meta-scriptLizzy McAlpine’s Big Year: The Viral Singer Details The Biggest Moments Behind Her Fast-Rising Career | GRAMMY.com
lizzy mcalpines big year
Lizzy McAlpine

Photo: Caity Krone

interview

Lizzy McAlpine’s Big Year: The Viral Singer Details The Biggest Moments Behind Her Fast-Rising Career

As Lizzy McAlpine winds down the U.S. leg of her tour, the "ceilings" singer looks back on her song going viral, performing on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," headlining a sold-out tour, and signing with a major record label.

GRAMMYs/Jun 7, 2023 - 03:59 pm

Lizzy McAlpine is a skilled storyteller who has become known for her candid and relatable songwriting in genres ranging from pop to indie folk. "As I’ve grown and evolved as a songwriter, I've been able to let the vulnerability shine through a little bit more and I’ve become less afraid of saying exactly what's on my mind," she says, speaking from Los Angeles over a Zoom call. 

Apparently, listeners appreciate her honesty. 

McAlpine has turned hundreds of millions of listeners into dedicated fans since the release of her first album, Give Me A Minute, in 2020. After introducing her sophomore album five seconds flat, her popularity seems to have skyrocketed . Her hit song "ceilings" peaked at No. 54 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, reached 230 million streams and climbing on Spotify, was certified Gold, and inspired a TikTok challenge resulting in over 742,000 posts featuring a sped-up version of the song. She recently  performed on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" and signed with RCA Records. The second leg of her tour sold out immediately. 

"Even though the experiences we all go through are universal, it can feel isolating when you’re in the moment," says the 23-year-old Philadelphia-born musician. "I hope that people can feel less alone and have an outlet to express their emotions that is healthy by listening to my songs." 

With her soft but steady voice, McAlpine sings from a place where most of us feel least comfortable — a place of uncertainty, contradiction, and discovery — which is reflected in lines like "it's not that I hate you, I hate that it hurt" and "I was trying to be honest, but now I think I should've just lied." Instrumentally, five seconds flat is layered with electronic features, strings, guitar, piano, drums, and horns. But McAlpine doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into a style: "My albums are just a reflection of who I am at the time." 

After completing a 27-show international tour on Sept. 11, McAlpine will head back into the studio to continue developing her third album — and to work toward new goals, including getting back to acting on stage or screen ("I'll literally take anything. I miss it so much"), building a world around her upcoming album through visuals and fan experiences, and buying a house. But first, she discussed her recent career highlights with GRAMMY.com. 

On "Ceilings" Going Viral And Writing Songs That Connect

I was definitely surprised. I don't expect any of my songs to have viral moments. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen, and I'm not going to chase it or try to make it happen. Also, this wasn't a single, it was just on the album, and so I definitely wasn't expecting this song to resonate as much as it did with people. 

I try to just write about things that have happened to me. Apparently, it's universal — I’ve gone through things that everyone seems to go through, and I put them into words. I think about my feelings all the time. I journal all the time; I have to write about a feeling until I understand it. That’s part of what songwriting is, for me, too. It's writing about things that I don't understand until I understand them. And I feel like a lot of people connect to that. 

I'm not having any crazy experiences that no one else has ever had in their life before. I just tend to find ways to talk about these things that I experienced, [which are] sometimes feelings that are hard to put into words, and in ways that not a lot of people have talked about. I think people connect to the realness and the honesty.

[Noticing the "ceilings" TikTok trend] was a gradual thing for me. I can't remember which video I saw first, but I saw the sped-up sound getting a little bit of traction on TikTok, and then I started seeing the videos, and it snowballed from there. I wasn't expecting it. It was wild.

On Her "Tonight Show" Performance And Building A Lasting Career

I've done the late night talk show world before, but this was the first talk show experience that I had in at least a year. I had so much fun. I get nervous before I perform anywhere; it doesn't matter who's watching. But I wasn't that nervous at all. Jimmy was so nice. We did the bit, we filmed it. And then at the end, he was like, "Let me know if you want to listen to the mixes back. We want to make sure that you like it." It was just fun to be there and be on the set and perform the song for an actual audience.

I wouldn't say that was the turning point in being more widely recognized. I can't pinpoint one exact moment where it started changing, but it's always been a gradual, uphill kind of growth, which is what I want. I'm not chasing the overnight success thing. I want a long lasting career. And so I'm trying to build it gradually and with intention. That was one step on the path.

On The Joys And Challenges Of Headlining A Sold-Out Tour 

At first, I was fully convinced that all the tickets had been bought by bots or scammers or something, and that there was no way they sold out that fast. I was only convinced when I walked onstage at the first show and saw actual people in the audience. It was surreal.

