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Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow's 57th GRAMMY Awards Remarks

GRAMMYs/Feb 12, 2015 - 10:54 pm

(The following is a transcript of Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow's remarks on the 57th GRAMMY Awards telecast. Portnow was joined by GRAMMY winners Jennifer Hudson and Ryan Tedder.)

Neil Portnow: What if we're all watching the GRAMMYs a few years from now, and there's no Best New Artist award because there aren't enough talented artists or songwriters who are actually able to make a living from their craft? Could that really happen? Or more importantly, could any of us ever let that happen?

As great artists remind us this evening, music matters. Music has tremendous value in our lives. So while new ways of listening to music evolve, one thing should never change: For the artists, songwriters and producers, we must promise them that new technology and distribution will pay them fairly.

Jennifer Hudson: Watching the GRAMMYs at home tonight is a new generation dreaming of one day being on this stage, just as I did. So all of us who have enjoyed success in music have a responsibility to them. And that's why our friends at The Recording Academy started GRAMMYs on the Hill in Washington, D.C., which I was lucky enough to experience firsthand.

NP: In our first 10 years, nearly a thousand music creators have traveled to our nation's capital to stand together and speak out for our rights. We do so to educate those who make the laws so they understand the hard work and sacrifice of those who make the music. At a recent congressional hearing I made the case that any updates to the laws that set how creators are paid must strongly protect those who create the soundtrack of our lives.

Ryan Tedder: And music activism is coming at exactly the right time. From the Turtles to Taylor Swift, longtime established and new generations are speaking out. With all the changes in how we listen to music and the review of copyright laws which are set by Congress, music creators and fans must speak out now.

JH: So tonight, we are proud to launch the GRAMMY Creators Alliance, a coalition of many artists, some of whom are sitting among you tonight. Together, we will advise those who make policy in music and in government so that our next generation of creators are able to make tomorrow's music as great as tonight's.

RT: Join Jennifer and me and many of your other favorite music creators. Go to GRAMMY.com/alliance and be a part of this historic movement of music makers and fans. And tweet your favorite artists with the hashtag #GRAMMYAlliance to let them know you want to help keep the music playing too.

NP: Thanks to the artists who have joined our Creators Alliance, to our Academy members who lend their voices and to the fans. Together, we can make our musical future as vibrant as we all want it to be.

 

7 Ways Taylor Swift's '1989' Primed Her For World Domination
Taylor Swift performs on the 1989 Tour in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in June 2015.

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/LP5/Getty Images for TAS

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7 Ways Taylor Swift's '1989' Primed Her For World Domination

With the arrival of '1989 (Taylor's Version),' take a look at seven ways the original album prepared the country-turned-pop star for a global takeover.

GRAMMYs/Oct 27, 2023 - 03:50 pm

When Taylor Swift released "Shake It Off" — the lead single from her fifth studio album, 1989 — in August 2014, she couldn't have known just how apt the lyrics "I never miss a beat/ I'm lightning on my feet" would be to her career nine years later.

Since then, Swift has never missed a chance to shake up the industry, whether she's redefining artist and fan relationships or fighting for her masters. And Oct. 27 marks a special day in the Swift world, as it's not only the day her groundbreaking, genre-defying, and two-time GRAMMY-award-winning album arrived in 2014 — it also marks the day Swift takes it back with the release of 1989 (Taylor's Version).

At the time of the original's release, its name was inspired by the singer's birth year to mark a symbolic shift as she transitioned from a country singer to a pop star. She was tired of speculation around her love life, finding creative inspiration in other things, like a move from Nashville to New York and her friend's romances.

1989 sold over 1.2 million copies in its first week, making Swift the first artist ever to have three albums sell over one million copies in their first week. The album also helped Swift make history at the 2016 GRAMMYs, as its Album Of The Year win made Swift the first female solo artist to win the accolade twice. (She's since furthered her record with a third AOTY win for folklore in 2021.)

In the original liner notes, Swift touched on 1989 being an album about "coming into your own, and as a result... coming alive." In a way, she was prophesying everything she'd do in the subsequent nine years — from surprise albums to a larger-than-life tour to everything in between — by consistently reimagining and redefining what it means to be a pop artist today.

