meta-scriptWe Only Said Goodbye With Words: Remembering Amy Winehouse 10 Years Later | GRAMMY.com
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Amy Winehouse 

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We Only Said Goodbye With Words: Remembering Amy Winehouse 10 Years Later

On the 10th anniversary of her passing, GRAMMY.com honors Amy Winehouse with an industry round-table tribute featuring the artists, creatives and journalists she's inspired through her music and style

GRAMMYs/Jul 23, 2021 - 11:00 am

To truly understand Amy Winehouse, you have to be in tune with the unfiltered version of yourself. Through her whiskey-soaked vocals and lyrics that sang more like ripped diary pages, the singer pulled at heartstrings worldwide.

A Southgate, North London native, Winehouse first emerged onto the music scene with 2003’s Frank. Partly inspired by Frank Sinatra (one of her many influences), the debut album was an engaging collection of breezy, jazz-soul ditties that commented on everything from local gold diggers (the cheeky "F*** Me Pumps") to annoying boyfriends ("Stronger Than Me"). 

But the artist’s global breakout moment is attributed to 2006’s follow-up and final album, Back to Black. While Frank teased Winehouse’s innate talent, this sophomore record showcased a budding legend before the world’s very eyes. The album is unabashed in its rawness, with Winehouse triggering listeners with once-deeply hidden memories of the emotional rollercoaster that relationships bring: the distracting love bombing, the painful heartbreak and trying to pull yourself out of the pits. Back to Black’s foundation is honesty, reflecting the artist’s own personal life at the time — from her tumultuous relationship with then ex-beau and future husband Blake Fielder-Civil to her battle with addiction and the mobs of British paparazzi tracking her every move.

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Back to Black was a refreshing fusion of ‘60s girl group doo-wop, contemporary R&B, pop, reggae, and soul. The magic that Winehouse created with collaborators Mark Ronson, producer    Salaam Remi and Sharon Jones' band The Dap-Kings led to massive success. Back to Black took home five out of six GRAMMY Awards (including Record of the Year for "Rehab" and Best New Artist). Following her untimely death, Winehouse won best Pop/Duo Performance in 2011 for her "Body and Soul" collaboration with Tony Bennett, as well as Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for Nas’ "Cherry Wine" in 2012.

Along with her gripping music, Winehouse made a stamp on pop culture through her nostalgic fashion style. A mix of ‘60s Motown, rockabilly and British ‘80s punk, she became known for her signature to-the-sky beehive hairdo, overly extended winged eyeliner, cherry-red lips, Monroe piercing and love for short cocktail dresses. In 2020, her style was commemorated in the GRAMMY Museum’s "Beyond Black – The Style Of Amy Winehouse" exhibit with assistance by her stylist Naomi Parry and longtime friend Catriona Gourlay. Winehouse’s legacy remains strong to this day: she paved the way for artists like Adele, Duffy, Estelle to cross over stateside, and also inspired a new generation of singers who admired her musical bluntness.

On the 10th anniversary of her passing today (July 23), GRAMMY.com honors Amy Winehouse with an industry round-table tribute featuring the artists, creatives and journalists she's inspired through her music and style.

The quotes and comments used in this feature were edited for clarity and brevity.

She Tapped Into Everyone’s Emotions

Alessia Cara (GRAMMY-winning Canadian singer/songwriter): I remember seeing the "Rehab" video for the first time and being glued to the television. She had big curly hair like mine, sitting on a stoop and singing with the most beautiful voice I'd ever heard. From then, I watched every video I could find on YouTube and learned every song. She made me want to learn the guitar, made me fall in love with jazz, and made me understand the undeniable power in simplicity and honesty. I saw so much of myself in her, in ways that I just couldn’t find in a lot of people on the radio at the time. To this day, if I write a lyric that feels a little too close for comfort, I think of her and how she would have said it anyway and it puts me right back on track. The real magic lies just past discomfort. It’s embedded in the truth. There is no one who did it more impactfully than her, but I always keep that sentiment in my pocket when speaking of my own feelings in my music; It’s shown me the reason for music in the first place. It’s an escape, a shoulder, a mirror. She never took it lightly and because of that  —  neither do I. 

Charlotte Day Wilson (Toronto singer/songwriter): Amy's music was soulful, unafraid and deeply personal. As a teen who was obsessed with Motown, I was instantly hooked when I heard Back to Black for the first time. Her swagger as a vocalist, her crass yet timeless lyrics, the production, everything just hit perfectly and I know those elements/ influences live in me in many ways as an artist. 

Suchandrika Chakrabarti (London-based journalist, comedian and performer of "I Miss Amy Winehouse" show): When I look back at my memories of the 2000s, so many of them are soundtracked by Amy’s music. I was born in the same year as Amy Winehouse – 1983 – and she’s six months younger than me. She was born in a suburb of north London, and I was born in a suburb of east London. We could’ve gone to the same school. She moved to Camden and made it her home in the 2000s; I worked and partied in Camden during the same period. 

Amy always felt three steps away, perhaps pulling pints in The Hawley Arms or listening to the after-hours rockabilly music in the backroom of Marathon Bar (a kebab shop that used to host late-night parties), or having a smoke as she invited a gang of people back to her Camden flat for an after-party. Yet, she was a record-breaking global mega-star that I somehow didn’t run into around Camden!

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The Amy I read about and saw in interviews was incredibly likable and unafraid of the media machine. Her kind of London accent wasn’t (and still isn’t) often heard on TV, and she would not play by the rules of a nice, media-trained pop starlet, choosing instead to criticize other acts, talk about her relationships and bare her soul, or storm off, depending on her mood. She could give as good as she got, particularly towards older male journalists who wanted to view her with an objectifying eye. 

Most of all, she was funny. Earlier on in her career, she could undercut the dramatically heartbroken image of herself that her songs suggested by just turning up to interviews and being her own sarcastic, quick-witted self. Amy entertained the public off-stage as well as on, and I always wanted to know what she would do next. I was always rooting for her. 

Lolo Zouaï (R&B/pop singer/songwriter): My favorite part about her music is her songwriting; her voice sounds so timeless but her lyrics have an edge to them. She doesn't filter what she wants to say which is such a beautiful contrast that I try to emulate in my lyrics.

