Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Met Gala 2023: All The Artists & Celebrities Who Served Fierce Looks & Hot Fashion On The Red Carpet, From Rihanna To Dua Lipa To Billie Eilish To Bad Bunny To Cardi B To Doja Cat & More
Fashion and music have always been inextricably linked, and the strong longs were on fully on display at the 2023 Met Gala — one of the most anticipated style events of the year. See the red carpet outfits from Rihanna, Lil Nas X, Anitta & more.
It's that time again! The 2023 Met Gala — one of the fashion bonanzas of the year — is in full force. And given that fashion has always been the yin to music's yang, GRAMMY winners and nominees were among the stars studding this glamorous, fashion-forward event.
Presented by gala co-chair Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue and global editorial director of Condé Nast, the Met Gala this year is co-chaired by Penélope Cruz, Michaela Coel, Roger Federer and three-time GRAMMY winner Dua Lipa.
GRAMMY winners and nominees as well as today’s leading artists in music are already setting the Met Gala red carpet on fire, with everyone from Dua Lipa, Phoebe Bridgers, Rita Ora, David Byrne, rising rap sensation Ice Spice, and more showing off their fierce fashion looks. Plus, Rihanna and her partner ASAP Rocky made a last-minute surprise arrival on the 2023 Met Gala red carpet, setting the fashion and music worlds ablaze.
Below, check out some of the most eye-catching red carpet fashion looks from music’s biggest stars at the 2023 Met Gala.
Rihanna attends the 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Dua Lipa arrives for the 2023 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2023, in New York | Photo: ANGELA WEISS / AFP
(L-R) Finneas O'Connell and Billie Eilish attend The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/MG23/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue
Bad Bunny attends The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Jennifer Lopez attends the 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Cardi B attends the 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/MG23/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue
Doja Cat attends the 2023 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Lil Nas X attends The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/MG23/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue
Usher attends the 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Sean "Diddy" Combs attends The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Phoebe Bridgers attends the 2023 Met Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Anitta attends the 2023 Met Gala the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Halle Bailey attends the 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Kevin Mazur/MG23/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue
Janelle Monáe attends The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Photo: Daniele Venturelli/Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Luisaviaroma
Jennifer Lopez's Biggest Hits, From Her Best Hip-Hop Collaborations To The Dance Floor Classics
As fans await the much-anticipated arrival of J.Lo's new album, 'This Is Me…Now,' revisit the hits and deep cuts that have made her a beloved icon for nearly three decades.
Jennifer Lopez boasts one of the most impactful resumes in entertainment. Along with selling over 80 million albums and garnering four Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers, she has smashed barriers for Latin performers as a career chameleon — becoming the ultimate multi-hyphenate icon.
It feels almost unbelievable to think that J.Lo's balancing act was once deemed too risky. By the time she was releasing her debut album, On the 6, in 1999, Lopez had made a name for herself in Hollywood thanks to her starring role in 1997's biographical musical drama Selena (which foreshadowed her power in the entertainment business, as her $1 million salary made her the highest paid Latina actress at the time). Under the guidance of music mogul Tommy Mottola, On the 6 was met with much acclaim and propelled J.Lo into another stratosphere.
Now, nearly 25 years later, Lopez has released eight albums, starred in over 30 films — which have collectively grossed over $3 billion — and embarked on numerous business ventures, including her launch of JLo Beauty and alcohol brand Delola. Her fragrances alone have raked in over $2 billion.
Of the many hats Lopez wears, her music career is the most awe-inspiring for many of her fans. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, and ahead of Lopez's eagerly awaited This Is Me… Now album (her first in nearly a decade), GRAMMY.com is revisiting the hits that made the Bronx native a household name, as well as lesser-known songs that rival even her biggest anthems.
"If You Had My Love," On the 6 (1999)
"If You Had My Love" was first offered to King of Pop, Michael Jackson, before finding a home on Lopez's debut album, On the 6, named after a New York City subway line that she frequented before fame. On the Rodney Jerkins-produced tune, Lopez's assertiveness takes center stage as she addresses a potential lover: "Now if I give you me, this is how it's got to be/ First of all I won't take you cheating on me/ Tell me who can I trust if I can't trust in you/ And I refuse to let you play me for a fool."
Staying atop the Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks, "If You Had My Love" was undeniable proof that Lopez was capable of achieving crossover success in the music industry. It also coincided with 1999's "Latin Explosion" — which launched the careers of fellow Latin pop icons Shakira and Ricky Martin.
"Waiting for Tonight," On the 6 (1999)
Of all of Lopez's smash hits, "Waiting for Tonight" is arguably one of the most timeless. As Lopez's first song to top the Dance Club Songs chart (she has since scored 18), "Waiting for Tonight" is synonymous with helping to usher in the Y2K era, thanks to its celebratory lyrics and accompanying New Year's Eve-themed video. It showed that she had critical clout, too, as "Waiting for Tonight" earned Lopez her first GRAMMY nomination for Best Dance Recording in 2000.
The Latin house anthem is so quintessentially J.Lo that it's easy to forget that it's a remake of short-lived girl group 3rd Party's song, further exemplifying her star power. What's more, it teased her future Spanish-language project, as she cut a sultry Spanish version titled "Una Noche Más" which closes out On the 6.
