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Meet This Year's Best New Artist Nominees | 2022 GRAMMYs Awards Show

Get to know the 10 rising stars who are up for this year's Best New Artist award: Arooj Aftab, Jimmie Allen, Baby Keem, FINNEAS, Glass Animals, Japanese Breakfast, Olivia Rodrigo, The Kid Laroi, Arlo Parks, and Saweetie

GRAMMYs/Nov 23, 2021 - 10:54 pm

Editor's Note: The 2022 GRAMMYs Awards show, officially known as the 64th GRAMMY Awards, has been rescheduled to Sunday, April 3, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The below article was updated on Tuesday, Jan. 18, to reflect the new show date and location.

The Best New Artist category has been female-dominated in recent years. Five of the past six winners have been women, from Meghan Trainor to Megan Thee Stallion. This year's 10 nominees are even split with men and women, making the race particularly interesting.

There's also a handful of more experienced acts, like indie-rock group Glass Animals, who saw their first hit in 2014. That's not all that unusual, though, as the BNA award honors artists who achieved a breakthrough and notably impacted the musical landscape — and this year's roster have done just that.

The 2022 GRAMMYs Awards will see two teen phenoms, Olivia Rodrigo and The Kid LAROI, go head-to-head. They face off with one of country music's biggest breakouts (Jimmie Allen), rap's sample queen (Saweetie), Kendrick Lamar's protégé (Baby Keem), a U.K. standout (Arlo Parks), an alternative star (Japanese Breakfast), Pakistan's first female nominee (Arooj Aftab), and an eight-time GRAMMY winner (FINNEAS).

No matter who you're rooting for, GRAMMY.com has your guide to this year's Best New Artist nominees. Learn more about the latest crop of rising stars here.

Nominations for the 2022 GRAMMYs Awards show are officially here! See the full list of nominations.\

 

Arooj Aftab

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A singer, composer, and producer hailing from Lahore, Pakistan, Arooj Aftab has been working hard to get her music heard since the early 2000s.

She was one of the first Pakistani musicians to implement the internet to promote her music in her home country, helping pave the way for the Pakistani indie scene with her viral songs, "Hallelujah" and "Mera Pyaar." Aftab makes history with her Best New Artist nomination, as she's the first female Pakistani nominee.

Now three albums in, Aftab's music has continued to captivate fans and critics alike, delivering poetic lyrics with her silky voice and a sound that blends new-age and classical minimalism.

This year's Vulture Prince spawned her biggest streaming hit to date, "Mohabbat," which landed on Barack Obama's 2021 Summer Playlist.

Jimmie Allen

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The only country artist in this year's Best New Artist category, Jimmie Allen instantly made an impact in the genre with his heartfelt 2018 debut "Best Shot."

Starting off his career with back-to-back No. 1 singles on country radio (his belt-worthy love song "Make Me Want To" reached the top in 2019), Allen has continued to make strides, becoming the first Black artist to win New Male Artist of the Year at this year's Academy of Country Music Awards.

The Milton, Delaware native's 2020 EP, Bettie James — as well as a deluxe "Gold Edition" he released earlier this year — showed off his versatility, bringing his country flair to collaborations with pop acts like Noah Cyrus ("This Is Us"), R&B stars Babyface ("Forever") and Monica ("Pray"), and Latin hitmaker Pitbull ("Flavor").

His talent is being noticed by superstars, too: in what the singer-songwriter calls an "ultimate dream" career moment, Allen was recently featured on Elton John's Lockdown Sessions on the track "Beauty In The Bones."

Read More: 5 Black Artists Rewriting Country Music: Mickey Guyton, Kane Brown, Jimmie Allen, Brittney Spencer & Willie Jone

Baby Keem

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Two years after Baby Keem first gained recognition with his impactful debut "Orange Soda," the California rapper had the year of his life in 2021.

 The 21-year-old collaborated with Travis Scott, Kanye West, and his cousin, Kendrick Lamar, the latter of whom teamed with Keem on the fittingly titled track "Family Ties." (The two first worked together on an interlude for the Kendrick-curated Black Panther soundtrack in 2018, and Keem is the first artist on Lamar's company with Dave Free, pgLang.)

"Family Ties" is the latest single from Keem's debut album, The Melodic Blue, which hit No. 5 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart. Keem has been touted for pushing boundaries in the rap/hip-hop sphere the way that Lamar has throughout his career.

"I don't want to do anything the common way," he told Lamar in an interview they did together for i-D magazine in 2020. "I want to reflect my feelings more in the music, with the chords that I love, because but I don't have too many songs with chords that I actually love and feel. I feel the s*** I've been experimenting with now can tell a story on its own… I think everybody knows now that I'm on some completely different s***."

FINNEAS

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Billie Eilish fans know this name well: FINNEAS is not only her older brother, but the mastermind producer behind all of the teen phenom's music.

