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10 Must-See Music Documentaries Arriving In 2023: Nicki Minaj, Johnny Cash, The Making Of 'Thriller' & More
To kick off the new year, GRAMMY.com has rounded up music documentaries to be released in 2023 that follow the lives and careers of artists like Failure, Dionne Warwick, Leonard Cohen, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and more.
Get your queue ready. From folk and outlaw country music, to classic rhythm and blues and hip-hop, there is a robust slate of music documentaries dropping in 2023 that will satisfy any music lover.
For alt-rock fans, the Failure documentary explores the evolution and impact of the influential rock band known for their experimental sound. If hard-hitting country is more your speed, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon and "They Called Us Outlaws" offer a no-holds-barred look at the artists who drove the vibrant sound of the genre.
Hip-hop fans can enjoy a deep dive into Nicki Minaj's journey to rap superstardom in her six-part docuseries. Or, take a behind-the-scenes look at the hip-hop group Little Brother and the challenges they faced while striving to become world-famous emcees.
Below, check out this guide to 10 can't-miss music documentaries coming your way in 2023.
Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song
Featuring appearances from Bob Dylan, Brandi Carlile, the late Jeff Buckley and more, this documentary examines the life and times of prolific singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen through the lens of his famous song, "Hallelujah."
Despite its current status as one of the most notable tracks in music history, "Hallelujah" — which was featured on Cohen’s 1984 album, Various Positions — was not an instant hit. It wouldn’t receive global recognition until nearly a decade later, with the release of Buckley's now-ubiquitous cover. While the world may have been slow to embrace the song, Cohen says Dylan immediately saw its greatness.
"It took a long time. I think the song came out in '83 or '84, and then the only person who seemed to recognize the song was Dylan," Cohen said in a 2009 interview with Q TV. "He was doing it in concert. Nobody else recognized the song until quite a long time later… almost 10 years later."
Directed by Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine, Hallelujah dives deep into the song’s themes, exploring how artists covering the track have interpreted its meaning. The doc also features exclusive concert footage, performances, and interviews with Cohen's former collaborators.
After a brief theatrical release, Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song is available on DVD and various streaming platforms.
As Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden helped grunge and alt-rock break into the mainstream in the ‘90s, a trio from Los Angeles was also making noise. Failure began to capture attention with the release of their beloved 1994 sophomore album, Magnified. (Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, Tool’s Maynard Keenan and Stone Temple Pilots' Dean DeLeo are among the group’s most notable fans).
Dropping in 2023, this official documentary offers an in-depth look at the band’s formation, evolution, label issues, impact and influence — with testimonials from Keenan, DeLeo, Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams, Keenan, Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee, Mastodon’s Troy Sanders, and actor/musician Jason Schwartzman.
In the doc, Sanders opens up about what the band meant to both him and his band: "The art that Failure has made is very authentic to me," he says. "In a world of rock ‘n’ roll, I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it weren’t for bands like Failure. I feel my band Mastodon has kind of followed the footsteps that they’ve laid before us." Adds Williams, "I never really heard anything like that. It changed how I thought about music. And it kind of made me — more than ever — want to be in a band."
Johnny Cash: The Redemption Of An American Icon
With appearances from Marty Stuart, Wynonna Judd, Alice Cooper, Tim McGraw, and Sheryl Crow, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon focuses on the spiritual and emotional challenges that the country legend faced at the height of his career. This in-depth documentary also includes never-been-heard recordings of Cash as he discussed his darker moments, learning how to navigate fame, reckoning with past failures and recommitting to his Christian faith.
"He was darkness and light living in the same body. And one fought against the other," sister Joanne Cash Yates recounts in the trailer. But, adds Crow, "He faced himself. He faced his temptations. He faced his worldliness and came out wanting to be right with God."
If you missed the documentary’s limited December 2022 release, check it out in January 2023 when it drops on various streaming platforms.
On the heels of the iconic album's 40th anniversary, GRAMMY-winning documentarian, music historian and author Nelson George announced that he’s hard at work on an official documentary about the making of the King of Pop’s legendary 1982 opus and groundbreaking short film.
"The release of 'Thriller' redefined Michael Jackson, taking him from teen star to adult superstar, who composed memorable songs, sang beautifully and reached the highest level of on-stage performance," George said in a statement. "The album, and the short films they inspired, created a new template for marrying music and image. It’s been a privilege to explore this extraordinary album and revisit its magic."
Featuring exclusive footage and candid interviews, the 2023 documentary will also focus on Jackson’s skyrocketing career at the time of the album’s release and its impact on the world and popular culture.
"They Called Us Outlaws: Cosmic Cowboys, Honky Tonk Heroes And the Rise of Renegade Troubadours"
Written and directed by Eric Geadelman, "They Called Us Outlaws" is a six-part film that explores the early 1970s origins of the country subgenre and the artists who made it famous: Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and David Allan Coe.