Especially since this is the second leg of the five seconds flat tour, we wanted to make it different from the first tour, so if people are coming for a second time, they're not getting the same thing. And we also wanted to level it up production-wise, because we have the means to do that now. We have a whole set. We have walls and a couch. We have lighting. It basically feels like a living room, which was my design and I really wanted to make it feel homey and intimate because that's my vibe. I interact with the furniture and the lamps, and I move around the set. I'm pretty sure last tour just had a rug onstage — and that was it. But that's all we could afford. It’s starting to feel like an actual production now. 

There are a lot of challenging parts of touring for me. My cup is already pretty empty — I don't have a lot of social energy. The traveling takes more out of it, and then the performing takes even more out of it, so that at the end of the day, every day, I have nothing left. Sometimes it's easy once I'm on stage to go into that mode of performing. But it is hard on my mind and my body afterward. 

So it's hard, but there are obviously fun moments. I love my team so much. My band and the crew are so kind and so fun to be around. My favorite moments on the tour so far have been with them.

On Signing With A Major Label And Embarking On A New Record

In tandem with the tour being a level up this time around, this also feels like the right time to go to a major label. I had thought about it right before five seconds flat came out but I wanted to hold out a little longer. That album didn't seem like the right album to take to a major. It was a gut thing. And now it feels like I am on the edge of something and this decision to sign with RCA is definitely pushing me towards that. 

I want to do and accomplish a lot of things in my life and my career. This is a step towards all of those goals. I was ready to take that step. 

I am working on my third record, and it's taken a long time, but it's finally on its way. All my albums are going to sound different because I'm always going to be a different person when I'm making them. Who I am now is leaning more towards ’70s-inspired sounds like Elliott Smith and the Smiths and those types of artists. A big inspiration for this album is Andy Shauf — his music is incredible. Just like 70s-sounding, live, more raw and less tuned and perfected. I want the next album to feel more authentic. Not that my stuff before hasn't sounded authentic, but I'm leaning more towards a less clean, less polished sound.

Arlo Parks On How Patience, Film & Falling In Love Molded 'My Soft Machine

Tanner Adell
Tanner Adell attends the 2024 CMA Awards.

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for CMT

list

12 Must-See Acts At Stagecoach 2024: Tanner Adell, Charley Crockett & More

Before the country music festival returns to the California desert April 26-28, get to know some of the most buzzworthy artists set to take this year's Stagecoach Festival by storm.

GRAMMYs/Apr 23, 2024 - 11:28 pm

In a matter of days, some of country music's best and most promising acts will come together in Indio, California for Stagecoach Festival 2024. The annual event has spotlighted an eclectic mix of talent since 2007, but this year's impressive roster of performers helped Stagecoach earn its largest number of ticket sales in the festival's 17-year history.

Held April 28-30 at the Empire Polo Club — the same scenic desert landscape as the long-running Coachella Music and Arts Festival — this year's Stagecoach Festival offers a diverse blend of artists that spans from headliners like Miranda Lambert and Eric Church to surf-pop icons the Beach Boys, hit rockers Nickelback and hip-hop star Post Malone

Along with this diverse roster of superstars, the 2024 Stagecoach lineup is filled with a captivating list of artists on the rise. From a singer/songwriter enjoying a much-deserved comeback to a skillful 25-year-old putting his own spin on the '90s country sound, this year's crop of talent is paving the way for the future of country music.

Stagecoach Festival 2024 is completely sold out, but country fans who didn't snag their ticket in time can still enjoy all the festivities by streaming performances live via Amazon Prime all weekend long. Before you head out into the California sun or get cozy in front of your TV, take a moment to learn more about these 12 must-see acts coming to Stagecoach this year.

Tanner Adell

Since the release of Beyoncé's country-inspired album COWBOY CARTER, singer/songwriter Tanner Adell has become one of the genre's most talked about new artists. Before she was tapped as a guest vocalist on Beyoncé's cover of the Beatles' classic "Blackbird," and original track "AMERIICAN REQUIEM," Adell had already garnered a dedicated fan base online. 

Thanks to viral hits like "Buckle Bunny," the playful title track of her 2023 debut album, the Nashville-based talent has earned praise from both critics and country listeners worldwide. From heartfelt ballads to beat-driven bops made to get you on the dance floor, Adell blends elements of radio-ready modern country and rhythmic hip-hop with ease.

Adell's Saturday performance at Stagecoach promises to be a fiery and fun showcase of her polished pop-country songbook.

Zach Top

While growing up in Washington state, Zach Top forged a deep connection to the sound of traditional country music. From Marty Robbins to Keith Whitley, the influence of the genre's past is deeply entwined in every track of the talented 25-year-old's brand new record, Cold Beer & Country Music

Top's 12-track LP has earned plenty of buzz for its new take on the neo-traditionalist style that dominated country radio in the late 1980s and early '90s. With engaging vocals reminiscent of the late Daryle Singletary and thoughtful lyricism, Zach Top provides a fresh new take on a familiar and formative sound.

