meta-scriptHow To Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys," Featuring Performances From John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Beck, Fall Out Boy, Mumford & Sons, LeAnn Rimes, Weezer & More | GRAMMY.com
Graphic featuring artwork for "A GRAMMY SALUTE TO THE BEACH BOYS" tribute special
"A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys"

Photo Credit: CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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How To Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys," Featuring Performances From John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Beck, Fall Out Boy, Mumford & Sons, LeAnn Rimes, Weezer & More

The re-aired tribute to the Beach Boys will also feature performances from St. Vincent, My Morning Jacket, Norah Jones, Charlie Puth, and many others, as well as special appearances by Tom Hanks, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and more.

GRAMMYs/Mar 14, 2023 - 04:00 pm

Updated Monday, May 22, to include information about the re-air date for "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys."

"A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" will re-air on Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

After six decades of game-changing innovation and culture-shifting hits, the Beach Boys stand tall as one of the most legendary and influential American bands of all time.

Now, the iconic band will be honored by the Recording Academy and CBS with a star-studded "Beach Boys party" for the ages: "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys," a two-hour tribute special featuring a lineup of heavy hitters, including John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Beck, Fall Out Boy, Mumford & Sons, LeAnn Rimes, St. Vincent, Weezer, and many more, who will perform all your favorite Beach Boys classics.

Wondering when, where and how to watch "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys"? Here's everything you need to know.

When & Where Will The Special Air?

"A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" will air on Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.* A one-hour version of the tribute will air on MTV at a future date to be announced.

Who Will Perform, And What Will They Perform?

The following is a list of artists and performances featured on "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys":

Read More: 5 Memorable Highlights From "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys": Weezer, St. Vincent, John Legend & More

Who Are The Special Guests & Presenters?

In addition to the musical performances, the special features appearances by Drew Carey, Tom Hanks, Jimmy Jam, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, John Stamos, and Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr.

Beach Boys core members Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and David Marks are featured guests.

What's The Context For The Special?

Filmed at the iconic Dolby Theater in Los Angeles after the 2023 GRAMMYs, "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" airs during the year-long celebration of the Beach Boys' 60th anniversary. Counting more than 100 million records sold worldwide and recipients of the Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Beach Boys are one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful bands of all time, and their music has been an indelible part of American history for more than six decades.

Keep an eye on GRAMMY.com for more exclusive content leading up to "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys."

*Paramount+ Premium subscribers will have access to stream live via the live feed of their local CBS affiliate on the service as well as on-demand. Essential tier subscribers will have access to the on-demand the following day after the episode airs.

Watch backstage interviews & exclusive content from "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys”

Photo of Sexyy Red performing onstage during at the 2024 Rolling Loud Festival in Los Angeles. She is wearing a blue bikini top with white stars, red and white shorts, white sunglasses, and bright red hair.
Sexyy Reds perform onstage at the 2024 Rolling Loud Festival in Los Angeles

Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

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New Music Friday: Listen To New Albums & Songs From Sexyy Red, Charlie Puth, Vince Staples, Aaron Carter & More

Don't slide into your Memorial Day weekend without stocking your New Music Friday playlist with fresh tunes. Here are new albums and songs from Willie Nelson, Maya Hawke, Arooj Aftab, Trueno, and many more.

GRAMMYs/May 24, 2024 - 02:11 pm

Memorial Day weekend is upon us, which means we're inching closer to another music-filled summer. Less than halfway through 2024, we've received a veritable bounty of new music from Green Day, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Kacey Musgraves, Zayn … the list goes on and on.

Clearly, no matter which musical world you inhabit, 2024 has had something for you — and the slate of today's releases continues that streak. Pull up your favorite streaming service — or dust off your record player — and check out this slate of new music that's fresh out of the oven.

Sexyy Red — In Sexyy We Trust

The #MakeAmericaSexyyAgain train is unstoppable. Amid numberless recent accolades — including five nominations at the 2024 BET Awards, including Best Female Hip Hop Artist and Best New Artist — Sexyy Red has dropped a new EP, In Sexyy We Trust. By the sound of "Awesome Jawsome," we all live in Sexyy's lascivious, irresistible universe: "Give me that awesome jawsome, suck it, baby, use your teeth / Shake your dreads between my legs, do it for a G." (Take that under advisement.) And with more than 8.3 million YouTube views for her "Get it Sexyy" music video, legions are clamoring for her second official release without a doubt.