Now, the 1989 rerecording represents a different type of rebirth — one that, through the rerecording process, has given Swift a new perspective that has allowed her to come into her own all over again. "I was born in 1989, reinvented for the first time in 2014," Swift wrote in a note to fans on Instagram upon the (Taylor's Version) release, "and a part of me was reclaimed in 2023 with the re-release of this album I love so dearly."

As you blast 1989 (Taylor's Version), dig into seven ways the original recording helped pave the way for Swift to become a global superstar. 

It Proved Swift A Successful Genre Shapeshifter

After Swift's Red saw pushback from the country community for blurring the lines between country and pop, 1989 would see the singer take a hairpin turn and go full-on pop. The catalyst for a full-length pop album was Red's loss for Album Of The Year at the 2014 GRAMMYs — something that Swift admitted caused her to cry "a little bit" and then decide it was time to make the leap.

Like Shania Twain before her, Swift's move from country to pop caused controversy both within the music industry and in her own team. Her record label at the time were skeptical of the change — even prompting to suggest she still record some country songs — and required a "dozen sit-downs" to better understand why she wanted to leave country music behind.

Realizing that if she "chased two rabbits" by pursuing both country and pop she would end up losing them both, Swift opted to fully embrace the new chapter of her life that came with moving to New York, cutting her hair, and shaking off the media by leaning into where her music was taking her.

With racing production and synthesized saxophones, 1989's lead single, "Shake It Off," was a reintroduction to Swift's artistry — and hinted at the true mainstream pop star she'd soon become.

She Took A Stand Against Naysayers

As part of the campaign for 1989, Swift spoke about the critiques she's received as a female singer/songwriter that her male counterparts don't often face. In particular, she touched on artists like Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars, who also write songs about their love lives, but don't get similar pushback. Due to the autobiographical nature of her songwriting, love is a constant theme in Swift's work. But on 1989 she looked at it differently — and did so by taking aim at the media.

Where Red's "Mean" was written for the critics who never have anything nice to say, the tongue-in-cheek "Blank Space" is pointed directly at all those who suggest she's a maneater. Almost like a B-side to "Shake It Off" — which reminds that "the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate" — "Blank Space" serves as a satirical version of herself that gives a slight nod to how warped the media's perception is of her, singing "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 Enlisted Powerful Pop Producers

After working with Max Martin and Shellback on two of Red's biggest hits, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "I Knew You Were Trouble," Swift recruited them again to bring their expertise and pop flair for her new era. (Martin co-wrote and co-produced seven of the 13 tracks, while Shellback worked on six of those seven; both were involved on two of the three deluxe tracks.) As a songwriter, Swift liked just how much writing with a pop mindset helped push her out of her own comfort zone, something she explored with Martin on Red.

Swift further expanded her list of pop-superproducer collaborators by teaming with Ryan Tedder on two tracks, "I Know Places" and "Welcome To New York." While it's the only time the two have worked together, it checked another dream collab off of Swift's bucket list.

1989 was also the first album Swift worked on with Jack Antonoff, who has since become one of her biggest collaborators. Though he only co-wrote/co-produced three songs ("Out of the Woods," "I Wish You Would" and deluxe track "You Are In Love"), Antonoff's work soon proved majorly successful for Swift and several other pop stars, including Lorde and Lana Del Rey. Antonoff even credits Swift as the "first person who recognized" his talent as a producer.

It Expanded On Her Narrative-Driven Storytelling

As Swift was growing up and becoming reflective, her music was mirroring that maturity. This led her to explore themes and moments in her life that would weave their way through the album and become part of a larger story. The secret messages she placed throughout 1989 detail how different songs work together as a larger picture.

After the release of "Shake It Off" and the announcement that 1989 would be a pop-centric album, some fans and critics were fearful that Swift's storytelling would weaken when placed in a typical pop format. Instead, the ethos of 1989 is entirely shaped by Swift's love of autobiographical writing. After becoming irritated by the media's obsession with her love life and calling her promiscuous, she pulled from larger creative artistic inspiration.

On the synth-heavy "Welcome To New York," the album's opening track, she sings about finding freedom after moving to the place that once intimidated her, whereas "New Romantics" is a call-to-arms that references the very synth-pop cultural movement in music in the '80s — something that inspired 1989 as a whole (more on that soon).

Songs like "You Are In Love," which was inspired by Jack Antonoff's relationship with then-girlfriend Lena Dunham, exhibits her ability to write about her friends' relationships. Even if she found inspiration in her own romantic life, she looked at it from a changed perspective — like on "Out of the Woods" which sound mirrored the anxiety she felt due to a fragile relationship. By using pop music as her own personal playground, she took what she learned as a songwriter in country music and created a place where pop music could be both catchy and emotional.

