searchsearch
How Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Burna Boy & More Made History At The 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show

Beyoncé (L), Megan Thee Stallion (R)

Photo by Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

news

How Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Burna Boy & More Made History At The 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show

At the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show, Beyoncé became the most-awarded woman in GRAMMY history, Taylor Swift became the first female musician to win Album Of The Year three times, and other winners made history in their own ways

GRAMMYs/Mar 17, 2021 - 01:23 am

By now, the reviews are in: critics are calling the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show one of the strongest in recent memory, if not the strongest. That’s partly because we saw history made in real time. Beyoncé became the most-awarded woman in GRAMMY history, Taylor Swift became the first woman to win Album Of The Year three times, and Megan Thee Stallion—our Best New Artist—acted as an empowering avatar for the female-led pop vanguard.

As GRAMMY season winds down, let’s examine the ways in which the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show was historic.

All Hail Queen Bey...

Now that she's won more GRAMMYs than the bluegrass great Alison Krauss, Beyoncé is now the most-awarded female artist in GRAMMY history. (At 28, she’s tied with Quincy Jones.) And at nine, she was the most-nominated artist at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show.

...And Blue Ivy, Too!

At nine, Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy is now the second-youngest person to win a GRAMMY, for her writing credit on “Brown Skin Girl,” which won Best Music Video. (The youngest in GRAMMY history was eight-year-old Leah Peasall in 2001.)

Another Feather In Taylor Swift’s Cap

Taylor Swift previously won Album Of The Year for Fearless and 1989. Now, folklore marks a triage of wins in that vaunted category.

Fiona Apple’s First Win In 24 Years

Fiona Apple’s Fetch The Bolt Cutters, a critical favorite of 2020, won in the Best Rock Performance (“Shameika”) and Best Alternative Music categories—her first win since “Criminal” won Best Female Rock Vocal Performance back in 1997.

A Step Forward For Electronic Music

Kaytrananda is the first Black artist to win Best Dance/Electronic album, for BUBBA.

Burna Boy Leads The Global Music Charge

Last year, the GRAMMYs changed the Best World Music category’s title to the more inclusive Best Global Music Category. Burna Boy just became the first winner of this award for Twice As Tall, paving the way for brilliant global artists in 2022, 2023 and beyond!

10 Must-See Moments From The 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show, From Anderson .Paak To BTS To Megan Thee Stallion

Hip-Hop's Secret Weapon: Producer Boi-1da On Working With Kendrick, Staying Humble And Doing The Unorthodox
Boi-1da in Toronto in January 2023.

Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

interview

Hip-Hop's Secret Weapon: Producer Boi-1da On Working With Kendrick, Staying Humble And Doing The Unorthodox

The self-described "young veteran" producer, up for four awards at the 2023 GRAMMYs, including Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical, has his hand on songs by Drake, Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar. He spoke with GRAMMY.com about creating with hip-hop greats.

GRAMMYs/Feb 1, 2023 - 04:22 pm

If a rapper staying atop the mainstream for more than a decade is a herculean feat, then a producer doing the same is downright sisyphean. Boi-1da, the 36-year-old Canadian producer who netted four nominations at the 2023 GRAMMYs — including the coveted Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical — has risen to the very top of the industry, and remained there because he hasn’t lost the perspective from when he first started rolling the boulder up the hill

"I feel like my awareness is a lot of the reason I’ve been doing this for a long time, because I’m very socially aware of what’s going on and I can see," he tells GRAMMY.com. "In some rooms, you’ve got to find out what role you play. Sometimes, you've gotta play a bigger role. I find, working with newer artists, you have to play more of a mentoring role. But I find with other people, it’s about finding your use and being a utility." 

Boi-1da initially rose to prominence as one of Drake’s trusted beatsmiths and has his thumbprint on hits like "Best I Ever Had," "Over," and the GRAMMY-winning "God's Plan." His credits grew to include Rihanna's "Work" and Kanye West's Donda. Yet, even by these standards, 2022 was a banner year: Boi-1da contributed to Beyoncé’s Album of the Year nominee Renaissance ("Heated"), scored a pair of credits on Kendrick Lamar’s progressive, polarizing AOTY hopeful Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers ("N95," "Silent Hill"), and crafted the understated, elegant instrumental for Jack Harlow and Drake’s Best Rap Song contender "Churchill Downs." 

Hip-hop producers are often pigeonholed, but Boi-1da’s three biggest records from last year have virtually no sonic overlap. This malleability is the cornerstone of the self-described "young veteran"’s success, as he realized that eschewing one signature sound was the best way to remain in the zeitgeist.

"There have been many times where I’ve created sounds and it gets emulated and everybody starts doing it," he says. You’re liable to hear Boi-1da in every phylum of contemporary rap and pop music, from the horror movie menace of Nardo Wick’s "Wicked Freestyle," to Alessia Cara’s emphatic kiss-off "Lie to Me" to the bristling boom-bap of Freddie Gibb’s "Space Rabbit." More than 15 years into his career, Boi-1da continues to reinvent himself, and is gearing up to release his first solo studio album later in 2023.

Ahead of Music's Biggest Night, the GRAMMY-winning producer shared stories about working with Drake, Beyoncé, and Kendrick, as well as the importance of mentoring young talent, and why even after more than a dozen nominations, getting GRAMMY recognition still feels special.

This is your second time getting the Producer Of The Year nod after being nominated in 2019. What does that recognition mean to you and are there any ways it feels different than the first time?

I feel like it’s the highest honor as a producer. So I was extremely honored the first time and to be here again is even more of an honor. I’m not gonna lie, the first time I did it, I was going crazy and I was like, Man, that was so hard to even get nominated. I didn’t win the first time, so I was like, I’m gonna try equally hard and see if I can get back here. And by the grace of God, I’m back here again. You know, it just took a lot of hard work, a lot of putting my head down and making a lot of sacrifices.

What do you think has changed the most about the way you’ve approached making music since you were last nominated?

I think the growth point is truly the way I listen to music and the way I intake music. I’m learning to do that differently. I think the approach of creating is always the same for me, other than adding new elements, new sounds and whatnot. 

I feel like music is so different and it’s rapidly changing, so there’s a lot of adjustments. I feel like that’s the only thing that has really changed for me. I’ve been doing this for a long time; I feel like I’m kind of like a young veteran. Right now, there are a bunch of new kids growing up in this generation of music and their taste and style is totally different. I like to come left-field and do stuff unorthodox and different, so figuring out how to pivot and keep yourself relevant is what I’ve been doing.

