meta-scriptMeet Me @ The Altar Reveal The 4 "Badass" Female Artists Who Inspired Their Debut Album, 'Past // Present // Future' | GRAMMY.com
Meet Me @ The Altar Reveal The 4 "Badass" Female Artists Who Inspired Their Debut Album, 'Past // Present // Future'
Meet Me @ The Altar

Photo: Jonathan Weiner

interview

Meet Me @ The Altar Reveal The 4 "Badass" Female Artists Who Inspired Their Debut Album, 'Past // Present // Future'

On the heels of releasing their electric debut LP, pop-punk trio Meet Me @ The Altar celebrate Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Alanis Morissette and Pink — and how those women played a role in the band's music today.

GRAMMYs/Mar 14, 2023 - 03:17 pm

Long before Meet Me @ The Altar formed in 2015, the trio found inspiration from women who were doing exactly what they are now — breaking the mold for women in rock. So when it came time to name their debut album, there was a title no more fitting than Past // Present // Future.

"We're always going back to the music that inspired us in our childhood growing up and finding ways to make something modern out of that," bassist Téa Campbell tells GRAMMY.com.

While they initially bonded over Paramore — after Campbell and drummer Ada Juarez met on YouTube, they held auditions for a singer, and Edith Victoria won them over with a rendition of Paramore's "All I Wanted" — Meet Me @ The Altar had a separate set of influences in mind while creating their first LP: Demi Lovato, P!nk, Alanis Morissette, and Kelly Clarkson.

All of those artists' impacts are felt across Past // Present // Future, but Meet Me @ The Altar bring a youthful energy that makes the music feel less copycat and more well-informed. There's no denying they were kids of the pop-punk era, as apparent in the racing guitar melody of "Try" and their fearless shots at online trolls on lead single "Say It (To My Face)." Across the album's 11 tracks, it's clear that the MM@TA girls are simply having fun paying homage to the music they grew up on — but ultimately, making it their own.

Just before the album was released on March 10, Meet Me @ The Altar kicked off their first-ever headlining tour. Despite only being six shows in by the time they caught up with GRAMMY.com, the trio had already noticed that they're making a similar impact on fans that their heroes had on them. And with all three members being BIPOC and two queer, the band is serving the next generation in an even bigger way.

"We grew up not seeing people like us on stage — none that we directly saw ourselves reflected in — and we are that for a lot of people now," Campbell says. "That's something that we don't take lightly."

Below, hear from Campbell, Juarez and Victoria on how Demi Lovato, P!nk, Alanis Morissette, and Kelly Clarkson inspired Meet Me @ The Altar's debut LP.

Demi Lovato

Victoria: She's such a fantastic vocalist. She can sing literally anything — she can sing over a pop instrumental or over a rock Instrumental and she'll still sound fabulous. 

Campbell: Demi was always a freakin' rock star. I just remember being like, 7, 8 years old, turning on the TV in my playroom. They would play the music videos in between the shows and stuff, and it was always so inspiring to see someone just, like, rocking out. Disney Channel doesn't get enough credit — they really made [everyone] look like rock stars. It was so iconic.

Victoria: The album that did it for me when I was really young was Don't Forget, with "Get Back" and all of that. I loved that record so much, because it was a fuse of pop and rock, and her badass voice over it was just amazing.

Campbell: Especially instrumentally, Demi's older stuff was a huge influence on this record. [On] "La La Land," the songwriting is really good. That's something I was really focused on with this album, having really good songwriting, because we really care about creating quality work. 

"Here We Go Again" was also a main vibe that we wanted to go for, because it's a perfect amount of nostalgia. That's something that we wanted to emulate too.

For all of these artists, it's more vibes versus [trying] to copy their song, you know? We just really loved the energy that all these artists put out, and Demi's songs were just so solid and such good pop-rock songs. And we wanted to have that kind of iconic-ness about ours.

Juarez: Demi's music, since the beginning, has been really rock-based, and that's obviously something that we took into account with what we were doing with this album. We also worked with John Fields, who has produced some of Demi's albums. 

We definitely wanted to sound, quality-wise, just like how she sounded in those albums. Those albums are so good

Campbell: [John] had a bunch of photos and videos [of Demi] from that time when we were recording and stuff, so it was so crazy — especially thinking back to our 7/8/9-year-old selves. They would be freaking out!

Victoria: The melody for "Need Me" [on our album] reminds me a lot of that era. The "yeah, yeah"s were inspired by Demi because she loved her "yeah, yeah"s back in the day. The cadence reminds me of her a lot as well, and that Don't Forget period.

Campbell: "TMI" gives the most, like, Camp Rock-y kind of vibe. I can imagine Edith singing it by a lake, just looking out at the water. 

Juarez: Also, just to say: As a person, Demi is amazing — how far they've come, where they are today and where they came from. Demi is definitely someone that I've looked up to for a very long time, to get to where they are today.

P!nk

Victoria: All these people [inspire me] on a vocal scale, because they're so versatile and they kind of can sing anything, but my favorite parts of them was when they were singing over a rock instrumental. That really influenced me, and it made me realize I can have a more colorful voice than the basic pop-punk dude voice and still be able to sing over rock. Pink's poppier stuff is just as good as her rockier stuff, and I think it's really important to be able to be versatile in your voice like she is.

Juarez: The immediate thing that comes to mind is that P!nk is the best person in the entire f—ing world. She's so unapologetically herself, and always has been. Even how she raises her children today — P!nk is just, like, an angel. 

Her music has always been really good. She's done many genres, and honestly, nailed them all. She's just one of those artists that, growing up, I always looked up to. There's never been a point in time where I didn't know that P!nk existed. I've always been like Wow, I want to be as influential as she is

Campbell: P!nk has always been really inspiring in terms of just taking up space and having a voice. It's her way or the highway — she doesn't take anyone's crap. That mentality has really helped us navigate this whole thing, being young women in a scene that's very older male-dominated. It's hard to navigate sometimes, but having that inside of you, like, I'm just gonna do me and worry about what I got going on — that's something that I really took from P!nk. She's a badass, and that's how we want to be.

