meta-scriptJohnny Mandel, GRAMMY-Winning Film Composer Of 'M*A*S*H' Theme, Is Dead At 94 |
Johnny Mandel, GRAMMY-Winning Film Composer Of 'M*A*S*H' Theme, Is Dead At 94

Johnny Mandel at 1966 GRAMMYs

Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images


Johnny Mandel, GRAMMY-Winning Film Composer Of 'M*A*S*H' Theme, Is Dead At 94

The late composer and arranger also wrote for major jazz bands and pop artists, as well as other memorable film scores and themes, including "The Shadow of Your Smile" and "Emily"

GRAMMYs/Jul 1, 2020 - 12:08 am

GRAMMY- and Oscar-winning composer Johnny Mandel died on Monday at his home in Ojai, Calif. at the age of 94, the New York Times reports. He composed and arranged music for jazz bands and pop singers like Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett, but is most remembered by his classic movie scores and themes.

Two of his most celebrated works include "Suicide Is Painless," the theme song for the 1970 film MAS*H and its long-running TV series spin-off, and "The Shadow of Your Smile," the oft-covered GRAMMY-winning theme song for the 1965 film The Sandpiper. He also scored both films, winning a second GRAMMY for latter score, as well as nomination for the former.

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Born in New York City in 1925, a young Mandel got his start in music playing trumpet in the Catskills while many musicians were overseas for World War II. Soon after, he joined jazz bands in the City, before focusing exclusively on arranging and composing in 1954, according to the Times. Four years later, he moved to Southern California and began his career writing music for Hollywood.

Shortly after, he received his first three GRAMMY nominations in 1959 at the 1st GRAMMY Awards, for his debut film score, 1958's noir I Want To Live!

His next three GRAMMY nominations—and first two wins—came at the 1966 GRAMMY Awards, for "The Shadow of Your Smile," which won Song Of The Year, and The Sandpiper's score, which won Best Original Score. The theme also earned him an Oscar for Best Original Song.

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A romantic number, "The Shadow of Your Smile" has been covered by countless artists, including Bennett (Manel arranged his version as well) Stevie Wonder, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Band, Sinatra and his daughter Nancy Sinatra. Mandel said the song was inspired by the scenic Northern California coast: "I saw that gorgeous panorama, shooting from Big Sur out on to the ocean. How do you write that? I figured, you write it with a solo voice ... I'd try to translate that into what it looked like."

Following the two GRAMMYs he won in 1966, Mandel earned three more career GRAMMYs, in 1982, 1992 and 1993. The 1992 GRAMMY Awards win, for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s), came from his arrangement on Natalie Cole's "Unforgettable," based on her father Nat King Cole's hit of the same name. Thanks to overdubbing, the powerful track features her father's vocals alongside hers.

Other films he scored include The Americanization of Emily (1964), Point Blank (1965), Freaky Friday (1977) and Caddyshack (1980).

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

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


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

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

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Remembering Tony Bennett's Monumental Musical Legacy: "The Classiest Singer, Man, And Performer You Will Ever See"
Tony Bennett performs in 1993.

Photo: Larry Busacca/WireImage


Remembering Tony Bennett's Monumental Musical Legacy: "The Classiest Singer, Man, And Performer You Will Ever See"

With 19 GRAMMYs and a "once-in-a-generation" voice, Tony Bennett's undying love for the Great American Songbook made for a remarkable career. The iconic singer died on July 21, just two weeks short of his 97th birthday.

GRAMMYs/Jul 21, 2023 - 06:30 pm

He was an integral part of the American cultural fabric, one of the music industry's shining lights, the Great American Songbook's biggest living champion and a generation-spanning one-of-a-kind talent whose iconic career stretched from radio days to the current streaming age. The death of Tony Bennett at age 96 marks the end of an era in both music and the nation at large; a legendary figure who transcended the decades with an unmatched voice and a burning passion for the music he performed.

A recipient of the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, Bennett won 19 GRAMMYS among 41 nominations throughout his staggering career. His first two GRAMMYS came from his signature tune, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," which won Best Solo Vocal Performance, Male and Record of the Year at the 1963 GRAMMYs (it was later inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 1994). He most recently won a GRAMMY in 2022 for Traditional Best Pop Vocal Album for his Cole Porter tribute with Lady Gaga, Love For Sale.

"Tony Bennett was an iconic, once-in-a-generation voice in American music," said Harvey Mason jr, CEO of The Recording Academy. "A 19-time GRAMMY winner between 1962-2021, Tony's work has stood the test of time while being embraced universally by audiences and musicians across generations. We're honored to have celebrated Tony's GRAMMY moments, 2001 Lifetime Achievement Award, and 1994 GRAMMY Hall of Fame induction alongside him throughout his illustrious career. The world has lost an astounding talent, and he will be deeply missed."