After scooping up eight GRAMMYs for his work on Eilish's music — including Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Record of the Year (twice), and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical — FINNEAS further wowed fans as a solo artist in his own right.

The 24-year-old delivered his cinematic debut album, Optimist, in October, writing and producing all 13 tracks on his own.

He's the only 2022 Best New Artist candidate with previous nominations (let alone wins); with this nomination, FINNEAS shares another GRAMMY honor with his sister, who won the award in 2020. 

GRAMMY Flashback: Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: FINNEAS On Billie Eilish & "Doing Production That No One's Ever Done Before"

Glass Animals

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Another name that might be familiar, Glass Animals is one of the more established artists on this year's Best New Artist lineup.

The British indie-rock band have released three albums since forming in 2010, landing their first hit in 2014 with the hypnotic "Gooey." But it was their 2020 single "Heat Waves" that took the group from indie-rock stardom to mainstream success.

The song's bellowing beat drop and wavy melody made it an infectious radio hit, earning Glass Animals their first No. 1 at alternative radio and first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (where it reached the top 10).

Subsequently, their third studio album, 2020's Dreamland, became their first top 5 album in the UK, and first top 10 LP in the U.S. That breakthrough is ultimately what scored Glass Animals a Best New Artist nomination, despite their nearly decade-long catalog.

Read More: The 64th GRAMMY Awards: Everything You Need To Know About The 2022 GRAMMYs Awards Show & Nominations

Japanese Breakfast

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Korean-American musician Michelle Zauner has been performing under the moniker Japanese Breakfast since 2013 (she has three permanent band members, interchangeably referred to as an indie project and an indie-rock band).

Similarly to Glass Animals, Japanese Breakfast saw their breakout in 2021 with "Be Sweet," the lead single from the act's third album, Jubilee.

Perhaps the newfound success spawned from Zauner's own personal happiness that inspired the LP — a change of pace from Japanese Breakfast's previous projects, which were a result of the pain Zauner experienced after the death of her mother.

"It was definitely a conscious choice to be like, 'OK, I've written two very dark albums and a whole book about grief, I want to write about something else,'" Zauner told GRAMMY.com ahead of Jubilee's release. "A lot of the record is about struggling or figuring out how to do that or making decisions for myself that allow me to embrace that again."

Read More: How Japanese Breakfast Found Joy On Her New Album Jubilee

The Kid LAROI

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Charlton Kenneth Jeffrey Howard — better known as The Kid LAROI — first caught attention when he joined forces with the late Juice WRLD on their 2020 track "Go."

At the end of 2020, the Australian singer-rapper released his breakout breakup hit, "Without You," an acoustic ballad that received a remix with Miley Cyrus earlier this year.

But it was his collaboration with Justin Bieber, the infectiously bouncy "Stay," that really took him worldwide, amassing nearly 2 billion streams and sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks.

At just 18 years old, The Kid LAROI's willingness to be vulnerable has connected with his generation and beyond, including superstars like Ed Sheeran and Elton John, who have both dubbed him "the biggest artist on the planet."

Arlo Parks

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Though she has only been releasing music for three years, Arlo Parks (whose birth name is Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho) has been writing poems and turning them into songs since she was in her early teens.

The British singer-songwriter has been delivering vivid, sensitive narratives since her smooth 2018 debut "Cola," which eventually landed her a record deal with London-based indie label Transgressive Records in 2019.

In January, Parks released her debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, a collection of 12 songs that expanded her alt-rock sound with touches of jazz and lo-fi production.

The project earned her the annual Mercury Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the U.K. music industry honoring the album of the year.

Read More: Arlo Parks Talks Debut Album Collapsed In Sunbeams, Winning Over Billie Eilish & Phoebe Bridgers

Olivia Rodrigo

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This year took Olivia Rodrigo from Disney star to global phenomenon thanks to her smash debut, the belt-worthy, piano-driven power ballad "drivers license."

The instantly ubiquitous song, which Rodrigo had teased on social media in 2020, broke two Spotify records and made the singer-songwriter the youngest artist to ever debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100, where it sat for a record-setting eight consecutive weeks.

But that was just the beginning for Rodrigo, who has already released five singles from her critically acclaimed album, Sour – including another No. 1 with the feisty Paramore-nicking "good 4 u," notching Rodrigo another record as the first album to contain two No. 1 debuts.

At just 18 years old, Rodrigo has displayed the lyrical prowess of a seasoned veteran who has been touted by Cardi B and Rodrigo's personal hero, Taylor Swift.

If she wins, she'd be the third-youngest winner after LeAnn Rimes, who was 14 when she won in 1997, and Billie Eilish, who was 17 upon winning in 2019.

Saweetie

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After establishing herself as a viral star on social media in 2017, Saweetie first broke onto the rap scene with the confident single "My Type" in 2019.

