Photo by Christian Alminana/FilmMagic
Black Eyed Peas
Meeting The Black Eyed Peas Halfway In Honor Of 'The E.N.D.''s 10th Anniversary
14 years after their formation, the pop behemoths' GRAMMY-winning fifth album found will.i.am, Fergie & co. at peak body-rockin' power
Listen—do you really think will.i.am thinks he's Kendrick Lamar? The first step to appreciating the Black Eyed Peas is recognizing that rap fans unfavorably comparing them to Nas or something would be like comparing KC and the Sunshine Band to Bob Dylan. Actually, let’s run with that KC thing for a moment, because that’s almost certainly the analogy. Those guys had "That’s the Way (I Like It)," "Get Down Tonight," and the ever-so-meaningful "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty." These guys (and gal) had "Boom Boom Pow," "Don’t Phunk With My Heart," and a very special self-love serenade entitled "My Humps." In fact, we should give will.i.am credit for realizing he is very much not Kendrick Lamar (or Posdnous or Black Thought) no matter how perfectly pleasant his group’s earlier, backpacker-targeting efforts were ("Joints & Jam" remains both a joint and a jam, especially the “Instant Flava Remix”). What exactly did they have to sell out, the chance to tour with Jurassic 5 forever?
If this is all a bit defensive, well, have you read any defenses of the Black Eyed Peas lately? 15 years on and the world still isn't quite ready for Fergie's "lovely lady lumps." But that doesn’t explain who was buying all the copies of their fifth studio album, The E.N.D., in 2009, which was this Gap Band meets Bar Mitzvah band's saturation point: for 26 weeks of the year they held the number-one spot on the Hot 100 with some inescapable song or another. So let’s rip the scab off the Chicago White Sox’s shameful Disco Demolition Night and go one further by calling The E.N.D. a front-to-back damn good album. If that requires people to have a decade of distance from these songs being blasted in their faces everywhere they go, then so be it. But for once the silly acronym really did mean that the Energy Never Dies.
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It’s easy to call will.i.am cheap because he throws everything at the wall to see what sticks. But this method doesn’t get enough credit for its madness. Blink and you’ll miss that his first true hit, "Where Is the Love?" was a sappy unity plea with Justin Timberlake that at one point names the CIA as terrorists. Then there’s the majestically tasteless "Let’s Get Retarded," which managed to be ableist twice ("bob your head like epilepsy," holy moly). None of that wildness found its way onto The E.N.D., which is probably best for its all-ages dance party, though "Ring-a-Ling" does manage to slip in another "retarded" at the end, courtesy of Roxanne Shanté, who at least had the excuse of being 16.
But the understated Fergie classic "Meet Me Halfway" did sample the Yeah Yeah Yeahs like that's a totally normal thing for an electro-pop-hip-hop outfit to do. There’s plenty of trippy sound effects, like when will.i.am echoes infinitely beneath Fergie’s pre-chorus build on "Boom Boom Pow," or the Nintendo synth squelches that punctuate the title recitations of "Party All The Time," which may as well be the theme song for these Andrew W.K.'s of rap: "If I could party all night / And sleep all day / And throw all of my problems away / Life would be easy." Like Avicii or Skrillex but sliding in just before EDM boomed, the Peas had a winning willingness to do anything to make you dance, whether it's challenging Grandmaster Flash on "Rockin' to the Beat" or leading a turnt-up electric guitar through the all-purpose pregame anthem "I Gotta Feeling," or even giving Will and his trusty Auto-Tune an awfully pretty disco ballad to warble on "Alive."
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Almost everything on The E.N.D. is better than you remember, starting with "Meet Me Halfway" (if you only give one BEP song another shot, make it this one) but also the futuristic, molten synth drips and Chipmunked hypeman of "Rock Your Body" and the multipart Zapp goody bag "Imma Be," which was the album’s third and final chart-topping smash. After their last two albums made the Peas the only act in the history of the world to work with both Sting and Papa Roach, their fifth album had a streamlined purity of purpose. Somehow there were no guests, or even super-familiar sampled hooks (which means Dick Dale's Pulp Fiction theme didn’t return for a sequel to "Pump It"). For reasons known only to these goofballs, they wanted to do it on their own. This may have resulted in Fergie's questionable patois on the otherwise Diplo-worthy "Electric City," but it also made these unlikely geeks the biggest pop stars on the planet for one long summer. If you’ve ever found yourself unconsciously humming along with "I Gotta Feeling," you owe it yourself to find out if the energy really never dies. I won’t spoil it. But you’re so two-thousand-and-late.
Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Usher Electrifies Las Vegas with Triumphant Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show: 6 Best Moments
R&B superstar Usher ran through his career of hits, from “U Got It Bad,” “Burn” and “Yeah!” to “My Boo,” “Love in This Club,” “O.M.G.,” and more during his halftime performance at Super Bowl LVIII.