The Daft Punk sample on that Drake and 21 Savage song "Circo Loco" feels like something the Boi-1da of 10 years ago wouldn’t have done.

Definitely. What I find today with a lot of music is people love extremely familiar samples over really straight-to-the-point beats. Not a lot of detail, something familiar, which is basically what we did with a song like "Circo Loco." The type of producer I am, I like to make beats; I’ll make one of five types of beats that sound the same, or use ideas that sound the same, and then I’ll move on.

That’s the way I’ve been able to stay relevant for so long, moving on from sounds. There have been many times where I’ve created sounds and it gets emulated and everybody starts doing it. You can be mad and sit there and be like, "Yo, everybody’s biting my style." I feel like I’m just that creative where I can move onto the next thing and be like "Okay, cool, you guys can have that. I’ll make something else."

It shows, because the three biggest songs you produced this year, "Heated," "Churchill Downs," and then "N95," those are wildly different poles in rap/R&B/pop music production. Were you and Drake already working on "Heated" when Beyoncé reached out?

Drake had been working with B; that was just an idea that we had started with Drake and he and B ended up finishing up the idea with me. I think Beyoncé added to the production as well.

I wasn’t around for the process of Beyoncé making that song, but I was heavily involved in the production. Whenever I work with Drake or someone like Beyoncé, it’s on easy mode. You have something they like, they usually know exactly what they want to do with it and you just trust ‘em completely. Sometimes, I’m hands off, I’m like, "Cool, y’all like it? Here you go. I know what you guys do and you guys do that."

The liner notes on a lot of your songs, like "I Got a Shot" off Jack’s album, that has a ton of people credited. Is there a level of ego sublimation with that where it’s like "You might not be able to hear my contributions in the final product, but I know that I did my part to get this song where it needs to go?"

[Jack Harlow] likes it to be a room full of producers. It’s like a band. We’d construct stuff and put it together. I have no ego when it comes to collaborating. I really just want the song to sound exactly how I want it to sound. If it takes 50 people to do that, then so be it. I’d rather it sounds the best that it can sound than like, "Oh, no, I’m getting lower publishing on this song."

It’s so fun to be in there with a bunch of people. You get that feeling of doing something and you see somebody else’s reaction and it just motivates you to be like, "Yeah, okay, I know what I’m doing." When I was younger, I’d sit in a room by myself and make music. That’s cool and all and I still do it, but it’s so much fun to be in a room of people with different energies. 

How did the "Churchill Downs" record come together?

When it comes to "Churchill Downs," I worked pretty closely with Jack. He and Drake are very good friends. Jack would always say, "Yo, I wanna do a song with Drake. Let’s make an idea." We were really and truly figuring it out. We were working in L.A. for some-odd weeks and I ended up going back home.

I went to a friend’s birthday party and he told me, "I’ve been working with this producer, I want you to hear some of his stuff." He gave me a flash drive…and it was full of samples. The first sample I heard was the one for "Churchill Downs." It sounded like a harp and a woman singing. I got home and chopped it up and did a little bounce to it and sent it over to my boy [TT] Audi, and he added some stuff to the beat and it was complete. 

I had sent it to Jack because he was still in the studio. He immediately fell in love with the beat. He played me his part in the song and said, "I really want Drake on this record." I was like, "S—, you’re homies with Drake, too. Just hit him. I’m pretty sure he’ll rock with this. It’s hard." They met up on their own and recorded that song together.

I was amazed looking back through stuff you were doing 10, 11 years ago that there were songs of yours that Kendrick was on back then. How has your creative relationship with Kendrick changed over the decade that you’ve known each other?

I’ve known Kendrick Lamar for a long time. I knew him actually before Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. I had met him through one of my good friends who actually signed him.  Our relationship hasn’t changed. Kendrick is one of the coolest guys ever. Me and him always lock in and create music together. We have tons of music that we’ve made together and he’s just a great dude. 

Kendrick really makes folks wait and wants to come with something that feels totally different and distinct with each new body of work. What was the direction that he was trying to push on Mr. Morale, and what did you bring to it?

When it comes to me working with Kendrick, it’s really just raw ideas and raw thoughts. A lot of the time, I’m not sure where it’s going or what he’s gonna do with it because I’m not really around for the song recording process. I like to sometimes just give artists…their own creative space and free-flow and whatnot. That’s why he’s one of my favorite guys to work with, because you go in there and it’s like, "Alright, what are we doing?" 

I didn’t really know what was gonna happen with ["N95"] and where he was gonna go with it lyrically. I just recall me, Jahaan [Sweet] and Sounwave in there, we had cooked up the idea and I was like, "Man, this sounds really dope but I’m not sure where it’s going." 

I ended up hearing it right before the album came out. We had done that before the pandemic and the pandemic happened and nobody saw each other for the longest time…and he did what he did to it. It’s always fun working with Kendrick because it’s just raw, it’s literally everybody doing whatever they wanna do and it meshing together.

You’ve done a lot through collaborations with Splice and people like Jahaan Sweet and WondaGurl, who’ve come up as proteges of yours. Why is taking that active role in mentorship and demystifying the production process important to you?

I didn’t have a mentor. I didn’t have YouTube, I didn’t have tutorials, I had to figure out everything [on my own]. I lived in Durham, Ontario, there was absolutely nothing to do, nothing going on. There was no way of reaching out to artists or reaching out to producers. So it’s like, if I could be some kind of mentor or do anything for anybody, I do it because I never had it. I know how it feels to be not heard and have to fight, tooth and claw, to get to where you gotta get to.

The feeling of serving and giving back is always rewarding, more rewarding than getting, to be honest. Remember, I had nothing, I came from Canada. People didn’t know we made hip-hop music in Canada or take us seriously. I’d go to America and people would ask me if there were polar bears where I live. But that’s the reason why I do it and I love it and I still continue to do it. I give bursaries to the highest music marks of my high school. I just always stay in tune and check stuff out. I love music and I love being around it and inspiring as much as I can.

You gotta stay in tune with the young guys, that’s the future right there. You’ve gotta [be] tapped in with them, because at the end of the day, it’s like you’re making music for them.

You’ve been nominated for 19 GRAMMYs, that’s staggering. Does that ever stop feeling special for you and the people in your circle, like Drake and 40?

No, it always feels great to be nominated and even win awards, as well. It just goes to show that sometimes, everybody that’s a human being will get into their head, especially as a musician. Especially someone like myself who has been doing it for a really long time, you sometimes question if you’re still doing the right thing, if you’re still dope. So literally being nominated for awards is a great feeling and [one] that will never get old to me. It lets me know that I’m still doing stuff that people love and heading in the right direction. 