Charlie Puth — "Hero"

"You smokеd, then ate seven bars of chocolate / We declared Charlie Puth should be a bigger artist." So recounted the one and only Taylor Swift in the title track to her new album, The Tortured Poets Department, which rocketed Puth's name even further into the public consciousness. This shine partly inspired Puth to release "Hero": "I want to thank @taylorswift for letting me know musically that I just couldn't keep this on my hard drive any longer," he stated on Instagram. "It's one of the hardest songs I've ever had to write, but I wrote it in hopes that you've gone through something similar in your life, and that it can fill in the BLANK for you like it did for me," he continued. Leave it to a hero to shake that loose for Puth.

Vince Staples — Dark Times

If you're currently rounding a difficult corner in your life, Vince Staples' latest album is a trusty companion. Take the first single "Shame on the Devil," where he licks his wounds amid thick isolation and friction with loved ones. "It's me mastering some things I've tried before that I wasn't great at in the beginning," he said in a statement. "It's a testament to musical growth, song structure — all the good stuff." By the sound of this haunted yet resolute single, Dark Times could materialize as Staples' most realized album to date — and most hard-won victory to boot.

Willie Nelson — The Border

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

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

Maya Hawke — Chaos Angel

"What the Chaos Angel is to me," Maya Hawke explained in a recent Instagram video, "is an angel that was raised in heaven to believe they're the angel of love, then sent down to do loving duties." Needless to say, the wicked world had different plans. Chaos Angel, the third album by Maya Hawke, out via Mom+Pop Records, is fitting: Smoldering tracks like "Dark" and "Missing Out" plumb themes of betrayal and bedlam masterfully.

Arooj Aftab — Night Reign

Arooj Aftab landed on the scene with the exquisitely blue Vulture Prince, which bridged modern jazz and folk idioms with what she calls "heritage material" from Pakistan and South Asia. The album's pandemic-era success threatened to box her in, though; Aftab is a funny, well-rounded cat who's crazy about pop music, too. Crucially, the guest-stuffed Night Reign shows many more sides of this GRAMMY-winning artist, whose most transcendent work seems still ahead of us. By the strength of songs like "Raat Ki Rani" and "Whiskey," this Reign is for the long haul.

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

Aaron Carter — The Recovery Album

By all means, we should have Aaron Carter alive, healthy and, yes, recovered. But the beloved singer unexpectedly died in November 2022. (He accidentally drowned in his bathtub after taking sedatives and inhaling a spray cleaner.) Still, the 2000s-era teen star, who gave us "I Want Candy," "Aaron's Party (Come Get It)" and "That's How I Beat Shaq," left us with a poignant, posthumous statement in The Recovery Album: "Tomorrow is a new day / Tryin' to shake the pain away / 'Cause I'm still in recovery," he sings in the title track. Carter, who was open about his struggles with addiction, substance abuse and mental health, is also in the news for a rough ride of a documentary, Fallen Idols: Nick and Aaron Carter. But if you'd rather focus on Carter the artist, The Recovery Album shows that his considerable talent remains undimmed.

DIIV — Frog in Boiling Water

The idiom of a frog in boiling water is a familiar one, but it's never quite unfolded in music like this — and DIIV, one of rock's most impressionistic acts, is the band for the job. In a press statement, the group, led by Zachary Cole Smith, called Frog in Boiling Water a reflection of "a slow, sick, and overwhelmingly banal collapse of society under end-stage capitalism." To wit, tracks like "Brown Paper Bag," "Raining on Your Pillow" and "Soul-net" sound like dying in a beautiful way. "Everyone Out," another album highlight, provides a clear, critical directive.