Brittney Spencer

Over the past five years, Brittney Spencer has repeatedly proven why she's one of the most important and captivating voices within modern country music. From her acclaimed 2021 single "Sober & Skinny'' to her celebrated collaboration with country supergroup The Highwomen, Spencer's vocals are consistently as emotive as they are effortless.

Spencer's charismatic personality and boundless energy take center stage through every performance, making her live shows a can't-miss event. Her Sunday afternoon set at Stagecoach offers a chance to hear cuts from her stellar debut album, My Stupid Life, which dropped in January.

Vincent Neil Emerson

Texas native Vincent Neil Emerson first earned widespread praise with the 2019 release of his debut album, Fried Chicken and Evil Women, earning him comparisons to influential artists like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. His narrative-driven lyrics and hauntingly raw vocals have won the hearts of country fans far outside the Texas plains.

Over the years, he's collaborated with fellow alt-country favorite Colter Wall and recruited the creative genius of Rodney Crowell, who serves as producer on Emerson's self-titled 2021 LP. With his most recent album, the Shooter Jennings-produced The Golden Crystal Kingdom, Emerson once again channels the old-school magic of the traditional country that only comes from a rare type of Texas troubadour.

Katie Pruitt

Although Katie Pruitt has been locally lauded as among the best of Nashville's modern crop of singer/songwriters for years, her rise into the mainstream is still overdue. The Georgia native's stunning 2020 debut album, Expectations, was hailed for its raw honesty and effortless vocal intricacies. 

When she takes the stage during the final day of Stagecoach 2024, Pruitt will be armed with a brand new batch of awe-inspiring songs. Released on April 5, her sophomore album, Mantras, delivers an unpredictable, genre-bending sound that displays a sense of artistry far beyond her years. Don't miss your chance to see Pruitt's mesmerizing live set, which is guaranteed to have you dancing and maybe even wiping away a few tears.

Carin León

In just a few short years, beloved Mexican singer/songwriter Carin León has evolved from a regional hitmaker to an internationally known talent. His reflective and honest songs have connected with audiences globally, becoming one of Spotify's most streamed modern Mexican artists. 

Earlier this year, the two-time Latin GRAMMY-winner made his Grand Ole Opry debut, and will serve as the opening act for rock legends the Rolling Stones' Hackney Diamonds Tour when it heads to Glendale, Ariz. this May. (And just one week before his Stagecoach debut, he also made his Coachella debut.) Fans who catch his Friday set may be lucky enough to see a live rendition of "It Was Always You (Siempre Fuiste Tú)," his fresh collaboration with fellow Stagecoach 2024 artist Leon Bridges.

Trampled By Turtles 

Thanks to their unique blend of bluegrass, folk, country, and a dash of rock and roll, Minnesota-based outfit Trampled by Turtles has become a music festival staple — and will make their third Stagecoach appearance (and first in 10 years) on Saturday. Their high-energy live sets channel the psychedelic magic of rock's jam band scene, subbing plucky acoustic instrumentation in the place of rolling electric guitar.

The long-running band will treat fans to an array of tracks from their impressive career, which spans 10 albums, including their critically praised 2022 LP, Alpenglow. Even if you aren't already familiar with Trampled by Turtles' extensive list of releases, you're sure to be captivated by their hypnotizing performance style and positive energy that radiates from the live stage.

Charley Crockett

Texas-born talent Charley Crockett is one of few modern artists who have proven worthy enough for the coveted title of "troubadour." The seasoned singer/songwriter's appearance at Stagecoach will coincide with the release of $10 Cowboy, his soulful and synth-tinged 16th studio album.

Crockett's mix of traditional country and thoughtful folk, infused with gritty 1970s pop, creates a nostalgic charm that captivates the live stage. His descriptive story songs and distinctive twang echo the genre's early greats while expanding those classic country themes into new and surprising sonic territory. His Stagecoach 2024 set is sure to deliver a blend of fresh album cuts along with fan favorites from his already-expansive catalog.

Lola Kirke

You may know Lola Kirke as an accomplished actress in both television and film, but the British talent is also one of country music's most surprising new artists. Her stylized mix of traditional country and edgy pop-rock is refreshingly fun and tailor-made for Stagecoach's good-time vibe. 

In recent months, Kirke has shared a string of infectious singles leading up to the release of her latest EP, Country Curious. In March, she dropped a stellar take on the Paula Cole classic "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?" featuring Stagecoach 2023 alumni Kaitlin Butts. Make sure you clean off your boots before Kirke's set, because there's a good chance she'll have a very special line dance lesson ready for the crowd.