Daya (GRAMMY-winning pop singer-songwriter): Amy’s ability to pick you up wherever you are and place you right in the middle of whatever she was going through was transcendent. To see the world through her lens has impacted me greatly as a person, songwriter and artist. What I love most about her as a person was her stubbornness and reluctance to compromise  —  she knew exactly what she wanted and didn’t care to cater to industry expectations or appeal to any specific audience. I constantly find myself trying to channel that energy when I’m met with resistance to my work. She’s easily one of the greatest artists that’s ever lived, and I feel lucky to have been alive at the same time as her.

Mike Spinella (Senior Director, Original Content at Pandora): I had the privilege to work with Amy in 2007 when she came to the United States to promote Back to Black. I had been booking talent and developing new content at AOL Music and became aware of the U.K. buzz surrounding her talent and instantly iconic voice. The record felt timeless immediately, it was brilliant — perfect, really. I had the opportunity to book Amy in our studio, where she gave a remarkable stripped-down performance, it was the first time I had seen her perform in person. Her extraordinary talent was undeniable at that moment. This was a very impactful moment in my career, being able to share her performance with the world. I am extremely proud to have played a role in reaching a large audience in the U.S. at that stage of her career with this timeless content.

Her Music Was Both Charming & Timeless

Alessia Cara (singer): Amy had this unmatched ability to tap into specific details of her life in a way that made you think of your own. She was brutally honest, sometimes to the point that made you uncomfortable. But it’s only that type of honesty that can hit a certain nerve in people —  one that feels like she’s holding a mirror right up to your face. The older I get, the more her lyrics shape-shift their meaning to me. She detailed the human experience (specifically sadness) in ways that if you didn’t relate to in the past, you eventually will. You can go back to those songs and think, "Wow I get it now." Her music is timeless because the shared experience of love and loss is timeless. 

Suchandrika Chakrabarti (journalist, comedian and performer): Her music is about the biggest things in life: love, sex, trust, pain, emotion. Amy’s songs manage to make each of us the "Main Character" in the imaginary film of our life, her dramatic soundtrack scoring our highs and lows, our sadnesses and our triumphs. That’s why she seemed like the perfect fit for a Bond theme; it’s a shame that it didn’t work out. 

I’ve been researching a lot of media from the time to write my show, and Mark Ronson’s quote about Amy writing the single "Back to Black" in two or three hours really stuck with me. Her lyrics could have been diary entries, polished into poetry and set to melodies that can make you jump onto the dancefloor or fall onto your bed in despair. Her pain was raw, and part of her processing it was to make it into music. That part made sense, but it was sharing it with the public that I think took its toll on her. 

The contrast between her stage presence and her "real" presence in interviews and on the streets of Camden was utterly fascinating. She didn’t need to try to capture our attention with a fancy home, designer clothes or perfectly prepared soundbites for headlines. The talent reeled us in, and we just wanted to know everything about the person who could make this music at such a young age. She burst into fame apparently complete, any apprenticeship in music already done and dusted. 

Daya (singer): Her honesty, pain and the blatant rawness with which she talked about the struggles of love, sex, drugs, addiction, and temptation cuts through. It’s timeless because it touches on universal human emotion and experiences that will exist and be shared as long as humans are alive on earth. She was completely unfiltered, politically incorrect and unconcerned with what others think, and I think that is and will always continue to be a refreshing take, especially now at a time when art/music can feel increasingly watered down or made "safe" to cater to whatever will work in a mainstream or commercial way.

Mike Spinella (Senior Director, Original Content at Pandora): What struck me right away was Amy's unique style. Her sound was modern and classic all at the same time. Having witnessed Amy perform several times, including in an intimate studio session, it was easy to see how her sheer talent and captivating presence would inspire musicians for generations to come. Beyond the music, what also struck me was her sincerity, love and appreciation for the artists who influenced her as well as her peers. Amy embodied the creativity of a true artist and it showed in her work. Her career will continue to inspire those who have not yet discovered her brilliance.

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Her Sense of Fashion Style Was Unapologetic

Nicholas Vega (GRAMMY Musem’s Curator and Director of Exhibitions, who helmed the "Beyond Black – The Style Of Amy Winehouse" exhibit last January): Amy’s style has proven to be timeless and has influenced a number of artists (and continues to do so). This is undeniable. There are certain elements of her style that other artists have adopted —  whether it is the beehive hairdo, eye make-up, tattoos, or fitted dresses. But the most influential attribute of her style has to be her sense of individualism. Her stylist and friends were influential in helping her develop her look, but ultimately Amy took bits and pieces of trends and styles that she admired to create her own look. This is so essential because she could have very well let her team tell her what and what not to wear. Her interest in fashion extended well beyond her own personal wardrobe, as this is clearly visible in her direct involvement in 2010’s Fred Perry campaign and the different looks she developed with her stylist Naomi Parry. When talking about Amy’s style or "look," this is what stands out the most to me.

Daya (singer): Her style and image were provocative in a way that really drew you in immediately. It was very "cool girl who doesn’t give a f***" while still alluding to glamour and opulence that kept it interesting and mysterious and elevated. She was beautifully extravagant without trying too hard, and she showed her body in a way that felt empowering and emboldening to me. Her general attitude toward style has influenced me heavily: she single handedly got me into eyeliner when I was a teen and it’s still my favorite item of makeup.

Opening night of the Beyond Black - The Style Of Amy Winehouse Exhibit at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles | Photo: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

She Created Soulful Hits

Charlotte Day Wilson (singer): [Back to Black single] "Love Is A Losing Game" was an instant classic and remains one. It's a song I turn to when I need someone to echo my pessimism towards love & its potential for longevity. 

Nicholas Vega (GRAMMY Musem’s Curator and Director of Exhibitions): My all-time personal favorite Amy Winehouse song is "In My Bed" off the Frank album.  Sampling Nas’ [2002 hit] "Made You Look" was genius! Sampling is such a huge part of hip-hop and the beat from "Made You Look" was actually lifted from the Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache” from 1973. There are few instances where hip-hop beats are used by artists from other genres of music  — it’s usually the other way around. With a hip-hop beat serving as the record’s backbone, combined with her soulful voice and emotionally raw lyrics, Amy’s creativity is certainly on full display. 

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Suchandrika Chakrabarti (journalist, comedian and performer): "Tears Dry On Their Own" is my favorite song and video. From the sample of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's soaring "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" from 1967 to the lyrics speaking of growing up, changing her ways and being her own best friend, this should be Amy’s anthem rather than "Rehab." The sample draws a direct comparison between the two songs: "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" is about two people whose love cannot be dimmed by distance, whereas "Tears" is about one codependent person finding the strength to walk away, no matter the imagined obstacles, or the urge to try just one more time. 