At the time, Jennings and Nelson were upset with the Nashville music scene and its creative limitations. After cutting ties and leaving town to find a better way forward, the two musicians eventually reunited in Texas, where they built a rabid following by playing their own brand of country, on their own terms. That music would become known as "Outlaw Country"— a label that wasn't particularly embraced by many of the genre's artists.
This 12-hour film series examines the unique circumstances that led to the birth of the sound, as well as the artists' relationship with the "outlaw" label and how it influenced the way they were received. The documentary also features appearances and performances from a stacked lineup of country greats, including Nelson and Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Church, Miranda Lambert, as well as singer-songwriters Tyler Childers and Charley Crockett and Guy Clark.
"Nicki: A Six-Part Documentary Series"
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of her debut studio album Pink Friday, GRAMMY-nominated rapper Nicki Minaj announced plans to release a biographical documentary in November 2020 — to the delight of Barbs everywhere. Yet there was no news about the film until July 2022, when Minaj surprised fans by posting a teaser from the project on her Instagram, along with an explanation for the delay:
"Coming out SOONER THANK YOU THINK. I took some time to perfect this very intimate, delicate, electrifying, inspiring body of work," Minaj wrote. "As I decide on a home for this
project, I can’t help but reflect on what I’m including in this doc. Some things are so personal, it’s scary. It’s like NOTHING you’ve seen before & I need it to be handled with care. Love you so much. Thank you for the continued support."
Executive produced by Minaj, "Nicki" will focus on her personal and professional life, and the challenges of working in a male-dominated music genre. The docuseries was initially set to drop on HBO MAX, but Minaj and Bron, the film’s producers, decided to look elsewhere to find the right home for the docuseries.
May The Lord Watch: The Little Brother Story
In March 2022, fans of Little Brother were treated to a surprise when Phonte released the first trailer for an official documentary about the influential hip-hop group on his Instagram page. "Been working on this one for 5 years and calling it an 'emotional journey' is a big understatement," he wrote in the caption.
Slated for release in 2023, the documentary will include live performances, a behind-the-scenes look at the trio's production process, interviews with Phonte, Big Pooh and producer 9th Wonder, as well as appearances from Questlove, Drake, and Doja Cat, who discuss the group's influence and impact.
Dionne Warwick: Don't Make Me Over
From awards and hit records, to activism and philanthropy, this deep dive into GRAMMY-winning singer Dionne Warwick's life and work is a heartwarming celebration of the icon's astonishing six-decade-long career. The documentary follows Warwick's path to barrier-breaking greatness, touching on her gospel roots and her fateful audition to be a backup singer for Burt Bacharach in the early 1960s — the starting point of her rise to superstardom.
The doc also explores the singer's activism and advocacy for the Black and LGBTQ+ communities, philanthropic work—she's raised millions for AIDS research—and the impact her music had on listeners from all walks of life in the racially divided '60s.
Dionne Warwick: Don't Make Me Over — which premiered on CNN on New Year’s Day — features appearances from Gladys Knight, Quincy Jones, Bacharach, Elton John, Berry Gordy, Snoop Dogg, Bill Clinton, Alicia Keys, Smokey Robinson, and others.
Biography: Ol’ Dirty Bastard
There have been several unofficial documentaries about the late rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard (born Russell Jones), but 2023 will see the release of "Biography: Ol’ Dirty Bastard," the first-ever film authorized by his estate. Set to be released on A&E Networks, the doc will feature interviews with the Wu-Tang Clan rapper's peers, family, and wife, Icelene Jones — who allowed filmmakers Sam and Jason Pollard to use never-been-seen footage for the two-hour documentary.
“I am thrilled to tell the full story of my husband. With this documentary, the world will learn about the son, the husband, the father, and the artist,” Jones wrote in a statement.
ODB's life was previously dramatized for RZA and Alex Tse's Hulu series, "Wu-Tang: An American Saga," which centers on the group's formative years. And on the film side, RZA has been developing a biopic about the late rapper's life since 2018.
When setting out to develop a documentary about a musician who has defied convention throughout his five-decade career, director Gary Hustwit knew the standard doc format was out of the question. To capture the distinctive, non-conforming essence of Brian Eno — an original member of Roxy Music and inventor of ambient music and the Microsoft Windows 95 startup sound — Hustwit is utilizing "groundbreaking generative technology" to allow viewers to choose their own ending and plans to release the documentary on multiple platforms.
The film, which drops in 2023, will also explore areas close to Eno's heart, including creativity, sustainability, and social equality, and offer viewers a glimpse into his personal archive of unreleased music and concert footage.
Here Are The Nominees For Best Rap Song At The 2024 GRAMMYs
Get a deeper look into the five tracks from Doja Cat, Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice, Lil Uzi Vert, Drake and 21 Savage, and Killer Mike, André 3000, Future and Eryn Allen Kane that earned the Best Rap Song nod at the 2024 GRAMMYs.