"Let's Get Loud," On the 6 (1999)
On the 6 opens with a string of R&B tracks — including "Feelin' So Good" featuring Fat Joe and Big Pun — before taking a different turn with "Let's Get Loud," which flaunts Lopez's Latin heritage. Within the first few seconds, the proud Nuyorican declares "Ya Jeny llegó, presente!" (translating to "Jenny has arrived, present!"), and it's impossible not to dance along.
Co-written by Gloria Estefan, the salsa number mostly flew under the radar, never cracking the Hot 100. Even so, "Let's Get Loud" managed to score Lopez her second GRAMMY nomination for Best Dance Recording in 2001. It also remains one of J.Lo's signature songs, becoming a set list staple and playing part in career-defining performances, including the Super Bowl halftime show in early 2020 and Joe Biden's inauguration the next year.
"Love Don't Cost a Thing," J.Lo (2001)
A self-proclaimed "hopeless romantic," Lopez told potential suitors that her love don't cost a thing on her second album, J.Lo. Reaching No. 3 on the Hot 100 and even taking the top spot in several countries, the song's commercial success solidified her hitmaker status, simultaneously thrusting her relationship with then-boyfriend Sean "Diddy" Combs further into the spotlight. It's rumored that "Love Don't Cost a Thing" was aimed toward the Bad Boy Records founder: "When I took a chance, thought you'd understand/ Baby, credit cards aren't romance/ Still, you're tryna buy what's already yours/ What I need from is not available in stores," she sings in the second verse.
"Love Don't Cost a Thing" also kicked off Lopez's tradition of releasing catchy earworms like "I'm Glad," "I'm Into You," and "Marry Me" that chronicle the A-lister's quest for happily ever after.
"Walking on Sunshine," J.Lo (2001)
With anticipation-filled lyrics like "I can't wait, wanna see how this night is gonna be," "Walking on Sunshine" (not to be confused with Katrina and the Waves' 1985 classic) sounds like a sequel to On the 6's "Waiting for Tonight." Lopez even performed a mashup of the songs during her 2001 tour.
The infectious song follows platinum hits "I'm Real" and "Play" on J.Lo — and yet, it still manages to outshine both. At its core, "Walking on Sunshine" is pure bliss, and perfectly captures the dance-pop genre that flourished in the early aughts.
"I'm Real" (Murder Remix) feat. Ja Rule, J to tha L-O! The Remixes (2001)
Armed with a slinky smooth Rick James sample, Ja Rule's grittiness paired with Lopez's soft coos are a match made in vocal heaven on the "Murder Remix" of "I'm Real," which pushed her more into urban territory after Black radio stations complained that her J.Lo album lacked an R&B-leaning single. (And Ja Rule screaming "What's my motherf—in' name?," to which Lopez responds "R-U-L-E, still reigns as one of the best opening lines in a song.)
Despite drawing criticism at the time due to Lopez's use of the n-word, the collaboration became so popular that it was added to the reissue of J.Lo, making the original version seem almost nonexistent — paving the way for more major reworkings of Lopez's songs, including "I'm Gonna Be Alright" and "Ain't It Funny." The latter started as a Latin pop record before being reimagined as a hip-hop track with all-new lyrics and an in-your-face "Flava In Ya Ear" sample, making it completely unrecognizable to listeners while serving multiple demographics.
"I'm Gonna Be Alright" (Track Masters Remix) feat. Nas, J to tha L-O! The Remixes (2001)
Reworked for her J to tha L-O! The Remixes album, "I'm Gonna Be Alright" is easily Lopez's most forgotten hit — but it's one of her finest, thanks to Lopez's confident delivery, along with its captivating melody and resilient lyrics. "I said I couldn't do it but I did it/ After telling everybody that I wasn't with it," she sings on the chorus. "Though it brings tears to my eyes, I can feel it/ And that voice inside says I'm gonna be alright."
Featuring Nas (who replaced then-rising rapper 50 Cent, which ignited a feud between the two), and a sample of "Why You Treat Me So Bad" by Club Nouveau, "I'm Gonna Be Alright" stands out as one of Lopez's few singles that deal with a failed relationship.
"Still," This Is Me… Then (2002)
Creatively, Lopez was at the top of her game when her third studio album, This Is Me… Then, arrived in late 2002. Yet, it sold fewer copies compared to J.Lo, even despite producing megahits "Jenny from the Block" and "All I Have" (more on those later). As iconic as those songs are, they don't compare to the soulful album's opener "Still," which set the perfect tone for This Is Me… Then — her most romantic and sonically cohesive project to date.
Built around a sample of Teddy Pendergrass' 1979 song "Set Me Free" and enhanced with synthetic record scratches for a retro feel, the lyrics heard in "Still" are actually quite simple. But it's the haunting melody and Lopez's sincerity that pulls in the listener immediately, and makes them wonder why it wasn't released as a single in lieu of "Baby, I Love U!," which stalled at No. 72 on the Hot 100.
"Jenny from the Block" feat. Styles P and Jadakiss, This Is Me… Then (2002)
It's a running joke that Lopez shouts out The Bronx every chance she gets, so it's only fitting that a song like "Jenny from the Block" exists in her arsenal.
