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2023 GRAMMYs Best Song Written For Visual Media Nominees

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Watch The 2022 Nominees For Best Song Written For Visual Media Nominees At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Jessy Wilson and Angelique Kidjo, Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, and Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of 'Encanto' compete for the 2022 Best Song Written for Visual Media.

GRAMMYs/Nov 18, 2022 - 04:29 pm

From dramatic biopic to heartwarming animation, the expansive arc of storytelling possible in modern cinema necessitates an equally impressive continuum of memorable music. The artists nominated for Best Song Written for Visual Media at the 2023 GRAMMY Awards demonstrate that far-reaching potential, and one song will soundtrack yet another memorable moment by taking home this year’s GRAMMY.

The songwriters and performers behind this year’s nominees demonstrate just how heart-rending this year in visual media has been: Beyoncé for "Be Alive" from King Richard, Taylor Swift for From Where the Crawdads Sing, Lady Gaga from Top Gun: Maverick, Jessy Wilson and Angélique Kidjo from The Woman King, Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell writing for fictional boy band 4*Town for Turning Red, and Lin-Manuel Miranda writing for the cast of Encanto.

As the 65th GRAMMY Awards near — airing on CBS on Feb. 5, 2023 — learn more about who is competing to take home Best Song Written for Visual Media by revisiting this year's nominees below.

View the complete list of 65th GRAMMY Award nominees across all 91 categories.

Beyoncé — "Be Alive" [From King Richard

Beyoncé & Darius Scott Dixson, songwriters

Beyoncé tapped deeply into the emotional core of King Richard, a biopic centered on Richard Williams’ quest to coach his daughters Serena and Venus toward tennis greatness. Undoubtedly, the story of a father helping push young Black women to achieve the unparalleled greatness within them — and the hard work, struggle, pain, and deep love that comes with reaching that peak — resonated with the pop star, resulting in a steely rhythm and muscly vocality that refuse to bend to immense pressure.

Writing with Darius Scott Dixson (who also records as Dixson and has produced and written for artists like Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, and Kirk Franklin), Beyoncé thrives in the determination, joy, and pride in Vens and Serena’s story — barrelling past the hurdles set in their path and exalting Black excellence.

Taylor Swift — "Carolina" [From Where the Crawdads Sing]

Taylor Swift, songwriter

Taylor Swift’s contribution to the soundtrack for southern murder mystery Where the Crawdads Sing draws from the pop star’s folk-indebted era — though the roots of that folk sink into murky swampwater.

Swift embodies Daisy Edgar-Jones’ protagonist, the pop star reaching her smokiest depths as the track builds through light banjo plucking, low-slung mandolin, and synth string beds, the pop star reaches her smokiest depths. The lyrics offer hints of trouble that never quite come into clarity — the talk of scars, sin, and ghosts buried in the sand or washed away in the sea. The National’s Aaron Dessner helped Swift fulfill her vision for Folklore and Evermore, and here his deft production helps float the chilled melody down the icy water.

Lady Gaga — "Hold My Hand" [From Top Gun: Maverick]

Bloodpop® & Stefani Germanotta, songwriters

Top Gun: Maverick returned eager fans to the epic action films of the ‘80s, and with "Hold My Hand" Lady Gaga did the same for arena rock power ballads. Buttressed by skyscraping synth bursts and thunderous percussion, Gaga’s grand vocals soar as majestically as any Tom Cruise-piloted jet.

In fact, the film’s star himself agrees that "Hold My Hand" hits inspirational heights: "Gaga came in with this song… [and] it became the heartbeat of the film," Cruise said in an interview with CinemaBlend. Co-written and co-produced by Bloodpop® (aka Michael Tucker, who also contributed to Gaga’s Joanne and Chromatica), the track is a testament to Gaga’s unflinching ear for pop bombast, her vocals matched at the song’s conclusion by a rippling guitar solo before everything fades into the sunset.

Jessy Wilson feat. Angelique Kidjo — "Keep Rising (The Woman King)" [From The Woman King

Angelique Kidjo, Jeremy Lutito & Jessy Wilson, songwriters

When Jessy Wilson first recorded the bulk of "Keep Rising," she didn’t know the song would close a film about a force of female warriors protecting the West African kingdom of Dahomey in the early 19th century. "When I wrote the song, I was talking to Black people … [but] I'm also talking to myself," she told NPR. "When will we be seen as enough? When will I be seen as enough?"

That passion and burn resonate in the booming percussion and circular piano riff, Wilson powering the song’s core with a regal fire. Angelique Kidjo provides the perfect counterpart to Wilson: the legendary vocalist-activist hails from Benin, the modern location of what was once Dahomey. The track lowers to a simmer before her undeniable voice pierces through, leading Wilson back to a full roar befitting the cinematic warriors.

4Town, Jordan Fisher, Finneas O’Connell, Josh Levi, Topher Ngo, Grayson Villanueva — "Nobody Like U" [From Turning Red]

Billie Eilish & Finneas O’Connell, songwriters

Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell were tasked with creating boy band material worthy of being idolized not only by the film’s characters, but by the audience of the Disney/Pixar film Turning Red. The resulting 4*Town lives up to that challenge, particularly the sugary, crushable "Nobody Like U" — the lyrical insistence of love and support equally suited to any teenager’s dream of love as to the friendships at the film’s core.