The California rapper born Diamonté Harper has had two other singles take off, the most recent being her biggest hit to date, the club-ready Doja Cat collab "Best Friend." Several of her songs masterfully sample past hits, including Petey Pablo's "Freek-A-Leek" on "My Type."

She's proving to be a businesswoman, too: in addition to launching her own record label (Icy Records) in 2018, Saweetie has partnered with several brands, including PrettyLittleThing for a clothing and jewelry collection and McDonalds for its Famous Orders series.

With her anticipated debut album, Pretty B**** Music, set for release in 2022, Saweetie hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.

2022 GRAMMYs Awards Show: Complete Nominations List​

Jungkook
Jungkook performing in New York City in 2023

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for TSX Entertainment

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New Music Friday: Listen To Songs & Albums From Jungkook, Meghan Trainor, Peggy Gou, & More

Bask in the pre-summer magic with fresh musical offerings from acts as diverse as Ski Mask the Slump God, Kaytranada, Thomas Rhett, and more.

GRAMMYs/Jun 7, 2024 - 03:42 pm

We're still a couple of weeks away from the summer solstice, but the smell of cookouts and chlorine is already in the air. As parts of the country experience summer weather, there's plenty of musical delights ready to soundtrack the start of summer.

From pop to alt-country to rap, this New Music Friday sprouted sounds for listeners of all persuasions. Here's a cross-section of today's songs and albums to check out, from
Peggy Gou's debut album to the latest single from Jungkook.

Meghan Trainor — 'Timeless'

Just a few weeks before Meghan Trainor's breakthrough smash, "All About That Bass," turns 10, the GRAMMY winner rings in the anniversary in major fashion: a brand new album.

Trainor's sixth LP, Timeless, an irresistible split difference between bubblegum pop and woo-wop. Back in March, she released the lead single "Been Like This" with T-Pain; the "Buy U a Drank" star also appears on "Love on Hold."

"I cannot believe it has been 10 years since this all started. I have never been more grateful for this life that my incredible Megatronz have gifted me with," Trainor said in a statement — "Megatronz" referring to her rabid fanbase. "This new album and tour are all for them and my beautiful family."

Peggy Gou — 'I Hear You'

I Hear You might be South Korean DJ and singer Peggy Gou's debut album, but she declares it to be much more than that.

"It embodies countless hours of dedication in my journey to create something timeless, and is a testament to the power of listening, to ourselves and to each other," Gou said in a statement

And of the video to "1+1=11," in all of its shadowplay: "By bringing together dance — embodied exploration of space — with colorful shadows, lights, and mirrors, I was able to bring some of the key interests that have long shaped my art into an entirely new context."

If all this resonates with you, I Hear You is — well, a must-hear.

Listen: Leap Into AAPI Month 2024 With A Playlist Featuring Laufey, Diljit Dosanjh, & Peggy Gou

Orville Peck, Diplo & Kylie Minogue — "Midnight Ride"

As Pride Month kicked off, Kylie Minogue brought out two very special guests at Outloud Fest at West Hollywood Pride: her newest collaborators, Orville Peck and Diplo. The trio debuted the slinky, sparkling "Midnight Ride," a winning trifecta of their diverse talent pools.

Just a few days later, the studio version has arrived. In its full-fledged wonder, the track is just as much of a ride on record as it was on stage.

The single is the latest offering from Peck's forthcoming duets album, Stampede; though the full album's release date has yet to be announced, the alt-country star teased the exciting collabs to come with the seven-song Stampede, Vol. 1 on May 10, which featured Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Nathaniel Rateliff and more.

Glass Animals — "A Tear in Space (Airlock)"

On July 19, English indie favorites Glass Animals will declare I Love You So F***ing Much with their fourth album. They previously released the advance single "Creatures in Heaven." "A Tear in Space (Airlock)" arrives from smack in the middle of the forthcoming album.

A celestial, pulsing track replete with delicious production details, "A Tear in Space (Airlock)" marks another evolutionary step for the Oxford-rooted group. Their smash "Heat Waves" might be in the rearview, but they still know how to craft a song for just that.

Read More: Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Glass Animals' Dave Bayley On The Group's Slow Burn To Massive Success With "Heat Waves" — And How It Almost Never Happened

Jungkook — "Never Let Go"

Where would BTS be without its ARMY? It's an unthinkable prospect — and the boy band giants' beloved Jungkook has penned a worthy tribute to the fanbase that made them.

Released for BTS' annual debut anniversary celebration, Festa, "Never Let Go" opens its heart completely. "Without your love, I'm nothing/ You mean more than you know/ And words escape me whenever you're close," he croons. "I tried to put it into words but it don't measure up/ My pen and paper could never do quite enough."

Believe us: the radiant "Never Let Go" is more than enough. "It's the truth, it's the truth," Jungkook concludes. "We got something rеal nothing could break."

