meta-script15 Must-Hear Albums In March 2024: Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, Shakira & More | GRAMMY.com
Sheryl Crow, Deryck Whibley, Tierra Whack, Justin Timberlake, Schoolboy Q, Kasey Musgraves, Kim Gordon, Tyla, Beyoncé, Dua Lipa
(Clockwise) Sheryl Crow, Deryck Whibley, Tierra Whack, Justin Timberlake, Schoolboy Q, Kasey Musgraves, Kim Gordon, Tyla, Beyoncé, Dua Lipa

Photos: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; RICHARD THIGPEN; Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for WIRED; Owen Schatz; Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images; KELLY CHRISTINE SUTTON; Jason Squires/FilmMagic; JASON ARMOND / LOS ANGELES TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGES; KEVIN MAZUR/GETTY IMAGES FOR THE RECORDING ACADEMY; Araya Doheny/FilmMagic

list

15 Must-Hear Albums In March 2024: Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, Shakira & More

From the debuts of Tyla and rapper Tierra Whack, to a new salvo from Kim Gordon, women dominate the list of releases for March. While it may be Women's History Month, there are a few major releases from male artists, including Justin Timberlake.

GRAMMYs/Mar 1, 2024 - 04:02 pm

March is Women’s History Month, and women in music are more powerful than ever. 

The month begins with the comeback of several queens, starting with Kim Gordon’s The Collective and Ariana Grande’s Eternal Sunshine. Later, country darling Kacey Musgraves will unveil Deeper Well, and Shakira will drop the empowering Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran. Long-awaited debuts by GRAMMY-winning singer Tyla and singer/bassist Blu DeTiger will also join the lineup, with their respective Tyla and All I Ever Want Is Everything. Wrapping up March on a high note, Beyoncé will drop her highly-anticipated Act II on the 29th.

Men will release music in March as well: Expect new releases by Justin Timberlake, Bleachers, the last record from pop-punk band Sum 41, and (allegedly) Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign’s Vultures 2.

To make the most of this prolific time, GRAMMY.com compiled all the must-hear albums dropping March 2024.

Schoolboy Q - Blue Lips

Release date: March 1

On Feb. 1, Schoolboy Q’s website was updated with a mysterious countdown and a 37-second video. In it, the rapper finally unveiled the setlist and title of his much-awaited sixth studio album, Blue Lips, as well as its release date — March 1.

Blue Lips is Q’s first full record since 2019’s Crash Talk, although he had been teasing the album since 2020. Hopefully, it was worth the wait: Blue Lips holds 18 tracks and participations by Rico Nasty, Freddie Gibbs, and more. Q has also started a new vlog series on social media called "wHy not?," where he takes the viewers behind the scenes of making the album and previews snippets of the songs.

So far, the rapper shared tracks "Blueslides," "Back n Love" with Devin Malik, "Cooties" and "Love Birds" with Devin Malik and Lance Skiiwalker, as well as lead single "Yeern 101."

Bleachers - Bleachers

Release date: March 8

Fronted by 10-time GRAMMY winner and 2024 Producer Of The Year Jack Antonoff, rock band Bleachers will release its eponymous fourth studio album on March 8.

In a press release, Bleachers is described as Antonoff’s "distinctly New Jersey take on the bizarre sensory contradictions of modern life." The self-titled record will blend sadness and joy into "music for driving on the highway to, for crying to and for dancing to at weddings."

The band shared four singles so far: lead track "Modern Girl," "Alma Mater" featuring Lana del Rey, "Tiny Moves" and "Me Before You." Through serendipitous melodies and soulful writing, Bleachers commit to "exist in crazy times but remember what counts." 

Bleachers will tour the U.K. in March and the U.S. in May and June.

Kim Gordon - The Collective

Release date: March 8

Former Sonic Youth vocalist Kim Gordon will release her sophomore LP, The Collective, on March 8. The album is a follow-up to her 2019 debut No Home Record, and furthers her collaboration with producer Justin Raisen, as well as additional producing from Anthony Paul Lopez.

"On this record, I wanted to express the absolute craziness I feel around me right now," said Gordon in a press statement. "This is a moment when nobody really knows what truth is, when facts don’t necessarily sway people, when everyone has their own side, creating a general sense of paranoia. To soothe, to dream, escape with drugs, TV shows, shopping, the internet, everything is easy, smooth, convenient, branded. It made me want to disrupt, to follow something unknown, maybe even to fail."

Back in January, the singer unveiled the album’s moody first single, "Bye Bye," and a music video starring her daughter, Coco Gordon Moore. The second single, "I’m A Man," came out in February. Gordon will play six concerts in support of The Collective, starting March 21 in Burlington, Vermont.

Ariana Grande - Eternal Sunshine

Release date: March 8

It’s been almost four years since Ariana Grande’s last studio album, 2020’s Positions. The starlet spent the past few years filming Wicked, an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name, and declared that she wouldn’t be releasing any new records until it was done.

The wait is finally over, as Grande announced her seventh studio album, Eternal Sunshine. The album’s first and only single, "Yes, And?," dropped in January, followed by an Instagram video of the soprano singer explaining the concept of the album to her Republic Records team. 

"It’s kind of a concept album ’cause it’s all different heightened pieces of the same story, of the same experience," she said. "Some of [the songs] are really vulnerable, some of them are like playing the part of what people kind of expect me to be sometimes and having fun with it."

"I think this one may be your favorite," Grande wrote of Eternal Sunshine on her Instagram Story. "It is mine." The 13-song collection will reportedly explore house and R&B, and will have only one feature: Grande’s grandmother, who appears on the last track, "Ordinary Things."

Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign -Vultures 2

Release date: March 8

After a series of delays, Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign’s first collaborative album, Vultures 1, ultimately dropped on Feb. 10, 2024. Set to be the first installment of a trilogy, the album was released independently through West’s YZY label, and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, with all of its 16 tracks also charting on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Billed as ¥$, the duo plans to release Vultures 2 on March 8, and follow up with Vultures 3 on April 5. Although any other info about the upcoming volumes is still unclear, Timbaland recently shared on X (formerly Twitter) that Vultures 2 is "OTW." (Timbaland produced Vultures 1’s "Keys to My Life" and "Fuk Sumn" with Playboi Carti and Travis Scott.)

In the past month, West and $ign held a few listening parties for the album in the U.S. and Europe, but additional schedules are yet to be revealed.

The Jesus and Mary Chain - Glasgow Eyes

Release date: March 8

To celebrate their 40th anniversary, alt-rock band the Jesus and Mary Chain will release their eighth studio album, Glasgow Eyes, on March 8.

As it can be seen on lead single "Jamcod," the Scottish group still runs strong on the distorted synths and electrifying guitars that shaped their sound. "People should expect a Jesus and Mary Chain record, and that’s certainly what Glasgow Eyes is," vocalist Jim Reid said in a statement. "Our creative approach is remarkably the same as it was in 1984, just hit the studio and see what happens. We went in with a bunch of songs and let it take its course. There are no rules, you just do whatever it takes."

