Meet The Best New Artist GRAMMY Nominees At The 2023 GRAMMYs

Photo courtesy of the Recording Academy


Meet The Best New Artist GRAMMY Nominees At The 2023 GRAMMYs

The 2023 GRAMMY nominees for Best New Artist are as diverse as can be: Anitta, Omar Apollo, DOMi & JD Beck, Samara Joy, Latto, Måneskin, Muni Long, Tobe Nwigwe, Molly Tuttle, and Wet Leg.

GRAMMYs/Nov 15, 2022 - 05:52 pm

The GRAMMY for Best New Artist speaks to one of the most crucial aspects of the music community — without new artists, and great ones, the music industry would cease to exist.

Whether they've been humming beneath the surface for a minute or are truly new, talented artists at the beginning of their mainstream journeys are precious to the Recording Academy.

For the 2023 GRAMMYs, Recording Academy Membership has spoken: Anitta, Omar Apollo, DOMi & JD Beck, Samara Joy, Latto, Måneskin, Muni Long, Tobe Nwigwe, Molly Tuttle, and Wet Leg are those emerging names — and one will win a golden gramophone for their debut on the global stage.

Here's a rundown of the nominees for Best New Artist at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

The 2023 GRAMMY nominations are officially here. See the complete list of nominees across all 91 GRAMMY categories.


A few months back, J Balvin interviewed his friend Anitta, calling the singer/songwriter "one of the greatest artists of history in Brazil." The data can back it up: she recently set a Guinness World Record as the first Latin solo artist to reach No. 1 on Spotify.

But rather than revel in her achievements — as virtually anyone in her position would do — the artist born Larissa de Macedo Machado struck a note of humility.

"Most times I'm very worried about everyone, caring about everyone, thinking about my family and making sure everyone is good," she told J Balvin, when asked about her personal life. "I'm actually very much the opposite of this powerful, invincible person that I sell as an artist."

This dichotomy of bravado and vulnerability is central to Anitta's artistry, and her boundary-busting appeal on the global stage.

Just watch her perform "Envolver" at the VMAs: visually, she's busting sultry moves, clad in scarlet. She can seem larger-than-life, and in some ways, she is. But that voice contains deeply human hues of sensitivity and resilience.

In April 2022, Anitta released her fifth album, Versions of Me — and it was a sensation, hitting 1 billion streams on Spotify. It's a starmaking turn, both due to the caliber of songs like "I'd Rather Have Sex," "Boys Don't Cry" and "Gimme Your Number" and startling messaging; just look at the album art, which features various plasticine permutations of Anitta's face.

"Even after millions of plastic surgeries, doctors and interventions... my inside just stays the same," Anitta stated. "I could see through all the pictures everyone is posting wishing me happy bday that my soul kept all the important things I had inside since I was a kid."

With her artistry in full flower on Versions of Me, those "important things" haven't been simply unleashed — they've fundamentally altered the music landscape both in Brazil and stateside. Talk about it paying off to open your heart.

Omar Apollo

Omar Apollo is a walking, breathing example of the iceberg theory — that the exposed tip belies a gargantuan foundation beneath the waters.

Born to Mexican parents and raised in Indiana, Omar Apollo began charting his course through highly variable sounds by working a day job and uploading music to SoundCloud.

All the while — true to his generation reared in the iPod era — he soaked up the wildly variable sounds of Prince, Rick James, Paul Simon, the Internet, and beyond. Back in 2019, while planting the seeds for his debut album, IVORY — which dropped last April — the bilingual singer/songwriter hinted that future music would be as multifarious as his influences.

"I love dancing, and I love funk. But I don't think it will ever be just one thing," he told the website Lyrical Lemonade, while also expressing a desire to incorporate rapping Spanish lyrics.  "I think the album will have a lot of elements, and be really diverse."

He wasn't kidding: the labored-over IVORY was a swing for the fences, and Apollo connected.

Touching on styles as disparate as Latin trap, psychedelia, traditional Mexican music, funk, and electro-pop — while embracing his Latinx and LGBTQ+ identities — IVORY can go toe-to-toe with the classics that galvanized him, like Nirvana's Nevermind, Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

Partly produced by the Neptunes and featuring Daniel Caesar and Kali Uchis, IVORY is a sterling gateway into Apollo's creative vision; on highlights like "Invincible," "Evergreen" and "Bad Life," he breezes from mood to mood, and style to style.

All that woodshedding paid off: Apollo is an artist everyone should watch — no matter which genre sphere you might occupy, it's all in his universe.

DOMi & JD Beck

Despite the constant, hurtling innovations in jazz throughout the 20th century and young 21st, that world can often seem fenced off, relegated to the sidelines of the music industry.

