meta-scriptKelsea Ballerini's Musical Growth: 12 Songs That Represent Her Journey To 'Subject To Change' |
Kelsea Ballerini Press Photo 2022
Kelsea Ballerini

Photo: Patrick Tracy


Kelsea Ballerini's Musical Growth: 12 Songs That Represent Her Journey To 'Subject To Change'

With the release of her new album 'SUBJECT TO CHANGE,' Kelsea Ballerini celebrates life's unexpected journeys. The country star picks 12 songs that tell her story, from her first hit "Love Me Like You Mean It" to the heartfelt "WHAT I HAVE."

GRAMMYs/Sep 23, 2022 - 02:55 pm

"I gotta be honest, my life looks a lot different than I thought it looked even a couple years ago," Kelsea Ballerini says with a sense of disbelief.

While many people can relate to that sentiment amid the effects of the pandemic, the country singer has experienced lots of changes herself in the past couple of years — including a divorce, which she announced in August.

That's one of the many life happenings Ballerini documents on her fourth studio album, the aptly titled SUBJECT TO CHANGE. But as she declares in the thought-provoking title track, "I don't think about the chapters/ It's all about turning the page."

The 15-track LP covers the usual country suspects — love ("LOVE IS A COWBOY"), heartbreak ("I GUESS THEY CALL IT FALLIN'"), booze-filled nights ("YOU'RE DRUNK, GO HOME") — but with a level of maturity and growth that even Ballerini admits feels different. As she's detailed in her teasers for SUBJECT TO CHANGE, the album is as literal as the title itself, and it all goes back to one thing: growth.

"I keep calling it my first grown-up record," Ballerini, who turned 29 on Sept. 12, says with a laugh. "Every record I've made, I've just been in such a different headspace, because they kind of mark two years of my 20s. And every two years in your 20s, I feel like you're just a whole different person."

To commemorate the release of SUBJECT TO CHANGE, Ballerini picked three songs from each of her four albums that she felt best displayed her personal and professional journey. Below, Ballerini details why she picked each song, what they mean to her, and how they all led to her most personal album to date.

"Secondhand Smoke," The First Time

I started writing songs when I was 12. When my parents got divorced, it was in that moment, and through that process, that I realized that music was my tool to heal. It's the way I process life and the way I get my emotions out.

"Secondhand Smoke" is the only song I've ever written about my parents divorce. And it, to me, was such a marker of honoring the pain that brought the gift. It was really important for me to put that on my first record to time-mark that — to just say, "This is the thing that is even the reason I'm making this record."

"Love Me Like You Mean It," The First Time

I had signed my publishing deal. I was doing two or three writing sessions a day, trying to figure out my thing and what was gonna make me an artist — like, what was gonna make people listen.

To this day —and I have an awful memory — I remember sitting in the lobby of Black River [Entertainment, her label] with ["Love Me" co-writers] Forest [Whitehead], Lance [Carpenter] and Josh [Kerr], we had just ordered pizza, and we were talking about the music we loved. And Forest brought up "Take A Bow" by Rihanna. He was like, "I just want to hear you do something with this kind of attitude." And the song just like, happened. I remember it feeling like something I hadn't written yet, and something that I hadn't really heard anyone else do yet.

Obviously it was the first single, but it holds a lot of weight for me personally because it was my first experience as an artist in general. That song represents the first of this whole journey.

"The First Time," The First Time

That song represents my songwriting, which is, and I've said it a million times, my favorite and the most pure part of what I do. I unintentionally wrote one song by myself.

When I decided to put that on the album, I made a promise to myself that no matter how many albums I get the pleasure of making in my career, I'm always gonna do one solo write [on] each record. I never want to lose the trust that I have for myself and my songwriting. That song represents that to me.

"Miss Me More," Unapologetically

I had the hook, "I thought I'd miss you, but I missed me more" in my phone for a long time. And I didn't want to write it in Nashville, just because of who it was about. I also didn't let myself write outside of Nashville for a long time, because I was really protective of not sonically pushing the boundary to pop, ever.

Then finally, I went to LA., and I had one session with David Hodges and another artist/writer named Leland. I finally just felt safe enough, I guess, to unload, so I did. [Laughs

It's also the first time that I let myself get a little bit savage. I was so nervous about being the girl that's happy-go-lucky [after releasing] "Yeah Boy" and "Dibs and "Love Me Like You Mean It," and then finally getting a little harsher. But it honored the feelings that I had at that time. 

It represents me starting to take ownership of all of my feelings — not just the flirty, youthful ones, but the more confident ones. That song just took me on a ride. Best kind of revenge.

"Unapologetically," Unapologetically

"Unapologetically" represents this really naive, but dead-set will to just follow my gut and follow my heart.