The other songs on Back to Black are about the pain and of surrendering to one’s own destructive patterns in love, but "Tears" is a manifesto for change. There’s much more hope in the lyrics, even though it can sound more downbeat in the melody than "Rehab" or "You Know I’m No Good." That’s the sly secret at the heart of Amy’s songs: the lyrics and the melody work beautifully together, but they each provoke two different emotions in us. 

The video has always struck me as being inspired by two memorable Richard Ashcroft videos from the Britpop era. The obvious one is his strut down East London’s Hoxton Street as the frontman of The Verve in 1997’s "Bitter Sweet Symphony." Amy, being a woman and (despite the beehive, only 5’3") emulates on Hollywood Blvd.

The quieter scenes with Amy in a hotel room call to mind Richard Ashcroft’s "A Song For The Lovers" in 2000. While he moves around his large hotel room with a sense of joy, Amy longingly sits alone in her small room. I think that we would have got more songs like "Tears Dry On Their Own" as Amy got into her 30s. There’s self-acceptance and maturity that makes it stand out from the other tracks on Back to Black. Plus, it’s just a great song to belt out at karaoke.

Lolo Zouaï (singer): I love so much of her music but the song "Wake Up Alone" is my favorite. I love to listen to her music in the morning because of the way it makes you feel so present.

Daya (singer): You Know I’m No Good" holds a special place in my heart because it was my favorite song to sing when I was 10 and still is one of them now. I used to cover it on the ukulele all of the time, and I was always drawn to the seduction and provocation of it without even knowing it at the time. It’s interesting to fully comprehend the layers of the lyrics as an adult now. It also really made me want to work with a big band at some point in my career.

Mike Spinella (Senior Director, Original Content at Pandora): It is hard to have a favorite song when Amy made so many perfect ones. But I will choose the song I probably have listened to most: "Tears Dry on Their Own." It encapsulates everything I love about Amy's music: an ear-worm tune that showcases Amy's one-a-kind vocals, blending struggles, heartbreak and truth into a candy-coated melody, all while paying homage with an interpolation of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's classic "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."

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She Was A Budding Icon Gone Too Soon

Alessia Cara (singer): I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. It was my second year of high school, so I was sitting on my bed writing an essay on my laptop. My mom came in, sat on my bed with me, and told me. I remember feeling my heart sink. One of my first thoughts after the initial questions of how, why, and where, was selfishly: "Oh my God. I will never meet her." Looking back, it’s kind of an ambitious thing to say. The thought that me, a high school student from Brampton, would have definitely met her had it not been for her passing was so far-fetched, yet it was crushing. As long as she was alive, there would still be the one percent chance that I’d run into her and get to tell her what she meant to me. But this solidified that I would never have that chance. 

That moment sparked so many devastating truths. She was never going to write a song again. We will never hear her sing again. How was someone so poignantly human, with an endless stream of emotions, never going to feel a single emotion again? It felt like she was robbed of the chances she was supposed to have. I felt her pain through her words and the thought that her life ended within that pain felt so wrong. Death never feels right, but this felt especially wrong. 

Thinking back now, her passing ultimately taught us all the true purpose of songwriting and how music lives on despite any circumstances. Her words continue to touch whoever hears [them]  — even 10 years later  —  and will continue to for generations. She’s still very much alive within that. I didn’t get to know her, but her art makes us all feel like we do. Her spirit is transcendent and her heart is still on earth, every time we dance around our kitchens to "Tears Dry On Their Own" or ugly cry to "Love is a Losing Game." Through her beautiful work and the awe she continues to leave us in, Amy will always be here.

Suchandrika Chakrabarti (journalist, comedian and performer): It was a Saturday lunchtime when the news broke. I was at home in Finsbury Park, which is about a 10-minute drive from Camden. I couldn’t tell you which medium brought me the news first  —  radio, TV, or online  —  but the moment I knew, I was on all three at once, trying to find out more. 

I was utterly shocked. Amy had been photographed walking around London just two days earlier, looking much healthier and stronger than she had in a long time. I genuinely thought that she would be able to turn things around. She was only 27, six months younger than me. Of course, there would be more songs, there would be more sightings of her around Camden, she would shepherd her goddaughter Dionne Bromfield into a promising music career of her own... 

I was working in broadcast news at the time and two days after her death, I was sent down to the scene outside her flat to collect interviews. It was an extraordinary scene. The buildings on Amy’s streets are gorgeous mid-19th-century townhouses arranged around a large rectangle of grass, and every inch of it was covered in mourners. 

These were teenagers, not 20-somethings like Amy or myself. They had created their own festival outside Amy’s home: drinking, smoking, and smearing their black eyeliner with their tears. It seemed like a strange tribute to a singer who had probably died due to drugs or alcohol  —  at this point we didn’t know for sure  —  and I still wonder now what those fans got from being there. I suppose they felt that they were being witnesses to the private, lonely death of such a public, much-photographed star. 

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Her Artistry Impacted A New Generation

Charlotte Day Wilson (singer): Just that the world of music was a better place with her in it. There will always be an empty space where she should've remained.

Nicholas Vega (GRAMMY Musem’s Curator and Director of Exhibitions): As I closely worked with her family and friends to develop the "Beyond Black – The Style of Amy Winehouse" exhibition, it became immediately clear that there are so many rich layers to her story. Having been able to hear first-hand accounts from those who knew her best and to be able to examine and analyze different objects from her personal collection, I learned that she was truly dedicated to her craft. Her passion for music and [music-making] was such a huge part of her DNA. Although she was blessed with a beautiful and soulful voice, she did not take that for granted. This really stands out as something special, as many people do not know this side of her story.  

Suchandrika Chakrabarti (journalist, comedian and performer): While Amy’s music is timeless, she lived in a very specific age. One in which her obvious difficulties were met with mocking headlines, cruel jokes on TV and a lack of support. We watched a career and life unfold, blossom and then end in real-time. So much more has to be done to care for people in her position. It would be nice to think that future generations of fans will find the values of the 2000s archaic, and that Amy’s sad trajectory in full view of the world won’t be repeated. 

