meta-scriptFor The Record: Why Kacey Musgraves' Timeless Album 'Golden Hour' Still Shines 5 Years Later | GRAMMY.com
For The Record: Why Kacey Musgraves' Timeless Album 'Golden Hour' Still Shines 5 Years Later
Kacey Musgraves performs at the 2019 GRAMMYs.

Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

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For The Record: Why Kacey Musgraves' Timeless Album 'Golden Hour' Still Shines 5 Years Later

After winning the GRAMMY for Album Of The Year in 2019, Musgraves' country pop revelation 'Golden Hour' continues to shimmer years later with its universal reflections on love.

GRAMMYs/Mar 30, 2023 - 07:06 pm

In March 2018, Kacey Musgraves heralded the start of springtime with her third studio album Golden Hour — and in turn, the world crowned her a new level of stardom. Brimming with a glorious honeymoon tenderness, the record resonated deeply with listeners and became an instant country pop classic.

In fact, one of the most common Google searches for the album is simply, "Why is Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves so good?" It also won over her famous peers: Golden Hour is Justin Bieber's go-to photoshoot soundtrack, and just its mention on the red carpet earned a gasp from Beanie Feldstein.

The album's magic was equally apparent at the 2019 GRAMMY Awards, where Golden Hour became the fourth country album to win Album Of The Year. It also won Best Country Album, and two of its singles (the starry-eyed "Butterflies" and the wistful "Space Cowboy") won for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song, respectively — meaning Musgraves swept every category she was nominated in that year.

Her inspiration for Golden Hour came to light upon meeting Ruston Kelly, her now ex-husband (more on that later), when he played a set at Nashville's Bluebird Cafe in 2016. "I had just cleared my schedule to get back to writing when I went to that show and I met him," Musgraves said in an interview. "Songs just immediately started pouring out."

This rush of falling in love saturates Golden Hour. ("It was nice to know that you didn't have to suffer to create good art," she said in a 2021 interview with The Guardian.) A free-falling, saccharine infatuation colors the album's prismatic perimeter, and it's tinged with a distinct warmth that crawls over your skin and fills your heart. Buzzy with pink-orange comfort, its cohesion is satisfying and enveloping, from the affectionate nostalgia of "Slow Burn" to the soft solace of "Rainbow."

But what makes Musgraves' Golden Hour so monumental is its pure acceptance of love's ephemerality — and ironically, this embrace of fleetingness is what makes the album beautifully timeless. The grand album offers 46 minutes of sunlight before fading into the horizon.

In theme with its apt springtime to summer ambiance, Golden Hour magnificently captures the seasonality of love, romantic or not. Musgraves finds self-love in isolation on "Lonely Weekend," a song that feels like a shrug with a sad smile. Later, the singer accepts distance from a lover in the cinematic "Space Cowboy," and she watches precious time slip away in her one-minute heart wrenching ballad "Mother."

Yet, as Musgraves gently confronts her grief, she also taps into a resonant relief. Drawing meaning from this duality, Golden Hour honors how the beauty of life and love is found in the recognition of their inevitable conclusions.

For some, this is most deeply felt in the soaring ballad "Happy & Sad," in which Musgraves exquisitely details the joys and fears that come with falling in love. "Is there a word for the way that I'm feeling tonight?/ Happy and sad at the same time," she sings. "You got me smilin' with tears in my eyes."

On "Happy & Sad," she searches for the exact term to pin down the striking emotion — but Golden Hour encapsulates the feeling so much more powerfully than a singular word could ever achieve. "They say everything that goes up/ Goes up, must come down," Musgraves sings on the track, "And I don't wanna come down."

The album blossoms with such radiance that it's difficult to believe that it's Musgraves' first album about love. It comes after Musgraves' Same Trailer Different Park (2013) and Pageant Material (2015), which each spin stories of small-town life, its challenges, and her favored smoky forms of escapism. Musgraves grew up in Golden, Texas — a town of just 200 people — and through the open-mindedness of her music, she grew out of it.

