Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images
Lil Nas X
Go Inside The Official 2020 GRAMMYs Gift Lounge
As rehearsals went underway at Staples Center for this year’s 2020 GRAMMY Awards, the participating talent had the opportunity to tour the GRAMMY Gift Lounge
As rehearsals went underway at Staples Center for this year’s 2020 GRAMMY Awards, the participating talent had the opportunity to tour the GRAMMY Gift Lounge. A coveted spot hidden away underneath the Staples Centre, brands and bands join forces to exchange high-luxury products for endorsements in return.
Spotted on Friday were highly anticipated guests, including the likes of Lil Nas X and Kesha. The lounge had a live DJ and was decorated with lampshades designed by gifting participant Pillow Pops. Gifts ranged from the expected jewelry and clothing lines, all the way to pillows, sunglasses, skateboards and custom-made cakes, with one brand even introducing smart-fit bras with custom molding technology.
At the entrance stood Grosse, a Japanese jewelry brand that actually started in Germany. Focusing on the concept of jewelry for all genders, it’s bling is apt for everyone, including the likes of Bruno Mars, who has worn the brand on stage.
While Grosse was founded back in 1907, there were also new businesses like Transparent Sunglasses that were founded a mere four months ago, yet their quality shone through as they already found themselves at the Lounge. Founder Margot Hogan wants to use Transparent to change what the significance of sunglasses can be. She speaks of her own experience with sunglasses as being "something both magically simple and fun about being able to make a bold statement with just one accessory. And so I decided to combine my love for sunglasses with a passion for confidence: designing sunglasses that inspire you to celebrate who-you-are." The name "Transparent" therefore is a signifier of both sides of the business—the sunglasses, but also, being yourself.
The range of luxury brands continued with Soma, a woman's brand that introduced the "INNOFITBRA" where the cups of the bra are infused with technology to help women find the perfect fit. With this, Soma was also gifting intricately designed silk robes.
Within the range of clothing and garments, there was also a prominent theme of animal-friendly creation, like "vegan gloves" as Donna Leah, a brand for "clothing for the modern woman" showcased.
Peta NOIZE makes animal-friendly jackets, with animal mannequins to signify the animal whom they saved with that coat. That is, instead of feathers or fur or wool, each NOIZE coat is filled with 100% recycled plastic bottles. Peta NOIZE aims to inspire their consumers to join their cause to protect animals and the planet, starting with their product and accompanying beanies.
Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images
Alongside products, awareness of personal health was also emphasized in the selection of showcasing brands at the Lounge. Artistology stood out with a huge display who was gifting opportunities to help artists with their well being. They feature online wellness courses tailored to the artists' needs, as well as anonymous counseling support. Artistology was created out of the belief from founder Tammy McCrary that "artists are the cultural architects of society. I believe that when artists thrive—mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially—they can have a significant and positive impact on society." Thus Artistology puts these artists' wellbeing first, a revolutionary company, in a music industry that only recently started to acknowledge the psychological toll that artists may face on their creative journeys.
Along with mental well-being, products to aid physical well-being were also popular. This includes Oxygenetix makeup foundation, which is a brand that has been a long-term partner of the GRAMMY Gift Lounge, is a make-up facial foundation that ensures the skin still receives oxygen and so does not get damaged by regular daily use. There were also diet products that emphasized being able to diet without compromising nutritional value.
Sweety Kake added to the health trend, and also brought the energy of a family business, with a third-generation recipe for custom-made cakes. Their business mission to be able to infuse extract of any flavor requested, but more importantly that their cakes are never frozen, not even when delivered, again honing in on the health benefits that should be considered even in desserts.
"Un-Expect Everything" is the 2020 GRAMMY slogan, and the GRAMMY Gift Lounge definitely encompasses the aims of the Recording Academy. The connections being formed at every corner of the Lounge was an inspirational opportunity for discovery for all sides as the talent prepare for the weekend.
Watch the 2020 GRAMMY Awards this Sunday, Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage
Black Sounds Beautiful: How Lil Nas X Turned The Industry On Its Head With "Old Town Road" And Beyond
In this episode of Black Sounds Beautiful, relive Lil Nas X's massive debut, "Old Town Road," and learn how he's since been an advocate for Black and LGBTQIA+ communities through his music and his platform.