Lolo Zouaï (singer): She was always authentically herself and just wanted to make music because that was her way of coping with her life, which was not easy. She never wanted to be famous, she was just born an artist and felt everything so deeply. 

Daya (singer): I would hope that her addiction and death don’t cast a shadow on everything that she was and everything she contributed to the world. I hope her legacy continues to live on as one of the most important and brilliant songwriters and pop culture influences who’s ever lived. She was undergoing heavy personal battles and the people around her  —  combined with the industry/media  —  continued to manipulate and exploit her for their own monetary or social gain. It was completely unfair and tragic what happened to her, which shouldn’t at all take away from the beautiful artist and person she was.

Big Voices, Ballads and Blockbuster Hits: How 1996 Became The Year Of The Pop Diva

Normani in 2023
Normani attends Elle's Women In Hollywood event in 2023.

Photo: MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images

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Breaking Down Normani's Journey To 'Dopamine': How Her Debut Album Showcases Resilience & Star Power

The wait for Normani's first album, 'Dopamine,' is officially over. Upon the album's arrival, reflect on all of the major moments that have happened in the six years since she made her solo debut.

GRAMMYs/Jun 14, 2024 - 09:39 pm

All eyes are on Normani as her long-awaited debut album, Dopamine, arrives to eager fans and critics alike on June 14. It arrives more than six years after Normani made her solo debut post-Fifth Harmony — and though she has released a number of singles since, even her most loyal listeners were bewildered by the delay of her debut project. But the 28-year-old has been strategic in building something timeless.

"I took the time to learn and develop my sound. I wanted to be different and create a body of work that's unique but still fresh and exciting," Normani tells GRAMMY.com. "There were many days of trial and error trying to perfect something that embodies who I am and the type of artist I wanted to be. I always knew that I had to trust myself even when others doubted me and questioned my hunger."

On the highly anticipated Dopamine, Normani's womanhood and artistic breadth effortlessly glides across its 13 tracks. She makes no apologies for her sexier image and music after years of "feeling safe with being seen, but not too seen," as she told Teen Vogue in 2020. That newfound confidence translates into a musical paradise that's a far cry from her Fifth Harmony days. Up until now, the world has only received Normani's talent in snippets here and there; Dopamine finally gives us the full dose.

As you dig into Dopamine, take a look at a complete breakdown of every major moment that's led to Normani's long-awaited debut project.

2018: She Re-Introduced Herself As An R&B Star

A mere month prior to Fifth Harmony's hiatus announcement, a then 21-year-old Normani teamed up with Khalid for her first-ever single as a solo act, "Love Lies." Penned for the Love, Simon soundtrack, the sultry R&B number foreshadowed Normani's imminent success outside of Fifth Harmony; not only did it crack the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it hit No. 1 on both Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 and Radio Songs charts.

At the tail end of 2018, Normani delivered another R&B jam, the hazy, slow-burning duet with 6lack, "Waves," which found success on multiple R&B charts. Though somewhat forgotten compared to "Motivation" and "Wild Side" (more on those later), "Waves" shows off Normani's vocal range as she laments over an on-again, off-again relationship.

2019: She Celebrated A Global Smash & Massive Opening Act Slot

Normani struck gold again in 2019 when she teamed up with Sam Smith for "Dancing With a Stranger," which became the most-played radio song in the world that year, according to Forbes. Sonically speaking, the disco-tinged oasis marked new territory for Normani — and it paid off in a big way as it boasts over a billion Spotify streams and remains her biggest single to date.

The singer's star continued shining bright into that summer, when she served as the opener for the North American leg of Ariana Grande's Sweetener Tour. The arena trek marked her first opportunity to show off her performing skills, and further prove her prowess as a solo act.

On the heels of the international success of "Dancing With a Stranger" and touring with Grande, Normani released her first fully solo single, "Motivation." The bubbly track presented a poppier side and offered a fun moment with its Y2K-inspired video, even igniting a viral dance challenge. But it seemingly wasn't indicative of the direction she was headed; at the time, Normani admitted to The Cut that she "didn't feel like it represented" her as an artist.

Still, "Motivation" served as a pivotal moment for Normani. It became a top 20 hit on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 chart, and she delivered a showstopping performance of the song at the MTV Video Music Awards — which even earned the title of 2019's best performance from Harper's Bazaar.

2020 & 2021: She Teamed Up With Two Of Rap's Biggest Female Stars

The next couple of years saw Normani continue linking up with several of her peers. She first joined forces with Megan Thee Stallion for the anthemic "Diamonds" — which brilliantly samples Marilyn Monroe's "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" — off the Birds of Prey soundtrack. Soon after, she teamed up with Megan again — this time, for a jaw-dropping cameo in the video for the chart-topping smash "WAP" with Cardi B.

"WAP" drew criticism for its sexually explicit lyrics (and equally racy video), but the message aligned perfectly with Normani's mission to champion and represent Black women in and outside of the music industry. 

"The 'WAP' video I was really, really excited to be a part of, just because I feel like we're in a time in music where women — and Black women — are really on top, which is something I feel like we haven't seen in a very, very long time," she told Teen Vogue. "Where I come from, we were all about female empowerment. The fact that I could be a part of such a special moment embracing our sexuality, in which I definitely think there's a double standard, [was exciting] to be a part of it."

In 2021, Normani took her turn with Cardi B on another fiery track, "Wild Side," which saw her return to her R&B foundation while also continuing her artistic evolution. From sampling Aaliyah's "One in a Million" to executing the intricate choreography seen in the Tanu Muino-directed video, the '90s-inspired slow jam — which closes out Dopamine — whet fans' appetite and established Normani as a force to be reckoned with in R&B and beyond.

2022: She Traversed Several Different Musical Worlds

Keeping fans on their toes, Normani veered away slightly from her signature R&B sound by incorporating synth-pop into the one-off single "Fair." The mid-tempo track put the spotlight on her vulnerability; the lyrics deal with watching a past lover move on as if you never existed.

"This one is really unique and different for me. Probably not what everyone is expecting," she said in an Instagram story ahead of the release.

A few months later, Normani dove deeper into the dance genre by lending her light and airy vocals to Calvin Harris' "New to You," a collaboration that also featured Tinashe and Offset. But she never strayed too far from her R&B stylings, as she also teamed up with childhood friend Josh Levi for a remix of his song "Don't They" that summer.