Willie Jones

For nearly a decade, Louisiana-born talent Willie Jones has captivated country fans with fresh and genre-bending tracks, propelled by deep, rich vocals. Since first making waves with his rendition of Josh Turner's "Your Man" during an audition for "The X-Factor" in 2012, Jones has been paving his own path in the genre. 

He's recorded two full-length records, including his irresistible 2023 LP Something to Dance To. His Stagecoach set will certainly be a boot-stomper, offering concertgoers a chance to experience the magic captured on his latest EP, The Live Sessions, which arrived on April 5.

Sam Barber

Missouri native Sam Barber has evolved from a hopeful musician to a viral sensation with a major-label record deal. While passing the time at college, the gifted 20-year-old began recording covers of his favorite country tracks and shared them on TikTok, quickly garnering thousands of eager listeners. His down-to-earth charm, paired with surprisingly seasoned and gritty vocals, also earned the attention of Atlantic Records. 

In 2023, they shared Barber's debut EP, Million Eyes, which spawned the breakthrough radio single "Straight and Narrow." Now, fresh off the release of Live EP 001 and a string of new singles, Barber will bring his thoughtful yet edgy country sound to Stagecoach, marking another rapidfire career accomplishment.

Luke Grimes

Although you may know him best for his role as the chaotic charmer Kayce Dutton on the acclaimed television series "Yellowstone," Luke Grimes' creative talents expand far outside the small screen. A lifelong musician and lover of country music, Grimes took the stage at Stagecoach 2023 in support of his debut EP, Pain Pills or Pews. The project's raw and honest tracks earned critical acclaim and quickly led Grimes back into the studio, tapping Dave Cobb as producer for his vulnerable new self-titled LP, which arrived on March 8.

Whether you're a longtime fan of his acting or an already devoted listener, Grimes' set marks a pivotal moment in his ever-evolving musical career — and one of many can't-miss moments at this year's Stagecoach Festival.

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

The Melvins
The Melvins (L-R: Dale Crover, Steven McDonald, Buzz Osborne)

Photo: Chris Casella

interview

On The Melvins' 'Tarantula Heart,' Buzz Osborne Continues His Idiosyncratic Calling: "I Don't Want To Do Anything Normal"

Kicking out bassists, flipping the script on drummers, beating up drunks: no conversation with the razor-sharp Buzz Osborne is going to be conventional. And the Melvins' gloriously strange new album, 'Tarantula Heart,' is a boon to off-center music fans.

GRAMMYs/Apr 23, 2024 - 08:24 pm

"I will answer any and all questions. Just, a lot of times, people don't like my answers."

So goes Buzz Osborne — the long-reigning King Buzzo, of cult heavies the Melvins — halfway through a hair-raising, hour-long interview. He had a catbird seat to the exhilarating rise and tragic fall of the grunge era; for some, his brutal honesty in that regard might be a liability.

"That's just Buzz," said his old friend Krist Novoselic of Nirvana, after Osborne virally disparaged the documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck as "90 percent... bulls—." "He's always been like that, but we love him so we just accept him for that. He's always had these opinions. Like, 'Oh, there goes Buzz again.'"

There he goes again, indeed. But Osborne's honesty is just that — honesty. Go ahead and scour his interviews; try to catch him in a lie, or a half-truth, about anything he's lived through.

"I wasn't wrong then, I'm not wrong now. I was misunderstood then, and I'm going to continue to be misunderstood," Osborne tells GRAMMY.com of the old days, when he watched his friends in Nirvana and Soundgarden grow from nothing to dominate the earth. "But that's OK, it's part of the deal."

Unlike either act, Osborne has always been 100 percent opposed to conventional notions of rock stardom. (Cobain seemed hot and cold on the matter.) He doesn't drink or take drugs. He's been married to the same woman forever. "I live a conservative life, and I let my wildness come out of my art," Osborne explains.

And while Tarantula Heart might not necessarily grow his cult fanbase, it's one of the wildest things Osborne's made — and that alone makes it worth celebrating and cherishing.

The Melvins' 27th studio album (Osborne estimates the total to be over 30, so perhaps it depends on how you count) is rife with off-kilter, pummeling tracks like "Working the Ditch," "She's Got Weird Arms" and "Smiler."

Therein, Osborne shows he can still throw a wrench in the works when things threaten to become predictable, and come up with profoundly idiosyncratic and ineffably satisfying art. (How he recorded the drums alone is fascinating — and by some standards, backwards.)

Read on to learn how Tarantula Heart was made, living with Kurt Cobain's distorted public shadow, which of his grunge-era contemporaries he still talks to, and much more.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

I'll admit that I haven't heard every Melvins album. But Tarantula Heart still strikes me as a high watermark in the discography.