While crossovers have always existed, DOMi & JD Beck are a brand-new kind — plugging jazz virtuosity into the zoomer sphere of memes, TikTok soundbites and all-caps song titles.  "It's us growing up and being around all that stuff. We're just used to making memes and we like stupid videos," Dallas-reared drummer Beck told SPIN in 2022. But as the band told, "Most music isn't about music anymore. It's just used as a tool for money and selling bulls—. Hopefully we can help change that."

Indeed, Beck's partnership with French-born keyboardist DOMi is ultimately art-forward — despite the abundant silliness within their act. ("SNIFF," from their 2022 debut NOT TIGHT, was initially titled "u can sniff my butt," after all.)

Both youngsters are virtuosos in every sense — and even more profoundly than that, they're on a mission to make virtuosity cool again.

By Beck's admission, they've never recorded in a proper studio; NOT TIGHT was recorded in a small room with a 49-key MIDI keyboard, drum set and coffee table. Despite the freedom of recording separately and without the constraints of a live setup, this is ultimately the sound of two humans making music.

Despite the extreme technical facility, NOT TIGHT is eminently catchy and listenable — and as such, could get kids who don't know Herbie Hancock from Kurt Rosenwinkel into America's Music — at the very least, because both those luminaries appear on the album.

Purists and neophytes alike are advised to leave the "cool" factor at the door, and enter DOMi & JD Beck's colorful, goofy and creative world. Because if jazz lives or dies based on whether younger generations embrace it, then this is the future of the music. Now that's tight.

Samara Joy

Young jazz singer Samara Joy arrived on the map proudly wearing two primary influences on her sleeve: Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. But it only takes one gig to show that Joy's art is new — for the mere reason that it's her doing it.

Sure, Joy might take direct inspiration from the approaches of Vaughan, Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae and the rest — from phrasing to vocalese and beyond. But nobody on earth has possessed her charm, her flair, her communication style.

Joy's 2021 self-titled debut on Whirlwind Recordings was suffused with buoyant charm and technical facility; her 2022 follow-up for Verve, Linger Awhile, only ups the ante.

With TikTok sway, heavy touring and "The Today Show" under her belt, Joy only matured as an interpreter of standards — and on Linger Awhile, she tackles tunes like Nancy Wilson's "Guess Who I Saw Today," a reimagined version of Ronnell Bright's "Sweet Pumpkin" and the Frank Sinatra- and Nina Simone-popularized "Can't Get Out of This Mood."

"There's such an incredible and rich history of Black female singers. I see so much of myself in them and see the way they paved the way so I can do what I'm doing," Joy said in a recentinterview. "And then the way that they sing and the songs they sing, I can relate to and hopefully carry it and pass it down so that nobody forgets those Black female singers who have such an impact and influence on music as a whole."

Watch Joy lay waste to a club, and you'll know she's here to stay. And given the momentum of her incline over the past handful of years, who knows who she'll inspire in turn — to make a song their own with heart, flair and panache.


Can we all agree that it's been a tremendous few years for hip-hop? Not only has the work been widely excellent, but what was once a male-dominated genre is now making space for people of all gender expressions and walks of life.

Not that it's always been easy. Since young Atlanta rapper Latto broke out in 2020 with her maximum-blustery "Bitch from the Souf," she's been clear that navigating the music industry as a woman has been challenging — to say the least.

"Female rappers are being silenced in the industry and bullied behind closed doors," the MC born Alyssa Michelle Stephens told Complex in 2022, just before releasing her watershed album 777. "A lot of times we're bullied behind closed doors by these corporations or male artists or male producers or billion-dollar businesses and labels going against you."

No matter whoever's assailed Latto in her career, she'll inarguably have the last laugh: 777 is a beast of a hip-hop, pop and R&B album, augmented by high-profile guests from 21 Savage to Childish Gambino to Lil Wayne. From the ultra-catchy lead single "Big Energy" to the effervescent, Pharrell-produced "Real One," 777 is an extremely effective calling card for this emerging talent.

"I think I'm just on the cusp of my break, and it's just difficult to watch if you're not a fan," Latto said in the same interview. "If you're a hater and you're watching me win and getting more and more accomplishments under my belt, it's got to be frustrating to watch."

If you're a member of the online peanut gallery, perhaps that's the case. But for everyone else — including Recording Academy Membership — it's been thrilling.


Måneskin may have brought a 55-year-old song, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons' "Beggin'," to the TikTok generation — but that's just one part of the story when it coems to this deeply, thrillingly weird glam-rock sensation.

In many ways, they represent the "return to rock" that so many have longed for after a long minute of trap hats and autotune. But they don't look or sound like the return of Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath; singer Damiano David's studded codpiece alone might disabuse you of that fantasy.

The Italian band with a Danish name meaning "moonlight" sounds more like 2000s indie bands like Franz Ferdinand or the Bravery than Soundgarden or Aerosmith — although Steven Tyler is a cardinal influence on David.