In the wake of his passing, Bennett's monumental impact on music has left the medium's biggest names musing about his vast influence. "Without doubt the classiest singer, man, and performer you will ever see," said Elton John in an Instagram post. "He's irreplaceable. I loved and adored him." Billy Joel called Bennett "one of the most important interpreters of American popular song" in his own post, while fellow crooner Harry Connick Jr. wrote "You changed the world with your voice."

"From an early age, I've been blessed by now that I wanted to be involved in artistic endeavors," Bennett wrote in his 2012 memoir Life is a Gift. "Even though we were very poor, my parents placed a high value on the arts. I always wanted to sing and paint; I never had to ask, 'What am I going to do with my life?' I always knew."

Born Anthony Dominick Benedetto in Queens, New York, Bennett took early influence from his father, who was known to sing Italian folk songs; the crooner later credited his father (who died when he was 10) with inspiring his eventual career. Bennett's later service in World War II led to him to study at the American Theater Wing once stateside thanks to the G.I. Bill.

After a successful career as a club musician (where comedian Bob Hope bequeathed Bennett his shorter, angelized moniker), Columbia Records president Mitch Miller welcomed Bennett to his roster and in 1951, he released his first album Because of You. Of its eponymous single, Johnny Mathis later told it's the song he most personally associates with Tony. "His interpretation is so honest and it was very representative of the time," recalled Mathis of the track. "Because of You" was his first No. 1 hit — and in fitting form, it was also the last song he sang before his death.

Throughout his subsequent career, Bennett fiercely cherished the songs he sang, making hits of early recordings, from the bombastic "Rags to Riches" to the bittersweet "The Good Life." Though Bennett's catalog did include one dabble into modern pop hits with 1970's Tony Bennett Sings the Great Hits of Today!, his undying loyalty to his art manifested in his own response to the schlocky album: he later recalled throwing up the first time he heard it played back.

The consummate jazz virtuoso also embodied a steadfast determination to preserve and honor the Great American Songbook in his tribute albums. He recorded the music of everyone from friend and contemporary Ella Fitzegerald (1995's Here's to the Ladies), to several jazz greats on 2014's Cheek to Cheek, his first collaborative project with Lady Gaga.

Cheek to Cheek and the aforementioned Love for Sale — Bennett and Gaga's second LP together — both helped introduce Bennett to a new generation of listeners. In fact, Bennett reintroduced himself to fresh audiences multiple times during his career, whether his most recent bow with Gaga or in 1995 when his MTV Unplugged album won GRAMMYs for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance and the coveted Album of the Year.

The smooth romance of Bennett's voice also served as a motif for his catalog, a talent that The Voice himself, Frank Sinatra, first noticed. Lifelong friends until his death, Sinatra was famously quoted in a 1965 interview for Life Magazine saying, "For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business," a sentiment that cemented Bennett as an artist for all-time. (In the wake of his death, Sinatra's daughter Nancy called him "one of the most splendid people who ever lived.")

When it comes to vocal prowess alone, take for example "The Way You Look Tonight," the ultimate love song originally written in 1936 that Bennett first recorded in 1956, delivering multiple interpretations throughout his career. Elsewhere, it was during his '70s-era work with the pianist Bill Evans that showcased the singer's tender voice alongside Evans' tinkling piano, especially in the mournful  "Young and Foolish," on which he sings of a sunsetting of youth. 

"Overall, his absolute unrelenting commitment to excellence is at the forefront," musician and Bennett collaborator Gregg Field told last year. "In spite of decades of passing musical trends, Tony recognized greatness, and it is always that the next generation of artists that are attracted to his music."

But whether the songs he recorded were joyful or melancholy, Bennett's passion always shone through — and is ultimately what will make his legacy live on. "I encourage everyone to find their passion," he later wrote in Life is a Gift. "Work as hard as you can to follow your dreams; they will ultimately lead you to contentment in every aspect of your life. It's my goal at the end of the day to be able to lay my head on my pillow, knowing I've tried my best."

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'Fast X' Composer Brian Tyler's Career Highlights: Creating a Legacy With The 'Fast' Films, Scoring 'Super Mario Bros,' Befriending Kobe & More
Brian Tyler

Photo: Aris Stoulil


'Fast X' Composer Brian Tyler's Career Highlights: Creating a Legacy With The 'Fast' Films, Scoring 'Super Mario Bros,' Befriending Kobe & More

The prolific conductor detailed some of the standout moments of his storied 26-year career, and revealed why the 'Fast X' score is his favorite of the whole franchise.