O’Connell himself voices one of the five animated pop stars, while actor/singer Jordan Fisher’s turn as the oh-so-sensitive Robaire provides this song’s chorus. While hopes for a full 4*Town record someday may need to sit on the shelf while Eilish and O’Connell continue their own respective star turns, "Nobody Like U" will prove eminently replayable in the meantime.

Carolina Gaitán - La Gaita, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Rhenzy Feliz, Diane Guerrero, Stephanie Beatriz & Encanto Cast — "We Don’t Talk About Bruno" [From Encanto]

Lin-Manuel Miranda, songwriter

The latest in a long line of beloved Disney animated musicals, Encanto has irrevocably been lodged in the ears of countless children and their parents — but songs like the salsa pop "We Don’t Talk About Bruno" are cleverly crafted and compelling enough for any listener. The track details the Madrigal black sheep, each family member sharing memories or rumors of an uncle who’s been missing for years after a dark, mysterious event. As each vocalist takes their turn, the track melts from subtle electronic murmur to pizzicato sparkle, the long story told in a winding musical river.

"Everyone sings the same chord progression with a totally different rhythm and a totally different cadence," Miranda says in a press release announcing the song’s release, a brilliant way for each of the Madrigals (and their voice actors) to get a moment to shine and reveal their character.

2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Nominees List

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift performs during "The Eras Tour"

Photo: Ashok Kumar/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

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Get Ready For Taylor Swift's ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Album Release: Everything You Need To Know

As we count down to Taylor Swift's 11th studio album release on April 19, feast on all the morsels GRAMMY.com has gathered about the Queen of Pop's upcoming "tortured poet" era.

GRAMMYs/Apr 12, 2024 - 03:19 pm

The dawn of Taylor Swift's "tortured poet" era is upon us. The reigning Queen of Pop is set to release her highly anticipated 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department, on Friday, April 19. 

Ever since she announced the new album during the 2024 GRAMMYs — while accepting her lucky 13th GRAMMY Award for Best Pop Vocal Album for Midnights —- Swifties have been meticulously analyzing every detail of her existence for clues about the release of The Tortured Poets Department.

Fortunately, Swift has been serving a lot of information to snack on. After revealing the cover art in an Instagram post before accepting her record breaking fourth win for Album Of The Year, she didn't stop the feast. From the full track list to a five-stage breakup playlist — and, of course, all the bonus tracks and special editions — here's all the breadcrumbs GRAMMY.com collected in preparation for The Tortured Poets Department

All The Art Is Black And White

The cover art for The Tortured Poets Department displays a black-and-white inset photo of Swift in repose on a stack of white pillows, with the album's title in uppercase white letters above her. The photography accompanying the album, including back covers and special editions, captures Swift in reflective solitude: standing before a body of water wearing an oversized white button-up, and in a pensive self-embrace against a stark black backdrop.

The photography for the album was shot by Swift's photographer since 2020, Beth Garrabrant, who also shot the covers of Swift's folklore, evermore, Fearless (Taylor's Version), Red (Taylor's Version), Midnights, Speak Now (Taylor's Version), 1989 (Taylor's Version). She's known for using a medium-format film photography that evokes an emotional closeness to her subjects — especially fitting for an album titled The Tortured Poets Department.

The Album Features Two Notable Collaborations

On GRAMMY night, alongside the album announcement, Swift posted the complete track list on her Instagram. The post included a photo of the album's back cover, showing a close-up of Swift with her hand on her forehead, overlaid with the text "I love you, it's ruining my life" in all-caps. 

The 16-track release has been split into four sides and also features collaborations with Post Malone on Side A opener "Fortnight" as well as Florence + The Machine on Side B's "Florida!!!" 

Check out the full track list:

**Side A**
“Fortnight” (feat. Post Malone)
“The Tortured Poets Department”
“My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys”
“Down Bad”

**Side B**
“So Long, London”
“But Daddy I Love Him”
“Fresh Out the Slammer”
“Florida!!!” (feat. Florence + the Machine)

**Side C**
“Guilty As Sin?”
“Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?”
“I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)”
“loml”

**Side D**
“I Can Do It With a Broken Heart”
“The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived”
“The Alchemy”
“Clara Bow”


Bonus Tracks:

“The Manuscript”

“The Black Dog”

"The Albatross"

The Album Title Hints At Another Ex 

Mere moments after Swift dropped The Tortured Poets Department album name, the internet was ablaze with viral speculation that the title is derived from a play on ex Joe Alwyn's group chat, "The Tortured Man Club" with Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott. 

Alwyn and Mescal revealed their "club name" during an interview with Variety in December 2022 and it didn't take long for fans to connect the dots. Upon unearthing the tie-in, Swifties rushed to share memes and comment on the original interview across various social channels.

There Are Three Bonus Tracks (So Far)

Swift has revealed at least three bonus tracks for different editions of the album, each marked with its own "file name." The initial track list release, referred to as "The Manuscript," includes a bonus track sharing this name.  

On Feb. 23, Swift posted a slideshow on Instagram to promote a special edition named "The Albatross." It featured the bonus tracks and revealed the back cover, which presented a track list alongside a contemplative close-up of Swift overlaid with the question, "Am I allowed to cry?" 

Then, on March 3, she introduced the bonus track “The Black Dog” through a similar post that showcased new cover art, with the album's reverse side portraying Swift and the haunting text, "Old habits die screaming." 