It Incorporated '80s Synth-Pop Production

At the time of release, 1989 was lauded as the most cohesive out of all of Swift's albums, due in part to the fact that she, Shellback, and Martin used 1980s synth-pop as inspiration. Citing the '80s decade being a defining era for experimentation in pop music, Swift saw how it mimicked her own journey as a redefined pop artist.

Despite 1989's exploration of heartbreak and pain, Swift and her producers juxtaposed the heavier themes with sounds that are similar to the larger-than-life tracks of the '80s, yet still resonated with listeners. It's a pairing and influence that Swift has incorporated throughout the albums that followed, like on "Paper Rings" from Lover, "Getaway Car" from reputation, and "Long Story Short" from evermore.

It Marks The Beginning Of Swift's More Mature Songwriting

Since most of Swift's songs were, at that point, mostly autobiographical and focused on her own love life, many cynics claimed that Swift should reflect and figure out why all of her relationships end in heartbreak. On 1989, she looks back on the experiences that shaped her — like losing a friend as heard on "Bad Blood" or predicting just how badly a relationship will haunt you on "Wildest Dreams."

"Clean," the final song on 1989, demonstrates Swift's prowess at using bigger concepts to both touch on her own personal experiences and still make it universally relatable. On the final track of the standard edition, she explores a broken relationship by using vices as a metaphor for being addicted to someone. It's a track that, since its release, has become a fan-favorite because of its relatable topics, like grief and healing.

Although songs across 1989 are tied together by love and heartbreak, Swift approaches the themes in a more introspective and independent way. Where earlier tracks like Taylor Swift's "Should've Said No" and Speak Now's "Better Than Revenge" are bathed in anger, on 1989 Swift views love with more experience, understanding that not everything is black and white — as heard on "Style" ("He says, 'What you heard is true, but I/ Can't stop thinkin' 'bout you and I'/ I said, 'I've been there too a few times'") and "This Love" ("When you're young, you just run/ But you come back to what you need.")

She Took Artist-To-Fan Engagement To A New Level

What has always set Swift apart from other artists is her level of fan engagement, whether on social media or in person. With 1989, she doubled down on her relationship with fans, introducing the Secret Sessions. 

In the lead-up to release week, Swift hand-selected 89 fans from across the US and invited them into her home. Swift personally entertained the crowd by playing them music from the album ahead of its release date and gave them bigger insight into the album-making process. She continued the Secret Sessions with 2017's reputation and 2019's Lover.

As she continues on the Eras Tour and releases 1989 (Taylor's Version), Swift also continues to redefine what it means to be a pop artist. Her era of pop stardom officially began with the release of 1989, and with its re-recorded counterpart, we get to relive that era all over again. 

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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

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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

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."

Looking for more GRAMMYs news? The 2024 GRAMMY nominations are here!

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 GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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How Switchfoot Reimagined 'The Beautiful Letdown': Ryan Tedder, Owl City, Ingrid Andress & More Detail Their Covers For The Deluxe Edition
Switchfoot

Photo: Erick Frost

How Switchfoot Reimagined 'The Beautiful Letdown': Ryan Tedder, Owl City, Ingrid Andress & More Detail Their Covers For The Deluxe Edition

As Switchfoot's seminal album 'The Beautiful Letdown' turned 20, the rock band recruited some of the acts they inspired to record a new version. Hear from seven of those artists on how their cover came to life, and what Switchfoot means to them.

GRAMMYs/Sep 14, 2023 - 07:35 pm

Seven years into their career, Switchfoot were only beginning their legacy.

On Feb. 25, 2003, the rock group released their fourth album, The Beautiful Letdown. The project marked their first on a mainstream record label, Columbia Records, an "interesting" move in frontman Jon Foreman's eyes because the album was "so spiritually driven." A Christian band at heart, Switchfoot had released their first three albums through Universal Music Group's Christian imprints Re:Think and Sparrow Records — and it was time for mainstream audiences to hear their message.

Though the album wasn't an instant success — it debuted at No. 85 on the all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart — The Beautiful Letdown has undoubtedly become Switchfoot's staple record and spawned hit singles "Meant to Live" and "Dare You To Move" (the latter of which got a second life after initial placement on their third LP, 2000's Learning to Breathe). That a Christian rock band broke through while the likes of 50 Cent and a newly solo Beyoncé dominated was inspiring to many up-and-coming acts. 