Featuring The LOX's Styles P and Jadakiss, "Jenny from the Block" teeters on pretentious as Lopez insists that fame and fortune haven't changed her. But fans and music lovers alike ate it up: The song spent three weeks at No. 3 on the Hot 100 and remains one of her most-streamed and highest-charting singles.
At the time, she was still riding high off making history as the first person to have a No. 1 album (J.Lo) and movie (The Wedding Planner) in the same week. By then, Lopez and then-boyfriend (and now husband!) Ben Affleck's romance had turned into total tabloid fodder, as seen in its accompanying video — which is infiltrated with shots of Bennifer on a yacht, grabbing lunch, and stopping for gas while the paparazzi captures their every move.
In a lot of ways, "Jenny from the Block" represents just how ubiquitous J.Lo was in the early 2000s. Outside the Bennifer craze, the rags-to-riches song remains an ode to Lopez's Bronx upbringing. It even birthed Becky G's "Becky from the Block" and seemingly inspired Fergie's "Glamorous," which topped the Hot 100 in 2007.
"All I Have" feat. LL Cool J, This Is Me… Then (2002)
Lopez and LL Cool J's chemistry is undeniable on "All I Have." Relying on a controversial sample of Debra Laws' "Very Special," the song's call-and-response quality is what makes it so fun to sing along to even after all these years.
Though the ballad showcases Lopez's softer side, female empowerment takes over: "'Cause I'm good holdin' down my spot/ And I'm good reppin' the girls on the block/ And I'm good, I got this thing on lock/ So without me you'll be fine, right," she sings on the song's pre-chorus.
"All I Have" not only became Lopez's fourth No. 1 hit, but thanks to its holiday-timed release and winter wonderland-themed video, it was dubbed a "Christmastime breakup theme."
"Get Right," Rebirth (2005)
In the three-year gap between This Is Me... Then and Lopez's fourth album, Rebirth, she hit a career low when Gigli bombed at the box office. She and Ben Affleck famously called off their engagement a mere five months later. Surprisingly, though, much of Rebirth is void of heartbreak and takes a lighter approach, as evidenced by the horn-laden lead single "Get Right," which sees Lopez enjoying herself at a club.
"My hips moving, oh, so slow/ Bar tab looking like a car note," she sings in the second verse. At face value, it's easy to view "Get Right" as just another dance tune, but it doubles as a metaphor for Lopez's openness to finding love again in the face of heartbreak.
"Qué Hiciste," Como Ama una Mujer (2007)
Lopez fully embraced her Puerto Rican roots from day one, recording Spanish-language and bilingual songs here and there, like 1999's "No Me Ames" and 2001's "Cariño." But after recording 2004's "Escapémonos," a duet with then-husband Marc Anthony, she was inspired to go all in — and she did so with 2007's Como Ama una Mujer.
A self-described "dream come true," Como Ama una Mujer spawned the rock-infused "Qué Hiciste" (translating into "What Did You Do"), Lopez's first Spanish-language song to crack the Hot 100 at No. 86 — though it ruled the US Hot Latin Songs chart. On the tune, Lopez sings from a scorned woman's perspective (e.g., "Hoy empañaste con tu furia mi mirada," which translates to "Today you clouded my gaze with your fury"), showing off her flair for drama with a blazing hot video to match.
"Stay Together," Brave (2007)
Seven months after Como Ama una Mujer's release, Lopez returned to her more radio-friendly sound, but it came with a funky twist à la her sixth album, Brave. Lead singles "Do It Well" and "Hold It Don't Drop It" were lauded by music critics, though "Stay Together," the LP's opener, arguably steals the show.
On the pro-monogamy track, Lopez exudes confidence while dropping words of wisdom: "Through the bumpy roads, the others bite the dust/ 'Cause they be thinking they're in love when they're in lust."
"On the Floor" feat. Pitbull, Love? (2011)
Ahead of joining the 10th season of "American Idol" as a judge, "On the Floor" was the chart comeback Lopez needed after two back-to-back underperforming albums. The lead single off her seventh studio album, Love?, pays homage to her dance background as she sings lyrics like "If you're a criminal, kill it on the floor/ Steal it quick on the floor" over a thumping beat.
Heavily interpolating Kaoma's "Lambada" from 1989 and featuring guest verses from Pitbull, "On the Floor" skyrocketed to No. 1 in over 30 countries and became 2011's best-selling single by a female artist, reinstating Lopez's staying power. (To further prove its impact, there are two versions of "On The Floor" on Spotify — both of which have more than 400 million streams each.)
"First Love," A.K.A. (2014)
Lopez was dating backup dancer Casper Smart, who was nearly 20 years her junior, when she dropped the feel-good "First Love." Their age difference raised eyebrows, but in typical J.Lo fashion, she wore her heart on her sleeve.
On the percussion-heavy track, she sounds carefree while seemingly acknowledging her failed romances. "I wish you were my first love/ 'Cause if you were first/ Baby, there would have been no second, third or fourth love," she sings on the chorus.
Even though it didn't fare well on the Hot 100, it marked her first and only time joining forces with pop genius Max Martin. It also gave Lopez her 15th No. 1 dance hit, tying with Donna Summer for the seventh-most on the chart at the time. Earning three more No. 1 dance hits between 2014 and 2020, Lopez surpassed Summer with an impressive 18.