Lyrics Have Already Been Shared

Unlike her previous album campaigns, Swift hasn't unveiled any music ahead of The Tortured Poets Department’s release — but she has dropped plenty of hints at the subject matter to come. Handwritten lyrics first appeared in the album announcement post, in a stack of papers inside a folder tabbed with a monogram of the album's name.

"And so I enter into evidence/ My tarnished coat of arms/ My muses, acquired like bruises/ My talismans and charms/ The tick, tick, tick of love bombs/ My veins of pitch black ink," is written above the sign-off, "All's fair in love and poetry… Sincerely, The Chairman of The Tortured Poets Department."

Then, in an Instagram story posted on April 8 — the date of the total solar eclipse — Swift shared an image of a typewriter loaded with a sheet of paper stamped with the words, "Crowd goes wild at her fingertips/ Half moonshine, Full eclipse." 

Swift Created Five Playlists To Mirror The Stages Of A Breakup

Gearing up for the release, Swift dropped a 5-part playlist series on Apple Music on April 5 featuring previously released work arranged in playlists that reflect the five stages of grief. The playlist for "Denial: I Love You, It’s Ruining My Life Songs," features hits including Midnight's "Lavender Haze," and Lover's "Cruel Summer" and "False God." 

The other playlists run through the emotional gamut with titles like "Anger: You Don’t Get to Tell Me About Sad Songs," the midpoint "Bargaining: Am I Allowed to Cry? Songs," "Depression: Old Habits Die Screaming Songs," and finally "Acceptance: I Can Do It With a Broken Heart Songs." Each one takes listeners on a Taylor Swift escapade through love won and lost, representing what many believe to be a musical voyage through Swift's stages of grief following the end of her relationship with ex Joe Alwyn. 

Each playlist also includes a description from Swift. For "Denial," it says, "This is a list of songs about getting so caught up in the idea of something that you have a hard time seeing the red flags, possibly resulting in moments of denial and maybe a little bit of delusion. Results may vary.”

As April 19 nears closer, take a deep dive into everything Swift has unleashed so far — and get ready for a lot more divulging once The Tortured Poets Department arrives.

All Things Taylor Swift

Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish

Photo: William Drumm

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Billie Eilish's New Album 'Hit Me Hard And Soft': Everything We Know About Release Date, Close Friends Campaign & A More Eco-Friendly Release

On May 17, Billie Eilish will release her third studio album with brother Finneas — a release that emphasizes sustainability. Read on for everything about 'HIT ME HARD AND SOFT,' from the singer's eco-conscious production to innovative cover art.

GRAMMYs/Apr 8, 2024 - 10:20 pm

Billie Eilish has announced her third studio album, HIT ME HARD AND SOFT out May 17. 

Fresh off a sweeping set of award wins for Song Of The Year and Best Song Written For Visual Media at the 2024 GRAMMYs and Best Original Song at the Oscars for her hit single, "What Was I Made For?" from the Barbie soundtrack, Eilish is swapping Barbie pink for submerged shades of blue. 

Her new album, another collaboration with brother Finneas, comes almost three years after her sophomore effort, 2021's Happier Than Ever.

Ahead of the official press announcement and Instagram post on Monday, Eilish unleashed a viral ad campaign teasing the release. Billboards featuring the nine-time GRAMMY winner's "blohsh" symbol (a genderless human stick figure) with what fans guessed were cryptic lyrics, appeared in blue font on a black background across major cities, including Los Angeles and New York City's Times Square. Then, Eilish changed her social media icons to a shade of blue and treated Instagram followers to some more mystifying visual content via a set of story posts that included her millions of fans being added to Close Friends on the app. 

That strategy paid off, exploding the number of followers Eilish counts on the platform to over 120 million (up from 110 million on Friday) in the span of just three days. One fan summed up the collective rush to join the inner circle with a comment that's racked up over 10,000 likes: "Not a big deal but I’m on her close friends."

As she dives into deeper artistic waters with her third album, Billie Eilish continues to push the boundaries of music and environmental activism, blending her unique sound with a strong commitment to sustainability. Read on for everything GRAMMY.com has unearthed about Eilish's upcoming release. 

There Won't Be Any Pre-Released Singles

Fans hoping for an early taste of what's to come will have to wait almost a full month to quench their thirst for any new music. 

Eilish confirmed via Instagram that the album will drop in full, without any pre-released singles. “So crazy to be writing this right now i’m nervyyyyy & exciteddd," Eilish wrote. Continuing, "Not doing singles i wanna give it to you all at once. Finneas and i truly could not be more proud of this album and we absolutely can’t wait for you to hear it. Love you love you love you.”

It's Her Most Daring Work To Date

The album is set to debut in a year poised to feature some of the most significant releases from major musicians, each exploring and redefining genre boundaries, trends, and soundscapes.

"HIT ME HARD AND SOFT is a diverse yet cohesive collection of songs, ideally listened to in its entirety from beginning to end," a press release accompanying the announcement stated.  "The album does exactly as the title suggests: hits you hard and soft both lyrically and sonically while bending genres and defying trends along the way." 

The Cover Art Is Haunting

The cover art is elusive and mysterious, featuring a dark and moody image of Eilish that matches statements about her plunging to new depths as an artist. Dressed head-to-toe in dark colors, she is depicted sinking into the depths of a body of water, beneath a stark white door floating at the surface.