2023: She Ushered In A New Era

Though 2023 didn't see any new music from Normani, she made some business moves that indicated she was ready for a reset. That May, Normani parted ways with S10 Entertainment and Brandon Silverstein after signing a new management deal with Brandon Creed and Lydia Asrat — signifying a new chapter and much-needed change in direction. 

"The transition signified a new beginning, filled with hopes of  moving forward and getting things done that were important to me," Normani tells GRAMMY.com. "I was faced with many obstacles over the years, some that you would not believe. But through it all, my faith in God kept me aligned with what I felt was right for me."

A couple months later, Normani launched a partnership with Bose that saw her give a first preview of the assertive Dopamine track "Candy Paint." She also offered some insight to the album delays, which partially stemmed from her parents' health struggles.

"It was hard feeling misunderstood because of the lack of knowledge people had for my circumstances in real-time. I don't even know if I had the energy to explain — my emotional, spiritual and mental endurance was really tested," she explained to Dazed. "When my parents got sick, I didn't have the mental capacity to even try to be creative, but I pushed myself anyway. If it weren't for them, I probably wouldn't have, but I know it's what got them through such a tough time — they needed to see me persevere and push through and continue to move forward."

As she shared with Bose, crafting Dopamine ended up being a creative outlet for Normani and offered a sign of hope for her and her parents during their respective treatments.

"(When my mom was going through chemo) the thing that really kept her going was getting on FaceTime and being like, 'How are the sessions going?' She's always so eager to hear the new records we've been working on," she said. "And then a year later, when my dad ended up being diagnosed, he would say mid treatment, 'I'm ready for you to take over the world.'"

2024: She Completed A Hard-Fought Journey

By the beginning of 2024, even Normani couldn't help but acknowledge how long fans had been waiting for her debut LP. She facetiously launched a website called wheresthedamnalbum.com — but it actually served as the official kickoff to the album campaign.

Two months after she shared the album's title and stunning cover art on the site, Normani delivered the guitar-driven lead single "1:59" arrived, as well as a release date for Dopamine.

Despite a series of false starts and personal challenges, Dopamine is proof that Normani is as resilient as they come — and this project was well worth the wait. Opening tracks "Big Boy" and "Still" flex her swag, whereas Janet Jackson-coded tunes like "All Yours" and "Lights On" (co-written with Victoria Monét) ooze sensual vibes. While the album mostly caters to her R&B foundation, she touches on her dance music dabblings with the house-leaning"Take My Time." 

Dopamine even offered a full-circle moment for Normani, who has cited Brandy as one of her biggest musical inspirations. The R&B trailblazer lends background vocals to "Insomnia," which also features hypnotic production from Stargate

As Normani embraces her close-up, she's keenly aware that the stakes are high, but it's a moment she's been ready for all along.

"I hope [fans] see the passion and the hard work that I have put into creating something so special," she tells GRAMMY.com. "I love my fans and how they have been patiently waiting and supporting me over the years. I hope the wait was worth it for them and they are proud of what we have accomplished together."

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Lana Del Rey performing in 2024
Lana Del Rey performs at the 2024 Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona.

Photo: Xavi Torrent/Redferns

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Levels Of Lana: 12 Songs To Explore Lana Del Rey's Career For Every Kind Of Fan

As Lana Del Rey's third album, 'Ultraviolence,' turns 10, build — or expand — your knowledge of the melancholy pop queen's catalog.

GRAMMYs/Jun 13, 2024 - 03:12 pm

When it comes to exploring Lana Del Rey's discography, it can be hard to know where to start. The pop songstress has a sprawling catalog, consisting of nine albums, four EPs, and a handful of other standalone singles.

You could begin with Born To Die, her highly influential major label debut, or its moody follow-up, Ultraviolence, her first to top the Billboard charts and ultimately establish her staying power as an artist. Perhaps you choose to start with her Album Of The Year GRAMMY nominees Norman F—ing Rockwell! or Did you know that there's a tunnel under Ocean Blvd.

Or maybe you're an incredibly diehard fan with encyclopedic knowledge who wants to start where it all began, on Rey's first album Lana Del Ray (note the spelling difference), which never saw official physical release and contained just a rough draft of the cultural force Del Rey would become.

Following Del Rey's career is rewarding, but requires some commitment to listen to, and understand, everything she's put out. It can be intimidating to approach an artist with such a robust, varied catalog. You can go with more mainstream pop offerings like her collaborations with Taylor Swift and The Weeknd, or dive into something more inspired by the orchestra like early track "National Anthem." This is true for fans with any amount of exposure to Del Rey, from those just discovering her music to those looking to become an expert.

As Ultraviolence turns 10, GRAMMY.com presents the levels of Lana, a series of jumping off points to explore all the music Del Rey has to offer. Dig into three songs across four different levels of fandom — Beginner, Intermediate, Expert, and Diehard — to further your Lana knowledge. These songs give a peek into various aspects of Del Rey's body of work, and serve as encouragement to continue exploring.

Beginner

"Summertime Sadness," Born to Die (2012)

The Beginner Level of Lana is for those who have heard of Del Rey, but have never sat down with her music before. This makes "Summertime Sadness," her biggest song to date, the perfect place to start.

It's reductive to simply label Del Rey's oeuvre "sad girl music," but for the uninitiated, it's a simple descriptor to start with. "Summertime Sadness" combines the pop production, elements of classical music, and existential despair that is present throughout Del Rey's career. And Cedric Gervais' remix has turned "Summertime Sadness" into a club banger to help her appeal to those who gravitate more to the dance floor.

"Young and Beautiful," The Great Gatsby: Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film (2013)

It speaks to Del Rey's cultural reach and musical vision that a non-album single is one of her most iconic songs. Written for the 2013 The Great Gatsby movie adaptation, "Young and Beautiful" also serves as a helpful thematic introduction to Del Rey.

Throughout her writing, Del Rey examines youth, Americana, and the American Dream, and how each of these uniquely American ideals are full of decay and liable to corruption and disappointment. On "Young and Beautiful," she asks if her lover will still care when she's no longer either of those things, and the somber tone indicates the likely answer. This song will introduce fans to Del Rey's penchant for using orchestral backing for her music, and illustrate how intertwined with popular culture she really is. 

"Mariners Apartment Complex," Norman F—ing Rockwell! (2019)

The past two songs have introduced Del Rey's "sad girl" persona, but over the years, she has evolved far past being so easily defined. "Mariners Apartment Complex" is the perfect next step for beginners, opening up the popular perception to her to reveal more of her complexity.