Well, I don't think anybody has heard our entire catalog.

I probably have. I would say that I guarantee you Steven [Shane McDonald]'s never listened to all of our records. The guy who plays bass for us. I really, seriously doubt it. I doubt that [former bassist] Kevin Rutmanis has ever listened to all of our records. I can't imagine that the Big Business guys listened to all our records. It's too much for anybody to take in. I don't expect people to do that.

At any rate, how do you keep your artistry so fresh and inspired?

I stay inspired by thinking — moving my feet. After 30-plus albums, I am always looking for something that's going to inspire me in a new way. I don't really have much interest in going back and making records the way that I did 30 years ago, or 15 years ago.

There's really no template for how you guys do things, is there?

No, there's no template. I don't want to do anything normal. Nothing. I'm an accidentalist, I'd say, by 50 percent. And the other 50 percent is making sure that you are not throwing out the good stuff with the bad stuff. 

Also, as time has gone on, I've realized that my tolerance for lots of stuff is a lot higher than most people are capable of dealing with. I can listen to long, drawn-out stuff, and I always could, but I realized in my music, I always held back a little bit on it. Then, I realized, Well, I don't need to do that. I can do whatever I want. I can view albums the way that I want to.

Do go on.

One of my favorite albums for that kind of thing is Heathen Earth by Throbbing Gristle. That's been a huge inspiration on what I've done for a long time. Or early Swans. I mean, we were never going to sell millions of records. All we were going to do was make music that, because I felt like I had good taste, there'd be other people that would like it. It probably won't be millions, but it'll be enough.

Those kinds of inspirations [are] very exciting for me. And I expect people not to understand it, but that's the way it's always been.

We did this record in such a weird fashion. I knew that I needed to tell people how we did it, but…once they knew, they would say, "That's what it sounds like." They'd piss all over it.

You know how many times I have been told what I should do in the last 41 years? It's like if I listened to all this good advice, I'd be sitting here with nothing.

You characterized yourself as an "accidentalist." Give me a couple of great accidents on Tarantula Heart.

Well, one of them was accidentally figuring out how we were going to do this record. Because that's not how we recorded the drums originally. I didn't know that's what we were going to do. I just accidentally stumbled on it while listening to the demos or the rough mixes of all the jams that we made.

So, we would have a basic riff that we could jam to with the drummers. We recorded for about 15 minutes, 20 minutes, maybe a few minutes into it, the drummers would lock up into something. And I realized when I was listening back to [the demos] that they did something interesting for this little six-minute section or eight-minute section, and then they kind of lost it.

Then, I would take that section, and write a riff to it that had nothing to do with the original riff that was on it. The first one I did was "Allergic to Food," I think. And then I put vocals on it and then I realized I could do the whole record like this. The drums are playing along with stuff that's not now on there. So, all their accents and all the way that they're playing isn't the way they would've done it, had we rehearsed it or something like this.

So, I got something out of it that's brand new.

That's the epitome of a happy accident.

I just accidentally stumbled upon this thing that might work, let me try doing the whole record like that. And it worked. But I don't know, I couldn't do it again, because now they'd be suspicious of it and they might play in a way that wasn't as free as the way they played. So, it's probably a one-time-only.

There's a song we did a long time ago called "The Bloated Pope," and there's a stumbly-sounding drum intro. Dale [Crover] made a mistake. I went, "Leave that in there. That's really cool." Now, that's the intro. It sounds intentional. That's how we play it now. But it was a mistake.

You mentioned Kevin Rutmanis. Do you keep in touch with old members of the Melvins?

I'm still really good friends with Kevin. Let me think. Mark [Deutrom], no. Lori [Black], no. Jeff Pinkus… I'm going to do a big acoustic tour starting in August with Trevor Dunn, who's also played with us. Jeff Pinkus is doing all the U.S. touring, and we're trying to get him on the European end of it. So, I talk to both Trevor and him a lot.

Matt [Lukin] from Mudhoney — no, not in the least.

I didn't know stuff wasn't cool with Matt. I just knew he played on the first Melvins album, Gluey Porch Treatments.

Oh, no, I don't get along with him at all. I haven't liked him since I was in high school. He's a very toxic human being. He wasn't a very good player, and I just found him irritating and counterproductive. I've not looked back one minute, nor have I regretted any part of not having him in my life.

He can do or say whatever he wants. I don't give a s—. That's nothing new. It's not like that's a new revelation. Look, hardly anybody in the world even knows who he is. You're one of the first people that's even brought him up.

That's surprising, as Pearl Jam named a song after him. It's not a hit, but fans know it.

Yeah, well, if Eddie wants to think he's a great guy, then so be it. Better him than me.