The cover art tracks against the statements in the press release that note, "HIT ME HARD AND SOFT journeys through a vast and expansive audio landscape, immersing listeners into a full spectrum of emotions." 

The Release Is Focused On Sustainability

Eilish is hoping to turn the power of her fans into a force for good — her latest album hopes to set a new standard for eco-conscious music production with sustainability baked into the production of CD, cassette, and vinyl releases. 

In an interview with Billboard Eilish said, "The fact that I have a far bigger audience and platform than I’ve ever had in my life means I can reach that many more people, and that’s such a huge responsibility and privilege to have." She continued, “If I don’t use that privilege to do some good in the world, then what’s the point?"

According to a new sustainability page on her website, fans can anticipate eight distinct vinyl variants, each unified in track-listing but varied in their sustainable creation. Available through her website and major retailers, the standard black vinyl is crafted entirely from recycled materials. The other seven vibrant variants use ECO-MIX, which repurposes leftover vinyl pieces, or BioVinyl, reducing carbon emissions by 90 percent with ingredients like used cooking oil. The packaging itself is also focused on environmental responsibility, featuring certified recycled content and plant-based ink. 

On building more sustainable processes into her album release as a major artist, Eilish told Billboard, “I can’t just ignore what I know and go about my business and career and not do something. That’s just not how I was raised, or how I want to live my life."

Watch Billie Eilish & FINNEAS’ 2024 GRAMMYs Red Carpet Interview

Beyoncé accepts the Innovator Award onstage during the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on Monday, April 1.
Beyoncé accepts the Innovator Award onstage during the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on Monday, April 1.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

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Beyond Country: All The Genres Beyoncé Explores On 'Cowboy Carter'

On 'COWBOY CARTER,' Beyoncé is free. Her eighth studio album is an unbridled exploration of musical genres — from country to opera and R&B — that celebrates the fluidity of music and her Texas roots.

GRAMMYs/Apr 3, 2024 - 08:50 pm

"Genres are a funny little concept, aren't they? In theory, they have a simple definition that's easy to understand. But in practice, well, some may feel confined."

With those words, spoken on "SPAGHETTII" by Linda Martell — the first commercially successful Black female artist in country music and the first to play the Grand Ole Opry solo — Beyoncé provides a proxy response to her original call on Instagram 10 days before COWBOY CARTER was released: "This ain’t a Country album. This is a “Beyoncé” album." 

She delivered on that promise with intent. Through a mix of homage and innovation, Beyoncé's latest is a 27-track testament to her boundless musicality and draws  from a rich aural palette. In addition to its country leanings, COWBOY CARTER includes everything from the soulful depths of gospel to the intricate layers of opera. 

Beyoncé's stance is clear: she's not here to fit into a box. From the heartfelt tribute in "BLACKBIIRD" to the genre-blurring tracks like "YA YA," Beyoncé uses her platform to elevate the conversation around genre, culture, and history. She doesn't claim country music; she illuminates its roots and wings, celebrating the Black artists who've shaped its essence.

The collective album proves no genre was created or remains in isolation. It's a concept stoked in the words of the opening track, "AMERIICAN REQUIEM" when Beyonce reflects, "Nothing really ends / For things to stay the same they have to change again." For country, and all popular genres of music to exist they have to evolve. No sound ever stays the same.

COWBOY CARTER's narrative arc, from "AMERICAN REQUIEM" to "AMEN," is a journey through American music's heart and soul, paying tribute to its origins while charting a path forward. This album isn't just an exploration of musical heritage; it's an act of freedom and a declaration of the multifaceted influence of Black culture on American pop culture.

Here's a closer look at some of some of the musical genres touched on in act ii, the second release of an anticipated trilogy by Beyoncé, the most GRAMMY-winning artist of all-time: 

Country 

Before COWBOY CARTER was even released, Beyoncé sparked critical discussion over the role of herself and all Black artists in country music. Yet COWBOY CARTER doesn't stake a claim on country music. Rather, it spotlights the genre through collaborations with legends and modern icons, while championing the message that country music, like all popular American music and culture, has always been built on the labor and love of Black lives. 

It's a reckoning acknowledged not only by Beyoncé's personal connection to country music growing up in Texas, but the role Black artists have played in country music rooted in gospel, blues, and folk music. 

Enter The World Of Beyoncé

Country legends, Dolly Parton ("DOLLY P", "JOLENE," and "TYRANT"), Willie Nelson ("SMOKE HOUR" and "SMOKE HOUR II"), and Martell ("SPAGHETTII and "THE LINDA MARTELL SHOW") serve mainly as spoken-word collaborators, becoming MCs for Queen Bey. Some of the most prolific country music legends receiving her in a space where she has been made to feel unwelcome in music (most notably with the racism surrounding her 2016 CMA performance of "Daddy Lessons" with the Dixie Chicks) provides a prolific release of industry levies. Martell, a woman who trod the dark country road before Bey, finally getting her much-deserved dues appears as an almost pre-ordained and poetic act of justice. 

"BLACKBIIRD," a version of the Beatles' civil rights era song of encouragement and hope for the struggle of Black women is led softly by Beyoncé, backed by a quartet of Black female contemporary country songbirds: Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy, and Reyna Roberts. 