"Undeniably, I'm a country singer, I'm a country songwriter. But I feel like I make country music for people who like country music, and for people who don't," she explained in an Entertainment Weekly interview shortly after her first album release. "It's a blend of being inspired by super-traditional country roots and then all these other kinds of music: Cake, Weezer, Electric Light Orchestra, the Beatles, Glen Campbell. I don't really see genre boxes."

Though Musgraves' roots are undeniably country, her versatile approach to music allows her to break conventions in what is often viewed as a traditional genre. While slide guitar, banjo, and pedal steel guitar whirl across Golden Hour, a perky vocoder and vibraphone also make appearances in a way that Musgraves described to Refinery 29 as ​​"futurism meeting traditionalism."

This contemporary style applies not just to her work's technical production, but also to her sharp — and what some deemed characteristic of a "liberal misfit" — lyricism. Pageant Material saw her shoot down the "good ol boys' club," and on Same Trailer Different Park's "Follow Your Arrow," Musgraves sings, "Kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls if that's something you're into/ When the straight and narrow gets a little too straight, roll up a joint, or don't." 

A variation of the label "The country star for people who hate country music" began to follow her around: Musgraves was determinedly making country "cool" again, taking down bro-country one joint at a time.

On Golden Hour, the standout free-spirited anthem is "Rainbow" — even despite its more somber tone. The piano-driven track sees her brush past a swirling storm, and she tenderly reminds listeners that "there's always been a rainbow hangin' over your head." With its endearing message of hope, many fans in the LGBTQ+ community embraced the song's beaming chorus.

"I feel a kinship and a friendship with that community. They really opened my eyes up to a lot of different things that I wasn't aware of growing up in a small town in Texas," Musgraves said of the LGBTQ+ community. "'Rainbow' is something that I can dedicate to that community, but also to anyone who has any kind of a weight on their shoulders."

As much as the song resonates with members of the queer community, "Rainbow" escapes one singular meaning. Co-writer and producer Shane McAnally described it as a "sort of a chameleon," as many people took the song and shaped special meaning out of it for themselves, whether it be in relation to the challenges of the pandemic, accepting one's identity, or simply everyday life.

This is the inherent, irresistible magic of Golden Hour: universality. Along with Musgraves' pivotal embrace of love's transience, the album's timelessness also stems from its fluid meaning — even for Musgraves herself. In September 2020, the golden hour had faded completely: Musgraves and Kelly split, and she momentarily found herself despising her widely beloved masterpiece.

"There was a time where I was like, 'OK, Golden Hour is trash, I'm not ever singing it again," she admitted in an interview with Zane Lowe, just a few days ahead of dropping her 2021 breakup album star-crossed. "It's like, I never want to see another butterfly ever f—ing again."

Musgraves went on to say, however, that she was eventually able to redefine and rediscover what the album meant to her. "As I've gone on and found some more stable ground and personal happiness, I'm like, 'You know what? No: the magic of Golden Hour does not have to die with that relationship. It can live on and I will relate to it again,'" she told Lowe..

As Musgraves has seemingly discovered herself, Golden Hour is the kind of album that can take the shape of whatever listeners need it to be. And while love may often be impermanent, Golden Hour reminds us to cherish our time in the sun.

​​Kacey Musgraves' Road To 'Star-Crossed': How The Breakup Album Fits Right Into Her Glowing Catalog

Everything We Know About Kacey Musgraves' New Album 'Deeper Well': Release Date, Cover Art & More
Kacey Musgraves

Photo: Kelly Christine Sutton

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Everything We Know About Kacey Musgraves' New Album 'Deeper Well': Release Date, Cover Art & More

On the heels of a history-making GRAMMY win, Kacey Musgraves announced that her fifth studio album is on the way. Take a look at all of the details she's unveiled so far.