Shenseea — Never Gets Late Here

To hear Jamaican leading light Shenseea tell it, she's been boxed in as a "dancehall artiste," but she's so much more than that. "By next year I want to be international," she said back in 2018. "An international pop star." Her second album, Never Gets Late Here, might be that final boost to the big time she's chasin. Throughout the sticky-sweet album, the genre traverser tries on disco vibes ("Flava" with Voi Leray), an Afrobeats tint ("Work Me Out" with Wizkid), and a bona fide, swing-for-the-rafters anthem in the power ballad "Stars." "Everyone is looking at everything I'm going through," she recently told Revolt, "which is special because they can see the fight I'm getting, but still see me pushing and persevering."

Trueno — EL ÚLTIMO BAILE

Argentine phenom Trueno — a rapper, singer and songwriter of equal fire — has been on a sharp rise ever since his debut, 2020's Atrevido. This time, he's especially leaning into his rap skills as he pays homage to his beloved hip-hop. And, as he explained to Rolling Stone, he's been diligently crafting this artistic culmination. "We also don't want to rush anything. We're working day and night on it," he said of EL ÚLTIMO BAILE. "I'm an artist who's all about albums and big projects, so I'm immersed in this." We're about to be, too.

Yola — My Way

Yola has been nominated for six GRAMMYs to date; this impressive feat has thickened the momentum behind her latest batch of music. For her new My Way EP, the British singer/songwriter tapped GRAMMY-nominated producer Sean Douglas, who's worked with everyone from Lizzo to Madonna to Sia. Not that this synthesist of progressive R&B, synth pop, electronica, and more needs a reintroduction. But if you're not already on board with this musically keen, lyrically conscious artist, songs like "Future Enemies" should lure you there.

2025 GRAMMYs To Take Place Sunday, Feb. 2, Live In Los Angeles; GRAMMY Awards Nominations To Be Announced Friday, Nov. 8, 2024

GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala Performers: HANSON & More
GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala performers

Photos: Courtesy of the artists

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William Bell, HANSON, Elle King & More Added To The Lineup Of Performers At The Inaugural GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala On May 21

These artists will join Andra Day, Ravyn Lenae, Shinedown and The War and Treaty to perform in honor of inducted recordings by De La Soul, Guns N' Roses, Donna Summer and more on the 50th Anniversary of the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame.

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2024 - 05:32 am

William Bell, HANSON and Elle King have been added to the lineup for the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum's inaugural GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala, taking place on May 21, at The Novo in Downtown Los Angeles.

Previously announced performers include Andra Day, Ravyn Lenae, Shinedown and The War and Treaty. The evening will include a red carpet and VIP reception on the Ray Charles Terrace at the GRAMMY Museum followed by a one-of-a-kind concert at The Novo. The Gala will also pay tribute to iconic record label Atlantic Records. The evening will be hosted by veteran CBS broadcast journalist Anthony Mason, who will be joined by Michael Sticka, President/CEO of the GRAMMY Museum, Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, and Julie Greenwald, chairperson and CEO of Atlantic Records Group. 

Performers will pay tribute to the 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame inducted recordings. Andra Day will perform a song from Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill; William Bell will perform his song "You Don't Miss Your Water"; The War and Treaty will perform Charley Pride's "Kiss An Angel Good Morning"; Elle King will perform Wanda Jackson's "Let's Have A Party." HANSON will perform the Doobie Brothers' "What A Fool Believes"; Ravyn Lenae will perform Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly;" and Shinedown will perform Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven." Tickets are on sale to the general public and more information about the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala is available on the website

The inaugural Hall Of Fame Gala will honor the 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame inducted recordings on its 50th Anniversary, including De La Soul's 3 Feet High And Rising, Guns N' Roses' Appetite For Destruction, Buena Vista Social Club's Buena Vista Social Club, and Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, as well as recordings by Donna Summer, Charley Pride, Wanda Jackson, Kid Ory's Creole Orchestra, the Doobie Brothers, and William Bell. 

This year's show will be produced by longtime Executive Producer of the GRAMMY Awards, Ken Ehrlich, along with Chantel Sausedo and Ron Basile. Musical Direction by globally renowned producer and keyboardist Greg Phillinganes. The Gala is presented by City National Bank. 

An online auction is currently underway alongside the Hall Of Fame Gala, featuring a vast collection of guitars signed by an array of major artists including Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, and many others, as well as Platinum tickets to the 2025 GRAMMY Awards and more. Proceeds will benefit the GRAMMY Museum. Click HERE for more info. 

