Photo: John Phillips/Getty Images
Ed Sheeran, Anne-Marie Speak Their Minds On "2002"
The GRAMMY winner duets with the former karate champ and EDM chart climber on the song he wrote just for her
If Ed Sheeran has his way, the acoustic video he released on July 12 with singer/songwriter Anne-Marie just might make you fall in love with her refreshing musical power. A fellow Brit, she's been opening for him on tour and is also on a solo tour in support of her April album Speak Your Mind. A rising EDM star, her dynamic energy pumps up Sheeran's crowds and inspired him to write "2002" for her. He urged her to release it right before the album. Give it a listen and you will know why.
Anne-Marie's album peaked at No. 31 on the Billboard 200 in May, but that might not be the end of it. On the Hot 100, she reached No. 9 last year with her feature on Clean Bandit's "Rockabye," which also features Sean Paul. In June of this year, her Marshmello collaboration "Friends" reached No. 11 and appears on Speak Your Mind.
A former amateur karate champ and theater performer, she keeps her background in the background while she goes for it with an energetic vocal drive few possess. Watching her bring out bits of Sheeran we haven't seen before is a joy in itself and a fun complement to his signature likability.
We'll see what kind of musical champ Anne-Marie will be — and she knows how to hit. She even tells Sheeran playfully, "I just want to hit you." Don't neglect to catch the sweaty back reference at the end of the video, which caused the internet to dub the duo "real BFFs."
Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for MTV Entertainment
10 Artists Who Are Outspoken About Mental Health: Billie Eilish, Selena Gomez, Shawn Mendes & More
From Ed Sheeran to Janet Jackson, take a look at some of the major music stars who have shared their struggles with mental health — and helped fans feel supported and seen in the process.
Sharing mental health issues with close family or specialized medical professionals can be challenging enough. Add in the pressures of fame and being in the public eye, and any struggles are exponentially more difficult to cope with.
In recent years, though, mental health has become a much more widely discussed topic in celebrity culture. Several artists have used their music and their platform to open up about their own struggles with depression, anxiety and the like, from Bruce Springsteen to Selena Gomez.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, GRAMMY.com highlights the inspirational impact of music superstars who speak out about what they're going through, and how they manage their challenges. These 10 performers are making change through their courage and candor.
Ed Sheeran takes fans behind the curtain of his personal life and struggles with mental health in Ed Sheeran: The Sum of It All. The four-episode docuseries, which is now streaming on Disney+, details the pain of losing his best friend Jamal Edwards and his wife Cherry Seaborn receiving a cancer diagnosis while she was pregnant with their daughter Jupiter.
"What I think is really great about the documentary is the themes that it explores, everyone goes through," Sheeran said at the New York City premiere on May 2, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "Everyone goes through grief. Everyone goes through ups and downs of their mental health."
Sheeran dives deeper into his struggles — and is more vulnerable than ever before — on his latest album Subtract, which arrived on May 5. "Running from the light/ Engulfed in darkness/ Sharing my eyes/ Wondering why I'm stuck on the borderline," he sings on album cut "Borderline," which touches on battling suicide thoughts.
Like Sheeran, Scottish singer Lewis Capaldi also gave fans an incredibly upfront look at his mental health challenges in a documentary, How I'm Feeling Now. The new Netflix release details his experience with anxiety and Tourette's syndrome, taking viewers to physical therapy with Capaldi and discussing how his medication both helps and hurts the quality of his life.
Capaldi's second album, Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent (due May 19) will further explore his anxieties and vulnerability. While he has admitted it wasn't easy to be so raw in his music and on screen, Capaldi wants to make a difference in other people's lives. "If people notice things that are concurrent with what's going on in their life, then it's all been worth it," he told Variety.
While Billie Eilish's music has been raw and real from the start, her music has become increasingly more vulnerable throughout the years. Whether in her music or in interviews, the star has opened up about dealing with body dysmorphia, depression and thoughts of self-harm — hoping to inspire fans to speak up when they are hurting, and to know that it gets better.
"It doesn't make you weak to ask for help," she asserts in a 2019 video for Ad Council's Seize The Awkward campaign, which features stars discussing mental health.
"Kids use my songs as a hug," she told Rolling Stone earlier that year. "Songs about being depressed or suicidal or completely just against-yourself — some adults think that's bad, but I feel that seeing that someone else feels just as horrible as you do is a comfort. It's a good feeling."
As one of the most-followed stars on social media, Selena Gomez has often used her formidable presence to discuss her mental health and connect with others. In 2022, the singer launched a startup called Wondermind, which is focused on "mental fitness" and helping users maintain strong mental health.