Beyoncé holds space for others, using the power of her star to shine a light on those around her. These inclusions rebuke nay-sayers who quipped pre-release that she was stealing attention from other Black country artists. It also flies in the faces that shunned and discriminated against her, serving as an example of how to do better. The reality that Beyoncé wasn't stealing a spotlight, but building a stage for fellow artists, is a case study in how success for one begets success for others. 

Read more: 8 Country Crossover Artists You Should Know: Ray Charles, The Beastie Boys, Cyndi Lauper & More

Gospel, Blues, & Folk (American Roots)

As is Beyoncé's way, she mounts a case for country music with evidence to back up her testimony. She meanders a course through a sequence of styles that serve as the genre's foundation: gospel, blues, and folk music.

"AMERIICAN REQUIEM" and "AMEN" bookend the album with gospel-inspired lyrics and choir vocals. The opener sets up a reflective sermon buoyed by  the sounds of a reverberating church organ, while the closer, with its introspective lyrics, pleads for mercy and redemption. The main verse on "AMEN", "This house was built with blood and bone/ The statues they made were beautiful/ But they were lies of stone," is complemented by a blend of piano, and choral harmonies. 

Hymnal references are interlaced throughout the album, particularly in songs like "II HANDS II HEAVEN" and in the lyrical nuances on "JUST FOR FUN." In the later track, Beyoncé's voice soars with gratitude in a powerful delivery of the lines, "Time heals everything / I don't need anything / Hallelujah, I pray to her." 

The gospel-inspired, blues-based "16 CARRIAGES" reflects the rich history of country songs borrowing from the blues while simultaneously calling back to songs sung by field laborers in the colonial American South. "Sixteen dollars, workin' all day/ Ain't got time to waste, I got art to make" serves as the exhausted plea of an artist working tirelessly long hours in dedication to a better life. 

Rhiannon Giddens, a celebrated musician-scholar, two-time GRAMMY winner, and Pulitzer Prize recipient, infuses "TEXAS HOLD 'EM" with her profound understanding of American folk, country, and blues. She plays the viola and banjo, the latter tracing its origins to Sub-Saharan West Africa and the lutes of ancient Egypt. Through her skilled plucking and bending of the strings, Giddens bridges the rich musical heritage of Africa and the South with the soul of country, blues, and folk music.

Pop, Funk, Soul & Rock 'n' Roll 

All in, Beyoncé is a pop star who is wrestling with labels placed on her 27-year career in COWBOY CARTER. Fittingly, she brings in two other pop artists known for swimming in the brackish water between country and pop, Miley Cyrus and Post Malone. Her intentional inclusion of two artists who have blurred genres without much cross-examination begs the question, Why should Beyoncé's sound be segregated to a different realm? 

On "YA YA" Linda Martell returns as the listener's sonic sentinel, introducing the track like a lesson plan: "This particular tune stretches across a range of genres. And that’s what makes it a unique listening experience." The tune sinks into the strummed chords of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" before leaping into a fiery dance track that features reimagined lyrics from the Beach Boys, with soulful vocal flourishes and breaks that show the throughline connection between '60s era rock, funk, and pop music.

Robert Randolph lends his hands on "16 CARRIAGES" with a funk-infused grapple on his pedal-steel guitar. It's a style he honed through his early years touring and recording with his family band and later in his career as an in-demand collaborator working with names including the Allman Brothers, and Norah Jones

The lesson is solidified as the album transitions into an interlude on "OH LOUISIANA," featuring a sped-up sample of a classic track by Chuck Berry. This moment emphasizes the pop superstar's nod to civil rights era music history, spotlighting a controversial artist celebrated for his pioneering contributions to rock 'n' roll. (It's a part of music history Beyoncé knows well, after starring as Etta James in the 2008 film Cadillac Records, a veiled biopic of the legendary Chicago label Chess Records.)

Classical & Opera

Opera was missing from many listeners' Beyoncé Bingo card, but didn't surprise those that know her background. Beyoncé was trained for over a decade starting at an early age by her voice teacher David Lee Brewer, a retired opera singer who once lived with the Knowles family. 

COWBOY CARTER gives sing-along fans a 101 opera class with "DAUGHTER." In Italian, Beyoncé sings passages from the 1783 Italian opera "Caro Mio Ben," composed by Giuseppe Tommaso Giovanni Giordani. The aria is a classic piece of vocal training that fittingly shows off her full range — taking us back to the earliest days of her vocal teachings.

Hip-Hop & R&B

Midway through the album on "SPAGHETTII" Beyoncé announces, "I ain't no regular singer, now come get everythin' you came for," landing right where expectations have confined her: in the throes of a romping beat, experimenting with sounds that blend hip-hop with R&B and soul. The track notably highlights the talent of Nigerian American singer/rapper Shaboozey, who also shows up to the rodeo on "SWEET HONEY BUCKIN'" brandishing his unique mix of hip-hop, folk-pop, and country music. 

Beyoncé worked with longtime collaborator Raphael Saadiq on this album, a career legend in the R&B industry, who lends his mark to several tracks on which he wrote, produced, and played multiple instruments. Beyoncé also utilizes the Louisiana songwriter Willie Jones on "JUST FOR FUN," an artist who draws on a contemporary blend of country, Southern rap, and R&B in the hymnal ballad. 

