meta-scriptNo Days Off: Tainy Talks Dua Lipa Collab, Contributing To The 'SpongeBob' Soundtrack & More | GRAMMY.com

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No Days Off: Tainy Talks Dua Lipa Collab, Contributing To The 'SpongeBob' Soundtrack & More

The super-busy Puerto Rican producer has had a huge year—and he wants you to know his music no matter what language you speak

GRAMMYs/Aug 18, 2020 - 05:05 am

Have you heard of him yet? Tainy, the producer behind Cardi B's massive Latin-inspired hit "I Like It" with reggaeton superstars J Balvin and Bad Bunny, is making sure you won't miss out on his tracks no matter what language you speak. The Puerto Rican has become today's most recognized reggaeton producer, and he's continuing to push (and expand) his sound with some of English-language pop's biggest stars. Currently, you'll hear him on Balvin's catchy pop track "One Day" featuring megastar Dua Lipa and Bad Bunny.

The song landed the "Don't Start Now" singer her first No. 1 on a Billboard Latin Chart, but the collab is one that is no doubt elevating the producer as well, earning him his fourth song on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and the second on the chart with a leading lady (the other was with Selena Gomez, J Blavin and Benny Blanco's "I Can't Get Enough").

Of the "One Day" collab, Tainy says the U.K. singer was the missing ingredient. "I'm so grateful for her, for her talent and how she just gave this amazing energy to the song which elevated it to where we thought it needed to go," he told GRAMMY.com via Zoom. 

The song is just one of the exciting projects the producer has been cooking up. Another? Making SpongeBob perrear (Spanish slang for getting down to reggaeton) in the happy-go-lucky character's forthcoming 2021 movie, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.

But Tainy has more to share. He has also made the time to launch HumanX, an initiative with music executive Tommy Mottola and MITH Media, that is giving back to those in need. 

We spoke to Tainy about the new project benefitting migrant laborers that launched with David Guetta's help, expanding his sound through reggaeton, his vision for the SpongeBob soundtrack, how the pandemic has taken him back to his roots and more.

You've got a lot of awesome things going on. One thing is that you've launched Human X, which will support migrant day laborers. Tell me more about this initiative.

It's this movement we're trying to start to see how we can help our communities, help these different causes and organizations. For me, it's sometimes difficult to know where to go, how to do stuff. This is a way for us to use our platform, our music to put the message out there, to bring information to whoever wants to help different causes and doesn't know where to go to or how to do it. It's something special. I'm so proud to be a part of this and to bring this to the forefront because we're dealing [with] a lot of different issues right now. Being able to help in whatever [way] you feel you want to help is something special.

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You launched the initiative with "Pa' La Cultura," with David Guetta which features Sofia Reyes, Abraham Mateo, De La Ghetto, Zion & Lennox, Manuel Turizo, Lalo Ebratt, Thalia and Maejor. Can we expect more tracks like these with big collabs?

It could happen. It's not something that we're ruling out, but I mean, for now the whole focus was giving it that stamp and that opening to what we want to do. And it could be something that could be in the works later on. But for now there hasn't been any talks about something specific. So, I mean, who knows? But we want to continue to help and [I'm] so glad that this started it all off.

You've chosen proceeds to go to the National Day Labor Organizing Network ( NDLON). What made you want to help migrant workers?

It's something that we feel very connected to. Since we're Latinos, we have a real connection to [migrant laborers]. Also, seeing how the pandemic is affecting [their work] on top [of that]. It's something that needs more immediate help and we're all aware on the team, so we wanted to come up with something that would really be helpful. We wanted to start off with this and also be able to just bring [awareness to] different issues at the same time and [give] different organizations a platform to spread [their] message. 

You also have "One Day"/ "Un Dia" with Dua Lipa, J. Balvin and Bad Bunny out, which recently hit number one on the Billboard Hot Latin charts. Do you ever have a day off? 

[Laughs.] I don't really know. I'm always trying to see what's next, work on different projects, whether it's with a specific artist or something that we want to create [within] our team. I just enjoy it so much and I'm happy to be working on something that I really enjoy. I don't really feel that I'm working sometimes. I want to create music. I know it's a difficult moment, and what better thing than to give us that little escape sometimes from reality with music that just fills us and brings that positive energy? I'm super blessed to be a part of something like this. 

Dua Lipa is a huge name. How was working with her?

She's amazing. I've been a huge fan of her music before even being able to collaborate with her. So it made it even more special to be in the track that featured her and also these amazing artists that I've been blessed to work with in the past. To combine all three in one track, it just made it even better. I'm so grateful for her, for her talent, and how she just gave this amazing energy to the song which elevated it to where we thought it needed to go. [I was] so happy that she also enjoyed it and she feels happy about the song. Hopefully, it's not the last time that I work on a track [with her], but [I'm] so happy that it happened with "One Day."

A lot of people expect a reggaeton sound from you, but this is not full-on reggaeton. Can you tell me what inspired the beat?

I'm always trying different ideas, different approaches to music. I am a fan of different types of music. People know me mainly for doing reggaeton and I always want to see how I can merge different sounds, different genres within the same one. You can probably feel there's a bit of the pattern with the percussion on "One Day" but at the same time, it doesn't feel exactly like a typical reggaeton beat. It has a totally different sound. That's what I wanted to bring with it, a totally different approach to what reggaeton should be and it just opened up this door to a different vibe and different artists giving their input, without it necessarily being a strict reggaeton track. It gave it a whole different space to be able to create and bring Dua Lipa's flavor and her artistry to the table. 