In the nine years that have passed since Lopez's last studio album, A.K.A., Lopez has released dozens of one-off singles, including "Ain't Your Mama," "El Anillo," "Dinero," and "Medicine." Much to her fans' surprise and delight in the fall of 2022, she commemorated the 20th anniversary of This Is Me... Then with an announcement of This Is Me… Now, an aptly-titled sequel to her 2002 album. Lopez told Vogue that the forthcoming endeavor — which chronicles her rekindled relationship with now-husband Ben Affleck — is not only her most honest work to date, but "a culmination of who I am as a person and an artist."
While J.Lo has yet to announce an official release date, she just performed nine songs from the album at a special Apple Music Live show on Sept. 21. Once This Is Me… Now is finally unveiled, it will unlock a new era for the triple threat — one that only continues her awe-inspiring, ever-influential legacy.
Photos: Antoine Antonio/Getty Images; Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for NARAS; Kevin Winter/Getty Images For MTV; Denise Truscello/Getty Images for iHeartMedia; Don Arnold/Getty Images; Harry Durrant/Getty Images
Behind Mark Ronson's Hits: How 'Boogie Nights,' Five-Hour Jams & Advice From Paul McCartney Inspired His Biggest Singles & Collabs
GRAMMY-winning multihyphenate Mark Ronson details the stories behind 11 of his favorite releases, from "Valerie" and "Uptown Funk" to 'Barbie The Album.'
Mark Ronson's fingerprints are everywhere in pop music.
Whether he's behind the board as a producer, penning earwormy hooks for some music's biggest names, or employing a crate digger's mindset to create his own records, you'd be hard-pressed to find something on your playlist that Ronson hasn't touched. The seven-time GRAMMY winner might as well be considered the industry’s Kevin Bacon — he's worthy of his own "six degrees" game.
Today, Ronson is on his way back to New York City from some time spent in the Hudson Valley — a much-need reprieve after a blockbuster summer that saw his Barbie movie soundtrack top charts around the world.
"I love this film so much and I did something I've never done before by executive producing and overseeing [its music]," he tells GRAMMY.com.
That Ronson still has things to check off his professional bucket list is something of a surprise. The stepson of Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones, Ronson got his start DJing in New York in the '90s, bridging his twin loves of funk and hip-hop. In the latter part of the decade, Diddy hired Ronson to DJ several parties, thus opening up the then-twentysomething to a world of A-list talent. Ronson's elite status only grew over decades — from DJing Paul McCartney's wedding in 2011 (for which he refused to accept payment), to creating the ubiquitous hit "Uptown Funk," and curating the final night of the iconic 2023 Montreux Jazz Festival.
Ronson has released five of his own albums — beginning with 2003's Here Comes The Fuzz and up to 2019's Late Night Feelings — each of which is a star-studded affair, featuring everyone from Miley Cryus and Camilla Cabello to Bruno Mars and Mary J. Blige (as well as the occasional lawsuit over interpolation and sampling). Over the years, he's developed a cadre of session musicians and production collaborators, creating an incredibly pop savvy sound often built on horn-driven funk and soul.
At the bedrock of Ronson's production — and among his best-known works — is Amy Winehouse's GRAMMY-winning album Back To Black. Since that 2006 release, Ronson has collaborated with an ever-increasing number of major acts, composing, arranging, producing, writing or playing on (and sometimes all of the above) works by Lady Gaga, Duran Duran, Dua Lipa, Adele, Queens of the Stone Age, and even Sir Paul himself.
Ronson will add another first to his list: author. A hybrid memoir and cultural history, the still-in-progress 93 'Til Infinity will cover the New York downtown club scene of Ronson's salad days.
"It's really fun to revisit that era, and it was a very specific time in DJing where DJs weren't really famous," he recalls. "There was no stage; sometimes the turntables were shoved in the corner at the end of the bar and you would have to crane your neck to even see the crowd. I sound like Grandpa Simpson, but I loved it."
Ronson is en route to a DJ gig as we speak, though the new dad says he'll be "kicking back into high gear on the book" soon. "[Writing it] requires really falling off for seven hours in the basement, like Stephen King says in his book. But I like that," he says.
Ahead of a celebration of Barbie The Album at the GRAMMY Museum on Sept. 27, Mark Ronson shared the stories behind some of his favorite productions – including the song that makes people "stupidly happy."
"Ooh Wee," Here Comes The Fuzz feat. Ghostface Killah, Nate Dogg, Trife and Saigon (2003)
I went to see Boogie Nights in the theater and I remember this scene where Mark Wahlberg's a busboy on roller skates and in the background there was this song playing that had just this string thing that just hit me so hard. I bought the Boogie Nights soundtrack and it wasn't on there — obviously this is 20 years before Shazam — then I figured out it was the song called "Sunny" by Boney M.
When I was making my first record, I was sort of locked up by myself in the studio on 54th Street just experimenting, making tracks all the time. That string line, I could never figure out what to do with the sample. I tried 80 different tempos and drum beats over it, and it wasn't until I just put that drum break behind it, the drums from the song, and it just all sort of gelled together.
Because that was an era in hip-hop where people weren't really using drum loops or drum breaks anymore. It was about chopping and having hard kicks and snares, like DJ Premiere and Timbaland. The DJ in me was like, f— it, let me just try putting a drum break under it. It all gelled and felt good.