GRAMMYs/Feb 9, 2024 - 05:48 pm

A new Kacey Musgraves era is upon us! The country superstar teased the news with a cryptic social media post on Feb. 4: "I'm saying goodbye to the people that I feel are real good at wasting my time," she wrote in the caption. "No regrets, baby, I just think that maybe you go your way and I'll go mine."

That teaser coincided with a historic win at the 2024 GRAMMY Awards. The seven-time GRAMMY winner took home the golden gramophone for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for "I Remember Everything," her 2023 collab with Zach Bryan; with that victory, she became the first artist to win in all four Country Field Categories. (She won Best Country Album and Best Country Song in 2014 and 2019 — for Same Trailer Different Park and "Merry Go Round," and Golden Hour and "Space Cowboy," respectively — and "Space Cowboy" also took home Best Country Solo Performance in 2019.)

Fresh off that achievement, Musgraves announced her forthcoming album, Deeper Well,and shared its folksy, introspective title track. As fans eagerly await its release, GRAMMY.com has rounded up everything to be found about the singer/songwriter's fifth studio set so far.

The Album Drops Sooner Than You Think

We're quickly coming up on three years since Musgraves released her fourth full-length, star-crossed, and suddenly, the release of Deeper Well is just around the corner. Just a few days after her GRAMMYs teaser, the country star revealed that her sixth album will be released in just a matter of weeks.

"My new album, Deeper Well, is arriving March 15th," Musgraves wrote on social media. "It's a collection of songs I hold very dear to my heart. I hope it makes a home in all of your hearts, too."

There Are Two Different Covers

In her social post, Musgraves shared that Deeper Well will have not one, but two different covers — both shot by the singer's younger sister Kelly. 

The standard cover features the superstar gazing wistfully into the camera as she cradles a crimson clover in her hand. The limited edition cover is more evocative (and NSFW), with Musgraves laying nude, curled up in a verdant field with her back turned to the camera.

The Lead Single Is Also the Title Track

Ahead of the album's full unveiling, Musgraves dropped "Deeper Well" as its lead single. The gentle, finger-plucked track finds the singer/songwriter outgrowing relationships and choices that no longer serve her, blazing a new trail for herself and finding peace in the process: "I just think that maybe/ It's natural when things lose their shine/ So other things can glow," she sings.

"Sometimes you reach a crossroads. Winds change direction. What you once felt drawn to doesn't hold the same allure," Musgraves dished in a statement about the song's themes. "You get blown off course but eventually find your footing and forage for new inspiration, new insight and deeper love somewhere else."

She's Serving Cottagecore Space Witch In The First Music Video

Along with the song and album announcement, Musgraves shared the "Deeper Well" music video on Thursday — and the cinematic visual is a trip. 

Helmed by A-list director Hannah Lux Davis and shot in Iceland, the clip finds the singer holed up in a picturesque cabin and wandering a stunning coastline strewn with giant, levitating boulders. 

The costuming, meanwhile, leans more "homestead chic" as Musgraves rocks patchwork pioneer dresses, work bandanas and a cozily oversized shearling coat as she tends to a menagerie of farm animals, hangs laundry, gathers crops and, oh yeah, gets swallowed up by a magical, glowing orb by the video's end. 

From the looks of Musgraves' Instagram — and her newly minted profile name, Kacey Mossgraves — it seems the farmcore aesthetic might ring throughout Deeper Well.

The Album Will Showcase The Singer's "Softer Side"

Musgraves teased the creative direction of Deeper Well in a new interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1. "I've found more of a connection to my softer side, my roots, like some of the Americana, the folk, the country, some of the stuff, really the warmth of that. I felt drawn to that. 

"I felt like I was in a softer place myself after star-crossed and going through a divorce and doing a lot of therapy and honestly falling in love again and opening myself back up to the human experience," she continued. "These songs just kind of started coming out."