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During our 2020 GRAMMY week panel in January, you talked about not wanting to be boxed in. How have your fans received the song?

From the ones I've heard from, the response has been amazing. It's always something different when you're bringing a song like this. It doesn't typically say reggaeton, so you don't know exactly what to expect. You don't know how people are going to approach it or feel. [Maybe it] is too different. But you just feel it when you hear a song and you get a feeling just hearing [this song]. I felt that people, as soon as they heard it would probably get the same sense and that feeling I heard when I was working on it. So glad that it did for a lot of people. [It's] not just having an artist like Dua Lipa collaborate with Latin artists, but to have an amazing song as a whole and the message it brings and what it's about. It's super cool to see people appreciate what we were trying to do. What we were trying to do to elevate the music, elevate the genre, elevate everything that we're doing and give us a chance to do so.

You also worked on Kali Uchis and Rico Nasty's "Aqui Yo Mando." Amazing collaboration. How did that come about?

I've always wanted to work with Kali. She has such a specific, amazing sound that I've been a fan of and that's another one that people probably don't feel what I've been doing combines exactly with her sound. But we gave us the time, we came together, we decided that we want to go into a studio for a couple of weeks and just like, "Let's create music." She wanted to really bring in her Latin heritage and put it at the forefront. It was cool to see how she works, her process, and just her tone and her melodies, her everything. It's such a different approach to what I usually work with. So, [I'm] excited for that collaboration.

I think it's the second one because "Solita" already came out and now we've got "Aqui Yo Mando" with Rico Nasty. I mean, it's such an amazing track. I worked the production with Albert Hype, who's also an amazing producer. I can't wait for you guys to hear the rest of it. It's just mind-blowing. It's just a different vibe of than that's happening out there right now. I'm so excited and happy to be able to be a part of it and her trusting me. Can't wait.

You're also executive producing the forthcoming SpongeBob movie soundtrack. What does it mean for you to be doing that?

It's a dream come true. As a producer, you work on artists' albums and just strictly music per se, but you want to have those goals of achieving being on a soundtrack or working for a movie. That's the next step for me. I've seen people that I admire, like Pharrell Williams do it, and that's something that I've always had in mind that, "Wow, someday I would like to be in that position," because I'm a huge fan of cinematography and the film industry. So it's something that I always had in mind and got the opportunity rose [to start working] on this new film.

My team had the opportunity to sit down with them and see what they were looking for and see where we can come in and be of help. They gave us the chance and I started to go into the studio. I'm going to say it was intimidating at the beginning because you have such a big franchise and to merge it into what we're doing, how would that sound? But as soon as I sat down and I started doing my thing, I think everything just felt so easygoing because I just had fun working on it, having Bob be on the track and him have his input. It was just a fun process because we all grew up watching SpongeBob. So it just felt natural to go in and know what to talk about and how to do it and what energy to bring with the music. Excited that they gave us a chance and that people are connecting amazingly with it. At the beginning I thought it would just be for kids or something, but it's all ages. You just have fun when you listen to the song and you can see the TikToks and the Instagram posts and everything. 

Speaking of J Balvin and "Agua," you're from a tropical paradise. Did that influence the sound of that song?

I mean, probably. It's tropical, we're surrounded by water all the time. We have amazing beaches. I think you can get [the vibe] from our music. Reggaeton comes from happiness, dancing and  a tropical [place]. All these combinations come into play. I think it helped a lot to have that essence in me before going into working on it. I think it was a huge component of being able to do it successfully.

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Can you tell us anything more about the approach you use for the soundtrack?

I wanted to stay true to the franchise. Who SpongeBob is. You have all of these specific theme songs in the opening and during the end. So you have a lot of special things to work with. If you have the tools and the studio gave us all the tools to work with. As soon as we started with the first one, which was, "Agua," the ball started rolling. Ideas and, "We can use this sound or this melody and combine it with these types of drums or this type of groove and basslines. And this artist will be perfect for this." So it was just an amazing, fun process of coming up with ideas. Knowing what the franchise is about and who could really deliver that message. 

Has it been tough getting used to the new normal as you continue making music?  

For me, the first couple two or three weeks were a bit difficult because we were dependent on our creativity and when you have your mind in so many different things on what is happening, what's going to happen, how long is this going to happen? It was just a sense of not knowing. I feel like the creativity wasn't there, and after a while, I just settled. I got a little bit, not used to, but I started understanding a bit more that we're going to be here for a while. We just need to make the most out of this. I think it brought me back a little bit to my beginnings when I started to produce music, it was just me and my room and my mom's house and having all these ideas and coming up with four or five beats in a single day. It's just you by yourself, you're not with the artists in the studio. You will probably focus on one song the whole day. It just felt cool to go back to that essence of trading ideas and having instrumentals to show to the artists or talking with them through texts and seeing where they're at, what they're looking for and being able to sit down, relax and just create. We're usually in the studio all the time anyways, so I think it's been easier for me than probably other people in their jobs or their careers. 

When you were a teen working with Luny Tunes, did you ever think you would get to this point where you are now?

No. Never, never in a million years. I sit back sometimes and try to watch where my mind was when I start working. I mean, most of the things that I've been able to achieve or do at this point, they didn't seem like a possible thing. My thing was to have Luny Tunes [be] what I'm doing and appreciate it. That, to me, was one of the goals. Having Wisin Y Yandel or Daddy Yankee say that what I'm doing is dope and give me an opportunity and being able to work in this and not just do it as a hobby—I think those were my goals. Then, learning about certain things, you start to get a little bit of more achievements. But I mean, there's a lot that didn't even seem possible to me. Being on the Hot 100 of Billboard, to me, that's something that, us as Latinos, weren't even able to be on. Our chart was the Hot Latin songs. It's an amazing accomplishment, but it's something that we didn't have in mind because I thought it wasn't possible. Thank God and thanks to the artists, I've been able to be there and have a number one song. It just goes to show you that when you just keep pushing and working and putting your heart into it, you can accomplish things that you didn't even think of. I'm super happy and grateful.