The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame was established by the Recording Academy's National Trustees in 1973. The inducted recordings are selected annually by a special member committee of eminent and knowledgeable professionals from all branches of the recording arts with final ratification by the Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees. With 10 new titles, the Hall currently totals 1,152 inducted recordings in the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. Recipients will receive an official certificate from the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum. See the full list of past inducted recordings here.

GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala 2024 Performers Announced

Patrick Wilson, Rivers Cuomo, Brian Bell and Matt Sharp of Weezer in 1995
Patrick Wilson, Rivers Cuomo, Brian Bell and Matt Sharp of Weezer

Photo: Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance via Getty Images

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Why Weezer's 'The Blue Album' Is One Of The Most Influential '90s Indie Pop Debuts

Weezer’s debut album was a harbinger of nerd rock and its many acolytes, with hits like "Buddy Holly" and "Undone (The Sweater Song)." Thirty years after its release, 'The Blue Album' stands tall for the ways it redefined indie pop and rock.

GRAMMYs/May 10, 2024 - 03:48 pm

We can thank Kurt Cobain and Tower Records for one of the most enduring debut albums of all time. 

Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo was working at a Los Angeles Tower Records in 1991 when the store began to blare Nirvana’s "Sliver." His ears perked up, inspired by Cobain’s music and lyrics.

"It’s like, 'Oh, my God. This is so beautiful to me. And I identify with it so much.' Hearing him sing about Mom and Dad and Grandpa Joe, these personal family issues, in a really heartbreaking kind of innocent, childlike way, over these straightforward chords in a major key," Cuomo told Rolling Stone.

Fast forward to May 10, 1994, and Weezer —originally a nickname Cuomo took on due to his asthma-induced wheezing — debuted an album brimming with thoughtful themes, chunky riffs, sublime solos and a song that would end up as a game-changing music video directed by Spike Jonze

Cuomo cut his headbanger hair — he thought metal would be his future — and adorned thick glasses reminiscent of Cobain. Along for the ride came drummer Patrick Wilson, guitarist Brian Bell and bassist Matt Sharp. The cover art for The Blue Album featuring the foursome simply standing and staring at the camera evoked a feeling of awkward geekiness that would eventually lead to the album’s designation as being the harbinger of nerd rock and its many acolytes.

From the time of its release and through to today, The Blue Album reverberated with both music fans and indie rock bands. It felt like a lovechild between the Beach Boys' melodies and the Pixies’ distortion-friendly rhythms. It was certified platinum in January 1995, and has since gone three times multi-platinum in the U.S. Rolling Stone readers ranked the album the 21st greatest of all time. 

In honor of an album that arguably has a banger for every track, here’s a deep dive into what makes The Blue Album such an iconic indie pop record, and how its impact on modern rock is still being felt today.

It Has More Hooks Than A Walk-In Closet

Refreshingly original pop-rock wasn’t sprouting up in the mid-1990s, when Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins dominated the radio waves. Enter The Blue Album with songs, such as "Say It Ain’t So," boasting catchy hooks so infectious they became earworm fodder.

It’s not just the big singles blasting addictive hooks. "Surf Wax America" lets Weezer fans ply their falsetto skills when they try to reach the end note in, "You take your car to work/I’ll take my board/and when you’re out of fuel/I’m still afloat."

Tokyo Police Club's Graham Wright said in 2019: "That [album] has such an unfair amount of hooks packed into it. Like, every song has like 5 to 10 hooks that are good enough to easily sustain an entire song in their own. It feels like they hogged everything."

TPC toured with Weezer in 2008.

…And Its Lyrics Were More Than Just Playful

Cobain wrote about drugs, Metallica’s lyrics skewed dark, and some fans couldn’t even make out what Eddie Vedder was crooning into the mic. But Cuomo’s lyrics had that everyman quality fans could find relatable. 

Album opener "My Name is Jonas" speaks of a common crisis Cuomo was inspired to put to paper: Cuomo’s brother was dealing with insurance challenges after enduring a serious car crash. Knowing Cuomo’s MO, the song's lyrics resonate more deeply: "Tell me what to do/Now the tank is dry/Now this wheel is flat."

