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

Kacey Musgraves

Photo: Adrienne Raquel


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

After catapulting to crossover success with 2018's enchanting 'Golden Hour,' Kacey Musgraves aims to have the same impact with her first full breakup album, 'star-crossed'

GRAMMYs/Sep 10, 2021 - 06:38 pm

Three years ago, Kacey Musgraves released Golden Hour, a glittering display of her buttery vocals through what she calls "cosmic country." The whimsical production was a musical representation of the fairytale love she found with fellow country singer Ruston Kelly.

Three years later, Musgraves' script has completely flipped. She and Kelly divorced in September 2020, giving the Texas-born star a new form of inspiration, and one she least expected. The result is star-crossed, a 15-song diary of Musgraves' marriage that she and Kelly said "simply just didn't work." Rightfully so, it's the singer's first full-fledged breakup album. But despite its lovelorn backstory, star-crossed is, at its core, another level of the resilience Musgraves has shown from the start.

Musgraves' 2013 debut set, Same Trailer Different Park, dissected the suffocating mindset of small-town life—a bold move for the native of Golden, Texas, a town of 200 people—in tracks like her breakout single "Merry Go 'Round" while also rejecting societal norms on the cheeky "Follow Your Arrow." Ironically, the impudent songs marked Musgraves' biggest commercial hits to date, landing at No. 10 on Billboard's Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs charts, respectively.

<style>.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }</style><div class='embed-container'><iframe src='' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

The struggle for commercial success has always been part of Musgraves' narrative, largely in part due to her unabashed honesty. With references to kissing girls and rolling a joint in "Follow Your Arrow," Musgraves immediately declared that she didn't care if she polarized country traditionalists and radio programmers.

But her boundary-pushing approach was clearly resonating with just about everyone else: Same Trailer Different Parkwon Musgraves her first two GRAMMYs and Country Music Awards (as well as her first Academy of Country Music Award), and the album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart. (What's more, Miranda Lambert's fiery hit "Mama's Broken Heart"—co-written by Musgraves—received GRAMMY, CMA and ACM nominations, and reached No. 2 on both Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs that same year.)

As her star quickly rose, Musgraves' pop sensibilities also gained notice. Not only did her debut set land at No. 2 on the all-genre Billboard 200, but the singer's unique stylings caught the attention of pop superstars Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson. Perry recruited Musgraves to open the Midwest and Canadian portions of her blockbuster 2014 Prismatic Tour; Clarkson invited Musgraves to perform at a holiday benefit concert she hosted in Nashville later that year.

"She has such an innocent voice, while her lyrics are so clever and smart," Clarkson said of Musgraves in a 2015 SPIN feature. "Her music gives me room to breathe in this rapid-paced world of political nonsense."

Musgraves' doughty commentary continued on her sophomore effort, 2015's Pageant Material, though this time it was aimed at her critics instead of her narrow-minded upbringing: "Good Ol' Boys Club'' was a direct reference to the country radio folks who refused to give her a shot.

<style>.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }</style><div class='embed-container'><iframe src='' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

She used her trademark turn of phrase to countrify the idiom "Mind your own business" with the twangy single "Biscuits" ("Mind your own biscuits/ And life will be gravy," she quips on the hook), and the playful "Cup of Tea" sees Musgraves acknowledging that her music isn't going to please everyone ("Nobody's everybody's favorite, so you might as well just make it how you please/ 'Cause you can't be everybody's cup of tea").

Naysayers aside, Musgraves' wordplay won the hearts of many in the first few years of her career. But as she began crafting her third record, the singer recognized that she needed a change. "Before, my songwriting hinged more on turning phrases," Musgraves explained to Marie Claire in 2019. "I like that style, but I wasn't using all the colors in the box. This time, I wanted to speak from the heart. It was time to shift gears and feel things and let people in a little bit more. I'm a perfectionist. I had to let go."

She had also let go of any inhibitions she had about love, resulting in a whirlwind romance with Kelly that began in 2016. Three weeks after meeting the crooner, Musgraved wrote the appropriately fluttering "Butterflies," which proclaimed in the pre-chorus, "Out of the blue/ I fell for you." The Golden Hour single teased what was to come with Musgraves' next project, which ushered in a starry-eyed perspective and introduced dreamy production and Auto-Tune into her sonic universe.

While it was evident there was something in the air while Musgraves created Golden Hour, she likely never could've anticipated the kind of impact it had. The album made the trailblazing country starlet a household name, winning the Album of the Year honors at the CMAs, ACMs, and the GRAMMYs. (Musgraves won all four GRAMMYs for which she was nominated for in 2019, including Best Country Album, Best Country Song for "Space Cowboy," and Best Country Solo Performance for "Butterflies.") The set's pop-leaning dynamics also earned her an invite to open for Harry Styleson his highly anticipated 2018 North American arena tour.