Learn more: Breaking Down Every Solo Act From BTS: Singles, Debut Albums & What's Next For The Septet

KAYTRANADA — 'TIMELESS'

The Haitian-Canadian producer, rapper, singer, and DJ born Louis Celestin has produced everyone from Anderson .Paak to Alicia Keys to Victoria Monét, but he's just as compelling when it's his name on the record sleeve.

The two-time GRAMMY winner proves just that with his third album,
TIMELESS. Of course, the producer recruited several collaborators for the project, and the list is a panoply of associates from across his career — not only .Paak, but Childish Gambino, Don Toliver, and more.

Maluma & Blessd — '1 of 1'

"A full production between two Colombian artists had never been done before," rapper and singer Maluma brassily proclaimed in a recent press statement. "If it's the first, it can't be done twice."

He's referring to the (aptly titled) 1 of 1, his new EP with fellow Colombian great Blessd. Co-produced by MadMuscik and the RudeBoyz, this six-pack is a reflection of the clear admiration and respect between the two reggaetón practitioners.

This pre-summer weekend, grab a bestie, hit the road, crank up tunes like "Call Me" and "Goyard/GTA," and let that feeling flow through you, too.

Ski Mask the Slump God — '11th Dimension'

Five years after his last LP, Floridan rap phenom Ski Mask the Slump God returns by taking listeners to the 11th Dimension.

If 11th Dimension's advance singles — the jovial "Ooga Booga!", the propulsive "Headrush" — whetted your thirst, get ready for the other 19 tracks, like head-spinning highlights "By Myself," "KillStreak" and "Him Jung Un."

And while Ski Mask the Slump God takes most of those tracks himself, the album's five features are equally as thrilling: Future and ATL Jacob, Skillibeng, Corbin, and two posthumous duets with late rap stars XXXTentacion and Juice Wrld.

Generally, when an artist has a blast making music, it seeps through the grooves — and Thomas Rhett had an absolute ball making his new album, About A Woman, out Aug. 23.

"I did this with a new batch of producers, a lot of different songwriters. This is the funnest album that I've made, I think," he told Backstage Country. "This is a very, very 'me' album. If you liked Tangled Up and Life Changes, Center Point Road, this album is sort of that on steroids."

He's already revealed the first single, "Beautiful as You"; its follow-up, "Gone Country," is a rough-hewn statement of down-home purpose. Every line and lick is true to his dictum that he "got back to the root of why I love to make music and put smiles on faces." 

Let that smile cross your face as you prepare for your summer adventures — and we'll see you on next week's New Music Friday!

On This Day In Music: 2 Live Crew's 'As Nasty As They Wanna Be' Becomes First Album Declared Legally Obscene, Anticipates First Amendment Cases

Photo of Eminem performing at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony in 2022.
Eminem performs at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony in 2022

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic via Getty Images

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New Music Friday: Listen To New Albums & Songs From Eminem, Maya Hawke, ATEEZ & More

Dive into the weekend with music that’ll make you dance, brood and think — by Jessie Reyez, Ayra Starr, Adam Lambert, and many more.

GRAMMYs/May 31, 2024 - 04:11 pm

After the cookouts and kickbacks of Memorial Day weekend, getting through the workweek is never easy. But you made it through — and now it's time for another weekend of however you decompress. As always, killer jams and musical food for thought have arrived down the pipeline.

As you freshen up your late-spring playlist, don't miss these offerings by artists across generations, moods, genres, and vibes — from K-pop to classic country and beyond.

Eminem — "Houdini"

It looks like Dua Lipa isn't the only artist to name-drop Erik Weisz this year. In a recent Instagram video with magician David Blaine, Eminem hinted at a major career move, quipping, "For my last trick, I'm going to make my career disappear," as Blaine casually noshed on a broken wineglass.

With Em's next album titled The Death of Slim Shady, fans were left in a frenzy — was he putting the mic down for good? If "Houdini" is in fact part of Eminem's final act, it seems he'll be paying homage to his career along the way: the song includes snippets of Em classics "Without Me," "The Real Slim Shady," "Just Lose It" and "My Name Is."

The superhero comic-themed video also calls back to some of the rapper's iconic moments, including the "Without Me" visual and his 2000 MTV Video Music Awards performance. It also features cameos from the likes of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, and Pete Davidson — making for a star-studded thrill ride of a beginning to what may be his end. 

Read More: Is Eminem's “Stan” Based On A True Story? 10 Facts You Didn't Know About The GRAMMY-Winning Rapper

Maya Hawke — 'Chaos Angel'

"What the Chaos Angel is to me," Maya Hawke explained in a recent Instagram video, "is an angel that was raised in heaven to believe they're the angel of love, then sent down to do loving duties."

Chaos Angel, the third album by Maya Hawke, out via Mom+Pop Records, is an alt-rock treasure with a psychologically penetrating bent. Smoldering tracks like "Dark" and "Missing Out" plumb themes of betrayal and bedlam masterfully.