I was a huge Wu-Tang fan, and at that point Ghostface was my favorite out of the group and I loved his solo records. I've never been more nervous in some weird way to talk to somebody — nervous and giddy, and what if I just sound so dorky?
I remember he was like, "Yeah, I get it. I think it's dope. It's like some Saturday Night Fever with Tony Manero s—." I guess because of the strings and it was so disco, and Ghost always had this pension for those disco kind of uptempo beats.
The album had to be handed in and I didn't have a hook that I liked on this song yet. Sylvia Rhone was the head of Elektra and she said, "I could try and get Nate Dogg on it." Of course that was the dream. I sent him the track, and it was probably two days before I had to master the album, on a Sunday. He sent me the files back, and all the waveforms were blank.
I had to call Nate Dogg at like 10 a.m. at home on a Sunday. While he's on the phone, he goes back in the studio and turns all his equipment on, trying to do the session.
The fanboy thing is still very real because I still work with people all the time that I'm a fan of. At that age, being in the studio with M.O.P., Mos Def, Q-Tip, Jack White, Freeway, Nate. I was just trying to keep it together some of the time.
"Rehab" - Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (2006)
"Rehab" just came about in general because Amy was telling me an anecdote. She was really together when we worked — she might not have been sober, but she got her whole life together. She was telling me about this time in her life that was difficult and she was in a really bad place. She said, "And my dad and manager came over and they tried to make me go to rehab and I was like, 'No, no, no.'"
I remember that it instantly sounded like a chorus to me, so we went back to my studio and we made the demo. That was when the Strokes and the Libertines were really big. I remember [the drums] sounded much more like an indie beat, even though it came from soul and Motown and the original rock 'n' roll. She would tease me; she's like, "You trying to make me sound like the bloody Libertines."
When [studio group] the Dap-Kings played it, they just brought it to life. I didn't really know anything about analog recording at that point. I only knew how to make s— sound analog by sampling records, so to hear them all play in the original Daptone studio, all the drums bleeding into the piano…. I felt like I was floating because I couldn't believe that anybody could still make that drum sound in 2006.
Amy couldn't be there for the recording, so I was taking a CD-J into the studio with me and I had her demo vocals on a cappella. I was playing it live with the band so that they could keep pace with the arrangement. I loved it so much.
"Valerie," feat. Amy Winehouse,Version (2007)
Amy had never met the Dap-Kings, even though they had been the band for all the songs that I had done on Back to Black. There was this really lovely day in Brooklyn where I took her to the studio to meet all the guys. The album was already out; there was a very good feeling about it [and] they obviously made something really special together. Amy loved the way the record sounded so much, she was so grateful. They loved her.
While we're all having this love-in in Bushwick, I was finishing my album Version and I said, "Maybe we could just cut a song for my record?" The whole theme of the record had sort of been taking more guitar indie bands like the Smiths, the Jam, the Kaiser Chiefs, and turning those into R&B or soul arrangements. I asked Amy if she knew any songs like that. She's like, "Yeah, they play this one song down at my local. It's called 'Valerie,'" and she played us all the Zutons' version. I didn't really hear it at first.
The first version we did was this very Curtis Mayfield kind of sweet soul. Part of me was just like, This is really good, but I feel like there's a hit version as well. I don't have that kind of crass thing where everything needs to be a hit, but…
Everybody was already packing up their instruments and I didn't know the guys that well yet, so it was kind of a pain in the ass to be like, "Hey, I know everybody just wants to go onto the f—ing bar and get a beer right now, but can we just do one more version where we speed it up a little?" Everybody flips open their guitar cases and we do like two more takes, and that's the version on my album.
"Alligator" - Paul McCartney, NEW (2013)
We've done other things together, but I've only really [worked on] three songs on his album, NEW. "New" I just loved as soon as he sent me the demo, because as a McCartney fan, it gives you the same feeling as "We Can Work It Out"; it just has that amazing uplifting feel. That's just his genius. I love "Alligator" maybe a little more because it's more weird.
He definitely gives you a day to f— up and be an idiot because you're just so nervous to be in the studio with McCartney. By the second day it's like, okay, get your s— together.
I remember running around just like, What sound can I find for Paul McCartney that every other amazing producer who ever recorded him [hasn't found already]? He was like, "Anybody can record a pristine acoustic guitar. Give me something with some characteristic that's iconic. That feels like someone just put the needle down on track one on an album."
That's something I always try to remember: don't just make it sound like a guitar, make it sound like a record.
"Uptown Funk" feat. Bruno Mars, Uptown Special (2015)
My enjoyment of the song is now gauged by the people that I'm playing it for. I was playing at this party at Public Records [in Brooklyn] on Sunday. I knew that I wasn't going to play that song on that night; it wasn't right for that crowd or something. And then an hour into my set, the vibe is really good, and I was just like, f— it and I dropped it, and people went crazy.
I'm a little extra critical sometimes on the more commercial songs, thinking nobody wants to hear this or this doesn't really have a place in this space. I think it's just a song that makes people stupidly happy, and that's cool.
