing cleareyed, intimate songs about romantic insecurity and longing; now, they write about everything. Literally everything, transcending the concerns of terra firma and bounding through the celestials.
Everything about Music of the Spheres is a wild swing, which befits a band seemingly destined to carry the torch of the outsized U2.
Frontman Chris Martin said he was inspired by the enormity of the Star Wars universe and the title-track opener — stylized as a Saturn emoji — feels like the Flash Gordon-style opening crawl, an awe-inspiring sci-fi universe whirring to life. And the first single, "Higher Power," reaches for nothing less than the gates of Heaven.
That the Englishmen are able to engage in such space-scraping without sacrificing their core identity is somewhat miraculous. "Humankind" is a Kubrickian update on the anthemic mold they've always adhered to — going all the way back to A Rush of Blood to the Head, which turned 20 in 2022. And "Let Somebody Go," featuring Selena Gomez, feels as pared-down as their intimate, beloved debut, Parachutes.
For a song on the scale of "My Universe," not only guest would do: Martin and company had to tap the arguably biggest pop group on the planet, BTS. The song cycle ends with the 10-minute "Coloratura," which shows how Coldplay manage to stay creatively unpredictable even as their cachet grows heavenward.
On top of Music of the Spheres' GRAMMY nominations for Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album, "My Universe" is represented in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category. But whether or not Coldplay ultimately take home their golden gramophones, they've made an album that belongs to the planets and stars.
Kendrick Lamar — Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
In the years since his gritty, explosive DAMN., Kendrick Lamar went off the grid and into a period of profound self-examination.
"I spend most of my days with fleeting thoughts. Writing. Listening," Lamar wrote in an August 2021 blog post. "Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family. While the world around me evolves, I reflect on what matters the most."
When the Pulitzer Prize winner and (at the time) 14-time GRAMMY winner finally dropped a new song, "The Heart Pt. 5," it was clear that introspection had resulted in work of a renewed and downright frightening intensity.
"I come from a generation of pain, where murder is minor/ Rebellious and Margielas'll chip you for designer," the MC, who now nicknames himself "Oklama," rapped in the attendant video. "Belt buckles and clout, overzealous if prone to violence/ Make the wrong turn, be it will or the wheel alignment."
As the stark, one-shot video progressed, Lamar's face morphed into deepfake impersonations of O.J. Simpson, Kanye West, Jussie Smollett, Will Smith, Kobe Bryant, and Nipsey Hussle — as the latter, who was murdered in 2019, he rapped about gazing at his family and friends from heaven.
A track like that wouldn't have fit the concept of Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers, and accordingly, wasn't on the album. Because Mr. Morale is foremost an album about fatherhood, fidelity, and destroying old attitudes by fire. "Kendrick made you think about it, but he is not your savior," he reminds us at the outset of "Savior," demolishing his self-mythology.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Throughout an exhilarating and exhausting 78 minutes, Lamar ruthlessly interrogates his ingrained attitudes about fatherhood ("Father Time"), relationships with women ("We Cry Together"), and transgender relatives ("Auntie Diaries").
At the 2023 GRAMMYs, "The Heart Pt. 5" was nominated for GRAMMYs for Song Of The Year, Best Rap Performance, Best Melodic Rap Performance, and Best Rap Song.
And the courageous and unflinching Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers picked up GRAMMY nominations for Album Of The Year and Best Rap Album. Its resonance extends past the lyrical subject matter, or the gonzo arrangements where every musical decision seems wildly unorthodox.
Because if you zoom out, it's unlike anything Lamar — or any other rapper, for that matter — has ever made.
Lizzo — Special
In the past few years, Lizzo has enjoyed an expeditious ascent from flute-toting, self-loving charmer to a downright media titan. In her Amazon Prime reality show "Watch Out for the Big Grrrls," plus-sized models compete to become her backup dancer; her eye-popping VMAs dress reflected how her idiosyncratic visual aesthetic is rapidly gaining steam.
And her 2022 was typified by her latest album, Special, which consolidates her musical gifts and ever-evolving messaging in a cohesive blend of funk, disco, hip-hop, and pop. The single "About Damn Time" is practically destined to loom large in her legend; it joins "Good as Hell," "Truth Hurts," and the rest as calling-cards for her meme-friendly, feel-good outlook.
But the singles weren't exactly the point this time around: the matured and restrained Special is a window into Lizzo's particular universe, where the headline is "You matter, just the way you are."
Lizzo has previously picked up three GRAMMYs and three GRAMMY nominations; at the 2023 GRAMMYs, "About Damn Time" is nominated for GRAMMYs for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance. Additionally, by way of a Purple Disco Machine remix, said track is represented in the Best Remixed Recording category.
And because of the way that song interacts with vulnerable album tracks like "Naked" and "If You Love Me," Recording Academy membership decreed that Special is in the running for Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album.
