meta-script10 Must-Hear New Albums Out This Month: BLACKPINK, Noah Cyrus, Romeo Santos, Santigold & More |
Photos of (Clockwise, L-R): BLACKPINK, Sudan Archives, Noah Cyrus, Santigold, Christine and The Queens
(Clockwise, L-R): BLACKPINK, Sudan Archives, Noah Cyrus, Santigold, Christine and The Queens

Source Photos (Clockwise, L-R): YG Entertainment, Edwig Henson, Frank Ockenfels, Pierre-Ange Carlotti


10 Must-Hear New Albums Out This Month: BLACKPINK, Noah Cyrus, Romeo Santos, Santigold & More

With fall just around the corner, is highlighting the can't-miss, new albums dropping this month from Marcus Mumford, Christine and The Queens, Sudan Archives, Divino Niño, and many more.

GRAMMYs/Sep 3, 2022 - 12:16 am

With a too-short summer of hot, new music soon coming to a close, September is here to keep the musical heat burning. A host of new albums across all genres is set for release in the days and weeks ahead, from highly anticipated debuts to triumphant returns.

September sees the much-anticipated return of K-pop queens BLACKPINK with their second album, BORN PINK, while on the musical flipside, Marcus Mumford, of folk rock trio Mumford & Sons, releases his debut solo LP, (self-titled). The rest of the month revs up with a dose of bachata music (Romeo Santos' Formula Vol. 3), emotionally probing pop (Noah Cyrus' The Hardest Part), boundary-pushing Afrofuturism (Sudan Archives Natural Brown Prom Queen), dreamlike electronics (Franc Moody's Into the Ether), rousing country (Maddie & Tae's Through The Madness Vol. 2), and so much more.

Below, check out a stacked lineup of new albums dropping in September 2022, just in time to soundtrack your upcoming fall activities. After all, there's nothing cozier than the company of a brand-new, good album.

Romeo Santos — Formula Vol. 3

Release date: Sept. 1

Who better to grace the first day of the month with a new album than the "King of Bachata" himself, Romeo Santos? Back in February, the Dominican American artist released the sultry "Sus Huellas" as the first single from Formula Vol. 3. True to form, it shot to No. 1 on Billboard's Tropical Airplay chart and has since clocked up 47 million views on YouTube. Formula Vol. 1 (2011) earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Tropical Latin Album, while Formula Vol. 2 (2014) is certified 27-times multi-platinum and featured the Billboard Hot 100 hit "Odio," featuring Drake. "I'm competitive with myself and my material," Santos told Billboard in 2014, so expect a big splash from Formula Vol. 3.

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Franc Moody — Into The Ether

Release date: Sept. 2

London electronic duo Franc Moody made a strong first impression on their debut album, Dream in Colour, released in February 2020. Soon after, the pandemic brought the world — and Franc Moody's tour plans — screeching to a halt. Rather than despair, the duo escaped into music.

"It was during those months our longing to be out on the road with the band playing live shows developed into a dreamlike state, conjuring up imagery of us and the band traveling through the desert on a journey to find whatever it was that we were craving," the band explained in a statement. That yearning, dreamlike state reverberates throughout Into The Ether, with nods to the film scores of Ennio Morricone. Rest assured, though: Franc Moody's latest single, "I'm In A Funk," is still fit for dancing.

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Santigold — Spirituals

Release date: Sept. 9

September heralds the return of genre-bending shapeshifter Santigold with Spirituals. Mostly recorded during the 2020 COVID lockdown, a defining theme behind the making of the album, and released independently through her own Little Jerk Records, Spirituals is Santigold's first album in six years.

In a statement, Santigold described "losing touch with the artist [in] me" while caring for her three children during a pandemic. "Recording this album was a way back to myself after being stuck in survival mode," she said. Preceded by the energizing singles "High Priestess" and "Ain't Ready," Spirituals finds Santigold collaborating with producers like Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Boys Noize, Dre Skull, and SBTRKT, all while staying true to her own boundary-pushing vision.

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Sudan Archives — Natural Brown Prom Queen

Release date: Sept. 9

Signed to tastemaking label Stones Throw Records, Sudan Archives has been pushing the boundaries of electro and R&B since her self-titled 2017 debut EP. This month, she returns with Natural Brown Prom Queen, which has all the signs of her most out-there project to date. The album's advance singles, "Selfish Soul," "Home Maker" and "NBPQ (Topless)," have already earned widespread praise for their originality and wild flourishes. Sudan Archives heads out on the Homecoming Tour this fall, where she'll bring the futuristic sound of Natural Brown Prom Queen to life.