Twenty years later, some of those artists have left their own stamp on The Beautiful Letdown. Out Sept. 15, The Beautiful Letdown (Our Version) [Deluxe Edition] is a 25-track reimagining of Switchfoot's breakthrough album featuring re-recordings by the band themselves, as well as covers from hitmakers Jonas Brothers, Twenty One Pilots, Jon Bellion and more.

"We weren't so sure about it. I mean, it's a strange thing to do, revisit songs that you crafted when you were so much younger," Foreman says of the concept, which was first pitched to the band by some close friends. "But the idea was intriguing — what these heroes and friends of ours would turn these songs into if they were given complete control."

As Foreman recalls, the group initially planned on having the reimagined tracks be an EP. But before they knew it, every track on the album — including a B-side, "Monday Comes Around" — was spoken for.

Calling the project "a true honor," Foreman also notes that hearing artists his band inspired put their own spin on The Beautiful Letdown has brought new life to the songs. Like Bellion's version of "Meant To Live," which Foreman listened to while watching the sunrise in Perth, Australia: "I had tears in my eyes hearing this song that I've played a thousand times as if I was hearing it for the first time." 

Below, eight of the artists who were part of The Beautiful Letdown reimagining — Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, Noah Gundersen, Adam Young of Owl City, Sloan Struble of Dayglow, Ingrid Andress, Ryan O'Neal of Sleeping At Last, Matt Thiessen of Relient K, and Caleb Chapman of Colony House — detail how their cover came together, and the impact that Switchfoot has made on their own careers.

Why did you choose to cover the song you did, and why is it important to you?

Ryan Tedder, OneRepublic: ["Dare You To Move"] came out right when I was trying to figure out if I wanted to be a solo artist or start a band. There hadn't been a lot of alternative-sounding bands that were having success in the mainstream, but still felt cool to me and authentic and had actual messages to their music. Also, they were raised in the church like I was. I didn't want to be a CCM [contemporary Christian music] artist because it felt too limiting, and Switchfoot was a group that I knew came from the same background, but was having success in the mainstream with just great music.  

That song came out at exactly the time I needed to hear it. Even the message behind "Dare You to Move." I was so nervous about moving to L.A. for the first time. That song came out and I literally picked up and moved. That song has a lot of meaning to me. 

Noah Gundersen: "Dare You To Move" was already taken! "This Is Your Life" has one of those timeless radio rock choruses that feels both familiar and brand new every time you hear it. I also think the sentiment of being responsible for your own happiness really resonates with me.

Adam Young, Owl City: I really relate to the fact that the physical things on planet Earth that we as humans desire are ephemeral. Fame, wealth, beauty, success… those can make you happy for a time, but none will ultimately satisfy you because they don't last forever. I think the point of "Gone" is that the only thing that does last forever is your soul, so ensuring that you store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust can't get at them, is an enduring piece of wisdom. It's a truth that inspires me. 

Sloan Struble, Dayglow: When I was about 5 years old, my older brother showed me Switchfoot. I'd listen to his (probably illegally burned) copy of The Beautiful Letdown every day on his portable CD player. I remember thinking this record just embodied "cool." 

"Adding to the Noise" was always a favorite to me because of its stick-it-to-the-man undertone. What 5-year-old doesn't love poking fun at consumerism and big tech?

Ingrid Andress: The guys actually picked “On Fire” for me to sing — it worked out great, because that's one of my favorite songs on the album. It's such an emotionally vulnerable song, and I've always been drawn toward that kind of music. I remember singing along to it in my room when I was growing up, so it was a really amazing full-circle moment for me when Jon asked me to sing it!

Ryan O'Neal, Sleeping At Last: When Jon called to invite me to sing on "Monday Comes Around," I think I blurted out a "yes" before he finished asking. I am a forever Switchfoot fan. "Monday Comes Around" is a great song with a gorgeous melody and I was beyond honored to be welcomed into the reimagining of it!

Matt Thiessen, Relient K: Switchfoot requested that we cover "Ammunition" specifically. However, [Relient K's lead guitarist Matt] Hoopes and I were talking about it in the car the other day, and we said we would have picked it over any other number from TBL. I always loved the energy of the song. It has a tinge of pop-punk flavor that especially appealed to me at the time the album was released.