If you think about songs as a formula, she's got it down. That's something that we paid attention to. Her song structures are just perfect. It's that mix of that powerhouse voice with the real rock instrumentals. We also focused on more of a driving chorus for most of these songs — that's something that she did a lot and that was something that we really liked. 

Juarez: She also has a lot of fun in her songs, and I feel like we get some of that from her. You don't have to take the song too seriously, you can still put your little spin on things. 

Campbell: "Thx 4 Nothin" was heavily P!nk inspired.

Victoria: That was one where we were like, "We should write something that is very reminiscent of P!nk." We decided that before we went to the studio that day.

Alanis Morissette

Edith: She's so unconventional and odd. I remember my mom used to play her all the time when I was growing up, and my mom was telling me that when Jagged Little Pill came out, people were so freaked out by her — they were like, "She's the devil" and all this stuff, just because she was a rock star and she sang a lot differently than what any other woman was doing at the time. 

I love how unconventional she was and how unapologetic she was. I think that she carried all of that negativity and dealt with it with such grace, and she still just did what she had to do for her fans. 

Juarez: I wasn't too familiar with Alanis Morissette for a really long time. But as I've gotten older and learned more about her, I've realized that she's always had her place in the rock scene — like, she played Woodstock '99! Taylor Hawkins was her drummer for the longest time. She's always had a name for herself, and that's something that we strive to do always in a male-centric genre. 

Victoria: We cover "You Oughta Know" live, actually. It's one of my favorite songs ever — that whole album is one of my favorite albums ever, Jagged Little Pill. Her song "Thank You" is one of my favorites too.

"Kool" is a song that I wanted to be very kind of weird. That chorus melody is very Alanis-inspired with the way I'm moving my voice, because she moved her voice in a lot of odd ways too.

Kelly Clarkson

Victoria: I didn't recognize how much Kelly influenced me, because I was so young listening to all her hits on the radio that I didn't process who it was, I just knew I liked the song and the singer. "Miss Independent" and "Breakaway" — that whole album, I had it on CD, and I used to play it, like, every single day, but I didn't know who the heck Kelly Clarkson was! 

When we started this album, and then I went back and I realized, "Oh my gosh, all of these songs are Kelly Clarkson. And they're all so good!"

She is one of my favorite vocalists ever. She's so versatile and her voice is so powerful. She's just amazing.

Campbell: Kelly Clarkson was one of the first people who made me realize how powerful music can be in the context of movies. The Princess Diaries — I think that might have been the first time I ever heard Kelly Clarkson. It made me feel so much. 

It's just so cool what music can do. I think that's something that all of these artists opened our eyes to. Especially nowadays, we always find ourselves going back to that time period, because music today just does not feel the same.

All of these artists were songwriters too, and you could tell that their truth was in these songs, and it made you feel something. That's something that is super inspiring, and Kelly is so great at that.

Juarez: Kelly Clarkson — in particular, it was "Breakaway," but honestly that whole album, and even like "Since U Been Gone" and "Behind These Hazel Eyes" — that was one of the first times I felt that nostalgia emotion. Specifically "Breakaway" — I was like 4 or something — like, it would play at the YMCA, that's where I remember hearing it. It always stuck out to me. 

Victoria: The melody for "Same Language," but specifically the post-chorus, reminds me so much of her. It's super high, it's super open. It's like a slap in your face in the best way. I can hear singing that part of the chorus so easily.

Campbell: I feel like a lot of our songs, vocally, have the same kind of vibe as "My Life Would Suck Without You." It's just up there and it's just like, goin'.

Juarez: I love that the music we make gives me the same feeling that "Breakaway" gave me when I first listened to it. It's, like, a vibe thing. And also Kelly Clarkson is like, the best person in the world. I think she can do no wrong.

Victoria: She's a ray of sunshine. I'm so happy we're able to be on her show, because that was very full-circle for all of us.

Juarez: We didn't get to meet her though, it was all pre-recorded. One day!

Victoria: I want to get all these people to know who we are so bad. I think they would really like us!

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24 Songs Turning 20: Listen To 2004's Bangers, From "Yeah!" To "Since U Been Gone"
(L-R) Lil Jon, Usher, and Ludacris perform at Madison Square Garden in 2004.

Photo: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

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24 Songs Turning 20: Listen To 2004's Bangers, From "Yeah!" To "Since U Been Gone"

Ready to feel old? Put on this playlist of hits that made 2004 a year of belt-along jams and unforgettable hooks, including Daddy Yankee's "Gasolina" and Ashlee Simpson's "Pieces Of Me."

GRAMMYs/Jan 8, 2024 - 04:20 pm

A quick Google search of "top 2004 songs" can be summarized simply: What a time to be alive.

While it was arguably the year of Usher — who scored four Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers in 2004, including the year's biggest song, the Lil Jon- and Ludacris-assisted "Yeah!" — there were countless hits that have aged impeccably. Even 20 years later, there isn't a dance floor or karaoke bar that wouldn't go wild for J-Kwon's "Tipsy" or Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone."

Whether you were jamming to them on your iPod Mini or ripping them off of Limewire, revisit 24 tracks that made an impact — and still serve up the vibes 20 years later.

Listen on Spotify, Amazon Music, or Apple Music below.

2023 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined Pop Music
(L-R): Taylor Swift, Tate McRae, *NSYNC, Olivia Rodrigo, Ed Sheeran

Photos (L-R): Buda Mendes/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management, Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images, Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for MTV, Mike Coppola/Getty Images for MTV, Theo Wargo/Getty Images

list

2023 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined Pop Music

From massive world stages to hilarious TikTok trends, pop music was all about the fun in 2023 — which led to huge hits and pop culture moments alike.

GRAMMYs/Dec 22, 2023 - 04:15 pm

There's arguably only one way to sum up pop music in 2023: it belonged to the women.