Lyrically, it finds Del Rey pushing back on sorrow being her only emotion. Musically, it's a great introduction to more of the ethereal, synth-filled sound that has come out of her partnership with superproducer Jack Antonoff. And in terms of placing her within the culture, "Mariners Apartment Complex" is the first single from her sixth album Norman F—ing Rockwell!, which earned Del Rey her first Album Of The Year nomination in 2019.

Intermediate

"Brooklyn Baby," Ultraviolence (2014)

At the Intermediate level, it's time to start getting into more of the nuances that Del Rey brings to her writing — and, in turn, how much she's influenced her peers, and how respected she is amongst them.

"Brooklyn Baby" is some of her sharpest writing, equal parts playful needling and affectionate tribute to the snooty New York art scene. One of the most indelible tracks off of Ultraviolence, the song epitomizes the entire record's move towards more rock instrumentation, with a guitar-based sound. It references legendary rock artist Lou Reed, who was slated to appear on the track before his death in late 2013, showing just how highly she's thought of by other artists.

"Love," Lust for Life (2017)

For as much as Del Rey recognizes how fallible many of our culture's ideals are, she's always been a romantic. "Love," the first single from 2017's Lust for Life, is a prime example of this.

The whole album is a big play on her love of classic Hollywood imagery, including the video for "Love," and the song is a dreamy throwback to '50s love songs. If "Mariners Apartment Complex" chides anyone thinking Del Rey can only be sad, "Love" is a full rebuke, as it's one of her most straightforwardly optimistic tracks. Commercially, "Love" was Del Rey's highest-charting feat since Ultraviolence (landing at No. 44 on the Billboard Hot 100), further establishing that she had longevity. 

"Chemtrails over the Country Club," Chemtrails over the Country Club (2021)

2020 and the pandemic did a number on everyone, radically altering lives and shaking faith in many of the institutions of everyday life. That unmooring is felt on Del Rey's seventh album, Chemtrails over the Country Club, and particularly on its title track.

Del Rey is as sharp as ever in exploring the pulse of American society on the dreamy, disaffected number. "You're in the wind, I'm in the water/ Nobody's son, nobody's daughter" is a breathtaking piece of writing that became a TikTok favorite, illustrating Del Rey's continuing ability to relate to the youth. 

Expert

"F—ed My Way Up To the Top," Ultraviolence (2014)

As we enter the realm of the Expert Lana Del Rey fan, we're firmly out of album singles territory. From here, it's all deep cuts and non-album tracks.

Del Rey has been no stranger to controversy — some warranted, some not. An early knock against her was that the mid-20th century aesthetic and perceived submissiveness in her music was anti-women or anti-feminist, a surface-level reading that in the years since has been largely dispelled. 

The singer has worked to combat it herself on tracks like Ultraviolence's "F—ed My Way Up To the Top," which takes that perceived notion to its extreme. At the same time, it's another in a long line of tracks in which Del Rey has embraced her own sexuality and sensuality as something to be celebrated and claimed, not something to be ashamed of. 

"Art Deco," Honeymoon (2015)

2015's Honeymoon isn't necessarily underappreciated, as it received positive reviews upon release debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, but "Art Deco" isn't likely to appear on many playlists. It should, though, as the track illustrates how much of musical chameleon Del Rey really is, with a sultry, hip-hop inspired rolling beat. 

It treads some familiar territory thematically with trying to find acceptance in night life, but Del Rey is really comfortable here. She shows more of her knowledge of art history by relating the subject of the song to the defining characteristics of the titular art movement, revealing just how much thought she puts into her aesthetic.

"Fingertips," Did you know that there's a tunnel under Ocean Blvd (2023)

Did you know that there's a tunnel under Ocean Blvd is arguably Del Rey's most intimate album, exploring details of her family and their history that fans have only previously seen brief glimpses of. At the same time, it is partially an examination of her own legacy and work, only natural for someone with as much output as Del Rey, let alone her frequent references to death and finality.

Both of these things combine in "Fingertips," a standout track from the album. A nearly six-minute long ballad, it's musically airy while emotionally devastating — and, for a true Del Rey fan, encapsulates so much of her legacy in just one song.

Diehard

"Yayo," Paradise (2012)

For fans in the Diehard level, everything before is old news. This is for fans who want to fully live the Lana life, who have all her albums on vinyl and have carefully built their image and fashion around her.

Speaking of her image, this section starts with "Yayo," an extremely early deep cut. This track originally appeared on Lana Del Ray before being reworked and rereleased on the Paradise EP in 2012. The song leans heavier than most into the '50s imagery and floats along at a dreamy, lilting pace. While not as refined as her later work, "Yayo" is an indicator Del Rey had a solid idea of who she wanted to be as soon as she started.

"Season of the Witch," Non-album Single (2019)

Del Rey has done several covers throughout her career, and quite successfully. Norman F—ing Rockwell! features her cover of Sublime's "Doin' Time," which is one of the highlight tracks from the record. Less known is Del Rey's spooky cover of '60s classic "Season of the Witch." 

Written for the 2019 horror film Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the song fits Del Rey's style perfectly. The Americana/flower crown aesthetic of her younger years always leaned witch-adjacent, and Del Rey takes her soft vocals into playfully sinister territory. It's a fun cover, and shows just how many gems Del Rey has in her discography for those fans willing to dig. 

"Say Yes to Heaven," Non-album Single (2023)

"Say Yes to Heaven" was never supposed to be heard. A late cut from Ultraviolence, the track remained buried for years before being leaked in 2016. It lurked on the internet, only known to superfans, before gaining steam with the rise of TikTok and finally seeing an official release in 2023.

The deep cut is peak Del Rey ballad material, a tender love song imploring her partner to accept happiness. It's another rebuke of the idea that she can't be happy, and it gives insight into some of her earlier writing.

As a resurfaced older track, "Say Yes to Heaven" may not necessarily indicate the direction Lana Del Rey is set to go on her forthcoming album, Lasso (especially considering Del Rey has teased she's "going country" for her next release). But it's a beautiful reminder of the affecting narratives and arresting vocals that have made her beloved to so many, no matter the level of fandom.