She's Releasing A Coffee Table Book

For another way to experience Musgraves' Deeper Well era, the singer/songwriter whipped up an 84-page 'zine with photos, lyrics, and stories behind the songs. Fans can purchase the soft-cover book — which comes with a CD — on her website, or at Barnes & Noble and indie record stores.

As Musgraves' punny Instagram caption notes, the book is another indication that she's "onto the next chapter (literally)."

The Track List Is Already Here

Musgraves is no stranger to delivering bodies of work upwards of a dozen-plus songs, and it looks like Deeper Well will be no exception. The 14-song track list was unveiled on Instagram, with song titles like "Giver / Taker" and "Jade Green" fitting both the theme of letting go as well as the cottagecore aesthetic seamlessly.

She's Working with Some Familiar Collaborators

According to her announcement, Deeper Well was co-produced by Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian, both of whom worked with Musgraves on 2018's Golden Hour — which won Album Of The Year at the 61st GRAMMY Awards — and 2021's star-crossed. If those albums are any indication, Deeper Well is bound to be another Kacey masterpiece.

Big First Wins At The 2024 GRAMMYs: Karol G, Lainey Wilson, Victoria Monét & More

Why 2024 Is The Year Women In Country Music Will Finally Have Their Moment
(L-R) Brittney Spencer, Mickey Guyton and Maren Morris perform on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" in November 2023.

Photo: Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images

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Why 2024 Is The Year Women In Country Music Will Finally Have Their Moment

Between Lainey Wilson's first-ever GRAMMY nominations and Brittney Spencer's highly-anticipated album arriving Jan. 19, female country artists are making bigger statements and waves than they have in decades — and there's plenty more where that came from.

GRAMMYs/Jan 18, 2024 - 06:46 pm

Country music has long felt like a boy's club.

From the genre's humble beginnings of Hank Williams, Roy Acuff and Jimmie Rodgers, through the outlaw movement of Johnny Cash, George Jones and Merle Haggard, to more modern day giants like Garth Brooks, George Strait and Tim McGraw, men have been dominating the genre for nearly a century.

Even now, megastars like Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs and Zach Bryan have comfortably inherited the position, virtually ruling the airwaves of country music and beyond for the majority of 2023. Those three have almost single-handedly helped the genre become arguably the biggest it's ever been — and it's finally opening the door for women to join in.

As the genre has boomed over the last year or so, it's created an opportunity for female artists to get in on a bigger slice of the pie. While the guys were out there wooing the mainstream, a handful of ladies were making their own fair share of noise with superstars Lainey Wilson, Kelsea Ballerini, Kacey Musgraves and Carly Pearce showing the genre what girl power is all about, and representing at the 2024 GRAMMYs as a result.

Of course, a handful of female artists have been able to push through the cracks through the years, from Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton to Shania Twain and Carrie Underwood. But historically, women have largely been chasing equal stature in the country music limelight. The genre's gender gap came to a head with 2015's "Tomato-gate" controversy, when radio consultant Keith Hill compared radio airplay to a salad, with the men as the lettuce and women as a tomato garnish.

Although airplay hasn't necessarily grown (a recent study found that female artists received an abysmal 11 percent of airplay in 2022), that hasn't stopped women in the genre from making an impact. In the last few years, a growing group of women have been rewriting the rules, nabbing major award nominations and wins, selling out headlining tours, notching No. 1s and breaking records — and they only seem to be gaining speed.

As a new year begins, take a look at a few of the ways women are breaking through in country music.

GRAMMY Representation

For the past few GRAMMYs ceremonies, we've been seeing more and more female names in country music listed among the nominees.

The shift was first really felt at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards in 2021, when women dominated the nominations thanks to the colossal successes of Best New Artist nominee Ingrid Andress, country stalwart Miranda Lambert and female supergroup the Highwomen (comprised of previous GRAMMY winners Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby and Amanda Shires).