Jessie Reyez & Big Sean — "Shut Up"

Before May 31, Jessie Reyez's 2024 releases have come in the form of airy contributions for Bob Marley: One Love and Rebel Moon. And for the first release of her own, she's bringing the heat.

Teaming up with fellow rapper Big Sean for "Shut Up," Reyez delivers some fiery lines on the thumping track: "They b—es plastic, that b— is a catfish, oh-so dramatic/ And I'm sittin' pretty with my little-ass t—es winnin' pageants." Big Sean throws down, too: "B—, better read the room like you telepromptin'/ And watch how you speak to a n—a 'cause I'm not them."

Foster the People — "Lost In Space"

Indie dance-pop favorites Foster The People — yes, of the once-inescapable "Pumped Up Kicks" fame — are back with their first new music since 2017's Sacred Hearts Club. The teaser for their future-forward, disco-powered new song, "Lost in Space," brings a psychedelic riot of colors to your eyeballs.

The song is equally as trippy. Over a swirling, disco-tinged techno beat, the group bring their signature echoing vocals to the funky track, which feels like the soundtrack to an '80s adventure flick. 

"Lost in Space" is the first taste of Foster The People's forthcoming fourth studio album, Paradise State of Mind, which will arrive Aug. 16. If the lead single is any indication — along with frontman Mark Foster's tease that the album started "as a case study of the late Seventies crossover between disco, funk, gospel, jazz, and all those sounds" — fans are in for quite the psychedelic ride.

Arooj Aftab — 'Night Reign'

Arooj Aftab landed on the scene with the exquisitely blue Vulture Prince, which bridged modern jazz and folk idioms with what she calls "heritage material" from Pakistan and South Asia. The album's pandemic-era success threatened to box her in, though; Aftab is a funny, well-rounded cat who's crazy about pop music, too. Crucially, the guest-stuffed Night Reign shows many more sides of this GRAMMY-winning artist — her sound is still instantly recognizable, but has a more iridescent tint — a well-roundedness. By the strength of songs like "Raat Ki Rani" and "Whiskey," and the patina of guests like Moor Mother and Vijay Iyer, this Reign is for the long haul.

Learn More: Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer & Shahzad Ismaily On New Album Love In Exile, Improvisation Versus Co-Construction And The Primacy Of The Pulse

Willie Nelson — 'The Border'

By some counts, Willie Nelson has released more than 150 albums — try and let that soak in. The Red Headed Stranger tends to crank out a Buddy Cannon-produced album or two per year in his autumn years, each with a slight conceptual tilt: bluegrass, family matters, tributes to Harlan Howard or the Great American Songbook. Earthy, muted The Border is another helping of the good stuff — this time homing in on songwriters like Rodney Crowell ("The Border"), Shawn Camp ("Made in Texas") and Mike Reid ("Nobody Knows Me Like You.") Elsewhere, Nelson-Cannon originals like "What If I'm Out of My Mind" and "How Much Does It Cost" fold it all into the 12-time GRAMMY winner's manifold musical universe.

Explore More: Listen To GRAMMY.com's Outlaw Country Playlist: 32 Songs From Honky Tonk Heroes Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard & More

ATEEZ — 'GOLDEN HOUR : Part.1'

South Korean boy band ATEEZ last released new material with late 2023's The World EP.Fin: Will. Now, they're bringing the K-pop fire once again with their 10th mini-album, GOLDEN HOUR  Part.1.

Released in a rainbow of physical editions, the release was teased by a short clip for "WORK," where ATEEZ pans for gold like old prospectors in an off-kilter desert scene, then proceeds to throw the mother of all parties. As for the rest of GOLDEN HOUR, they bring flavors of reggaeton ("Blind), wavy R&B ("Empty Box") and reggae ("Shaboom") — further displaying their versatility as a group, and setting an exciting stage for Part.2.

Learn More: Inside The GRAMMY Museum's ATEEZ & Xikers Pop-Up: 5 Things We Learned

Ayra Starr — 'The Year I Turned 21'

Beninese-Nigerian singer and GRAMMY nominee for Best African Music Performance Ayra Starr pays homage to the big two-one with her second album, The Year I Turned 21, which she's been teasing all month. We've seen the crimson, windswept cover art; we've soaked up the 14 track titles, which reveal collaborations with the likes of ASAKE, Anitta, Coco Jones, and Giveon. Now, after small tastes in singles "Commas,""Rhythm & Blues" and "Santa" (with Rvssian and Rauw Alejandro), we can behold what the "Rush" star has called "excellent, sonically amazing" and "unique, because I've been evolving sonically."

Watch: Ayra Starr’s Most Essential “Item” On The Road Is Her Brother | Herbal Tea & White Sofas

Adam Lambert — "LUBE" & "WET DREAM"

The "American Idol" and Queen + Adam Lambert star is turning heads — for very good reason. He's going to release AFTERS, a new EP of house music and an unflinching exploration of queerness and sex-positivity. "I throw many house parties and my aim was to create a soundtrack inspired by wild nights, giving a voice to our communities' hedonistic desires and exploits," Lambert explained in a press release.