Just a few months later, Gomez further chronicled her own mental health journey in an Apple TV+ documentary, Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me, which shows extremes she's suffered with her depression and bipolar disorder. She has said she was initially hesitant to share the film, but ultimately reflected on how many others could be helped if she did.
"Because I have the platform I have, it's kind of like I'm sacrificing myself a little bit for a greater purpose," she explained in a 2022 cover story with Rolling Stone. "I don't want that to sound dramatic, but I almost wasn't going to put this out. God's honest truth, a few weeks ago, I wasn't sure I could do it."
In 2019, Shawn Mendes first publicly addressed his struggles with anxiety in the dynamic — and GRAMMY-nominated — hit "In My Blood." Three years later, the singer postponed his 2022 tour in order to focus on his mental health, opening up an important conversation to his legion of fans.
"The process was very difficult," he said in a February interview with Wall Street Journal. "A lot of doing therapy, a lot of trying to understand how I was feeling and what was making me feel that way. And then doing the work to help myself and heal. And also leaning on people in my life to help a little bit.
"It's been a lot of work, but I think the last year and a half has been the most eye-opening and growing and beautiful and just healing process of my life," he continued. "And it just really made me see how culture is really starting to get to a place where mental health is really becoming a priority."
Even an artist as successful and celebrated as Bruce Springsteen has faced depression. In his 2016 autobiography Born to Run, the 20-time GRAMMY winner cites a difficult relationship with his father and a history of mental illness in the family, sharing that he has sought treatment throughout his life.
"I was crushed between 60 and 62, good for a year, and out again from 63 to 64," he wrote in the book. In that time, he released his 2012 album, Wrecking Ball, which featured a raw track called "This Depression." "Baby, I've been down, but never this down I've been lost, but never this lost," he sings on the opening verse.
As his wife, Patti Scialfa, told Vanity Fair in 2016, "He approached the book the way he would approach writing a song…A lot of his work comes from him trying to overcome that part of himself."
The physical and emotional abuse suffered by the famous Jackson family is well-documented in books, documentaries and TV dramatizations. But it's only been in recent years that Janet Jackson has talked about her own depression, which she has referred to as "intense." Her son Aissa has helped her heal from mental health challenges that have followed her all of her life.
"In my 40s, like millions of women in the world, I still heard voices inside my head berating me, voices questioning my value," she wrote in a 2020 ESSENCE cover story. "Happiness was elusive. A reunion with old friends might make me happy. A call from a colleague might make me happy. But because sometimes I saw my failed relationships as my fault, I easily fell into despair."
After seeing global success with her debut single, "Ex's & Oh's," Elle King experienced the woes of sudden fame as well as a crumbling marriage. Her second album, 2018's Shake the Spirit, documented her struggles with self-doubt, medicinal drinking and PTSD.
"There's two ways out," she told PEOPLE in 2018, describing her marriage as "destructive," physically abusive and leading her to addiction. "You can take the bad way out or you can get help. I got help because I knew that I have felt good in my life and I knew I could get there again."
Certain public situations can trigger crippling anxiety attacks for Brendon Urie, who has been open about mental health concerns throughout his career. He can perform in front of thousands of fans, but he's revealed that being in the grocery store or stuck in an elevator for too long with other people are among some of his most uncomfortable scenarios in his life.
"You would never tell on the surface, but inside it's so painful I can't even describe," the former Panic! At The Disco frontman — who disbanded the group earlier this year to focus on his family — said in a 2016 interview with Kerrang.
Rapper Big Sean and his mother released a series of educational videos during Mental Health Awareness Month in 2021 — two years after the Detroit-born star started talking about his own long-held depression and anxiety publicly.
"I was just keeping it real because I was tired of not keeping it real," he said in an interview with ESSENCE in 2021. "I was tired of pretending I was a machine and everything was cool and being politically correct or whatever. I just was like, I'm a just say how I feel."
Like many of his peers, he hopes that his honesty will help others. "Whatever they can apply to their life and better themselves and maybe it just even starts a whole journey in a different direction as far as upgrading and taking care of themselves and bossing up themselves," he added. "Whatever they're trying to do, I hope it helps them get to that place."
Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Image
Ed Sheeran's Road To 'Subtract': How Grief And Tragedy Forced The Pop Troubadour To Recalculate His Musical Equation
After more than a decade of planning a series of mathematically titled albums, Ed Sheeran's world turned upside down. As he releases 'Subtract,' revisit the journey of love and loss that led to his most emotional album yet.
Ed Sheeran has always known he's not exactly a conventional superstar. He even says as much in his new docu-series, Ed Sheeran: The Sum of It All: "I'm specky, ginger hair, really short, English, from the countryside, who stutters and beatboxes. That guy doesn't become a pop star."