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Release date: Sept. 16

You don't need to be a K-pop expert to know that a new BLACKPINK album is a very big deal: Anyone knows an album is highly anticipated when even its 30-second announcement trailer clocks 23 million YouTube views. BLACKPINK's BORN PINK follows the group's 2020 debut, The Album, which featured several high-gloss hits, including "Bet You Wanna" with Cardi B and "Ice Cream" with Selena Gomez.

Already, BLACKPINK's latest single, "Pink Venom," excitedly sets the stage for BORN PINK, with a music video that has "Blinks" in raptures.

Read More: Everything We Know About BLACKPINK's New Album, Born Pink

Noah Cyrus — The Hardest Part

Release date: Sept. 16

One of the most distinctive new voices in pop, Noah Cyrus will release her debut album, The Hardest Part, at long last this month. With music in her family genes (case in point: father Billy Ray and sister Miley), the Nashville-born singer/songwriter has carved out her own path with raw, emotionally honest songs that showcase her distinctively smoky vocals. The Hardest Part follows a run of promising singles, including "Every Beginning Ends," a tender duet with Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie. Cyrus, who was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2021 GRAMMYs, is set to showcase the songs this fall on an extensive headlining North American tour.

While folk rock believers already know Marcus Mumford as the lead singer of Mumford & Sons, the artist steps out on his own this month with his first solo album, (self-titled). Mumford has already revealed the singles "Better Off High," "Cannibal" and "Grace," which find the singer/songwriter baring his soul via his signature mix of sensitivity and grit. While the album is very much Mumford's own, (self-titled) also features Brandi Carlile, Phoebe Bridgers and Monica Martin as guests. He's on tour across the U.S. this fall, with a smattering of shows already sold out.

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Christine and The Queens — Redcar les adorables étoiles

Release date: Sept. 23

Back in February 2020, Christine and The Queens released the La vita nuova EP, featuring one of his most affecting songs to date, "People, I've been sad." This month, Christine and The Queens returns under the mysterious alias Redcar with Redcar les adorables étoiles, the French artist's first full-length album since 2018's Chris. Lately, Christine and The Queens has kept busy as a featured artist, appearing on Charli XCX's "New Shapes," alongside Caroline Polachek, and 070 Shake ("Body"). As evidenced on lead single, "Je te vois enfin," Redcar les adorables étoiles is a September gift for synth-pop-loving Francophiles.

Read More: Christine And The Queens On Chris: "This Is A Record That Talks About Being Too Much"

Divino Niño — Last Spa on Earth

Release date: Sept. 23

Coming out of the fertile Chicago scene, Divino Niño's music is as vibrant and diverse as its five members. You can hear their kaleidoscopic range on "Tu Tonto" — the lead single off Last Spa on Earth, the band's first new album in three years — which channels the energy of neoperreo, a subgenre of reggaeton that's close to their hearts.

Led by Javier Forero and Camilo Medina, who grew up together in Bogotá, Colombia, Divino Niño are now a five-piece band, with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Justin Vittori. After the mellow, blissed-out vibe of Divino Niño's 2019 debut album, Foam, Last Spa on Earth promises to be dancier and more adventurous, with the majority of the album's songs performed in Spanish. You can catch Divino Niño on tour with Mexico's Little Jesus starting this month.

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Maddie & Tae — Through The Madness Vol. 2

Release date: Sept. 23

Country-pop singer/songwriters Maddie & Tae are back this month with Through The Madness Vol. 2, a new collection of songs co-written by the duo alongside some of Nashville's most esteemed songwriters. The release is the second installment in the group's beloved Through The Madness series, which debuted at the top of this year.

Maddie & Tae, best known for their country hits like "Die From a Broken Heart" and "Girl In A Country Song," will celebrate their very prolific year by headlining the CMT Next Women of Country Tour Presents: All Song No Static Tour this September and October.

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez

Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images


New Music Friday: Listen To New Releases From Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Blackpink & More

The summer of 2023 may be winding down, but its musical offerings remain white-hot. Check out some new songs and albums that arrived on Aug. 25, from Maluma to Burna Boy.

GRAMMYs/Aug 25, 2023 - 05:51 pm

The faintest hint of fall is in the air, but the summer of 2023's musical deluge continues unabated. Across genres, scenes and styles, the landscape continues to flourish.