On "Say It Ain’t So" — the most-streamed song from the album on Spotify — Weezer manages an eternal hookiness with a heavy dose of reality. Over a reggae-influenced beat with guitar upstrokes, the song offers a potent look at Cuomo’s past. It tells the story of his estranged relationship with his alcoholic father ("Somebody's Heine/Is crowding my icebox") and how Rivers Sr. eventually left the family, got sober and became a preacher ("You've cleaned up, found Jesus/Things are good, or so I hear").

The Blue Album Had A Singular Look

If there is any moment to showcase how Weezer set itself apart from other rock bands at the time, look no further than the music video to one of the album’s blazing hits. "Buddy Holly" might have been a reference to the close-cropped hair and wide-rim glasses both Holly and Cuomo wore, but the video is a taste of the band’s nostalgia-heavy, pop culture-referencing personality that other bands would later emulate.

Directed by Spike Jonze (who was also responsible for the Beastie Boys' astounding "Sabotage" video,) "Buddy Holly" featured Weezer playing in 1950s garb as they interacted with characters from the show "Happy Days." The video was a marvel of editing and jokiness at the time: Mary Tyler Moore gets a shout-out; there’s something so deeply satisfying seeing the Fonz dance to Weezer verses and fuzz guitars.

"Buddy Holly" was an early example of Weezer's unique and deeply referential aesthetic; their free-spirited, random and weird viewpoint would appear in videos throughout their run.  In "Undone (The Sweater Song)," a parade of canines runaround the band as they exuberantly play the hit song, with drummer Patrick Wilson shaking booty behind the kit.

Post- Blue, the Muppets danced and sang along with the band in the hilarious "Keep Fishin’," while sumo wrestlers battled it out between clips of the band rocking out to "Hash Pipe."

It Delivered Memorable And Inspiring Intros 

Producer Ric Ocasek ensured that there were no wasted moments in The Blue Album. That includes the intros, which can feature some of the best opening licks to ever grace a Weezer track (as on "Holiday") or flirt with a genre–rock folk– that quickly switches to another (see "My Name is Jonas").

But a true-stand out intro, if only for its experimental personality, comes from "Undone (The Sweater Song)," which opens with a circular riff stemming from guitar picking. Then comes a music-less intro with a couple guys chatting — courtesy of bassist Sharp and friend of the band Karl Koch — that isn’t as meaningful as the song’s more maudlin theme. It may inspire fans to see the song as a fun and silly tune instead of what Cuomo intended: an anthem of the underdog.

That intro is mirrored in other pop-rock tracks of that era, such as Nada Surf’s "Popular" which begins with over a minute of spoken word before the verses.

The spoken intro to "Undone" is a reminder that Weezer never likes taking itself too seriously. They enjoy breaking conventional rules of what a song, or first few bars, should sound like for their audience, and they revel in throwing us curveballs as a way to say, "Hey, we’re a rock band, but we’re not your Dad’s rock band." 

They Aren’t Afraid To Move Away From Traditional Indie Pop

"We're experimenting, trying to come up with the best music we possibly can, so our motivation is pure. We're not just trying to cash in," Cuomo told Guitar World in 2002, reflecting his anti-frontman persona with an honest take of Weezer’s standing in the rock world. That "best music" is shining on The Blue Album but also their inventiveness, which saw them extend the usual track length on "Only in Dreams" from the usual three minutes to almost eight minutes. 

Moving away from the head-boppin choruses of "Buddy Holly" and "Surf Wax America", the final track on the album plays with rhythms and unadorned bass lines reminiscent of early Phish. It careens from dreamy and meandering to chewy distortion and crashing cymbals, and ends with four minutes of instrumental jamming. 

Wavves bassist Stephen Pope took to "Only in Dreams" right away. "[It] stands out to me, as a not-very-technically-skilled bass player, because of how memorable the bassline is even though it’s so simple. It’s extremely Kim Deal-esque, and I attribute a lot of my playing style to Kim Deal and Matt Sharp," he told Consequence of Sound

Bands Love Covering The Blue Album

Everyone loves to try their hand at belting out Weezer songs, especially those from The Blue Album. One of the more notable covers is the pitch-perfectly sung "My Name is Jonas" from Taking Back Sunday, whose own tunes have Weezer-esque personalities. 