And yet, on the verge of releasing his sixth studio album Subtract (out May 5), the red-headed troubadour from the county of Suffolk is undeniably a defining force in modern pop music, with four GRAMMYs, three Diamond-certified singles and more than 63 million albums sold worldwide.
A natural singer/songwriter, Sheeran became a global star upon the release of his 2011 debut album, Plus, which melded acoustic folk-pop with hip-hop rhythms — and, yes, plenty of beatboxing — on breakout hits like "The A Team," "You Need Me, I Don't Need You" and "Lego House."
Of course, like many a celebrated artist before him, the singer had toiled for years in the proverbial trenches to reach his big break. Inspired to start writing music as a preteen after seeing Damien Rice perform a secret show in Dublin, Sheeran booked his first gig in London at 14 — the same year he bought the signature loop pedal that would come to define his live shows.
To make a name for himself in the London scene, a 17-year-old Ed worked tirelessly, sleeping on friends' (or sometimes even newfound fans') couches between gigs and adopting a strategy to stand out from the pack of fellow hopefuls. "The places I really stand out are the places that you'd never really expect to see a white, ginger, chubby singer/songwriter play: rap nights, soul nights, comedy nights," he explained years later to MTV. However, it was ultimately a tale as old as the internet age — going viral on an urban music channel in London called SBTV — that catapulted Sheeran to a record deal, international fame and his first Song of the Year nomination for "The A Team."
When it came time to release his sophomore album, Multiply, in 2014, Sheeran's moonshot into the upper echelons of the music industry had clearly begat success and opportunity. New collaborators on the album included the likes of Rick Rubin, Benny Blanco and Snow Patrol's Johnny McDaid and Pharrell Williams, with the latter coaxing a more hip-hop-influenced blue-eyed soul edge out of Sheeran's songwriting on lead single "Sing."
But even with the framework of A-listers around him, Sheeran still saw himself as a regular guy from the British countryside — even if he now counted Taylor Swift as a close personal friend — and put the pressure on Multiply to prove he wasn't just a flash in the pan.
"I think this particular moment after such a successful first album, it's literally a make or break situation," he said in his 2014 documentary Nine Days and Nights with Ed Sheeran. "Everyone's watching this time, whereas the first time I could make a lot of mistakes and it didn't matter too much 'cause I was learning. This time around's a lot more of a stressful experience. It's whether I can be a career artist for the rest of my life or I had a very big album back in 2011. That's the difference: it's artist of the times or artist of…a career."
Multiply proved to be an even bigger hit than its predecessor, earning Sheeran his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 and a behemoth hit in "Thinking Out Loud," which won Sheeran his first two GRAMMYs in 2016 (including the coveted Song Of The Year). Anyone could argue that such runaway success would naturally quell the singer's concerns over his long-term plan, but in the closing moments of his MTV documentary, he revealed his pie-in-the-sky ambitions were only one part of the equation he was constructing for his life.
"I'd define success through ticket sales, so if I can constantly tour for the rest of my life at a high level, I'd say that's success. But I hope in 10 years I've got kids," he confessed. "There'd be nothing worse than touring 20 years from now with no kids and just [a] massive bank account, I can buy whatever I want in the world, but, like, nothing to show for it."
Vocalizing such a domestic goal might seem at disparate odds with what society expects from a contemporary pop star — particularly a male one — but it squared perfectly with the story Sheeran was telling fans on unabashed, heart-on-his-sleeve love songs like "Kiss Me," "Photograph" or "Tenerife Sea."
One year after releasing Multiply, Sheeran unexpectedly reconnected with Cherry Seaborn, a former classmate from Thomas Mills High School in his hometown of Framlingham; she'd gone off to America after graduating to play field hockey at Duke University. At the time, Seaborn was working in New York City, and the pair's romance fueled the creative process for Sheeran's next album, 2017's Divide.
"I just have a weird sense that it's gonna be the career-defining album," the singer predicted in his 2018 Apple Music film Ed Sheeran: Songwriter, which documented the recording process of the studio set. "All the songs have a thread that go through it, and it's all family."
Sheeran was right in thinking Divide would lead to yet a higher peak in his career. "Shape Of You," one of the LP's two lead singles along with the autobiographical "Castle on a Hill," rocketed to the top of the Hot 100, where it spent 12 weeks at No. 1. Its romantic, Seaborn-inspired follow-up "Perfect" became his second career chart-topper, spent another eight weeks reigning over the Hot 100, and scored a guest feature from none other than Beyoncé on its official remix. (Fun fact: as of press time, Divide, which won Sheeran the GRAMMY for Best Pop Vocal Album in 2018, also remains the most-streamed album in Spotify history with more than 12.8 billion streams.)