The lyrics [to "Uptown Funk"] came really quick. We had the jam: Bruno was on drums, I was playing bass, Jeff Bhasker was on keys, and then Phil Lawrence was there and we jammed for five hours. We just chopped up our favorite parts of the instrumental jam, and then just started writing lyrics almost like a cipher. Bruno had been playing the Trinidad James song ["All Gold Everything"] in his live sets and playing it over a sort of uptempo, funky James Brown, "Get Up Off That Thing" groove.
We were just throwing about lyrics, throwing a little bit of the cadence of the Trinidad James song. Then when Jeff Bhasker said, "This s—, that ice cold/That Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold." It was like a great rap line. Then everything started to elevate a little bit from there on up.
That first day, we had the whole first verse and it felt great. Every time we went back in the studio, a lot of the times it would feel labored and not as good as that first verse. So it really took a long time to get in. Sometimes we'd go in the studio for three days and then at the end of the whole session we realized, we actually only liked these four bars.
So we kept building on it, and luckily Bruno didn't really let it die. Bruno was touring Unorthodox Jukebox; I was just flying around the country with a five string bass just to get the song done.
"Uptown Funk" still ended at Daptone…to do the horns last with Dave [Guy] and Neil [Sugarman], me. It's almost like you've always got to go through Daptone to finish something.
Bruno came up with that horn line. He was like, "I know you're going to kill me because you're trying to get away from being the horn guy, but I have this horn line and I think it's kind of killer." He demoed it from whatever backstage room on tour and I was like, Okay, here we go.
"Shallow" - Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born Soundtrack (2018)
It's very rare that I write on a song that I don't have to produce as well. We wrote that song in the middle of sessions for [2016's] Joanne, and then Gaga produced the whole Star is Born soundtrack herself. I remember we all had some tingly feelings when we were writing it.
It wasn't meant to be a duet ever. Then Bradley wrote it into the film; it becomes the beginning of their love story. Bradley showed [me a rough cut] at his house, I remember just being like, he's taking this special song [and] made it put its hooks into you. This film, and the story, and the way this song is unfolding is so special.
Then also shout to Lukas Nelson, because that guitar that he came up with that opens the song was not in our demo, and that is such an iconic, memorable part of the song.
The film and the script was really powerful, and I think that me, [co-writers] Andrew [Wyatt], Anthony [Rossomando], Gaga were all in this sort of heartbreak place. We're all just going through our own dramas in the song. The juju was really good and a little spooky in the studio that night.
"Electricity" - Dua Lipa & Silk City feat. Diplo, Mark Ronson, Electricity (2018)
That song just always makes me happy. I don't have a lot of other songs [that sound] like that. I'm always psyched to play that in a set or to go see Diplo play it live.
When I came up DJing in the mid-'90s in New York, if you're a hip-hop DJ you had to be versed in dancehall, old R&B dance classics, and a little bit of house. So I knew 12 house records, but I love those records.
It came out of a fun jam, just me and Diplo — who I'd known probably at that point for 10, 15 years, but we never got in the studio together. He's just firing up drum s— and I'm just playing on this old tack piano that was in the studio I just moved into. But it also sounded quite housey.
We came up with those chords and [singer/songwriter] Diana Gordon came over. I never met her before and she just started freestyling some melodies, and it was just so soulful instantly.
We'd moved the key a little bit lower for Dua — she has this amazing husky voice — but we still left Diana's demo vocal in. She's singing these mumble, non-word melodies that sound like a sample.
We had that old studio where we did Version and all the Amy demos. It has an old-school elevator that was sort of manual and it would always break down. There were people that were just too afraid, like Cathy Dennis — the brilliant songwriter who wrote "Toxic" and "Can't Get You Out of My Head" — she would just always be like, "I'm taking the stairs." We were on the fifth floor and it was a steep, steep walk up. [Editor's note: The music video for "Electricity" features Ronson and Diplo stuck in an elevator. He notes that he's gotten stuck several times in real life.]
"Nothing Breaks Like a Heart" feat. Miley Cyrus, Late Night Feelings (2019)
I was in L.A. working in Sound Factory [Studios], and I had seen Miley a couple years back sing "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" on the "SNL" 40th anniversary; I had never heard her perform with that stripped-down arrangement. I was just so in love with her voice and the tone. I remember hounding my manager, because usually somebody who knows somebody, but Miley Cyrus was completely unreachable and just in another stratosphere.
I was in the studio with [Dap-King] Tommy Brenneck; he's just such a wonderful player, such a soulful touch. We got this thing going, and then Ilsey [Juber] was saying, like, "What about all these things that break, but nothing breaks like a heart?"
[I thought], You know what? I've been trying to hit this girl up for years and nothing ever happened, but let me just try it one more time. I sent it off to Miley, and I guess she was just in a really motivated part of life. She's like, "This is cool. Where are you guys? I'll be there Monday." She came down Monday to the studio, and then her and Illsey wrote the whole rest of the song.
"Break Up Twice" - Lizzo, Special (2022)
[I produced a few other songs on Special], but they didn't make the cut. There's one that I really love called "Are You Mad" that might hopefully see the light of day once.
We spent a lot of time together and I love working with her because she has a really eccentric/ avant garde music taste. Like, the Mars Volta is her favorite-ever band; she's a conservatoire flute player; then she has a strong Prince heritage because she spent time in Minneapolis and she's been to Paisley Park.