How about your other contemporaries, like the other members of Mudhoney?

Oh, I get along with those guys great. I would love to do a recording with all the Mudhoney guys.

Mark [Arm], especially, is someone I've known since the very early '80s. I learned a lot of stuff about bands and music that I never knew before. He turned me on to lots of stuff that I was very excited about, like Foetus and the Birthday Party — just a host of bands.

I always viewed him as somebody who was really smart — really fun to be around. He and Steve Turner know more about music than anyone I've ever been around.

I’d like to broach this as sensitively as possible: April 5 marked the 30th anniversary of your old friend Kurt's passing. How have you dealt with the endless flattening and deification of a person you knew as flesh and blood?

It's very weird. It's not the kind of thing you get over. People tend to want me to look at it like the good old days, but to me, heroin addiction and death, it's hard to romanticize that. I'm not going to get over it anytime soon. I don't know that I ever will.

Part of me also thinks that, yeah, I turned him onto music and got him interested in all this stuff, and it's like maybe if I hadn't, he wouldn't be dead. So it's a weird position to be in.

I hope that doesn't bedevil you too much. That's a massive weight to carry — one that you didn't ask for.

I mean, at some point, you just have to move on. And musical ideas that I had, other people took, and it changed music on a global level. So I wasn't wrong about what I originally thought, and I'm happy to have that be the case, and I'll just move forward with the same attitude I did then.

I wasn't wrong then, I'm not wrong now. I was misunderstood then, and I'm going to continue to be misunderstood, but that's OK, it's part of the deal. I'm OK with that.

It's your lot in life.

That's all right. I mean, I make my living as a musician. That's all I ever wanted. So no one could have guessed any of that stuff would happen.

I mean, the Nirvana guys and the Soundgarden guys — those are rags-to-riches stories.Those guys, especially the Nirvana guys, had nothing. And if you look at the guys in Soundgarden, those people all come from nothing. Zero.

So, it's been exciting to watch people you're so fond of become successful and have that kind of thing happen and say that you were an influence on what they were doing. Great.

But when you're handed that kind of responsibility and those kinds of keys, you need to work harder than you ever have. You just need to keep doing this good work. And that's what I've tried to do for the next 35, 40 years.

The Melvins

*The Melvins in 1991 (L-R: Dale Crover, Buzz Osborne, then-bassist Lori Black). Photo: David Corio/Redferns*

It feels so unfair what happened to you guys. You were kids from the sticks — and to varying degrees, you were all thrown into this ruthless celebrity grinder.

Oh, yeah. It's easy to avoid that stuff. I'm not going to any industry parties. I never have. I don't want to do that kind of stuff. I've always shied away from it, because I'm not comfortable there.

I don't think it's wrong for everyone, but it's wrong for me. I'd rather just do my work and let that be the end of it. I'm not good at networking. I'm not good at outselling myself to people who may not give a s—.

I've been in L.A. for 30-plus years and most people in the industry don't even know I'm there. They still say, "Oh, so you live in the Northwest?" I go, "Well, I left there in '86, '87." And in L.A., you're far more likely to see me at a municipal golf course than at a rock and roll show.

At this point, I only go to rock and roll shows if I'm getting paid to be there. They're not fun for me. I end up in the audience talking to a bunch of drunks. That's not fun for me. Drunks are only fun if you're drunk.

And I appreciate everybody who comes to our shows, but I don't have fun at live shows myself as an audience member. I'm in those places all the time, and I don't want to put myself in a position where I'm going to have to punch someone in the mouth. It's not a good place for me to be, so I avoid it.

That's unfortunate, but I know exactly how I am. If you push me far enough. I'll beat the living f—ing s— out of you. And I don't fight fair. I don't. I grew up in a redneck town. I fought all the time. I'll kick you right in the nuts and then lay your head open.

I get to see enough shows. We did a tour last year with Boris, and we played some shows with We Are the Asteroid and Taipei Houston, who are really good. On stage, I'll get to watch Trevor Dunn play every night. I'm not feeling unfulfilled in a live music type of way at all.

I'm sure your intense work ethic also stems from your upbringing.

Suffering and working a s— job and all those kinds of things — I don't know that that ever made my music better, but it did give me an understanding of how important things like hard work are.

I think it's kind of a tragedy that teenagers don't work more. I always enjoyed working when I was a teenager. I wanted a job. I wanted to do things like that. I think that working hard is something that people should do. I couldn't wait to get a car. I couldn't wait to be mobile, and be my own person.

I've only ever been around my family situation, around people who had to work, so I don't know anything else. I don't know what it's like to live some bourgeois life where work is just not important. Unless you plan on inheriting a lot of money, I don't know how else it's going to work out for you.