Rap music has changed a lot since the Best Rap Song category was introduced at the 2004 GRAMMYs. Most of the first year's nominees, even if they're still making music, now spend the majority of their time on things like making hit TV shows or running iconic fashion brands.
But the category, then and now, has its finger on the pulse; it gives us a cross-section of what makes hip-hop so important to so many people. The Best Rap Song nominees for the 2024 GRAMMYs are no different. The Category includes a pop princess taking a big left turn; two New Yorkers paying tribute to the greatest of all dolls; a Philly rapper taking us to the club; a duo who can't stop flexing on us; and a Dungeon Family reunion that spans generations.
Below, take a deep dive into the five tracks up for Best Rap Song at the 2024 GRAMMYs.
Attention" — Doja Cat
Rogét Chahayed, Amala Zandile Dlamini & Ari Starace, songwriters (Doja Cat)
"Attention" marked a new era for Doja Cat — one where she moved away from the pop sounds that made her famous, and into something harder and more aggressive.
In the weeks leading up to the track's release, Doja called her earlier rapping attempts "mid and corny" and referred to the music that broke her into the big time as "mediocre pop." So it only made sense that her big statement single would be exactly that — a statement.
The beat by Rogét Chahayed and Y2K has a drum loop that wouldn't sound out of place on Ultimate Breaks and Beats, and Doja lets the world see her inner hip-hop fan with some serious rapping — no mid or corny verses here. This is the Doja who can quote underground faves like Homeboy Sandman and Little Brother at the drop of a hat.
"Attention" finds Doja addressing her often-contentious relationship with fans and social media, as well as the controversies she went through leading up to the song's release. But the whole thing is playful and ambiguous. Does she want the world's attention, now that she has it? What is she willing to do to keep it? In this song — and even more so in its video — Doja plays with these questions like a truly great superstar.
"Barbie World" [From Barbie The Album] — Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice Featuring Aqua
Isis Naija Gaston, Ephrem Louis Lopez Jr. & Onika Maraj, songwriters (Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice Featuring Aqua)
Aqua's "Barbie Girl" was too sexy for Mattel when it was released in 1997 — the company sued the band, claiming that people would associate lyrics like "Kiss me here, touch me there" with their wholesome children's toy. So it's both ironic and, given the post-irony tone of the movie itself, somehow fitting that "Barbie Girl" is sampled in a major song from the new Barbie movie.
And who better to bring Barbie to life in rap form than the head of the Barbz? Soundtrack producer Mark Ronson said that there was no way to have a Barbie soundtrack without Nicki Minaj, and he was absolutely right. Nicki, with her career-long association with Mattel's most famous toy, was the perfect choice. Joining her on the track is the hottest rapper of the moment, Ice Spice. Ice's go-to producer RiotUSA did the music for the song, which accounts for both its aggressive drums and its sample drill-style use of the once-verboten Aqua hit.
Nicki and Ice have great chemistry in the song. Nicki doesn't treat the song like a movie soundtrack throwaway — her rhyming is clear, sharp, layered, and funny. And she gets extra points for referring to a bob-style wig as her "Bob Dylan."
"Just Wanna Rock" — Lil Uzi Vert
Mohamad Camara, Javier Mercado & Symere Woods, songwriters
Lil Uzi Vert took "Just Wanna Rock" from TikTok all the way to the GRAMMYs.
The track began as a snippet on the social media app, where it went viral, garnering hundreds of millions of views; even celebrities like Kevin Hart got into the act. When the actual song came out, at just about two minutes long, it wasn't much longer than a TikTok video. But it didn't need to be — the full track kept all the joy and danceability of the memeable excerpt.
"Just Wanna Rock" features Uzi acting as an MC, but not in a traditional going-for-the-cleverest-rhyme way. Instead, his voice is used more for its rhythmic qualities, darting in and out of the four-on-the-floor pounding of the kick drum with short, punchy phrases. "I just wanna rock, body-ody-ya" may not look like much on the page, but it's placed perfectly, and it's the kernel that blossoms into the rest of Uzi's performance.
He takes the rhythm of that initial phrase and plays with it throughout in increasingly intricate ways, while never losing sight of the source material. The song is heavily influenced by the Jersey club sound that has been all over hip-hop this year. As the most popular rap/Jersey club crossover of 2023, it makes perfect sense that "Just Wanna Rock" is in the running for Best Rap Song — even if it is unfinished.
"Rich Flex" — Drake & 21 Savage
Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, Charles Bernstein, Isaac "Zac" De Boni, Brytavious Chambers, Aldrin Davis, Aubrey Graham, J. Gwin, Clifford Harris, Gladys Hayes, Anderson Hernandez, Michael "Finatik" Mule, Megan Pete, B.D. Session Jr & Anthony White, songwriters
Simon and Garfunkel. Sam and Dave. Hall and Oates. To that list of great duos, it might be time to add Drake and 21 Savage. Seven years after their first collaboration, Toronto and Atlanta's finest finally got together for a full-length project in 2023, and Her Loss standout (and opener) "Rich Flex" is now up for an award on Music's Biggest Night.