Read More: Here's The Rundown On Måneskin, The Italian Glam-Pop Heroes Who Just Brought The 54-Year-Old Song "Beggin'" Back Into Vogue

The ex-street-buskers hit the national stage in 2017 on the Italian "X Factor," where they performed a handful of covers that were awfully telling. Naturally, they did Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" and the Killers' "Somebody Told Me" — both right in their wheelhouse. But then they also performed something out of time: "Beggin'," which was released during the Summer of Love.

After winning second place on "The X Factor," "Beggin'" picked up steam on their debut 2017 EP, Chosen, Since then, it's become a TikTok sensation, sweeping the charts worldwide. 

For more entryways into Måneskin's universe, check out the snotty "I Wanna Be Your Slave," redone with Iggy Pop in 2021. And they performed the outrageously horny "Mammamia" on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

Really, any direction you come at this flamboyant, gender-bending band is bound to be rewarding, as they play by nobody's rules but their own.

"We're just doing music. If it's considered rock or pop or whatever, it's entirely not important to us," bassist Victoria De Angelis told Loudwire in 2021. "The main thing is I think people should just listen to the music and judge the music without having preconceived notions."

Muni Long

With each passing year, the Recording Academy makes a more concerted effort to highlight music makers behind the scenes — as seen in their new Songwriters & Composers Wing and Behind The Record initiative.

So it's worth noting that Muni Long has a very special presence among the 2023 GRAMMYs nominees for Best New Artist — she was behind the curtain, and is now very much at the fore.

If you're a liner-notes sleuth, you might remember Muni Long (pronounced "money long") from her work on H.E.R.'s Back of My Mind — which was nominated for a golden gramophone for Album Of The Year at the 2022 GRAMMYs.

But that's just the beginning: Long has co-written with Rihanna, Fifth Harmony, Kelly Clarkson, and Ariana Grande, among many other leading lights.

Now, she's consolidated her decade-plus of stellar work on 2022's Public Displays of Affection, where old tunes from previous EPs — including her viral smash hit "Hrs and Hrs" — commingle with new tracks.

“I am learning to search myself for answers before I go outside and seek others. No additional approval or validation or help, because if you pay attention you will just make decisions based on the purest intention,” Long told in 2022. “Versus making a decision that's going to make things faster for you or bring you the most money… because you're blinded by your ambition.”

After her impassioned work in a less visible space, everyone deserves to know Long's name. With her nomination for a GRAMMY for Best New Artiat, the world just might.

Tobe Nwigwe

Arguably one of the most positive developments in the last decade of music has been the even further elevation of Nigeria on the world stage — in all its facets and permutations.

And that's come by way not only by heralded Afrobeats artists like Wizkid and Burna Boy, but by straight-up hip-hop — like that from the Houston MC Tobe Nwigwe.

A college football player with NFL aspirations, Nwigwe's life path was diverted by a foot injury in 2009. After pivoting to starting a nonprofit for Houston youth, Nwigwe got attention by way of videos of himself rapping with his kids and wife, Ivory "Fat" Rogers, on social media.

One thing led to another, and Nwigwe hit the ground running as a recording artist, releasing a whopping nine EPs between 2017 and 2021.

During the summer of 2020, Nwigwe got the spotlight by way of "I Need You To (Breonna Taylor)," a song of resistance against racist police violence. 

His latest project, 2022's moMINTS, exudes love for Houston through  tunes that stick in the brain, like "DESTRUCTION," "LORD FORGIVE ME" and "CATFISH BLACKENED." Beyond love for his hometown alone, Nwigwe's work has a feeling of earthiness, of family bonds, and fidelity of vision.

"I think I've gotten a lot of clarity on just how I want to do things, how I want to present myself, not necessarily who I am," he told XXL in 2022. "[B]y the grace of God, I was able to know what my purpose was before I started doing all this, but just how to present what I'm doing and in a way that is uniquely me."

Molly Tuttle

Representing the Newport Folk-adjacent pantheon — the world that includes strummers and pickers from the indie-folk, bluegrass and Americana communities — is Molly Tuttle. 

The banjoist, guitarist and songwriter hails from a musical lineage via her musician father and grandfather.Her latest album, 2022's Crooked Tree, takes a heartfelt inventory of her earliest experiences — she even revisited her family farm while conceptualizing the album.

"My family doesn't own the farm that my father grew up on anymore, but my grandma and I drove out there last spring and walked around and reminisced about the old times," she said in a statement.

"As a kid growing up in the suburbs of San Francisco, I loved being in this completely different landscape and spending so much time out on the porch," she continued. "Just talking and playing music and watching the lightning bugs at night."

During her childhood , Tuttle initially played violin, but swiftly fell in love with the guitar, soaking up the bluegrass records that filled the air at home. Her tutelage at Berklee College of Music led her to Nashville — ground zero for roots music that practically grows from the ground.

After two studio albums on Compass — 2019's When You're Ready and 2020's But I'd Rather Be With You — Tuttle has become a Nonesuch signee, and a GRAMMY nominee for Best New Artist, before her 30th birthday. 