Because when you strip away the memes, the hashtags, and the media appearances, Lizzo makes albums — superb ones. And when it comes to honors like this, it's, well, about damn time.
Harry Styles — Harry’s House
With his self-titled debut and follow-up, Fine Line, Harry Styles had already catapulted himself far past the purview of One Direction.
But his third album, Harry's House, ups the ante in a new way; it presents a totally liveable, self contained domicile. Within the LP, can take a load off on the couch, pontificate in the kitchen, or brood on the edge of the bed.
How can an album take on such qualities? That's partly because every song, "Music for a Sushi Restaurant" to "Late Night Talking" to "Love of My Life," is imbued with that charm only Styles possesses — the one that lays waste to Madison Square Garden and gave him a Hollywood star turn in Don't Worry Darling.
And the sheer concision and earworm hook of his titanic single "As It Was" raises even more questions than it does answers. Here's one: which perfect pop songs hasn't he written yet?
At the 2023 GRAMMYs, "As It Was" has been nominated for GRAMMYs for Song Of The Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, and Best Music Video; Harry's House is nominated for GRAMMYs for Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. If Styles wins in any of these categories, he will add to his previous GRAMMY win, for Best Pop Solo Performance for Fine Line's "Watermelon Sugar."
Clearly, fans worldwide set up camp at Harry's House, and have no plans to vacate anytime soon. Because amid all the other reasons, it's just too much fun to kick back in there.
The 2023 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 65th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.
The eligibility period for the 65th GRAMMY Awards is Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 – Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. All eligible awards entries must be released within this timeframe.
The Recording Academy and GRAMMY.com do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy’s Voting Membership.
Photo: David Crotty/Patrick McMullan
GRAMMY Rewind: Brandi Carlile Nervously Accepts Her First GRAMMY After "The Joke" Wins In 2019
Fourteen years into her career, Brandi Carlile won her first GRAMMY award — and because the long-awaited victory was so meaningful, she couldn't help "violently shaking" on stage.
Brandi Carlile has been making waves in the Americana community for nearly two decades. But in 2019, Carlile's career began a different — and much bigger — trajectory thanks to a little song called "The Joke."
The lead single from her sixth studio album, By the Way, I Forgive You, "The Joke" is dedicated to marginalized communities who constantly feel underrepresented and unloved by society. As a trailblazer in the LBGTQIA+ community, her impassioned vocal performance struck fans and critics alike.
In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, we revisit the day "The Joke" helped Carlile win her first golden gramophone, for Best American Roots Performance. (It was one of three GRAMMYs Carlile took home that night, as "The Joke" also won Best American Roots Song and By the Way, I Forgive You won Best Americana Album.)
"It's our first GRAMMY!" Carlile cheered alongside her longtime collaborators Phil and Tim Hanseroth. "This means so much to me [...] and Dave Cobb, who wrote this song and brought the best out in us. We can't thank you enough."
Carlile went on to praise her team at Elektra Records and her family. "So many people to thank, but I'm violently shaking right now," she added, then passed the mic to the Hanseroth twins.
Before the trio left the stage, Carlile quipped, "Whoever we forgot, forgive us. You know we love you, and you know we're terrified!"
Press play on the video above to watch Brandi Carlile's complete acceptance speech for Best American Roots Performance at the 2019 GRAMMYs, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.
The Rise Of Brandi Carlile: How Her Emotive Songwriting & Delivery Made Her One Of Americana's Most Versatile Stars
Photo: Kristy Sparow/Getty Images, Kevin Winter/Getty Images for LARAS, Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy, Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy, Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images, Gustavo Garcia Villa
Listen To GRAMMY.com's LGBTQIA+ Pride Month 2023 Playlist Featuring Demi Lovato, Sam Smith, Kim Petras, Frank Ocean, Omar Apollo & More
Celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride Month 2023 with a 50-song playlist that spans genres and generations, honoring trailblazing artists and allies including George Michael, Miley Cyrus, Orville Peck, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande and many more.
In the past year, artists in the LGBTQIA+ community have continued to create change and make history — specifically, GRAMMY history. Last November, Liniker became the first trans artist to win a Latin GRAMMY Award when she took home Best MPB Album for Indigo Borboleta Anil; three months later, Sam Smith and Kim Petras became the first nonbinary and trans artists, respectively, to win the GRAMMY Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their sinful collab "Unholy."
Just those two feats alone prove that the LGBTQIA+ community is making more and more of an impact every year. So this Pride Month, GRAMMY.com celebrates those strides with a playlist of hits and timeless classics that are driving conversations around equality and fairness for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Below, take a listen to 50 songs by artists across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum — including "Unholy" and Liniker's "Baby 95" — on Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora.