The first two singles, "LUBE" and "WET DREAM," achieve exactly that. From the pulsing beat of "LUBE" (along with the "Move your body like I do" demand of the chorus) to the racing melody of "WET DREAM," it's clear AFTERS will bring listeners straight to a sweaty dance floor — right where Lambert wants them.

Wallows Talk New Album Model, "Entering Uncharted Territory" With World Tour & That Unexpected Sabrina Carpenter Cover

Billie Eilish in Brooklyn, New York in May 2024
Billie Eilish at the 'HIT ME HARD AND SOFT' release party in Brooklyn, New York on May 15, 2024.

Photo: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for ABA

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Billie Eilish Fully Embraces Herself On 'Hit Me Hard And Soft': 5 Takeaways From The New Album

On her third album, Billie Eilish returns to "the girl that I was" — and as a result, 'HIT ME HARD AND SOFT' celebrates all of the weird, sexual, beautiful, vulnerable parts of her artistry.

GRAMMYs/May 17, 2024 - 07:50 pm

Billie Eilish has never been one to shy away from her feelings. In fact, she doubles down on them.

Since her debut EP, 2017's Don't Smile At Me, the pop star has held listeners' hands as she guides them through the darkest pages of her diary. The EP found a teenage Eilish navigating heartbreak while her blockbuster debut album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? — which swept the General Field Categories (Album Of The Year, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best New Artist) at the 2020 GRAMMYs — was a chilling and raw look into her depression-fueled nightmares. And 2021's Happier Than Ever had her confronting misogyny and the weight of fame.

She could have easily succumbed to the pop star pressures for her third studio album, HIT ME HARD AND SOFT, out today (May 17). Instead, she reverts to her sonic safe space: creating intimate melodies with her brother and day-one collaborator, FINNEAS. Only this time, the lyrics are more mature and the production is more ambitious.

"This whole process has felt like I'm coming back to the girl that I was. I've been grieving her," Eilish told Rolling Stone about how HIT ME HARD AND SOFT revisited elements of WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? "I've been looking for her in everything, and it's almost like she got drowned by the world and the media. I don't remember when she went away."

Here are five takeaways from Billie Eilish's new album, HIT ME HARD AND SOFT, where Old Billie is resuscitated and comforted by New Billie. 

Heartbreaking Ballads Are Her Sweet Spot

Tenderness remains at Eilish's core, and it's beautifully highlighted on HIT ME HARD AND SOFT. Despite her love for eccentric electro-pop beats, ballads have always been the singer's strong suit. After she first displayed that in her debut single, 2015's "ocean eyes," Eilish won two GRAMMYs and an Oscar for her delicate Barbie soundtrack standout, "What Was I Made For?" — and the magic of her melancholic balladry returned on the new album.

HIT ME's album opener, "SKINNY," mimics the self-reflection of Happier Than Ever's "Getting Older" opener, where she painfully sings about Hollywood's body image standards. "People say I look happy just because I got skinny/ But the old me is still me and maybe the real me/ And I think she's pretty," she muses. 

"WILDFLOWER" cuts in the album's center like a knife to the chest. Eilish's comparisons to a lover's ex-girlfriend are devastating over a bare piano melody — the simplest production on the LP: "You say no one knows you so well/ But every time you touch me, I just wonder how she felt."

HIT ME Isn't Afraid To Get A Little Weird

What makes Eilish so intriguing is her effortless balance between misery and mischief. On lead single "LUNCH," the singer/songwriter taps into the playful attitude of WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? smash "bad guy."

Over an upbeat and kooky production, she lets her carnal fantasies about devouring a woman run wild. The fantasies continue on "THE DINER," with Eilish stepping into the stalker mindset that may be inspired by her own life (she was granted a five-year restraining order against an alleged stalker last year). "I came in through the kitchen lookin' for something to eat/ I left a calling card so they would know that it was me," she winks on the chorus.

She Lays The "Whisper Singing" Criticism To Rest

Eilish's subdued voice has been chided as much as it's been lauded. She first gave naysayers the middle finger on Happier Than Ever's title track, nearly screaming in the song's latter half. On her latest album, she showcases her range even further, from bold belts to delicate falsettos.

The gauzy synths and vocal yearning of "BIRDS OF A FEATHER" is the perfect summer anthem, soundtracking the feeling of kissing your lover as the salty Los Angeles breeze runs through your hair. On the second half of "THE GREATEST," she unleashes a wail-filled fury. 

"HIT ME HARD AND SOFT was really the first time that I was aware of the things that I could do, the ways I could play with my voice, and actually did that," she recently told NPR Music. "That's one thing I feel very proud of with this album — my bravery, vocally."