Foster the People covered "Say It Ain’t So" in 2011, Relient K cleaned up the distortion for their version of "Surf Wax America," and Mac DeMarco delivered a throaty take on "Undone (The Sweater Song)" where he adlibbed the tune’s spoken word bits. 

And if there’s any sign of the album’s wide-ranging influence, the cast of "Succession" recorded a raucous rendition of "Say It Ain’t So."

The Blue Album Is So Iconic That Weezer Is Touring It Globally

From Atlanta to London to Vancouver, Weezer’s 2024 tour schedule is solely focused on playing The Blue Album from start to finish. Titled Voyage to the Blue Planet and featuring openers the Flaming Lips, the Smashing Pumpkins and Dinosaur Jr., the tour will be a retrospective of the killer tracks that cemented Weezer as pioneers of nerd-rock and a whimsical sorely needed during the super-serious era of grunge.

As much as Weezer fans also adore the emo classic Pinkerton and admire the ambition of the four-album box set of SZNS of 2021, The Blue Album remains a perfect debut record and one that transcends any age demo. A 50-year-old rock fan and a 25-year-old TikTok influencer will both be front row centre at the tour this year, and expect them to be mouthing the lyrics to "Buddy Holly" while playing the meanest air guitar.

8 Ways 'Musicology' Returned Prince To His Glory Days

Taylor Swift performs with Stevie Nicks at the 2010 GRAMMYs
Taylor Swift performs with Stevie Nicks at the 2010 GRAMMYs

Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

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11 Artists Who Influenced Taylor Swift: Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, Tim McGraw & More

From Paul McCartney to Paramore, Emily Dickinson and even "Game of Thrones," read on for some of the major influences Taylor Swift has referenced throughout her GRAMMY-winning career.

GRAMMYs/Apr 22, 2024 - 11:24 pm

As expected, much buzz followed the release of Taylor Swift's 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department, on April 19. Fans and critics alike have devoured the sprawling double album’s 31 tracks, unpacking her reflections from "a fleeting and fatalistic moment in time" in search of Easter eggs, their new favorite lyrics and references to famous faces (both within the pop supernova’s closely guarded orbit and the historical record). 

Shoutouts abound in The Tortured Poets Department: Charlie Puth gets his much-deserved (and Taylor-approved) flowers on the title track, while 1920s screen siren Clara Bow, the ancient Greek prophetess Cassandra and Peter Pan each get a song titled after them. Post Malone and  Florence + the Machine’s Florence Welch each tap in for memorable duets. Relationships old (Joe Alwyn), new (Travis Kelce) and somewhere in between (1975’s Matty Healy) are alluded to without naming names, as is, possibly, the singer’s reputation-era feud with Kim Kardashian. 

Swift casts a wide net on The Tortured Poets Department, encompassing popular music, literature, mythology and beyond, but it's far from the first time the 14-time GRAMMY winner has worn her influences on her sleeve. While you digest TTPD, consider these 10 figures who have influenced the poet of the hour — from Stevie Nicks and Patti Smith to Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth, Arya Stark and more.

Stevie Nicks

If Taylor Swift is the chairman of The Tortured Poets Department, Stevie Nicks may as well be considered its poet laureate emeritus. The mystical Fleetwood Mac frontwoman earns an important mention on side A closer "Clara Bow," in which Swift ties an invisible string from herself to a pre-Rumours Nicks ("In ‘75, the hair and lips/ Crowd goes wild at her fingertips"), and all the way back to the 1920s It Girl of the song’s title.

For her part, Nicks seems to approve of her place in Swift’s cultural lineage, considering she penned the poem found inside physical copies of The Tortured Poets Department. "He was in love with her/ Or at least she thought so," the Priestess of Rock and Roll wrote in part, before signing off, "For T — and me…"

Swift’s relationship with Nicks dates back to the 2010 GRAMMYs, when the pair performed a medley of "Rhiannon" and "You Belong With Me" before the then-country upstart took home her first Album Of The Year win for 2009’s Fearless. More recently, the "Edge of Seventeen" singer publicly credited Swift’s Midnights cut "You’re On Your Own, Kid" for helping her through the 2022 death of Fleetwood Mac bandmate Christine McVie.