Lil Nas X became a global sensation practically overnight, but it wasn't an accident.
The American singer and rapper — born Montero Lamar Hill — became fluent in music and pop culture at an early age, becoming a meme aficionado. His love for internet culture cultivated the perfect recipe for his debut single, "Old Town Road," to become one of the most viral hits in music history; the song also prompted a necessary conversation about the bounds of genre.
"Old Town Road" rose to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and still holds the record for most time spent at No. 1 at 19 weeks. The single later helped Lil Nas X snag two GRAMMY Awards for Best Pop/Duo Group Performance and Best Music Video. (To date, he's won 2 GRAMMYs and has received 11 nominations overall.)
Aside from his immense musical talent, Lil Nas X — who came out as gay on social media during his Hot 100 reign — has been a fierce champion for LGBTQIA+ and Black communities.
At just 24 years old, Lil Nas X has plenty more history-making and game-changing moves in store. As he revealed during his March 2023 campaign with Coach, "My next big chapter is coming."
Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for iHeartRadio
9 Artists Who Advocate For The LGBTQIA+ Community: Troye Sivan, Taylor Swift, Madonna & More
From Big Freedia to Beyoncé, artists who identify as queer and allies alike celebrate love in all its forms.
"GAY RIGHTS!!!!!" Betty Who captioned a cheeky photo earlier this month. Yes, it was a well-known inside joke among the LGBTQIA+ community, but the all-caps message held some serious meaning. The queer pop star's photo was from the White House's 2023 Pride Celebration, where President Biden formally announced the New Actions to Protect the LGBTQIA+ Community plan — and Betty Who was the star performer.
Music has always been a safe haven for gay and trans people of all kinds — from the closeted kids in Middle America finding sanctuary in the songs of their favorite pop stars, to the out-and-proud artists forming the soundtrack for the next generation of LGBTQIA+ fans. And Pride has always been a special time of the year to celebrate visibility and inclusion in the music industry — a place where everyone deserves to show up and be seen (and heard!) as their authentic self, and where every proverbial note, melody and harmony make up a beautiful and unique soundtrack that can only be yours.
Recently, queer musicians and allies who use their platforms to stand up for the LGBTQIA+ community has felt more important than ever. A rash of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation has swept through state legislatures across the country, from so-called "Don't Say Gay" bills to blatant legal attacks on drag queens, trans kids and LGBTQIA+ history as a whole — but those who stand for the community are fighting even harder.
As Pride month carries on, GRAMMY.com has rounded up a list of nine LGBTQIA+ artists, allies and bonafide gay icons who've made advocating for the community a central tenet of their music, their words and their actions. Of course, there are dozens to highlight, but take a look at how queer artists like Kim Petras and Troye Sivan and allies like Taylor Swift and Madonna have helped fans shine as their authentic selves.
Petras cemented her place as a rising star in the pop music echelon in February, when she became the first trans woman to win the GRAMMY for Best Pop Duo/Group collaboration with Sam Smith for their subversive collaboration "Unholy." (Smith, who identifies as non-binary, also made history with the win, though they graciously ceded the floor for Petras to give her awestruck acceptance speech on the GRAMMYs stage.)
As the cover star of Out's 2023 Pride issue, the German pop princess spoke out about the rash of anti-trans rhetoric taking root in legislatures across the country and harming vulnerable trans youth. "I literally was very suicidal as a kid, and I just wouldn't still be here had my parents not believed me," she told the magazine. "I hate that another generation is going through this, and I hate that young kids are going through the same s–t I was going through, and that apparently just isn't changing. I think it's sad. I just never understood why people were so obsessed with what people do to be happy. Just focus on what you can do to be happy."
Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X has never been shy when it comes to sticking up for the queer community — and he usually does so with a healthy dose of snarky humor on social media. He's cheerfully clapped back about everything from the explicit queerness of his music videos to his place in the modern pantheon of hip-hop; mostly recently, he hopped on Twitter to hilariously take down conservative outrage over Pride-themed merchandise at Target.