The thing that I really love about her is, even at the status that she was at when we were working, there was never anything too silly or too left field to try. It's really freeing when you're with a big artist who isn't afraid to just f— around and jam and make some s— that you know might not be the thing.
"Break Up Twice" was actually an instrumental that we had done at Diamond Mine with [Daptone family] Tommy [Brenneck], Leon [Michels], Victor [Axelrod] and Nick [Movshon]. I just played that, and it instantly spoke to her and she just started freestyling, adding the harmonies and the sax and the vocal arrangements. I just didn't quite know how versatile and talented that she was when we first went in the studio. I just remember constantly being impressed and amazed.
Barbie: The Album (2023)
I'm really proud of the Dom Fike song ["Hey Blondie"], the Sam Smith song ["Man I Am"], [Dua Lipa's] "Dance and Night," of course. Even the Billie [Eilish] song that we did the string arrangement for. I played the tiniest bit of synths on the Nicki [Minaj]i/Ice [Spice] song.
I love this film so much and I did something I've never done before by executive producing and overseeing it. There's so many songs that I had nothing to do with creatively; sometimes I was just doing admin, hounding Tame Impala to send in a demo.
I'm really proud of "I'm Just Ken." Of course Ryan Gosling is a superstar in a different kind of way, but the fact that he's not some superstar pop artist, and the fact that that song has managed to do what it's done….Obviously it's so much to do with the film and his performance, but I'm really proud of that song. I was so inspired by the script. I just instantly had the idea for that line.
There was never anything in the script that said Ryan was going to sing a song. It was just something where Greta [Gerwig] and him really loved the demo, and she loved it enough to write it into the film, which was just so exciting. It was happening in a way that felt wonderful and organic, and to then get Josh Freese and Slash, and Wolf Van Halen to play on it and even bring it to even this next level of sonic fullness.
On TikTok and Instagram, I've seen people singing it; [even] in Spanish, really intense, really earnest covers. We were never trying to write a parody song or anything that wasn't earnest, because there's nothing parody about the film. I guess the chords have a bit of heartbreak in them, a little melancholy, and Ryan's performance is really lovely.
Barbie score (2023)
We worked equally hard or harder [on the score]. It doesn't have quite the same shine because obviously it's not Billie Eilish, Lizzo, and Dua Lipa, but it's something Andrew [Wyatt] and I did. A piece called "You Failed Me" — that's during both Barbie and Ken's meltdown in the middle of the film — I'm quite proud of that. I really love the "Meeting Ruth" orchestral interpolation of the Billie tune as well.
I've contributed music to other films and little cues and things like that, but this is the first time that Andrew and I really did a whole movie from start to finish while also doing the soundtrack.
It's incredibly humbling, too, because when you make a song for someone's album, you're working. It's certainly the most important thing that's happening. In a film, it could be the second most important thing. You could sometimes say it's the third most important thing after dialogue and the sound effects. All that's programmed into your mind about hooks and things like that it's like, No, actually sometimes get the f— out of the way and just provide a lovely emotional texture for things to sit under things.
The thing that I guess is universal is you're reacting to an emotion. Especially if it's a film that you really feel emotionally partial to, you're watching this wonderful performance on screen and how could you not be inspired by that? We're so spoiled to have this as our first film where we're reacting to the emotional heart of this film, which is so rich.
Photo: Jacob Webster
5 Takeaways From Doja Cat's New Album 'Scarlet'
'Scarlet' is a creative reset for Doja Cat, who returns to her rap roots for the 17 track, self-written record. Read on for five takeaways from Doja's jarring journey of introspection.
Doja Cat has come such a long way since her viral hit, "Mooo!" Since her 2019 breakout album, Hot Pink, which birthed the GRAMMY-nominated Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper "Say So," the 27-year-old's musical versatility, out-of-the-box concepts, and unique aesthetic helped her become one of the buzziest stars in music today.
Following her blockbuster album, Planet Her, Doja Cat is returning to her rap roots while still challenging herself. Released on Sept. 22, Doja's fourth studio project, Scarlet, was entirely self-penned. The 17-track LP contains zero features and is named after GRAMMY winner's alter ego.
Scarlet is a creative reset, released after Doja Cat denounced her previous two albums as "cash-grabs." On "Demons," Doja addresses critics who labeled her "too pop" and doubted her rap skills: "I'm a puppet, I'm a sheep, I'm a cash cow / I'm the fastest-growing bitches on all your apps now," she raps.
Elsewhere, Scarlet sees a self-assured Doja Cat trading in her radio-friendly sound for an emotional release, which is best exemplified on tracks like "97," "Skull and Bones," "Balut, " and her latest single, "Agora Hills."
"It's kind of an intro to what's to come," she told Harper’s Bazaar in August. "This new album is more introspective, but I'm not leaning so hard into that to where it becomes boring. So I want to give stories and bops. It's a nice mixture of both.
"I think this project is a really fun canvas for me to play with my rap skills and talk about what's going on in my life," she continued. "But I'm not abandoning who I was and what I know about pop and singing and that aspect of music."
Throughout its jarring journey of introspection, here are five takeaways from Doja Cat’s new album, Scarlet.