Whether SZA or Olivia Rodrigo were revealing the cracks in their relationships through catchy hooks, or Taylor Swift was taking over stadiums around the globe, female artists dominated genre charts and trends. And even a fictional female figure helped spawn some of the year's biggest pop tracks.  

It was also a big year for legends and classic hits; pop mainstays showed just why they became superstars in the first place, and TikTok helped resurface some pop songs of old.

Below, take a deeper dive into some of 2023's biggest moments in pop.

Ex-Lovers Were Called Out

Nothing burns more than a woman scorned. This year, pop stars and rising artists were both shameless in calling out their exes for their wrongdoings.

One of the biggest moments came courtesy of SZA. The artist is known for wearing her heart on her sleeve, and SOS album highlight "Kill Bill" was a buffet of toxic "what if" scenarios. The singer let jealousy overcome her emotions as she couldn't stand to see her ex-lover move on: "I might kill my ex, I still love him though/ Rather be in jail than alone." On a similar note, Olivia Rodrigo's "vampire" finds the pop star tapping into a new level of fury. The lead single from her sophomore album, GUTS, "vampire" shoots bloody daggers at a manipulative boyfriend.

But it wasn't all about vengeance. In Miley Cyrus' case, her best form of revenge came in the form of forgiveness. Her "Flowers" anthem was thought to be inspired by Cyrus' divorce from Liam Hemsworth, but its messaging is relatable to anyone who had to learn how to move on from a broken heart. "I can take myself dancing and I can hold my own hand/ I can love me better than you can," Cyrus assures.

All three singles topped the Billboard Hot 100 this year, marking SZA's first solo No. 1, Cyrus' first in a decade and Rodrigo's first from her new album era. The singles also all earned 2024 GRAMMY nominations for both Song Of The Year (alongside Billie Eilish's "What Was I Made For?", Dua Lipa's "Dance the Night", Jon Batiste's "Butterfly", Lana Del Rey's "A&W" and Taylor Swift's "Anti-Hero") and Record Of The Year (next to Billie Eilish's What Was I Made For?", Boygenius' "Not Strong Enough", Jon Batiste's "Worship", Taylor Swift's "Anti-Hero" and Victoria Monét's "On My Mama"). 

Rising stars also joined in on the fun. After Tate McRae scored her biggest hit to date with the playful “greedy,” she delivered a fiery kiss-off anthem with “exes.” Elsewhere, Benee called her ex a "waste of f—king time" on the rowdy "Green Honda," British singer Mae Stephens contemplated all of her options on "If We Ever Broke Up," RAYE brooded over "dumb decisions" and booze on "Escapism," and Los Angeles alt-pop singer Leah Kate's jam-packed her debut album Super Over with advice on cutting off toxic relationships.

Classic Songs Made A TikTok Resurgence

TikTok has proved its social media dominance over the past few years. But aside from pop's new generation enjoying viral success, the genre's OGs also found their classic hits reborn.

Colbie Caillat's "Bubbly" single warmed our hearts when it debuted in 2007, and in true Gen Z fashion, it reemerged thanks to a meme trend. TikTok users placed the song over high-energy performance videos like those of Travis Scott, Justin Bieber and Tyler, The Creator which made for a hilarious juxtaposition. Caillat kept the momentum by making TikTok duets and even sharing an acoustic version of the song on her YouTube page.

Bridgit Mendler's 2013 single "Hurricane" also got a second wind for its 10th anniversary where female users placed it over humorous self-deprecating videos about being delusional over men. Jessie J's 2011 "Price Tag" hit sparked a dance trend with a sped-up version of the song and Lana Del Rey's "Radio" (a deep cut from 2012's Born To Die debut) inspired users to make videos that showcased how "sweet like cinnamon" their lives are.

Career-Spanning Tours Took Over The World

What better way to celebrate a decorated career than with a massive tour? Pop stars from all corners of the genre commemorated their many years (or in some cases, decades) in the music industry by going down memory lane with their fans worldwide.

The most notable trek was, of course, Taylor Swift's Eras Tour, which kicked off on March 17 and will conclude on Dec. 8, 2024. The pop star — who is arguably bigger than she's ever been, nearly 20 years into her career — used the stadium tour to pay homage to her extensive discography with a nonstop three-hour spectacle. Swift's impact quickly made history: the Eras Tour surpassed $1 billion in revenue in early December, already making it the highest-grossing music tour of all time, according to Guinness World Records. Its accompanying concert film, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, also became the highest-grossing concert film of all time with $250 million earned globally as of press time.

But Swift wasn't the only star celebrating their music milestones on the road. After a thrilling reunion in 2019, the Jonas Brothers continued to shock fans with what's possibly the most challenging tour of their career. Titled "Five Albums. One Night. The World Tour," the trio featured their entire discography in a set list that included over 60 songs. 

Another artist who rode the ambitious train was Madonna. The pop icon's Celebration Tour was, well, a celebration of a genre-defining career spanning over four decades. Kicking off in October in London, the tour features a retrospective setlist that is a treat for diehard fans, featuring singles she hasn't performed live in decades including 1990's "Justify My Love," 1998's "Nothing Really Matters" and 2002's "Die Another Day."

On the pop-rock end, The Maine's "Sweet Sixteen Tour" highlighted the band's growth over the past 16 years through nine albums, while Boys Like Girls' anchored their comeback after an 11-year hiatus with the North American Speaking Our Language Tour.

Movies Had Major Music Moments

While music has long been a driving force in films, this year saw the pairing excitedly take over pop culture. Greta Gerwig's Barbie movie notably had the world seeing pink, with the iconic doll infiltrating everything from fashion to real estate.