Caleb Chapman, Colony House: Well, I got a phone call from Jon asking if we'd be up for recording "Redemption" specifically, so the song chose us, I suppose. We just couldn't believe we were going to get to be part of such an iconic project celebrating an album that impacted our whole band so profoundly.

Any fun memories from reimagining the song and/or recording it?

Tedder: I recorded on a tour bus, so my most fun memory was that we had to turn the air conditioning off. It was in the summer and we were in Texas or something. We had to kill the generator so there wouldn't be the sound of an engine running in the background. I probably lost three pounds from sweating while I was recording the song because it was unbearably hot. We were trying to keep the laptop from overheating and all my gear from shutting down. It was kind of a feat to pull that off [Laughs]. 

Gundersen: It was a lot of fun digging through the original stems for this tune. Hearing Jon's solo'd vocals, along with some of the cool and weird little ear candy that got buried in the original mix. Imagining what the process was for each one of those little parts, knowing that they are all significant in their own way.

Young: I recorded a lot of random objects around my house and cut them up into tiny microscopic samples and used them as layers in the drum sounds on the track. Silverware, door handles, ice chunks, an antique Victrola. I cut down most of the sounds I recorded and only left the attack in each sample. This left me with a palette of extremely short click sounds that made great layers for snare drums, kick drums, clap sounds, etc. I had a lot of fun with this during the recording process.

Struble: Tim [Foreman, Switchfoot's bass guitarist] and I met through a mutual friend, and we got to hang out for the first time in San Diego while I was passing through on tour. That was the first time I ever went surfing, and it was with a childhood hero of mine. If that wasn't already an epic day enough, he asked me after if I'd want to cover a song for the record. It was such a personal full-circle, mind-blowing moment.

Andress: I just remember thinking the whole time Sam Ellis and I were making it, "Don’t f— it up. Don’t f— it up." The song was already perfect. I'm glad we found a way to still keep the integrity of the song while adding my own spin on it. Once I got past the nervous part, I had so much fun diving in!

O'Neal: It was an instant joy to get to sing. Jon and Tim recorded the track and I couldn't help but smile during my entire vocal recording session.

Thiessen: Oh yes. First of all, the assignment was a catalyst for Relient K getting together for the first time in over a year. What a gift. We were able to rehearse and record in conjunction with Dark Horse Academy in Franklin, Tennessee. Basically, there were students helping, observing, and hanging throughout pre-production and the recording. We had a blast working in that environment. We also used the opportunity to record an additional cover of Switchfoot's song, "Home," from their Legend Of Chin LP. 

Chapman: Funny enough, we were in the studio working on some music to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of our first album, When I Was Younger, when I got the call from Jon. It was perfect timing because we were already in the headspace of looking back fondly on the music that has brought us to where we are today.

What does Switchfoot and their music mean to you?

Tedder: I think aspirational is the term. They were a great, cool band with huge, cool songs right when I needed an example of just that to justify my own pursuit. Obviously I'm a fan of U2 and the Beatles and a lot of bands from decades before me, but Switchfoot was early 2000s — right when I was like, What do I do with my life? Can you be successful in a band in 2003 and what would it sound like? I needed a band like that at that exact moment in time. 

Gundersen: Growing up in a conservative religious home, Switchfoot was one of those bands who's message and identity was just vaguely Christian enough so as not to scare my highly sensitive parents, while still being far enough outside of the bland vanilla Christian music industry to actually be interesting. And the hooks are undeniable. There's also a kind of innocent hopefulness of the early 2000s that The Beautiful Letdown in particular seems to embody. 

Young: I have fond memories of Switchfoot's music all the way back 20 years ago. I was in high school at the time The Beautiful Letdown came out, and I remember I'd just gotten my first car. Having my own car meant my world got exponentially bigger, and I rejoiced at the new freedom made available to me. I listened to Switchfoot's music a lot in that car, and when I think back to that season of my life, which was very pivotal, I always think of Switchfoot.  

Struble: There was a time in my life when Switchfoot was one of three bands, probably, that I knew existed on the planet. Their music is just so core to my childhood and my upbringing. It lives deep in my brain. I've been a fan always, but it won't ever not feel nostalgic to me no matter what new music they make — it's like watching grunge-Mister Rogers or something for me. It will always remind me of learning to skateboard in my driveway and just being a little prepubescent punk.