Glasgow Eyes also mends a six-year gap since the Jesus and Mary Chain’s latest album, 2017’s Damage and Joy. To further commemorate, the band will also release an autobiography and embark on a European tour throughout March and April.

Justin Timberlake - Everything I Thought It Was

Release date: March 15

Justin Timberlake is back with his first studio album since 2018’s Man of the Woods. The new record, Everything I Thought It Was,  is spearheaded by singles "Selfish" and "Drown."

"I worked for a long time on this album, and I ended up with 100 songs. So, narrowing them down to 18 was a thing," said Timberlake in an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1. "I’m really excited about this album. I think every artist probably says this, but it is my best work." The Memphis singer also shared that there are "incredibly honest" moments in the album, but also "a lot of f—ng fun."

To celebrate his return, Timberlake announced his Forget Tomorrow World Tour. Set to kick off on April 29 in Vancouver, the tour will cross through North America and Europe until its final date on Dec. 16 in Indianapolis.

Kacey Musgraves - Deeper Well

Release date: March 15

Fresh off winning Best Country Duo/Group Performance at the 2024 GRAMMYs for the Zach Bryan duet "I Remember Everything," Kacey Musgraves announced her fifth studio album, Deeper Well..

"My Saturn has returned/ When I turned 27/ Everything started to change," she sings in the contemplative title track, exploring how she changed over the last few years. The single sets the tone for the rest of the record, which was co-produced by longtime collaborators Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian

Featuring 14 tracks, Deeper Well was mostly recorded at the legendary Electric Lady studios in New York City. "I was seeking some different environmental energy, and Electric Lady has the best mojo. Great ghosts," the country star noted in a press release.

On social media, Musgraves wrote: "it’s a collection of songs I hold very dear to my heart. I hope it makes a home in all of your hearts, too." Deeper Well follows 2021’s star-crossed

Tierra Whack - World Wide Whack

Release date: March 15

When rapper Tierra Whack released her first album, 2018’s Whack World, she quickly garnered the admiration of both critics and fans. Comprising 15 one-minute tracks and music videos for each, the release was a refreshing introduction to a groundbreaking artist.

In 2024, the Philadelphia-born star is preparing to release World Wide Whack, labeled her official debut album in a press release. The cover artwork, created by Alex Da Corte, was inspired by theater character Pierrot, fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli and Donna Summer, and represents "the first reveal of the World Wide Whack character, an alter ego both untouchable and vulnerable, superhuman and painfully human, whose surprising story will unfold in images and video over the course of the album’s visual rollout."

The album follows Whack’s 2021 EP trilogy — Rap?, Pop? and R&B? — and is foreshadowed by the poignant "27 Club" and the eccentric "Shower Song."

Tyla - Tyla

Release date: March 22

After a glowing 2023 with viral hit "Water," South African newcomer Tyla started 2024 with a blast. Last month, she became the first person to win a GRAMMY for Best African Music Performance, and the youngest-ever African singer to win a GRAMMY Award at 22 years old.

Next month is poised to be even better: Tyla’s eponymous debut LP drops on March 22, featuring "Water" and other hits like  "Truth or Dare," "Butterflies" and "On and On," as well as a guest appearance by labelmate Travis Scott.

"African music is going global and I’m so blessed to be one of the artists pushing the culture," Tyla shared on Instagram. Her unique blend of amapiano, pop and R&B is making waves around the world, and the star will rightfully celebrate by touring Europe and North America throughout this spring.

Shakira - Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran

Release date: March 22

The title of Shakira’s new album, Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran, is a nod to her 2023 hit "Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53" with Argentine DJ Bizarrap. In the lyrics, she states that "las mujeres ya no lloran, las mujeres facturan" — "women don’t cry anymore, they make money."

The single is a diss to Shakira’s ex-partner, footballer Gerard Piqué, and, like the rest of the record, served as a healing experience after their separation. "Making this body of work has been an alchemical process," the Colombian star said in a statement. "While writing each song I was rebuilding myself. While singing them, my tears transformed into diamonds, and my vulnerability into strength."

Las Mujeres will feature 16 songs, including her Bizarrap collaboration and singles "Te Felicito" with Rauw Alejandro, "Copa Vacía" with Manuel Turizo, "Acróstico," "Monotonía" with Ozuna, "El Jefe" with Mexican band Fuerza Regida, and "TQG" with fellow Colombian Karol G.

Sheryl Crow - Evolution

Release date: March 29

Back in 2018, Sheryl Crow said that the LP Threads would be her last — fortunately, she changed her mind. "I said I’d never make another record, though there was no point to it," the singer shared in a statement about her upcoming album, Evolution. "This music comes from my soul. And I hope whoever hears this record can feel that."

According to the same statement, "Evolution is Sheryl Crow at her most authentically human self," and its music and lyrics "came from sitting in the quiet and writing from a deep soul place." 

The entire album was written in a month, starting with the title track, which expresses Crow’s anxieties about artificial intelligence and the future of humans. From then on, Crow and producer Mike Elizondo found bliss. "The songs just kept flowing out of me, four songs turned into nine and it was pretty obvious this was an album," she said.

In addition to the album's title track, Crow also shared singles "Do It Again" and "Alarm Clock."

Sum 41 - Heaven :x: Hell

Release date: March 29

After nearly three decades together, punk-metal mavericks Sum 41 are parting ways. Their final release will be a double album. Heaven :x: Hell, set to drop on March 29.

Heaven is composed of 10 pop-punk tracks reminiscent of the band’s early years, while Hell is 10 tracks of pure heavy metal, reflecting the direction they took more recently. "Once I heard the music, I was confident enough to say, ‘This is the record I’d like to go out on,'" frontman Deryck Whibley said in a statement. "We’ve made a double album of pop punk and metal, and it makes sense. It took a long time for us to pave this lane for ourselves, but we did, and it’s unique to us."

The band shared singles "Landmines," "Rise Up" and "Waiting on a Twist of Fate," and proved that they’re leaving on top of their game. "I love Sum 41, what we’ve achieved, endured, and stuck together through, which is why I want to call it quits," Whibley added. "It’s the right time to walk away from it. I’m putting all of my energy into what’s ahead."

But before embarking on new ventures, Sum 41 will spend the rest of the year touring throughout Asia, North America, and Europe.

Blu DeTiger - All I Ever Want Is Everything

Release date: March 29

At only 26 years old, Blu DeTiger has already toured with Caroline Polachek, played bass for Jack Antonoff’s band Bleachers, partnered with Fender, and appeared on the 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30’s music list.

Now, she prepares to release her debut studio album, All I Ever Want Is Everything. "This album is about growing and becoming, settling into yourself and learning to love where you’re at through it all. It’s about learning how to be your own best friend," the bassist and singer wrote on Instagram.