"Can't believe target is supporting this nonsense, im never shopping there again, my son is not 'too cool for school' these shirts are ridiculous. He is going to school and he WILL learn," the GRAMMY winner wrote in a since-deleted tweet, mockingly referencing the anti-LGBTQIA+ crusaders upset with inclusive and trans-friendly apparel being sold at the popular retailer.
In another instance from late April, Montero made his stance hysterically clear when he tweeted, "I want to clear all the straight rumors. i have many straight friends and i support their community, but that is NOT me!"
Years before releasing his debut album Blue Neighborhood in 2015, Troye Sivan came out publicly via YouTube. Since then, he's been consistently outspoken about his experiences as a gay artist in the music industry.
The Australia native, who announced his long-awaited follow-up to 2018's Bloom earlier this month, has made a consistent point in his career to turn his visuals into unapologetic examples of queer art — from the lusty defiance of 2018's "My My My!" to the "gushy juicy doting adoring power b^tt^m gay ballad" perfection that was 2021's "Angel Baby."
Perhaps most powerful of all, though, was his video for early single "Heaven" featuring Betty Who, which depicted historic moments in the LGBTQIA+ rights movement including some of the earliest Pride parades on record. "We have always been here. we will always be here. this video is dedicated to all those who've come before me and fought for our cause and those who now continue the fight," he wrote in the video's description. "in dark and light times, let's love forever. love, troye x."
Speaking of Betty Who, the indie pop star received an invitation directly from President Biden to perform at the White House's official 2023 Pride Celebration, where the commander in chief formally announced his administration's plan titled New Actions to Protect the LGBTQIA+ Community. The three-point roll-out promises to focus on "Strengthening Physical Safety," "Addressing Civil Rights Violations" and "Strengthening Mental Health and other Support Resources."
"Today was the biggest pride celebration ever held at the white house and i got to be a part of it!!!!!!!!" Betty, who identifies as both queer and bisexual, wrote afterwards on social media. "So many things i want to say! What an honour it is, how proud i am to be part of the lgbtqia+ [community], how special today's event was and how grateful i am to @potus, @drbiden and the amazing white house staff for hosting us. queer joy spouting everywhere!!! very grateful for this incredible experience."
Earlier this year, Big Freedia was honored by PFLAG — the nation's longest-running LGBTQIA+ organization — with its first-ever National Breaking Barriers Award. The new honor, which she received at PGFLAG's 50th anniversary gala in March, is meant to shine the spotlight on "an individual who uses their platform to help remove obstacles to LGBTQIA+ and intersectional equality in pursuit of a more just, equitable and inclusive world."
Upon receiving the award, the bounce music trailblazer (and 2023 GRAMMY winner) took to Instagram with a determined message, writing, "There's still so much work to do to fight discrimination and I will continue to work on behalf of our whole community to spread love, acceptance, inclusion and everyone's right TO BE FREE."
While she'd slyly referenced her support for the LGBTQIA+ community in the past on songs like "Welcome to New York," Taylor Swift took a public stand in 2019 with her Lover era single "You Need to Calm Down." The gay anthem's celebratory music video issued a call to action for her fans to support the as-yet-unpassed Equality Act with her very own Change.org petition.
During her Eras Tour stop in Chicago earlier this month, the superstar spoke specifically to her LGBTQIA+ fans, promising them that her concerts would always be a "safe space" for them to celebrate who they are.
"I wish that every place was safe and beautiful for people in the LGBTQ community, I really wish that. We can't talk about Pride Month without talking about pain," she told the sold-out crowd of Swifties at Soldier Field. "There have been so many harmful pieces of legislation that have put people in the LGBTQ and queer community at risk. It's painful for everyone — every ally, every loved one, every person in these communities. And that's why I'm always posting, 'This is when the midterms are. This is when these important, key primaries are.'
"'Cause we can support as much as we want during Pride Month," the 12-time GRAMMY winner continued. "But if we're not doing our research on these elected officials — Are they advocates? Are they allies? Are they protectors of equality? Do I want to vote for them? — I love you guys so much and happy Pride Month."
What hasn't Madonna done in her iconic career to lift up the LGBTQIA+ community? In fact, there's an entire Wikipedia page dedicated solely to her status as a living gay icon.
Famously, Her Madgesty's love for the gay community started with her early mentor and dance teacher Christopher Flynn. Early in her career, she became one of the first artists to speak out about the HIV/AIDS crisis and decry the stigmatization of gay people at the time.
