Photo: Jonathan Weiner
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Photo: Ralph Bavaro/NBC via Getty Images
Listen: Get Jolly With New Holiday Music From Dolly Parton, Phoebe Bridgers, Pentatonix, Alicia Keys & More
This year saw several new holiday albums and singles from artists of all genres, from Backstreet Boys to Gloria Estefan. Get in the spirit with this festive 30-song playlist.
As we're all stringing up colorful lights and scrambling to buy last-minute gifts, music shines as the one constant in our lives amid the rush of the holiday season.
Some playlists have been bursting with holiday music since early autumn, with releases such as Dolly Parton's "A Smoky Mountain Christmas" dropping back in August and Joss Stone's Merry Christmas, Love releasing in September. Since then, several more holiday albums arrived, whether they were new projects from artists such as Alicia Keys and Thomas Rhett or polished deluxe editions from the likes of Reba McEntire and Norah Jones.
Beyond releasing albums, many artists have also found their holiday spirit by releasing festive singles. Remi Wolf brings her bubbly personality to warm covers of "Last Christmas" and "Winter Wonderland," Dan + Shay remind us to throw a "Holiday Party" with loved ones, and Phoebe Bridgers shares her annual holiday cover, this year a rendition of the Handsome Family's "So Much Wine." And even stars such as RuPaul, Jimmy Fallon and Ryan Reynolds surprised with holiday singles this season.
Groups such as Pentatonix and Backstreet Boys joined in on the fun with their own cheery holiday albums, and Gloria Estefan and her family capture the joys of love in a snowglobe on Estefan Family Christmas. Collaborations sparkle with holiday magic as well; Ingrid Michaelson and A Great Big World team up for "It's Almost Christmas," and Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande perform "Santa, Can't You Hear Me" in a thrilling live version.
So bundle up, grab some hot cocoa, and listen to some new holiday music in this very merry playlist — check it out on Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.
Photo: Brandon Bowen
5 Takeaways From Demi Lovato's New Album 'Holy Fvck'
Demi Lovato's eighth studio LP, 'HOLY FVCK,' brings the singer back to her rocker-girl roots — but this time, with a new perspective and a whole lot more sex appeal.
On the eve of her 30th birthday, Demi Lovato released her eighth studio album, HOLY FVCK. Upon the album's arrival, Lovato celebrated with a message to fans.
"HOLY FVCK gave me the freedom to express myself in ways I didn't know were possible and find joy I'd been missing when making music," she wrote in a social media post. "It's cathartic and grounded, yet exhilarating and a hell of a good time."
That pretty much sums up HOLY FVCK's 16 tracks. The album is a whirlwind of hard rock sounds and hard-felt emotions, but overall, it feels like Lovato is home.
Those who have been following Lovato since her 2008 debut Don't Forget remember that her pop music is rooted in rock. As she makes a return to her guitar-heavy beginnings, Lovato does so with growth both personally and musically — making HOLY FVCK a wild ride that has seemingly set Lovato free.
As you dive in yourself, take a look at five takeaways from Demi Lovato's HOLY FVCK.
She's Back Where She Belongs
Four days after Lovato held a "funeral" for her pop music this past January, she shared a photo of a sweaty, teenage Demi performing with the caption "15 & it wasn't a phase." Lovato was a teenager in the emo era of the mid-2000s — the "Warped Tour days," as she put it — which in part inspired the rock-leaning sound of her first two albums. That influence makes a comeback on HOLY FVCK.
While "SUBSTANCE" and "HAPPY ENDING" are more reminiscent of the pop-rock she displayed on her first two albums, Lovato channeled her heavy-metal interests on "HEAVEN," "FREAK" and "EAT ME." But whatever the rock route she takes, every song sounds like Lovato is fully in her element.
She Can Scream With The Best Of Them
From the moment she wailed on the bridge of her debut single "Get Back," it's been no secret that Lovato has insane vocal power. But as even Lovato herself admits, "I never went this hard."