We have Miley Cyrus's first song since Endless Summer Vacation — a vulnerable, proudly "unfinished" offering. On the opposite end of the vibe spectrum, Selena Gomez has thrown caution to the wind with the carefree "Single Soon."

And that's just the beginning — beloved acts from Burna Boy to BLACKPINK are back with fresh material. Before you dive into the weekend, add these songs to your playlist.

Miley Cyrus — "Used To Be Young"

On her first song since Endless Summer Vacation arrived in March, two-time GRAMMY nominee Cyrus avoids tidiness, and pursues honest reflection.

"The time has arrived to release a song that I could perfect forever. Although my work is done, this song will continue to write itself everyday," she said in a statement. "The fact it remains unfinished is a part of its beauty. That is my life at this moment ….. unfinished yet complete."

"Used to Be Young" belongs to the pantheon of "turning 30" jams; therein, Cyrus looks back on her misspent youth, and the attendant heat of the spotlight. "You say I used to be wild/ I say I used to be young," she sings. 

In the stark video, she gazes unflinchingly into the lens, without varnish or artifice.

Selena Gomez — "Single Soon"

Where Cyrus' new song bittersweetly gazes backward, Gomez's carbonated new jam "Single Soon" is focused on the promised reverie of tomorrow — sans boyfriend.

"Should I do it on the phone?/ Should I leave a little note/ In the pocket of his coat?" the two-time GRAMMY nominee wonders, sounding positively giddy about her unshackling from Mr. Wrong.

As the song unspools, Gomez gets ready for a wild night out; the song ends with the portentous question, "Well, who's next?" If you're ready to slough off your summer fling, "Single Soon" is for you.

Ariana Grande — Yours Truly: Tenth Anniversary

The two-time GRAMMY winner and 15-time nominee's acclaimed debut album, Yours Truly, arrived on Aug. 30, 2013; thus, it's time to ring in its tin anniversary.

Granted, these aren't "new songs," per se: rather, in a weeklong celebration, Grande is reintroducing audiences to Yours Truly.

Dive in, and you'll find "Live From London" versions of multiple songs. Plus — perhaps most enticingly — the sprawling re-release contains two new versions of "The Way," her hit collaboration with late ex Mac Miller.

Maluma — Don Juan

Papi Juancho is dead; long live Don Juan. "Fue un placer," Maluma wrote on Instagram last New Year's Eve. (It translates to "It was a pleasure.")

And with that, the Colombian rap-singing heavyweight ushered in a new character. He's now Don Juan — in a reference both to the fictional libertine and his birth name of Juan Luis Londoño Arias.

Now, Don Juan's out with his titular album — which he dubs a "mature" blending of the musics that got him going, like reggaeton, house, salsa, and hip-hop.

Burna Boy & Dave — "Cheat On Me"

Just over a year after his latest album, Love, Damini, Burna Boy is back with I Told Them… The Nigerian star offers another forward-thinking missive with his seventh album.

Featuring the likes of 21 Savage, J. Cole, and Wu-Tang Clan's GZA and RZA, I Told Them… is one highlight after the next — and "Cheat On Me" is one of them. For the advance single, the GRAMMY-winning Afro-fusion dynamo teamed up with London rapper Dave.

Therein, the pair expound on getting out of their own way. The chorus, powered by a sample from British-Ghanian singer/songwriter Kwabs, sums it all up: "I couldn't see/ I was cheating on, cheating on me." 

Blackpink — "The Girls"

BLACKPINK are a bona fide cross-cultural sensation, but they won't stop at the music: they're a game now.

A little over a year after their second studio album, Born Pink, the acclaimed South Korean girl group has released a mobile app, succinctly called "The Game." Therein — and above — players can watch the video for "The Girls," their first post-Born Pink jam.

Don't say Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa didn't warn you: "Stop sign, we're burning it down/ Better watch out, we coming in loud/ Bang, bang, just playing around/ Don't mess with the girls, with the girls, with the girls."

The Killers — "Your Side of Town"

The Killers' beloved debut album, Hot Fuss, turns 20 next year; as a ramp-up, here's "Your Side of Town," a new slice of electro-pop from the Vegas crew.

The sleek, aerodynamic, Auto-Tuned "Your Side of Town" is their first single since their acclaimed pair of albums, 2020's Imploding the Mirage and 2021's Pressure Machine.