Female artists have continued to carve out their spot in GRAMMY history with nominations and wins. One of the most notable wins came in 2023, when Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde's history-making duet, "Never Wanted To Be That Girl," claimed Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

Pearce is once again nominated in the Best Country Duo/Group Performance category at the 2024 GRAMMYs, this year for her chilling duet with decorated tunesmith Chris Stapleton, "We Don't Fight Anymore," which could find her claiming the prize for a second consecutive year.

While women don't dominate the Country Field nominees at the 2024 GRAMMYs, Pearce isn't alone. There's plenty of success stories throughout the categories, and one of the people leading that charge is Lainey Wilson.

More than a decade after moving to Nashville, Wilson's fourth studio album, Bell Bottom Country, has been propelling her to the forefront of the genre. The album helped earn Wilson a nomination for Best Country Album — one of her first two career GRAMMY nominations, the other for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for "Save Me," her evocative collaboration with country-rap trailblazer (and 2024 Best New Artist nominee), Jelly Roll.

One of the genre's most enduring duets of 2023, Zach Bryan and Kacey Muscgraves' "I Remember Everything," is also in the running for Best Country Duo/Group Performance. Along with debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reigning atop Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for 16 weeks as of press time, the collab continued Musgraves' GRAMMY success. Also nominated for Best Country Song, "I Remember Everything" brings Musgraves' nomination total to 13; as of press time, she's won 6 GRAMMYs, including the coveted Album Of The Year in 2019 for Golden Hour.

Seasoned singer/songwriter Brandy Clark secured the most nominations of all the female country artists, with 6 nods across the Musical Theater, Americana and Country categories. Notably, her twice-nominated "Buried," included on her self-titled LP, nabbed nominations for both Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance.

Dolly Parton earned her 54th GRAMMY nomination this year, for Best Country Solo Performance for her solo version of one of her earliest hits, "The Last Thing On My Mind." First released in 1967 as her debut duet with Porter Wagoner, the 2023 version of the song features Parton's signature, soulful vocals and was included in the I Am a Pilgrim: Doc Watson at 100 tribute album.

Elsewhere in the 2024 GRAMMY nominations, pop-country darling Kelsea Ballerini is nominated alongside Wilson in the Best Country Album category with her Rolling Up the Welcome Mat EP. The triumphant and soul-bearing project led to one of her most commercially and critically successful years to date (more on that later).

Growing Success At Country Radio & Beyond

As her two GRAMMY nominations indicate, Lainey Wilson was arguably country music's woman of 2023. Notching four trips to the top of the Mediabase Country Airplay chart in 2023, she set two records: most No. 1s by a female country artist in a calendar year and most No. 1's on Billboard's Country Airplay chart by a female artist this decade. This was thanks to her own "Heart Like A Truck" and "Watermelon Moonshine," as well as her HARDY collaboration "wait in the truck" and the aforementioned Jelly Roll team-up "Save Me."

Beyond her profound radio success, 2023 also saw Wilson nab four ACM Awards and five CMA trophies; at the latter, she won Female Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year and the coveted Entertainer of the Year, whose last female winner came in 2011 with country-turned-pop superstar, Taylor Swift.

Wilson's fellow Best Country Album nominee, Kelsea Ballerini, also had a banner year. While her nominated Rolling Up the Welcome Mat EP didn't spawn a radio hit, it made quite an impression on streaming and social media. Due to its raw account of her public divorce from singer Morgan Evans, Ballerini's latest project helped her sell out her headlining tour, receive an invite to perform on Saturday Night Live, and earn an array of major award nominations.

Another proven hitmaker, Carly Pearce, nabbed her fourth No. 1 with her heartbreak anthem, "What He Didn't Do," which reached the top of the Country Aircheck/Mediabase chart last March. Newcomer Megan Moroney topped the same chart in June with her 2022 debut single, "Tennessee Orange," which helped her have a remarkable breakout year including her first award and a sold-out tour.