There are several high notes across HOLY FVCK that will have you saying exactly that — particularly the final notes of "CITY OF ANGELS" and "SUBSTANCE," or the bridge of "COME TOGETHER." Demi goes hardest on "EAT ME," with thrashing guitars that pair with Lovato's impressive scream-singing for one hell of a headbanger.
She's Feeling Sexier Than Ever
If you thought Lovato couldn't get any more provocative than 2015's "Cool For the Summer" or 2017's Tell Me You Love Me deep cut "Concentrate," brace yourself for HOLY FVCK. (She's not in bondage on the cover for nothing!)
Several tracks on the album make it clear that Lovato is feeling herself, including the title track which flips the idiom into a confident remark for the bedroom: "I'm a holy f—." Elsewhere, she feels the adrenaline rush of attraction ("BONES"), fantasizes about a sexual venture through Los Angeles ("CITY OF ANGELS"), and sneakily praises the climax ("COME TOGETHER").
At the same time, Lovato's hyper-sexual vibe may inspired by a new love, as she teases in the metaphorical anthem "WASTED" ("The highest high can't hold a candle to/ Getting wasted on you," she belts). Whatever is bringing it out, she's not afraid to let it be known.
She Has A New Perspective On A Few Things
After Lovato posed the question, "Demi leaves rehab again/ When is this s— gonna end?" in HOLY FVCK's lead single "SKIN OF MY TEETH," it seemed the album may be another detailed account of her complicated relationship with addiction like 2021's Dancing with the Devil… the Art of Starting Over. Instead, she takes a step back and reflects on much of what she's been through.
Perhaps the most surprising perspective comes on "29," which assesses her relationship with actor Wilmer Valderrama — which began when she was 17 and he was 29 — in scathing fashion. "Finally 29/ Funny, just like you were at the time," she sings. "Thought it was a teenage dream, just a fantasy/ But was it yours or was it mine?"
According to HOLY FVCK's balladic closer "4 EVER 4 ME," some of Lovato's realizations about her relationship with Valderrama came from her newest romance, which might be a bit more stable. "I can't hold back/ I've fallen in love," she gushes on the final chorus. "I think this is forever for me."
Other revelations seemed to come within Lovato herself. She admits survivor's guilt on "DEAD FRIENDS" and questions whether she'll find peace on "HAPPY ENDING," but ultimately asserts on "FEED" that she has a hold on her demons — at least for now: "I got two wolves inside of me/ But I decide which one to feed."
She No Longer Gives A Fvck
"I know the part I've played before/ I know the s— that I've ignored/ I know the girl that you adored/ She's dead, it's time to f—ing mourn," Lovato proclaims on the chorus of "EAT ME." Though it's not the opening track, the song serves as the singer's predominant declaration from HOLY FVCK: I'm done caring what you think.
Whether she's shutting down haters on "HELP ME," inviting everyone to her freakshow on "FREAK," or delivering headline-worthy lyrics on "29," Lovato brings plenty of statement pieces to HOLY FVCK. She seems to have grown from the lessons she's learned, and put in the work to feel better than ever — so now it's time to rock.
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Photo: Brandon Bowen
Demi Lovato's Road To 'Holy Fvck': How Sex, Sobriety And Rock & Roll Fueled The Singer's Most Authentic Album Yet
With her eighth studio set, Demi Lovato lays her pop persona to rest in favor of a rock-star resurrection.
In January, Demi Lovato held an impromptu funeral for her pop music. After wiping her Instagram feed clean, the singer posted a single photo: A solemn Lovato serving up two middle fingers, surrounded by her team all dressed in black, the wall behind them adorned with relics of her past musical eras.
What fans didn't know at the time was that the makeshift memorial marked the start of a new chapter for the two-time GRAMMY nominee, slyly laying the groundwork for her eighth studio album HOLY FVCK. The singer — who recently re-adopted the use of feminine pronouns in addition to the nonbinary 'they/them' — would officially announce the full-length in June, after months of teasing lyrics alongside sultry Instagram photos showing off her newly-shorn brunette buzzcut.