K-Pop Phenom Eric Nam Talks New Mini-Album 'The Other Side' And Life As One Of Korea's Biggest Stars

The Spice Girls - Melanie B, Melanie C, Geri Halliwell, Victoria Adams And Emma Bunton, The Spice Girls - Melanie B, Melanie C, Geri Halliwell, Victoria Adams And Emma Bunton
Spice Girls

Photo: Brian Rasic

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On This Day In Music: Spice Girls Release "Wannabe," Their Iconic Debut Single

In 1996, the Spice Girls' spirited anthem not only dominated the charts and airwaves, but also put girl groups on the map. If you want to uncover the magic behind their meteoric rise, "you gotta listen carefully…"

GRAMMYs/Jul 8, 2024 - 08:44 pm

Who could have guessed that a track recorded in under an hour would become an iconic celebratory anthem of female empowerment and friendship? It seems like the Spice Girls did.

The music industry was ripe for a bouncy pop hit in 1996, and "Wannabe" entered the arena with undeniable power. With an infectious blend of dance-pop and hip-hop, as well as catchy lyrics promoting female empowerment, "Wannabe" carried on the spirit of the early '90s riot grrrl movement while delivering a radio-friendly bop.

The Spice Girls' debut single proved that the girl group wouldn't be wannabe stars for long. The song spent four weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, and was certified platinum multiple times in the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia, and several other countries.

Producer Richard Stannard told BBC that the now-canonical British quintet battled Virgin Records to release "Wannabe" as their debut single (executives pushed for "Love Thing"). While both songs would appear on Spice, the Spice Girls' 1996 debut album, the group's instinct and confidence paid off. Twenty-eight years later, "Wannabe" remains an iconic pop song and one of the Spice Girls' most enduring tracks.

While the Spice Girls may have seemed like an overnight success in America, its members had been working their way through the British music scene for years. In March 1994, hundreds of aspiring stars crammed into Dancework Studios in London after an advertisement was posted in The Stage magazine looking for the next girl band.

The groups were randomly split up, taught a dance routine, and then had to perform the song for talent managers and father-son duo, Bob and Chris Herbert. One month later, with 10 girls left, the initial final four — Melanie "Scary Spice" Brown, Melanie "Sporty Spice" Chisholm, Victoria "Posh Spice" Adams, and Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell — were all chosen to form the final group with a then-17-year-old Michelle Stephenson. The group moved into a home together, where they received additional dance training and vocal coaching. However, Michelle was soon replaced by Emma "Baby Spice" Bunton, completing the lineup of Spice Girls that as we know them today.

"Of course I regret I'm not a multi-millionaire like them. But at the time I left the group I knew I was doing the right thing and I still think it was the right thing," Stephenson told The Mirror in 2001. "It wasn't my kind of music and they were not living the lifestyle I wanted." 

Read More: The Evolution Of The Girl Group: How TLC, BLACKPINK, The Shirelles & More Have Elevated Female Expression

The group's charisma and corresponding archetypal personalities were put on display in the music video for "Wannabe." The iconic, single-take music video shot in London’s Midland Grand Hotel (now St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel), became as legendary as the track itself. In 2015, Billboard included the video for "Wannabe" in a list of 10 iconic girl group videos, solidifying the video's lasting impression.

Directed by Johan Camitz, the video was the perfect visual introduction to the group: Ginger Spice unapologetically dances through the hotel in a sparkly Union Jack leotard alongside Scary Spice, whose bold persona is conveyed through carefree dances that included whipping her hair around. The group's distinct, playful personalities remained a key selling point used throughout their career.

"Wannabe" producers Matt Rowe and Stannard first saw the Spice Girls at a showcase, and the duo instantly knew that they had the next group of superstars. Soon after, Rowe and Stannard worked with the group to produce "Wannabe," and the chemistry was undeniable.

In her 2002 book, Catch a Fire: The Autobiography, Brown recalls that the producer duo understood the group's vision and automatically knew how to blend "the spirit of five loud girls into great pop music."

"Wannabe" was an inescapable radio hit in the '90s — for all the right reasons. From the punchy beat and distinctive vocal inflections, to the shouts of "if you wanna be my lover," the song remains as a persistent earworm.

Even science backs that claim up. According to a 2014 study conducted by the University of Amsterdam and Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry, researchers found that study participants were able to identify and name "Wannabe" in an average of 2.29 seconds, making it the quickest recognized song in the study. This was ahead of Lou Bega’s "Mambo No 5" and Survivor’s "Eye of The Tiger," and underscores "Wannabe’s" celebrated and timeless status.

While the song itself is a lively, carefree summer anthem perfect for blasting in the car with the windows down, its lyrics resonate with a powerful message of female empowerment and friendship, standing tall above conventional romantic themes.

Read more: 'Spiceworld' At 25: How The Spice Girls' Feminine Enthusiasm & Camp Became A Beacon For Queer Youth 

"Girl Power embodies much more than a gender," Gerri Horner, formerly Halliwell, told BBC in 2017. "It's about everybody. Everybody deserves the same treatment, whatever race you are, gender you are, age you are. Everybody deserves a voice." 