Her Vulnerability Hasn't Waned

Eilish is quite the paradox, as her superpower is her emotional fragility. Her music has doubled as confessionals since the beginning of her career, and that relatable vulnerability threads HIT ME together. Despite its lighthearted nature, "LUNCH" marks the first time the singer has discussed her sexuality in a song.

"That song was actually part of what helped me become who I am, to be real," Eilish told  Rolling Stone of "LUNCH." "I wrote some of it before even doing anything with a girl, and then wrote the rest after. I've been in love with girls for my whole life, but I just didn't understand — until, last year, I realized I wanted my face in a vagina. I was never planning on talking about my sexuality ever, in a million years. It's really frustrating to me that it came up."

Then there's "SKINNY," which is a raw insight into how much social media's discussions of her body and fame affected her. "When I step off the stage, I'm a bird in a cage/ I'm a dog in a dog pound," she sings. "BLUE," the album's closer, finds Eilish accepting her state of post-breakup sorrow: "I'd like to mean it when I say I'm over you, but that's still not true."

FINNEAS Has Unlocked A New Production Level

FINNEAS — Eilish's brother, producer and confidant — has grown as much as his younger sister since they first began creating music together. He continues to challenge himself both lyrically and sonically to excitedly push Eilish to her creative limits. He explores a myriad of sounds on the album, with many playing like a two-for-one genre special. Named after Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away heroine, the glittery melody and thumping bassline on "CHIHIRO" transport you into an anime video game. 

The first half of "L'AMOUR DE MA VIE" is deceptively simple with its plucking acoustic guitar strings, but soon finds itself under the glare of a disco ball with Eilish's vocals funneled through a vocoder. "BITTERSUITE" is arguably the best reflection of Finneas' experimentation: it starts out with Daft Punk-esque synths before dragging itself across a grim, bass-heavy floor. Then, it crawls into cheeky elevator music territory before ending with an alien-like taunt.

HIT ME HARD AND SOFT is begging to be played live, as seen with fans' raucous reactions after the singer's listening parties at Brooklyn's Barclays Center and Los Angeles' Kia Forum. Fortunately for fans in North America, Australia and Europe, it won't be long before she brings the album to life — HIT ME HARD AND SOFT: THE TOUR  kicks off on Sept. 29 in Québec, Canada.

All Things Billie Eilish

Zayn
Zayn Malik attends the Valentino Menswear Fall/Winter 2024-2025 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 20, 2024 in Paris, France

Photo: Marc Piasecki/WireImage via Getty Images

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New Music Friday: Listen To Songs & Albums From Zayn, The Avett Brothers, Bebe Rexha & More

As Billie Eilish fans rejoice over the release of her latest album, they're not the only fandom jamming new tunes on May 17. Check out new music from Maria Becerra, Saweetie, Galantis, and more.

GRAMMYs/May 17, 2024 - 04:12 pm

As music fans know, Friday is the official weekday of new releases — but this week began with a bang.

On Monday, May 13, Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, released Atavista, a "finished" version of his 2020 album, 3.15.20. Back then, he released a nascent version of said album on his website, before pulling it down and uploading it to streaming services the following week, with guest appearances by Ariana Grande, 21 Savage and more.

Happily, the finished product retains those inspired guest appearances, over polished and honed versions of the original tunes. With the release of Atavista, Glover released a music video for "Little Foot Big Foot," featuring Young Nudy. He also promised special vinyl with visuals for each song, as well as an all-new Childish Gambino album due this summer.

And before Friday even hit, two country superstars also delivered exciting new tracks. Also on May 13, Lainey Wilson unleashed "Hang Tight Honey," the first single from her forthcoming third album, Whirlwind, out August 23. Three days later, Luke Combs released "Ain't No Love In Oklahoma," the lead track from TWISTERS: THE ALBUM. (Arriving July 19, the soundtrack will feature a number of other country greats, from Miranda Lambert to Shania Twain to Jelly Roll.) 

Today, there are plenty of other musical delicacies to savor. One of the most prominent is Billie Eilish's hotly anticipated third album, HIT ME HARD AND SOFT. Also, Puerto Rican rap star Álvaro Díaz's SAYONARA; American singer/songwriter Sasha Alex Sloan's Me Again; and 1D star Zayn's ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS have been unveiled. Even renowned actress Kate Hudson has also joined the musical ranks, releasing her debut album, Glorious.

Veterans, too, are stepping out with fresh offerings. Psych-tinged retro rockers Cage the Elephant are back with their first album in five years, Neon Pill. Slash released Orgy of the Damned, an album of mostly blues covers featuring guests from Gary Clark Jr. to Iggy Pop to Demi Lovato. On the opposite side of the coin, boy band pioneers New Kids on the Block return with Still Kids, their first album in 11 years, featuring guests DJ Jazzy Jeff and Taylor Dayne.