Is there anything else you want to mention about what you’re working on in 2023?

I’m working on a compilation album right now. It’s gonna be really dope, a lot of your favorite artists, a lot of new artists you’ve never heard of. A lot of dope music and I’m really excited to finish it and put it out. 

It’s been in the works for a while. I’ve started and stopped it a few times because I’m really a perfectionist and I want to get it right. I’m not caring about numbers, I want to make the best project. I want people to hear it and be like "Wow, this is amazing." I care more about that than anything, which is why I’ve started and stopped it so many times. Music changes and I really just want to get it perfect.

Babyface Reflects On Collaborating With Whitney, Toni, Ella Mai & More: How The Legendary Hitmaker Learned To "Speak In Their Voices"

A Timeline Of Beyoncé's GRAMMY Moments, From Her First Win With Destiny's Child to Making History With 'Renaissance'
(L-R): Beyoncé in 2004, 2008, 2013, 2017, 2021

Photos {L-R): Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images, Kevin Mazur/WireImage, Jason Merritt/Getty Images, Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

feature

A Timeline Of Beyoncé's GRAMMY Moments, From Her First Win With Destiny's Child to Making History With 'Renaissance'

If Beyoncé wins four of the nine GRAMMYs she's nominated for at the 2023 GRAMMYs, she'll become the artist with the most GRAMMYs ever. Before the big night, take a look at her record-breaking 22-year history at the GRAMMY Awards.

GRAMMYs/Jan 31, 2023 - 04:00 pm

Two years after making GRAMMY history, Beyoncé could do it again at the 2023 GRAMMYs. She is currently tied with her husband, Jay-Z, for having the most nominations ever — 88 in total — and just four wins on Feb. 5 will make her the artist with the most GRAMMYs of all time.

While the 2023 GRAMMYs could potentially be her most memorable, Beyoncé has created an extensive history of GRAMMY moments. She has delivered epic live performances on her own and alongside icons like Prince and Tina Turner, and she's taken home six GRAMMYs in one night. And even if she doesn't win four awards on Feb. 5, Beyoncé already claims the title of most GRAMMYs won by a woman.

Starting from her first nominations with Destiny's Child in 2000, take a trip through Beyoncé's most memorable and impactful moments at Music's Biggest Night.

2000 — 42nd GRAMMY Awards

Nominations: Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal and Best Rhythm & Blues Song ("Bills, Bills, Bills") with Destiny's Child

Beyoncé's first red carpet appearance at the GRAMMYs was with fellow Destiny's Child members Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin (who was only part of the group for six months). The iteration of the group that was there that day was not the same group that received two nominations for "Bills, Bills, Bills" — that distinction goes to Beyoncé, Rowland, LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson

Beyoncé, Luckett and Rowland co-wrote the track with producer Kevin "She'kspeare" Briggs and Xscape singer Kandi Burruss, the latter of whom coincidentally won the GRAMMY for Best Rhythm & Blues Song that year for co-writing TLC's "No Scrubs" with Tameka "Tiny" Cottle.

2001 — 43rd GRAMMY Awards

Destiny's Child

Photo: Steve Granitz / Contributor / Getty Images

Wins: Best R&B Song ("Say My Name"), Best R&B Performance By A Duo or Group With Vocal ("Say My Name")

Nominations: Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year ("Say My Name"), Best Song Written For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media ("Independent Women Part I" From Charlie's Angels)

The first GRAMMY red carpet as a trio with Roland and Williams, the group wore matching silky gowns on the red carpet and "Survivor"-era green outfits backstage, all designed by Beyoncé's mother, Tina Knowles. 

Destiny's Child took home their first GRAMMYs that night, for Best R&B Performance By A Duo or Group With Vocal and Best R&B Song for "Say My Name," which was also nominated for Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year. 

Beyoncé also earned a Best Song Written For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media nomination for Destiny's Child's contribution to the 2000 film Charlie's Angels, "Independent Women Part I," which she co-wrote.

2002 — 44th GRAMMY Awards

Wins: Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal ("Survivor")

Nominations: Best R&B Album (Survivor)

Performance: "Quisiera Ser" with Alejandro Sanz

Destiny's Child's first performance at the GRAMMYs was to duet with Latin star Alejandro Sanz on "Quisiera Ser." They provided supporting vocals and Beyoncé added some English lyrics to his Spanish song. 

The group's own international hit "Survivor," an anthem about thriving as the trio, won a GRAMMY for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, and the Survivor album was nominated for Best R&B Album.

2004 — 46th GRAMMY Awards

Wins: Best Female R&B Vocal Performance ("Dangerously In Love 2"), Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals ("The Closer I Get To You") with Luther Vandross, Best R&B Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("Crazy In Love"), Best Contemporary R&B Album (Dangerously In Love)

Nominations: Record Of The Year ("Crazy In Love")

Performance: "Purple Rain," "Baby I'm a Star," "Let's Go Crazy" and "Crazy In Love" with Prince

After dazzling in a gold Tina Knowles dress on the red carpet, Beyoncé opened the show alongside Prince with a medley of his hits "Purple Rain," "Let's Go Crazy" and "Baby I'm a Star," with a dash of her own "Crazy In Love." 

She accepted her first five GRAMMYs as a solo artist, including Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Dangerously In Love 2" — which she also performed — Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals for "The Closer I Get To You" with Luther Vandross, Best Contemporary R&B Album for Dangerously In Love and two wins for "Crazy In Love" (Best R&B Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration). 

2005 — 47th GRAMMY Awards

Nomination: Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals ("Lose My Breath")

Destiny's Child celebrated another global smash earning a GRAMMY nomination with "Lose My Breath." The lead single from Destiny Fulfilled — their final studio album — received a nomination for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals. 

Beyoncé and Rowland co-produced "Lose My Breath" with hitmakers Rodney Jerkins (who also helmed "Say My Name" and "Cater 2 U" from Destiny Fulfilled), and Sean Garrett, who later co-produced Bey solo singles including "Check On It," "Get Me Bodied," "Ring The Alarm" and "Upgrade U" with Swizz Beatz.

2006 — 48th GRAMMY Awards

Win: Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals ("So Amazing") with Stevie Wonder

Nominations: Best Contemporary R&B Album (Destiny Fulfilled), Best Female R&B Vocal Performance ("Wishing On A Star"), Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals ("Cater 2 U"), Best R&B Song ("Cater 2 U"), Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("Soldier")

Beyoncé and Stevie Wonder won a GRAMMY for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals for "So Amazing," a cover of the song Luther Vandross wrote for Dionne Warwick in 1983 and recorded himself three years later. Bey also received a solo nomination for her cover of Rose Royce's "Wishing On A Star" on her Live at Wembley album. 