In a way, as a bearer of the bluegrass flame, the whole tradition has led to her. Whatever she sings or strums next, it's the Recording Academy Membership's pleasure to bear witness.

Wet Leg

The witty, lusty, needle-sharp duo of Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers was impossible to ignore in 2022; their self-titled debut landed in the industry like a water balloon.

"I went to school and I got the Big D!" the post-punkers announced in their breakout single "Chaise Longue," a song everybody had some extreme reaction to — chief among them, jaw-dropping relief that wackadoo fun was back in indie rock.

DOMi and JD Beck, their fellow GRAMMY nominees for Best New Artist, once described themselves as "anti-everything," which aptly describes Wet Leg as well — something must be in the water as 2023 approaches. 

The pair formed Wet Leg on a lark while riding a Ferris wheel; their songs take aim at pretentious rock-arteest attitudes of all stripes —  and what a relief it is to hear songs that are, by design, about nothing.

It's anyone's guess where Wet Leg's irreverence and cheek will lead them — they could take the template of Wet Leg and go full pop, or even more deconstructionist and dadaist.

But whatever happens, you can't say it won't be interesting — as it doesn't get much more interesting than this deeply satirical, always catchy, very welcome anomaly of a rock band.

2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Nominees List

 The 2023 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 65th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' 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 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.

Atlantic Records Leading Lights Julie Greenwald And Craig Kallman To Receive GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons Honor
Julie Greenwald and Craig Kallman

Photo courtesy of the Recording Academy


Atlantic Records Leading Lights Julie Greenwald And Craig Kallman To Receive GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons Honor

Ahead of the 2023 GRAMMYs, the renowned pre-GRAMMY gala, hosted by the Recording Academy and Clive Davis, returns Saturday, Feb. 4.

GRAMMYs/Dec 8, 2022 - 02:10 pm

The GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons is a universally distinguished honor for people at the music industry's highest echelon — and now, two more names can be added to that pantheon.

Recognized for their dynamic leadership and revolutionary creativity, Atlantic Music Group Chairman and CEO Julie Greenwald and Atlantic Records Chairman and CEO Craig Kallman, are the 2023 GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons honorees.

The Recording Academy and Clive Davis will celebrate Greenwald and Kallman's accomplishments at the Pre-GRAMMY Gala on Sat, Feb. 4, 2023. The illustrious event preceding the 2023 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 65th GRAMMY Awards, is returning for the first time since 2020.

"Respected across the music community, Julie and Craig have fostered the careers of an incredible range of talent," said Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy. "They both have a passion and love for music, and they are constantly pushing the music industry forward with their transformative work with the artist community. We are so honored to celebrate these two industry titans at this year's Pre-GRAMMY Gala."

"I've personally known Julie and Craig for many years and it's so very exciting to celebrate their exceptional creativity and achievements at this year's Pre-GRAMMY Gala," said Davis. "What a special night it will be spotlighting them and their incredible music and artists! They both fully deserve an unforgettable evening."

In 2023, Atlantic Records will celebrate its 75th anniversary, and Greenwald and Kallman can look back on two decades of industry-leading accomplishments. The duo has presided over a new golden age in the history of one of the world's most iconic labels.

Under their watch, Atlantic Records has regularly ranked as the top company in the industry. The combination of Greenwald's artist-focused marketing and culture-building savvy with Atlantic has seen success after success due to Kallman's deep musical knowledge and A&R and producing expertise.

The recently formed Atlantic Music Group, which includes the Atlantic and 300 Elektra label families, garnered nearly 40 GRAMMY nominations this year. This achievement exemplifies the company's focus on long-term artist development.

Keep watching this space for more exciting news involving this illustrious honor — and the rest of GRAMMY week in 2023!

2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Nominees List

A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 


A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."


Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.


L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

The Rise Of Underground House: How Artists Like Fisher & Acraze Have Taken Tech House, Other Electronic Genres From Indie To EDC

Living Legends: Billy Idol On Survival, Revival & Breaking Out Of The Cage
Billy Idol

Photo: Steven Sebring


Living Legends: Billy Idol On Survival, Revival & Breaking Out Of The Cage

"One foot in the past and one foot into the future," Billy Idol says, describing his decade-spanning career in rock. "We’ve got the best of all possible worlds because that has been the modus operandi of Billy Idol."

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:19 pm

Living Legends is a series that spotlights icons in music still going strong today. This week, spoke with Billy Idol about his latest EP,  Cage, and continuing to rock through decades of changing tastes.

Billy Idol is a true rock 'n' roll survivor who has persevered through cultural shifts and personal struggles. While some may think of Idol solely for "Rebel Yell" and "White Wedding," the singer's musical influences span genres and many of his tunes are less turbo-charged than his '80s hits would belie.  