Rising country star Priscilla Block also secured a No. 1 on Mediabase's Country Airplay chart with her Justin Moore duet, "You, Me, and Whiskey," while more veteran act Gabby Barrett — who scored back-to-back No. 1 hits on Billboard's Country Airplay chart in 2020 and 2021 — reached the top 10 of the chart in 2023 with her single "Pick Me Up."

Female Artists On the Horizon

In the last 12 months, rising female country artists hit their stride, bringing a lot of promise to tackling the genre's gender gap. Hailey Whitters landed her first chart entry on both Billboard's Country Airplay and Hot 100 charts with her breakthrough single, "Everything She Ain't," which broke the top 20 on the former tally. Sister duo Tigirlily Gold saw their debut single, "Shoot Tequila," surge into the top 40 on country radio while they also juggled making their Opry debut, a loaded touring schedule and the release of their acclaimed Blonde EP.

Aside from the radio dial, women also had massive years on the road, earning major touring slots with some of the genre's big hitters. Big Loud prodigy Ashley Cooke put out her debut effort, Shot in the Dark, which propelled her onto Luke Bryan's Country Again Tour and Jordan Davis' Damn Good Time Tour. Meanwhile, Ella Langley, a country-rocker in the making, spent her year alongside Riley Green and Jon Pardi, as songs from her debut EP, Excuse the Mess, garnered millions of streams.

Beyond commercial success, there are a slew of burgeoning female singer/songwriters who are also poised to break through. Alana Springsteen, who released her three-part twenty something project in 2023, is establishing herself as one of the newest (and most relatable) voices in the country-pop world. Meanwhile, Lauren Watkins — who doubled down in 2023 with two EPs, Introducing: Lauren Watkins and Introducing: The Heartbreak — is reinventing the neo-traditional, retro country music of generations past.

Similarly, "The Voice" alum Emily Ann Roberts is out to make traditional country cool again as demonstrated on her debut LP, Can't Hide Country, while Catie Offerman, a powerhouse multi-instrumentalist, is bringing her Texas charm and clever turns of phrase into the country mainstream one infectious single at a time.

Next up is Brittney Spencer, who will release her debut album, My Stupid Life, on Jan. 19. As her glistening, genre-bending music continues to gain commercial traction, she's already loved by critics and artists alike; Maren Morris just recruited her for a dynamic performance of "The Tree" on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" alongside Mickey Guyton.

While it's impossible to mention all of the country women out there making moves, it's more than evident that female artists are ready to take up more of the country music landscape than ever before — and 2024 might just be the year that women finally get their due.

2023 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined Country Music

10 Albums On Divorce & Heartache, From Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' To Kelly Clarkson's 'Chemistry'
Kacey Musgraves performs at the 2021 VMAs.

Photo: John Shearer/MTV VMAs 2021/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS

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10 Albums On Divorce & Heartache, From Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' To Kelly Clarkson's 'Chemistry'

Divorce albums have been a staple of the music industry for decades. Take a look at some of the most notable musings on a breaking heart, from Kacey Musgraves, Kanye West and more.

GRAMMYs/Jun 30, 2023 - 05:46 pm

Divorce can be complicated, messy, and heartbreaking. But those feelings are prime fodder for songwriting — and it's something that artists of all genres have harnessed for decades.

Writing through the pain can serve many benefits for an artist. Marvin Gaye used Here, My Dear as a way to find closure in the aftermath of his divorce. Adele told Vogue that her recording process gave her somewhere to feel safe while recording 30, a raw account of the aftermath of her marriage ending. And Kelly Clarkson's new album, chemistry, finds her reclaiming herself, while fully taking stock of everything that happened in her marriage, good and bad. 

As fans dive into chemistry, GRAMMY.com has compiled a list of 10 divorce albums from all walks of music. Whether you need to cry, vent, or maybe even laugh, there's a divorce album that has what you need.