Meanwhile, Destiny's Child closed out their time as a group with four more nominations, bringing their career total to 14. Although the group had announced in June 2005 that they would be disbanding to pursue solo ventures, they assembled on the GRAMMY stage one last time — igniting eruptive applause — to present the golden gramophone for Song Of The Year, which went to U2 for "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own."

2007 — 49th GRAMMY Awards

Win: Best Contemporary R&B Album (B'Day)

Nominations: Best Female R&B Vocal Performance ("Ring The Alarm"), Best R&B Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("Deja Vu")

Performance: "Listen" 

Beyoncé performed "Listen," her original song that she also sang as the lead role of Deena Jones in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Dreamgirls.

She went home a GRAMMY winner again that night, as her second album, B'Day, was victorious as Best Contemporary R&B Album. Two of the album's singles earned nominations as well: "Ring The Alarm" for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and "Deja Vu" for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.

2008 — 50th GRAMMY Awards

Wins: Best Compilation Soundtrack (Dreamgirls

Nominations: Record Of The Year ("Irreplaceable"), Best Pop Collaboration ("Beautiful Liar") with Shakira

Performance: "Proud Mary" with Tina Turner

Continuing her streak of performing live with legends at the GRAMMYs, Beyoncé joined Tina Turner onstage to sing a fierce rendition of "Proud Mary" and achieve one of her personal bucket-list moments. 

"She's my hero and my icon," she said of Turner at an after party. "It was crazy. I went in the room [after] and I just bawled because I couldn't believe it.”

Dreamgirls won Best Compilation Soundtrack that night, while "Irreplaceable" was nominated for Record Of The Year and "Beautiful Liar," her collaboration with Colombian star Shakira from B'Day, received a nomination for Best Pop Collaboration.

2009 — 51st GRAMMY Awards

Nomination: Best Female R&B Vocal Performance ("Me, Myself & I")

A top 10 hit that was co-produced by Beyoncé and Scott Storch, "Me, Myself & I" touts the benefits of self-care, of being one's "own best friend" and not taking the blame in the face of a partner's infidelity. The relatable song was nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

2010 — 52nd GRAMMY Awards

Wins: Song Of The Year, Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance ("Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)"), Best Female Pop Vocal Performance ("Halo"), Best Contemporary R&B Album (I Am… Sasha Fierce), Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance ("At Last" from Cadillac Records: Music From The Motion Picture)

Nominations: Record Of The Year ("Halo"), Album Of The Year (I Am... Sasha Fierce), Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("Ego"), Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media ("Once In A Lifetime" from Cadillac Records: Music From The Motion Picture)

Performance: "If I Were a Boy" 

Backed by an army of male dancers, Beyoncé's live performance of "If I Were a Boy" included an even more unexpected moment. At the song's climax, she switched to the chorus from "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morrissette, the 1996 GRAMMY winner for Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.

Bey won an impressive six GRAMMYs in 2010, including three for "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)." She also earned a nomination for her portrayal of Etta James in the 2008 film Cadillac Records, as Beyoncé's version of "At Last" won Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance.

2011 — 53rd GRAMMY Awards

Nominations: Best Female Pop Vocal Performance ("Halo (Live)"), Album Of The Year (The Fame Monster), Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals ("Telephone") with Lady Gaga

Several of Beyoncé's GRAMMY nominations have been for live songs as well as songs with other artists. At the 2011 GRAMMYs, she celebrated nominations for both: "Halo (Live)," which appears on the live album I Am… Yours: An Intimate Performance at Wynn Las Vegas, was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and her collaboration with Lady Gaga, "Telephone," earned Beyoncé two nominations. 

2012 — 54th GRAMMY Awards

Nominations: Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("Party") and Best Longform Music Video (I Am… World Tour)

"Party," a duet with André 3000 from OutKast, is a highlight from Beyoncé's 4 album for its infectious chorus and the sheer rarity of scoring a verse from Three Stacks. The GRAMMYs recognized this dream team with a nomination for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Bey also received her first-ever nomination in the Best Longform Music Video category for I Am…World Tour. The film includes her singing "If I Were a Boy" with a few measures of "You Oughta Know," just like she did in her 2010 GRAMMYs performance.

2013 — 55th GRAMMY Awards

Win: Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Love On Top")

Beyoncé's 17th GRAMMY win occurred in the Premiere Ceremony for the 2013 GRAMMYs, which she and husband Jay-Z did not attend. So when Jimmy Jam announced that Beyoncé had won Best Traditional R&B Performance for "Love On Top," he jokingly offered to drop off the GRAMMY along with the awards Jay-Z won at the ceremony.

"They live in the same place, it's all good," Jam smiled. "Economical!"

2014 — 56th GRAMMY Awards

Beyoncé and Jay-Z

Photo: Frederic J. Brown / Getty Images


Nomination: Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("Part II (On The Run)") with Jay-Z

Performance: "Drunk In Love" with Jay-Z

Smoke billowed across the stage as Beyoncé opened the 2014 GRAMMYs with an intimate live performance of "Drunk In Love," joined by her husband Jay-Z for what may just be the sexiest performance of their careers.

Although "Drunk In Love" wasn't nominated until the following year, the couple did celebrate a nomination in 2014 for "Part II (On The Run)," from Jay's album Magna Carta Holy Grail. Backstage, Bey's long white Michael Costello gown got cameras clicking and slayed style watchers, a standout among all of her GRAMMY fits.

2015 — 57th GRAMMY Awards

Wins: Best R&B Performance ("Drunk In Love"), Best R&B Song ("Drunk In Love"), Best Surround Sound Album (Beyoncé)

Nominations: Album Of The Year (Beyoncé), Best Contemporary Album (Beyoncé), Best Music Film (Beyoncé and Jay-Z: On The Run Tour)

Performance: "Take My Hand, Precious Lord"

After the previous year's racy performance of "Drunk In Love" that opened the show, Beyoncé took a markedly more pious approach with her musical number in 2015. Backed by an all-male choir, she sang "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," a gospel classic written by Thomas A. Dorsey in 1932. In a now-deleted behind-the-scenes video posted on her website, she explained that the performance was meant as a statement around police brutality and civil unrest in the wake of the murders of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, among others.

"My grandparents marched with Dr. King, and my father was part of the first generation of Black men that attended an all-white school," Beyoncé said. "My father has grown up with a lot of trauma from those experiences. I feel like now I can sing for his pain, I can sing for my grandparents' pain. I can sing for some of the families that have lost their sons."