Here, the five-time GRAMMY nominees take a Pet Shop Boys-like tack with the music; lyrically, they're still putting the "heart" in heartland rock.

"I'm hanging on your side of town/ I notice when you're not around," frontman Brandon Flowers sings on the chorus. "Can't keep my cool, I'm burning inside/ A broken heartbeat, barely alive."

But the Killers — like everyone on this list — remain very alive.

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Blackpink perform at MetLife in new york

Photo courtesy of YG Entertainment.


5 Ways BLACKPINK's MetLife Concert Was A Joyous Celebration Of Their Career

K-pop phenoms BLACKPINK took over New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium on Aug. 11 and 12, marking both their biggest North American shows to date and their 7th anniversary as a group. Take a look at five special highlights from night one.

GRAMMYs/Aug 14, 2023 - 07:13 pm

At one point in BLACKPINK's concert at MetLife Stadium on Aug. 11, Jennie tilted her head toward the sky. It was the K-pop juggernaut's first of two nights playing at the football stadium, and the singer wanted to properly say hello to the tens of thousands who had gathered. 

"Second floor! Third floor! And… is that fourth floor?" She surveyed the BLINKs seated at the edges of the venue before turning to members Jisoo, Rose and Lisa with a look of disbelief. "No way," Lisa responded as the entire stadium erupted in cheer. "New Jersey has leveled up — whole other level," Rosé said. "Unbelievable."

Just last year, BLACKPINK performed in New Jersey at a sizable, but much smaller venue. Prudential Center had three levels instead of four, and the boost in attendance could easily be felt at MetLife. The sky glowed rosy pink as the legions of BLINKs waved the group's hammer-shaped lightsticks in hand. 

The concert on Aug. 11 was part of BLACKPINK's Encore leg of their Born Pink World Tour, and MetLife was the first North American stop. Born Pink kicked off in Seoul in October 2022, and since then, BLACKPINK has traversed dozens of cities around the globe. Though the setlist was expected to be similar to that of last year's — BLACKPINK has not released music as a group since their 2022 stateside concerts — that did not lessen the Encore shows' demand.

Besides, BLINKs know 2023 is a major year for BLACKPINK: the act is celebrating their seventh year anniversary — almost exactly to the date, since they debuted on Aug. 8, 2016. The group's contract is also set to expire this year, and given that YG Entertainment has not announced news of renewals, there's an added sense of urgency for many BLINKS to watch their beloved idols perform live. 

And BLACKPINK did not disappoint. Across two hours, Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa delivered one rousing hit song after another and showed how far they've come since August 2016. Here are five ways the first of the group's two MetLife concerts was a celebration of their career.

At Last, Every Member Performed Solo Music 

Though BLACKPINK has not released new songs as a group in 2023, earlier this year Jisoo made her solo debut, becoming the final member to do so. At past BLACKPINK concerts, Jisoo sang covers including Camila Cabello's "Liar" and Zedd ft. Foxes' "Clarity" as the other members performed their solo music. And while the covers showcased Jisoo's sophisticated charm, they left fans wanting her solo music to come sooner — and the wait was finally over.

Jisoo performed both the springy dance-pop track "Flower" and, for the first time, the buoyant EDM-infused "All Eyes on Me." And all eyes were surely on the eldest BLACKPINK member as she strutted down the runway in a sparkling silver dress.

With all of BLACKPINK performing songs they have their personal stamps on, the setlist not only demonstrated how they have grown both collectively and individually — it felt more complete than ever.

5 Ways Blackpink's MetLife Concert stage

The Throwback Songs Had The Venue Shaking — Literally

BLACKPINK's more recent singles, from "Shut Down" to "Pink Venom," are undeniable pop anthems. But the ensemble has released addictive bangers since the very start of their career, and the fervor at MetLife during the throwback songs was a testament. 

When "Boombayah," one of BLACKPINK's debut songs, started playing, the already roaring screams rose in volume. BLINKS swung their lightsticks more powerfully than before to the heavy beats of the song, and there was no hesitation when Jennie yelled "jump!" as the final verses approached. The floor began to shake as fans on all levels leapt in place while the group did the same on stage.

The quartet's 2020 hit song "Lovesick Girls" played immediately after, and once again the tens of thousands jumping across the stadium caused the ground to quake. The same electrifying energy filled the space when BLACKPINK performed their other early songs — from "DDU-DU DDU-DU" and "Forever Young" to "PLAYING WITH FIRE" and "As If It's Your Last" — in the second half of the show. 