GRAMMYs/May 22, 2023 - 03:38 pm

Even after nearly 30 years in the entertainment business, Brian Tyler is still seeing his childhood dreams come true. He's scored reboots of Rambo, Rescue Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers and Power Rangers, and worked with heroes like Steven Spielberg and Danny Elfman.

This year, the award-winning composer added the 2023 reimagining of Super Mario Brothers to his extensive list of dream gigs. Like many kids growing up in the '80s and '90s, Nintendo was a fixture in Tyler's life, so when "Mario" creator Shigeru Miyamoto reached out to him about scoring the reboot, the decision was a no-brainer. 

A longtime admirer of legendary composer John Williams, Tyler decided to craft new themes imbued with what he calls "built-in nostalgia" (á la Williams' E.T. score) while paying homage to the trailblazing game. His strategy worked — the bombastic score has earned praise from critics and fans alike.  

Six weeks after The Super Mario Bros. Movie was released, Tyler had another big-time score hit theaters: Fast X. He has helped craft and evolve the sound of the blockbuster Fast & Furious franchise since 2006, and while he counts all of his Fast work among his proudest achievements,  Fast X is his favorite to date. 

Whether he's working on a theme for Rita Repulsa, Luigi or Dom Toretto, one thing can be certain: Tyler is giving it his all. "The only thing that gives me any anxiety about writing music is that I don't wanna let down anybody that created this thing that I love. I want to be associated with it. I want the movie to be great." 

In the midst of preparing for his next endeavor — an immersive live concert experience — caught up with the composer to chat about some of the most epic moments of his career. 

Passing Out Programs To His Musical Heroes At The GRAMMYs

At 12, I was a drummer on The NAMM Show, and I remember talking to a producer, either Elton John's or Metallica's, and telling them, "I want to go to the GRAMMYs. It's my dream." And they were like, "Okay, you're not really hired. But you can come, you can wear a little suit and hand out [the programs]." 

So I was there and they put me where the artists come in. I was meeting legends, one after another — Joe Satriani, Metallica, A Tribe Called Quest, Chuck D, Q-Tip. It was crazy. I was so stoked because I was looking up at these artists, like, "Wow, that's the impossible dream." 

The funny thing is, Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine — who I met at either NAMM or the GRAMMYs — now we're friends. Years later, we've reconnected and now, as Madsonik, I've recorded a song with him called "Divebomb."

Playing With Taylor Hawkins

I was in a band with Taylor Hawkins from the Foo Fighters when I was 13, and he was a little older. We were both drummers. I introduced him to hip-hop and Depeche Mode, and he played me Rush for the first time, which changed my life. He was such a fan and, of course, he became friends with them. I met Neil [Peart] and all that. But Taylor was a friend, and we recorded together here at my last studio. We did songs together through the years. 

I remember we played in these battle of the bands [competitions], and one of the bands — right before they hit it big — was No Doubt. We were the younger guys, [and] we loved playing super-complicated things. You know, you're like 13 and you want to run before you can walk. We would just shred.

Befriending Kobe Bryant

I met him at a John Williams concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Kobe is my favorite all-time sports figure. I started scoring the same year Kobe joined the Lakers, so we have this thing, right? 

I've known John Williams for years and years. He helped me out early on and has always been supportive. And I'm backstage, and then I look over and it's Kobe Bryant! I'm like, "Oh. My. God." And I'm standing there, and he's kinda looking over at me and I go over, and he's like, "You are? Oh yeah, yeah, I know who you are!" 

Turns out, he's a huge film score guy. His daughter too. He rehabbed his Achilles to the Ironman 3 score, amongst other things. He loved Hans [Zimmer] and John Williams. 

We ended up becoming friends. We would go to lunch and dinners and talk about how he was the heir apparent to Jordan. And how we're standing on the shoulders of giants. He saw John Williams, who is my Michael Jordan. And when he saw me conduct, he noticed that I copy this same really idiosyncratic move that John Williams does when he's conducting. I didn't even realize that I did it! And Kobe is like, "That's just like me. I didn't realize I stuck my tongue out when I would be in iso," which is a Jordan thing. 

When he was coming back right after rehabbing his Achilles, Nike wanted to do an ad campaign about how he's weathered the storm and he's coming back. So Kobe's like, "Do you wanna write my theme?" So I did. This is my favorite basketball player, and we became friends, and I didn't wanna let him down.

Composing For "Yellowstone"

With ["Yellowstone" co-creator] Taylor Sheridan, whether we're working on "1883" or "Yellowstone" he sends me the script and I start writing just based on an impression. I don't write to scenes; I usually write themes and suites. 