In the midst of his world tour in support of Divide, Sheeran took a detour from his mathematically titled studio sets to make his fourth album, No.6 Collaborations Project. A star-studded sequel to his 2011 indie EP No. 5 Collaborations Project, No. 6 found the GRAMMY winner enlisting a who's who of collaborators — from Justin Bieber to Cardi B and Camila Cabello to Eminem and 50 Cent — for an album that spanned Latin pop, R&B, country rock and U.K. hip-hop.
"I've never, ever had features on my albums, apart from when I did No. 5 Collaborations Project," Sheeran explained to Zane Lowe for Apple Music in 2021. "And I've been careful with putting together a solo album. 'Cause, like, when I bought Bob Dylan albums as a kid, you don't buy a Dylan album and it says 'Featuring Travis Scott.' So I wanted to actually make a specific record that just fed my desire for all of that, and ticked my boxes of wanting to work with these people…Yeah, it was never in my five-album plan, it was always gonna be a side project."
He also used the album to share a glimpse into his highly guarded personal life: in the adorable music video for "Put It All On Me" featuring Ella Mai, the singer revealed to fans that he'd secretly married Seaborn in January 2019. After releasing No.6 Collaborations Project and wrapping his tour, Sheeran put his guitar down for the first time in almost a decade and took a year-long sabbatical to travel the world with his new wife.
By 2021, Sheeran was ready to get back to work, and dove headfirst into the world of dance music to craft "Bad Habits" — the lead single off his fifth album Equals. In order to work authentically in the genre, he enlisted help from Fred again.., the British DJ and record producer who had helmed the bulk of No.6 Collaborations Project, telling Lowe, "It's so easy to write an acoustic tune and put a four-on-the-floor beat over it and then just call it a dance song. But actually, Fred is such a connoisseur of dance music that he kind of guided me into it."
The song's layered synths and throbbing beats also belied surprisingly heavy subject matter, which Sheeran toyed with by playing a glitter-eyed, spiky-haired vampire in a neon-pink suit in the accompanying music video.
"I used to do everything to excess, like real excess," Sheeran confessed after "Bad Habits" was released. "I loved drinking everything in sight and all the other stuff, and I just found when Cherry was six months pregnant, I was like, 'Right, water might break any time and I'm just gonna stop excess and just be available and be the husband that I'm meant to be. And then from there, it's just been kind of clean, healthy living."
The rest of Equals, which arrived in full October 2021, flirted with dance — particularly on Fred-assisted follow-up singles like "Shivers" and "Overpass Graffiti" — but mostly represented a return to musical form as Sheeran stepped into fatherhood for the first time. But despite the finality of its title, the album wasn't the end of the last part of the formula in the singer's head: he still had Subtract to work out.
As he later revealed, Sheeran had long envisioned Subtract as "the perfect acoustic album" and had quietly whittled away at the idea for the better part of a decade. Taylor Swift put him in touch with the National's Aaron Dessner (who had helped her create the magic of her 2020 albums folklore and evermore), and Sheeran had finally started focusing on the long-awaited album in earnest.
But then, tragedy and hardship struck, not once or even twice, but three times in the space of a single month. First, Seaborn found a cancerous tumor in her arm while pregnant with the couple's second daughter. The prognosis wasn't good, but there was nothing that could be done until after the baby was born. Next, Sheeran was hit with a copyright lawsuit over his biggest hit, "Shape of You," with the plaintiffs accusing him of plagiarizing parts of the song. And then, his world was turned upside down when Jamal Edwards, his best friend from the SBTV days, died of a sudden heart attack brought on by cocaine and alcohol use.
Depression crashed over Sheeran like a tidal wave, with the subsequent riptide pulling him to dark places he'd never experienced. "I felt like I didn't want to live anymore," he told Rolling Stone in a March cover story. "You're under the waves drowning. You're just sort of in this thing. And you can't get out of it."
Thankfully, Seaborn's surgery was successful after she gave birth to daughter Jupiter, and Sheeran won the court case over "Shape of You." But his best friend's death was a permanent loss, and he relied on music as a form of therapy to help him work through his grief.
"I wrote without thought of what the songs would be, I just wrote whatever tumbled out. And in just over a week I replaced a decade's worth of work with my deepest darkest thoughts," the singer shared when he announced the album on social media in March.
Subtract was first preceded by "Eyes Closed," on which he laments, "I pictured this year a little bit different when it hit February/ I step in the bar, it hit me so hard/ Oh, how can it be this heavy?/ Every song reminds me you're gone/ And I feel the lump form in my throat/ 'Cause I'm here alone." Ten days before the album's arrival, he released the emotional "Boat," a quiet anthem about finding resilience in the darkest of times and refusing to let the metaphorical boat sink as the waves batter you from all sides.