Not surprisingly, the accompanying soundtrack was a pop-filled joyride. Featuring production from pop mastermind Mark Ronson, the 17-song Barbie: The Album featured the likes of Lizzo, Charli XCX, PinkPantheress, Sam Smith, GAYLE and FIFTY FIFTY. But perhaps most notably, the album dominated the Best Song Written For Visual Media category at the 2024 GRAMMYs: Dua Lipa's disco-laced "Dance The Night," Ryan Gosling's TikTok-trending "I'm Just Ken," Ice Spice's and Nicki Minaj's sparkly collaboration "Barbie World," and Billie Eilish's gripping ballad "What Was I Made For?" compete with Rihanna's Black Panther hit "Lift Me Up."

The year also called for reunions and revivals, with the biggest shock arguably belonging to NSYNC. Many fans were impatiently waiting for the boys to make a return, and they did so with "Better Place." The Trolls soundtrack highlight marked the boy band's first song after a two-decade-long music hiatus (which was accompanied by an appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards, where they presented with Best Pop Video). Under the sea, Halle Bailey refreshed a Disney classic with The Little Mermaid live-action reimagining, while the nostalgia train continued with movie musicals Wonka and Mean Girls (out in January).

Pop Titans Were Inescapable

Thanks to social media, it may seem like Gen Z artists have overthrown their elder pop counterparts. But make no mistake, the veterans are showing they aren't so easily shakeable.

This year, many preserved their legacies through various mediums. Taylor Swift wasn't the only superstar proving her staying power on the road (and in stadiums); Beyoncé's Renaissance World Tour cemented her legendary status as the highest-grossing tour by a Black artist, while Ed Sheeran's The Mathematics Tour broke attendance records worldwide.

Adele and Usher ruled Sin City with their Las Vegas residencies, with the latter set to perform at the 2024 Super Bowl halftime show. The pop titans even showed their dominance on television, with Kelly Clarkson (who also had a Vegas stint) and Jennifer Hudson gaining a new audience with their respective talk shows.

After a year filled with viral moments and comebacks, we're eager to see how artists will continue to uplift pop music in 2024.

Justin Bieber's Biggest Hits: 12 Songs That Showcase His Pop Prowess And R&B Sensibilities

The State Of Pop-Punk: A Roundtable Unpacks The Genre's Past, Present And Future
(Clockwise, from top left): John Feldmann, T.J. Petracca and Morgan Freed of Emo Nite, Edith Victoria of Meet Me @ the Altar, Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, Josh Roberts of Magnolia Park, Ryan Key and Sean Mackin of Yellowcard.

Photos (Clockwise, from left): Joe Scarnici/Getty Images, Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Coachella, Scott Legato/Getty Images, Daniel Knighton/Getty Images, Rick Kern/Getty Images, Suzi Pratt/WireImage

interview

The State Of Pop-Punk: A Roundtable Unpacks The Genre's Past, Present And Future

With a slew of promising, diverse rising acts and major returns from big players, pop-punk is as alive as ever. Artists and industry players sound off on what a booming 2023 means for the future of the subgenre.

GRAMMYs/Dec 20, 2023 - 06:31 pm

Back in the early aughts, pop-punk was largely homogenous: a sea of predominantly white men who took over the stages of Warped Tour in their black Converse, lamenting their ex-girlfriend or small-town existence with few exceptions. But 20 years later, the genre has shape-shifted and redefined itself — and it may be more omnipresent than ever. 

While pop-punk isn't necessarily at the forefront of mainstream music the way it was in the mid-2000s, it's undoubtedly permeating culture. Two of the biggest artists in 2023 — Olivia Rodrigo and SZA — incorporated the pop-punk playbook into their songs; Travis Barker has become a go-to collaborator for a slew of rising acts blurring genre lines; pop-punk stalwarts like blink-182, Fall Out Boy and Sum 41 are returning to the genre with massive albums and tours; and When We Were Young Fest continued leaning into the nostalgia of it all, while celebrating both legendary acts and newcomers. 

One of the most remarkable aspects of the new wave of pop-punk popularity is that it's no longer defined by white cisgender males. The genre has become a more inclusive place than ever, with some of the most interesting and impressive music coming from women or people of color. Bands like Meet Me @ The Altar, Magnolia Park and Pinkshift have been pivotal to making the scene more inclusive.

As pop-punk continues to evolve, what will it look like? How will it continue to take steps toward diversity and inclusion? GRAMMY.com invited several leaders and luminaries of the industry to discuss its current state, how it infiltrated the mainstream, and the genre's ever-growing community. 

Quotes from these interviews have been edited for brevity and clarity.

What has 2023 meant for pop-punk?

Ada Juarez, Meet Me @ The Altar drummer: 2023 has been a great discovery year for pop-punk. Lots of pop-punk bands have been touring and playing festivals and getting their names put out there for new people to hear!

Sean Mackin, Yellowcard violinist: 2023 is maybe the biggest year for the genre. There are new bands that are inspiring and changing what music means to them – and it was strong enough to bring Yellowcard back from the afterlife, so for me personally it means a lot!

Joe Horsham, Magnolia Park drummer: 2023 is a pretty good year for pop-punk because it's officially getting mainstream recognition, and I keep seeing more and more pop-punk bands getting on rock festivals. So the demand is high.

Louis Posen, Hopeless Records founder: Pop-punk continues to be an important sub-genre in our community. In the 2000s, the community broke into the mainstream which expanded the community to a level where you can see now, in the most full circle way, the impact it had on fans then.

Morgan Freed, Emo Nite co-founder: Who would have thought that 2023 meant anything for pop-punk 10 years ago? The fact that it's alive and well, growing and thriving with younger artists who've turned what their version of pop-punk is into their own, as well as bands we've loved forever either making a comeback, reuniting or throwing together new tours with newer artists, is remarkable and meaningful. It says a lot about where we are as a country, as a community and as people that are going through their teens now or have been alive long enough to see its return.

Ben Barlow, Neck Deep singer: 2023 was a great year to revitalize the genre and give it a platform for even more in 2024. We saw the return of blink-182, Green Day and Sum 41 releasing new music, as well as a whole bunch of smaller, up-and-coming artists doing good things, too.