With pyrotechnics and fireworks, the MetLife show was already leaving a searing impression. But there's nothing quite like feeling the impact of a group through the floor literally trembling.    

Anyone who has attended a BLACKPINK concert knows that the group's fans come from all backgrounds, genders and ages. This was also extremely evident from one look at those waiting in line to enter MetLife. 

But one addition to the concert from last year's Prudential Center show highlighted BLINKS' diversity even more. The giant screens presented a dance challenge in the minutes before the encore, and cameras zoomed in on fans who grooved to the music — some replicating the choreography to a tee while others improvised with pizzazz. 

Two young girls in matching black shirts and sequined magenta skirts danced to "Pink Venom," and moments later a man in a rosy bucket hat performed the "Flower" choreography with a lightstick in hand. Two women in hot pink hijabs swayed to "How You Like That," before a male BLINK in a white dress shirt body rolled to the post-chorus and ended the performance with a wink. 

5 Ways Blackpink's MetLife Concert center stage

The most obvious way this show celebrated BLACKPINK's career was, well, with an actual celebration. Near the end of the concert, the members crowded around a four-tiered black and pink cake adorned with ribbons and roses. 

"Can we sing happy birthday to ourselves?" Rosé asked as the four artists held banners that read, "Happy 7th year anniversary / BLACKPINK BLINK FOUREVER." The crowd of course screamed a resounding "YES!" and joined in on the song. "Happy birthday to Jennie Jisoo Lisa Rose," Lisa sang with a chuckle. 

BLACKPINK Reminisced On A First Meeting From 10 Years Ago

The most heartwarming moment of the show happened shortly after the birthday celebration. "Remember the day that we met?" Jennie asked softly. "So romantic," Rosé laughed, seemingly surprised at the turn in conversation — just after she said she didn't want to cry that evening. 

"I remember the first day you came to YG," Lisa said to Rosé. Then, BLINKS were treated to a different kind of performance. "Should we reenact the elevator scene?" Rosé asked as she put down the anniversary banner and stepped in front of the cake to get ready.

"I was with all my books and stuff," Lisa recalled as she gathered more anniversary banners and clutched them in front of her chest as if they were books. Rosé pretended to press an elevator button. "I'll go downstairs to say hi to the girls," she said, almost in a whisper. "Oh, I'm so nervous." 

Together, the two of them pretended that the elevator door opened with a ding. "And then I walked into the room and was like this [motions a wave], 'Hi,' and they were so welcoming!" 

At this moment, Jennie and Jisoo embraced her in a hug. "And then all night we played the guitar, til morning," Rosé remembered as her fingers strummed the air. 

In the past 10 years, BLACKPINK has trained together, debuted together, and now, celebrated their seventh anniversary together. So much of their journey to becoming a top girl group is unseen by the public, but for those few minutes Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa warmly welcomed BLINKS into their memories — creating an unforgettably meaningful celebration for everyone involved.

All images courtesy of YG Entertainment.

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Christine and the Queens Road To Hero
Héloïse Letissier of Christine and the Queens performs at Coachella 2023.

Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella


Christine And The Queens' Road To 'Paranoïa, Angels, True Love': How Self-Acceptance, Madonna & A Shaman Helped Spawn The Trans Innovator's Truest Work Yet

Since Christine and the Queens debuted in 2014, the indie pop singer has journeyed through personal and musical exploration — and now, he's created the album that changed him.

GRAMMYs/Jun 8, 2023 - 09:26 pm

"It's dead to me," Christine and the Queens says of the classic pop song structure. "They killed pop music with high capitalism. They infected the melody."

The artist born Héloïse Letissier has always had a flair for the avant garde, pushing boundaries and exploring themes of identity in his music. (On "iT," the opening track of his 2014 debut album, he memorably sang, "She wants to be a man, a man/ But she lies/ She wants to be born again, again/ But she'll lose/ She draws her own crotch by herself/ But she'll lose because it's a fake.")

But PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE, his fourth full-length due out June 9 via Because Music, is a different beast altogether — both a departure from the synthpop-drenched albums that came before it and an immaculate expansion of his uninhibited songwriting.

The passion project — a concept album in three parts, heavily inspired by Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning 1991 play Angels in America and the 2019 death of his mother, Martine Letissier — is an operatic tour de force eschewing traditional pop for a sprawling, visionary quest told over 20 tracks and 96 minutes. The elysian result is rich and revelatory at times, heady and hypnotic at others. 

PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE also represents a complete evolution from the version of Letissier who emerged as a promising star in the indie pop sphere nearly a decade ago. "It changed me. It did," Letissier says of the album. "I'm in therapy now and I gender myself right. I'm present. [Laughs.] Finally, oh my god! It took the time it took, huh?"

If his candid thoughts are any indication, Letissier's journey of self-discovery has been a long and winding one. In fact, it's no exaggeration to say that the French singer is an entirely different  artist from the queer female pop star introduced on 2014's Chaleur humaine (which received an English language re-release the following year as Christine and the Queens). Back then, Letissier self-identified as a woman and was using she/her pronouns — aligning with the feminine moniker in his stage name — and was presenting Christine's androgyny as something of a performance-art spectacle through early songs like the above-mentioned "iT," "Saint Claude," and "Tilted."

For Chris, his 2018 follow-up, Letissier introduced another layer to his stage name and persona. As the titular Chris, the singer chopped his hair off into a slick pompadour and donned a rotating wardrobe full of button-down shirts, wide-legged trousers, and expertly tailored suiting.

"Every masculine hero narrative I could find I wanted to steal for myself and twist to my size," Letissier said in a profile for The New York Times at the time. "The first album was about a young, queer girl who was a bit melancholic, but now I'm flexing my muscles. I wanted to experiment with a tougher, more aggressive sound."

That approach yielded machismo-filled hits like the funk-driven "Girlfriend" (and its West Side Story-esque music video), and album opener "Comme Si," on which Chris declares, "There's a pride in my singing/ The thickness of a new skin/ I am done with belonging."

At the time, Letissier had begun publicly identifying as both pansexual and genderqueer while still maintaining a grasp on his female sex assigned at birth. "I'm saying that I'm fluid because I do believe that my femininity is made of, you know, hints of masculinity and made out of doubt and hesitations," he told BBC Newsnight. "I'm not so sure of what it means to be a woman even though I am one…I'm just trying to deconstruct a bit, because I think at some point tropes of gender felt a bit narrow to me."

Just a few years later, Letissier would, in fact, adopt an expanded array of pronouns, including they/them, on his journey toward fuller self-realization. But in hindsight, he still views his first two albums as honest representations of who and where he was in each particular moment.

"I think I understand more of what I want to become," Chris tells "I started very young; my first album became massive young. I think Chris is also the expression [of the] stretching of my nerves, but I was still thinking in terms of, like, a pop structure, a woman's body, and I was taming the rest down."

In the earliest days of the 2020 pandemic, Letissier went on to release La vita nuova, an emotive EP anchored by lead single "People I've been sad," and a corresponding short film set to its six songs. The six-track release kept Chris' theatricality and choreography in the forefront — the visual for "People I've been sad" finds him dancing with a horned demon on a Parisian rooftop with the Eiffel Tour in sight — but found him exploring new depths of emotion in the immediate wake of losing his beloved mother. 

"There was a real sense of unraveling that was quite present. It's true," he told NME of channeling his grief into La vita nuova. [The EP] was the result of receiving a lot of emotional short punches in my face during 2019…I experienced a lot of deep things while touring the second record, and the tension between the tour and the rest of my life crumbling apart became unbearable."

Redcar les adorables étoiles (prologue), the multi-hyphenate's next full-length, arrived in late 2022 as the vehicle to debut his latest alter ego, Redcar. And though the album's title pointed to it being a predecessor for what would come next, Letissier reveals that he was already deep into the process of creating PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE when he was struck with the idea that the heavenly triptych needed a French-language precursor.

"It felt like a prologue that I would need first to step back into the other piece," he says of Redcar, which he wrote and recorded in just two weeks with co-producer Mike Dean. "So it was like this corridor of a Kubrick movie where time is f—ed, and you actually have to work on something after the core to perform before the core."

It was embracing the Redcar moniker — inspired by seeing red car after red car on the streets of Los Angeles in the wake of his mother's death — that also gave Letissier the space to embrace his identity as a trans man. 

He detailed his coming out and evolving relationship to gender in a Vogue profile upon Redcar les adorables étoiles (prologue)'s release last November. "My approach to transness is not especially going to be pleasing or reassuring, since I don't believe I should comfort anyone with any type of passing. 