Once Golden Hour was declared the GRAMMY Album of the Year—over the likes of Cardi BPost MaloneDrake, mind you—it felt as though Musgraves had become bigger than a crossover success. She was more like a pop culture phenom, sending social media into a frenzy with her impeccable Moschino Barbie look at the 2019 Met Gala, guest judging on RuPaul's Drag Race, and hosting a star-studded Christmas special that featured Schitt's Creek star Dan Levy, Lana Del Rey, and Camila Cabello, among others. Though a major bar had been set for a Golden Hour follow-up, Musgraves carved a solid path that kept expectations and hopes equally high.

But as she pointed out in one of Golden Hour's only breakup tales, "Space Cowboy," "sunsets fade, and love does too." Before she knew it, Musgraves' life-changing romance was coming to an end, and as she declares in her star-crossed track "What Doesn't Kill Me," "the golden hour faded black." Following a guided psilocybin trip in Nashville at the beginning of 2021, Musgraves explained to Crack magazine that she had a revelation about her situation: "I've been through a f***ing tragedy!"

That sparked the idea of presenting her post-divorce album like a three-part Greek tragedy. The 15-track star-crossedunfolds her relationship's demise, establishes where it went wrong, and looks ahead to new beginnings. Before landing on the tragedy theme, Musgraves admitted she wasn't quite sure she wanted to divulge the issues that ultimately crumbled the magical world she had created with Golden Hour. But once she really thought about it, she knew there was no other way.

"People know me to be a songwriter that writes about what I'm going through, and I think it would've been extremely awkward if I just acted like this chapter didn't happen for me," Musgraves told Apple Music's Zane Lowe. "You saw my highlight reel with Golden Hour, and this is the other side of that. There are beautiful sides of that too.

"I want the chance to transform my trauma into something else, and I want to give myself that opportunity even if it's painful," she added. "It was completely life-changing in so many ways."

<style>.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }</style><div class='embed-container'><iframe src='' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

It was seemingly creatively stimulating as well. Star-crossed takes the ethereal production of Golden Hour to new heights, experimenting with just how cosmic Musgraves can sound on swirling tracks like "Good Wife" and "If This Was a Movie." Perhaps the latter ignited another lightbulb moment for Musgraves, because star-crossed is, indeed, a movie. A 50-minute film of the same name played for one night only in 25 theaters around the U.S. on Sept. 8, and arrived to Paramount+ as the album hit streaming platforms at midnight on Sept. 10.

Star-crossed: the film is a reminder that Musgraves is an artistic mastermind. It also reassures fans that her playfulness hasn't completely disappeared. Complex manifestations of the tracks are sprinkled with Easter eggs and entertaining performances from the cast, including comedian Megan Stalter and Latin singer-songwriter San Cha. It's a fitting parallel to the balance of the album, which is lyrically dense while sonically mesmerizing.

For example, the title track is soundtracked by flittering Latin-inspired guitar and thumping production as Musgraves starts off the album in poetic form: "Let me set the scene/ Two lovers ripped right at the seams/ They woke up from the perfect dream/ And then the darkness came/ I signed the papers yesterday/ You came and took your things away/ And moved out of the home we made/ And gave you back your name."

While it's obvious why Musgraves delved into heartbreak on star-crossed, a full project of breakup songs shouldn't come as a complete shock to longtime listeners anyway.

No matter how impudent Musgraves has been in her music and in the public eye, her sensitive side hasn't been lost in her audacity. Each of her albums has had its tender moments, like Same Trailer Different Park single "Keep It To Yourself" and Pageant Material closer "Fine." Yes, even the rose-colored Golden Hour featured some melancholy, with the lamenting ballad "Space Cowboy" and the nerve-wracked "Happy & Sad."

Funnily enough, for a woman who has no problem telling anyone off, Musgraves doesn't have any truly scathing breakup tunes in her catalog. The edginess comes in the form of creative phrasing and lighthearted jabs, like Golden Hour's disco-tinged single "High Horse" or Pageant Material's falsetto-laced track "Miserable." "Breadwinner" and "Justified" are about as caustic as Musgraves gets on star-crossed, which is overall more of a diary than a revenge party.

"I'm not a ruthless person," Musgraves told ELLE earlier this year. "I care about other people's feelings," she added, asserting that releasing such a detailed account of her divorce was "kind of scary."

<style>.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }</style><div class='embed-container'><iframe src='' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

At the same time, the writing process was a "therapeutic outlet" for the singer-songwriter. "I can't help but to write about what I'm going through," she said in her February cover story for Rolling Stone. "I want to honor the huge range of emotion that I've felt over this past year, past six months. I also want to honor the relationship [Ruston and I] had and the love we have for each other. Because it's very real."