If the album's cleverly misspelled title and sacrilegious cover art are any indication, Lovato seems primed to embrace a new level of sexuality and subversion heretofore unexplored. "I wanted to flip the phrase 'holy f–k' on its head. And instead of just saying 'holy f–k,' I wanted to write a song that says, 'I'm a holy f–k," she revealed in a July interview with SiriusXM Hits 1, calling the NSFW title track "definitely a sexually charged song, but it's really fun."
Arriving August 19 via Island Records, HOLY FVCK promises to decisively — and fittingly — set fire to the pop-star persona Lovato has so carefully crafted for the past 11 years. This time around, Lovato dives headfirst into the emo-influenced rock that inspired her 2008 debut Don't Forget and its 2009 follow-up Here We Go Again.
"I went into this album with the intention of separating myself from the music that I've been doing and embarking on a new journey that was grounded in the roots of where my music started," she told Billboard in June. "If you go back into my older catalog — listen to my first album, my second album — [there's] definitely the pop-rock influence."
More than merely influential, the combination of electric guitars and bright, pop-oriented melodies was actually the bedrock of Lovato's brand when she first catapulted to stardom in Camp Rock, the 2008 Disney Channel Original Movie she headlined opposite the Jonas Brothers. Thanks to the star-making power of the Disney machine, her debut album arrived three months later — putting her pop-rock princess identity on full display with effervescent tracks like lead single "Get Back," sassy Hollywood takedown "La La Land" and fan-favorite emo anthem "Don't Forget."
Roles on Sonny with a Chance — her very own Disney show — and 2009's Princess Protection Program with then-bestie Selena Gomez soon followed. But it was always Lovato's magnetic voice and image as the network's resident rocker girl that helped her stand out amid a crowded Disney Channel class that included Miley Cyrus, Gomez, the JoBros, Cole and Dylan Sprouse, Emily Osment, Debby Ryan, and more.
"I'm the new kid, and that's how I kind of felt when I came into the whole Selena-Miley-Jonas Brothers thing," the then-rising star admitted in a 2009 profile for The New York Times when she was just 16. "Like, O.K., where do I come in? How am I different?"
Of course, Lovato's musical journey from fresh-faced Disney Channel starlet to re-christened rocker is inextricably tied to the life-or-death demons she's faced in the glare of the spotlight. Over the years, she's battled addiction to drugs and alcohol, grappled very publicly with an eating disorder and mental health struggles, and opened up about her painful history of both sexual and familial trauma.
The first time the star entered in-patient treatment was in 2010 after making headlines for punching a back-up dancer in the face on the Camp Rock 2 tour. Though she admitted years later that she began using cocaine at age 17, any mention of drugs and alcohol was kept decidedly vague as Lovato made the requisite press rounds post-rehab.
In September 2011 — eight months after leaving treatment — Lovato was kicking off another album cycle for her third studio set, Unbroken, which found her abandoning the pop-rock of her first two records for a sprawling sonic palette rooted in early 2010s R&B, with tinges of electro-pop and soul balladry.
She channeled the angst and trauma of the preceding year into the album's soaring lead single "Skyscraper," which became her first solo Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. But though she projected a narrative of sobriety to her army of Lovatics, the 18-year-old quickly relapsed and fell back into dangerous old patterns. "I wasn't working my program," she recounted in her 2017 documentary Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated. "I wasn't ready to get sober…I was either craving drugs or on drugs."
The rest of the singer's beleaguered history with addiction is well-documented at this point — even if, sometimes, the truth about her drug and alcohol abuse has revealed itself much later. In the same documentary, she came clean about the fact that she'd filmed her 2012 MTV doc Demi Lovato: Stay Strong under the influence of cocaine, all while espousing the virtues of her newly sober lifestyle. Soon enough, an intervention by her management team prompted a drastic course correction, and at 19, Lovato began her first real year of sobriety.