During her three wins, fans saw her show some rare PDA with Jay-Z. The pair shared a kiss when they won Best R&B Performance for "Drunk In Love."

Two days after the 2015 GRAMMYs, Beyoncé also took part in a star-studded salute to Stevie Wonder for the CBS special "Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life — An All-Star Grammy Salute," which aired on Feb. 15, 2015. She sang a medley of "Fingertips," "Master Blaster" and "Higher Ground" alongside Ed Sheeran and Gary Clark Jr.

2016 — 58th GRAMMY Awards

In a year when she didn't have eligible work in the running, Beyoncé still made international waves when she appeared at the GRAMMYs in a white wedding-like gown. She wasn't there to get married, though — she presented the award for Record Of The Year to Bruno Mars for his hit song "Uptown Funk."

"Let's go, Beyoncé, let's do it!" Mars playfully yelled from the audience, just before she said his name.

2017 — 59th GRAMMY Awards

Wins: Best Contemporary Urban Album (Lemonade), Best Music Video ("Formation")

Nominations: Album Of The Year (Lemonade), Best Music Film (Lemonade), Record Of The Year ("Formation"), Song Of The Year ("Formation"), Best Pop Solo Performance ("Hold Up"), Best Rock Performance ("Don't Hurt Yourself"), Best Rap/Sung Performance ("Freedom") 

Performance: "Love Drought" and "Sandcastles"

Beyoncé dressed like a goddess while pregnant with twins Rumi and Sir Carter to perform "Love Drought" and "Sandcastles," songs from her multi-nominated (and GRAMMY-winning) album and music film Lemonade. Her kids were at the forefront of her mind during her acceptance speech for Best Contemporary Urban Album.

"It's important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror — first through their own families, as well as the news, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the White House and the GRAMMYs — and see themselves," she said.

Later, in an unexpected — and instantly viral — moment, Adele dedicated her acceptance speech for Album Of The Year to effusively praising Beyoncé and the Lemonade album, which was also nominated in the category.

"You are our light!" Adele exclaimed, calling Lemonade her album of the year.

2018 — 60th GRAMMY Awards

Nomination: Best Rap/Sung Performance ("Family Feud")

It was all in the family when Beyoncé, Jay-Z and their then 6-year-old daughter Blue Ivy Carter sat together at the GRAMMYs in 2018 — though Blue's parents were ironically nominated for a song called "Family Feud" from Jay's 4:44 album. In a clip that went viral, a camera caught Blue seemingly motioning for them to stop clapping. The world fell in love with her commanding presence at that very moment.

2019 — 61st GRAMMY Awards

Win: Best Urban Contemporary Album (Everything Is Love)

Nominations: Best R&B Performance ("Summer"), Best Music Video ("Apes<em></em>*")

Beyoncé's 2019 win and nominations were given for her collaborations with Jay-Z in their Everything Is Love album. The Carters won Best Urban Contemporary Album with the nine-song album, which they co-produced with Leon Michels and Cool & Dre. They also were nominated for Best R&B Performance for "Summer" as well as Best Music Video for "Apes<em></em>*," a bold piece which they filmed in front of the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Great Sphinx of Tanis and other seminal works displayed in Paris' Louvre.

2020 — 62nd GRAMMY Awards

Win: Best Music Film (Homecoming)

Nominations: Best Pop Solo Performance ("Spirit"), Best Song Written for Visual Media ("Spirit"), Best Pop Vocal Album (The Lion King: The Gift

Homecoming offers an intimate look at the best onstage and behind-the-scenes moments from Beyoncé's massive headline sets at Coachella in 2018. Performed over two consecutive weekends, her show at the Southern California desert festival pays homage to the great Southern bands from HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). There's also a brief but thrilling Destiny's Child reunion, as well as plenty of Easter eggs for Southern rap fans in the form of instrumental and lyrical riffs and snippets weaved into her hits. 

Two additional nominations recognized her work for The Lion King: The Gift. She voiced Nala in the film.

2021 — 63rd GRAMMY Awards

Wins: Best R&B Performance ("Black Parade"), Best Music Video ("Brown Skin Girl"), Best Rap Performance ("Savage") and Best Rap Song ("Savage") with Megan Thee Stallion

Nominations: Record Of The Year ("Savage") and Record Of The Year ("Savage") with Megan Thee Stallion, Best R&B Song and Song Of The Year ("Black Parade"), Best Music Film (Black Is King)

Beyoncé's Best R&B Performance win made her the performing artist with the most career GRAMMY wins in history. (She's tied with producer Quincy Jones, and Georg Solti, who has more wins, was a conductor and not a performer.) She also became the woman with the most GRAMMY wins that night.

During her acceptance speech, she shared that she's worked hard since she was 9 years old and congratulated her daughter — also 9 at the time — for scoring her first GRAMMY. Blue stars in the video for "Brown Skin Girl," the Best Music Video winner.

"It has been such a difficult time so I wanted to uplift, encourage, and celebrate all of the beautiful Black queens and kings that continue to inspire me and inspire the whole world," Beyoncé added about her Black Is King project. 

Bey also appeared onstage with fellow Houstonian Megan Thee Stallion, who couldn't contain her excitement about sharing the stage — and two GRAMMYs — with her hometown hero. "I love her work ethic, I love the way she is, I love the way she carry herself," Megan said. "My momma will always be like, 'Megan, what would Beyoncé do?' And I'm always like, 'You know what? What would Beyoncé do, but let me make it a little ratchet.'"

2023 — 65th GRAMMY Awards

Nominations: Record Of The Year ("Break My Soul"), Song Of The Year ("Break My Soul"), Best Dance/Electronic Music Album (Renaissance), Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Plastic Off The Sofa"), Best Song Written For Visual Media ("Be Alive" from King Richard), Album Of The Year (Renaissance), Best Dance/Electronic Music Recording ("Break My Soul"), Best R&B Performance ("Virgo's Groove"), Best R&B Song ("Cuff It")

Beyoncé could make even more GRAMMY history in 2023. If she wins four awards out of her nine nominations, she will become the artist with the most GRAMMYs of all time with 32, which would surpass the late Georg Solti's record 31. Tune in on Feb. 5 to see if Queen Bey breaks yet another GRAMMY record!