Andress: I grew up in a conservative family that only allowed me to listen to Christian music. I would get so bored with all of it, so when Switchfoot came on the map, it truly changed my world sonically. A Christian band that plays cool rock music? I mean, come on. That was pretty different at the time, so it gave me inspiration to think outside the box when it comes to genres.

O'Neal: Back in 2000, Sleeping At Last had the privilege of being the opener at a Switchfoot show at a small venue in Illinois. Already a fan of their work, it was a huge opportunity to get to open up for a band I so admired. They were instantly lovely to me and my band and in some miracle of kindness, [Switchfoot's drummer] Chad Butler videotaped our set and shared it with his friends at record labels. 

I was — and still am — entirely blown away by such kindness to share some local band's music with others. A few years later, Switchfoot was sweet enough to extend an invitation to open up for them on their Beautiful Letdown US Tour. It was a first-ever Sleeping At Last tour and was such a pivotal and wonderful experience. 

Forever grateful to the Switchfoot family for their friendship over the years, and the incredibly generous encouragement they've given from the start of Sleeping At Last. To have the encouragement of your heroes is such a rare and special gift.

Thiessen: We met the guys in a gymnasium in Toledo back in '97. I can still remember the warmth in their eyes as they approached us and shook our hands for the first time. I've never known a band that are as kind, loving, and nourishing to everyone they touch. They've impacted RK and my life more than I'll ever know. 

Getting to play shows, festivals, and entire tours with them, while watching them intensely impact the world, has to be one of the most gratifying blessings of God that I've ever witnessed. I am so honored to be their friend and a big fan. 

Chapman: I could write a book with this kind of prompt. Since my brother and I were kids, we have dreamed of being in a band together. When Switchfoot's first album came out, my dad brought it home, put it in the CD player, and explained that there were two brothers in the band and that they made rock 'n' roll music! 

About a year later, we ran into Jon, Tim and Chad at a mall in Nashville and got to meet them and tell them that they were our favorite band. Fast forward to The Beautiful Letdown... I had a pre-release copy of the album and remember being in the locker room before PE class one day asking all my friends if they knew who Switchfoot was. Most of my friends had not heard of them yet. To anyone who said no, I simply responded with, "You will know who they are soon."  

Each one of us in the band has unique and powerful memories attached to this album and to this band. We are honored to now call Switchfoot friends and mentors. They have led a life and career full of artistic and personal integrity that has laid the groundwork that so many of us have tried to emulate. Their kindness is their legacy, and their intentionality is like a superpower. Their music is a reflection of their heart: bold, uncompromising, disarming, and powerful. You know what they say, right? "Never meet your heroes" — unless it's Switchfoot.

What is your favorite Switchfoot song and why?

Tedder: "Dark Horses" because it's an underdog anthem and I've felt like an underdog my whole life. 

Gundersen: "Dare You To Move." As a kid who struggled with depression and anxiety, this song was a sort of self-talk anthem for me. I think it instilled something in me and my own music, something about the duality of hope and struggle and one's own choice in how to engage with life. This feels like the essence of Switchfoot: hope, pain, and potential. 

Young: I'd have to say "Chem 6A." It was the first Switchfoot song I heard back in 1997, and I remember learning it on guitar. Memories like that are priceless to me.

Struble: I freaking love "Gone." I was hooked after the first time I heard that for years. And the fact that Owl City is covering it! That is so satisfying to me. Owl City and Relient K were both bands that I admired alongside Switchfoot, so to be on this record with them is just beyond special to me. I don't think I'll ever acknowledge it as reality! Maybe it's not, who knows!

Andress: It's hard to pick, but "This Is Your Life" is probably my favorite Switchfoot song. It gave me a sense of agency over my life when I was growing up and how important it is to be present in the moment. It was pretty high-concept for me at 10 years old, but it inspired me to go after things in life because it's the only chance we have to do it.

O'Neal: There are so many that I adore, but "Only Hope" is one of my favorite songs of all time. A rare song where every single element feels in its right place. The production somehow feels intimate and expansive at the same time, and the lyrics express a deeply personal and yet completely universal story. This song perfectly captures what Switchfoot does best.

Thiessen: "The Shadow Proves The Sunshine" is definitely one of 'em. "Company Car" always makes me really happy. I'm not a big "favorite" picker, but Switchfoot as a whole is definitely one.