"Dangerous Game," the lead single off the album, showcases DeTiger’s effervescent energy and potential for pop stardom. Starting April, she will also headline a U.S. tour across Boston, Washington D.C., New York, Toronto, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Beyoncé - Act II

Release date: March 29

What better event to announce a new album than the most-watched TV program ever? That’s what Beyoncé did during Super Bowl LVIII, on Feb. 11. At the end of a Verizon commercial, the singer declared "Okay, they ready. Drop the new music," while simultaneously releasing Act II’s lead singles, "16 Carriages" and "Texas Hold 'Em," on social media and streaming platforms.

Coming out March 29, Act II is the second part of Beyoncé’s ongoing trilogy, which was written and recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic. The album is preceded by 2022’s acclaimed Act I: Renaissance, but instead of house and disco, the singer will reportedly take a deep dive into country music.

This isn’t Queen Bey’s first foray into the genre — in 2016, she released Lemonade’s "Daddy Lessons," and her 2021 IVY PARK Rodeo collection was inspired by "the overlooked history of the American Black cowboy," as she told Harper’s Bazaar. It was just a question of time for Beyoncé to enter her country era, and it is finally upon us.

17 Love Songs That Have Won GRAMMYs: "I Will Always Love You," "Drunk In Love" & More

Sheryl Crow press photo 2024
Sheryl Crow

Photo: Dove Shore

interview

Sheryl Crow's 'Evolution': The Rock Icon On Her "Liberating" New Album, The Song That's Her "Favorite Child" & More

As Sheryl Crow adds another album to her catalog, the freshly minted Rock & Roll Hall of Famer reflects on the major moments, musings and mushroom trips that led her to the unexpected new project.

GRAMMYs/Apr 4, 2024 - 04:24 pm

When Sheryl Crow released her tenth studio album, 2019's Threads, she declared it'd be her last — even calling it "a beautiful final statement."

"People don't listen to whole bodies of work anymore. In fact, I'm not sure they even listen to a whole song anymore," Crow explains. "So it seemed kind of, not only futile, but also, at this stage, it seems like a long process that's expensive when really, it's best to put out something you really believe in."

As it turns out, she really believed in her eleventh album, Evolution

Crow's music has always been as insightful as it is catchy, and Evolution is perhaps the most existential example of that. Throughout, the nine-time GRAMMY winner  poignantly muses over the state of the world and humankind, while also reflecting on the moments and the ideals that still give her hope. Along the way, she throws in very Sheryl Crow quips ("Anger sucks, but at least your brand's trending," she sings on "Broken Record") and makes some important statements ("We are brilliant, we are kind/ But sometimes we miss the glaring signs," she urges on the title track).

If Evolution ends up being Crow's actual last album, she'd certainly be going out in signature style. It's a culmination of what's made her music so timeless: unabashed honesty, soulful musicality, and unbridled joy. 

GRAMMY.com sat down with Crow to discuss her unexpected album, her "liberating" new creative process, and major moments that have made her career feel like a fairy tale.

After declaring that you wouldn't make any more albums, how did creating Evolution change your perspective on the rest of your career? Do you think you'll go back to making albums?

Well, this was not like any experience I have ever had. I've never made a record where I wasn't there for it. I mean, I was there, but when I typically make a record, everything starts and ends with me. 

This was me sending a guitar vocal to this incredible producer, Mike Elizondo, who basically was like Martin Scorsese. He would take my little screenplay and just build this cinematic landscape around it. I've never had that experience where I walk in and hear myself in the context of something I've never heard before. And it was really a beautiful experience. 

Once I got over the fact that I'm not playing everything — once you check your ego and go, Wait a minute, this is exactly what you wanted. You wanted your stories, your thoughts to be built on — it made it so different than any process I've ever experienced. 

Will I go back and make records the way I used to? I don't know. I'm going to quit saying I'm never gonna do an album again, because I don't know. [Laughs.]

You've said that this is kind of a diary turned into an album. You can actually feel that in some of the songs. I can envision you sitting down and just spilling your heart out, and then it turning into a song.

I've never made a record where I just wrote the song and then let it go, and then it came back to me. It was a really colossal gift that I gave myself, to let go of it and be okay with what came back to me. 

Luckily, there was no disappointment in what came back, because I know Mike Elizondo so well — like, for 20 years. And the interesting thing about this process is the whole thing came together over one song that we put on the record [last]. 

It's called "Digging In The Dirt," it's a Peter Gabriel cover. It's on the deluxe [version of Evolution]. I called Mike, I said, "I have been really soul searching. I've done a guided mushroom tour. I am really trying to navigate how I'm feeling about this moment in our humanity, and I want to do this song 'Digging In The Dirt,' would you produce it?" He said yes. 

We sent it to Peter, and quite a long time went by, and [when we] got it back, he'd put himself on it. Then, it was like, Okay, we have an album.

I imagine that you probably weren't thinking he would put himself on the cover.

I wasn't. We sent it to him and he really liked it. And I said, "If, you know… no pressure!" 

Of course, it's a compliment. But I think his work is pretty emblematic of what this record is about: Digging deep and taking no prisoners, calling out what you see, trying to figure out a way to get back to [your] authentic self — which is what every human being at some moment in their life will struggle with.

I feel like you've always been pretty outspoken in your music — not in an abrasive way, but just in a way that you're very assured of the message you're spreading.

I hope so. It's a weird thing to be now — because when you think about music before MTV and VH1, like before videos, you'd write a song and there was no image that was attached to it. Then MTV and VH1 [come along, and] suddenly you're writing little stories [for visuals], and that gets in somebody's head. Like, I can listen to Madonna song, and instead of what I experienced, I remember the video.

Now, you put out songs, and there's so much branding and social media that you're attached to before you ever hear the song, that it taints what your songs are about, you know? And it can also make you [think], I would never listen to her because she's a liberal

It's like we're programmed to decide if we could like somebody's song based on how we feel about that person. It's different than it used to be. All that to say, there's nothing that can stop me from writing, because it's the thing that I know how to do. It's a salve for me.

I saw an interview with the Guardian where you answered fan questions, and someone asked about how your creative process evolved. And you were basically like, "I don't know who's listening anymore, and I don't really care who's listening. So I'm just gonna say what I feel." Do you feel more creatively liberated than you ever have?

I do. I mean, there were many periods during the process of making the albums in the early days where I would sit and listen to the body of work and go, I gotta write something that could maybe get played at radio. There's none of that anymore. Because radio is based on streams, and streams is based on social media and TikTok, and all that stuff. And also, being my age, I can't even hope to be played anyway. So it is liberating.

That's not to say that it's not frustrating. It is frustrating to feel like you're writing some of your best work and [have to ask] Will anybody hear it? But I had to stay out of the outcome, just like I've always done, and be into the process. And that's where I continue to find my joy.