If those two songs are any indication, Sheeran's long-awaited album won't be anything like what's come before it. For starters, it'll mark the end of the pop star's decade-long mathematical era, the plan for which he spells out in The Sum of It All. (Plus was the "addition" to all the EPs he'd released, Multiply made the music exponentially "bigger," Divide was a double album — half acoustic, half R&B — and Equals was "the sum of all the parts.")
It'll also be Sheeran's first visual album, coming with 14 different music videos to help tell the story of Subtract. But instead of hyper-fixating on creating that "perfect acoustic album" as a postscript to Equals, he threw out a decade's worth of songwriting in favor of laying his soul bare in some of the most vulnerable work of his career.
Early last month, the singer played Subtract live from start to finish at an intimate show at Brooklyn's Kings Theatre, debuting powerful, emotional album cuts like "End of Youth" and "Life Goes On." And while each song touches a raw nerve filled with painful memories, Sheeran remains certain that he made the right choice by channeling his grief into his music.
"As an artist I didn't feel like I could credibly put a body of work into the world that didn't accurately represent where I am and how I need to express myself at this point in my life," he concluded in his Instagram post. "This album is purely that. It's opening the trapdoor into my soul. For the first time, I'm not trying to craft an album people will like, I'm merely putting something out that's honest and true to where I am in my adult life."
Photo: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage
5 Takeaways From Lewis Capaldi's Netflix Documentary 'How I'm Feeling Now'
The singer’s new Netflix doc 'Lewis Capaldi: How I'm Feeling Now' traces the pop star's path to fame, offering intimate reflections on family, mental health, and his musical process — and how that all led to his upcoming album.
From playing sets in pubs to selling out arenas, Lewis Capaldi’s career has grown on a massive scale in recent years — and the journey was all caught on camera.
Capaldi’s life forever changed thanks to his pained ballad "Someone You Loved," which was nominated Song Of The Year at the 2020 GRAMMYs and hit No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart in 2019. Four years after his breakout stardom, the singer is now poised to release his second album Broken by Desire to be Heavenly Sent on May 19.
Before the album arrives, Capaldi gave an inside look into the process with a new Netflix documentary, Lewis Capaldi: How I'm Feeling. The intimate film takes viewers everywhere from the Scottish star’s childhood home to his late nights in the studio, with an emphasis on mental health struggles as his fame skyrocketed.
Balancing Capaldi's vulnerability with his wryness, the documentary has a lot to say about the acclaimed musician. As it hits Netflix on April 5, take a look at five takeaways from Lewis Capaldi: How I'm Feeling.
Lewis Is Proud Of His Scottish Heritage — And Outlook On Life
Early on in the documentary, Capaldi acknowledges his family and Scottish heritage during a drive through Whitburn, his hometown. He's come to love where he's from, though touring makes it impossible for him to stay at home for long.
"I do love the fact that I am a Scottish person, and I like the patter that people have," he said. "I do like the mindset of realists everyone just stays on that level of like, 'Let's give this a go and we'll probably f— it up, but we'll have a good time.'"
This lighthearted mentality is clear throughout the documentary, which highlights Capaldi's natural comedic talent. Even when Capaldi is struggling with imposter syndrome or anxiety, he manages to find hope in his art and loved ones. Director Jon Pearlman excellently captures Capaldi's personality and self-deprecating demeanor — and of course, all with his thick Scottish accent.
His Parents Give Him Tough Love
"It's s—," Capaldi's father, Mark, said, agreeing with the singer’s mother, Carol, after Capaldi asked for song feedback. "You asked me my opinion, so I'll give it to you."
The documentary often frames Capaldi's parents to be big on tough love, unflinchingly sharing their sarcasm or cutting honesty. But their care and pride for their son are heartwarming above all else. Mark drove Capaldi to gigs around town when Capaldi first picked up his guitar, and Carol frequently expresses worry about her son's rising fame: "I don’t want him to change. I don’t want us to change. It wouldn’t be worth it."
How I'm Feeling shows Capaldi returning home due to the pandemic, capturing his family dynamic on screen (along with clips of the star completing his everyday chores from feeding the dog to folding laundry). The documentary flips through Capaldi's family photo albums, portraying his early interests in music as well as sharing exclusive commentary on how the singer's parents helped him follow his passion.
His Single 'Bruises' Was A Career Turning Point Before 'Someone You Loved' Existed
"If only I could hold you, you'd keep my head from going under," Capaldi belts across a montage of old concert videos. Shown early on in the documentary, the tender lyric appears to foreshadow his future emotional struggles — but the song is also the impetus for his stardom.