Jon Foreman, Switchfoot singer: [It] feels like every decade or so a younger generation discovers the beautifully dissonant energy that we all loved when we were young — and pop-punk returns from the grave like a phoenix reborn. 2023 has felt like the crest of that wave, with guitars and drums finally ringing out loud and proud once again. 

In 2023 pop-punk seemed to reach an even more ubiquitous level. How have you seen the genre regain relevance in recent years?

Juarez: Pop-punk has been a genre that tends to come and go in mainstream society. These past few years I've seen pop-punk get really popular once again — especially with blink-182 having their comeback and festivals like Adjacent Fest, Riot Fest, and When We Were Young having such pop-punk-filled lineups. Not only that, but trailblazers like Travis Barker collaborating with artists outside of the pop-punk realm and introducing their listeners to a whole new sound bring a whole new generation of pop-punkers.

Tristan Torres, Magnolia Park guitarist: Pop-punk has been bubbling since 2020, especially because of Travis Barker collaborating with new artists like KennyHoopla. But now pop-punk is pretty much synonymous with rock/alternative. It seems to be the go-to move for even pop artists when they do a rock song, such as Demi Lovato.

Mackin: 2023 is really a culmination of listeners showcasing their passion and love for music. I think it's a time of celebration and healing after a couple of sheltered and dark years.

Johnny Minardi, Head of Fueled By Ramen: Bands are having fun again and I think that's contagious. The tours are selling more tickets than ever even without gigantic mainstream hits.

Fefe Dobson, singer/songwriter: I saw that pop-punk was being championed and celebrated much more. It wasn't only musically through charting, but through fashion and culture.

John Feldmann, singer/songwriter and producer: Hearing Fall Out Boy on Sirius[XM] Hits 1, selling out the When We Were Young Festival, watching the Punk Rock Museum blow up, seeing both blink-182, and Green Day have bigger live numbers than ever. it's undeniable!

Dayna Ghiraldi-Travers, Big Picture Media founder: For me personally, it never went away. I have been working with New Found Glory since 2014's Resurrection and with Neck Deep since 2012's Rain in July EP, and haven't stopped since. I do think the return of Tom [DeLonge] in blink-182 did a lot for the genre, but overall the genre has held its ground quite nicely over the last decade.

Barlow: Nostalgia and youthful exuberance will always be a part of pop-punk. It's a broad spectrum in terms of the sound, the message and the subject matter, and so it appeals to people on a number of levels. [It] also maybe [has] something to do with rap, pop and electronic music taking inspiration from the genre allowing it to slowly filter into the mainstream. 

Why do you think this music — whether old or new — is resonating so strongly again?

Juarez: Old pop-punk never truly "died" or "got old." We hear the iconic pop-punk songs we all loved growing up constantly in today's day and age! Personally, I spend a lot of my time listening to older pop-punk, such as blink-182, Green Day, and Simple Plan; even newer than those, like The Story So Far, Knuckle Puck, and Neck Deep. It never fails to send me through a whirlwind of emotions, happiness, angst, nostalgia. It's a great genre to feel different emotions, and that's why it'll never truly get old.

Mackin: Music does go through cycles, and we are in a really refreshing time where the energy and the angsty sort of nature just collide, and it feels new again.

KennyHoopla, musician: History always repeats itself. On top of that, the world is going through a lot right now and pop-punk/emo music has resembled that. People are naturally in an emotional state right now.

Dobson: For myself, I crave songs that I can sing at the top of my lungs and let all my emotions hang out unapologetically. I think we just needed that release, and pop-punk has that rebellious and raw, honest quality to it.  

Vince Ernst, Magnolia Park keyboardist: I think this style of music is pretty relevant because it just has a youthful energy. The messages of those songs such as heartbreak, feeling like you don't fit in and wanting to be your own person will always resonate with the younger generations. Also, the classic songs of the past like "Misery Business," "Sugar, We're Going Down" and "All The Small Things" are just great songs. And great music will always stand the test of time.

Minardi: Lyrically, the genre has always been relatable for any mood. I don't think other genres do that as much, especially for younger fan bases.

Foreman: Sometimes it's helpful to step back and look at the broad strokes of adolescent development or even to associate a Jungian archetype to a specific age demographic. Post-pubescent humans are challengers, dreamers: questioning the established rules, pushing back on boundaries and societal norms. Punk music provides a perfect venue for these doubts and questions. Punk thrives when society is riddled with hypocrisy, greed and injustice. Punk rock is an organism that feeds on the dark, ugly, shameful parts of our culture, exposing these social ills to the light. Punk rock asks questions and challenges the status quo. Fortunately for punk-rock, (and unfortunately for humans) these dark times provide ample fodder for punk songs. 

Freed: I think we're going through a time where the world is so f—ed, and the information we receive is so quick and vile that we yearn for something like nostalgia (I wish there was a better term). There are also always going to be teenagers, and teenagers need something to listen to that speaks to them in a way they can understand and relate to. They're smart and see through manufactured, overly-produced s—. And that time is now. The teens have discovered emo and pop-punk, and that rocks. 

Ghiraldi-Travers: I think this music brings an energy that other genres do not. After a worldwide pandemic and the political climate, we need that high-energy and politically charged anti-establishment inspiration that we get out of pop-punk to keep pushing us along. 

Barlow: There's a realness and an honesty to pop-punk, as well as energy. Something undeniably fun and catchy, the soundtrack to your best times and the arm round the shoulder in your worst times. 

Feldmann: I think people want to have fun again at shows, and now that the pandemic is over people are actually going out and living their lives! I think the indie bedroom thing, (i.e. music to do homework to) is still super relevant, but people want to see live instruments being played and actually have an experience.

Posen: Pop-punk has a very close connection between artist and fan. They're almost one and the same and they are in it together. That makes for an incredibly connected community that wants to help and promote each other.

How can pop-punk make more space for marginalized artists?