"Rich Flex," like much latter-day Drake, has multiple beats. But in this case, that adds to the song's playful mood. Drizzy and 21 sound like they're actually having fun — Drake even playfully lapses into a sing-songy, nursery rhyme-esque melody on occasion. Savage, for his part, seems to be having a blast interpolating Megan Thee Stallion's "Savage" — a move which earned the Houston rapper a writing credit on the track.
Drake, as in a lot of his recent work, seems consumed with the costs of fame: haters everywhere you look, hangers-on who make your house feel like a hotel; women who won't leave you alone; unwanted attention from law enforcement. But he almost never sounds this engaged, even joyful, when addressing these topics. Maybe what he needed all along was a duet partner.
"Scientists & Engineers" — Killer Mike Featuring André 3000, Future And Eryn Allen Kane
Paul Beauregard, Andre Benjamin, James Blake, Tim Moore, Michael Render & Dion Wilson, songwriters
It was Andre 3000's first appearance on a song in two years that got all the attention at first. But there's a lot more to "Scientists & Engineers" than the fact that the reclusive half of OutKast shows up.
For one thing, it's what he shows up with. Andre's verse is smart, well-observed, poetic, and somehow manages to change focus completely in the middle and yet still hold together as an artistic statement.
But he's far from the only talent on the song. The track is a veritable all-star fest — not for nothing did Killer Mike call it a "hip-hop fantasy." On the music side, there are contributions from legendary producers No ID and Three 6 Mafia's DJ Paul, hip-hop's favorite singer/songwriter James Blake, and TWhy. Singer Eryn Allen Kane adds her gorgeous vocals. And Future, who lest we forget, began his career as a "second generation" member of the Dungeon Family collective that included OutKast and Mike, adds his patented boastful vulnerability.
Then there's Mike himself. He needed to bring a stellar performance in order not to be buried by all his very special guests, and he more than pulls it off. "I am Thelonius Monk in a donk," he rhymes, and the combination of the innovative jazz legend and the classic car with big rims perfectly describes not only him, but the entire mood he sets with this song.
The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.
The Recording Academy and GRAMMY.com do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy's Voting Membership.
Graphic Courtesy of the Recording Academy
SZA's Massive Year Continues, 'Barbie' Dominates & Big Firsts From The 2024 GRAMMYs Nominations
Who is the most nominated artist at the 66th GRAMMY Awards? Who could potentially make history? Take a look at five takeaways from the nominations for the 2024 GRAMMYs.
One of the biggest days in music has arrived: the nominations for the 2024 GRAMMYs.
With the excitement of the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations — which were announced on Nov. 10 — comes many big milestones. Whether it's first-time feats by this year's most nominated artist, SZA, or record-tying nominations by Taylor Swift, there's several intriguing takeaways from the 94 categories.
Below, check out five major outcomes of the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations.
SZA's Big Year Is Rewarded
There's no denying that SZA has been one of the year's most in-demand artists, and her GRAMMY nominations reflect that. With nine nominations, SZA is the most-nominated artist at the 2024 GRAMMYs — and she has a lot of new milestones to celebrate.
With 15 nominations and one win going into the 2024 GRAMMYs, SZA had already received nods in several major categories. But her most recent noms are particularly special because they're all for her own work.
SZA's ambitious second album, SOS, is the singer's first LP to receive an Album Of The Year nomination, while lead single "Kill Bill" is her first solo song to be nominated in the Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year categories. (She was previously nominated for AOTY as a featured artist on Doja Cat's Planet Her (Deluxe) in 2022, and for ROTY and SOTY with Kendrick Lamar for "All The Stars" in 2019 and with Doja Cat for "Kiss Me More" in 2022.)
Plus, the R&B star expands her nominations within her own genre: she's nominated in the Best Progressive R&B Album (SOS) and Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Love Language") categories for the first time.
Women Lead The Pack
Who run the 2024 GRAMMYs? Girls.
SZA is far from the only female artist with several GRAMMY nominations this year. Of the nine most-nominated artists, eight are women: SZA (9), Phoebe Bridgers (7), boygenius (6), Brandy Clark (6), Miley Cyrus (6), Olivia Rodrigo (6), Taylor Swift (6), and Victoria Monét (6). As Cyrus noted in a social media post celebrating her nominations, "Watching women win & rule the music industry makes me proud."
In fact, a majority of this year's leading nominees are women artists or groups. The Record Of The Year and Album Of The Year categories, as well as the Best Pop Solo Performance category, are all dominated by women.