You've been able to celebrate a lot of success before the streaming era took over. This year actually marks 30 years since "All I Wanna Do," hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, which started a very epic run for you, including your first GRAMMY wins. What do you remember from that time?

When I reflect on that night, I think I was not equipped to hold all that. In fact, it's funny, I look at what I wore, and it was very not designer. I just was a country bumpkin. [Laughs.]

We had already toured for, like, a year, and nothing had really — I mean, it was just starting to pick up, and then "All I Wanna Do" came out, and it exploded. And then I was nominated for GRAMMYs, and won the GRAMMYs, and then the next day, we played in San Francisco like it never even happened. 

It took a little time — in fact, the better part of that year — to realize that, at that time, the GRAMMYs, which was the one night of the year that everyone tuned into, that winning a GRAMMY could change the trajectory of your career. Just from the GRAMMYs, and that visibility, my record sales expanded exponentially. It was just over the top. 

It was a whirlwind. And what looked like, to most people, as being an overnight success, to me, being a 30-year-old, I felt like I'd worked my whole life — I studied piano, I taught school. I had a whole life before I ever made it. 

It was a bizarre time. And obviously, there's no guidebook for how to become famous and how to navigate that. So I just tried to really stay in my lane, and I didn't really enjoy it as much as I could have enjoyed it. I wish now I could go back and say, "You need to enjoy it more! Be a rock star!" [Laughs.]

You were just inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and you've hung out with — and recorded with — Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. I would say that puts you in the ranks of a rock star!

I've been so dang lucky. And that was an amazing thing. I grew up in the middle of farmland, in a town with three stoplights. And my parents were like, "You work hard and you're a good person, good things will happen." 

You just don't really know what life can be like. As you get older, you realize that the stories we tell ourselves [when we're younger] about what [life] can be can be very limiting,

In my particular instance, I could not have envisioned knowing these massive heroes that I got to brush up against, and I got to learn from. I think there's not an award on the planet that could measure knowing some of these people. 

I mean, even singing with Willie Nelson, for as long as we've sung together is — the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame [performance with him] was just icing on the cake. To be in a "club" — as my dad calls it — with the people that wrote the book on it is just very humbling.

I read that you didn't even want to record "All I Wanna Do" at first. Is there a song you've never gotten sick of playing?

After two years of touring that record, I was so sick of ["All I Wanna Do"]. Now, of course, I play it with absolute and total gratitude, because it's taken me to St. Petersburg, to Tokyo, to Bogota, to Tel Aviv. That song has literally taken me all over the world, and I've watched people who don't speak English sing the many thousands of words in that song. 

There is one song that I love every time I play it, and when it comes on the radio, I don't turn it off. It's "My Favorite Mistake." The original intent of it, the experience of writing it, the feel of the song. It feels like the best song in my catalog.

That's a big statement! You don't see artists making that statement a lot, because they're like, "Oh, I can't pick one, they're all like my children!" 

"My Favorite Mistake" is my favorite child. There, I'll say it.

It's amazing to have a piece of work like that, right? I can imagine that you have so many songs you're proud of, but it's very cool to have a song, no matter what it meant to other people, for it to feel so special to you.

It is. You hear that woo-woo statement of "I was just a vessel." I've had a few of those songs where I go, "Okay, that's weird. I don't know how I wrote that song top to bottom." There are those songs, and I do look at that and go, "Okay, there is some divinity in that." 

Because we learn really early on how to craft a good song — what the form of a good song is, how to build interest in it, how to make it exciting, how to hold the listener. All kinds of crafting tricks. But on the odd occasion you get, like, a "Redemption Day," which you go, "I don't know how I wrote that song, because that's not even how I write," and 15 years later, Johnny Cash records it. 

There are those songs where you think you just got to be in the room for it. "My Favorite Mistake" was a little bit like that. It was so effortless. Most of the lyrics I sang onto the mic as I was playing it on bass, writing it with Jeff [Trott, Crow's frequent collaborator]. 

It just fell together, and it felt so authentic to how gutted I was over my relationship falling apart. And I think sometimes that is what makes a song universal — it's the emotion we all experience no matter what the experience looks like. 

That can very much apply to Evolution as well — in a very different way than "My Favorite Mistake," but there's a lot of relatable sentiments on this album. 

I think as a mom, as a person who's raising two young people, a lot of what I'm asking myself — and what I'm witnessing, which causes me to scratch my head — I don't know what to do with it. And you can't really engage anymore in narrative conversation where people share ideas, and try to come up with solutions, and make compromises. Because we are now being, I guess, in some ways, programmed to not do that, you know? To not give in to the other side because it might be a show of weakness.

My safe haven is to write songs, and this process was really that. And I can safely say, without ego, I love the way that it turned out, and that is because I did not produce it. It's just my songs and a great movie around them.

So your biggest takeaway from this album is that you should stop producing your own work…

My biggest takeaway is I should just sit and write little songs and then fire them off to a producer.

You know, that's what they're there for, right?

Exactly! That's why we pay you, anyway! [Laughs.]

You're such a statement-based artist and you've always stuck to your guns. What are some things that you look back on and you're like, Man, that is exactly what I set out to do?

Oh my gosh, I have so many that now I allow myself to feel proud of. I think it's our knee-jerk to not ever give ourselves a minute of homage. 

I got to sing with Pavarotti. I got to sing a piece by Mozart in front of my mom and dad in Modena Italy for War Child. The look on my parents' faces will never leave me, ever. My parents are musicians. I don't think they could have envisioned their little girl, like, singing legitimate music, after the years of piano lessons and getting my degree in voice and piano. 

To see me up there singing Mozart with Pavarotti, and then getting to play my own music with Eric Clapton backing me [at the same event], that one moment was a personal highlight for sure.

I've had some incredible experiences — getting to sing with, like you said, Dylan, and getting to walk out on stage with the Rolling Stones and strut around and be a rock star. But doesn't it all come back to your parents, ultimately? I will never forget the emotional looks on their faces. And I will carry that with me forever. 

Well, especially, like you've been talking about, coming out of such a small town. What you've accomplished is so rare, especially coming from a place with three stoplights.

To bring your parents all the way to Italy! They'd never been out of the country and [I had to say] "Okay, you guys are gonna have to get a passport. You're gonna drive an hour and a half to the airport in Memphis, Tennessee. You're gonna fly all the way across the world." 

You know, those are the things that fairy tales are made of. And I would say that my life has been a fairy tale.

6 Female-Fronted Acts Reviving Rock: Wet Leg, Larkin Poe, Gretel Hänlyn & More

Beyoncé accepts the Innovator Award onstage during the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on Monday, April 1.
Beyoncé accepts the Innovator Award onstage during the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on Monday, April 1.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

feature

Beyond Country: All The Genres Beyoncé Explores On 'Cowboy Carter'

On 'COWBOY CARTER,' Beyoncé is free. Her eighth studio album is an unbridled exploration of musical genres — from country to opera and R&B — that celebrates the fluidity of music and her Texas roots.