2023 GRAMMYs Performers Announced: Bad Bunny, Lizzo, Sam Smith, Steve Lacy, Mary J. Blige & More Confirmed

Songbook: How Mary J. Blige Became The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Through Empathy, Attitude And An Open Heart
Mary J. Blige

Photos: (L to R): Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc; Ethan Miller/Getty Images; KMazur/WireImage; Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

list

Songbook: How Mary J. Blige Became The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Through Empathy, Attitude And An Open Heart

With 14 albums and nine GRAMMYs under her belt, Mary J. Blige puts no limitations on the music she creates. Explore her extensive catalog of hits, soundtrack favorites, stunning covers and impactful remixes.

GRAMMYs/Jan 30, 2023 - 06:26 pm

Mary J. Blige’s tireless work ethic, extraordinary singing talent and soul-level relatability are the secret ingredients to her longevity as a recording artist. Her discography includes nine GRAMMY wins and 37 nominations, and the multi-hyphenate artist continues to demonstrate that there's no limit to her creativity.

Blige is nominated for six awards at the 2023 GRAMMYs, including Album Of The Year and Best R&B Album for Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe). The title track is nominated in three categories: Record Of The Year, Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best R&B Song, and "Here With Me" is up for Best R&B Performance.

Good Morning Gorgeous encapsulates the true self-love Blige felt after healing from divorce, abusive relationships and depression. As she explains on an album interlude "good morning gorgeous" is the affirmation Blige now says to herself in the mornings — and, for the first time, she believes it. And when it comes to the odds of adding to her GRAMMY wins on Feb. 5, it’s safe to wager that Blige thinks they’re sound.

"Bet on me, why not?" Blige sings in the chorus of the album’s "On Top." "Don’t act like I never left on top."

For her resonant musical messages, Blige has been crowned the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. But  she’s also an industry professional who deftly sets and iterates on trends, keeping even her earliest releases relevant and exciting. 

Blige became a record label boss when she released Good Morning Gorgeous as a joint venture between Lyor Cohen’s 300 Entertainment and her own Mary Jane Productions. She’s a frequent executive producer of her albums and multimedia projects and is set to executive produce two fictional films for Lifetime in 2023 through her production company Blue Butterfly. Real Love and Strength of a Woman are both named for her songs. Real Love is described as a romantic drama set in an upstate New York college. 

After more than 30 years of recording, Blige has amassed an acclaimed and extensive discography of consummate original classics, deep soundtrack cuts, scene-stealing covers and remixes. Press play on the Amazon Music playlist above and use the below guide as a diving board into a career full of the empathetic pain, healing, promise and happiness that she has shared with unflinching honesty and vulnerability.

The Queen Of Hip-Hop Soul

Blige was living in a housing project in Yonkers, N.Y. when the late Andre Harrell signed her to his Uptown Records, which released her 1992 debut album, What’s The 411? Harrell coined the nickname Queen of Hip-Hop Soul to describe the fresh way Blige's music melded rap beats with R&B hooks.

Harrell and his then-intern Sean Combs gave her a rugged style to match her music, with boots and baseball caps instead of heels and sparkles. Young women from the inner city saw themselves in Blige's aesthetic and in her rawness.

Yet admiration for Blige’s powerful vocals and unique tone grew before her name was ever recognized. Blige was first heard as a backup singer for Father MC’s 1990 hit "I'll Do 4 U" and, the following year, her own single "You Remind Me" (from the Strictly Business soundtrack) gave Blige some street buzz to lead into What’s The 411? The hip-hop swagger of "Real Love" — which samples "Top Billin'" by Audio Two, a beat highly familiar to New York City fans at the time — served as her formal introduction to the world and remains a calling card decades later.

The My Life Era (Extended Mix)

Contrary to the music industry’s sophomore slump stereotype, Blige’s second album is a seminal work. 1994's My Life became career-defining, and an album that she has subsequently reflected on to show her growth.

The album is a reflection of her volatile relationship with singer Cedric "K-Ci" Hailey, Blige explained in Mary J. Blige’s My Life, a documentary she executive produced for Amazon Studios in honor of the album’s 25th anniversary. Throughout, Blige keenly pairs heights of happiness with depths of her despair on songs like "You Bring Me Joy," "I’m Goin’ Down," "I Love You" and "Be Happy." 

"The whole 'My Life' album is, 'Please love me, don’t go, I need you,'" she said in the documentary. Combs, then known as Puffy, continued: "When she made that album, she was fighting for her heart." (Combs and Harrell served as executive producers of My Life.)

Blige and Combs never collaborated quite so closely again, though they remained friends. Combs didn’t produce 2011’s My Life II… The Journey Continues (Act 1), but he appears in a telephone skit to open the album, similarly to how he did on My Life. The sequel features guest stars such as Nas, Beyoncé and Drake.

Though her earlier works hinted at the potential, My Life most firmly established Blige as a beacon for hurt hearts everywhere. In a 2021 interview with Trevor Noah, Blige described how childhood physical and mental abuse, as well as her relationship with Hailey, led to substance abuse and depression. When she used the songs on My Life as a way of saying she needed help, "four million people responded and said, ‘'We need help, too.'"

Covers, Collaborations And Remixes

Cover songs have been an acclaimed — and long-lasting — part of Blige’s career ever since she sang "Sweet Thing" by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan on What’s The 411? Blige released her hugely popular version of Rose Royce’s "I’m Goin’ Down" in 1994, which reached No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100, and she beat Beyoncé to the punch in 2000 with her take on Maze’s "Before I Let Go."

But her ascension to rock star status has a lot to do with her scene-stealing covers of songs of stadium-level acts. Blige has delivered epic versions of songs by Led Zeppelin ("Stairway To Heaven") and Sting ("Whenever I Say Your Name"), and when she collaborated with U2 on a new version of "One," there’s an audible battle with Bono as to whose song this is now.

Blige collaborates with rap, R&B, rock, country, electronic and classical artists with equal ease, and her discography includes work with late legends, including "Holdin’ On" with Aretha Franklin and a cover of Stevie Wonder’s "As" with George Michael. She won her first career GRAMMY in 1995 for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group for "I'll Be There For You / You're All I Need To Get By," a collaboration with Method Man that covers Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

A dance music collaboration with London duo Disclosure called "F for You" in 2013 helped to catalyze an entire album from the Capital of England called The London Sessions. The 2014 album features a second collaboration with Disclosure ("Right Now"), a cameo from UK garage DJ/producer MJ Cole ("Nobody But You") and guest vocals from Scottish singer Emeli Sandé ("Whole Damn Year").

Blige has long understood the potency of both hip-hop and dance music remixes, which remain a part of her single roll-outs. Over the years, she created a remix album of songs from What’s The 411?, and in 2002 released club-focused reworks of songs from No More Drama, Mary and Share My World on Dance For Me

Blige's remixes also pay homage. On her cover of First Choice’s "Let No Man Put Asunder," Blige honors singers who came before by featuring guest vocals from the group's lead singer, Rochelle Fleming.