She's been recognized by the GLAAD Media Awards multiple times, including in 1991 with the Raising Gay Awareness award and in 2019 with the Advocate for Change award. (At the latter ceremony, GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis stated, "Madonna always has and always will be the LGBTQ community's greatest ally.")
More recently, Madge added multiple dates to her upcoming Celebration Tour, including a special stop in Nashville to stand in solidarity with the state's queer, trans and drag communities as they've been bombarded by a string of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation from the state's Capitol.
"The oppression of the LGBTQIA+ is not only unacceptable and inhumane; it's creating an unsafe environment; making America a dangerous place for our most vulnerable citizens, especially trans women of color," she wrote on Instagram alongside the announcement. "Also, these so-called laws to protect our children are unfounded and pathetic. Anyone with half a brain knows not to f— with a drag queen. Bob and I will see you from the stage in Nashville where we will celebrate the beauty that is the queer community!"
Long considered a gay icon in her own right, Beyoncé paid reverential honor to the LGBTQIA+ community and her late uncle Johnny with 2022's Renaissance, an undulating magnum opus inspired by the underground ballroom scene sparked by Black, trans and gay pioneers of the 1970s, '80s, '90s, and beyond.
Queen Bey also holds space for queer artists throughout Renaissance's sprawling, hour-long track list, collaborating with TS Madison and Big Freedia, sampling Kevin Aviance and late drag star Moi Renee, working with Honey Dijon behind the boards and more. "Thank you to all of the pioneers who originate culture, to all of the fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognized for far too long," the living legend wrote in a note posted to her personal website upon the album's release. "This is a celebration for you."
Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons
Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds has emerged as a powerful advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community through his nonprofit organization Loveloud and its popular Utah festival, which he launched in 2017 to support LGBTQIA+ teens in the state's overwhelmingly conservative (and outspokenly anti-LGBTQIA+) Mormon community.
This year, though, Reynolds and the Loveloud board — which includes out and proud musicians like Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees, Vincint, Wrabel and Parson James — have expanded Loveloud's mission beyond the Mormonism of the Wasatch front. In early March, Loveloud announced it would be transforming into a traveling festival for its sixth year with stops in Austin, Texas, where dozens of anti-LGBTQIA+ laws have been pursued by the state legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott, and Washington D.C.
Photo: Pooneh Ghana for Bonnaroo 2023
10 Amazing Sets From Bonnaroo 2023: Paramore, Kendrick Lamar, Rina Sawayama & More
The four-day festival in Manchester, Tennessee was completely sold out this year, drawing more than 80,000 people. Relive the excitement with these 10 incredible sets from Bonnaroo 2023.
Following a few rocky years, Bonnaroo 2023 made a triumphant comeback to Great Stage Park (affectionately dubbed "The Farm") under glorious skies. The Manchester, Tennessee festival was completely sold out this year, drawing more than 80,000 people for four days of music, laughter, food, and plenty of sun.
From the Midnight and their showstopping saxophonist, to Amber Mark’s masterful lyricism and Three 6 Mafia's guests (which included a surprise cameo by country star Jelly Roll), to young musician Ben Goldsmith’s country-inspired tunes and Hayley Williams joining Foo Fighters to perform "My Hero." And if all-day music wasn’t enough, Bonnaroo 2023 featured numerous food vendors and relaxing areas, and even a place to get married.
While at times the lines were long, the sun was hot, and getting from one remote area to another proved difficult, rousing sets by headliners and larger-than-life moments at the smaller tents made everything worth it. Here are 10 of the most exciting sets from Bonnaroo 2023.
Suki Waterhouse Shines Despite Difficulties
Suki Waterhouse ⎹ Dusana Risovic for Bonnaroo 2023
After a severely delayed set due to technical difficulties, Thursday’s performance at That Tent saw English actress-turned-singer Suki Waterhouse playing through much of her debut album, I Can’t Let Go.
Drenched in pink light with an enveloping fog, Waterhouse’s cinematic performance and comforting vocals could draw anyone into the tent. She flitted through "Moves," "Bulls— on the Internet," "My Mind" and TikTok favorite "Good Looking" with a robust collection of layered drums and guitar for support.