Tammy Wynette, D-I-V-O-R-C-E (1968)

During her life, Tammy Wynette was a prolific country songwriter and singer, releasing numerous albums exploring all aspects of love. She was also deeply familiar with divorce, with five marriages throughout her adulthood.

The most intimate album on the topic is her bluntly titled 1968 project D-I-V-O-R-C-E, which explores how sensitive the topic was to speak about. The title track is a mournful tune about hiding a separation from her children, but also conveys the general difficulty of discussing the topic with anyone. Elsewhere on the album, "Kiss Away" is a longing ballad about wishing for a more tender resolution when words have failed.

Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (1977)

After recording 10 albums together, Fleetwood Mac were in disarray. During the recording of their eleventh record, the members of the band were going through affairs, divorces, and breakups, even some with each other. Against all odds, they created Rumours — and it became the band's most successful and iconic album.

The spectrum of emotions and sounds on the album is wide. "The Chain" is all fire and bombast, while the laidback acceptance of "Dreams" seeks to find peace in the storm. Fleetwood Mac sorted out their issues and are still going strong to this day, but their heartbreak created something special in Rumours.

Beck, Sea Change (2002)

Beck has had a prolific career, with 14 studio albums to his name. One of his most affecting is 2002's Sea Change, written in the aftermath of his engagement and nine-year relationship ending.

It's a deeply insular album, even by Beck's standards. Tracks like "Already Dead" are slow and mournful, while standout "It's All In Your Mind" finds him burrowing deep into his own thoughts to parse out how exactly he's feeling with his new life.

Open Mike Eagle, Anime, Trauma, and Divorce (2020)

Divorce isn't a topic that immediately brings laughter, but rapper Open Mike Eagle seemed to find humor in his personal story with his album Anime, Trauma, and Divorce. The album title gives a pretty good rundown of what inspired the project, and Mike's laidback rapping sells how silly the aftermath of pain can be.

"Sweatpants Spiderman" finds him trying to become a functional adult again, and discovering the various ailments of his aging body and thinner wallet that are getting in the way. The fed-up delivery on standout track "Wtf is Self Care" is a hilarious lesson on how learning to be kind to yourself post-breakup is harder than it sounds.

Carly Pearce, 29: Written In Stone (2021)

Heartbreak is a common topic in all genres, but country has some of the most profound narratives of sorrow. Carly Pearce added to that legacy with 29: Written in Stone, her 2021 album centered around her 29th year — a year that included both a marriage and a subsequent divorce.

The emotional whiplash of such a quick change can be felt all over the project, from an upbeat diss track like "Next Girl" to more poignant pieces like the title track, which finds Pearce reflecting on her tumultuous year. Her vulnerability resonated, as single "Never Wanted To Be That Girl" won Pearce her first GRAMMY, and her latest single, "What He Didn't Do," scored the singer her fourth No. 1 at country radio. 

Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak (2008)

Kanye West's fourth album 808s & Heartbreak came from a deep well of pain. Besides the end of his relationship, West was also in turmoil from the death of his mother, Donda. The result is one of the bleakest sounding records on this list — but also one of West's most impactful.

808s & Heartbreak is minimalistic, dark, and brooding, with a focus on somber strings and 808 drum loops (hence the album's title). West delivers most of his lyrics in a monotone drone through a thick layer of autotune, a stylistic choice that heightens the sense of loss. Besides being a testament to West's pain, the electronic sound pioneered on 808s & Heartbreak would serve as a foundational inspiration for the next several years of hip-hop.

Toni Braxton & Babyface, Love, Marriage, & Divorce (2014)

Toni Braxton and Babyface are two stalwarts of R&B in their own rights, and in 2014, the pair connected over their shared experiences going through divorce. Their bond sparked Love, Marriage, & Divorce, a GRAMMY-winning album that intended to capture the more universal feelings the life of a relationship conjures up.