Chapman: It's an impossible question. Too many songs over too many years. Switchfoot is not just another band to us. It goes deeper than what is our favorite song. In our eyes, their career is an arch that doesn't exist without every piece playing its part. Every song serves a purpose, and without it, the arch collapses. That's what makes them different. That's what makes them Switchfoot. 

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Adele's Biggest Songs: 12 Tracks That Highlight Her Monumental Success & Stunning Vocals
Adele performs in Las Vegas on the opening night of Weekends With Adele in November 2022.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for AD

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Adele's Biggest Songs: 12 Tracks That Highlight Her Monumental Success & Stunning Vocals

As Adele kicks off her second run of her Las Vegas residency, Weekends With Adele, revisit the pop phenom's most beloved hits and signature deep cuts, from "Hometown Glory" to "Easy On Me."

GRAMMYs/Jun 15, 2023 - 02:04 pm

When thinking of defining artists of the 21st century, it doesn't take long for Adele to come to mind. Since her rise in the late 2000s, the London-born singer has captured the hearts of millions with her disarming wit and a powerful voice that is practically unmatched.

In the 15 years since her debut album, 19, introduced her to the world, Adele has reached heights few others ever achieve. She's one of the best-selling artists of all time, she has collected countless awards (including 16 GRAMMYS), and she has sold out arenas around the globe. Between the unabashed honesty of her lyrics and the gravity of her voice, Adele's music has earned her enduring adoration.

Adele's charm and cultural impact have most recently come to life through her sold-out Las Vegas residency, Weekends With Adele. The shows — which initially ran from November 2022 through this March — are a journey through many of the mega-hits fans love, and a celebration of her illustrious career so far. They've seen such acclaim and high demand that Adele added 34 more dates through Nov. 4, kicking off June 16.

As Adele begins the second leg of her Vegas residency, GRAMMY.com looks back at some of the defining songs from beloved superstar's discography.

"Hometown Glory," 19 (2007)

Technically the fourth single from 19, "Hometown Glory" is actually the first song Adele wrote. It was originally released as an introductory standalone single in 2007, giving a glimpse into Adele's relatable songwriting.

While there are elements that make it unique — like an extended piano intro before Adele begins to sing — it's still easy to pick up on the traits that would later make her a star. The vocal intensity is already there, as is her love for human connection. "The people I've met are the wonders of my world," she sings on the chorus, a sentiment that would carry on throughout her career. 

"Chasing Pavements," 19 (2008)

The single that put Adele on the map, "Chasing Pavements" contains many of the elements that define 19. It leans more heavily into the singer/songwriter world than Adele's later work, with verses scored by mellow and understated guitar — a contrast to the big, powerful chorus that incorporates soulful melodies and jazz-like horns.

"Chasing Pavements" gave Adele early success and recognition, becoming her first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 and her first Platinum single. It also snagged the singer her first GRAMMY (for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance) as well as nominations for Record and Song Of The Year.

"Rolling in the Deep," 21 (2010)

Adele cemented her staying power with her sophomore album, 21. The first offering from the LP, "Rolling in the Deep," perfectly introduced the more expansive sound and power of the new record. Driving, forceful production from Paul Epworth is matched by a more confident, determined Adele, as she lays into a terrible ex: "Think of me in the depths of your despair/ Make a home down there, as mine sure won't be shared."

Adele's assertiveness spoke to listeners: "Rolling in the Deep" became her first No. 1 single and helped her win the trifecta of Record, Song, and Album Of The Year at the 54th GRAMMY Awards.

"Rumour Has It," 21 (2011)

Coming right after "Rolling in the Deep" on 21, "Rumour Has It" arrives with a bang. Co-written and produced by Ryan Tedder, the track is all soul and blues, built on looping vocal harmonies and a funky guitar line.

More than anything, this track showcases Adele's writing range, proving that she can pen an uptempo pop pleaser alongside her slower ballads and heartstring tuggers. The rhythmic clapping, vocal flourishes on the bridge, and piano outro all helped Adele unleash her feisty side that audiences hadn't seen much of at that point.

"Someone Like You," 21 (2011)

The new musical elements introduced on 21 undoubtedly helped Adele reach new levels of success and artistry. Even so, one of its standout tracks is a reminder that she doesn't need a lot of help to shine.