With such a strong debut as "Wannabe," it's clear why the Spice Girls weren't just a one-hit wonder. The British girl group went on to deliver dozens of other pop hits like "Say You'll Be There" and "2 Become 1," which defined the late '90s and early '00s. Released months after "Wannabe," Spice would spend 15 weeks at No. 1 on the Official Charts U.K. Album Chart and also topped the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. The album sold more than 23 million copies worldwide. 

Even after 28 years, the meaning of "zig-a-zig-ah" remains a mystery, but it's a small price to pay for the beloved dance-pop song we cherish today.

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Scene Queen press photo
Scene Queen

Photo: Danin Jacquay

interview

Meet Scene Queen, The "Chaotic Mess" Cleaning Up The Alternative Scene

"I'm cool taking sticks and stones thrown my way if it means that 10 years down the line there's gonna be another girl that tries to do what I do and gets zero flak for it," Scene Queen says of her take-no-prisoners album, 'Hot Singles In Your Area.'

GRAMMYs/Jul 3, 2024 - 02:14 pm

"F*** the scene, I’m the queen!" Scene Queen announces early on her debut album, Hot Singles in Your Area. Delivered in a snarky sing-song, the exclamation serves as something of a mission statement for everything the singer has set out to accomplish with her winking metal-pop persona.  

On Hot Singles (out June 28 via Hopeless Records), the artist calls out the bad behavior that’s run rampant in the alternative music scene for decades. From the insidious grooming of teen fans ("Headline spot goes to the abuser/ Half my idols are f—ing losers," she sings on blistering lead single "18+"), to the blatant discrimination experienced by female artists in the genre (opener "BDSM"), and date rape drugs and sexual assault ("Whips and Chains") — Scene Queen takes unflinching aim.

Born Hannah Collins, Scene Queen isn’t out to destroy the genre she grew up loving as a Warped Tour-obsessed teenager in suburban Ohio. Instead, she’s using her perspective as a queer female artist and knack for razor-sharp songwriting to make the scene safer, more accountable and, ultimately, more inclusive. 

Featuring high-octane collaborations with the likes of The Ready Set ("POV"), WARGASM ("Girls Gone Wild") and 6arelyhuman ("Stuck"), Hot Singles in Your Area is also an unabashed pleasure ride that introduces listeners to Scene Queen’s unique brand of sexual freedom, self-love, queer pride and self-deprecating humor.

"My fans know that I'm playing into the joke of it a lot," Collins says from her home in L.A. "But a lot of people still don't understand it."

Ahead of her album release, Scene Queen opened up exclusively to GRAMMY.com about finding her voice in the metal space, the pop icons who inspired her persona (from Britney Spears to Paris Hilton, Dolly Parton, and Jessica Simpson), standing up to misogynists, homophobes and haters, and more.

How does it feel to be on the verge of finally releasing your debut album?

Really exciting! But also terrifying in a way. With [2022 EPs] Bimbocore Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, I feel like I told the story of, "Who is Scene Queen? What is this project?" Like, she's very loud and out there and opinionated, and in your face and whatever.  

But this record touches on everything in my life that happened for me to become this version of myself — why I needed to become Scene Queen. I made a whole record about being independent and reclaiming my power and sticking up for myself and sticking up for people in the scene…In a weird way, I'm making jokes this entire album, but it’s a vulnerable album in the sense that I'm revealing a lot via the lens of humor.

How did the Scene Queen persona come about?

I grew up in the alternative space. Like, I went to a million Warped Tours and all of that stuff. I was at shows in Cleveland, like, every weekend during high school. I've been listening to bands like Hawthorne Heights and stuff since I was 8 or 9 years old. So when I was 18, I moved out to L.A. from Ohio, and that was around the time that all of these bands started dropping members left and right because they were finally getting called out for, like, predatory behavior or what have you — just being, generally, not great people.  

Coming into adulthood, you start looking at things through a different lens, like, Oh, that was a weird interaction or Oh, I feel weird that they let me do that at 16 years old. It really felt like, as a woman, the scene wasn't a safe space for me anymore. Then suddenly, during COVID, the only thing I wanted to listen to was, like, super alternative music. 

TikTok introduced me to a lot of bands like The Home Team, that were combining pop-punk with, like, R&B — I always loved that experimental stuff. And I was listening to a ton of BABYMETAL and WARGASM, experimental metal-pop stuff. But I told myself the only way I would come back into the alternative space was if I did it on the terms of what I wished I’d had in the scene growing up.

So now I operate my entire persona as this elevated version of myself because I feel like people need that. Scene Queen is like a superpower for me in a way — she helps in my day-to-day life as Hannah, too.

What makes the Y2K era such a key element of the Scene Queen aesthetic?

Growing up in that time, super hyper-feminine women were often vilified, especially in rock music. If you were super girly at a show, people would assume that you were there to sleep with the band. Like, you weren't as worthy of being there as a man. When I was in high school, I actively chose to dress in mostly all black because I just didn't think I would be taken seriously.

So I wanted to pull that whole era into it and just be like, I'm actively going against everything I grew up with and what the scene told me was acceptable. And now I'm gonna be the antithesis of what any of the people that were misogynistic — or also just underestimated me — would want from me. And now I make the choice every day to irritate those people. [Grins.] 

Growing up, were there female artists you looked up to in the scene?

I just came off of a tour with PVRIS, and [Lynn Gunn] was one of the first queer people I ever knew of within the scene. Which is so crazy to think of back then, that I only had one example of that. She was just, like, openly queer and didn't feel the need to... I don't know, she didn't come out to anyone, she just always existed that way and people didn't criticize her for it. It was the first time that I saw that and was like, Oh, maybe I would be able to do that someday."