Each artist has solo tracks on the record — Babyface wishing the best for his ex on "I Hope That You're Okay" and Braxton sharing her justified anger on "I Wish" and "I'd Rather Be Broke" — but where they shine is on their collaborations. The agonizing "Where Did We Go Wrong?" is heartbreaking, and the album ends with painful what-ifs in the soulful "The D Word."

Adele, 30 (2021)

Divorce is hard no matter the circumstances, but it gets even more complicated when children are involved. That was the reality for Adele, and it served as major inspiration for her fourth album, 30.

Like every album on this list, there's plenty of sorrow on the record, but what really sets it apart is just how honestly Adele grapples with the guilt of putting her son Angelo through turmoil as well. The album's GRAMMY-winning lead single "Easy On Me" addresses it in relation to her son, and standout track "I Drink Wine" is a full examination of the messy feelings she went through during her divorce.

Kacey Musgraves, star-crossed (2021)

As many of these albums prove, divorce triggers a hoard of emotions, from anger to sadness to eventual happiness. On star-crossed, Kacey Musgraves goes through it all.

There's the anthemic "breadwinner" about being better on her own, "camera roll" looking back on happier times with sorrow, and "hookup scene" about the confusion of adjusting back to single life. Star-crossed sees Musgraves continue to evolve sonically — incorporating more electronic sounds into her country roots — but ultimately, she comes out the other side at a place of renewed acceptance and growth.

Kelly Clarkson, chemistry (2023)

Kelly Clarkson's tenth album chemistry was born out of her 2020 divorce. In true Kelly fashion, she addresses the subject with thoughtful songwriting and a pop-rock vibe fans have adored for 20 years on. 

Chemistry focuses not just on the pain of divorce, but on the tender feelings that many couples still have for each other even after the end. Tracks like "favorite kind of high" mirror the euphoria of love, juxtaposed with ballads like "me," in which Clarkson finds comfort in herself and her inner strength — an inspiring sentiment for anyone who has had their heart broken.

Kacey Musgraves' Road To 'Star-Crossed': How The Breakup Album Fits Right Into Her Glowing Catalog

2023 GRAMMYs To Pay Tribute To Lost Icons With Star-Studded In Memoriam Segment Honoring Loretta Lynn, Christine McVie, And Takeoff
(L to R): Takeoff, Christine McVie, and Loretta Lynn

Photos: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images; Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images; Erika Goldring/WireImage

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2023 GRAMMYs To Pay Tribute To Lost Icons With Star-Studded In Memoriam Segment Honoring Loretta Lynn, Christine McVie, And Takeoff

The GRAMMY Awards segment will feature Kacey Musgraves in a tribute to Loretta Lynn; Sheryl Crow, Mick Fleetwood and Bonnie Raitt honoring Christine McVie; and Maverick City Music joining Quavo as they remember Takeoff, airing live on Sunday, Feb. 5.

GRAMMYs/Feb 1, 2023 - 04:00 pm

The lineup for the 2023 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb 5, will include an In Memoriam segment paying tribute to some of those from the creative community that were lost this year with performances by GRAMMY-winning and -nominated artists.

The segment will feature Kacey Musgraves performing "Coal Miner's Daughter" in a tribute to three-time GRAMMY winner and 18-time nominee Loretta Lynn; Sheryl Crow, Mick Fleetwood and Bonnie Raitt honoring three-time GRAMMY winner Christine McVie with "Songbird"; and Maverick City Music joining Quavo for "Without You" as they remember the life and legacy of Takeoff.

The 2023 GRAMMYs, hosted by Trevor Noah, will broadcast live on Sunday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on the CBS Television Network live from the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. Viewers will also be able to stream the 2023 GRAMMYs live and on demand on Paramount+.

Before, during and after the 2023 GRAMMYs, head to live.GRAMMY.com for exclusive, never-before-seen content, including red carpet interviews, behind-the-scenes content, the full livestream of the 2023 GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony, and much more.

Where, What Channel & How To Watch The Full 2023 GRAMMYs