The violin-heavy "TYRANT" and "SPAGHETTII" both underscore hip-hop's long love affair with the classical string instrument (See: Common's "Be," and Wu Tang Clan's "Reunited" as the tip of that particular iceberg) with a blend of soulful R&B lyrics paired with beat-based instrumentalization. 

In a world quick to draw lines and label sounds, Beyoncé's COWBOY CARTER stands as a vibrant mosaic of musical influence and innovation. Ultimately, Beyoncé's COWBOY CARTER isn't seeking anyone's acceptance. As a Texan once told she didn't belong, her critical response claps back at this exclusion.  It's also a reminder that in the hands of a true artist, music is limitless.

Run The World: Why Beyoncé Is One Of The Most Influential Women In Music History

(Clockwise from top left): Metro Boomin, Taylor Swift, Bryson Tiller, Sinkane, St. Vincent, Tori Kelly, Future, TXT
(Clockwise from top left): Metro Boomin, Taylor Swift, Bryson Tiller, Sinkane, St. Vincent, Tori Kelly, Future, TXT

Photos: Taylor Hill/Getty Images; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; Joseph Okpako/WireImage; Chloe Morales-Pazant; Mike Coppola/WireImage; Sasha-Samsonova; Prince Williams/WireImage; Peter White/Getty Images

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15 Must-Hear Albums In April 2024: Taylor Swift, Vampire Weekend, St. Vincent & More

April promises to shower listeners with heavy-hitting hip-hop, pop, country and rock releases. From Metro Boomin and Future's upcoming collab, to TOMORROW x TOGETHER's new minisode, get your April 2024 playlist ready with 15 exciting new releases.

GRAMMYs/Apr 1, 2024 - 01:24 pm

This year, April brings more than just showers to beget May flowers. Instead, there must be something in the stars: In the fourth month of 2024, four artists are releasing their fourth studio albums. These are pop-rock band X Ambassadors’ Townie, R&B singer Bryson Tiller’s Bryson Tiller, rapper PartyNextDoor’s P4, and Irish rockers Picture This’ Parked Car Conversations.

Numerology aside, April will also contemplate exciting new works from pop masters Taylor Swift, whose The Tortured Poets Department drops mid-month, and St. Vincent’s All Born Screaming, country star ERNEST’s Nashville, Tennessee, jazz master Kenny Garrett and electronic producer Svoy’s What Killed AI?, and — allegedly — the second part of Future and Metro Boomin’s first joint-effort, We Don’t Trust You.

There’s music for all tastes ready to fill your playlists for the rest of the year. Read on for 15 of the most exciting albums dropping in April 2024.

TOMORROW X TOGETHER - minisode 3: TOMORROW 

Release date: April 1

Luckily, fans of the K-pop quintet TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT) rarely have to wait for new music. Six months after releasing their third studio album, The Name Chapter: Freefall, the group is gearing up to release minisode 3: TOMORROW.

The seven-song EP is fronted by upcoming lead single "Deja Vu," which is said to mix trap, rage, and emo rock into their signature emotional intensity, as per a press release. The other tracks continue to expand the group’s versatility, experimenting with pop rock, house, and acoustic guitars. 

As usual, the concept of the album is connected to TXT’s overarching lore, and features several references to their past works — track "- --- -- --- ·-· ·-· --- ·–," for example, evokes their debut era where Morse Code was used in teasers and in the single "Crown."

TXT will embark on their Act: Promise World Tour starting May 3-5 in Seoul, South Korea, and then head to the U.S. for 11 shows across the country, including two dates at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Conan Gray - Found Heaven

Release date: April 5

Gen Z popstar Conan Gray has Found Heaven. After 2022’s Superache, his upcoming third album was co-produced by legendaries Max Martin, Greg Kurstin, and Shawn Everett, among others.

Gray had been teasing the 13-track record since last year with a slew of buoyant, '80s-tinged singles ("Never Ending Song," "Killing Me" and "Lonely Dancers") and poignant, Elton John-esque ballads ("Winner," "Alley Rose"). "When I was making the album, I was really obsessively listening to music of that era," he explained to NME. "I think also, because it was a deeply emotional time, I was almost hiding from reality. I didn’t listen to a song from the 2020s during the making of this album."

To celebrate this new, holy era, Gray will be touring Australia in July, North America in September and October, and Europe and the UK in November. "I want people to know that I was having fun and goofing around, and I want you to smile and I want you to feel like you can just be yourself," he added. "I just want the album to be a reminder to people that you can be so many things all at once."

Sinkane - We Belong 

Release date: April 5

Ahmed Gallab, the Sudanese American multi-instrumentalist behind Sinkane, has built his discography resisting musical genres. We Belong, his upcoming eighth studio album, is no different: it combines pop, funk, electronic, afrobeats, disco, and more into "a love letter to Black music," per a press release.

Sinkane’s first album since 2019’s Dépaysé, We Belong features 10 tracks and participations by Bilal, Money Mark, STOUT, and others. Each song tells the story of a different era in Black music and history, laced with love and hope for the future: the disco groove of "Come Together," the gospel choirs of "Everything Is Everything," the funky bassline of "How Sweet is Your Love."

Along with live band the Message, Sinkane has announced a select 10-city tour in the U.S., starting May 3 in New York City and wrapping up on June 9 in Pioneertown, California.