He’s (still) got it bad! Usher lit up Super Bowl LVIII with an electrifying halftime show filled with a career-spanning setlist, drool-worthy dance moves and a parade of surprise guests including Alicia Keys, Ludacris, Lil Jon, H.E.R., will.i.am and more.
Days before taking the stage at Allegiant Stadium, the eight-time GRAMMY-winning R&B superstar opened up to Apple Music about the creative approach he took to planning his halftime show. “What I did is, I was very mindful of my past, celebrating my present, which is here in Las Vegas, and thinking about where we’re headed in the future, and that was really the idea,” he said. “What songs do I feel people know me for? What songs have been a celebration of all of the journey of what life and love and emotion has been offered in my music?
Usher’s halftime show comes on the heels of a monumental year and a half for the star, following his sold-out 100-show Las Vegas residency, My Way, at the Park MGM’s Dolby Live Theater. The R&B heartthrob also released Coming Home — his ninth studio album (and first in nearly a decade) on Friday — just two days before his epic performance.
Below, GRAMMY.com broke down all the best moments from Usher’s momentous halftime show.
That Grand, Las Vegas-Style Entrance
From the drop, Usher let us know his Super Bowl set would be a celebration of all things Sin City as the camera wove through acrobats, showgirls, contortionists and dancers to reveal the R&B icon in all his glory — dressed in a dazzling white cape and seated on a mirrored thrown.
From there, he launched into a high-energy rendition of “Caught Up,” one of the five consecutive top 10 singles from his landmark 2004 album Confessions. Not even an acrobat being launched through the air could distract from Usher’s swagger as he sauntered across the field.
A Sweet Shout-Out to His Mom
Transitioning between 2003’s “U Don’t Have to Call'' and a snippet of Confessions deep cut “Superstar,” Usher took a moment to recognize the magnitude of the occasion with a shout-out to his mother, Jonetta Patton. “But if you do call, know that God answers prayers. They said I wouldn’t make it. They said I wouldn’t be here today, but I am. Hey, mama, we made it. Now this — this is for you. My number one,” he said before crooning, “Spotlight, big stage / Sixty-thousand fans screamin’ in a rage.”
A Nostalgic Duet with His “Boo”
Usher’s halftime performance really hit its stride once he broke into his 2008 No. 1 hit “Love in This Club” with a full marching band. But the end of the song delivered the first big surprise of the night as the singer gestured across the field to introduce none other than Alicia Keys.
Seated at a futuristic red piano with a majestic cape of the same shade billowing behind her, the 16-time GRAMMY-winning singer-songwriter performed a snippet of her own 2004 single “If I Ain’t Got You” before being joined by Usher on their No. 1 hit “My Boo.”
The pair’s decades of friendship were palpable as they belted out, “I don’t know about y’all but I know about us, and uh / It’s the only way we know how to rock / It started when we were younger, you were mine / My boo” and the number ended with both stars grinning ear to ear as Usher wrapped his arms around Keys.
“Burn”-ing Up to Confessions
With producer Jermaine Dupri playing hype man, Usher celebrated the 20th anniversary of Confessions by running through a medley of songs from the 14x-platinum album, including “Confessions Part II” and a soaring take on “Burn,” which was undeniably one of the standout vocal moments of Usher’s entire set.
The star also put his sex appeal on full display, tearing away his glittery silver top to reveal a simple white tank as he performed “U Got It Bad” — only to remove that as well, finishing the song shirtless and glistening with sweat before ceding the spotlight to H.E.R. on an electric guitar.
“O.M.G.,” That Roller Skate Choreography!
Joined by will.i.am, Usher returned to stage dressed in a sparkling black-and-blue ensemble and roller skates — incorporating a popular moment from his recent residency as he ran through his 2010 chart-topper “O.M.G.” by nailing the choreography on wheels. For added measure, he finished off the section by skating deftly through will.i.am’s legs and striking a pose.
Peace Up, A-Town Down
Of course, the grand finale of Usher’s halftime set couldn’t be anything but “Yeah!,” his smash worldwide hit that became the longest-running No. 1 of 2004 and an inescapable soundtrack to the early 2000s. Enlisting help from collaborators Lil Jon and Ludacris, Usher turned Allegiant Stadium into an all-out dance party and brought his halftime show to a triumphant climax with the song’s infectious, shout-it-out chorus.
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.
Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.
A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.
This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system.
"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."
He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.
"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.
To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood."
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes.