Dobson: When my first album came out, I remember feeling like I didn't quite fit in, which I was already kind of used to growing up. I didn't really know where my space was at first but I did find a sense of community in the genre with a few other artists. I think it was because we celebrated each other's individuality. We shopped from similar stores, we enjoyed similar influences and we just wanted to be truly seen and heard — some of us for the first time ever.

Foreman: If punk rock is the definition of anti-establishment, then the genre has an obligation to be leading the way forward in making room for the marginalized and championing the causes of the ones who don't fit in.

Juarez: Pop-punk can always make more space for marginalized artists by just being open-minded with show lineups, festivals and even with communities! The more we talk about the bands around us, the more those bands get opportunities, too. Many people and artists from various walks of life listen to and/or play pop-punk — we all deserve these opportunities.

KennyHoopla: By doing it in the places that really matter. Helping local bands and giving your support to local scenes.  I've seen fundraisers for dying venues, free shows, collaboration within the scene [help].

Josh Roberts, Magnolia Park singer: Pop-punk, as we all know, has been dominated by mostly white guys, so it's been a little difficult for marginalized artists to have a space. For example, we get a lot of racist comments. But I think we can make the space safer by just taking the time to educate ourselves and being open to the messages that these artists bring to the table, even if it makes you uncomfortable. 

Barlow: With pop-punk being part of the alternative scene, it's very inclusive and welcoming. Everyone is bound by the shared love of something that often feels like more than music. However, it's historically been pretty white and we can always do better, so, no matter who you are, who you love, the color of your skin, welcome, you'll love it here. Start a band, get involved in your local scene in whatever way you can [and] know that this is a world where everyone can thrive and have a voice. 

Posen: We can be more aware of artists and fans who share the same passions, interests and values but find themselves outside the community. If we raise awareness, both those in the community would reach out and those outside would feel more welcome. At Hopeless, we make it part of all our conversations about signings, hiring and other decisions to make sure we aren't unconsciously leaving anyone out. One of the results is a current artist roster where front people are more than 50% female or non-binary identifying artists.

Ghiraldi-Travers: If the most established artists take younger bands out on the road with them, it is the best way for the marginalized bands to gain new fans. It would also be great for the more popular artists to give a space for features on songs they are releasing that connect directly to that new band's Spotify account. 

Freed: I feel lucky that this scene is the most accepting community I've ever encountered. My wish is that as new generations of artists emerge into the scene and create new spaces within the pop-punk community, [so] inclusivity will be so ingrained into the scene that it won't even be a question.

How has When We Were Young helped give pop-punk a more mainstream boost?

Juarez: A festival as exclusive and influential as When We Were Young was a huge boost for pop-punk in the mainstream — it's a great opportunity for such a community of people to come together and listen to their favorite artists in the same place and create memories. Everyone talks about it, everyone posts about it, people who missed out wish they were able to be there.

Posen: The When We Were Young Festival has played a significant role in the rise in popularity and excitement around iconic artists from our community and the connection they have to the newer generation of artists.

Mackin: Yellowcard grew up dreaming to one day be on the Vans Warped Tour, and in our career we were included in their lineup nine separate times. So playing WWWYF really felt nostalgic, and getting to share the stage with so many of our friends in one place, I think it showed other people and listeners (who may not have already been familiar with the scene) how many people love this sub-culture of music. 

Minardi: Beyond the 85,000 [people] in attendance each day, the social media presence that goes viral with announcements covers a lot of ground that standard roll out plans for music don't always hit.

Feldmann: When my band Goldfinger played When We Were Young, we had close to 50,000 people watching us. I would say 80% of them had never seen our band. I think it was a great place for young people to see some of the legacy acts and also see some of the new current pop-punk bands. That festival was huge.

Foreman: I love to see a lot of my friends on the bill, bands that haven't really toured for years are getting back together to play the festival. And I love that the world is getting to hear their songs again. 

Ghiraldi-Travers I was lucky enough to attend When We Were Young in 2022 and was hired to run the press room at the 2023 festival and the energy of this festival is palpable. You walk the grounds and see ages of fans who are small enough to be on their parents shoulders and fans in their sixties. It has brought together all types of music lovers and is incredible to witness a sea of emo/pop-punk/rock fans flood the streets of Las Vegas. 

Freed: I think When We Were Young took all the best bands and brought them back into the spotlight. I hope that people who have been hooked back into the scene by WWWY's nostalgia focus are also able to check out the passionate and heartfelt work that other artists/creatives are doing to push the needle forward on emo.

Which artists do you believe are bringing pop-punk into the future and why?

Juarez: There are many artists out there bringing the genre into the future and some of them are us, Olivia Rodrigo, Anxious, Willow Smith, KennyHoopla, Daisy Grenade, Pool Kids, Pollyanna, and Citizen! The list goes on and on. All these artists are bringing something new to the table, whether it be a new sound or merging pop-punk with other genres. It's refreshing and new — as it should be.

KennyHoopla: Neck Deep, Hot Mulligan, Magnolia Park, Knuckle Puck are taking pop-punk into the future.

Freddie Criales, Magnolia Park guitarist: TX2 is someone who is bringing pop-punk to the future. Not only is his music good, but he also makes it a point to make his shows a safe space for marginalized groups. He speaks out against a lot of the injustices that are put on people in the LGBTQIA+ community, and I think that's pretty important. Stand Atlantic is another band that comes to mind. They are really good at infusing a lot of futuristic sounds into their music, and I think that's important because that keeps the music modern, fresh and inspiring to the next gen.

Minardi: Games We Play, jxdn, Meet Me @ The Altar, Hot Mulligan and Anxious are all doing it in their own authentic way and kicking ass.

Feldmann: Turnstile, Hot Mulligan, Heart Attack Man, KennyHoopla, Alexsucks, 408...there's too many to mention here!

Ghiraldi-Travers: I see incredible potential in House Parties, NOAHFINNCE, Greyson Zane, Hot Mulligan, Felicity, Action/Adventure, Magnolia Park, Spanish Love Songs, and of course, Meet Me @ The Altar. 