Her Rap Alter Ego

Blige has rapped a few times on her albums, beginning with a verse in "Love," from 2001’s No More Drama. She won her first solo GRAMMY for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 2003 for "He Think I Don't Know" from No More Drama. By the time she rhymed on "Enough Cryin’" and "Take Me As I Am" (both from 2005’s The Breakthrough), her rap alter ego had a name: Brook Lynn.

Her cadence caught the ear of her friend Busta Rhymes, who recruited Blige for his "Touch It (Remix)" the next year. "The haters plot and they watch, lookin’ all pale/While I’m on a yacht overseas, doin’ my nails," she raps alongside Busta, Missy Elliott and Rah Digga.

Brook Lynn took a hiatus for a few years after that, but she came back blazing in 2011. "Homegirls love me and we be ridin' Phantoms/Mad chicks hate me 'cause I be writin' anthems," she rhymes on "Midnight Drive" from My Life II… The Journey Continues (Act 1)

The Soundtracks

Since "You Remind Me," her first Top 40 entry, appeared on the soundtrack to Strictly Business, Blige has written stunning original songs such as "I Can See in Color" for Precious (2009). She has also licensed other hits to dozens of movies.

After years of contributing to soundtracks, Blige created her own as executive producer and performer of the soundtrack for Think Like a Man Too (2014), which includes a cover of Shalamar’s "A Night to Remember" and guest appearances by Pharrell Williams and The-Dream.

Blige has been cast in several acting roles since she guest starred in an episode of The Jamie Foxx Show in 1998 and has played fictional characters as well as real life figures Betty Shabazz (Betty and Coretta) and Dinah Washington (Respect). She received Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song for her work on 2017 film Mudbound.

More than 30 years into her recording career, Blige appears happy, energized and ready to add more hits and heartfelt anthems to her songbook.

Songbook: A Guide To Whitney Houston's Iconic Discography, From Her '80s Pop Reign To Soundtrack Smashes

The Taylor Swift Essentials: 13 Songs That Display Her Storytelling Prowess And Genre-Bouncing Genius
Taylor Swift in 2021, 2013, 2010, 2016, and 2009

PHOTOS (CLOCKWISE, L-R): KEVIN MAZUR/GETTY IMAGES FOR THE RECORDING ACADEMY, JEFF KRAVITZ/FILMMAGIC, MICHAEL CAULFIELD/GETTY IMAGES, CLIFF LIPSON/CBS VIA GETTY IMAGES, KEVIN MAZUR/WIREIMAGE

news

The Taylor Swift Essentials: 13 Songs That Display Her Storytelling Prowess And Genre-Bouncing Genius

Ahead of the 2023 GRAMMYs on Feb. 5 and Taylor Swift's "The Eras Tour" kicking off in March, revisit these 13 hits and beloved classics by the 11-time GRAMMY winner.

GRAMMYs/Jan 26, 2023 - 04:00 pm

We're all under Taylor Swift's spell. From her poppy radio hits to her crying-on-the-floor anthems, her discography is as enthralling as it is extensive. She enchants with stories about not just heartbreak and lost loves, but also about wider reflections on life — self-worth, fame, politics, family, moving on, change.

Though Swift emerged as a country icon in high school, she has leapt across genres with ease in the years since, mastering them as well as shaping them. Whether she's busy conquering synth pop or molding indie folk, her songwriting cultivates a divine magic, one that merges reality and fiction with profound intimacy.

After expanding her sonic universe further with Midnights last year, Swift will kick off her "Eras Tour" in March. Simply the name of her tour indicates the expanse and power of her musical career thus far: as she bridges her eras, she builds her legacy.

Her legacy receives a unique nod through her four nominations for the 2023 GRAMMYs: while Swift is nominated for her Where The Crawdads Sing track, "Carolina," she's also nominated for songs that she wrote years ago, around the time of her original Red release. And just this month, Midnights' "Anti-Hero" broke Swift's personal record for her longest-running No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, further proving that she hasn't lost her touch.

By cherishing her past while continuing to mold her musical future, Swift strikingly dominates with staying power. Ahead of the 2023 GRAMMYs and Swift's upcoming "The Eras Tour," here are 13 tracks that highlight Swift's evolution up to Midnights, honoring her trailblazing creativity and versatility.

"Our Song," Taylor Swift (2006)

A song about a song, how meta of Swift. One of her earliest meta songwriting moves, "Our Song" encapsulates a relationship's everlasting beauty with the warm breeziness of riding shotgun. Its lighthearted conversational lyricism emits an infectious joy that helped introduce Swift as a songwriter who is both relatable and captivating.

The banjo-led tune establishes the singer's country roots with a casual, but vivid image: Swift grinning with her elbow on the car door, hair windswept with the windows down. She may have written "Our Song" for a talent show back in high school, but Swift clearly had the songwriting prowess of a superstar — one that grew well beyond freshman year.

"White Horse," Fearless (2008)

Just two tracks after the whirlwind romance of "Love Story," Swift finds herself closing her fairytale storybook to disappointment. While "White Horse" sees the singer question her self-worth and cradle her crushed dreams, the heartbreaking track ended up earning Swift two GRAMMY Awards for Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 2010. (The singer scored her first GRAMMY wins that year, taking home four GRAMMYs total. To date, Taylor Swift has won 11 GRAMMYs and received 42 nominations overall.)

Although the acoustic ballad wallows in sorrow, gloom eventually blooms into a necessary epiphany: "I'm gonna find someone someday who might actually treat me well," Swift realizes in the final chorus. In this way, "White Horse" prevails as one of the singer's most powerful ballads to date — and judging by what Swift has said about Midnights track "Lavender Haze," that realization has come true.

"Forever & Always," Fearless (2008)

"Forever & Always" is arguably one of Fearless' staple tracks, but what many fans may not know is that the timeless track almost didn't make the album. The pop-rock anthem track sees Swift denounce a hypocritical ex who misled her, and she criticizes them with a slew of questions she already knows the answers to: "Were you just kidding?" "Was I out of line?" "Did you forget everything?" From distress to confusion to anger, the song bursts with warranted rage at a betrayal, cementing Swift as a master of channeling heartbreak.

"Enchanted," Speak Now (2010)

Long before "Enchanted" spiraled into one of Swift's many viral TikTok moments, the Speak Now deep cut bewitched listeners from the second it arrived more than a decade ago. The song hums with anticipation, with early acoustic guitar later giving way to overwhelming yearning and anthemic production.