Photo: Simone Joyner/Getty Images
New Music Friday: Listen To New Songs From Travis Scott, Britney Spears, NewJeans & More
July 21 marks a big day of new music releases, including star-studded collaborations like Travis Scott, Bad Bunny and The Weeknd's "K-POP" and a new EP from NewJeans. Hear some of the biggest new songs on GRAMMY.com.
Like so many New Music Fridays before it, July 21 brought a cornucopia of fresh and unique sounds from all over the map.
Want to hear Travis Scott, Bad Bunny and the Weeknd get mellow and psychedelic? Raring to hear the latest dispatch from a One Direction member? Want a taste of A$AP Rocky's long-awaited next album? Is a Britney-shaped chunk missing from your musical life? Want to hear the future of K-pop?
To these and other questions, this slew of tunes will provide answers. In the below roundup, hurtle into the weekend with wildly divergent sounds from some of music's top acts — many with sizable GRAMMY legacies.
Travis Scott, Bad Bunny, The Weeknd — "K-POP"
A week before nine-time GRAMMY nominee Travis Scott's Utopia livestream event at the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt on July 28 — which will debut his new studio album of the same name — he dropped his sixth collaboration with four-time GRAMMY winner the Weeknd.
"K-POP," the album's lead single, is rounded out by three-time GRAMMY winner Bad Bunny, in his first collab with Scott. This triple-threat track has a stony, smoldering feel, with luxurious production from Boi-1da, among others — and it's elevated by its panoramic, transportive video.
ZAYN — "Love Like This"
The former One Direction member continues his solo legacy with "Love Like This," his first new single since 2021.
Therein, ZAYN extols the virtues of throwing caution to the wind when it comes to infatuation: "Everything is on the line, but I would rather be dead/If it's gonna mean a life that's lived without you, baby," he sings. "I think I gotta take that risk/ 'cause I cannot go back."
In the video, ZAYN putters around on a motorcycle on a gorgeous day. Previously signed to RCA, the singer recently moved to Mercury Records; could "Love Like This" be the ramp-up to a new album? If so, "Love Like This" offers a tantalizing taste of what's to come.
will.i.am, Britney Spears — "MIND YOUR BUSINESS"
After the termination of her conservatorship, GRAMMY winner Britney Spears dipped a toe back into her music career in 2022 with "Hold Me Closer," a duet with Elton John that includes elements of "Tiny Dancer," "The One" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart."
Now, she's back in earnest with "MIND YOUR BUSINESS," a sassy, pulsing, electronic duet with seven-time GRAMMY winner will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas fame. The track marks the pair's fourth team-up, and first since 2014's "It Should Be Easy" from Spears' Brtiney Jean.
NewJeans — "ETA"
GRAMMY.com called NewJeans one of 10 K-Pop rookie girl groups to watch in 2023, and keeping ears on them has paid off. On July 21, they released their new EP, Get Up, to critical acclaim: NME declared that "no one can hold a candle to K-pop's rising wonder girls."
Concurrently with the release of Get Up, they released a joyous, iPhone-shot music video to its effervescent single, "ETA," in which a group of girls find a friend's boyfriend making moves on another lady.
Chris Stapleton — "White Horse"
Chris Stapleton's last album, 2020's Starting Over, helped the country crooner make a clean sweep at the 2022 GRAMMYs. At that ceremony, he won golden gramophones for Best Country Solo Performance ("You Should Probably Leave"), Best Country Song ("Cold") and Best Country Album ("Starting Over").
On Nov. 10, the eight-time GRAMMY winner will release his next LP, Higher. As he revealed the news on July 21, Stapleton also unveiled a majestic rocker of a single, "White Horse." "If you want a cowboy on a white horse/ Ridin' off into the sunset," he sings thunderously, "If that's the kinda love you wanna wait for/ Hold on tight, girl, I ain't there yet."
A$AP Rocky — "RIOT (Rowdy Pipe'n)"
For his latest track, A$AP Rocky dropped a stylish, charming short film for Beats depicting a harried diaper run (a fitting narrative for the new dad, soon to be dad of two, with partner Rihanna). That only contains a minute of the song, though; it's worth luxuriating in the whole thing.
To an uneasy, lumbering beat, Rocky extols a lifestyle to die for ("My wife is erotic/ I'm smokin' exotic/My whip is exotic") as well as his unparalleled connections ("I just call designers up, I free ninety-nine it").
Backed by 13-time GRAMMY winner Pharrell, "RIOT (Rowdy Pipe'n)" is said to be the first single from A$AP Rocky's long-awaited fourth album, Don't Be Dumb; if the quality of the track is any indication, it'll be worth the long haul.
Photo: Rachel Kupfer
A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea
James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.
It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.
Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.
Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.
In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.
Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.
There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out GRAMMY.com's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.
Say She She
Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.
While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."
Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.
Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.
Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.
Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.
L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.
During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.
Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.
Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.