X Ambassadors - Townie

Release date: April 5

**Pop rock trio X Ambassadors dive deep into nostalgia for Townie, their fourth studio album. The record was inspired by their experience of growing up in the small city of Ithaca, New York, and how it shaped who they are.**

"As a grown man, I’ve fallen back in love with upstate NY, and I oddly feel blessed to have had something to rally so hard against/fight to escape from as a kid," vocalist Sam Harris said in a statement. "No Strings," the first single off the project, is an anthem for that restless feeling, and anchors their concept in a haunting, propulsive melody. "Your Town" and "Half-Life" continue the journey, although taking more melancholy tones.

X Ambassadors first set off their Townie tour in Europe and the UK during February and March. On the day of the release, they will begin the North American leg of the tour in Vancouver, Canada.

Vampire Weekend - Only God Was Above Us 

Release date: April 5

Five years after releasing their latest record, 2019’s Father of the Bride, indie band Vampire Weekend will drop their fifth studio album, Only God Was Above Us.

According to a press release, frontman Ezra Koenig wrote most of the songs in 2019-2020, and spent the last five years refining them with bandmates Chris Baio and Chris Tomson. The result is a collection of 10 "direct yet complex" tracks, "showing the band at once at its grittiest, and also at its most beautiful and melodic," as seen in singles "CAprilicorn," "Gen-X Cops," and "Classical."

In addition to a sold out performance in Austin, Texas that will coincide with the total eclipse on April 8 and a headline show at Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona, Vampire Weekend has announced an extensive North American tour throughout summer and fall.

Bryson Tiller - Bryson Tiller

Release date: April 5

Grab your tickets to Bryson Tiller’s upcoming tour while you can: he might go on a hiatus right after. That’s what the R&B singer and rapper told Complex, alleging that his number one passion is actually video games. "I've been designing a game for the past three years; been looking into internships for different companies. That's what I want to prioritize after this album comes out."

The album Tiller refers to is his eponymous fourth LP, a 19-track collection that includes a feature by Victoria Monét, and is described as "seamlessly blending R&B, dancehall, pop, drill, trapsoul, neo-soul, and hip hop" in a press release. "Bryson Tiller is not just an album; it's a declaration of artistic independence and a tribute to the relentless pursuit of greatness."

The project’s three alluring singles ("Outside," "Whatever She Wants," and "CALYPSO") exemplify how Tiller pushed the boundaries of R&B even more, and solidified his identity as one of music’s most singular artists. "My No. 1 goal with this album is just for everybody on Earth to hear it one time," Tiller also told Complex. "My guarantee is that they'll love [at least] one song."

Tori Kelly - TORI.

Release date: April 5

"You think you know who Tori Kelly is, but this album will prove that maybe you didn’t," said the YouTube-star-turned-singer in a NME interview about her fifth studio album, TORI. "I feel like I’m stepping into my power and owning my craft."

Her first LP since 2020’s A Tori Kelly Christmas, TORI. took inspiration from '90s and early aughts R&B and pop, as heard on singles "Missin U" and "Cut." "I was trying to create this world of nostalgia, but also there’s that balance with [TORI.] feeling fresh and new," she said. Comprising 15 tracks, it also includes participations by Ayra Starr in "Unbelievable," LE SSERAFIM’s Kim Chae-won on "Spruce," and Jon Bellion — who co-wrote and produced the album — on "Young Gun."

During the creation process, Kelly told Bellion that her guidelines were to be able to "belt out [songs] in the car" and "dance" to them, like one can do in the powerful "High Water." As far as it goes, it looks like they accomplished their mission.

Kelly will kick off her Purple Skies North American tour on April 12 in Ventura, California, and conclude it on May 3 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Future & Metro Boomin - TBA / We Still Don’t Trust You 

Release date: April 12

Rap titans Future and Metro Boomin have been personal friends and work peers for over a decade, but their first collaborative album is only coming out now. We Don’t Trust You, the first installment of a double album, dropped on March 22, while the second part — titled yet to be announced — is slated to release on April 12.

In We Don’t Trust You, the duo showcased their flawless chemistry with grandiose tracks, haunting trap beats, and star-studded features, such as "Like That" with Kendrick Lamar, "Young Metro" with The Weeknd, and "Type S—" with Travis Scott and Playboi Carti. As Metro defined in an interview with Complex, "it’s the classic Future and Metro, but just updated."

So far, no further details have been shared about the second album, but expectations remain high for the duo to outdo the first effort.

girl in red - I'M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!

Release date: April 12

"I wanted to sincerely apologize for the events that happened directly after the release of my second album, I'M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!" prefaced Norwegian singer girl in red — real name Marie Ulven — on a solemn social media video last month. But while viewers caught their breaths, she revealed it was all a witty joke: the album will only come out on Aprilil 12.

"This is a big year for me. 2024 is, like, my year," she added in the video. I'M DOING IT AGAIN BABY! follows Ulven’s 2021 debut If I Could Make It Go Quiet, but feels "more fun and more playful, and a little bit more confident," as she told Billboard. Lead track "Too Much" brings that novelty heads on, while singles "Doing It Again Baby" and "You Need Me Now?" with Sabrina Carpenter prove that Ulven’s powerful pop is only getting better.

Ulven will kick off her Doing It Again tour from April 16-June 2 in North America, and from Aug.27-Oct. 5 in Europe.

Kenny Garrett & Svoy - Who Killed AI?  