His crushing 2017 single "Bruises," which Capaldi released independently, was boosted through Spotify's addition of the song to its popular New Music Friday playlist — which quickly helped him get signed to a branch of Universal Music Group in the same year.
"You see the smile on his face when the crowd sang back," his father said in the documentary. "We knew that's what he was going to do for the rest of his life."
The documentary portrays Capaldi's quick escalation to fame, but it also provides a look into more intimate songwriting sessions the musician has with fellow collaborators such as Dan Nigro, Amy Allen, Nick Atkinson, and Edd Holloway. From voice memos to iPad demos, it's evident Capaldi belongs in the studio and on stage.
He's Open About His Mental Health And Tourette's
How I’m Feeling zeroes in on the impact fame has had on Capaldi’s mental health, and details his anxiety pricking up after the global success of "Someone You Loved" — especially as he felt the pressure to craft another No. 1 hit.
Amid echoey vocals, shadowy crowds, and whining microphone feedback, the documentary captures the dizzying anxiety Capaldi felt — and sometimes still feels — when confronting his career. The singer opens up about his Tourette syndrome diagnosis, debilitating panic attacks, and fear of death.
"Is it worth it? Making you feel like this?" asks his concerned mother at one point in the documentary.
Yet, as How I’m Feeling shows, Capaldi has found ways to prioritize his well-being and still continue his musical career. He regularly attends therapy, takes his vitamins, and knows when to take time off; the documentary portrays how this re-energized approach to life allowed him to pour his full passion into Broken by Desire to be Heavenly Sent.
He Still Doesn't Understand How He’s Famous
"People started getting their phones out. Why are they all so interested in what we're doing?" Capaldi queried in a vertical video, recalling a casual night out on the town. "And then I remember: it's 'cause I'm f—ing famous."
Although he said the line with his signature wit, How I'm Feeling demonstrates how genuinely easy it is for Capaldi to forget about his celebrity status. On a more personal level, he still struggles to understand why people like him — even with billions of streams and millions of followers.
"I just don't get it, I don't get why people would turn up and see [me perform], but I'm eternally grateful," he said, laughing, "I love you, but I will never understand you."
In one part of the documentary, Capaldi recalls grabbing beers with Ed Sheeran and chatting about impostor syndrome. A little while later, the singer received an email from Sheeran’s close friend Elton John, who wrote a kind note of encouragement to remind Capaldi: “You write beautiful songs that resonate with millions.”
Even so, Capaldi modestly disregards the power of his "silly little songs," and How I’m Feeling hints that he may always be in that mindset, even if Broken by Desire to be Heavenly Sent proves to be another massive success. Whether he understands the fame or not, Capaldi’s story is a reminder that achieving your dreams may not always be easy — but if you stay true to yourself, you’ll find a way to keep your head above water.
Photo: (L-R) Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy, Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Live Nation, Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic, Courtesy of Christina Aguilera, Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
2022 In Review: 8 Trends That Defined Pop Music
Pop music continued to showcase its versatility this year, with newcomers and legendary mainstays alike shaking up the industry — which has led to major hits and even bigger cultural moments.
If there's one word to describe this year in pop, it would be "unpredictable." Take fan favorites Beyoncé and Rihanna for starters: as fans began pondering when they'd hear new music again, both superstars made significant returns to their solo artistries, further elevating their statuses as elite pop divas.
Pop's unexpected nature is what makes it so beloved, especially in 2022 as artists showcased just how far their versatility can stretch. TikTok showed off its influence once again, with songs like Nicki Minaj's "Super Freaky Girl" birthing endless viral dance challenges. There was plenty of dancing outside of TikTok as well, as artists like Drake, The Weeknd and Beyoncé had everyone grooving under the disco ball.
From pop stars unleashing their naughty sides to singles that transported us back to the '2000s and beyond, there were several major moments in pop music this year. Dive into eight of the genre's most dominant trends below.
Y2K Pop Divas Made Comebacks
Throughout 2022, the influence of late '90s and early '00s culture was reflected on fashion runways, TikTok and even a multitude of television reboots. So it was only natural that it also seeped into the music realm, with some of the era's biggest pop stars having a refreshing revival.
More than two decades after the release of her debut Spanish-language album Mi Reflejo, Christina Aguilera returned to her Latina roots (Aguilera's estranged father is an Ecuador native). The long wait was worth it, with the star sounding more confident than ever before as she celebrated her rich heritage. After starting this new era with the female empowerment anthem "Pa Mis Muchachas" (alongside fellow Latina artists Becky G, Nicki Nicole and Nathy Peluso), Aguilera continued to flex her versatility and vulnerability with songs like the impassioned Mexican ranchera "La Reina" and the somber "No Es Que Te Extrañe" that found the artist healing her childhood trauma.