'Barbie' Dominates Once Again
Another woman who took over the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations was Barbie — well, sort of.
The Barbie soundtrack and some of its hit songs received 11 nominations, four of which dominate the Best Song Written For Visual Media category: Nicki Minaj's and Ice Spice's "Barbie World," Dua Lipa's "Dance The Night," Ryan Gosling's "I'm Just Ken," and Billie Eilish's "What Was I Made For?" (They'll be competing against Rihanna's highly anticipated return to music, "Lift Me Up" from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.)
"Dance the Night" also earned a coveted Song Of The Year nomination, while "What Was I Made For?" scored nods in both Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year, as well as Best Pop Solo Performance. Additionally, "Barbie World" received a nomination for Best Rap Song.
Naturally, Barbie The Album is nominated for Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media nomination. Mark Ronson's genius was further rewarded with a nom for Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media, which he earned alongside his co-composer, Andrew Wyatt.
Artists Add Big Firsts
Like the 2023 GRAMMYs nominations, the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations resulted in many exciting firsts. While several artists are receiving their first GRAMMY nods — some of which will be highlighted in GRAMMY.com's Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee series in January — there are also several GRAMMY veterans with firsts to celebrate
Taylor Swift, for example, became the first songwriter to receive seven nominations in the Song Of The Year category. Along with her current nomination for "Anti-Hero," she was previously nominated for "All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (The Short Film)," "cardigan," "Lover," "Blank Space," "Shake It Off," and "You Belong With Me." And she could be making even more history at the 2024 GRAMMYs — but more on that later.
Miley Cyrus also achieved new GRAMMY feats, as her acclaimed eighth album, Endless Summer Vacation, is the pop star's first project to receive an Album Of The Year nomination. (She received an AOTY nod in 2022 as a featured artist on Lil Nas X's MONTERO.) The LP's smash lead single, "Flowers," helped Cyrus earn her first nominations in the Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Pop Solo Performance categories as well, and her collab with Brandi Carlile, "Thousand Miles," earned her first nod for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
R&B singer Victoria Monét isn't celebrating her first GRAMMY nominations this year, but she is celebrating her first as an artist. Monét had previously received three nominations: two in 2020 for her work as a songwriter/producer on Ariana Grande's "7 rings" (Record Of The Year) and thank u, next (Album Of The Year), and one in 2021 for Chloe x Halle's "Do It" (Best R&B Song). All six of her 2024 GRAMMY nominations recognize her work as an artist herself, including the esteemed honor of Best New Artist. Her other nods are for her debut album, JAGUAR II: Record Of The Year ("On My Mama"), Best R&B Performance ("How Does It Make You Feel"), Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Hollywood"), Best R&B Song ("On My Mama"), and Best R&B Album.
This also isn't the first time Phoebe Bridgers has received GRAMMY nominations — but it is for her supergroup boygenius, as well as for her bandmates Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker. With their six nods (including Album Of The Year for the record and Record Of The Year for "Not Strong Enough"), they became the first group to receive six or more GRAMMY nominations in a single year since 2012, when fun. and Mumford & Sons received six nominations each at the 2013 GRAMMYs.
A handful of other previously GRAMMY-nominated artists received their first nominations in new categories this year. 2022's Best New Artist, Olivia Rodrigo, earned her first in a Rock category for "ballad of a homeschooled girl" (Best Rock Song); 2022's Album Of The Year winner, Jon Batiste, has his first in the Song Of The Year ("Butterfly") and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance ("Candy Necklace" with Lana Del Rey) categories; Brandy Clark collected her first in the Best Americana Performance ("Dear Insecurity" with Brandi Carlile), Best American Roots Song ("Dear Insecurity") and Best Americana Album (Brandy Clark) categories, as well as her first in the Best Musical Theater Album category for "Shucked."
It's actually the first time a few artists are nominated for contributions to film and theater: Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna are all first-time Best Song Written For Visual Media nominees, and Josh Groban earned his first nod in the Best Musical Theater Album category, for his role as principal vocalist in "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street."
Last but certainly not least, in the Best African Music Performance category — one of three new categories for the 2024 GRAMMYs — four of the five artists or groups are first-time GRAMMY nominees: ASAKE & Olamide ("Amapiano"), Davido Featuring Musa Keys ("UNAVAILABLE"), Ayra Starr ("Rush"), and Tyla ("Water").
Taylor Swift Aims For More GRAMMY History
As Swifties know, Taylor Swift is no stranger to making GRAMMY history. In 2021, she made history as the first female artist to win Album Of The Year three times — but in 2024, she could become the artist with the most wins in the category ever.
That's right: If Swift's Midnights takes home the golden gramophone for Album Of The Year, she'll have a record-breaking four wins in the category, passing Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder.
Even if she doesn't win, Swift has already tied a GRAMMY record. With her nomination for Midnights, Swift now ties Barbra Streisand for most nominations by a female artist for Album Of The Year, with six nominations in the category each.