Release date: April 12

For his first electronic foray, NEA Jazz Master and GRAMMY-winning saxophonist Kenny Garrett enlisted the acclaimed producer-musician Svoy. The result is Who Killed AI?, a seven-track daring exploration of jazz and pop culture.

"The first two songs are really reminiscent of Miles [Davis]," Garrett shared in a statement. "The way I’m stretching the melody — that’s how I played with Miles." The opener and lead single "Ascendence" is a strong preview of what’s to come: distorted synths and drum and bass beats fused with Garrett’s fun and brilliant lines, a compelling portrait of what the future of music can be.

Later in the year, Garrett plans to take the album on a live tour. "I think my fans will find this interesting," Garrett shared in a statement. "Some people forget that my teacher was Miles Davis. So for me, it’s not that I have to do something different. It is just something that I do. All you have to do is present the music and let them take the journey." 

ERNEST - Nashville, Tennessee 

Release date: April 12

Early in March, singer/songwriter ERNEST announced on social media that he would be running for mayor in order to "legalize country music." Of course, fans started to get their hopes up for new music — and they were right. The plot was just part of his promotion for the newly announced Nashville, Tennessee, out April 12.

A tour de force with 26 tracks, the record features a bevy of guest stars: from Jelly Roll ("I Went To College, I Went To Jail"), to Lainey Wilson ("Would If I Could"), and ERNEST's two-year-old son, Ryman Saint. It also includes a bluegrass cover of Radiohead’s "Creep" with HARDY, and a cover of John Mayer’s "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room."

In addition to "I Went To College, I Went To Jail," four other advance tracks have been shared: "Why Dallas" with Lukas Nelson, "Ain’t As Easy," "Ain’t Too Late," and "How’d We Get Here."

Taylor Swift - The Tortured Poets Department 

Release date: April 19

On the same night that she won her  lucky 13th GRAMMY for Best Pop Vocal Album with 2022’s Midnights, Taylor Swift also announced her 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department. Coming out April 19, the record will feature 16 tracks and collaborations by Florence + the Machine on "Florida!!!" and Post Malone on "Fortnight."

"I needed to make it, it was really a lifeline for me, it sort of reminded me why songwriting gets me through life," Swift said during her The Eras Tour show in Melbourne. "I've never had an album where I needed songwriting more than I needed it on Tortured Poets."

Along with the statement, Swift also shared an alternate cover for the physical album, titled after and including bonus track "The Bolter." Later on, three other versions named "The Manuscript," "The Albatross," and "The Black Dog" — all including an eponymous bonus track —  were also made available for purchase.

For the rest of the year, Swift will be touring through Europe and North America. As usual with the singer, more surprises are likely to come soon.

PartyNextDoor - PartyNextDoor 4 (P4)

Release date: April 26

**Canadian hitmaker and singer PartyNextDoor will make his long-awaited return this month. PartyNextDoor 4, also dubbed P4, is his first full-length work since 2020’s Partymobile, and continues his eponymous albums series after 2016’s P3.**

"This is the hardest I’ve ever worked on an album. This is the proudest I’ve felt," Party told Billboard for his March cover story. "I’m excited to grind even more for the next [one]. I’m in love with how hard you should work for it." 

He also explained that love is the reason why he takes so long to release new stuff. "I get into relationships and then music becomes second," he said. "I think I’m going to take a break from relationships, a long break, and just get back to making music."

In support of the release, Party shared moody, intimate singles "Resentment" and "Real Woman" — inspired by the same relationships that kept him off stage.

St. Vincent - All Born Screaming

Release date: April 26

In an interview with Mojo, St. Vincent — also known as Annie Clark — defined her upcoming seventh album, All Born Screaming, as "post-plague pop." Since its creation started right after the release of 2021’s Daddy’s Home, the years of seclusion and adjustment due to the COVID pandemic were a prominent influence in her new work.

"That kind of isolation breeds paranoia and loneliness, and loneliness can breed violence," she said. "It’s been a time of loss collectively and personally. [But] loss and death are very clarifying things, they make everything that doesn’t f—ng matter go away."

Comprising 10 tracks and features from Dave Grohl, Cate Le Bon, and Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa, All Born Screaming is St. Vincent’s first entirely self-produced set, and an attempt at showcasing what does matter. "This record is darker and harder and more close to the bone. I’d say it’s my least funny record yet. There’s nothing cute about it," she added.

Clark released two singles off the album, "Broken Man" and "Flea," and is gearing up for a North American tour starting May 22.

Picture This - Parked Car Conversations

Release date: April 26

"Parked Car Conversations is by far the most personal album we have ever created," said vocalist and lyricist Ryan Hennessy in a press release about Picture This’s upcoming album. "It is an album about everything involved with being human. Love and loss and hurt and euphoria and all of those other complex emotions that flutter in between."

The album consists of 15 songs, but a third of it can be previewed through bittersweet, soaring singles "Get On My Love," "Song To Myself," "Leftover Love," "Call It Love," and "Act Of Innocence." Overall, Parked Car Conversations is a soundtrack "not to a movie, but to life," and aims to convey "the ups and downs of living" through ballads and anthems alike, according to Hennessy. 

Coming almost three years since the Irish band’s last release, 2021’s Life in Colour, the new record will be celebrated in high spirits with an Europe and U.K. tour, starting April 21 in München, Germany.

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