I went to school and went to a job after school, got home by about 9 or 10 at night, and went and did the whole thing over again. I never had a problem with that. You don't do the work, you don't get the money. That's just how it works. So this whole idea that teenagers don't work anymore hardly in the US anyway, I think is just kind of absurd.

Before we go, give me a line from the album that you believe in with your whole heart.

"I'm about to make you happy."

What's that mean to you?

It could be the truth. It could be a lie.

Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard On New Album Dark Matter & The Galvanizing Force Of Andrew Watt

Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, and Selena Gomez
(L-R) Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, and Selena Gomez during the 2008 Teen Choice Awards.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/TCA 2008/WireImage/Getty Images

feature

Disney's Golden Age Of Pop: Revisit 2000s Jams From Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez & More

As Disney Music Group celebrates its defining era of superstars and franchises, relive the magic of the 2000s with a playlist of hits from Hilary Duff, Jesse McCartney and more.

GRAMMYs/Apr 23, 2024 - 06:41 pm

"...and you're watching Disney Channel!" For anyone who grew up in the 2000s, those five words likely trigger some pretty vivid imagery: a glowing neon wand, an outline of Mickey Mouse's ears, and every Disney star from Hilary Duff to the Jonas Brothers

Nearly 20 years later, many of those child stars remain instantly recognizable — and often mononymous — to the millions of fans who grew up with them: Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. Nick, Kevin and Joe

Each of those names has equally memorable music attached to it — tunes that often wrap any given millennial in a blanket of nostalgia for a time that was, for better or for worse, "So Yesterday." And all of those hits, and the careers that go with them, have the same starting point in Hollywood Records, Disney Music Group's pop-oriented record label.

This time in Disney's history — the core of which can be traced from roughly 2003 to 2010 — was impactful on multiple fronts. With its music-oriented programming and multi-platform marketing strategies, the network launched a procession of teen idols whose music would come to define the soundtrack to millennials' lives, simultaneously breaking records with its Disney Channel Original Movies, TV shows and soundtracks.

Now, two decades later, Disney Music Group launched the Disney 2000s campaign, honoring the pivotal, star-making era that gave fans a generation of unforgettable pop music. The campaign will last through August and lead directly into D23 2024: The Ultimate Fan Event with special vinyl releases of landmark LPs and nostalgic social media activations occurring all summer long. April's campaign activation was Disney 2000s Weekend at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, which featured special screenings of 2008's Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert and 2009's Hannah Montana: The Movie and Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience.

But before Miley and the JoBros, Hollywood Records' formula for creating relatable (and bankable) teen pop stars began with just one name: Hilary Duff. At the time, the bubbly blonde girl next door was essentially the face of the network thanks to her starring role in "Lizzie McGuire," and she'd just made the leap to the big screen in the summer of 2003 with The Lizzie McGuire Movie. In her years with Disney, Duff had dabbled in recording songs for Radio Disney, and even released a Christmas album under Buena Vista Records. However, her first album with Hollywood Records had the potential to catapult her from charming tween ingénue to bonafide teen pop star — and that's exactly what it did.

Released on August 26, 2003, Duff's Metamorphosis sold more than 200,000 copies in its first week and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. The following week, the bubblegum studio set performed the rare feat of rising from No. 2 to No. 1, making the then-16-year-old Duff the first solo artist under 18 to earn a No. 1 album since Britney Spears.

The album's immediate success was no fluke: Within a matter of months, Metamorphosis had sold 2.6 million copies. Music videos for its radio-friendly singles "So Yesterday" and "Come Clean" received constant airplay between programming on the Disney Channel. (The latter was eventually licensed as the theme song for MTV's pioneering teen reality series "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County," giving it an additional boost as a cultural touchstone of the early '00s.) A 33-date North American tour soon followed, and Hollywood Records officially had a sensation on their hands. 

Naturally, the label went to work replicating Duff's recipe for success, and even looked outside the pool of Disney Channel stars to develop new talent. Another early signee was Jesse McCartney. With a soulful croon and blonde mop, the former Dream Street member notched the label another big win with his 2004 breakout hit "Beautiful Soul."

"When 'Beautiful Soul' became the label's first No. 1 hit at radio, I think that's when they really knew they had something," McCartney tells GRAMMY.com. "Miley [Cyrus] and the Jonas Brothers were signed shortly after that success and the rest is history.

"The thing that Disney really excelled at was using the synergy of the channel with promoting songs at pop," he continues. "I did appearances on 'Hannah Montana' and 'The Suite Life of Zack & Cody' and my music videos were pushed to Disney Channel. The marketing was incredibly brilliant and I don't think there has been anything as connected with an entire generation like that since then."