Will Taylor Swift make more GRAMMY history? Will SZA cap off her unstoppable year with a GRAMMY win? Will Miley Cyrus get her "Flowers"? Tune into CBS on Feb. 4, 2024 to find out!
Photo: Clemens Bilan/picture alliance via Getty Images
5 Artists Influenced By Enya: Brandy, Nicki Minaj, Grimes & More
Thirty-five years after Enya's second studio effort, 'Watermark,' ushered in the contemporary New Age scene, take a look at five artists who have professed their love of the four-time GRAMMY winner.
Enya never used to be considered the epitome of cool. Perhaps that was due to her image as a reclusive castle dweller. Maybe it's because she's never played a single live show in her four-decade career. Or it could be that her music has often been snootily dismissed as the aural equivalent of a bath bomb.
But over time, the four-time GRAMMY winner born Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin has received a deserved critical reevaluation. The modern-day consensus is that her ethereal blend of Celtic folk, classical and pioneering use of lush, multi-layered synths — developed in conjunction with long-term creative team Nicky and Roma Ryan — spearheaded a new age for, well, New Age.
She's now talked about in the same circles as Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser and Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard, singers that, unlike Enya, were immediately celebrated for pushing their remarkable voices to new otherworldly places. And she's been sampled, namechecked or championed by artists as eclectic as industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle, death metallers Blood Incantation and the many-monikered rapper, Diddy.
In fact, think of any Enya song, and it's no doubt been borrowed by an unlikely suspect. "Boadicea" formed the basis of Fugees' career-best "Ready or Not," and rather sneakily without the hip-hop trio asking first. "Wild Child" was given the hardcore techno treatment by Eurodance duo CJ Crew. And yes, that is her most recognizable hit you can hear in the chorus of hip-hop provocateurs Die Antwoord's "Orinoco Ninja Flow (Wedding DJ's Remix)."
Sample or not, some musicians have been more vocal about their love of Ireland's second-biggest music export (only U2 have sold more records worldwide) than others. As her breakthrough album, Watermark, celebrates its 35th anniversary on Sept 19, here's a look at five.
Brandy certainly doesn't see Enya as a guilty pleasure. The R&B star leapt to the defense of her unlikely musical hero during a 2020 interview with The Guardian when the journalist questioned the Irish icon's musical credibility. "Enya's a joke to you?" she asked incredulously. "That's not even possible. I'm a little bit offended."
The man who'd incurred her wrath should have known that Brandy takes Enya very seriously. You can hear the Irish' songstress' influence throughout her enduring career, from the gorgeous multi-layered harmonies of "Full Moon" to the hypnotic chant that weaves its way through the futuristic Timbaland production of "Afrodisiac."
"She has the voice of an angel," Brandy gushed in the introduction for an Apple playlist personally curated to reflect her life, with Enya's post-9/11 anthem "Only Time" appearing alongside Coldplay's "Yellow," three Whitney Houston cuts, and the best of her own material. "I first discovered Enya when I was 15. I love how she layered and stacked her voice."
Weyes Blood, aka baroque pop singer/songwriter Natalie Mering, was also forced to stick up for Enya when she was asked by The Irish Times whether her love of the New Age veteran was shrouded in irony. Her reply couldn't have made her sincerity any clearer.
"She is a completely uninhibited feminine force," said Mering. "A matriarchal force in music. She had so much success because of that distinctive sound. But because music people are obsessed with rock 'n' roll and drums, she doesn't get the attention she deserves. If you look at her record sales, she is, in my opinion, up there with the Beatles."
A year later, Mering waxed lyrical about the former Clannad singer in a Pitchfork piece about Enya's growing cultural cachet. She revealed that the Watermark and Shepherd Moons albums her parents played constantly back in the 1990s were a huge influence on her own LPs, 2016's Front Row Seat to Earth and 2019's Titanic Rising, particularly on the former's ballad "Generation Why." Mering then made a claim even bolder than her Fab Four comparison: "Enya's a drone artist, she's like the most mainstream noise artist there ever was."
You wouldn't necessarily expect an album featuring a belated riposte to Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back" to also be partly influenced by the enigmatic darling of the New Age scene. But apparently, Nicki Minaj's The Pinkprint does nod to Enya on at least a couple of occasions.
Discussing her 2014 LP with V magazine, Minaj said, "One of my biggest [musical influences] is Enya. There are two records early in the album where the airiness and the whimsicalness remind me of Enya, and I sort of crafted it thinking about her and the way her music makes me feel."
And the rapper also tried to convert her son (still only known by his nickname, Papa Bear) to Enya's studio wizardry while he was still in the womb. The rapper explained on Twitter, "While pregnant I could only play him soothing music like Enya/classical, etc. He'd be more relaxed."