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Sabrina Carpenter
Sabrina Carpenter performing in 2024

Photo: Joseph Okpako/WireImage via Getty Images

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Sabrina Carpenter Releases New Single "Please Please Please": Everything We Know About Her New Album 'Short N' Sweet'

Sabrina Carpenter and her boyfriend are Bonnie and Clyde-style outlaws in the new video for "Please Please Please." Here's what we know about the album it belongs to, 'Short N' Sweet' — out Aug. 23.

GRAMMYs/Jun 7, 2024 - 05:27 pm

When Sabrina Carpenter announced her new album, Short n' Sweet, earlier this week, she also dangled a special treat in front of fans. "I also have a surprise coming for you on thursday night," she announced in an Instagram post, "so keep an eye out!!"

The surprise was a video for her new single, "Please Please Please," starring her boyfriend, Barry Keoghan. Directed by Bardia Zeinali, the clip is a high-octane rendering of Carpenter and Keoghan as a pair of bona fide outlaws, whose relationship rides a rollercoaster of criminality and incarceration.

The slinky track follows her viral hit "Espresso" from last spring — itself the lead single from Short n' Sweet. As the YouTube comments pour forth, flecked with adjectives like "obsessed" and "iconic," here's everything GRAMMY.com could dredge up about the forthcoming LP.

Short N' Sweet Will Be Released Aug. 23

Carpenter's been mum on many of the details of Short n' Sweet, but she did allow that the Jack Antonoff and Julian Bunetta-produced, 36-minute album willl be released Aug. 23.

"This project is quite special to me and i hope it'll be something special to you too," she wrote on said Instagram post; it's practically destined to soundtrack the dog days of summer as they fade to fall.

The Album Will Hop Between Genres

Speaking to Maya Hawke — who herself just released her third album, Chaos Angel in Interview Magazine, Carpenter discussed the contents of her next offering.

"I feel a lot freer and more excited about what I'm making now because I've realized that genre isn't necessarily the most important thing. It's about honesty and authenticity and whatever you gravitate towards," she stated. "There were a lot of genres in my last album, and I like to think I'll continue that throughout writing music."

Read more: Sabrina Carpenter's Big Year: The Pop Songstress Gushes On The Eras Tour, Her Christmas EP & More

The Title Is A Reference To Her Height

Speaking to Cosmopolitan about her opening slot on Taylor Swift's Eras Tour, Carpenter called performing those sets "a tall order."

"This is not even to sound like a pick-me, like when girls are like, 'I'm so small, I can't reach the top shelf' — I'm literally five feet tall," she said mirthfully. "So sometimes when I'm on that stage, it feels so huge that I just have to be larger than life in some capacity."

She's worked her height (or lack thereof) into the promotional machine behind
Short n' Sweet: billboards the country over say things like, "When I say I hate short people, Sabrina Carpenter is NEVER included."

We Have The Album Cover

On the cover of Short n' Sweet, the sunkissed singer looks over her shoulder with a kiss mark on her shoulder, against a striking azure sky, her blonde hair hanging down.

The Eras Tour Harkened A New One

As mentioned, Carpenter got the opening gig of a lifetime — warming up the Eras Tour across America, Australia and Asia. Speaking with Cosmo, she revealed the tour wasn't an end to itself, but a launching pad to new adventures.

Read more: Behind The Scenes Of The Eras Tour: Taylor Swift's Opening Acts Unveil The Magic Of The Sensational Concert

"I'm starting to feel like I've outgrown the songs I'm singing [on The Eras Tour]," she explained, "which is always an exciting feeling because I think that means the next chapter is right around the corner." Behold: that chapter is now.

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Charli XCX Press Photo 2024
Charli XCX

Photo: Harley Weir

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Charli XCX's Road To 'Brat': How Her New Album Celebrates Unabashed Confidence & Eccentricity

As Charli XCX releases her sixth studio album, revisit the creative decisions and ventures that led to 'Brat' — and how it all helped her become one of pop's most innovative stars.

GRAMMYs/Jun 6, 2024 - 05:32 pm

Charli XCX is a product of the internet. A teen during MySpace's peak years, Charli — born Charlotte Aitchison — landed her first gigs thanks to the platform. Her first amateur album, 14, caught the attention of a promoter organizing illegal raves in London, and soon enough, she was performing at those parties as Charli XCX — fittingly, a former online username.

Even though 14 never had an official release (and Charli has declared her distaste for it, calling the project "terrible MySpace music"), her earliest beginnings became the throughline to her current work. MySpace was a breeding ground for creativity and Charli used it to explore niche — and unheard-of — genres. To date, she's touched on every iteration of pop, including electro-pop and dance-pop, even being heralded as the figurehead for hyperpop. As a result, she's not your stereotypical pop star.

Just over a decade after the release of her debut album, 2013's True Romance, Charli XCX is bringing everything she's done from her MySpace beginnings to present day with her sixth studio album, Brat. Leaning on the time spent performing at raves and clubs as a young teen, she embodies the same childlike and larger-than-life approach she had when she was first starting.

Charli XCX was signed to Asylum Records in 2010 but felt lost, according to an interview with The Guardian. The process of figuring out her artistry earned her a trip to meet with producers in Los Angeles, where she met American producer Ariel Rechtshaid. After they wrote her eventual single "Stay Away," everything started falling into place. "I was freaking out: I had found a piece of myself in this crazy world where people are trying to drag you apart and make you into something," she recalled. "That's when things started to come together."

Before she even released her debut album, Charli XCX first found global success as a songwriter. After penning the club-ready song "I Love It," she opted to give it away to Swedish synth-pop duo Icona Pop because it didn't suit the sound Charli was leaning into. But she did feature on the 2012 track, which became a global smash and landed at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 — solidifying Charli as an artist to watch.

Almost a year later, Charli XCX released her major label debut with True Romance, her first studio album, in 2013. Although it didn't land on any major charts or spawn any hits, what the album did have was a clear, catchy direction. When reflecting on the album to NME, she stated that she was "just a MySpace kid" inspired by things that seemed out of reach for her, like the plots in teen movies and party photos from club scenes. True Romance was also integral to Charli discovering herself "as a person"; she's said that the album helped her better understand her voice, confidence, style, and stage presence.

Although True Romance didn't immediately make Charli XCX into a household name, it did usher in new opportunities for her as an artist. One of those opportunities was working with then-up-and-coming rapper Iggy Azalea on the track "Fancy," which marked a breakthrough moment for both rising stars. Along with spending seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and scoring Charli XCX her first two GRAMMY nominations (Record Of The Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance), she has insisted that "Fancy" helped open the doors for her to write for bigger artists.