Still, that doesn't even begin to cover the trove of new songs delivered on May 17. Omar Apollo, Peggy Gou and HARDY released tracks from upcoming albums, and Russ (feat. 6LACK), Charlotte Cardin and T-Pain released inspired singles. What other treasures have this Friday wrought? Check the below list for albums and tunes to add to your weekend playlist!

The Avett Brothers — The Avett Brothers

With their previous album, back in 2019, Americana favorites the Avett Brothers declared they were Closer Than Together. Now, they're back with a self-titled album, and a return to their original label, Ramseur Records.

But that's just one way they're circling back to their roots; the Rick Rubin-produced The Avett Brothers returns to burning-rubber vocals; sturdy, folkloric melodies; and lovelorn lyrics. If those are your bag, don't miss tracks like "Love of a Girl," "Orion's Belt" and "Same Broken Bones."

Bebe Rexha, "Chase It (Mmm Da Da Da)"

Bebe Rexha's last album was 2023's Bebe, but this phenom of a pop singer/songwriter is already back with new music. Get warmed up for the impending summer sun with "Chase It (Mmm Da Da Da)," complete with a rip-roaring video.

The four-time GRAMMY nominee debuted her latest banger in the desert sands of Coachella 2024; if you're ready for the swooping, thumping official version, chase it down today. 

Meaningfully, "Chase It (Mmm Da Da Da)" marks Rexha's first solo dance track after numerous collaborations with electronic acts; she even earned back-to-back GRAMMY nods in 2023 and 2024 for jams concocted with David Guetta, and her only other release of 2024 so far was a collab with Brazilian DJ Alok.

Galantis, Rx

We haven't gotten a new album from the beloved Swedish EDM duo Galantis in a hot minute; that just changed. Though they has released two albums since 2015's Pharmacy — 2017's The Aviary and 2020's Church — Galantis' latest album is a direct successor to their game-changing debut. Behold, the aptly titled Rx.

Running the gamut from ethereal textures to electrifying, pulsing rhythms, Rx directly reckons with Galantis's now-sole member Christian Karlsson's ADHD, and how medication was a game-changer in his life and work.

"Pharmacy was when I knew I was neurodivergent and I knew the studio was like a pharmacy for me," Karlsson stated in a press release. "I was the patient. Rx is when I found medication. For me, it was key, but of course, everyone walks their own path."

Saweetie — "NANi"

Before Saweetie officially released "NANi," she had been teasing the track all week long. On May 11, at the 2024 Gold Gala, an annual gathering of top Asian Pacific and multicultural leaders, the rapper (who has Filipino and Chinese roots) told Billboard, "NANi' is that girl. 'NANi' is main character energy." And on Instagram, as part of the cover art reveal for the single, she declared, "We gon' fkkk up the Summer."

She certainly will. The poolside-partying, Smirnoff-plugging video lives up to a YouTube commenter's adroit description: "It's giving Barbie and Bratz royalty!" Will it be part of Pretty Bitch Music, the album she's been teasing (and honing) for years? Time will tell.

Warren Zeiders — "Betrayal"

Warren Zeiders staked his claim with his 2021 debut single, "Ride the Lightning"; now, he's got a stormcloud overhead. The uber-moody "Betrayal" makes no bones about its subject: "This isn't how I pictured you and I/ Smile in my face while you twist the knife/ Shame on me if you fool me twice/ You fooled me twice."

As unremittingly bleak as the lyrics are, though, the budding country star's melody lets the light in. What an alchemy: the more Zeiders bemoans being chapfallen and frustrated, the lap steel-laced music evermore swoops and sparkles.

María Becerra — "IMAN (Two of Us)"

Once a YouTuber, and now an urbano sensation, bubbly Argentine singer María Becerra is back with a four-on-the-floor stomper. The somewhat Dua Lipa-tinted "IMAN (Two of Us)" is a delight, as is its candy-coated video, where Becerra cavorts and romances through a surreal art exhibit.

Her new album, MB3*, is expected sometime in 2024; it should also include tunes like "Slow it Down," "Do You (feat. 24kGoldn)" and "Agora." Let the earworm "IMAN" slake your thirst in the meantime.

Zayn — ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS

Boy band acolytes will always long for the return of One Direction, who have been on hiatus since 2016. But in the meantime, their solo work just keeps getting sweeter. Following a three-year intermission, Zayn released ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS; for him, this music cuts to the quick of who he is.

"I think the intention behind this album fully is ​​for the listener to get more insight on me personally as a human being," Zayn explained in an Instagram post. "My ambitions, my fears, and for them to have a connection with that and that's why it's so raw. It's just me."

Taking six years to get right, and marking a return to Mercury Records, ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS is an unmistakable sonic and thematic evolution for the One Direction star. As with the other selections on this list, it's right on time for spring — let the songs of the season help you flourish, too.

New Music Friday: Listen To Songs From Megan Thee Stallion, Camila Cabello & Lil Nas X, BTS' RM & More