Grimes' fondness for the Celtic goddess appears to have developed over time. When asked about her "Enya on steroids" label early on in her career, the Canadian seemed relatively non-committal. "I probably have the 'Best Of Enya' somewhere," she told NME. "I guess it makes a change from all the Cocteau Twins comparisons."
But over the following decade, Grimes showed more appreciation for Enya's talents. In 2013, she told Rolling Stone that her then-upcoming Art Angels album was heavily influenced by the Irishwoman's ethereal sound, particularly closer "Butterfly" in which she layered "so much Enya synth s—."
Five years later, Grimes included the haunting "Boadicea" on Playing Bloodborne, one of five mood-specific playlists she curated for Spotify. And during her 2022 DJ set at the Electric Daisy Carnival, Grimes no doubt confounded all the ravers expecting wall-to-wall EDM when she dropped in the geography lesson that is "Orinoco Flow."
"I also love Enya or Cocteau Twins, where I can't understand a word they're saying and they're pulling a thread that does not exist in the real world but is still so satisfying." Perfume Genius' 2020 interview with The New Yorker proves that the world music icon's influence extends the female sphere.
The singer/songwriter born Michael Alden Hadreas has repeatedly professed his admiration for Enya in recent years. "My wig has belonged to Enya since 1988," he tweeted in 2019. "Was Enya the first to ever pop off," he posted without any context a year later. And then in 2023, the art pop troubadour named "Caribbean Blue" as one of his 40 all-time favorite songs while joining in with the latest Twitter trend.
Hadreas' love of Enya has undoubtedly filtered down to his own sound, too. Hear the "Orinoco Flow"-esque intro of "Just Like Love," for example, or the celestial "Gay Angels." Speaking to Pitchfork in 2022, he explained that the Irishwoman's general aura is the key to her appeal — and what has helped classify her as a different kind of cool.
"There's something about Enya being so mainstream that is really soothing to me," he said. "Everybody knows who Enya is, but there's also this feeling that it's something spiritual and strange."
The star's unique vibe also gave Hadreas a sense of belonging — something Enya likely did for many of his peers as well. "It felt like a deeper thing, this secret, like I know that I am connected to something, and I know the way I am is OK."
5 Essential Hip-Hop Releases From The 2020s: Drake, Lil Baby, Ice Spice, 21 Savage & More
The 2020s swapped record sales for big personalities and artists with a penchant for virality. Read on for five crucial songs and albums that defined the decade.
It’s only been three years into the new decade, but a new era of hip-hop artists have already made their mark on the ever-evolving genre.
In the 2020s, social media platforms like TikTok have played a growing role in the trajectory of an artist's career. Social media has given artists like Finesse2tymes, Coi Leray, Baby Keem, Ice Spice, and others their first sign of momentum, and they have all ascended to stardom by following the same formula.
The decade has also proven to be a golden age for female rap stars, with emerging talents like Latto, Megan Thee Stallion, Sexyy Red, GloRilla, and others adding to the femme-powered charge. Male artists including Lil Durk, Fivio Foreign, Lil Baby, and others have become the leading voices of their respective cities.
Meanwhile, now-veteran MC Drake remains one of the genre's biggest names and most consistent hit-makers. Rap supernovas J. Cole, Tyler, the Creator, and Kendrick Lamar have continued to flex their culture-shifting powers in the '20s, while the legacies of late artists Nipsey Hussle, Pop Smoke, DMX, PnB Rock, Takeoff, and others have been immortalized by musical dedications, video tributes, and posthumous projects supported by those that cherished their contributions.
Sounds and styles of other regions continue to meld with those of domestic hip-hop artists. Among the biggest cross-genre trends, afrobeat, reggaeton, and afro-swing hits like Travis Scott and Rosalia’s "TKN," J Hus and Drake’s collab "Who Told You," and Chris Brown and WizKid’s "Call Me Every Day" showcase hip-hop’s musical expansion. While the 2010s pointed to the boundless nature of rap music, the genre is as socially diverse as ever in the 2020s.
From new flows, collabs, and incredible beats, hip-hop will undoubtedly continue to evolve over the next six and a half years. Read on for five releases that have defined the 2020s thus far.
Lil Baby - My Turn (2020)
Lil Baby has blossomed into one of the leading figures in Atlanta rap. He built up momentum with mixtapes Too Hard, Street Gospel, and his collaborative project with Gunna, Drip Harder. But Baby’s full ascension came with the delivery of My Turn, a culmination of his biggest street anthems and most conceptualized hits.
The 20-track project was filled with the year’s biggest trap records, which featured fellow rap stars Lil Uzi Vert, Moneybagg Yo, Future, Young Thug, Rylo Rodriguez, Lil Wayne, and 4 Pockets Full signee 42 Dugg. The album drew an all-star ensemble of beat makers too, with super-producer Hit-Boy, Murda Beatz, Tay Keith, Quay Global, Twysted Genius, and others lending a hand in the production.