GRAMMYs/Apr 3, 2024 - 08:50 pm

"Genres are a funny little concept, aren't they? In theory, they have a simple definition that's easy to understand. But in practice, well, some may feel confined."

With those words, spoken on "SPAGHETTII" by Linda Martell — the first commercially successful Black female artist in country music and the first to play the Grand Ole Opry solo — Beyoncé provides a proxy response to her original call on Instagram 10 days before COWBOY CARTER was released: "This ain’t a Country album. This is a “Beyoncé” album." 

She delivered on that promise with intent. Through a mix of homage and innovation, Beyoncé's latest is a 27-track testament to her boundless musicality and draws  from a rich aural palette. In addition to its country leanings, COWBOY CARTER includes everything from the soulful depths of gospel to the intricate layers of opera. 

Beyoncé's stance is clear: she's not here to fit into a box. From the heartfelt tribute in "BLACKBIIRD" to the genre-blurring tracks like "YA YA," Beyoncé uses her platform to elevate the conversation around genre, culture, and history. She doesn't claim country music; she illuminates its roots and wings, celebrating the Black artists who've shaped its essence.

The collective album proves no genre was created or remains in isolation. It's a concept stoked in the words of the opening track, "AMERIICAN REQUIEM" when Beyonce reflects, "Nothing really ends / For things to stay the same they have to change again." For country, and all popular genres of music to exist they have to evolve. No sound ever stays the same.

COWBOY CARTER's narrative arc, from "AMERICAN REQUIEM" to "AMEN," is a journey through American music's heart and soul, paying tribute to its origins while charting a path forward. This album isn't just an exploration of musical heritage; it's an act of freedom and a declaration of the multifaceted influence of Black culture on American pop culture.

Here's a closer look at some of some of the musical genres touched on in act ii, the second release of an anticipated trilogy by Beyoncé, the most GRAMMY-winning artist of all-time: 

Country 

Before COWBOY CARTER was even released, Beyoncé sparked critical discussion over the role of herself and all Black artists in country music. Yet COWBOY CARTER doesn't stake a claim on country music. Rather, it spotlights the genre through collaborations with legends and modern icons, while championing the message that country music, like all popular American music and culture, has always been built on the labor and love of Black lives. 

It's a reckoning acknowledged not only by Beyoncé's personal connection to country music growing up in Texas, but the role Black artists have played in country music rooted in gospel, blues, and folk music. 

Enter The World Of Beyoncé

Country legends, Dolly Parton ("DOLLY P", "JOLENE," and "TYRANT"), Willie Nelson ("SMOKE HOUR" and "SMOKE HOUR II"), and Martell ("SPAGHETTII and "THE LINDA MARTELL SHOW") serve mainly as spoken-word collaborators, becoming MCs for Queen Bey. Some of the most prolific country music legends receiving her in a space where she has been made to feel unwelcome in music (most notably with the racism surrounding her 2016 CMA performance of "Daddy Lessons" with the Dixie Chicks) provides a prolific release of industry levies. Martell, a woman who trod the dark country road before Bey, finally getting her much-deserved dues appears as an almost pre-ordained and poetic act of justice. 

"BLACKBIIRD," a version of the Beatles' civil rights era song of encouragement and hope for the struggle of Black women is led softly by Beyoncé, backed by a quartet of Black female contemporary country songbirds: Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy, and Reyna Roberts. 

Beyoncé holds space for others, using the power of her star to shine a light on those around her. These inclusions rebuke nay-sayers who quipped pre-release that she was stealing attention from other Black country artists. It also flies in the faces that shunned and discriminated against her, serving as an example of how to do better. The reality that Beyoncé wasn't stealing a spotlight, but building a stage for fellow artists, is a case study in how success for one begets success for others. 

Read more: 8 Country Crossover Artists You Should Know: Ray Charles, The Beastie Boys, Cyndi Lauper & More

Gospel, Blues, & Folk (American Roots)

As is Beyoncé's way, she mounts a case for country music with evidence to back up her testimony. She meanders a course through a sequence of styles that serve as the genre's foundation: gospel, blues, and folk music.

"AMERIICAN REQUIEM" and "AMEN" bookend the album with gospel-inspired lyrics and choir vocals. The opener sets up a reflective sermon buoyed by  the sounds of a reverberating church organ, while the closer, with its introspective lyrics, pleads for mercy and redemption. The main verse on "AMEN", "This house was built with blood and bone/ The statues they made were beautiful/ But they were lies of stone," is complemented by a blend of piano, and choral harmonies. 

Hymnal references are interlaced throughout the album, particularly in songs like "II HANDS II HEAVEN" and in the lyrical nuances on "JUST FOR FUN." In the later track, Beyoncé's voice soars with gratitude in a powerful delivery of the lines, "Time heals everything / I don't need anything / Hallelujah, I pray to her." 

The gospel-inspired, blues-based "16 CARRIAGES" reflects the rich history of country songs borrowing from the blues while simultaneously calling back to songs sung by field laborers in the colonial American South. "Sixteen dollars, workin' all day/ Ain't got time to waste, I got art to make" serves as the exhausted plea of an artist working tirelessly long hours in dedication to a better life. 

Rhiannon Giddens, a celebrated musician-scholar, two-time GRAMMY winner, and Pulitzer Prize recipient, infuses "TEXAS HOLD 'EM" with her profound understanding of American folk, country, and blues. She plays the viola and banjo, the latter tracing its origins to Sub-Saharan West Africa and the lutes of ancient Egypt. Through her skilled plucking and bending of the strings, Giddens bridges the rich musical heritage of Africa and the South with the soul of country, blues, and folk music.

Pop, Funk, Soul & Rock 'n' Roll 

All in, Beyoncé is a pop star who is wrestling with labels placed on her 27-year career in COWBOY CARTER. Fittingly, she brings in two other pop artists known for swimming in the brackish water between country and pop, Miley Cyrus and Post Malone. Her intentional inclusion of two artists who have blurred genres without much cross-examination begs the question, Why should Beyoncé's sound be segregated to a different realm? 

On "YA YA" Linda Martell returns as the listener's sonic sentinel, introducing the track like a lesson plan: "This particular tune stretches across a range of genres. And that’s what makes it a unique listening experience." The tune sinks into the strummed chords of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" before leaping into a fiery dance track that features reimagined lyrics from the Beach Boys, with soulful vocal flourishes and breaks that show the throughline connection between '60s era rock, funk, and pop music.