Dobson: I think Avril [Lavigne] continues to bring the genre into the future. I love that she's always been herself and stuck to her vision, which is something that isn't always easy to do in this industry.

Freed: Title Fight, Meet Me @ The Altar, Noelle Sucks, Pile of Love, Captain Jazz, Home is Where, charmer, Egbert the nerd, Petey, awake but still in bed, Heart Attack Man, Alien Boy, Carly Cosgrove, Dogleg, Hot Mulligan and tons of already popular artists switching their styles to pop-punk/emo.

Barlow: I think KennyHoopla, for sure. To see a Black-fronted pop-punk band — shout-out Magnolia Park — is hugely inspiring and nothing but a good thing for the scene. [Josh Roberts] has insane energy and a captivating stage presence. He writes from the heart and takes little drops from other genres which will absolutely push the genre forward. 

Posen: From the Hopeless roster, artists like Scene Queen, NOAHFINNCE, TX2, LOLO, Pinkshift, phem, and others are leading us into the new chapter of our scene. They are not stuck on sounding a certain way, looking a certain way or saying a specific thing. They represent how young people feel today.

Where do you think the genre is headed in 2024 and beyond?

Dobson: Pop-punk, though [it] wasn't in the spotlight or "mainstream" for a minute, never really went anywhere. It's always been there. 

KennyHoopla: It's either going to blow up, or show that it was truly just a just a moment that paired well with the world's events. Only time can tell, but there will always be a space for those who grew up listening to pop-punk and just never grew out of it.

Juarez: I think pop-punk will continue to mold itself into a genre that many different people want to be a part of. It's more than a genre — it's also a community. The pop-punk community is vast and should be accepting and open-minded.

Minardi: Hopefully it's headed to a place that can help launch the next batch of great artists versus only supporting the legacy.

Roberts: I think pop-punk will be something that people use to infuse into their sound — like a hyper-pop artist who uses a pop-punk vocal cadence. Or, a pop artist using a pop-punk guitar riff. At this point, artists aren't really making one type of genre. They infuse a bunch of different genres together to make something new. So I think pop-punk will be more of an integration than a standalone genre. But of course, there's still gonna be a few artists just doing the classic sound.

Posen: The newer pop-punk and other related genres in our community are becoming more diverse with less boundaries [in terms of] sounds, look, historical culture and other differences. It's so cool to see the melting pot of people, sounds and ideas create music and a scene with far less limitations creatively and otherwise.

Ghiraldi-Travers: The genre is more solidified than ever and is only going to continue to grow. The established talent is cranking out some of the best albums of their career which is only going to inspire up-and-coming musicians to keep playing and keep growing. They see longevity, and it is inspiring. 

Barlow: The current crop of bands are the best they've ever been, and the heavy hitters are still very active which makes for a healthy scene. The scene is strong enough right now to keep making waves and growing, old fans rediscovering and new fans being made. Plus, it's only a matter of time before the next blink-182 are found in the mountains of California, farting and laughing at dick jokes. 

Why 2002 Was The Year That Made Pop-Punk: Simple Plan, Good Charlotte & More On How "Messing Around And Being Ourselves" Became Mainstream

New Holiday Songs For 2023: Listen To Festive Releases From Aespa, Brandy, Sabrina Carpenter & More
Jimmy Fallon & Meghan Trainor perform their song "Wrap Me Up" on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in November 2023.

Photo: Randy Holmes/DISNEY via Getty Images

New Holiday Songs For 2023: Listen To Festive Releases From Aespa, Brandy, Sabrina Carpenter & More

With the Christmas season in full swing, it’s time to deck the halls and load up those holiday playlists. Check out 14 new songs and projects to add to your 2023 festivities.

GRAMMYs/Dec 4, 2023 - 06:39 pm

It's the most wonderful time of year! With every holiday season comes a new outpouring of festive music, and this year is no different.

From pop and R&B to K-pop and country, artists from all genres revel in the season as they pen new, original Christmas songs and reinterpret well-loved classics. This year, GRAMMY winners like Brandy and Samara Joy deliver full-length albums, while rising stars like Sabrina Carpenter, Mimi Webb and Coco Jones add their own contributions like shiny new baubles on a sparkling Christmas tree. 

Below, GRAMMY.com rounded up 14 new holiday releases worth checking out, from Alanis Morissette's first Christmas EP to new projects by Aly & AJ and Gavin DeGraw, and even a posthumous duet between Elvis Presley and Kane Brown

aespa, "Jingle Bell Rock"

Need some K-pop for your holiday playlist? Look no further than aespa's take on "Jingle Bell Rock." The girl group takes Bobby Helms' 1957 hit to the metaverse by giving it a slinky edge punctuated by handclaps, toy piano and glitchy undertones. Members GISELLE and NINGNING even add their own laid-back rap verse to the proceedings, casually tossing off lyrics like, "Ring, ring, ring, jingle bell rock/ Play like a spell/ I won't tell, jingle bell talk" partway through the track.

Aly & AJ, Lonesome Dove

Lonesome Dove isn't Aly & AJ's first Christmas project — that would be their excellent 2006 LP Acoustic Hearts of Winter — but the siblings have come a long way from the Disney days of their last holiday record. Just look at "Greatest Time of Year," which they've plucked from the Acoustic Hearts track list and transformed from into a delicate slowburner perfect to be sung by the fireside. Then there's the pitch-perfect cover of "Sisters," which proves the only way to improve upon Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen's eternally iconic number from 1954's White Christmas is for it to be recorded by, you know, actual sisters.

Brandy, Christmas With Brandy

Considering she's been called the "Vocal Bible" since she rose to stardom in the '90s, a Christmas album makes all the sense in the world for Brandy. On Christmas with Brandy, the R&B sensation — and star of Netflix's new holiday flick Best. Christmas. Ever. — eschews the scriptural in favor of the romantic ("Christmas Party For Two"), the hopeful ("Someday at Christmas") and the celebratory ("Christmas Gift" with daughter Sy'Rai) — all with her trademark gossamer runs and riffs in full, glistening effect.