My current single out at country radio ["HEARTFIRST"] is the same sentiment. I keep going back to it in different forms and in different songs, because I really believe in my heart that nothing good in life happens unless you just trust yourself. You never know where it's gonna lead, and that's part of the risk, but it usually leads somewhere really beautiful — at least for a while. 

"Legends," Unapologetically

"Legends," at the time — and maybe still — is the only song that I wrote about one thing, and by time I recorded it and it came out, meant a totally different thing.

I wrote it to process this period of my life that I spent with the person that I was trying to reflect on fondly. By the time it came out, I named the fan club Legends, and then all of the people that have been on the journey since "Love Me Like You Mean It" started calling themselves Legends.

We used to scream, "We didn't do it for the fame of the glory/ We just did it for you and me" — like, we just unspokenly started screaming it together at shows. It became this real connection between me and the people that relate to my music.

I love it so much more now, because it represents the connection that I get to have with people, which is why I do [this]. It has been a metamorphosis of a song for me.

"the way i used to," kelsea

"the way i used to" is by far the most pop song I've ever put on a record. I was in the car with my friend Steph Jones — who's an incredible songwriter — and we were playing each other demos. She was like, "I just wrote this sick hook at a camp, but I don't have the song, it's just the hook." She played it for me, and I was like, "I don't know anything other than this feels like the most clever hook I've ever heard, and for some reason it feels like I need it."

It's the first song ever [that] I didn't write nuts to bolts. It's the first song where I took the hook and I wrote the rest. I just really believed in it.

"a country song," kelsea

"a country song" — that somehow lives on the same record [as "The Way I Used To"] — is truly digging my heels into country music and saying, "This is the place that I feel watered." I love the juxtaposition of both of those living on the same body of music.

"la," kelsea

"la" is literally me talking through not knowing how to be a semi-public figure. I mess it up often, but I'm doing my best. It talks about trying to honor country music and everything that I do, while also honoring my will to push boundaries and expand myself and my art. It also honors growing pains.

Having all three of those on the same record, nothing could have been more true to the musical place I was in. I was finally confident enough to play. I just played on that album. It was so collaborative, so full of friendship. And it's like a quilt — it's not a very cohesive record, and that's just where I was at. 


I had the [album] title before I had the song. I went in and I was like, "Okay, there's two ways we can write this. We can either be super broad, like, 'Everyone's experienced change in the last few years. This is a universal feeling.'" Or we can be so specific where it's like, almost jarring. And that's the route that I went.

I dyed my hair brown for like two seconds, and in the two seconds is when I wrote "SUBJECT TO CHANGE." So it literally says in the chorus, "I haven't decided if I'm gonna stay brunette," and I didn't. That is the irony of the whole entire record in one silly little line.

The whole record starts with "Seasons do it and it happens when the night goes day/ Going through it, I knew it, the right and the hard thing are sometimes the same." And then the second verse is, "If I'm honest, growing up, it kind of hurts like hell/ It's chaotic, ironic, but it's how I learned to find myself." 

I think it sets the tone of truly where I'm at right now in my life, but also just finding a lot of peace in the fact that the point of life is change. The point of life is growth. The point of life is moments where you just go "What is going on?," and then you find out what's going on, and you're better because of it. That song is the perfect tone-setter for the record, but it's also just a true snapshot of me as a 29-year-old right now.


There's a lot I could say about this song, so I'll word vomit because I think this song deserves it.

We had cut the first 10 songs for the album, and I was listening to it when I was on vacation in Mexico a while ago. I was realizing that some of the pillar songs, like the ones I was really excited about, I was almost playing a character in them, like "MUSCLE MEMORY" and "YOU'RE DRUNK GO HOME." 

I was like, "These are so rad and I'm so excited to play them live, but it's not necessarily where I'm at in my life right now." And I really want to honor the part of me that I unlocked when I wrote my book [of poems, Feel Your Way Through, published in 2021]. I unlocked this part of me that was really fearless with honesty, and I wanted to make sure that I had at least one song where it was like, brutally honest — and honestly, just an extension of the book.

I asked my friend Alysa Vanderheym — who I wrote eight of the songs with on this album — to send me a track. She sent me a track, and I went down to the ocean. I put on my earbuds, and I opened my Voice Notes app, and I just stream-of-consciousness sang the song. That's why the rhymes aren't perfect and some of the words are weird. 

It's really taking ownership of my life and things that might have looked a little embarrassing or a little cringy, and just fully taking ownership of those things. 

The other thing that I'll say about this song is, every year I pick a word, like on New Year's, and it's my word for the year. This year, I remember I spent hours on New Year's Eve writing all the things that I wanted to get better at, and all the things that I wanted to grow in. I read it the next day, and all I got from it was, "You're not good enough now, and that's actual bulls—."