"My story is about tolerance and collective deconstruction," he continued. "I want to keep my body as it is. I am coming out to be happy and free, to be loved and to love, to enjoy my flesh and its contradiction, to help expand everyone's consciousness — by slowly, I hope, for future generations too, uprooting this binary, capitalistic approach to human life…Redcar is the depiction of what I've been going through."

And if (prologue) was a glimpse into Letissier's artistic and personal transformation, its successor unfurls the rest of his story in all its seraphic splendor.

"Through the light, remember. Hear, my baby. Welcome to the tale of tales. Welcome to the tale of your own light, my child. Welcome to the light," Letissier pronounces on the bombastic "Overture" that opens PARANOÏA. "From where I stand, everything is glorious."

With that proclamation, the artist makes clear he has, indeed, thrown the typical pop rulebook out the window and isn't interested in looking back. "I feel like the hyper-rationalization of efficiency in pop music is, a bit, killing the fun," he says. "We are working very narrow scales, very same intervals. We are searching for efficiency, and I wanted to search for truth, quoi."

The result is 96 minutes of gorgeously dense, powerful music that somehow manages to be simultaneously grandiose and intricate in both its construction and its performance. Chris layers medieval harmonies over ethereal, dreamlike soundscapes — welcoming heavenly visitations and contemplating on the invisible, as he processes grief over his mother's death and quests for transcendence in service to what "the invisible" demanded of him.

Madonna — whom he reverentially refers to as both "Metatron, quoi" and "the angel of transformation" — plays a key role on multiple tracks as an omniscient, ambivalent character termed the One Big Eye. 

Looming over the album's high-minded narrative, Letissier describes Madonna's One Big Eye as either "the voice of the big simulation," "an angel in disguise," possibly the voice of his own late mother "speaking from afar" or even the Holy Mary herself — or better yet, all of them at once. (070 Shake also embodies her own angelic character on ANGELS songs "True love" and "Let me touch you once.")

According to Letissier, such an extreme creative process was unlike anything he'd experienced before, and being pushed to the brink left him questioning, at times, both his practice as a musician and his capacity to act as a vessel for the music he was receiving. 

"I remember at some point, being so lost in the voices I had and the possibilities that I was like, 'I could also very much be insane,'" he says with a wry grin. "And I asked, actually, a shaman, I was like, 'Am I actually getting clearer? Or am I just bats–t insane?' She was like, 'Both, my good sir. Because the multiverse is real.'"

Soon enough, songs like "Tears can be so soft," "He's been shining for ever, my son" and "To be honest" were born, often written in a single take early in the morning, arriving in a bolt of inspiration. Looking back now, Letissier says the experience turned him into "the crazy praying man," singularly devoted to what became a near-spiritual practice. "I've never internalized my practice so much. I became insane. I was, like, possessed. I de-socialized. Was praying for hours, walking. The craziest things were happening to me, but very tenuous, very in the fabric of my day and I was alone praying.

"And the crazy thing about this artistry of ours, I think that we have to be brave most of the time," he continues. "Much more than even skilled, we have to be brave. Relentless. Patient. Enduring. More than even flagging the talents we have."

Thankfully, the singer says his rabid devotion to creating PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE led him to a kind of healing and brought him closer to the spirit of his mother.

"It was a terrifying but gorgeous feast. It felt haunted," he confesses. "But beyond that, it felt blessed. It felt like I was remembering her voice sometimes through mine. I almost felt like she has a touch on the songs themselves. There's a song called 'I met an angel.' When I wrote it, it says, 'Open your heart, my love' et tu. I was like, 'She's speaking. She's just telling me it's OK to be me and just be that musician. That man.'

"Losing someone you adore is a terrible experience of course, of pain, et tu," Letissier adds. "But what's great about love when it's so deep, is that she found a way to take care of me through magic. I believe that, I'm not afraid to even say I speak to her almost every day. I feel like when I understood more about myself, she was calling me 'my son.' You know, I feel like it' never break the bond."

Now on the verge of sharing PARANOïA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE with the world, Letissier has not only arrived at his truest self, but also sees just how necessary every step, every song and every album was to get him to this point. 

"The good thing about me is that I am such a consistent man," he says. "I've been honest the whole time. The great thing that saved my ass in therapy from self-loathing — about realizing how blind I was to my condition — was the music has been there the whole time saying it. I've been an honest mother-lover in my practice. My big mistake was to tell people it was a performance."

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