The following year, she leaned even harder into the pop-centric sound she'd started exploring with Unbroken on her fourth album, Demi. As its eponymous title suggests, the 2013 effort was meant to be more personal than its predecessor, which meant paring down the number of guest features and collaborators to deliver electro-leaning power pop (lead single "Heart Attack"), middle-of-the-road country-pop ("Made in the U.S.A.) and club-ready dance tracks ("Neon Lights").
By 2015, Lovato had fully established herself as an unequivocal pop star with the release of her fifth studio set, Confident. The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 — her highest chart entry since Here We Go Again reigned atop the list in July 2009 — and earned the singer her very first GRAMMY nomination, for Best Pop Vocal Album.
In retrospect, though, Lovato confessed that the bold, seductive persona she was projecting at the time on singles like "Cool for the Summer" and the Max Martin-produced title track — as well as the album's very title itself — was nothing more than a facade.
"I wasn't confident at all. I had a false confidence because I was conforming to everybody else's ideals," she admitted to Glamour for the outlet's April 2021 cover story. "I was trying on different identities that felt authentic to me but weren't me. The super-feminine pop star was an identity that sounded like it fit and looked like it fit, so I put it on like it fit."
According to her 2021 docu-series Dancing with the Devil, no one in Lovato's inner circle knew when she had secretly relapsed in early 2018 while promoting her sixth album Tell Me You Love Me. Six months later, she was fighting for her life in the intensive care unit of L.A.'s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center having overdosed on a lethal combination of opioids laced with fentanyl.
Lovato's near-fatal ordeal and subsequent recovery hung heavily over the proceedings of her seventh studio set, 2021's Dancing with the Devil… the Art of Starting Over. Standalone single "Sober" — a heart-wrenching confessional ballad she released just one month prior to the overdose — served as a chilling cry for help before the LP's arrival, and album tracks like "ICU (Madison's Lullabye)" and "Dancing with the Devil" reopened the proverbial wound and forced fans not to look away.
However, cut to a year later and, for the moment, Lovato seems to have grown past the impulse to sit in that same trauma. "Demi leaves rehab again/ When is this s–t gonna end?" she snarls in the opening line of HOLY FVCK's lead single, "SKIN OF MY TEETH." But rather than kick off a shame spiral, the world-weary declaration morphs into a hard-charging anthem of survival that's equal parts rebellious and resolute — indicating that she's celebrating a new lease on life.
Second single "SUBSTANCE" similarly serves as a winking double entendre, flipping the script on what listeners may assume for a more high-minded quest: Lovato gleefully wails, "So I ask myself/ 'Am I the only one looking for substance?'/ Got high, it only left me lonely and loveless/ Don't wanna end up in a casket, head full of maggots/ Body full of jack s–t, I get an abundance/ Am I the only one looking for substance?"
That's not to say HOLY FVCK traffics solely in themes of survival and addiction. Ahead of the album's full unveiling, the singer premiered a number of tracks live with a hard-charging performance at the Illinois State Fair.
Whether tearing through a sexual tour of Los Angeles ("CITY OF ANGELS"), inviting fans into her rock 'n' roll circus ("FREAK") or demanding they place her status as a role model firmly on the funeral pyre ("EAT ME"), Lovato howled like a banshee unleashed — finally letting loose the rocker girl she's seemingly kept locked inside for the past 13 years. It seems the last f-word she had to give was the one she put in her album title.
Take, for example, "29," a scorched-earth indictment of her six-year relationship with actor Wilmer Valderrama, which she now examines — as the title suggests — from the same age her ex was when their romance began.
"Finally 29/ Funny, just like you were at the time/ Thought it was a teenage dream, just a fantasy/ But was it yours or was it mine?" she questions on the chorus. The stark turnabout is certainly a shock, considering the singer referred to Valderrama in the 2017 documentary as "my everything." But the song's damning lyrics explicitly reveal that she's gained a new, clear-eyed perspective — a theme that rings true across many of HOLY FVCK's 16 songs.