Idol first made a splash in the latter half of the '70s with the British punk band Generation X. In the '80s, he went on to a solo career combining rock, pop, and punk into a distinct sound that transformed him and his musical partner, guitarist Steve Stevens, into icons. They have racked up multiple GRAMMY nominations, in addition to one gold, one double platinum, and four platinum albums thanks to hits like "Cradle Of Love," "Flesh For Fantasy," and "Eyes Without A Face." 

But, unlike many legacy artists, Idol is anything but a relic. Billy continues to produce vital Idol music by collaborating with producers and songwriters — including Miley Cyrus — who share his forward-thinking vision. He will play a five-show Vegas residency in November, and filmmaker Jonas Akerlund is working on a documentary about Idol’s life. 

His latest release is Cage, the second in a trilogy of annual four-song EPs. The title track is a classic Billy Idol banger expressing the desire to free himself from personal constraints and live a better life. Other tracks on Cage incorporate metallic riffing and funky R&B grooves. 

Idol continues to reckon with his demons — they both grappled with addiction during the '80s — and the singer is open about those struggles on the record and the page. (Idol's 2014 memoir Dancing With Myself, details a 1990 motorcycle accident that nearly claimed a leg, and how becoming a father steered him to reject hard drugs. "Bitter Taste," from his last EP, The Roadside, reflects on surviving the accident.)

Although Idol and Stevens split in the late '80s — the skilled guitarist fronted Steve Stevens & The Atomic Playboys, and collaborated with Michael Jackson, Rick Ocasek, Vince Neil, and Harold Faltermeyer (on the GRAMMY-winning "Top Gun Anthem") —  their common history and shared musical bond has been undeniable. The duo reunited in 2001 for an episode of "VH1 Storytellers" and have been back in the saddle for two decades. Their union remains one of the strongest collaborations in rock 'n roll history.

While there is recognizable personnel and a distinguishable sound throughout a lot of his work, Billy Idol has always pushed himself to try different things. Idol discusses his musical journey, his desire to constantly move forward, and the strong connection that he shares with Stevens. 

Steve has said that you like to mix up a variety of styles, yet everyone assumes you're the "Rebel Yell"/"White Wedding" guy. But if they really listen to your catalog, it's vastly different.

Yeah, that's right. With someone like Steve Stevens, and then back in the day Keith Forsey producing... [Before that] Generation X actually did move around inside punk rock. We didn't stay doing just the Ramones two-minute music. We actually did a seven-minute song. [Laughs]. We did always mix things up. 

Then when I got into my solo career, that was the fun of it. With someone like Steve, I knew what he could do. I could see whatever we needed to do, we could nail it. The world was my oyster musically. 

"Cage" is a classic-sounding Billy Idol rocker, then "Running From The Ghost" is almost metal, like what the Devil's Playground album was like back in the mid-2000s. "Miss Nobody" comes out of nowhere with this pop/R&B flavor. What inspired that?

We really hadn't done anything like that since something like "Flesh For Fantasy" [which] had a bit of an R&B thing about it. Back in the early days of Billy Idol, "Hot In The City" and "Mony Mony" had girls [singing] on the backgrounds. 

We always had a bit of R&B really, so it was actually fun to revisit that. We just hadn't done anything really quite like that for a long time. That was one of the reasons to work with someone like Sam Hollander [for the song "Rita Hayworth"] on The Roadside. We knew we could go [with him] into an R&B world, and he's a great songwriter and producer. That's the fun of music really, trying out these things and seeing if you can make them stick. 

I listen to new music by veteran artists and debate that with some people. I'm sure you have those fans that want their nostalgia, and then there are some people who will embrace the newer stuff. Do you find it’s a challenge to reach people with new songs?

Obviously, what we're looking for is, how do we somehow have one foot in the past and one foot into the future? We’ve got the best of all possible worlds because that has been the modus operandi of Billy Idol. 

You want to do things that are true to you, and you don't just want to try and do things that you're seeing there in the charts today. I think that we're achieving it with things like "Running From The Ghost" and "Cage" on this new EP. I think we’re managing to do both in a way. 

Obviously, "Running From The Ghost" is about addiction, all the stuff that you went through, and in "Cage" you’re talking about  freeing yourself from a lot of personal shackles. Was there any one moment in your life that made you really thought I have to not let this weigh me down anymore?

I mean, things like the motorcycle accident I had, that was a bit of a wake up call way back. It was 32 years ago. But there were things like that, years ago, that gradually made me think about what I was doing with my life. I didn't want to ruin it, really. I didn't want to throw it away, and it made [me] be less cavalier. 

I had to say to myself, about the drugs and stuff, that I've been there and I've done it. There’s no point in carrying on doing it. You couldn't get any higher. You didn't want to throw your life away casually, and I was close to doing that. It took me a bit of time, but then gradually I was able to get control of myself to a certain extent [with] drugs and everything. And I think Steve's done the same thing. We're on a similar path really, which has been great because we're in the same boat in terms of lyrics and stuff. 