But behind the scenes, she was on the receiving end of so much misogyny, because men didn't think they could get something out of her, 'cause they knew that she was a lesbian and whatever. She was enduring 10 years of misogyny and homophobia so that someone like me could come around 10 years later and be this voice in the scene.

So it's cool that I'm getting recognition, but the only reason that I'm able to do this now is because so many women just took extreme hate and terrible things behind the scenes before me. And I still get massive flak for it now. The end goal of all of this, and I think if you ask any woman, they'll tell you the same thing: I'm cool taking sticks and stones thrown my way if it means that 10 years down the line there's gonna be another girl that tries to do what I do and gets zero flak for it. Someday I hope we get there. 

What other female artists helped inspire your Scene Queen persona?  

So there's two different versions of this answer. On the pop side, I'm so obsessed with 2000s pop princesses and also just pop icons in the sense of, like, that bimbo aesthetic. I allude a lot to Britney Spears in my music. Also Paris Hilton. Dolly Parton. Jessica Simpson. Women that, like, knew how they were perceived by the media and played into it, but were so the other way. 

Like if you've ever seen the Paris Hilton documentary [2020’s This Is Paris], she talks about how she put on this voice and everything, because people were just gonna assume that she was dumb anyway. So she completely capitalized on that and was like, "That's fine, I'll take your money and make my career successful. If you're already gonna assume negatively about me, then that's my superpower." Those people really inspired me, and that's very much the aesthetic drive behind my project. 

In the alternative space, there are bands that I grew up with that I was also super into like We Are the In Crowd, VersaEmerge, In This Moment. So there's a lot of women that have helped create the Scene Queen project without knowing.

How much of the album is autobiographical?

It tells the whole tale of coming [to L.A.] and getting my foot in the door, the music industry experience of it all. No one talks about having this second coming of age in your twenties and thirties where you're actually figuring out who you are. I was one of those people that didn't come out, or didn't even fully process that I was queer, until I was in my twenties.

I was just so scared about it 'cause I grew up in a small conservative town. And then I came here and was just like, I need to work in music so bad that I don't even want to think about dating! [Eventually,] I realized I spent all this time trying to be independent and confident. And now I'm going into the dating world. 

Some days you feel like an absolute sex god and the next morning you wake up, and you're on a first date and you have word vomit, and you don't know how to interact with people. So you get a song like "Oral Fixation" where it's just about having absolutely no game when you're dating for the first time. The record really tells the whole story of becoming all of this chaotic mess that is Scene Queen, which is both making fun of itself and hypersexual, and this, and this, and this. 

Read more: 15 LGBTQIA+ Artists Performing At 2024 Summer Festivals 

You play around so much on the album by mixing really serious topics with a sense of humor. How do you balance that in your songwriting? 

I always come into a session with the baseline idea of subject matter and title. This album was a lot easier because it's a concept album in a sense, and I thought of all these [explicit] categories that I could've used… Take "Oral Fixation," for example. That was the first song I wrote for Hot Singles other than the title track. I realized I could write it about word vomit and, like, choking on something, instead. Or, like, the last song of the record is called "Climax" because it's the high point of the record, but it’s actually a really wholesome song.

And then "BDSM" means "Beat Down Slut Metal," but also "Big Dumb Stupid Men." I decided to make that the opening track because I was getting all of these comments that were like, "Scene Queen's a man hater!" for criticizing anything men do in any capacity. This was after my song "Pink Push-Up Bra," which is so specifically about sexual assault that I was like, "OK, of I can't even criticize people that sexually assault women as being bad, then sure, I’ll put it as the first track." 

What was your motivation behind the hypersexualization in some of the songs? 

I think people don't understand that you can be fully confident with yourself and your sexuality and think you're a good person, and worthy of love and worthy of sexual pleasure, while also not taking yourself too seriously. You can still make fun of yourself but also know your self-worth.

As much as I make these self-deprecating jokes, at the end of the day I refuse to be treated poorly. And I think that comes across in all the songs about sexual pleasure and sexuality. You learn at a young age — especially if you've been closeted for a long time — [the feeling of] I robbed myself of so much joy for so long. I deserve to get off for something. [Laughs.] I deserve a little bit of joy in my life. So I tried to write that. 

"M.I.L.F" is obviously a raunchy, very sexual song. But that song came from spending a summer in Nashville, and I was always just like, "Tennessee: conservative." But there's this huge population of people who have stayed or moved to Tennessee; who grew up listening to country music but then shied away from it because their beliefs no longer resonated with the [genre's] subject matter. So I wanted to have a song for those people who are like, "Yeah, I still wanna go chug a beer and jump off a boat on a lake, but also, I am pro-gay marriage and whatever."

I wrote a song that I knew the people who were country elitists, that would never like me anyway, would be horrified by. And the way I did that was via very explicit lyrics and the most sexual content ever. But it ends up being one of the rowdiest songs in my live set, because so many people truly do want to just put a hat on and do a line dance. They just don't want to be judged when they do it, you know?

So it ended up being this weird statement that I didn't necessarily fully think it would be, but it's one of my favorite parts of my set now. Having that little hoedown for the hoes every week is really fun for me.

I actually just attended this charity event at Stonewall for this organization called Inclusion Tennessee, where I learned that Nashville is the largest city in the country without its own LGBTQ center. Queer people in those types of communities are still fighting constantly for resources and inclusion and acceptance.