Kane Brown and Elvis Presley, "Blue Christmas"

Fresh off his performance in NBC's "Christmas at Graceland" special, Kane Brown turns his live version of "Blue Christmas" into a full-blown duet with Elvis Presley himself. The King famously released his iconic version of the holiday classic in 1957 — as well as a live version more than a decade later — and Brown wisely sticks to Presley's tried-and-true formula on their duet by trading verses, while letting Elvis' iconic voice shine.

Sabrina Carpenter, Fruitcake

Sabrina Carpenter created a recipe for a holiday hit last year thanks to "A Nonsense Christmas," a cheeky seasonal remake of her top 10 pop hit "Nonsense." This year, she doubles the recipe on Fruitcake, a delectable slice of Christmas goodness that's equal parts sweet and sour.

On the winking "Buy Me Presents," the pop chanteuse demands the undivided attention of her lover while "Cindy Lou Who" turns the sweetest character in Dr. Seuss' oeuvre into a man-stealing Jolene of Christmas nightmares. "Is It New Year's Yet" revels in an irresistible spirit of pessimism that'll have all of Carpenter's fans saying "Bah humbug!" with glee.

Gavin DeGraw, A Classic Christmas

Eighteen months since Gavin DeGraw's last album, 2022's understated Face the River, the crooner turns up the yuletide cheer — with all the trimming and trappings — for his first holiday record. Each song on the six-track EP stays true to the title, as strings, sleigh bells and tradition combine with DeGraw's soulful timbre on standards like "The Most Wonderful Time of Year," "Silent Night" and "White Christmas."

Kirk Franklin, "Joy To The World"

Kirk Franklin cooked up an extra-special gift for his Spotify Singles Holiday rendition of "Joy to the World." Enlisting a buoyant backing choir, the 19-time GRAMMY winner adds a thoughtful spoken word element over the music, telling listeners everywhere, "This year I offer you the gift of unity. The gift of harmony. Bring us together like never before this holiday season. Find room in your heart. Listen. Can you hear it?"

Coco Jones, "A Timeless Christmas"

Determined to make 2023 a year to remember, Coco Jones follows her five 2024 GRAMMY nominations — including one for Best New Artist — with "A Timeless Christmas." On the original song, the R&B breakout aims to unwrap a holiday filled with family, joy and love as she intones, "Cherish the moment with the people that surround you/ Live in the moment today/ Let's have a timeless Christmas/ Let's just come together in harmony as one forever."

Samara Joy, A Joyful Holiday

Just months after releasing Linger Awhile Longer — the deluxe edition of her 2022 studio album — Samara Joy returns with A Joyful Holiday, a festive EP filled with jazzy originals and standards alike. The 2023 Best New Artist GRAMMY winner taps jazz pianist Sullivan Fortner on "Twinkle Twinkle Little Me" and turns on the feels on opener "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." But perhaps the most special moment of the record happens when three generations of her family join her for a gospel-fueled take on "O Holy Night," filled with stunning harmonies.

Ingrid Michaelson, "This Christmas"

Ingrid Michaelson has supplied plenty of cozy and nostalgic Christmas tunes ever since releasing her 2018 album Songs of the Season, but she doubles down on the warm fireside sounds with her new single "This Christmas." Though it shares a title with the beloved Donny Hathaway track, Michaelson's original song finds beauty in the stillness and small details of the season — from the wonder in a child's eyes as snow falls swirls to the ground to family gathered around the piano.

Alanis Morissette, Last Christmas

After gifting fans a string of holiday singles over the past few years, Alanis Morissette has finally compiled the songs into a full Christmas-themed project. The four-track EP Last Christmas contains three of the alt pioneer’s past releases: 2020’s rousing and poignant “Happy Xmas (War Is Over) and pandemic-era take on “What Child Is This” as well as last year’s “Little Drummer Boy.” However, she saved a shiny new toy for last in the form of a surprisingly peppy cover of Wham!’s modern classic “Last Christmas.”

Jon Pardi, Merry Christmas From Jon Pardi

It's a full-blown Christmas Pardi, ahem, party on Jon Pardi's fifth album, the aptly-titled Merry Christmas From Jon Pardi. The recent Grand Ole Opry inductee appoints Rudolph a designated driver on "Beer For Santa," is unfazed by a ferocious blizzard thanks to "400 Horsepower Sleigh" and sheds his ugly Christmas sweater to celebrates the holiday on the beach with "Merry Christmas From The Keys." But he's also unafraid to put a country spin on the likes of Mariah Carey's timeless smash "All I Want for Christmas Is You," and holiday classics like "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" and "Please Come Home For Christmas."

Meghan Trainor, "Jingle Bells"

Meghan Trainor has delivered Christmas goodies in the past (2020's A Very Trainor Christmas, last year's "Kid on Christmas" with Pentatonix), but this year she teamed up with Amazon Music for an exclusive rendition of "Jingle Bells." There's only a 30-second preview available without Amazon Music, but in the event you're not a subscriber, check out Trainor's other holiday offering of the season: her duet with Jimmy Fallon titled "Wrap Me Up."

Mimi Webb, "Back Home For Christmas"

In the wake of her debut studio album, Amelia, Mimi Webb tackles her first original holiday track in the form of "Back Home For Christmas." The lovelorn single is filled with church bells and yearning galore as the rising pop starlet wails, "Just like that, first of December/ Counting down 'til we're together/ Only one thing on my wishlist/ Bring my love back home for Christmas/ Mistletoe making me lonely/ Santa Claus just can't console me/ Only one thing that I'm missin'/ Bring my love back home for Christmas." 

Clearly, the Christmas season can make you feel all sorts of ways, from nostalgic and cozy to lonely, filled with hope and back again.

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