Y2K pop sweetheart Mandy Moore, who returned after an 11-year music hiatus with 2020's Silver Landings, kept the momentum going with her seventh album In Real Life. The folk-inspired record showcased Moore's strength as a songwriter and new motherhood.
But arguably the most unexpected return came from Britney Spears. Following the official termination of her conservatorship last November, the pop star freed herself from a decade of restrictions. Spears found her way back to the studio for the first time since the release of 2016's Glory album, and joined fellow pop legend — and longtime supporter — Elton John for "Hold Me Closer." The song draws elements from John's classics like 1971's "Tiny Dancer," 1976's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" and 1992's "The One," but adds a modern twist with shimmering dance melodies. "Hold Me Closer" debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, proving that Spears can still score a hit with ease.
R&B Artists Danced Under The Disco Ball
Pop has seen a disco revival seeping in over the last few years (even including the return of ABBA!), but what made this year so different is witnessing more R&B-leaning artists putting a fun spin on dance music as a whole.
Leading the charge was Beyoncé, who ignited a full-on dance party with her latest album (and first since 2016's Lemonade). After trying her hand at Afrobeats with 2019's soundtrack album, The Lion King: The Gift, Queen Bey transformed into Queen of the Dance Floor with 16 hip-shaking tunes whose influence call back to Studio 54 and Black ballroom heydays. The album is not only a tribute to her late Uncle Johnny (who she credits for introducing her to house music), but Black queer culture as a whole.
Nearly two years after 2020's After Hours, The Weeknd aptly kept the club open until sunrise with his fifth album, Dawn FM. Jam-packed with '80s elements from new wave to synth-pop, the record is an energetic joyride kookily narrated by comedian Jim Carrey.
While he's widely known as a rap superstar, Drake channels his R&B crooning alter-ego from time to time. His seventh album, Honestly, Nevermind, arrived as a surprise in June — and he was clearly ready to kick off summer with a party. The album found the artist at the center of the dance floor as he explored house music with bouncy songs like "Sticky" and "Massive." The experimentation paid off: the album became Drake's 11th Billboard 200 chart-topper.
Throwback Samples Were Inescapable
While sampling is more of a historical music staple than a trend, this year many artists had fun traveling back to the '70s, '90s and early '00s to add nostalgic doses into their hits. Beyoncé evoked the spirit of Donna Summer on "Summer Renaissance," which pulls from the disco queen's 1977 jam, "I Feel Love." Elsewhere, Charli XCX lifted the Stonebridge Mix of Robin S.'s 1992 "Show Me Love" for her own dance floor hit, "Used To Know Me," while NYC-based EDM duo Sofi Tukker sampled Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner" for their infectious tune "Summer In New York."
Throwbacks were perhaps most predominant within mainstream rap hits. Tyga's "Sunshine," a collaboration with Jhené Aiko and the late Pop Smoke, samples Lil Flip's 2004 hit of the same name, while Jack Harlow used Fergie's 2006 No. 1 smash "Glamorous" to create his own hit. Rap newcomers Armani White and Central Cee also traveled to the early '00s, with the former's N.O.R.E. sample heard throughout his debut single, "Billie Eilish" and the latter using Eve and Gwen Stefani's "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" for "Doja."
Nicki Minaj and Yung Gravy took us back to the '80s, as Minaj flipped Rick James' 1981 single "Super Freak" into "Super Freaky Girl, and Yung Gravy's viral "Betty (Get Money)" was based on Rick Astley's 1987 hit "Never Gonna Give You Up."
Artists Tapped Into Their Edgy Sides
Pop music can surely be wholesome, so it's always fun when artists try their hands at edgier sounds. Sam Smith has long proven they can do more than a heartfelt ballad, and their TikTok anthem with Slut Pop star Kim Petras found the pair at their naughtiest.
Dove Cameron shed her Disney Channel beginnings with February's "Boyfriend" single, which celebrated her queer identity with dark, spine-tingling production. She raised the intensity levels with August's "Breakfast," which flipped gender politics on its head.
Maggie Lindemann also traded pure pop for pop-punk for her debut album, Suckerpunch. Continuing the Gen Z angst that rattled 2021, Lindemann unapologetically rebels against the music she was previously associated with thanks to singles like the nostalgic "Cages" and the incredibly flirtatious "She Knows It."
Even Taylor Swift got in on the fun. The singer, who previously showcased her edgy side with 2017's reputation, further leaned into that style with her hazy tenth album, Midnights. A complete left turn from 2020's folk-inspired LPs, folklore and evermore, Midnights captured the restlessness, revenge fantasies, self-criticism, and curiosity that come with what she detailed as "13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life."