My Turn earned Lil Baby his first No.1 album and topped the charts in 10 countries. And along with major sales, the single "Bigger Picture" was nominated for two GRAMMY Awards in 2021 and introduced the world to the Quality Control Music rapper on a global scale.
Tyler, the Creator - Call Me If You Get Lost (2021)
Tyler, the Creator took a sonic pivot on Flower Boy and 2019’s Igor, which earned the "See You Again" artist a broader audience and new hardware for his trophy collection. The two albums were deeply transient, personal bodies of work that showed Tyler’s artistry in ways previously unseen.
He embraced a more alternative sound that was led by harmony-driven romantic tales, punk-ish "f–you" records, and occasional flashes of the Tyler of old. But 2021’s Call Me If You Get Lost ( (hosted by legendary music executive DJ Drama) was the full return of Tyler, the MC. Although it had been years since the California-based artist showcased his lyrical prowess on a full-length project, his skills never faltered.
Tyler regained his distinct delivery from 2013’s Wolf and his older works. He flaunted his riches on the braggadocio-fueled "Runitup" and "Lemonhead," explored romanticism on "Wusyaname," and addressed his rise from unknown artist to international fixture on "Massa."
The sound of the project was largely crafted by Tyler himself with other contributions from producers Jay Versace, Madlib, and Jamie xx. The finished product was praised by critics and notched Tyler his second award for Best Rap Album at the 2022 GRAMMYs. And nearly two years after the album’s release, Tyler released a deluxe version of the album that featured eight additional songs with appearances from artists A$AP Rocky, YG, and Vince Staples.
Kendrick Lamar - Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers (2022)
Before Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, it had been five years since fans heard a full-length project from Kendrick Lamar. The Compton rapper took his time with the release of his fifth studio, which was a particularly sentimental one for the "DNA." artist. Not only did it mark his first project under his new creative collective PGLang, but it also closed the book on his time at Top Dawg Entertainment.
With major changes brewing, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers was a masterful reflective body of work that mirrored Lamar’s journey in therapy. Themes surrounding alcoholism, grief, celebrity worship, infidelity and childhood trauma are sprinkled throughout the album. The conscious undertones were overlaid with richly-crafted beats by long-time collaborators DJ Dahi, J. Lbs, DJ Dahi, Sounwave, and Bekon, with additional contributions from Boi-1da, the Alchemist, and others.
The album was led by three singles, "N95," "Die Hard," and "Silent Hill" featuring Kodak Black, which helped the album shoot to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the "Alright" artist’s fourth chart-topping project and went on to earn him Best Rap Album at the 65th GRAMMY Awards and re-established his dominance in the genre.
Drake and 21 Savage - Her Loss (2022)
When one of the South’s biggest stars links up with rap’s most consistent hitmaker, it’s bound to shake up the genre. And after collaborating on songs like "Sneakin," "Issa," Mr. Right Now" and others, that’s exactly what Drake and 21 Savage’s Her Loss managed to do.
The collab came at a good time for 21 Savage, who was two years removed from Savage Mode II, and for Drake, who had just released the critically mixed dance album, Honestly, Nevermind. The 16-track album was riddled with street hits like "BackOutsideBoyz," "Rich Flex" and "Treacherous Twins."
For all the album’s peaks, controversy loomed over the project immediately after its release. On the song "Circo Loco," many fans claimed Drake dissed fellow rap star Megan Thee Stallion on the song with the lyrics, "This bitch lie 'bout gettin' shots but she still a stallion / She don't even get the joke, but she still smilin'." The story was picked up by several publications, and fan theories circulated for weeks following the album’s release.
Still, the album topped Billboard 200 with more than 400,000 album-equivalent units, replacing Taylor Swift’s Midnights from the top spot. All tracks debuted on the Billboard Hot 100, with eight of them landing in the top 10.
Ice Spice and Nicki Minaj - "Princess Diana" (2023)
Ice Spice’s "Munch (Feelin’ U)" had fans gravitating to the curly-haired Bronx native, who struck gold with the viral hit that left a new generation of men questioning whether they’re called strictly for pleasure or genuine affection. The sudden stardom opened doors for the "Bikini Bottom" MC.
After landing on magazine covers and appearing at the illustrious Met Gala, she collaborated with her idol Nicki Minaj on the hit "Princess Diana." The song was the second track on Spice’s debut EP, Like..?, but the addition of Minaj boosted her twerk-obsessed, oats-loving brand to new heights.
With the success of "Princess Diana," the two artists collaborated again on the Barbie movie soundtrack song "Barber World (with Aqua)." The collabs only added to her series of Internet smashes, a list that includes records like "Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2" and "In Ha Mood." She still has a long way to go for her success to be proven substantial, but Spice has already established herself as the hottest commodity in the 2020s.