So a lot of things like that were wake up calls. Even having grandchildren and just watching my daughter enlarging her family and everything; it just makes you really positive about things and want to show a positive side to how you're feeling, about where you're going. We've lived with the demons so long, we've found a way to live with them. We found a way to be at peace with our demons, in a way. Maybe not completely, but certainly to where we’re enjoying what we do and excited about it.

[When writing] "Running From The Ghost" it was easy to go, what was the ghost for us? At one point, we were very drug addicted in the '80s. And Steve in particular is super sober [now]. I mean, I still vape pot and stuff. I don’t know how he’s doing it, but it’s incredible. All I want to be able to do is have a couple of glasses of wine at a restaurant or something. I can do that now.

I think working with people that are super talented, you just feel confident. That is a big reason why you open up and express yourself more because you feel comfortable with what's around you.

Did you watch Danny Boyle's recent Sex Pistols mini-series?

I did, yes.

You had a couple of cameos; well, an actor who portrayed you did. How did you react to it? How accurate do you think it was in portraying that particular time period?

I love Jonesy’s book, I thought his book was incredible. It's probably one of the best bio books really. It was incredible and so open. I was looking forward to that a lot.

It was as if [the show] kind of stayed with Steve [Jones’ memoir] about halfway through, and then departed from it. [John] Lydon, for instance, was never someone I ever saw acting out; he's more like that today. I never saw him do something like jump up in the room and run around going crazy. The only time I saw him ever do that was when they signed the recording deal with Virgin in front of Buckingham Palace. Whereas Sid Vicious was always acting out; he was always doing something in a horrible way or shouting at someone. I don't remember John being like that. I remember him being much more introverted.

But then I watched interviews with some of the actors about coming to grips with the parts they were playing. And they were saying, we knew punk rock happened but just didn't know any of the details. So I thought well, there you go. If ["Pistol" is]  informing a lot of people who wouldn't know anything about punk rock, maybe that's what's good about it.

Maybe down the road John Lydon will get the chance to do John's version of the Pistols story. Maybe someone will go a lot deeper into it and it won't be so surface. But maybe you needed this just to get people back in the flow.

We had punk and metal over here in the States, but it feels like England it was legitimately more dangerous. British society was much more rigid.

It never went [as] mega in America. It went big in England. It exploded when the Pistols did that interview with [TV host Bill] Grundy, that lorry truck driver put his boot through his own TV, and all the national papers had "the filth and the fury" [headlines].

We went from being unknown to being known overnight. We waited a year, Generation X. We even told them [record labels] no for nine months to a year. Every record company wanted their own punk rock group. So it went really mega in England, and it affected the whole country – the style, the fashions, everything. I mean, the Ramones were massive in England. Devo had a No. 1 song [in England] with "Satisfaction" in '77. Actually, Devo was as big as or bigger than the Pistols.

You were ahead of the pop-punk thing that happened in the late '90s, and a lot of it became tongue-in-cheek by then. It didn't have the same sense of rebelliousness as the original movement. It was more pop.

It had become a style. There was a famous book in England called Revolt Into Style — and that's what had happened, a revolt that turned into style which then they were able to duplicate in their own way. Even recently, Billie Joe [Armstrong] did his own version of "Gimme Some Truth," the Lennon song we covered way back in 1977.

When we initially were making [punk] music, it hadn't become accepted yet. It was still dangerous and turned into a style that people were used to. We were still breaking barriers.

You have a band called Generation Sex with Steve Jones and Paul Cook. I assume you all have an easier time playing Pistols and Gen X songs together now and not worrying about getting spit on like back in the '70s?

Yeah, definitely. When I got to America I told the group I was putting it together, "No one spits at the audience."

We had five years of being spat on [in the UK], and it was revolting. And they spat at you if they liked you. If they didn't like it they smashed your gear up. One night, I remember I saw blood on my T-shirt, and I think Joe Strummer got meningitis when spit went in his mouth.

You had to go through a lot to become successful, it wasn't like you just kind of got up there and did a couple of gigs. I don't think some young rock bands really get that today.

With punk going so mega in England, we definitely got a leg up. We still had a lot of work to get where we got to, and rightly so because you find out that you need to do that. A lot of groups in the old days would be together three to five years before they ever made a record, and that time is really important. In a way, what was great about punk rock for me was it was very much a learning period. I really learned a lot [about] recording music and being in a group and even writing songs.

Then when I came to America, it was a flow, really. I also really started to know what I wanted Billy Idol to be. It took me a little bit, but I kind of knew what I wanted Billy Idol to be. And even that took a while to let it marinate.

You and Miley Cyrus have developed a good working relationship in the last several years. How do you think her fans have responded to you, and your fans have responded to her?