Robert Randolph lends his hands on "16 CARRIAGES" with a funk-infused grapple on his pedal-steel guitar. It's a style he honed through his early years touring and recording with his family band and later in his career as an in-demand collaborator working with names including the Allman Brothers, and Norah Jones

The lesson is solidified as the album transitions into an interlude on "OH LOUISIANA," featuring a sped-up sample of a classic track by Chuck Berry. This moment emphasizes the pop superstar's nod to civil rights era music history, spotlighting a controversial artist celebrated for his pioneering contributions to rock 'n' roll. (It's a part of music history Beyoncé knows well, after starring as Etta James in the 2008 film Cadillac Records, a veiled biopic of the legendary Chicago label Chess Records.)

Classical & Opera

Opera was missing from many listeners' Beyoncé Bingo card, but didn't surprise those that know her background. Beyoncé was trained for over a decade starting at an early age by her voice teacher David Lee Brewer, a retired opera singer who once lived with the Knowles family. 

COWBOY CARTER gives sing-along fans a 101 opera class with "DAUGHTER." In Italian, Beyoncé sings passages from the 1783 Italian opera "Caro Mio Ben," composed by Giuseppe Tommaso Giovanni Giordani. The aria is a classic piece of vocal training that fittingly shows off her full range — taking us back to the earliest days of her vocal teachings.

Hip-Hop & R&B

Midway through the album on "SPAGHETTII" Beyoncé announces, "I ain't no regular singer, now come get everythin' you came for," landing right where expectations have confined her: in the throes of a romping beat, experimenting with sounds that blend hip-hop with R&B and soul. The track notably highlights the talent of Nigerian American singer/rapper Shaboozey, who also shows up to the rodeo on "SWEET HONEY BUCKIN'" brandishing his unique mix of hip-hop, folk-pop, and country music. 

Beyoncé worked with longtime collaborator Raphael Saadiq on this album, a career legend in the R&B industry, who lends his mark to several tracks on which he wrote, produced, and played multiple instruments. Beyoncé also utilizes the Louisiana songwriter Willie Jones on "JUST FOR FUN," an artist who draws on a contemporary blend of country, Southern rap, and R&B in the hymnal ballad. 

The violin-heavy "TYRANT" and "SPAGHETTII" both underscore hip-hop's long love affair with the classical string instrument (See: Common's "Be," and Wu Tang Clan's "Reunited" as the tip of that particular iceberg) with a blend of soulful R&B lyrics paired with beat-based instrumentalization. 

In a world quick to draw lines and label sounds, Beyoncé's COWBOY CARTER stands as a vibrant mosaic of musical influence and innovation. Ultimately, Beyoncé's COWBOY CARTER isn't seeking anyone's acceptance. As a Texan once told she didn't belong, her critical response claps back at this exclusion.  It's also a reminder that in the hands of a true artist, music is limitless.

Run The World: Why Beyoncé Is One Of The Most Influential Women In Music History

Sum 41 2024 press photo
Sum 41

Photo: Travis Shinn

interview

Sum 41 Says Farewell: Deryck Whibley Shares His Favorite Memories With The Pop-Punk Icons

As Sum 41 bid adieu with an epic double album, 'Heaven :x: Hell,' and a massive world tour, frontman Deryck Whibley reveals some of the band's most memorable moments — from their first Warped Tour to setting their tour bus on fire.

GRAMMYs/Apr 1, 2024 - 08:57 pm

Deryck Whibley didn't know Heaven :x: Hell was going to be Sum 41's final album when he began the process of making it.

"I was just listening to it as a finished record to see how close it was to being done — and it was almost done — but I thought, 'This to me feels like a record that I could call our last record.' I feel so proud of it, and it encapsulates the entire sound of the band and everything that we've tried to do over the years. It's all in one record," he explains over Zoom from his home in Las Vegas.

To be fair, the Sum 41 frontman, 44, had spent the past five years contemplating a future without the band that has defined him since their punk rock beginnings in 1996. "I always knew if I was ever going to do something, I can't do two things at once," he explains. "I didn't ever have a date or a time — I just knew it would kind of hit me."

Amid the release of their 2001 debut album All Killer No Filler and the height of Warped Tour, Sum 41 became pop-punk pioneers of the early aughts. The five-piece — comprised of Whibley, Dave Baksh (guitar, backing vocals), Jason McCaslin (bass, backing vocals), Tom Thacker (guitars, keyboards, backing vocals), and Frank Zummo (drums, percussion, occasional backing vocals) — has since released seven more albums, even earning a GRAMMY nomination in 2012 for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for the song "Blood in My Eyes." Over the years, they've toured with artists including Good Charlotte, The Offspring, Mötley Crüe and many other titans in the punk and pop-punk world.

With their eighth studio album, Whibley believes it's the band's "complete work." The 20-track Heaven:x: Hell is a testament to the band's expansive punk sound throughout their nearly three-decade-long career: Heaven's 10 tracks channel the energetic pop-punk sound that brought them to the forefront of the Warped Tour scene; while Hell taps into the band's affinity for experimentation and heavier elements with bombastic riffs and explosive anthems. To culminate their tenure, Sum 41 will hit the road for a massive farewell tour, kicking off on April 19 in Omaha and concluding with their final show in their native Toronto on Jan. 30, 2025.

For Whibley, life after Sum 41 remains a question mark. Perhaps he'll work on a solo project or maybe he'll work on some scripts. Ultimately, he believes that once he's faced with the uncertainty of his own future, his heart will gravitate toward what excites him the most. "I love music," he sighs, "but I like to think that there might be something else out there."

As the end of Sum 41 approaches, Whibley reminisces on the breadth of experiences the band has had over the years. Below, he details seven of his most career-defining moments to date. 

Playing Warped Tour In 2001

We started the band by going to the first Vans Warped Tour that came through Toronto [in 1995]. All the bands that we were obsessed with at the time [were there] — NOFX, Pennywise, Face To Face, Unwritten Law, all these California punk rock bands. We were already in a band but as a different band [called Kaspir], and we just thought, This is the kind of music we listen to. This is the kind of tour we want to be on. We want to play with these bands and be like these guys. We need to start a new band. That was the moment we decided, let's start a band that could be one day on a tour like this.

So six years later, we ended up getting [on] the tour, and we became friends with a lot of those guys, like The Vandals, Pennywise. Fat Mike was on the tour. He wasn't with NOFX, but he was with another band. We used to be just watching them from the front of the stage. Now we're hanging out backstage, and we're parking our tour buses next to each other every single day on the whole tour for two and a half months, every single day. It just became this great thing. 

It was also at the same time as our first record, All Killer No Filler,was taking off and our first single, "Fat Lip," was taking off in the middle of that tour. So when we started, we were on MTV, but it wasn't a big song yet, and as the summer went on, it just got bigger and bigger. So we saw the growth happen while we were out on that tour. Everything really exploded in that summer on that tour.