It is so wild, too, 'cause there's this discussion around Chappell Roan making that statement at Gov Ball about not performing at the White House, and then going to play in Charlotte, where North Carolina obviously has conservative views as a whole. There are so many pockets of queer communities that are actively seeking out someone that will advocate for them and give them a voice, and I think it is so cool. It's such a privilege to get to be one of those people now. 

This summer, you’ll be co-headlining idobi Radio’s Summer School Tour. What are you looking forward to about that?

That tour, in and of itself, is so cool and exciting for me. Because one, it has the rotating co-headliners, which emphasizes the importance of music discovery. You have to show up at the beginning of the day to see who you want to see. Anyone that grew up with Warped Tour obviously is going to be stoked to have something like that.

But also, there are so many queer people and women and people of color on that tour. The lineup is so diverse and I feel like if that tour had existed in the 2010s and 2000s and ‘90s even, that never would've happened. So the fact that the initial launch looks that way makes me so hopeful for the future of it. 

OK, last two questions: What’s the most memorable Warped Tour set you ever saw? And what are your top 3 "Bimbo" pop songs? 

Most memorable Warped Tour set: I'd probably say the first time I ever crowd-surfed. I think I was, like, 13, it was to the band Sleeping with Sirens, and that was just the pinnacle of, like, "I love alternative music!"

Then as far as the "Bimbo" pop songs, hmm...I have to say "I’m a Slave 4 U" just because that Britney Spears music video is so iconic — the dancing, all of it. We gotta do a Paris Hilton song. It was hard to be in a mall food court in the late 2000s and not be humming "Stars Are Blind." Yeah, soundtrack to my youth, for sure. And then "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton even though that’s country, not pop. Like, how do you not want to trot out there to [sings], "Hopped out of bed and I stumbled to the kitchen..."? It just gets the bimbo vibes going.

Listen To GRAMMY.com's 2024 Pride Month Playlist Of Rising LGBTQIA+ Artists 

LISA from BLACKPINK

Photo: The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images

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New Music Friday: Listen To New Songs From LISA From Blackpink, Lil Nas X, Kelsea Ballerini, MC Lyte & More

Hot summer days require even hotter tunes. Here are some fresh-out-the-oven songs and albums by Hiatus Kaiyote, Lucky Daye, Headie One, Kaitlin Butts, and more.

GRAMMYs/Jun 28, 2024 - 05:09 pm

We’ve been feeling the heat for a minute now, but summer is finally, officially, upon us.

What do you have on deck to soundtrack it? Perhaps you’re checking out Camila Cabello’s fourth offering, C,XOXO. Or Jxdn’s expectations-bucking new album, When the Music Stops. And there are so many other worthy candidates for your playlist — from Lupe Fiasco’s Samurai to Omar Apollo’s God Said No.

No matter where your stylistic compass points, this Friday release day has got something for you. As you gather your sunscreen and shades, let’s breeze through a cross-section of what’s out there.

LISA — "Rockstar"

K-pop loves its solo releases, showcasing how the various members of a group can shine individually while combining with ecstatic chemistry. Enter LISA, one-fourth of Korean titans BLACKPINK, who's already turned heads with her 2021 debut album, Lalisa.

"Rockstar" is another swing outside her main gig, featuring serrated chiptune production and LISA's commanding rap flow. The gritty, urban, futuristic video is a visual treat, and the chorus's boast of "Lisa, can you teach me Japanese?" is a multilingual flex — as well as a maddeningly unshakeable earworm.

Kelsea Ballerini & Noah Kahan — "Cowboys Cry Too"

The "Peter Pan" heavyweight and four-time GRAMMY nominee Kelsea Ballerini has called 2024 "a new chapter of music." Her collaboration with folk/pop singer/songwriter Noah Kahan, "Cowboys Cry Too,"  is the tip of the spear.

More than a month after the pair performed together at the 2024 Academy of Country Music Awards, their first recorded team-up is an aching, yearning ballad about breaking down a gruff exterior and revealing true emotions.

"Cowboys cry too/ They may not let 'em fall down in their hometown thinkin' they still got s*** to prove," Ballerini sings in the chorus. "That well runs deep/ But when he's showin' his skin, lettin' mе in, that's when he's toughest to mе."

Lil Nas X — "Here We Go!" (from the Netflix film 'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F')

"So excited to release the best song of all time this friday!," Lil Nas X proclaimed on Instagram. (And on a Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack, no less!)

"Here We Go!" comes at an inflection point for the "J Christ" singer: "sorry I've been so scared with my art lately," he added in the same post. "I'm coming around to myself again. I will make you guys very proud."

This pro forma banger certainly inspires pride: tenacious lines like "I'm livin' and livin' I wanna die/ They tryna get even/ I'm beatin' the odds" will get under your skin. As for Beverly Hill Cop: Axel F, the Eddie Murphy joint will whiz to your screen July 3 via Netflix.

Lucky Daye — 'Algorithm'

Lucky Daye picked up a win for Best Progressive Album at the 2022 GRAMMYs, for Table for Two. After a slew of nominations for work with Beyoncé and Mary J. Blige, he's investigating the Algorithm.

The single "HERicane" was just a teaser, with songs like "Blame," featuring Teddy Swims; "Paralyzed," featuring RAYE;" and "Diamonds in Teal" expanding on and honing his soul-funk-R&B vision.

"Don't know pickin' sides/ 'Cause I'm rollin' in desire," he dreamily sings in the gently roiling "Diamonds in Teal." "I don't know which lie's true/ Or maybe I do, or maybe I'm you." It's a suitable mission statement wrapped in a stealthily seductive package.