Patti Smith

Swift may see herself as more "modern idiot" than modern-day Patti Smith, but that didn’t stop the superstar from name-dropping the icon synonymous with the Hotel Chelsea and punk scene of ‘70s New York on a key track on The Tortured Poets Department. Swift rather self-deprecatingly compares herself to the celebrated Just Kids memoirist (and 2023 Songwriters Hall of Fame nominee) on the double album’s synth-drenched title track, and it’s easy to see how Smith’s lifelong fusion of rock and poetry influenced the younger singer’s dactylic approach to her new album. 

Smith seemed to appreciate the shout-out on "The Tortured Poets Department" as well. "This is saying I was moved to be mentioned in the company of the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. Thank you Taylor," she wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of herself reading Thomas’ 1940 poetry collection Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog.

Emily Dickinson

When it comes to iconic poets, Swift has also taken a page or two over her career from Emily Dickinson. While the great 19th century poet hasn’t come up explicitly in Swift’s work, she did reference her poetic forebear (and actual sixth cousin, three times removed!) in her speech while accepting the award for Songwriter-Artist of the Decade at the 2022 Nashville Songwriter Awards.

"I’ve never talked about this publicly before, because, well, it’s dorky. But I also have, in my mind, secretly, established genre categories for lyrics I write. Three of them, to be exact. They are affectionately titled Quill Lyrics, Fountain Pen Lyrics and Glitter Gel Pen Lyrics," Swift told the audience before going on to explain, "If my lyrics sound like a letter written by Emily Dickinson’s great-grandmother while sewing a lace curtain, that’s me writing in the Quill genre," she went on to explain.

Even before this glimpse into Swift’s writing process, Easter eggs had been laid pointing to her familial connection to Dickinson. For example, she announced her ninth album evermore on December 10, 2020, which would have been the late poet’s 190th birthday. Another clue that has Swifties convinced? Dickinson’s use of the word "forevermore" in her 1858 poem "One Sister Have I in Our House," which Swift also cleverly breaks apart in Evermore’s Bon Iver-assisted title track ("And I couldn’t be sure/ I had a feeling so peculiar/ That this pain would be for/ Evermore").

The Lake Poets

Swift first put her growing affinity for poetry on display during her folklore era with "the lakes." On the elegiac bonus track, the singer draws a parallel with the Lake Poets of the 19th century, wishing she could escape to "the lakes where all the poets went to die" with her beloved muse in tow. In between fantasizing about "those Windermere peaks" and pining for "auroras and sad prose," she even manages to land a not-so-subtle jab at nemesis Scooter Braun ("I’ve come too far to watch some name-dropping sleaze/ Tell me what are my words worth") that doubles as clever wordplay on the last name of Lake Poet School members William and Dorothy Wordsworth.

Swift revealed more about why she connected to the Lake Poets in her 2020 Disney+ documentary folklore: the long pond studio sessions. "There was a poet district, these artists that moved there. And they were kind of heckled for it and made fun of for it as being these eccentrics and these kind of odd artists who decided that they just wanted to live there," she explained to her trusted producer Jack Antonoff. "So ‘the lakes,’ it kind of is the overarching theme of the whole album: of trying to escape, having something you wanna protect, trying to protect your own sanity and saying, ‘Look, they did this hundreds of years ago. I’m not the first person who’s felt this way.’"

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney and Swift have publicly praised one another’s work for years, leading to the 2020 Rolling Stone cover they posed for together for the special Musicians on Musicians issue. The younger singer even counts Sir Paul’s daughter Stella McCartney as a close friend and collaborator (Stella designed a capsule collection for Swift’s 2019 studio set Lover and earned a shout-out of her own on album cut "London Boy").

However, Swift took her relationship with the Beatles founder and his family a step further when it was rumored she based Midnights deep cut "Sweet Nothing" on McCartney’s decades-long romance with late wife Linda. While the speculation has never been outright confirmed, it appears Swift’s lyrics in the lilting love song ("On the way home, I wrote a poem/ You say, ‘What a mind’/ This happens all the time") were partially inspired by a strikingly similar quote McCartney once gave about his relationship with Linda, who passed away in 1998. To add to the mystique, the Midnights singer even reportedly liked a tweet from 2022 espousing the theory.  