So I [tore] it up, and I just wrote, "I'm doing my best." And I put it in an Instagram caption too. I said, "That's my vibe for the year. I'm just going to show up as I am as someone who's actively trying to grow, but knowing that as I am now is enough." 

You hear that thematically on SUBJECT TO CHANGE — in "LITTLE THINGS," in "WHAT I HAVE," there's a lot of peace in it. Peace amongst chaos. It's been the theme of my year, it's been my biggest intention this year, and it's the song that really just takes ownership.


I love starting the record with "SUBJECT TO CHANGE," which says, "Life is chaos. Life is ups and downs. We find ourselves somewhere in the middle of all those ups and downs. I acknowledge that everything I have now I might not have tomorrow. Life is subject to change."

Then the record takes you through the journey. And at the end it says, "And although it might not be what I have tomorrow, right now what I have is meant for me. And it's not in the big things, it's in the little things. And I'm taking inventory of my life as it is now, before it changes." 

Why Noah Cyrus Is Unabashedly Proud Of Her Debut Album 'The Hardest Part': "I Had A Lot Of Growing Up To Do"

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

2024 GRAMMYs general hero 1


2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See Miley Cyrus, Ice Spice, Noah Kahan, Kelsea Ballerini, & More Artists' Reactions

The 2024 GRAMMY nominations have been announced! Here’s how nominated artists from boygenius to Jelly Roll reacted on social media.

GRAMMYs/Nov 10, 2023 - 10:09 pm

This afternoon, the highly anticipated 2024 GRAMMY nominations were announced, bringing loads of excitement to music enthusiasts.

After the announcements were made, nominated artists shared their reaction on social media. A series of appreciation posts flooded the timeline from the likes of first-time nominee Tyla, trend-charting rapper Coi Leray, country star Kelsea Ballerini, and more.

Dive into the social media celebration posts, while catching up on the full nominees list. Make sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMY awards on Sunday, Feb. 4 at Arena in Los Angeles.

The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, will air live (8:00-11:30 PM, LIVE ET/5:00-8:30 PM, LIVE PT) on the CBS Television Network and will stream on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

"On My Mama" singer/songwriter Victoria Monét shared pre-nomination nerves last night, comparing the feeling to the anticipation of draft day. Little did she know, she'd be one of the most nominated artists of the year. She received six nominations in total: Record Of The Year, Best New Artist, Best R&B Album, Best R&B Performance, Best Traditional R&B Performance, and Best R&B Song.

After Coil Leray found out she was nominated for Best Rap Performance for "Players" and Best Pop Dance Recording for her feature with David Guetta (“Baby Don't Hurt Me"), the rapper took to X, formerly known as Twitter: "Wow I'm really Grammy Nominated ? That's crazy. Let me let this sink in real quick and I'll brb."

Miley Cyrus specifically highlighted the women in the music industry, while celebrating her fans and team:

Afrobeats star Davido's latest album Timeless was nominated for Best Global Album, while also receiving nominations for Best African Music Performance and Best Global Music Performance.

Americana musician Jason Isbell thanked The Recording Academy for the Best Americana Performance, Best American Roots Song, and Best Americana Album nominations.

Rising artist Tyla, whose song "Water" was nominated for Best African Music Performance, posted a series of tweets capturing her immense shock:

Atlanta based R&B singer-songwriter, Summer Walker, shouted out all the "lover girls/boys" after CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE EP was nominated for Best R&B Album.

Several artists took to Instagram to share more reactions to their nominations, including Best New Artist nominees Noah Kahan, Jelly Roll, Gracie Abrams, Ice Spice and The War & Treaty:

Country star Kelsea Ballerini shared a live-reaction video to her Best Country Album nomination.

Boygenius was nominated for Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Alt Music Performance, Best Alternative Music Album, and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. The trio posted a photo of them hugging while staring at the TV displaying their nominations.

Latin singers Pedro Capó and Gaby Moreno celebrated their Best Latin Pop Album nominations, while fellow Latin star Juanes rejoiced over his Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album nod:

And despite writing GRAMMY-winning and GRAMMY-nominated hits for the likes of Kacey Musgraves and Julia Michaels (respectively), songwriters Shane McAnally and Justin Tranter were both shocked their names were included in the Songwriter Of The Year category — proving that a GRAMMY nomination is always magical, no matter how many times it happens.

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List

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

Franc Moody
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 


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

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

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say She She

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

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


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

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

Shiro Schwarz

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

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


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

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

Franc Moody

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

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

The Rise Of Underground House: How Artists Like Fisher & Acraze Have Taken Tech House, Other Electronic Genres From Indie To EDC