Following the taste of the mainstream after "I Love It" and "Fancy," Charli XCX seemingly veered towards a poppier and brighter sound — and soon found herself on the charts as a solo act. Charli XCX's first top 10 solo hit, "Boom Clap," was first featured in the 2014 film The Fault in Our Stars and eventually became the lead single to Charli XCX's sophomore record, Sucker. Working with the likes of Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo, Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend, Benny Blanco, and more, Sucker showcased XCX's whip-smart songwriting and tongue-in-cheek aphorism, changing out gritty synths for glittery guitars and sky-soaring drums. 

But the new sound didn't necessarily indicate a new direction. She has admitted that she was chasing chart points with Sucker rather than writing songs that she enjoyed, and pieces of the album "feel fake" to her as a result. Still, Sucker helped validate what Charli already knew about herself, even if she got a little lost along the way. As she told The Guardian in 2018, rebelling on the outskirts of mainstream music is where she's meant to be, creating her "own language" and her "own world."

Shrugging off feeling rather stifled post-Sucker, Charli XCX began working with Scottish producer Sophie in March 2015. In October of that year, the singer released the track "Vroom Vroom" and unveiled an EP of the same name a few months after, both of which signaled that Charli was embracing a more experimental electronic sound and marking a change in sonic direction for her.

"I've worked with Sophie on the new EP and what we create together speaks for itself," Charli said about Vroom Vroom. "The album goes to other places and I can't wait for people to hear it. I feel the most creative I have in a long time and I couldn't be more excited for the next chapter." 

Although the EP didn't go over as sweetly as Sucker and True Romance did with critics and fans, Vroom Vroom is now heralded as a pioneering work in the hyperpop genre. When speaking with Vulture about the highs and lows of her career, she credits Sophie's production for the EP title track being a "f—ing masterpiece," noting that the song, in particular, was complex and niche, teetering between underground and mainstream. As she declared, it's why the song has "only retroactively found praise by those who now have a taste for that genre of pop."

Read More: Get Glitchy With These 7 Artists Essential To Hyperpop

In 2017, XCX's work in hyperpop continued with two Top 40 tracks, "After the Afterparty" and "Boys," the latter of which became an instantly viral track thanks to its sultry cameos from a slew of male celebrities. Both were meant to be part of Charli's third studio album, but after the album leaked, she opted to release two more electronic experimental mixtapes — 2017's Number 1 Angel and Pop 2 — rather than labelling them albums. Much like the way Charli approached her earlier recordings, the two mixtapes were her return to experimentation, and, by not calling them albums, she could freely create and avoid charting pressure from her label

From the fall of 2018 to the fall of 2019, XCX released a slew of singles with other artists — "1999" with Troye Sivan, "Blame It on Your Love" featuring Lizzo, "Gone" with Christine and the Queens, and a few others all leading up to the release of her third album, Charli. Equal parts explorative and expansive, Charli saw XCX explore every emotion in abundance. Although she didn't move too far away sonically, at the time Charli was the "most personal album" she had ever made. She told The Standard that it "encapsulated all sides" of who she is, because she'd rather create the music she wants to create instead of sacrificing her art for a thinly veiled attempt to become a bigger artist.

Five years separated Sucker and Charli, but the star only took eight months to release her next album, 2020's How I'm Feeling Now. A six-week DIY experiment throughout the early months of the COVID-19 lockdown, How I'm Feeling Now became Charli's pandemic album. Produced alongside longtime producer AG Cook, she crafted an album that touched on the universal experiences everyone was going through ("I'm so bored – what?/ Wake up late and eat some cereal") and bristled with longing to return to a sweaty and sticky dance floor. 

While Sucker was Charli trying to appease the public at the expense of her art, her snarky fifth studio album, 2022's Crash, leaned into that mindset tenfold. Playing a dramatized "soulless" caricature of herself, Charli wrote and promoted the conceptual album satirically, stating that it's her "major label sell-out" album by heavily leaning into the concept of selling one's soul to get what you want. And it worked: the album debuted at No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart, her first time ever hitting No. 1 in the UK, in addition to debuting at No. 7 on the Billboard 200, which was her first top 10 and her highest-charting album to date in the United States. 

Looking back, XCX felt that Crash, much like Sucker, didn't resonate deeply with her. "There were songs on Crash that I would never listen to," she asserted to The Face earlier this year. Longing to change things up, yet again, brings Charli to Brat

For an artist who is truly a sonic shapeshifter, it makes sense that she'd eventually return to her club roots on Brat. "Von Dutch," the album's lead single, serves as a throwback to her teens with its punchy synth-driven electropop melody reminiscent of her earlier tracks. The album's second single "360," an electro-pop ear-worm, features Charli's signature on-the-nose songwriting, singing, "I went my own way and I made it, I'm your favourite reference baby." It's apt, then, that the music video brings together the internet's "It Girls" — Julia Fox, Gabbriette, Emma Chamberlain, and many others — to try and find the next viral sensation, all while poking fun at the ridiculousness of the influencer world.

"I just want to be able to make the music that I want to make without having to sacrifice any of my artistic decisions," Charli told The Standard during the release of Charli. "I don't ever want to become something that I'm not because I've done that before. I didn't even know myself properly as a person let alone as an artist. I think I've figured out who I am now."

Five years later, and the release of Brat is, in a way, her coming full circle. Pairing her origin story — illegal raves, club nights and the internet world — with a decade of working on her own music and collaborating with big-name artists has been the catalyst to Brat. But it's also her official declaration that she's staying true to her artistry, for herself but also for her fans.

As she told British GQ ahead of Brat's release, she still grapples with the temptation of tapping into a more commercial sound. "Sometimes I tempt myself with going there, but I think the problem is my fan base knows that that's not who I am, so they kind of smell a rat, and they're like, 'This is inauthentic.' But then I think that sometimes puts me in this position where the masses are like, 'What the f— is this?'

"But I would in no way be as happy, creatively satisfied or, honestly, as good as some of the people who are operating on a hugely commercial level," she adds, "because maybe I'm just not built for it."

And maybe she's not. But her unashamed and unfiltered confidence is exactly what's made her such a beloved star, as well as what brings Brat together — and it's likely what we'll continue to see from Charli XCX from now on.

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