By 2006, Disney had nearly perfected its synergistic formula, continually launching wildly popular tentpole franchises like High School Musical and The Cheetah Girls, and then giving stars like Vanessa Hudgens and Corbin Bleu recording contracts of their own. (Curiously, the pair's HSM co-star Ashley Tisdale was never signed to Hollywood Records, instead releasing her first two solo albums with Warner.) 

Aly Michalka showed off her vocal chops as sunny girl next door Keely Teslow on "Phil of the Future," and fans could find her off-screen as one half of sibling duo Aly & AJ. In between their 2005 debut album Into the Rush and its electro-pop-charged follow-up, 2007's Insomniatic, Aly and her equally talented younger sister, AJ, also headlined their own Disney Channel Original Movie, Cow Belles. (Duff also helped trailblaze this strategy with her own early DCOM, the ever-charming Cadet Kelly, in 2002, while she was simultaneously starring in "Lizzie McGuire.")

Even after years of proven success, the next class of stars became Disney's biggest and brightest, with Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers all joining the network — and record label — around the same time. "Hannah Montana" found Cyrus playing a spunky middle schooler by day and world-famous pop star by night, and the network leveraged the sitcom's conceit to give the Tennessee native (and daughter of '90s country heartthrob Billy Ray Cyrus) the best of both worlds. 

After establishing Hannah as a persona, the series' sophomore soundtrack introduced Miley as a pop star in her own right thanks to a clever double album that was one-half Hannah's music and one-half Miley's. It's literally there in the title: Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus.

From there, Cyrus' stardom took off like a rocket as she scored back-to-back No.1 albums and a parade of Top 10 hits like "See You Again," "7 Things," "The Climb," "Can't Be Tamed," and the ever-so-timeless anthem "Party in the U.S.A."

At the same time, Gomez had top billing on her own Disney Channel series, the magical (but less musical) "Wizards of Waverly Place." That hardly stopped her from launching her own music career, though, first by fronting Selena Gomez & the Scene from 2008 to 2012, then eventually going solo with the release of 2013's Stars Dance after the "Wizards" finale aired.

For her part, Lovato — Gomez's childhood bestie and "Barney & Friends" costar — got her big break playing Mitchie Torres in Camp Rock alongside the Jonas Brothers as fictional boy band Connect 3, led by Joe Jonas as the swaggering and floppy-haired Shane Gray. Much like Duff had five years prior in the wake of The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Lovato released her debut solo album, 2008's Don't Forget, just three months after her DCOM broke records for the Disney Channel. 

Building off their chemistry from the movie musical, nearly the entirety of Don't Forget was co-written with the Jonas Brothers, who released two of their own albums on Hollywood Records — 2007's Jonas Brothers and 2008's A Little Bit Longer — before getting their own short-lived, goofily meta Disney series, "Jonas," which wrapped weeks after the inevitable Camp Rock sequel arrived in September 2010.

As the 2000s gave way to the 2010s, the Disney machine began slowing down as its cavalcade of stars graduated to more grown-up acting roles, music and careers. But from Duff's Metamorphosis through Lovato's 2017 LP, Tell Me You Love Me, Hollywood Records caught lightning in a bottle again and again and again, giving millennials an entire generation of talent that has carried them through adulthood and into the 2020s.

To commemorate the Disney 2000s campaign, GRAMMY.com crafted a playlist to look back on Disney's golden age of pop with favorite tracks from Hilary Duff, Vanessa Hudgens, the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus and more. Listen and reminisce below.

Abby Sage performs at home
Abby Sage

Photo: Courtesy of Abby Sage

video

Press Play: Watch Abby Sage Feed Her “Hunger” In This Acoustic Performance Of Her Single

Rising indie star Abby Sage performs “Hunger,” an unapologetic track about sexual liberation from her debut album, ‘The Rot.’

GRAMMYs/Apr 23, 2024 - 03:56 pm

With "Hunger," rising indie star Abby Sage takes autonomy of her body. It’s a story of shameless self-discovery as she submits to her natural desires while simultaneously breaking down the toxic ideas she learned about sex in her adolescence.

"Feed my hunger/ No shame, I'm just a beginner," she croons in the chorus. "It's my own wonder/ Don't press, I'm just a beginner."

In this episode of Press Play, watch Sage deliver an acoustic performance of the single from her debut album, The Rot, which she released on March 1. According to a statement, the project is largely about "the decomposition and reconstruction of everything I was taught," including sex, anxiety, and more.

Sage said "Hunger" is "the most important song to me on the album" adding, "I wish I heard a song like this when I was first exploring my sexuality and my sexual journey, and for that reason, I hope it reaches people."

This May, Sage will embark on an international tour that begins in Los Angeles and concludes in London, with support from gglum, spiderblush, and Jayla Kai.

Watch the video above to hear Abby Sage's empowering performance of "Hunger," and remember to check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Press Play.

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