The way the song progresses is almost like a fairytale, starting with a longing stare and playful conversation before ending with a rosy-cheeked walk home. It's a near-perfect display of Swift's ability to capture an incisive, fleeting romance in song, from the smitten lyrics to cinematic production. And though the love song serves more of a captivating cliffhanger than a finished chapter, its story still leaves listeners blushing all the way home.

"Back To December," Speak Now (2010)

On Speak Now's "Back to December," Swift sifts through wilting roses and missed birthdays to unearth a sorrowful confession. As she comes to terms with her regret over ending a healthy relationship, the track swells with guilt and sincerity. While many of Swift's preceding romantic songs were characterized by longing or criticism, "Back to December" takes the rare form of a bittersweet, candid apology that exhibits maturity and grace.

"Mean," Speak Now (2010)

Complete with banjo and fiddle, "Mean" isn't just the only country-driven track on Speak Now, but it's also one of the last truly classic country songs of her catalog. The album's spunky sixth track goes down as one of Swift's most beautifully berating to date — even alongside "Look What You Made Me Do," "Bad Blood," and "Picture to Burn" — as she lambastes a cruel critic and realizes her self-worth.

Ironically, the Swift track that most put haters on blast is one of her most critically acclaimed, as the song won Swift two GRAMMY Awards for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song in 2012. "Mean" also thrives as a manifestation — she has certainly become big enough that they can't hit her.

"Blank Space," 1989 (2014)

Nice to meet you, where you been? Swift's 1989 era submerged the singer in heavy synth and kaleidoscopic pop, and the record's exuberant second single "Blank Space" best flaunts Swift's multifaceted artist persona. The illustrious pop song satirizes the media's image of Swift as a serial dater, coasting with a sultry liveliness before escalating into ferocity.

Swift is scathingly and brilliantly self-aware as she acknowledges the world's view of her reputation: "Got a long list of ex-lovers/ They'll tell you I'm insane/ 'Cause you know I love the players/ And you love the game."

She continued poking fun at the "crazy ex-girlfriend" trope in the music video, from wrecking her former lover's car to setting his clothes on fire. The cleverly self-deprecating narrative (and genius visual) helped "Blank Space" become Swift's biggest streaming song to date, garnering a whopping 3 billion views on YouTube alone. 

Accolades aside, "Blank Space" marked an important turning point for Swift. It was the first time she used her autobiographical songwriting style to take the power back — and most importantly, prove that no matter what is said about her, she'll keep cranking out the hits.

"Don't Blame Me," reputation (2017)

Defiance defines "Don't Blame Me," the fourth track from Swift's intrepid — and perhaps most unexpected — album reputation. The track personifies catharsis, uplifted by heavy bass and hard-hitting synth. Although the song is loosely about an intoxicating love, its ambition also represents Swift reclaiming her narrative once again.

Drawing comparisons to Madonna's "Like a Prayer" and Hozier's "Take Me to Church," the song marks more than moody melodrama, but shamelessly moving forward. Amid public quarrels with other celebrities — as well as the tabloids' obsession with her personal life — she makes a very definitive statement: don't blame her.

"Cruel Summer," Lover (2019)

"Cruel Summer" strikes Swift's discography in a zealous way, recalling the dreamy worlds of 1989's "Style" or reputation's "Getaway Car." The song sees Swift reminisce about a whirlwind summer romance with bittersweet intensity.

The track's assertive, immaculate electropop writhes irresistibly as Swift navigates the stark pain of secrets and love. Everything about "Cruel Summer" is sharp and exquisite, and the way its bridge bursts with melodramatic vigor is enough alone to make this a vital Swift track, even if it wasn't a single.

"the last great american dynasty," folklore (2020)

"the last great american dynasty" flourishes as one of Swift's most lucid, exquisite storytelling ventures — and as any Swiftie knows, that's saying something.

Reading like a short story, the crisp indie track recounts the life of American socialite Rebekah Harkness, one of the former owners of Swift's Rhode Island mansion. Swift weaves the past and present together seamlessly, drawing parallels between herself and Harkness with vivid detail and keen clarity. On this folklore track, Swift presents a refreshing creative vision by flaunting a new, innovative facet of her songwriting prowess.

"betty," folklore (2020)

Swift's first indie-folk foray, folklore, spins a tantalizing fictional love triangle across three tracks: "cardigan," "august," and "betty." The latter shimmers with reflective hope and heartache from the perspective of a character named James.

The apologetic, harmonica-driven folk rock track is reminiscent of Swift's earlier, country-rooted music — yet, the way its intricate narration uniquely interlocks with other album tracks is more characteristic of Swift's modern storytelling craft. Swinging between lighthearted and forlorn, "betty" cements Swift as a mystical mastermind.

"All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)," Red (Taylor's Version) (2021)

Swift's "All Too Well (10 Minute Version)" might very well be her magnum opus. Although the original beloved song from Red was never released as a single, it emerged as a fan favorite for its tragic retelling of visceral heartbreak. And once Swift released a new — and much longer — 10-minute edition of the gut-wrenching track on Red (Taylor's Version) nearly a decade later, it almost instantly became the fan favorite.

The song broke the Guinness World Record for being the longest song to reach No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 (beating out Don McLean's "American Pie"!), and its cinematic music video "All Too Well: The Short Film" continued to stretch the Swift multiverse. With lucid lyricism, cathartic storytelling, and riveting melodies, "All Too Well (10 Minute Version)" triumphs as the pinnacle example of everything that makes Swift a revered songwriter and certified star — one who continues to shine like an ever-lovely jewel.

"Anti-Hero," Midnights (2022)

"It's me, hi, I'm the problem, it's me," Swift sighs on "Anti-Hero." Self-hatred takes center stage on the lead single from Midnights, inspired by the singer's insecurities, nightmares and fear of depersonalization.

Over a swirl of steady upbeat production, the pop song draws comparisons to the heartbreaking honesty of Lover's "The Archer." Her poetic candor takes on a self-destructive quality ("I'll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror," she admits) that conveys an all-consuming loneliness — and at the same time, stark self-awareness.

Yet, Swift isn't an anti-hero, she's a mastermind. Serving as a "guided tour" of the things she tends to hate about herself, "Anti-Hero" spotlights not only the weight of Swift's vulnerability, but also its power. This capability transcends beyond Midnights; her sweeping creative force stretches across her past records and conquered genres. And even despite any insecurities, her influence has only continued to grow — showing that Taylor Swift will never go out of style.

2022 In Review: 8 Trends That Defined Pop Music