Big Freedia Fires Everybody Up
Big Freedia ⎹ Charles Reagan for Bonnaroo 2023
Across the park, Big Freedia treated audiences to an extra-special taste of New Orleans bounce. The 1:45 a.m. set time after a sweltering day did not deter the amped-up audience, many of whom likely attended Thursday’s Pride Parade — also helmed by Big Freedia.
"I just want to wish everyone happy Pride," Big Freedia, donning an outfit made of rainbow feathers, said to momentous cheers. "We about to turn up, we about to celebrate!"
Folks from the audience jumped on stage for a 2 a.m. twerk contest, dancing along with Big Freedia as she performed "Azz Everywhere" and "Rock Around the Clock." It was a lot of energy to be had for the wee morning hours, but if there’s anything the Bonnaroo crowd does better than others, it’s the late nights.
Black Midi Brings The Noise
Translating a distinctively chaotic discography into a sensical live set isn’t an easy task. Compound that with a fickle festival audience in the hot sun, and sometimes it can be downright impossible. Yet, Black Midi's experimental arrangements seemed to delight the audience relatively quickly on Saturday.
With songs that took a slower cadence ("Still") and others that were characterized by sharp tonal shifts and dramatic tempo changes ("Eat Men Eat!", "953"), the bulk of the excitement came in not knowing what to expect next. It was the kind of organized mayhem that invited people to start chucking inflatable dinosaurs, rubber chickens, bananas, toilet paper, anything they had in hand.
The charm in Black Midi’s music, at least on that stage, was that it didn’t take itself too seriously. In translating their mind-melting, seemingly random studio style to the Bonnaroo stage, Black Midi taught us, song after song, that some shows just have to be some degree of chaos.
Rina Sawayama Cycles Through Every Genre
Rina Sawayama ⎹ Cora Wagoner for Bonnaroo 2023
To see Rina Sawayama live is a gift. The rising pop (and rock, and country) artist shined on Friday at the Which Stage, moving with elegance through choreographed dance routines. Her performances included a two-dancer ensemble and various spur-of-the moment outfit and character changes.
There’s a transporting magic wrought by Rina’s one hour set; every song she performed felt like an individual production with a story to tell, beginning with the fearlessly reflective "Hold The Girl" and ending with the rousing "This Hell" (featuring a surprise cameo by MUNA, who had just finished playing the What Stage).
For a set that started with hard rock, cycled through bubblegum pop, and ended with country, it felt every bit as extraordinary and arresting as she is. Rina Sawayama doesn’t demand your attention — she’s not begging for it. She simply acquires it whether you like it or not.
Paris Jackson Conjures Pixies And Nirvana
Paris Jackson ⎹ Gary Miller/WireImage
Paris Jackson may have just one album under her belt, but that didn’t stop the 25-year-old singer/songwriter from packing sets on Saturday and Sunday at two different stages. The crowd clearly couldn’t get enough of their Nirvana-inspired music as they overflowed the Toyota Music Den on Saturday to listen to acoustic versions of her new tracks, and then This Tent on Sunday for the full-instrumental versions of those songs.
Highlights of both sets included her lighthearted guitar tuning interlude — a seemingly out-of-place folk song her bandmate plays as she tunes her guitar in her earpiece — and "bandaid," the title track off of her forthcoming new album.
"Most of my songs are about heartbreak," Jackson told GRAMMY.com during a backstage chat. "This is the most raw and vulnerable I’ve ever been in my lyrics, but it’s still vague enough for people to make it about what they want it to be about."
Though a departure from her old sound— which leaned more towards indie folk, watching her perform "bandaid" and her other two singles "Just You" and "Lighthouse" felt like we were watching her come into her own. The depth of the songwriting felt right at home amongst the covers of Blind Melon’s "No Rain" and Pearl Jam’s "Even Flow."
Kendrick Lamar Performs On His Birthday
Kendrick Lamar ⎹ Roger Ho for Bonnaroo 2023
The first of the weekend’s headliners to perform, Kendrick Lamar, spent his 36th birthday eve putting on a theatrical performance that blended cuts from last year’s Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers ("Count Me Out") with back catalog material ("A.D.H.D.", "Backseat Freestyle").