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Everything We Know About The 'Barbie' Soundtrack: New Dua Lipa Song, Release Date, Artist Lineup, All The 'Barbie' Songs & More
Nicki Minaj, Charli XCX, Gayle, Haim, and — surprisingly — Ryan Gosling also feature on the soundtrack to 'Barbie' — the buzzy, plasticine summer flick.
When the second Barbie teaser landed like a hydrogen bomb made of memes, the world got the first inkling this would be a very musical movie.
That was by way of the Beach Boys' "Fun, Fun, Fun," rendered chopped and screwed and vaguely menacing. ("Fun! Fun! Fun! Fun! Fun!" the heavily altered Boys intone, over and over and over.) Now, it's clear that the sunny '60s hit was just, ahem, the tip of the iceberg.
As Rolling Stone reports, the Barbie soundtrack — known as Barbie The Album — will be a veritable toybox of the biggest pop stars today. Those are: Ava Max, Charli XCX, Dominic Fike, Dua Lipa, FIFTY FIFTY, GAYLE, HAIM, Ice Spice, Kali, Karol G, Khalid, Lizzo, Nicki Minaj, PinkPantheress, Ryan Gosling (!), Tame Impala, and the Kid Laroi.
That's not even all of them — more artists will be announced closer to Barbie The Album's release date, on July 21. (That's also the day the film drops.) Until then, read on for everything we could find about the Barbie soundtrack… so far.
Mark Ronson Is The Executive Music Producer
The seven-time GRAMMY-winning record producer and songwriter, who's worked with everyone from Lady Gaga to Paul McCartney to Adele, is at the helm. "This Ken helped make a whole soundtrack," Ronson tweeted, acknowledging his involvement.
The Soundtrack Contains 17 Songs
That's as per Apple Music, which details the lion's share of the tracklist. (Tracks six and 11 are TBD). Check it out for very Barbie song titles like Lizzo's "Pink," Ryan Gosling's "I'm Just Ken" and Dominic Fike's "Hey Blondie." And…
Barbie Girls, In A Barbie World
…yes, you read that right: Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice will team up with Aqua to perform "Barbie World" — a new version of the classic "Barbie Girl" song, which appears in the official trailer.
Dua Lipa's "Dance The Night" Is A Contender For The Centerpiece
On May 25, Dua Lipa dropped the official music video for "Dance the Night." (The three-time GRAMMY winner also plays Mermaid Barbie in the film.)
Aside from her 2022 collaborative track with Megan Thee Stallion, "Sweetest Pie," Lipa's been quiet since the Future Nostalgia era; "Dance the Night" captures the magic of hits like "Levitating" and cements her as the post-pandemic disco queen.
Something Is Happening With Lady Gaga
The official Barbie Twitter account seemingly confirmed rumors of Lady Gaga's involvement when they tweeted eye emojis at Gaga's promise of "something exciting." Wait and see, we suppose.
No Beach Boys Tunes Are Known To Be On The Soundtrack — Yet
It remains to be seen whether "Fun, Fun, Fun" will simply be a trailer song or play some key part in the film proper. With a catalog literally filled to the brim with beach-getaway bangers, they could play a key role in Barbie's musical world. Again: wait and see.
Nicki Minaj Is Here For A Very Good Reason
As Rolling Stone points out: what is Nicki Minaj's most famous persona? You guessed it. Expect the Harajuku Barbie to loom large on the soundtrack — and perhaps, at least spiritually, in the film.
Keep checking back as more details about the Barbie soundtrack come to light!
Met Gala 2023: All The Artists & Celebrities Who Served Fierce Looks & Hot Fashion On The Red Carpet, From Rihanna To Dua Lipa To Billie Eilish To Bad Bunny To Cardi B To Doja Cat & More
Photo: Rob Verhorst/Redferns
Remembering The Artistry Of Tina Turner, "The Epitome Of Power And Passion"
Throughout her eight GRAMMY wins and 25 nominations, Tina Turner’s vast and generation-spanning musical output proved equally entertaining and inspirational. The Bold Soul Sister died on May 24 at her home near Zurich, Switzerland. She was 83.
The Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, recording legend, icon of empowerment. No matter how one refers to Tina Turner, her passing constitutes a seismic loss that marks the end of a shining cultural legacy which leaves in its wake an industry-shaping career. Throughout her eight GRAMMY wins and 25 nominations, Turner’s vast and generation-spanning musical output proved equally entertaining and inspirational.
The icon died on May 24 at her home near Zurich, Switzerland. She was 83.
"Tina Turner broke barriers for women on and off the stage throughout her incredible career," said Harvey Mason jr, CEO of The Recording Academy, of Turner who received GRAMMY’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 and is a three-time inductee to the GRAMMY Hall of Fame. "She amazed audiences worldwide with her electrifying performances, including on our GRAMMY stage in 1985 and 2008, and was an undeniable rockstar who paved the way for so many with her signature style and powerful vocals. She will be greatly missed by all the people she touched around the globe."