In a sense, the music has a true actual history to it before they even film. As opposed to, I get the film, I look at it, then dive into some random theme in the middle — and it might only be 30 seconds, and you can't develop the whole theme. 

What I want is to be almost like a writer — good screenwriters do this — for even a minor character, they'll write a whole background for themselves, and they [share it] with the actors. I want all those themes and everything to almost feel like they exist outside of time and before the story happened. So I'm already making references and kind of variations on a theme at the beginning of the movie. It's not the exact way the theme ends up being developed later in the movie. It's almost like doing it ahead of time, telegraphing what it might become and then it can develop.

I always find it very important to establish those things at the very beginning. The cool thing about Taylor Sheridan, he takes those themes and plays them on set, like through the speakers while they're doing the scenes. And whenever I meet the actors, like Sam Elliott and everyone on the show, they know my music. Even the costume designer and the director of photography.

Our lives are marked by music. You get married, you have your first dance — and the music as you walk down the aisle — and you go to work out or take a run. So it's really cool that Taylor recognized that and will imbue the performances with this kind of musical soul that I was already giving it before they even shot anything. 

Reimagining "Super Mario"

When I was growing up, I played "Mario Kart" and "Donkey Kong Arcade." I had my N64. And when I was a little kid, I would get [Electronic] Gaming magazine. I remember I had cutouts of stuff, and I remember articles about Koji Kondo and Shigeru Miyamoto — the guy that invented Mario. And then, here I am, just cruising along working and it's like, "Hey Brian, we want to set up a Zoom call with Shigeru Miyamoto." And I was like, "What?!" We talked about Mario.

I told them I wanted to pay tribute at times to the original themes from the game, but do new things that could flow into the scale of what a movie is, as opposed to a game. I wanted to pay homage, but at the same time, I want to write new themes — like the music John Williams did for E.T. — that feel like what I call "built-in nostalgia," where it's new themes, but you feel like it is Mario already. They loved that idea. 

I wrote this 12-minute suite before I started the movie, and played it for them. By the end of it, they're like, "This is also Mario. And we want these themes to be the new Mario themes, along with making a nod to me — a love letter to my experience as a kid playing the game. Like it became real, you know?

There was no ego from Nintendo at all. And the fact that they came to me, way on the other side of the world. Koji Kondo, the guy that wrote all the original Mario themes, he's showing me his DVD collection on Zoom to prove that he's a fan. It was so cool.

Adding To The "Fast & The Furious" Legacy

At the very beginning, the movie's conceit was, "Hey, what's up? I'll race you for pink slips. Sick." So I did more hip-hop. Let's say 80 percent was licensed songs and 20 percent was score. Then all of a sudden Fast and Furious Five comes along, and it starts becoming a little more serious. It's about heists and family, and it's epic.

As each movie kept going, the balance started switching. The score started becoming more prominent. We're always kind of pushing forward the envelope of what you can do with the idea of orchestra with beats, and sound, and groove, and all those things that are sonic ear candy. But at that point — and now it's evolved even more with each movie — the big change is I started writing leitmotifs [themes] for a character. 

Before we knew it, the sound of Fast and the Furious was utterly its own. If you look at a chart of how I did the score, it most closely resembles something like a Star Wars or a Lord of the Rings, where you have all of these different themes. It's like an old-school John Williams' score but it sounds modern. 

Now we have [Jason] Momoa, the coolest villain ever. And the new theme for him, I'm so happy with it. Typically, with a villain in a movie, people go low dirge-y, just bad-guy music. And here's the thing — Momoa's character, since this is told from his perspective, you have empathy for him, and you understand his origins and sympathize with why he became who he was. So I didn't wanna write, like, a bad guy theme. 

It's elegant. It starts in the strings, violins and the harp, but it kind of has this sneaky, sensual vibe that's very attractive. You almost admire the way he cuts you down and talks to you. And he's one of those villains that you have to admit to yourself that you like. So the theme is really elegant and kind of sophisticated, but you know something is f—ed up with this guy, in a beautiful way.

I feel that Fast X is our Empire Strikes Back. It's dark. It's intense. It's really amazing. And you have an introduction of a character that kind of takes over. He can walk in a room and suck all the air out of it, you know? So the theme had to be up to par, and a central idea — which is usually not the case in these types of films that are usually kind of relegated to commercial summer blockbusters. 

For me, the bar of difficulty is in a different universe than anything else, because people have associations and judge books by their covers. For me, it's always been the most interesting, challenging, pushing forward. And this is my favorite score of the series.

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A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 


A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."


Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.


L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

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