After a modest, humble response to the audience singing him "Happy Birthday" at the stroke of midnight, Lamar leaned into the melodrama, as he rapped alongside a group of suit-wearing doppelgängers dancing with uncanny, uniform movements. For his second-to-last act, Lamar brought out his cousin Baby Keem, who brought vigorous rhymes to the stage for "family ties". And even though Kendrick’s set ended 20 minutes early with "Savior," its high energy and dramatic visuals were the cherry on top to an already exhilarating Friday evening.
The Band Camino Brings Their Music Back Home
The Band Camino ⎹ Nathan Zucker for Bonnaroo 2023
Tennessee’s own The Band Camino were slated to appear at two canceled Bonnaroos in a row, and by this year's festival the Memphis band were visibly happy to be there. They revived their song "California" just for Bonnaroo, and played the ever-popular "2/14" alongside some of their newer singles, "What Am I Missing" and "Last Man in the World" — the latter of which was a huge hit with the crowd.
Speaking to GRAMMY.com backstage, vocalists Spencer Stewart and Jeffery Jordan discussed the song’s provenance: "We were trying to write something that was verbally heavy-hitting, that paints a really good picture about what it feels like to be with this very special person. It feels like everyone else is gone and you’re just left with this one person left; you’re the last people in the world."
Lil Nas X Rides ’Til He Can’t No More
Lil Nas X ⎹ Pooneh Ghana for Bonnaroo 2023
The main stage at Bonnaroo is always a grand marvel, and Lil Nas X gave the Bonnaroo audience nothing short of that, drawing an enormous crowd on Saturday just after nightfall. Bobbing and weaving across a stage he shared with giant costumed animals, a six-person dance ensemble, and swirling rock formations, it’s obvious the rapper has an insatiable desire to entertain and magnetize.
As expected, songs like "Old Town Road" and "What I Want" proved their staying power as fans from all walks of life sung along unabashedly, celebrating Nas X's Black queer joy.
"It's f—ing Pride month, y'all better make some noise for this gay ass s—!", Lil Nas X yelled, prompting applause from both the audience and his dancers, who were just as integral a part of the show as he was. The GRAMMY-winning performer gave each of his dancers gave the audience a chance to hype up the crowd, too, showcasing their dancing abilities to songs by J. Balvin, Lola Brooke, and Beyonce.
With dance arrangements full of vogueing, ass shaking, and straight-up boogie, the Nas X show was a spectacle to behold, and kept the crowd whipped up in a frenzy until the very last notes of GRAMMY nominated "Industry Baby."
Paramore Dabbles In Nostalgia
Hayley Williams and Zac Farrow of Paramore ⎹ Pooneh Ghana for Bonnaroo 2023
"Does anybody here tonight feel like cashing in on a little nostalgia? Anyone here feel like taking a trip down memory lane?" yelled Hayley Williams of Paramore. The four-piece formed just 70 miles north in Franklin, Tennessee in 2004, and led the audience right back to 2007’s Riot!, where a young Hayley Williams boldly sang "Once a whore you’re nothing more/I’m sorry that’ll never change" ("Misery Business").
She doesn’t sing that lyric live anymore because of its misogynist tone, but their setlist resembled something of a greatest hits record. The band powered through standouts for those who had been supporting "since day one" ("All I Wanted", "Last Hope"), and incredible renditions of their newer songs, like "Rose-Colored Boy", performed with samples of Whitney Houston’s "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" and Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love" intermixed.
In a raw and potent performance before a thousands-strong audience — it was the band’s second appearance at the festival — Paramore proved that they will remaina treat to see live for years to come.
Pixies Prove They're Larger Than The That Tent
Being the gold-standard of alt rock is just what the Pixies are all about, and their Sunday evening performance at the That Tent seemed intent on showing everyone that.
The That Tent was spilling out from every corner, uncomfortably so, as the reclusive ‘80s stalwarts rocked and rolled through through favorites from albums past— including "Here Comes Your Man" and "Where is My Mind" — and songs from their newest project, Doggrel — "Who's More Sorry Now?" and "Get Simulated."