It’s a sentiment shared by the music industry, and world, at large. "She was truly an enormously talented performer and singer,"Mick Jaggerwrote on social media. "She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous. She helped me so much when I was young and I will never forget her." On her website, Beyoncé — who performed with Turner at the 50th GRAMMY Awards — paid tribute to her "beloved Queen," writing, "I love you endlessly. I’m so grateful for your inspiration and all the ways you paved the way. You are strength and resilience. You are the epitome of power and passion."Elton John put it simply: "We have lost one of the world's most exciting and electric performers," he wrote. "She was untouchable."
Turner’s untouchable talent famously embodied two phases. First, her tumultuous collaboration with husband Ike Turner, during which they performed as a duo and yielded hits including the oft-covered "Proud Mary." The instantly-recognizable song earned the couple a GRAMMY Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Group in 1972 and was inducted in the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 2003. In her triumphant second act, Turner broke away from the partnership. She reinvented herself as a solo performer, improbably transitioning from a '60s and '70s-era rocker to arena pop star in the 1980s.
For her efforts, the singer swept the major categories at the 1985 GRAMMY Awards, winning Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "What’s Love Got To Do With It." She also took home the golden gramophone for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for "Better Be Good To Me."
One of her most indelible hits, Turner utilized "What's Love Got To Do With It" as a call to action, becoming brutally honest about her abusive relationship with her ex-husband along the way. Turner later recalled toRolling Stone that when she left Ike in July 1976, "I had nothing. I didn’t even know how to get money. I had a girl working for me who had worked for Ike, because she knew about ways of getting money. I didn’t know how to do any of that stuff." She later devised what’s considered one of the greatest comebacks in music history.
First offered to Donna Summer — who sat on the track before ultimately passing — songwriter Terry Britten later revealed that she thought "What’s Love Got to Do With It" was "awful." Turner didn't like the song either, but recorded it following encouragement from her manager, Roger Davis.
"I said, 'If it doesn't work out, we won't use it. So let's give it a go,'" Britten recalled in her 2021 documentary, Tina. It wasn’t until Turner laid down her vocal track that the song was elevated from pop confection into a showcase for the vocal powerhouse. "They weren't used to a strong voice standing on top of music," Turner said in the documentary. "But I converted it and made it my own."
Turner’s deft musical translation is evident throughout her eclectic discography, from the blues-inflicted rock she performed as Ike & Tina Turner, to pop anthems like 1989’s "The Best" (which became a trademark and, naturally, the title of a popular greatest hits album). In 1962, she was nominated for her first GRAMMY Award for Best Rock and Roll Recording for "It’s Gonna Work Out Fine," her and Ike’s hit from the previous year which was offered to them after songwriter Rose Marie McCoy saw their energetic stage show at the Apollo.
It was an auspicious early hit for Turner, who would become a staple of the category for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female. Decades later, she earned back-to-back wins in the category for "One of the Living" and "Back Where We Started" in 1986 and 1987, a nomination for "Better Be Good To Me" in ‘88, and took home the golden gramophone in ‘89 for Tina Live in Europe, among many others.
"My songs are a little bit of everybody’s lives who are watching me," said Turner to Rolling Stonein the midst of her hot streak in 1986. "You gotta sing what they can relate to. And there are some raunchy people out there. The world is not perfect. And all of that is in my performance; I play with it."
Born Anna Mae Bullock, Turner’s journey to musical dynamo began on the farmlands of Tennessee where she discovered early on her passion for artistic expression. "As a girl, every chance I got, I’d go to our local movie theater and memorize scenes so I could reenact them," she recalled in 2021 the Harvard Business Review. "Although I did have a bit of singing training in high school and even learned some opera, my voice and dance abilities have mostly come naturally to me."
That vocal prowess and inimitable energy as a performer was on full display throughout her life behind the microphone, one of the most memorable examples being "River Deep-Mountain High." Inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 1999, her duet with Ike was produced by Phil Spector who Turner said had him cut her vocals ad nauseam to spectacular results. "I must have sung that 500,000 times," she told Rolling Stone after the publication ranked the track No. 33 of their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. "I was drenched with sweat. I had to take my shirt off and stand there in my bra to sing."
Upon her death, the New York Times called her "a magnetic singer with explosive power." That power was visible on and off the stage, both in her artistry and ability to soldier on in the face of the numerous obstacles. In a 2005 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Turner explained, "There's an expression, 'You'll never get out of this world alive.' It's true. We won't. Go forward. Do your best with your makeup, hair, and clothes."
In that same interview, Turner also mused about her legacy, touching on the inspiration she doled out by being her authentic self. "My wish is to give the kind of truth to people that will help them change their minds. When that happens, I'll be the best that I can be."
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