I think they're into it. It's more the record company that she had didn't really get "Night Crawling"— it was one of the best songs on Plastic Hearts, and I don't think they understood that. They wanted to go with Dua Lipa, they wanted to go with the modern, young acts, and I don't think they realized that that song was resonating with her fans. Which is a shame really because, with Andrew Watt producing, it's a hit song.

But at the same time, I enjoyed doing it. It came out really good and it's very Billy Idol. In fact, I think it’s more Billy Idol than Miley Cyrus. I think it shows you where Andrew Watt was. He was excited about doing a Billy Idol track. She's fun to work with. She’s a really great person and she works at her singing — I watched her rehearsing for the Super Bowl performance she gave. She rehearsed all Saturday morning, all Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning and it was that afternoon. I have to admire her fortitude. She really cares.

I remember when you went on "Viva La Bamback in 2005 and decided to give Bam Margera’s Lamborghini a new sunroof by taking a power saw to it. Did he own that car? Was that a rental?

I think it was his car.

Did he get over it later on?

He loved it. [Laughs] He’s got a wacky sense of humor. He’s fantastic, actually. I’m really sorry to see what he's been going through just lately. He's going through a lot, and I wish him the best. He's a fantastic person, and it's a shame that he's struggling so much with his addictions. I know what it's like. It's not easy.

Musically, what is the synergy like with you guys during the past 10 years, doing Kings and Queens of the Underground and this new stuff? What is your working relationship like now in this more sober, older, mature version of you two as opposed to what it was like back in the '80s?

In lots of ways it’s not so different because we always wrote the songs together, we always talked about what we're going to do together. It was just that we were getting high at the same time.We're just not getting [that way now] but we're doing all the same things.

We're still talking about things, still [planning] things:What are we going to do next? How are we going to find new people to work with? We want to find new producers. Let's be a little bit more timely about putting stuff out.That part of our relationship is the same, you know what I mean? That never got affected. We just happened to be overloading in the '80s.

The relationship’s… matured and it's carrying on being fruitful, and I think that's pretty amazing. Really, most people don't get to this place. Usually, they hate each other by now. [Laughs] We also give each other space. We're not stopping each other doing things outside of what we’re working on together. All of that enables us to carry on working together. I love and admire him. I respect him. He's been fantastic. I mean, just standing there on stage with him is always a treat. And he’s got an immensely great sense of humor. I think that's another reason why we can hang together after all this time because we've got the sense of humor to enable us to go forward.

There's a lot of fan reaction videos online, and I noticed a lot of younger women like "Rebel Yell" because, unlike a lot of other '80s alpha male rock tunes, you're talking about satisfying your lover.

It was about my girlfriend at the time, Perri Lister. It was about how great I thought she was, how much I was in love with her, and how great women are, how powerful they are.

It was a bit of a feminist anthem in a weird way. It was all about how relationships can free you and add a lot to your life. It was a cry of love, nothing to do with the Civil War or anything like that. Perri was a big part of my life, a big part of being Billy Idol. I wanted to write about it. I'm glad that's the effect.

Is there something you hope people get out of the songs you've been doing over the last 10 years? Do you find yourself putting out a message that keeps repeating?

Well, I suppose, if anything, is that you can come to terms with your life, you can keep a hold of it. You can work your dreams into reality in a way and, look, a million years later, still be enjoying it.

The only reason I'm singing about getting out of the cage is because I kicked out of the cage years ago. I joined Generation X when I said to my parents, "I'm leaving university, and I'm joining a punk rock group." And they didn't even know what a punk rock group was. Years ago, I’d write things for myself that put me on this path, so that maybe in 2022 I could sing something like "Cage" and be owning this territory and really having a good time. This is the life I wanted.

The original UK punk movement challenged societal norms. Despite all the craziness going on throughout the world, it seems like a lot of modern rock bands are afraid to do what you guys were doing. Do you think we'll see a shift in that?

Yeah.  Art usually reacts to things, so I would think eventually there will be a massive reaction to the pop music that’s taken over — the middle of the road music, and then this kind of right wing politics. There will be a massive reaction if there's not already one. I don’t know where it will come from exactly. You never know who's gonna do [it].

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Hear All Of The Best Country Solo Performance Nominees For The 2023 GRAMMY Awards
2023 GRAMMYs

Graphic: The Recording Academy


Hear All Of The Best Country Solo Performance Nominees For The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

The 2023 GRAMMY Award nominees for Best Country Solo Performance highlight country music's newcomers and veterans, featuring hits from Kelsea Ballerini, Zach Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris and Willie Nelson.

GRAMMYs/Nov 23, 2022 - 03:01 pm

Country music's evolution is well represented in the 2023 GRAMMY nominees for Best Country Solo Performance. From crossover pop hooks to red-dirt outlaw roots, the genre's most celebrated elements are on full display — thanks to rising stars, leading ladies and country icons.