While the album proves to be a major sonic shift, HOLY FVCK ultimately seems to serve two major purposes for Lovato: to represent the truest version of herself as an artist, and honor just how far she's come on her journey.
"I've definitely been through a ton," she told Jimmy Fallon during a June visit to "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." "That's no secret to the world… I came out of treatment [last year], and I realized I really want to do this for myself and I want to make the best album possible — something that really represents who I am.
"I think the best way to do that — the easiest way to do something, the most authentic — is to do it clean and sober," she continued. "So I made this album clean and sober. I can't say that about my last album. But this one I'm really, really proud about."
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10 Must-Hear New Albums In August 2022: Demi Lovato, TWICE, Calvin Harris, YoungBoy Never Broke Again & More
Dive into our extensive guide to the must-hear new albums dropping this month from Muse, Pussy Riot, Pale Waves, and many more.
Just as July 2022 crescendoed with Beyoncé's triumphant Renaissance, August looks to keep the musical magic flowing with tons of highly anticipated, new albums across all genres dropping this month.
Dance music fans rejoice: GRAMMY winner Calvin Harris is back with Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 this week. Political protestors and punk heroes Pussy Riot are back to restart the fire with Matriarchy Now. And for the rest of the month, we're in for enticing prog offerings (Muse's Will Of The People), delightfully devilish rock (Demi Lovato's HOLY FVCK), synth-pop (Pale Waves' Unwanted), electronic-folk (T Bone Burnett's The Invisible Light: Spells), and so much more.
Below, check out an extensive guide to the must-hear new albums dropping in August 2022 and learn why they all should be on your radar — no matter where your stylistic arrow points. — Morgan Enos
Calvin Harris — Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2
Release Date: Friday, Aug. 5
Things that make summer, summer: ice-cold lemonades, beach trips, blurry music festival weekends, and a wildly catchy and relatable Calvin Harris bop on your latest aesthetic playlist. Where the latter is concerned, the Scottish super-producer is offering you many to choose from with his second installment in his Funk Wav Bounces album series. Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 is a concentrated return to vocal-heavy, radio-friendly dance pop following Harris' years-long rave detour via his Love Regenerator alias — though in between stints, he collaborated with The Weeknd in 2020 on "Over Now" and released stand-alone single "By Your Side," featuring Tom Grennan, last year.
Like its successful 2017 predecessor, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 brings together many of today's hottest artists — Halsey, Latto and Lil Durk among them — on a record you can call upon to chill, hang out, and build a vibe. Lead single "Potion," with Dua Lipa and Young Thug, brings the type of seductive funk you post on TikTok when you're feeling yourself and hoping your crush will see the self-confidence, too. The balmy synths on "New Money," featuring 21 Savage, sparkle like ocean waves. Then you have Normani, Tinashe and Offset turning up the humidity on the syrupy disco number "New To You." Does summer have to end? Not if Calvin Harris has his way. — Krystal Rodriguez
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YoungBoy Never Broke Again — The Last Slimeto
Release Date: Friday, Aug. 5
Fans of Louisiana rap sensation YoungBoy Never Broke Again know to expect a whirlwind of new music at all times — and the hits keep coming. The prolific rapper's next album, The Last Slimeto, is out August 5 via his own Never Broke Again label and Atlantic Records; the album features a 30-song track list that has only been partially revealed.
The Last Slimeto comes hot on the heels of YoungBoy Never Broke Again's last mixtape, the hugely successful Colors, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart following its release in January. Leading The Last Slimeto, the take-no-prisoners single "4KT Baby" boasts an equally bracing video. Like Colors before it, The Last Slimeto is sure to delve deep into YoungBoy Never Broke Again's dark past and conflicted psyche. — Jack Tregoning
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Pussy Riot — Matriarchy Now
Release Date: Friday, Aug. 5
Pussy Riot's debut mixtape, Matriarchy Now, is a capstone on a remarkable decade for the Russian punk agitators. Its August 5 release comes 10 years after Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich were convicted with "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for performing a song critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin in a church and sentenced to two years in prison. The verdict made international headlines and garnered the collective new fans in far-flung corners around the globe.