One thing that didn't scare Musgraves was the elevated production that Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian (the dream team behind Golden Hour) brought to star-crossed. Combining Musgraves' country-leaning wordcraft and velvety voice with synths and vocoders clearly worked on her previous album, which she told Crack allowed her to accomplish "everything I could have ever dreamed of." With that, "I felt like I didn't really have anything to prove," she said, "and I don't make albums for accolades anyway."

Even if this isn't musically her most country work, Musgraves would argue she's more aligned with the genre than ever. She joked to The New York Times (in classic Kacey fashion), "I wasn't going to be a real country artist without at least one divorce under my belt."

Kacey die-hards will be pleased to know she's feeling butterflies once again, as her new beau, writer Cole Schafer, made things Instagram official with a sweet dedication to Musgraves on her Aug. 21 birthday. "Here's to you making it through thirty-two and here's to you making history in thirty-three," he wrote in the caption of a black-and-white photo montage. He left his star-crossed review in the comments: "that s*** f***s."

Whether or not Schafer is the muse for her next work, Musgraves has hinted that she's at peace with the heartache that resulted in star-crossed—even if it wasn't what she'd envisioned for this next chapter. "I'm in a night period," she contended to Rolling Stone. "But what's great about that is that next is another light period. It will come again."

Kacey Musgraves Press Photo 2024
Kacey Musgraves

Photo: Kelly Christine Sutton


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, 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

Brittney Spencer performing on "Fallon"
(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


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

Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
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."

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 every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

10 Essential Facts To Know About GRAMMY-Winning Rapper J. Cole

BTS Star Jung Kook
Jung Kook



Everything We Know About Jung Kook’s New Album ‘Golden’: Release Date, Album Cover, Tracklist & More

BTS member Jung Kook announced his debut full-length solo album. 'GOLDEN' will drop on Nov. 3; here's everything we know about the K-pop release.

GRAMMYs/Oct 3, 2023 - 10:22 pm

The latest member of K-pop juggernaut BTS has announced a new solo album. Due Nov. 3, Jung Kook's GOLDEN is his first full-length solo release.

The youngest member of the GRAMMY-nominated septet, Jung Kook has long stood out for his creativity in vocals, dancing, and rap skills. In recent years, he's made a distinctive impact via  tracks like 2018’s "Euphoria" and 2020's "Still With You," and collaborations with artists like Latto and Charlie Puth. Along with music, he has also expanded his brand presence by venturing into fashion, including a campaign with Calvin Klein. 

GOLDEN will include Jung Kook's recent collaboration with Jack Harlow, a catchy pop track with melodies heavily influenced by 2000s-era boy bands.

Jung Kook's debut album follows BTS' hiatus for mandatory Korean military service. For BTS fans — known as ARMY — GOLDEN is a highly anticipated addition to the ensemble's universe.

Although details on GOLDEN are sparse, read more on everything we know about Jung Kook's debut solo album.

GOLDEN Comes Out Exactly One Month After Being Announced

Mark your calendars! Jung Kook is dropping GOLDEN on Nov. 3, exactly a month after announcing it on Oct. 3.

The Album Cover Hasn't Been Unveiled

While the official cover for GOLDEN hasn't been unveiled, the album announcement featured a  green background with a golden border and GOLDEN centered in bold. The album announcement photo is a different, much more reserved vibe in comparison to Jung Kook's associated press images. In the latter, the singer is set against a futuristic background in a Y2K-era outfit.

GOLDEN Has A Significant Meaning

The title of the album refers to Jung Kook's moniker the "Golden Maknae," which was gifted by bandmate RM. The Korean phrase maknae means "golden youngest" and, at 26 years old, Jung Kook is the baby brother of the group.

The album is "inspired by the golden moments of Jung Kook, the Golden Maknae of BTS and a solo artist," according to a press release. Given Jung Kook's versatility and skill, his forthcoming album will certainly mark him as a gold star.

The Tracklist Is Still Being Teased

The album will feature 11 songs, including already-released singles  "Seven (ft. Latto)," which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Jung Kook's Jack Harlow collab will also be on the record; the song  and No. 3 on UK Official Chart, along with "3D" feat. Jack Harlow, which topped the iTunes Top Song chart in 100 countries/regions.

Pre-Orders Are Already Underway

For fans hoping to get their hands on the album, pre-orders for digital and physical copies begin at Oct.3. at 10 p.m. ET.

Fans Should Expect Upcoming Performances

According to BIGHIT Music, Jung Kook will be making special performances and appearances throughout the album’s release. 

Breaking Down Every Solo Act From BTS: Singles, Debut Albums, & What’s Next For The Septet