Hiatus Kaiyote — 'Love Heart Cheat Code'

A jazzy, soulful, psychedelic band of Aussies, Hiatus Kaiyote has been wowing audiences for more than a decade. Whether through sampling or features, they've crossed paths with Drake, Anderson .Paak, and Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Love Heart Cheat Code builds brilliantly on their last three albums: their 2012 debut Tawk Tomahawk, 2015's Choose Your Weapon, and 2021's Mood Valiant. Tracks like "Telescope," "Everything's Beautiful," and "Make Friends" are burbling brooks of atmosphere, groove and vibe.

Boulevards — 'Carolina Funk: Barn Burner on Tobacco Road'

Any fans of deep, pungent funk grooves should investigate Boulevards immediately. The project of mastermind Jamil Rashad, their new album Carolina Funk: Barn Burner on Tobacco Road tips its hat to yesterday's funk with a contemporary twist, bringing a refreshing spin on the well-trod template of syncopated basslines and stabbing horns.

Across highlights like "Do It Like a Maniac Part 1&2" and "Run & Move," Boulevards shows — once again — that few can nail this gritty sound quite like Rashad and crew.

Headie One — 'The Last One'

British drill-inflected MC Headie One first made a splash overseas with his 2023 debut album, Strength to Strength. Less than a year later, he's returning with The Last One.

Back in 2022, he hinted at the existence of his sophomore album in his non-album track "50s" — "The fans calling for 'Martin's Sofa'/ It might be the first single from my second," he rapped. 

Helmed by that single, The Last One features Potter Payper, Stormzy, Fridayy, Skrillex, and more. The album is a leap forward in terms of production, scale and exploration.

Katlin Butts — 'Roadrunner!'

Any theater kid worth their salt knows at least a few bars from the musical "Oklahoma!"; country sensation Kaitlyn Butts has just unfolded it into an entire album.

"It's a love story but there's also a murder and a little bit of an acid-trippy feel to it at times; it's set in the same place where I come from," she said in a statement, noting she saw "Oklahoma!" with her parents every summer during childhood. "Once I got the idea for this album," she continued, "I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it before, and it turned into something that completely encompasses who I am and what I love." 

A laugh riot as well as a colorful, openhearted statement, Roadrunner! does the old Rodgers and Hammerstein chestnut good.

Read more: 5 Female Artists Creating The Future Of Country Music: Jaime Wyatt, Miko Marks & More

Amaarae — 'roses are red, tears are blue — Fountain Baby Extended Play'

Futurist Afropopper Amaarae made a gigantic splash with her second album, 2023's Fountain Baby — even Pitchfork gave it their coveted Best New Music designation.

That lush, enveloping album just got an expansion pack: roses are red, tears are blue — A Fountain Baby Extended Play is a continuation of its predecessor with six new songs. The oceanic "wanted," featuring Naomi Sharon, is a highlight, as is a remix of "Disguise" with 6LACK.

"Ooh, I'll be wanted/ I've been wanted," a pitch-shifted Sharon sings near the end, as if turning over the phrase. "Wanted" is one way to describe Amaraae's position in the music landscape.

Learn more: Meet The Latest Wave Of Rising Afrobeats Stars: AMAARAE, BNXN, Oladapo & More

MC Lyte — "King King" (feat. Queen Latifah)

The 50th anniversary of hip-hop may have come and gone, but hip-hop is forever. Today, legendary hip-hop pioneers MC Lyte and Queen Latifah continue to bear the flame of the genre as an elevating force with "King King," a conscious, uplifting offering.

"This is dedicated to all the kings and all the soon to be kings/ We're counting on you/ We love  you/ This is for you, you and you and you," MC Lyte begins, while Latifah holds it down on the chorus with "This your crown hold it/ Even if it all falls down show it/ You know the world is watching now I know you get tired from keepin' it all together/ We need you."

During Women's History Month in March, MC Lyte released "Woman," the first single from her upcoming album, featuring hip-hop icons Salt (of Salt 'N Pepa), Big Daddy Kane, and R&B singer Raheem DeVaughn. MC Lyte's first new album in nearly a decade drops this summer; keep your eyes and ears peeled.

Learn more: 9 Teen Girls Who Built Hip-Hop: Roxanne Shante, J.J. Fadd, Angie Martinez & More

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Camila Cabello attends the 2024 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.
Camila Cabello attends the 2024 Vanity Fair Oscar Party

Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage

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Camila Cabello's Sonic Evolution To 'C, XOXO': How She Went From Pop Princess To Club Star

With her fourth album, 'C, XOXO,' Camila Cabello introduces a new sound inspired by the sweaty dance floors of the Miami club scene. Here's a breakdown of the musical shape-shifting that's led the star to her hyperpop venture.

GRAMMYs/Jun 28, 2024 - 01:18 pm

When Camila Cabello unleashed the singles "I LUV IT" and "HE KNOWS" from her highly anticipated fourth album C, XOXO this past spring, it was obvious that the pop superstar had completely flipped her previous sound on its head. Decidedly hyper-pop, the album is tailor-made for the club, with Cabello saying it's all sonically dedicated to the late-night culture of her home city of Miami. 

While her new sonic direction might be a bit jarring for those who were fans of her previous bubblegum flavors or Latin-inspired tracks, it's not entirely surprising that she's trying something new with this album. Since her 2016 departure from the girl group Fifth Harmony, the singer has been known to take musical chances when it comes to her career. Now, she adds frenetic club tracks to the list. 

From the innocence of her breakthrough to a more grown-up sound and every detour in between, this is how Camila Cabello's artistic voice has evolved through the years. 