It was 23 songs in just an hour’s time. And in true Pixies fashion, they did this all without a setlist, coursing seamlessly from song to song without a plan, solely from the heart. As the band closed with a Neil Young cover ("Winterlong") to raucous applause, everyone was reminded that, much like the festival, you don’t always need a plan to have a good time.
Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
9 Times Queer Artists Made History At The GRAMMYs: From Elton John's Collab With BSB To Kim & Sam's "Unholy" Union
In celebration of Pride Month, GRAMMY.com has collected nine of the most meaningful and thrilling performances by queer artists from the ceremony’s history, which helped uplift the global LGBTIQA+ community.
The 60-plus years of the GRAMMY Awards encompasses some of the most awe-inspiring and breathtaking moments in music history — and it should be noted that queer performers have produced some of the most dazzling highlights. From Elton John’s 1999 GRAMMY Legend Award to Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ 2023 performance of "Unholy," there is no shortage of iconic queer moments in GRAMMY history.
But more than merely honoring and showcasing queer artists, the ceremony is also the only major award to have moved beyond the outdated gender binary in its categories, an important step in ensuring that every artist feels welcomed. And as queer stars continue to deliver stunning performances in addition to award wins on Music's Biggest Night, young artists have meaningful representation and inspiration.
In celebration of Pride Month, GRAMMY.com has collected nine of the most meaningful and thrilling performances by queer artists from the ceremony’s history. These moments commemorate some of the most impressive artists of the last few decades and helped uplift members of the LGBTIQA+ community around the world.
Elton John & The Backstreet Boys - "Philadelphia Freedom" (2000)
When one LGBTIQA+ icon writes a song that honors another queer trailblazer, it’s bound to make for a special moment on stage.
Performed at the 42nd GRAMMY Awards — the same night the Rocket Man was honored as MusiCares Person Of The Year, and a year after taking home the Legend Award — Elton John performed the bright and swinging "Philadelphia Freedom." With backing from the Backstreet Boys, the performance filled the room with sunshine.
The song was inspired by John’s close friend, tennis icon Billie Jean King. His piano flanked by the five Boys, John delivers a rollicking take on the number one hit, the mythic megastar in top form from every swaggery vocal growl to each thumping piano chord.
Melissa Etheridge & Joss Stone - "Piece Of My Heart" (2005)
Melissa Etheridge has always been an incredibly vulnerable artist, but when she walked onto the stage during the 47th GRAMMY Awards, her head bald due to chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, her legend of raw strength reached a new level.
A loving grin plastered on her face and chopping out an explosive guitar riff, Etheridge didn’t waste a second, joining soul pop star Joss Stone for a tribute to queer icon Janis Joplin. Every syllable of "Piece of My Heart" coming out of Etheridge’s mouth shines sharply like a rough-cut gem, but her explosive howl as the song comes to its climax is the stuff of legend.
The fact that Etheridge made it through her cancer treatment and can still rock stages to this day is only further testament to just how powerful this moment of defiance turned out to be.
Lady Gaga - "Born This Way" (2011)
While the conversation surrounding Lady Gaga’s early ‘10s award ceremony run will always center on her extravagant and boundary-pushing attire and stagecraft, she made sure to put her queer advocacy at full volume during her take on "Born This Way."
Sure, she entered the 53rd GRAMMY Awards in an egg and took time in her performance to play a snippet of Bach made famous in "The Phantom of the Opera" on a keyboard topped with mannequin heads. But in the very next moment, she ensured that the whole track slowed to a righteous halt to deliver a core message: "No matter gay, straight or bi/lesbian, transgender life/ I’m on the right track/ I was born to survive."
The white latex and space egg are important, but Lady Gaga wants to make sure you understand that the art is all in support of a message of inclusion, that stripped down to our strangest basics we’re all human.
Frank Ocean - "Forrest Gump" (2013)
Frank Ocean has proven to be one of the most mercurial stars in R&B, releasing just two studio albums since 2011 despite some of the most rabid anticipation in the music world. His changed plans, canceled performances, and vague updates only fuel that fire — but it’s performances like "Forrest Gump" that encapsulate that whole fandom experience.