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A decade on, with the world now reeling from Putin's invasion of Ukraine, Pussy Riot's brand of protest art is more urgent than ever. The group tapped Swedish hitmaker Tove Lo as executive producer on Matriarchy Now, which also features an assortment of up-for-it guests including Big Freedia, Phoebe Ryan, mazie, and Slayyyter. Lead single "PLASTIC" is a twisted pop earworm featuring Atlanta-via-Los Angeles rapper ILOVEMAKONNEN, who slides right into the collective's off-kilter aesthetic.
In June, Pussy Riot joined the national fight for reproductive rights by unfurling a 45-foot banner at the Texas State Capitol that read "Matriarchy Now." Expect the mixtape to be just as direct. — J.T.
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The Interrupters — In The Wild
Release Date: Friday, Aug. 5
With it raucous energy, hummable hooks, and classic ska-punk fusion, In The Wild, the fourth album by Los Angeles quartet the Interrupters, feels like a welcome breath of fresh air. The 14-track album finds lead singer/songwriter Aimee Interrupter, her romantic partner and guitarist Kevin Bivona, and his younger twin brothers Jesse and Justin, in an exuberant mood. The rollicking "In The Mirror" sounds tailor-made for the concert stage — the band is touring the U.S. with Celtic punk darlings Flogging Molly throughout the summer — while the gorgeous "As We Live" evokes the multicultural magic of late-'70s British two-tone at its elegant best.
Lyrically, the album pulsates with unrelenting honesty. During the pandemic, the Interrupters built a brand-new home studio in L.A., allowing Aimee a safe space where she could process and confront her wounds from a difficult childhood. The band has never sounded so self-assured — both musically and emotionally. — Ernesto Lechner
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T Bone Burnett — The Invisible Light: Spells
Release Date: Friday, Aug. 5
Three years ago, T Bone Burnett released the critically acclaimed and darkly experimental The Invisible Light: Acoustic Space, a collaboration with percussionist Jay Bellerose and musician/producer Keefus Ciancia. Inspired by a disturbing nightmare that plagued Burnett decades ago, the album touches on humanity's excessive reliance on technology, often resulting in a deluded interpretation of reality. The visionary trio returns with The Invisible Light: Spells, the second installment of a planned trilogy.
For Burnett, Spells marks a bold, new chapter in a career that includes mainstream fame as a guitarist with Bob Dylan in the '70s and, most recently, creating — together with Ciancia — the haunting music for "True Detective." Opening with the tribal, spoken-word march "Realities.com" and continuing with the stark "I'm Starting A New Life Today," a glorious slice of industrial rock that shimmers with vague echoes of '80s Peter Gabriel, Spells picks up where its predecessor left off: a gloomy meditation on the dangers of today, framed by gorgeous soundscapes. Years from now, it will be remembered as one of the most challenging albums of 2022. — E.L.
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Kokoroko — Could We Be More
Release Date: Friday, Aug. 5
Kokoroko, the eight-piece U.K. jazz/Afrobeat fusion collective, take their name from the Nigerian Urhobo language; the moniker translates to "be strong." The phrase could represent the band's resolve to share Afrobeats and highlife music with the world, from their parents' generation to their own and, hopefully, the next one, too. If so, their plan is working. After starting out performing covers, the group elevated to the next level after their track, "Abusey Junction," was featured on the 2018 compilation We Out Here, released on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings.
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Four years, a self-titled EP, and a handful of singles later, Kokoroko are releasing their debut album, Could We Be More. The 15-track LP blends Afrobeat, highlife, soul, and funk in a heartwarming homage to the West African and Caribbean sounds from their childhood. "It's that feeling when you're younger and you hear something and you feel some ownership over it," the band's percussionist Onome Edgeworth said in a statement. "Recreating a piece of music that fills you with pride, 'this is a piece of me and this is what I came from.'" Album singles "Age of Ascent," "We Give Thanks" and "Something's Going On" surge with an energy that's nostalgic, spirited, and life-giving. Play this at sunrise or sunset and groove away. — K.R.