Reality Show Breakout: Classic Covers

It may seem hard to believe now, but there was a time when Cabello was just another singing talent vying for her big break when she attended a cattle call audition for "The X Factor."  Cabello's interest in performing actually came as a shock to her parents. "She was so shy, so shy," her mother Sinuhe told the New York Times in 2018. "We didn't even think music was a possibility for her."

Oddly enough, her successful audition with Aretha Franklin's soul classic "Chain of Fools" never even aired (the show reportedly couldn't get the rights to the song). Nevertheless, you know the rest: she was grouped together with Ally Brooke, Normani, Dinah Jane, and Lauren Jauregui, and Fifth Harmony was born. The group quickly became known for powerhouse vocals on covers ranging from Elie Goulding's "Anything Could Happen,"  to Cabello belting out solo while performing The Beatles classic "Let It Be" during their stint on the show; the quintet ultimately placed third. 

Girl Group Launching Pad: Party-Friendly Anthems

As part of Fifth Harmony, Cabello's initial sound was decidedly pop-dance songs, perfect for a high school prom — a fitting style for the then teenage star. Songs like their dynamic debut single "Miss Movin' On", the playfully sexy "Work From Home," and horn-tinged "Worth It" cemented them as bona fide pop breakouts. But eventually, Cabello realized that her and her group mates were drifting apart.  

"I started distancing myself from the group vision," she admitted to the Call Me Daddy podcast earlier this year. "It felt like you know they were still really passionate and into that and so, I was just like, 'I'm not happy here anymore, it doesn't feel aligned.'"


With that, Cabello shocked fans when she departed the group in December 2016. "Fifth Harmony wasn't the maximum expression of me individually," she told Seventeen a couple months after her surprise departure, alluding to her shift to more personal songs. "My fans are really going to know me from the music I'm writing. My goal is to be brave and open up my soul."

Solo Stardom: Personal Pop Confections

By the time Cabello's self-titled debut studio album was released in 2018, it was apparent that leaving the group that made her a star would pay off. Her initial forays into solo stardom came in the form of collaborations, first in 2015 with eventual on-and-off flame Shawn Mendes on "I Know What You Did Last Summer," and then with Machine Gun Kelly for 2016's Pop Airplay-topping (and Fastball sampling) "Bad Things." But her 2017 collab hinted that she was destined to be a superstar: "Havana."

Featuring Young Thug, the salsa-inspired song earned Cabello her first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It also marked a difference from her former bubblegum sound, and proved the Cuba-born star could successfully bridge the gap between mainstream success and her own story. Meanwhile, the single "Never Be The Same" (for which she recruited Frank Dukes, known for his work with Lorde and Post Malone) proved she could embody a more adult pop sound. 

"I feel like the best way to come up with something new and different is just to be the you-est you possible," Cabello told the New York Times when the album was released. "If you pull from all the different little parts of yourself, nobody can replicate that."  

Cabello also embodied these hallmarks for her sophomore album, Romance, which featured a heartfelt ode to her dad, "First Man," and several songs inspired by her, well, romance with Mendes. That included "Señorita," which actually featured Mendes; the song quickly became Spotify's biggest streaming song of the summer of 2019. And with a sultry Latin flair, "Señorita" offered another nod to her roots — and the sounds that would soon be the focus of her music. 

Sonic Trip Down South: Latin Roots

With the success of songs like "Havana" and "Señorita" in mind, Cabello made her junior album a full-on salute to her Cuban heritage in the form of Familia. Each track is decidedly Spanglish, from lead single "Bam Bam," an inspired collaboration with Ed Sheeran (who featured her on his own Latin-inspired track, "South of the Border," in 2019), to "Hasta los Dientes,"which featured the Argneitian star María Becerra.  

"This [album] has been finding my way back," she explained to GRAMMY.com at the time. "A big part of that is my roots, and my heritage. I want to spend the most time in Latin America and in Mexico because it just makes me feel like myself."  

According to the star, the album bolstered her confidence; in turn, it helped her fully feel free to express herself. "There's no walls of any of that other, like, ego stuff up. So that's why [Familia] was the most fun experience, and what I think is my best work so far." 

Read More: How Camila Cabello Found Herself With 'Familia,' An Album That Ties Together Her Latin Roots And "An Unfiltered Me"

Latest Chapter: Hyperpop Diversion

With the first single from her fourth project, "I LUV IT" (featuring Playboy Carti), it was obvious Cabello was about to embark on yet another complete reconstruction of her sound. The song served as a tantalizing hint that the singer's next album, C, XOXO, ventured in a hyperpop direction. In reality, it's a concept album based on long, late, wild, and sometimes melancholy nights in Miami. Second single, "HE KNOWS" with Lil Nas X, marked further proof. 

"We wanted to see how we could take these cadences that have a certain swagger and contrast it with beautiful music and pretty chords and lush guitar," Cabello told PAPER Magazine of her latest process earlier this year. But while not every song exhibits that oft-discussed Charli XCX-influenced hyperpop sound, her aforementioned lead singles arguably do."We were mixing and matching to find something new and inspiring. If it's a sweet melody, let's make the music scary. If she has a rap flow, let's make the music acoustic."  

The album's tracks also develop with an ominous aura. "Pretty When You Cry," for example, sounds like it's sung while sitting on a sidewalk outside the club one late night with mascara streaking; in the distance the listener hears the warped, low echoes of an inspired sample of Pitbull's "Hotel Room Service." As a result, the music is the starkest contrast yet from her bubblegum past — further proof that Cabello's penchant for genre-swapping has turned into a singular aspect of her superstar career. 

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