"Someone Like You" is as simple as it comes — nothing else but Adele and a piano. The result is perhaps her most well-known ballad, which laments on the ending of a relationship with intense emotion. Its connection with listeners and massive success — another No. 1 spot on the Hot 100, a GRAMMY, and six-time platinum certification — on the heels of "Rolling in the Deep" were instrumental in propelling Adele's career forward.

"Skyfall" (2012)

Writing a theme song for a James Bond film is a big deal — and means you're a big deal. One of the most storied franchises in film history, the Bond movies have included themes written by stars like Paul McCartney and Madonna. Adele joined that list in 2012 with "Skyfall," the titular theme for Bond's 23rd adventure.

The track allows Adele to lean more into her theatrical side, with dramatic lyrics soundtracked by swelling strings and horns. It's a thrilling listen, and gave Adele an Oscar for Best Original Song — the first Bond theme to ever win the award.

"Hello," 25 (2015)

After the massive success of 21 and "Skyfall," Adele went on hiatus for three years. While rumors swirled about an album in early 2015, she didn't confirm her third record, 25, until a month before its November release. Along with confirmation came "Hello," an earth-shattering return that portended 25's acclaim and success.

The album's opening track, "Hello" finds Adele revisiting an old flame in signature fashion: a soaring chorus that puts her towering vocals on display, amplified by awe-inspiring percussion instrumentals from producer Greg Kurstin. The single remains one of her most successful, hitting the top spot on charts around the world, going seven times platinum, and earning her Record and Song Of The Year at the 59th GRAMMY Awards.

"Water Under the Bridge," 25 (2015)

By this point in Adele's career, it was clear that she could master any song or production you give her. While 21 expanded the number of genres she pulled from, 25 introduced maximalist pop production to embellish her bluesy tone.

"Water Under the Bridge" is a perfect example of one of Adele's sonically densest tracks. Another Adele/Kurstin collaboration — with help from another new collaborator and pop mastermind, Max Martin — the upbeat track features a chorus that fills the senses with piercing drums and layered backing vocals, all of which beg to be played at full volume.

"River Lea," 25 (2015)

Alongside pop delights and powerful ballads, Adele tapped into gospel on 25 with "River Lea.". While Adele dabbled with gospel influences before, it was never as openly as the haunting keys that comprise the main instrumental.

Production is provided by the multi-instrumental Danger Mouse, who sprinkles a hip-hop beat into the otherwise haunting track. The result is one of Adele's most arresting tracks, with a sound that's equal parts old-school dirge and pop hit.

"Easy on Me," 30 (2021)

In the six years between 25 and Adele's fourth album 30, her world fell apart. Besides the impact the pandemic had on the world, she and her longtime partner Simon Konecki divorced. Much of 30 finds Adele coming to terms with life after marriage. This includes lead single "Easy on Me," which sees her asking for grace as she figures out how to move on.

The piano-backed track is full of pain and sadness, with the hurt evident in her voice as sings lyrics like "I changed who I was to put you both first/ But now I give up." It set an early picture of Adele's emotional state, and offered poignant foreshadowing to 30's journey of healing and moving forward.

"My Little Love," 30 (2021)

Adele has never shied away from being vulnerable, but "My Little Love" may be the most open she's ever been on a track — and perhaps that has to do with the song's subject, her son Angelo. A slow burning, jazzy piano tune, "My Little Love" Adele continues to explore her feelings over how the divorce has impacted her child.

What really sets the song apart is the inclusion of voice notes that contain Adele's own musings in the immediate aftermath of her divorce, as well as snippets of conversation between her and Angelo. ("Mummy's been having a lot of big feelings recently," she tells Angelo on the bridge; "I feel a bit frightened that I might feel like this a lot," she admits at the song's close.) It's a stunningly raw look at Adele's personal life unlike anything she had delivered before.

"Can I Get It," 30 (2021)

Anyone who has watched an Adele interview or seen her live knows that, despite being known for singing sad tales, she has a charmingly funny personality. As clips of her Vegas show highlight, she loves to tell jokes, and has a bright, lively presence — and "Can I Get It" is a musical depiction of that.

In the middle of a rather heavy album, "Can I Get It" is straight fun, with a groovy production from Martin. It showcases Adele's jovial side, with some of her flirtiest lyrics ("You tease me with your control because I long to live under your spell.") It's one of many ways Adele has shown both her emotional range and musical versatility — a combo that has made her an incomparable pop legend.

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