Performing With Tommy Lee & Judas Priest's Rob Halford At MTV's 20th Anniversary

That was in August [2001], and we were on Warped Tour — we had to take a little break to go over to New York and do [the MTV performance]. That came last-second. When we started Warped Tour, we were on MTV, but it just started and in mid-July, ["Fat Lip" was doing really well. 

We were still a new band, but MTV asked us to come and perform at their anniversary bash, and we were going to open the show. So in our minds, we were like, "Why don't we do something cool that we've seen before?" They do collaboration stuff with like Run DMC, and Aerosmith and stuff like that. So we asked if we could do that, and they said, "Sure. Who are you thinking about?" 

We threw out a couple of names and we were like, "Let's ask Tommy Lee, let's ask Rob Halford and we'll place some of these songs." We even said, "Let's see if we can get Slash from Guns N' Roses and the Beastie Boys. Both Slash and the Beastie Boys were like, "We're not going to show up. We're not doing that thing." But Tommy and Rob were like, "F— yeah, sounds great."

So we met in New York, the night before the show, and worked on this little medley of different songs from Sum 41. We did a Beastie Boys song, we did a Mötley Crüe song, we did a Judas Priest song. We threw it together really quickly.When we opened the show, I thought we played like s—. Because when [we were]  on stage, it just didn't sound good in our monitors. It felt a little weird, and you're playing to a lot of industry people. So you don't know if people like it or not. 

We walked off stage, not really knowing if that was good or bad. But it all kind of blew up for us. When we walked off stage, the heads of MTV came by and they were just saying, like, "That was phenomenal. We're gonna have a great relationship together. You guys are the next big thing. We're gonna get behind your whole thing." 

From that moment on, our video went into heavy rotation the next morning, it went all over the world, and "Fat Lip" became a No. 1 song. It just turned into a whole thing. That next day, we flew back to the Warped Tour, and our friends — all those bands — had watched it, and everybody was like, "You guys are going to be massive. After that, nothing's gonna be the same." And it never was. Everything just took off from that moment on.

Touring With The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

We were really young — this was still in the van days — and it was only the second tour we'd ever done of America. Flogging Molly was the [other] support band. Right from day one, even though we were these kids that nobody ever heard of, both the Bosstones and Flogging Molly treated us like family. We all became this great family for this whole tour. 

We would go on the Bosstones' bus and Dicky Barrett, the singer, taught us all how to play dice and gamble. He took all our money every single night. He didn't even care that we were completely broke kids in a van who barely had $20 between all of us. We lost, he took it all. [Laughs] 

Watching [the Bosstones] every night was also such a learning experience. They would get in all their suits, and they all went out on stage. [Dicky] had a character. He's a character off stage, but he even had more of a heightened character on stage. He had banter and bits that he would do every single night. And I realized, "Oh it's a show. You're putting on a real show." It's not just off the cuff — he put some time and effort into making it entertaining. 

The other thing that was memorable about that tour was Dicky and I both kind of had a similar hairstyle, and within like five or six shows, all of a sudden, he started calling me his son. People thought we were related.

A couple shows into it, the Bosstones were on stage, and I kept hearing over the PA, "'Deryck, where is he? Get Deryck up here." I'm backstage, and people are saying, "Hey, Dicky's calling you out on stage.' I didn't know for what. I walked out on stage, and he goes, "There he is, ladies and gentlemen, give it up for my son." 

The whole crowd starts cheering. He does this whole bit where he's like, "I haven't seen my son in 20 years. This is my way of getting to know him, bringing him on tour." And he kept that bit up every single night to a point where if I see him, I saw him a couple of months ago, he still calls me his son. I still call him Dad. And that was from 23 years ago. He's my punk-rock dad.

Setting Their First Tour Bus On Fire

We were so used to touring in vans, and we used to tour in this old 1982 Ford Econoline that had no air conditioning, no heat or anything. It had holes in the floor, so if you were driving in the rain or the snow, all the rain and snow would come through on your feet.

So finally, we get to the point where we're big enough that we're gonna get a tour bus. We were so excited, and we were pretty young. I mean, we're like 19 or 20 years old at that point, and we used to party all the time. We thought we were like Mötley Crüe — we just partied all day all night. 

The first night that we had the bus, I said on stage, "Hey, everybody, we just got our first tour bus. After the show, we're gonna have a party, so you guys are all invited." We kept doing it every night, but that first night, there was a lineup of 1,000 people trying to get on the bus, and our tour manager was there to allow a few people on and check IDs. But our bus was crammed with people. 

We ended up partying really late, and I think one of us — it might have been me or it might have been Steve [Jocz], our drummer — was making food. It was 5 a.m., and we all passed out while the food was cooking. The toaster oven caught on fire and the whole bus filled with smoke.

Finally, it woke somebody up, and you couldn't see anything. The whole bus was filled with smoke, and this thing was on fire. Obviously, we got it out and everything, [so] then we drove. 

When we woke up the next day — probably in the afternoon — there was some random person who had passed out in the back lounge from the other city. We're now seven hours away somewhere else, so we had to wake this guy up. We were like, "We don't even know who this guy is." He's like, "Oh s—, I live in Pittsburgh." I was like, "You've got to get a train or something."[Laughs.]

Earning An MTV Music Video Award Nomination

We were so excited and nervous. We were so brand new to this whole thing, and it was also in that heyday of pop music, so really big pop superstars were there — NSYNC, Britney [Spears] and Christina [Aguilera] — they were all the big talk the whole thing. We're these kids that were just touring in a van that all of a sudden are now at these awards with all these superstars. 

I remember the night before, we went out to a bar, we did a bunch of mushrooms, and we got really drunk. Other people from the award show [were] there, too. Nikka Costa was there, and she came by our table. Somebody introduced us, and our bass player ended up vomiting all over her feet when she came over to say "hello" because he was so high and drunk at the same time.

We ended up going to the awards show the next day [where] we were up for the Best New Artist award. And I remember Alicia Keys was up for it because it was her first single, ["Fallin'"]. None of us knew much about each other. We were all brand-new artists. And she went up to go perform that song — it was before our award was announced — and she was so f—ing incredible. 

It was so amazing that instantly, I just was like, "I don't want to win this award now. After seeing that, we don't deserve it. This person deserves this award. She's clearly talented, and we're just some punk band [that] can barely play our instruments."

Then right after she was done, they said, and now the nominees for Best New Artist. The entire time I'm saying, "Please don't win. Please don't win. Please don't win." And they say, "The winner is Alicia Keys." And I was like, "Yes! Thank God it was not us."

Getting GRAMMY Recognition

One of the most unexpected phone calls I ever got was in 2011 from our manager telling me that we were nominated for our first GRAMMY. It was for a song called "Blood In My Eyes." 

Not only was it an incredible honor, but it was for a song that our record company didn't think should be recorded for our album at the time. The reason they didn't want to have it on the album was because I was taking a long time to get the recording right and they felt I was dragging the process on and on. 