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Pale Waves — Unwanted
Release Date: Friday, Aug. 12
Manchester group Pale Waves released their last album, Who Am I?, early in 2021, with the pandemic raging and lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie battling heartbreak and burnout. This year, the band came back strong, starting in May with "Lies," a fierce pop-punk rebuke to a deceitful lover. In July, Pale Waves released "The Hard Way," which draws on Baron-Gracie's high school memories of a girl who was bullied and took her own life.
The contrasting-yet-connected emotions on "Lies" and "The Hard Way" set the stage for the new Pale Waves album, Unwanted, out August 12 on Dirty Hit, home to the likes of the 1975 and Wolf Alice. The album sees the band exploring deeper themes of love, loss and gender identity. "Unwanted had to be honest, provocative and loud," Baron-Gracie said in a statement. "Not only thematically, but in the music as well."
Coming hot from supporting 5 Seconds of Summer around North America, Pale Waves are shootings for indie-pop glory on Unwanted. — J.T.
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Demi Lovato — HOLY FVCK
Release Date: Friday, Aug. 19
Global pop star Demi Lovato will soon excite fans once again with their new album HOLY FVCK, a 16-track project, out Aug. 19, exploring the singer's ups and downs. And already, the sonic direction of the album promises an edgy vibe, tapping into Lovato's beloved rock and pop-punk sound. Lead single "Skin of My Teeth" dropped June 10 alongside a darkly tinged music video. The song, which showcases the singer's intense vocal ability atop an infectious rock sound, delves into Lovato's hardships and need for freedom, ultimately giving an unfiltered look into their emotions.
Lovato released their last album, Dancing with the Devil... the Art of Starting Over, in April last year; it received critical acclaim and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. Full of honest, relatable stories, HOLY FVCK now shows the star's growth, a step forward in their career. When speaking on the project, Lovato shouts out their "Lovatics," the fan base that has stood with them through the years as they evolved as an artist and person. Describing the album-making process as fulfilling, Lovato has clearly found their footing and creative confidence on HOLY FVCK. — Ashlee Mitchell
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TWICE — Between 1&2
Release Date: Friday, Aug. 26
Armed with chart-dominating and addictively catchy songs like "Fancy" and "What is Love," TWICE have remained a heavyweight force in the global K-pop scene, converting millions of listeners into ONCE, their fan base, along the way. Now, the K-pop world is in for a treat: TWICE will soon release their highly anticipated, seven-track album Between 1&2, which finally drops on Aug. 26.
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The mini-album's track list, which TWICE recently shared on social media, includes songs like "Talk That Talk," "Queen of Hearts," "Basics," "Trouble," "Brave," "Gone," and "When We Were Kids." Members Chaeyoung, Jihyo and Dahyun also have solo writing credits on the album.
After seven awesome years making a name for themselves in this industry, TWICE are now giving K-pop fans around the world a taste of what's in store with Between 1&2. — A.M.
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Muse — Will Of The People
Release Date: Friday, Aug. 26
British rock trio Muse are no strangers to grand statements, and one of their grandest yet is coming this month. According to a statement from frontman Matt Bellamy, the band's ninth album, Will Of The People, out Aug. 26, grapples with all the ills of the world as we know it today — from Russia's invasion of Ukraine to the pandemic to natural disasters fueled by climate change. "This album is a personal navigation through those fears and preparation for what comes next," Bellamy said.
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The weightiness of those themes will be matched, of course, by Muse's operatic, hard-rock riffs. The band has already delivered four singles, including the recent "Kill or Be Killed," which Bellamy described as "Muse at their heaviest." The trio hits select North American cities in October to road-test the new songs from Will Of The People, which include an album closer called "We Are Fucking F—". Don't say they didn't warn us. — J.T.
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