Longtime hitmaker Miranda Lambert delivered a soulful performance on the rootsy ballad "In His Arms," an arrangement as sparing as the windswept west Texas highlands where she co-wrote the song. Viral newcomer Zach Bryan dug into similar organic territory on the Oklahoma side of the Red River for "Something in the Orange," his voice accompanied with little more than an acoustic guitar.

Two of country's 2010s breakout stars are clearly still shining, too, as Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini both received Best Country Solo Performance GRAMMY nods. Morris channeled the determination that drove her leap-of-faith move from Texas to Nashville for the playful clap-along "Circles Around This Town," while Ballerini brought poppy hooks with a country edge on the infectiously upbeat "HEARTFIRST."

Rounding out the category is the one and only Willie Nelson, who paid tribute to his late friend Billy Joe Shaver with a cover of "Live Forever" — a fitting sentiment for the 89-year-old legend, who is approaching his eighth decade in the business. 

As the excitement builds for the 2023 GRAMMYs on Feb. 5, 2023, let's take a closer look at this year's nominees for Best Country Solo Performance.

Kelsea Ballerini — "HEARTFIRST"

In the tradition of Shania Twain, Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood, Kelsea Ballerini represents Nashville's sunnier side — and her single "HEARTFIRST" is a slice of bright, uptempo, confectionary country-pop for the ages.

Ballerini sings about leaning into a carefree crush with her heart on her sleeve, pushing aside her reservations and taking a risk on love at first sight. The scene plays out in a bar room and a back seat, as she sweeps nimbly through the verses and into a shimmering chorus, when the narrator decides she's ready to "wake up in your T-shirt." 

There are enough steel guitar licks to let you know you're listening to a country song, but the story and melody are universal. "HEARTFIRST" is Ballerini's third GRAMMY nod, but first in the Best Country Solo Performance category.

Zach Bryan — "Something In The Orange"

Zach Bryan blew into Music City seemingly from nowhere in 2017, when his original song "Heading South" — recorded on an iPhone — went viral. Then an active officer in the U.S. Navy, the Oklahoma native chased his muse through music during his downtime, striking a chord with country music fans on stark songs led by his acoustic guitar and affecting vocals.

After his honorable discharge in 2021, Bryan began his music career in earnest, and in 2022 released "Something in the Orange," a haunting ballad that stakes a convincing claim to the territory between Tyler Childers and Jason Isbell in both sonics and songwriting. Slashing slide guitar drives home the song's heartbreak, as Bryan pines for a lover whose tail lights have long since vanished over the horizon. 

"Something In The Orange" marks Bryan's first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

Miranda Lambert — "In His Arms"

Miranda Lambert is the rare, chart-topping contemporary country artist who does more than pay lip service to the genre's rural American roots. "In His Arms" originally surfaced on 2021's The Marfa Tapes, a casual recording Lambert made with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall in Marfa, Texas — a tiny arts enclave in the middle of the west Texas high desert.

In this proper studio version — recorded for her 2022 album, Palomino — Lambert retains the structure and organic feel of the mostly acoustic song; light percussion and soothing atmospherics keep her emotive vocals front and center. A native Texan herself, Lambert sounds fully at home on "In His Arms."

Lambert is the only Best Country Solo Performance nominee who is nominated in all four Country Field categories in 2023. To date, Miranda Lambert has won 3 GRAMMYs and received 27 nominations overall. 

Maren Morris — "Circles Around This Town"

When Maren Morris found herself uninspired and dealing with writer's block, she went back to what inspired her to move to Nashville nearly a decade ago — and out came "Circles Around This Town," the lead single from her 2022 album Humble Quest.

Written in one of her first in-person songwriting sessions since the pandemic, Morris has called "Circles Around This Town" her "most autobiographical song" to date; she even recreated her own teenage bedroom for the song's video. As she looks back to her Texas beginnings and the life she left for Nashville, Morris' voice soars over anthemic, yet easygoing production. 

Morris last won a GRAMMY for Best Country Solo Performance in 2017, when her song "My Church" earned the singer her first GRAMMY. To date, Maren Morris has won one GRAMMY and received 17 nominations overall.

Willie Nelson — "Live Forever"

Country music icon Willie Nelson is no stranger to the GRAMMYs, and this year he aims to add to his collection of 10 gramophones. He earned another three nominations for 2023 — bringing his career total to 56 — including a Best Country Solo Performance nod for "Live Forever."

Nelson's performance of "Live Forever," the lead track of the 2022 tribute album Live Forever: A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver, is a faithful rendition of Shaver's signature song. Still, Nelson puts his own twist on the tune, recruiting Lucinda Williams for backing vocals and echoing the melody with the inimitable tone of his nylon-string Martin guitar. 

Shaver, an outlaw country pioneer who passed in 2020 at 81 years old, never had any hits of his own during his lifetime. But plenty of his songs were still heard, thanks to stars like Elvis Presley, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings. Nelson was a longtime friend and frequent collaborator of Shaver's — and now has a GRAMMY nom to show for it.

2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Nominees List