I put my foot down and got the song finished and for it to have been nominated for the highest musical honor was complete validation for all the time and work I put into the making of that song.

Making Heaven :x: Hell & Announcing Their Final Tour

It's a strange "best moment" because it is the end. When we announced that this was going to be a final album [and] final tour, I was not expecting it to be anything surprising, or for many people to really care. I felt like our core fan base would be upset, but I wasn't expecting much of a reaction. It was such a bigger reaction than I could ever imagine. 

When we put [out] the tour [dates], shows were selling out, and we're adding second dates, and that was selling out. Everything just blew up into a thing that I was not expecting. 

So although it's bittersweet and sad that it's the end, in some ways, I'm happy. But I know there's a lot of people in our world that are upset by it. It was such a surprising moment for me to see how much people do care because I wasn't expecting that.

The way I work on things is that I put all my focus and energy and attention into one thing. I always knew if I was ever going to do something [other than Sum 41], I can't do two things at once, and would I ever get to a point where I'd walk away? I'm so focused on making this final tour the best it can be as a final tour. The point of this, for me, is to go try to find something new and do something different. 

So I don't really think about, "In a few years, we'll get back together." The goal is, this is a chapter I'm closing, and it's been great, but I would love to create a new chapter that's great. That's the plan. I don't know what that is. 

I think anything's possible, but it's also so possible that we never play together again. I have no plans for it. It's very possible we never get on stage together again, but I can't say "Never say never" because I don't know. Life is life, and you can't predict anything.

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

Beyonce
Beyoncé attends the 2024 GRAMMYs on Feb. 4, 2024.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

news

Beyoncé's New Album 'Cowboy Carter' Is Here: Check Out The Featured Artists, Cover Songs, And Tracklist

Beyoncé's highly anticipated 'COWBOY CARTER' opens up a Pandora's box of American lore, and the deep connections between Blackness and country music. Here's the rundown of the album's featured artists, cover songs and tracklisting.

GRAMMYs/Mar 29, 2024 - 06:00 pm

Beyoncé's act ii is upon us — say hello to COWBOY CARTER.

On March 29, the 32-time GRAMMY winner unleashed the follow-up to her acclaimed 2022 album, RENAISSANCE. While COWBOY CARTER hints "Bey goes country," the LP is more of a psychedelic opus, with glimmers of country twang and style.

Across a sprawling 27-song tracklist of inspired originals flecked with covers and interpolations, Queen Bey takes us on a rodeo ride through so many musical universes, paying homage to the Beatles, Chuck Berry, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Linda Martell, and more.

Clearly, there's a treasure trove here — more than enough to keep the Beyhive abuzz throughout 2024. GRAMMY.com is here to help you pore over every twangy lick, mega-guest star and lyrical implication. 

As you dive into Beyoncé's astonishing new album, read on for some of the fundamentals of COWBOY CARTER.

Enter The World Of Beyoncé

The Tracklisting

Two days prior to COWBOY CARTER's release, Bey released the tracklist — fittingly, in the form of a rodeo poster. And much to the delight of the Beyhive, it's nearly double the length of its 16-track predecessor, RENAISSANCE.

Check out the rodeo poster, as well as the complete track listing, below.

  1. AMERIICAN REQUIEM

  2. BLACKBIIRD

  3. 16 CARRIAGES

  4. PROTECTOR

  5. MY ROSE

  6. SMOKE HOUR WILLIE NELSON

  7. TEXAS HOLD 'EM

  8. BODYGUARD

  9. DOLLY P

  10. JOLENE

  11. DAUGHTER

  12. SPAGHETTII

  13. ALLIGATOR TEARS

  14. SMOKE HOUR II

  15. JUST FOR FUN

  16. II MOST WANTED

  17. LEVII'S JEANS

  18. FLAMENCO

  19. THE LINDA MARTELL SHOW

  20. YA YA

  21. OH LOUISIANA

  22. DESERT EAGLE

  23. RIIVERDANCE

  24. II HANDS II HEAVEN

  25. TYRANT

  26. SWEET HONEY BUCKIIN'

  27. AMEN

The Cover Songs

Among two dozen dazzling Beyoncé originals, COWBOY CARTER features covers of the Beatles' "Blackbird," Dolly Parton's "Jolene" and Chuck Berry's "Oh Louisiana."

"BLACKBIIRD" (retitled from "Blackbird," with an act ii flavor) is a Paul McCartney song, credited to Lennon-McCartney and featured on 1968's The Beatles, commonly known as The White Album. The song's civil rights inspiration makes it more than a worthy selection: the use of McCartney's original guitar and foot-tapping track makes it especially ear-grabbing.

"JOLENE" is a Dolly Parton classic, similarly given symphonic heft by Bey; Parton offers a radio-like intro on the COWBOY CARTER rendition.

In Parton's pre-"JOLENE" intro, "DOLLY P," she connects "Jolene" to Bey's immortal line "Becky with the good hair" from the Lemonade track "Sorry": "You know that hussy with the good hair you sing about? Reminded me of someone I knew back when, except she has flamin' locks of auburn hair. Bless her heart. Just a hair of a different color, but it hurts just the same."

"OH LOUISIANA" is a Chuck Berry deep cut from 1971's undersung San Francisco Dues; a flicker of Berry's "Maybellene" appears in "SMOKE HOUR WILLIE NELSON," which also features interpolations of Roy Hamilton's "Don't Let Go" and Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Down By The River Side."

Similarly, "YA YA" contains glimmers of Tommaso Giordani's "Caro Mio Ben," Lee Hazelwood's "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'," and the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations."

The Guests

Beyoncé has always displayed razor-sharp intent with her collaborators, and COWBOY CARTER is no exception.

The featured guests highlight a slew of rising Black stars in the country scene. "BLACKBIIRD" spotlights four budding female artists, Brittney Spencer, Renya Roberts, Tanner Addell and Tiera Kennedy; Willie Jones shows off his chops on "JUST FOR FUN"; and country-rap fusionist Shaboozey stars on two tracks, "SPAGHETTII" and "SWEET HONEY BUCKIIN.'"

She also welcomes two country-loving pop stars, Miley Cyrus and Post Malone, who make appearances on "II MOST WANTED" and "LEVII'S JEANS," respectively. And along with Parton, Beyoncé honors two more country greats with two aptly titled homages: fellow Texan Willie Nelson appears on "SMOKE HOUR WILLIE NELSON" and "SMOKE HOUR II," and trailblazer Linda Martell "The Linda Martell Show"

Perhaps Beyoncé's cutest collaborator is her six-year-old daughter, Rumi Carter, who makes her adorable debut on "PROTECTOR."

With that, venture forth into COWBOY CARTER — another quintessentially Bey statement of purpose and prowess.

8 Country Crossover Artists You Should Know: Ray Charles, The Beastie Boys, Cyndi Lauper & More