Black Pop Divas Made Long-Awaited Returns
After Rihanna and Beyoncé officiated their pop icon statuses with 2015's Anti and 2016's Lemonade, respectively, the two opted to take mini hiatuses from solo music. Beyoncé steadily remained in the music sphere, hopping on several collaborations including a remix of Megan Thee Stallion's 2021 hit "Savage." The song scored GRAMMY Awards for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance, the latter of which helped crown Beyoncé as the artist with the most wins in GRAMMY history with 28. (She followed up the achievement by recording "Be Alive" for the King Richard soundtrack, which earned Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Song.)
But Beyoncé focused the spotlight back on herself with her seventh studio album. The July release was a pop culture phenomenon, weaving itself into casual conversations, memes, TikTok dance challenges and more. The album is a celebration of not only Beyoncé's career, but Black influence on dance music as a whole.
Rihanna was more quiet following Anti — only appearing on a few collaborations here and there, including Calvin Harris' "This Is What You Came For," DJ Khaled's "Wild Thoughts" with Bryson Tiller and Kendrick Lamar's GRAMMY-winning "Loyalty" — to focus on building her Fenty beauty and lingerie empire. But fans never stopped craving new music from the star herself, and their prayers were finally answered in September in major fashion: The superstar announced in September that she'll headline the Super Bowl LVII halftime show, which will mark her first live showing in over five years.
Rihanna quickly kept the excitement going with two appearances on October's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack, "Lift Me Up" and "Born Again" — her first solo music in more than six years.
Rap's TikTok Takeover Was Still In Effect
Rap was one of the biggest genres on TikTok last year, and the trend remained strong in 2022. The dominance was seen through dance challenges and viral memes, with Lil Uzi Vert's infectious Jersey club smash "I Just Wanna Rock" creating an explosive wave that culminated in a dance-heavy music video.
Drake and 21 Savage's "Rich Flex," a highlight from their collaboration album, Her Loss, was transformed into a silly tongue-in-cheek meme. Brooklyn rap newcomer Lola Brooke had TikTokers feeling confident as ever as they used "Don't Play With It" to soundtrack their selfie videos. Even Lil Wayne and Soulja Boy's nostalgic jams had a resurgence, with 2008's "Lollipop" and 2018's "Pretty Boy Swag" spawning their own TikTok trends.
Ed Sheeran Was Pop's Big Brother
Despite being one of the biggest pop stars in the world, Ed Sheeran has maintained the humble spirit that made him so beloved. The British singer/songwriter has always shown a love for collaboration, even releasing a guest-filled project in 2019. But in 2022, Sheeran put collaborations into overdrive.
Sheeran kicked things off by teaming up with his old pal Taylor Swift on a duet version of his = track, "The Joker and the Queen." In March, he dropped not one but two singles with Colombian star J Balvin, "Sigue" and "Forever My Love," where Sheeran traded his guitar for a reggaeton bassline.
The singer then traveled across genres — and the globe — pairing with Jamaican dancehall singer Ishawna (who previously sampled 2017's "Shape of You" on her single "Equal Rights") for "Brace It" and guesting on Nigerian hitmaker Burna Boy's love song "For My Hand." Not forgetting his own roots, Sheeran also showcased his admiration for local British hip-hop with appearances on Manchester rapper Aitch's "My G" and rap collective D-Block Europe's "Lonely Lovers."
Bands Proved Rock & Roll Is Here To Stay
"Rock 'n' roll is dead" has been an ongoing debate ever since hip-hop became the industry's most dominant genre in 2017. Even so, rock acts continued to spotlight the historic genre this year, and helped it endure in arguably the biggest way it has in years.
After a five-year hiatus, Paramore thrilled fans with the announcement of their sixth album, This Is Why. Set for a February 2023 release, the new album era kicked off with the funky eponymous lead single in September.
Rock mainstays Red Hot Chili Peppers satiated genre diehards by dropping two albums within six months in 2022: April's Unlimited Love and October's Return of the Dream Canteen.
On the more alternative side, Arctic Monkeys re-emerged with a vintage focus for October's The Car, which drew from baroque pop, funk, early '70s rock and classic film scores. And after a brief pandemic-induced postponement following 2020's Notes on a Conditional Form, The 1975 returned with their fifth album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language. Singles like "Part of the Band," "Happiness" and "I'm in Love with You" found the band in a lighthearted, '80s dance-pop-inspired spirit.
After a year filled with viral moments and comebacks, there's no doubt that artists will continue to keep pop unpredictable in 2023.