She's Devilishly Creative In Her Scarlet Era
Doja Cat has been quirky and daring since day one, but Scarlet demonstrates her desire to reinvent herself and provoke anyone who'll listen — even if it means possibly alienating her fanbase. True to form, Scarlet had an impossible-to-miss rollout, which included her Scarlet character's nude, blood-covered wax figure popping up around the U.S.
But that stunt pales in comparison to her music videos for "Demons" and "Paint the Town Red," the latter of which is the first hip-hop song to top the Hot 100 this year.
Both visuals feature occult themes, as well as references to death and the devil, but no matter how "frightening" they may come off to some, they're further proof that Doja Cat isn't just an internet meme — she's a creative genius who knows how to demand our attention.
She's Enjoying Her Success And Fame
Multiple tracks off Scarlet, including "Paint the Town Red," "Attention," and "F— the Girls (FTG)," are a direct response to how Doja Cat's seemingly meteoric success in recent years has made her the target of jealousy and criticism from fans and peers. But "Love Life" stands out due to its lighter approach, as Doja Cat expresses her gratitude for those who helped her make it this far: "I love it when my team feel strong and them deals flowin' in" and "I understand you want me to win / I understand how hard that you bend."
Like many artists, Doja Cat's rise to fame was not without some struggle. Most notably, her "writer's block" stopped her from being able to join forces with Billie Eilish on her popular 2017 song, "Bellyache." But life now is good for the star, born Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini, and she isn't apologizing for it.
But She's Aware That Celebrity Culture Has Its Dangers
A year ago, Doja Cat shocked fans when she shaved her head and eyebrows on Instagram Live, which drew some comparisons to Britney Spears’ infamous head shaving incident in 2007. Of her physical transformation, she told Dazed, "I have never felt more beautiful in my entire life."
But on lead single, "Attention," it's clear Doja isn't done setting the record straight.
"I read it, all the comments sayin', 'D, I'm really shooketh' / 'D, you need to see a therapist, is you lookin'?' / Yes, the one I got, they really are the best / Now I feel like I can see you bitches is depressed / I am not afraid to finally say s— with my chest," she raps in the first verse.
She's Not Ready To Completely Abandon Singing
The highly-anticipated release of Scarlet marks Doja Cat's official return to her rap roots, but the album isn't void of the catchy, pop-esque hooks and sugary sweet singing style she's known for on songs like "Say So," "Kiss Me More" with SZA, and "You Right" with the Weeknd.
On Scarlet's sensual "Often," she effortlessly emulates neo-soul icons like Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, and Maxwell as her breathy vocals take center stage. The track shows off Doja's softer side while doubling as perfect "baby-making music."
"'Cause when you run your tongue up my thigh / I can't help but wonder, hmm, why / You got so much more up yo' sleeve / You wanna make sure I don't leave," she croons on the song's chorus.
Her IDGAF Attitude Is On Full Display
In late July, Doja Cat lost half a million Instagram followers after slamming fans who call themselves "Kittenz" and use her real name as their screen names.
In addition, her relationship with boyfriend J.Cyrus — who was accused of grooming and sexual misconduct — and use of darker imagery (e.g., her "Demons" video and bat skeleton back tattoo) have sparked backlash. Yet Scarlet's "97" proves how Doja Cat is unfazed by the noise and thrives off controversy: "They gon' buy it, they gon' pirate, they gon' play it, they consume it / If you're scootin', let me know 'cause that's a comment, that's a view / And that's a ratin', that's some hatin', that's engagement I could use."
Similarly, she gets the last laugh on "Skull and Bones" and "Balut," the latter of which fires back at haters who accused her of stealing other artists' style. They speak to Doja Cat's defiant nature, which seems to be paying off for the superstar as she prepares to embark on her first headlining tour kicking off on Oct. 31.
Photos: (Top row) Jaime Nogales Medios y Media/Getty Images; Latin GRAMMYs/Getty; Erika Goldring/Getty Images; Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Coachella; Mike Coppola/Getty Images (Bottom row) David Livingston/Getty Images; JOSE ALAVEZ
Listen To GRAMMY.com's Hispanic Heritage Month 2023 Playlist: Featuring Shakira, Peso Pluma, Karol G, Bad Bunny, Feid, & More
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, listen to 50 songs by groundbreaking artists from the U.S., Latin America, and Spain.
Latin music continues to make incredible strides, as language barriers between the world and music in Spanish and Portuguese become a thing of the past.
After going through a difficult chapter in her life, Shakira found healing and empowerment through her anthems, including her surprise collaboration with Argentine producer Bizarrap. Karol G made history in March when her album Mañana Será Bonito debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. She became the first woman to top the chart with an all-Spanish LP.
Regional Mexican music became a global force this year thanks to the success of acts like Peso Pluma, Eslabon Armado, Grupo Frontera, Fuerza Regida, and Yahritza y Su Esencia. Many of them argue that Mexican music is no longer regional. Also, Feid, Myke Towers, and Young Miko have become breakthrough stars with their music being streamed on the same level as heavy-hitters in English.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, GRAMMY.com is celebrating Latin music through the biggest and most impactful songs of 2023. Below, take a listen to 50 songs by Latin artists from the U.S., Latin America, and Spain —- including "BZRP Music Sessions, Vol. 53" and "Ella Baila Sola" — on Amazon, Apple Music, Pandora and the Spotify playlist below.