The 55th Grammy Awards were a big night for Ocean, with six nominations and two golden gramophones coming his way, but his tender, raw love song was perhaps the most memorable of a night full of impressive tributes and star power. Homosexual love songs don’t get televised too often, and that’s what "Forrest Gump" is: pure, unabashed and straightforward; a young, mesmerizing vocalist and songwriter laid bare, playing a keyboard and backed by a video screen. There’s nothing to distract from his voice and his words: "You run my mind, boy/ Running on my mind, boy/ Forrest Gump."
Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, Madonna & Queen Latifah - "Same Love/Open Your Heart" (2014)
There may not be a bigger performance of queer love in awards history than Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ elaborate staging of "Same Love" from the 56th GRAMMYs. Their performance of the anthem included lesbian vocalist Mary Lambert and queer icon Madonna — oh, and Queen Latifah literally overseeing marriage ceremonies for 33 couples of varying sexual identities and orientations, when same-sex marriage hadn’t yet been federally recognized.
Macklemore and Lewis won big at the ceremony, thanks in large part to inescapable upbeat hip-hop like "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us." But instead of getting everyone in the room with some easy fun, the duo opted for "Same Love" — a track in support of marriage equality and a protest to a tendency towards homophobia in the genre. Together, they provided a powerful statement of acceptance and love that surely opened eyes for audiences around the world.
Kesha, Camilla Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Julia Michaels, Andra Day, and Bebe Rexha - "Praying" (2018)
The whole world was changing for Kesha on the runup to the 60th GRAMMY Awards. After years of struggle against her alleged abuser and an attempt to fully reclaim her career and life, she had not only taken powerful steps in that direction — she was doing so on Music's Biggest Night.
Her new album, Rainbow, had netted two nominations, and she was asked to perform. She opted for "Praying" (co-written by Ryan Lewis), a paean to the power of change and hope, even in the darkest hours. Surrounded by a cadre of powerful women and clad in white and embroidery of blooming flowers, Kesha’s performance shows a moment of new life and transformation, an inspirational moment that continues to grow with promise of even more new music.
Janelle Monáe - "Make Me Feel" (2019)
Janelle Monáe’s performance at the 61st GRAMMY Awards felt like a celebration of her quest to share her truest self. During a performance of the sensual, stylized, sci-fi epic take on "Make Me Feel," Monáe incorporated snippets of other Dirty Computer highlights into the breakdown — including the line "let the vagina have a monologue" from "Pynk" (probably the first time that request had been made on the GRAMMYs stage).
Her black-and-white clad synchronized backup dancers gave shades of Robert Palmer, but Prince (another Black icon comfortable in gender-fluidity) was the true touchstone. But that’s in no way to say that Monáe is anything but an unparalleled icon of her own, whether on the guitar, in her dance steps, or on the mic.
Lil Nas X - "Dead Right Now"/"Montero (Call Me By Your Name)"/"Industry Baby" (2022)
After years of controversy and criticism (notably from talking heads and members of the public who had or would not listen to his music), Lil Nas X’s performance at the 65th GRAMMY Awards had a real sense of catharsis.
Not that the Georgia-born rapper necessarily needed it — he’s proven plenty capable of pushing back and insisting on his identity on the daily, in social media and interviews. Still, the wide range of styles (both musical and visual) and performance versatility on display that evening felt special. His interstellar take on "Dead Right Now" proved he was capable of rising above all the noise; the hip-swiveling dazzle of "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" showed he was unafraid to show his sensual side; and the stomp-along "Industry Baby" (complete with an appearance from Jack Harlow) demonstrated that Lil Nas X is just flat-out one of the most exciting vocal talents in hip-hop.
Kim Petras and Sam Smith - "Unholy" (2023)
Trans representation on the GRAMMYs stage took a big step forward at the most recent ceremony, thanks to Kim Petras. Not only did the German-born pop star become the first openly trans woman to win a GRAMMY Award, but her blistering performance of "Unholy" with Sam Smith likely ignited more than a little bit of inspiration, intensity, and passion in the viewing audience.
Cast in a red glow, the duo embraced the fires of lust, Petras playing the fiery cage dancer to Smith’s devilish ringmaster. Every second of the performance dripped with sweat and sex, refusing to bow to any expectation or censure, Petras humping a corner of the cage as Smith gyrated around a cane. The smoking hot fever dream more than earned the FCC complaints and the zealous fans who went on to devour more of Smith and Petras’ music.