The admiration between the duo seems to go both ways as well, with the former Beatle admitting in a 2018 BBC profile that the track "Who Cares" from his album Egypt Station was inspired by Swift’s close relationship with her fans.

The Chicks

From her days as a country music ingénue to her ascendance as the reigning mastermind of pop, Swift has credited the Chicks as a seminal influence in her songwriting and career trajectory. (Need examples? Look anywhere from early singles like "Picture to Burn" and "Should’ve Said No" to Evermore’s Haim-assisted murder ballad "no body, no crime" and her own Lover-era collab with the band, "Soon You’ll Get Better.") 

In a 2020 Billboard cover story tied to the Chicks’ eighth album Gaslighter, Swift acknowledged just how much impact the trio made on her growing up. "Early in my life, these three women showed me that female artists can play their own instruments while also putting on a flamboyant spectacle of a live show," she said at the time. "They taught me that creativity, eccentricity, unapologetic boldness and kitsch can all go together authentically. Most importantly, they showed an entire generation of girls that female rage can be a bonding experience between us all the very second we first heard Natalie Maines bellow ‘that Earl had to DIE.’"

"Game of Thrones"

When reputation dropped in 2017, Swift was on a self-imposed media blackout, which meant no cover stories or dishy sit-down interviews on late-night TV during the album’s roll-out. Instead, the singer let reputation speak for itself, and fans were largely left to draw their own conclusions about their queen’s wildly anticipated comeback album. Two years later, though, Swift revealed the dark, vengeful, romantic body of work was largely inspired by "Game of Thrones."

"These songs were half based on what I was going through, but seeing them through a 'Game of Thrones' filter," she told Entertainment Weekly in 2019. "My entire outlook on storytelling has been shaped by ["GoT"] — the ability to foreshadow stories, to meticulously craft cryptic story lines. So, I found ways to get more cryptic with information and still be able to share messages with the fans. I aspire to be one one-millionth of the kind of hint dropper the makers of 'Game of Thrones' have been."

Joni Mitchell

Swift has long made her admiration of Joni Mitchell known, dating back to her 2012 album Red, which took a cue from the folk pioneer’s landmark 1971 LP Blue for its chromatic title. In an interview around the time of Red’s release, the country-pop titan gushed over Blue’s impact on her, telling Rhapsody, "[Mitchell] wrote it about her deepest pains and most haunting demons. Songs like ‘River,’ which is just about her regrets and doubts of herself — I think this album is my favorite because it explores somebody’s soul so deeply."

Back in 2015, TIME declared the "Blank Space" singer a "disciple of Mitchell in ways both obvious and subtle" — from her reflective songwriting to the complete ownership over her creative process, and nearly 10 years later, Swift was still showing her appreciation for Mitchell after the latter’s triumphant and emotional appearance on the GRAMMY stage to perform "Both Sides Now" on the very same night Taylor took home her historic fourth GRAMMY for Album Of The Year for Midnights.

Fall Out Boy & Paramore

When releasing the re-recording of her third album Speak Now in 2023, Swift cited two unexpectedly emo acts as inspirations to her early songwriting: Fall Out Boy and Paramore

"Since Speak Now was all about my songwriting, I decided to go to the artists who I feel influenced me most powerfully as a lyricist at that time and ask them to sing on the album," she wrote in an Instagram post revealing the back cover and complete tracklist for Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), which included Fall Out Boy collaboration "Electric Touch" and "Castles Crumbling" featuring Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams.

Tim McGraw

For one of Swift’s original career inspirations, we have to go all the way back to the very first single she ever released. "Tim McGraw" was not only as the lead single off the 16-year-old self-titled 2006 debut album, but it also paid reverent homage to one of the greatest living legends in the history of country music. 

In retrospect, it was an incredibly gutsy risk for a then-unknown Swift to come raring out of the gate with a song named after a country superstar. But the gamble clearly paid off in spades, considering that now, when an entire generation of music fans hear "Tim McGraw," they think of Taylor Swift.

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