meta-script15 Must-Hear New Albums Out This Month: RM, Drake & 21 Savage, Louis Tomlinson, Dolly Parton & More | GRAMMY.com
Drake21Savage
(L-R) Drake, 21 Savage

Photo: Prince Williams/Wireimage via Getty Images

list

15 Must-Hear New Albums Out This Month: RM, Drake & 21 Savage, Louis Tomlinson, Dolly Parton & More

Here are the can't-miss releases and massive new albums dropping in November 2022 from BTS' RM, Run The Jewels, Honey Dijon, Wizkid, and many others.

GRAMMYs/Nov 4, 2022 - 02:17 pm

Although November might bring cooler weather, the month's releases are hot enough to keep you toasty. From psychedelic folk and ambitious rap, to gleaming pop and future bass, November's release calendar boasts a variety of bold returns.

This month sees Drake and 21 Savage pull up with their surprise collaborative album Her Loss, as well as Roddy Ricch's highly anticipated Feed Tha Streets III. Brockhampton will reunite one last time to release The Family, and Weyes Blood will blend soft rock and folk on And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow. Gryffin will start the month off right with his futuristic record, Alive, while Dolly Parton fans can turn back the clock with her greatest hits collection.

Below, check out a guide to the must-hear albums dropping in November 2022, from big names you know to newcomers you'll want to add to your playlist. — Taila Lee

Russell Dickerson - Russell Dickerson

Release date: Nov. 4

Tennessee native Russell Dickerson is no stranger to country music chart domination, having clocked No. 1 four times, beginning with 2017's "Yours." This month, he returns with his self-titled third album, featuring 15 songs that hit all the hallmarks that fans love.

Like 2017's Yours and 2020's Southern Symphony, Russell Dickerson covers heartstring-plucking love songs ("God Gave Me A Girl"), wistful reflections on the past and regret ("Blame It On Being Young" and "I Wonder") and foot-stomping party-starters ("All the Same Friends" and "Beers to the Summer"). Then there's the gleefully goofy "Big Wheels," an ode to country life with a music video that sees Dickerson rolling on the back of a big wheel tractor.

Dickerson was a co-writer and co-producer on all 15 tracks, working with veterans like Dann Huff, Zach Crowell and Josh Kerr to shape the album's pop-country sound. "No matter how far we get into this, I want people to know it's still me," Dickerson said in a statement. "I'm still the hyper, outgoing, fun-loving, crazy dude on stage. But also these songs are so meaningful to me." — Jack Tregoning

Related: Country & Western's New Generation Is Defiantly Of The Moment: Meet Charley Crockett, Colter Wall, Sierra Ferrell, Bella White & Others

Hawa - Hadja Bangoura

Release date: Nov. 4

One of the most intriguing new talents straddling the worlds of rap and R&B, Hawa has been steadily building to her debut album. Now based in Brooklyn, Hawa was born in Berlin and grew up in Conakry, Guinea, and this intersection of cultures is ever-present in her music.

In 2020, the classically trained musician released an eight-song EP, The One, which featured her idiosyncratic vocals weaving through delicate, trap-influenced electronic production. Its Cadenza-produced single, "My Love," appeared in Michaela Coel's breakout HBO series, "I May Destroy You." Hawa then followed The One last year with "Wake Up," a gleaming single that paired a clean, seductive beat with her hazy vocalizing.

Hawa's debut album, Hadja Bangoura, is dedicated to her great-grandmother, who passed away this year. Featuring 11 songs, including the bristling lead single "Gemini," Hadja Bangoura is executive produced by Brooklyn rap maven Tony Seltzer and comes out via 4AD, the legendary independent British label that Hawa calls home. — J.T.

Related: R&B Isn't Dead: Listen To 51 Songs By Summer Walker, Josh Levi & More Artists Who Are Pushing The Genre Forward

Drake and 21 Savage - Her Loss

Release date: Nov. 4

The release cycle for Drake and 21 Savage's collaborative album has been nothing but surprises. On Oct. 22, the duo announced their record unconventionally via a surprise message in the video for their high-energy collaboration "Jimmy Cooks" — the final track of Drake's Honestly, Nevermind. Yet, two days before the album was supposed to drop on Oct. 28, Drake disclosed on Instagram that producer Noah "40" Shebib had tested positive for COVID-19, halting the record's final production steps.

Now slated for release in early November, Her Loss might just be one of the most highly anticipated rap records of the year. If the album is anything like Drizzy and 21's most recent collaboration, fans can expect a spirited pop-rap synthesis of Drake's classic R&B melodies and 21's languid drawl. — T.L.

Related: Charting Drake's Unforgettable Path To Honestly, Nevermind

Gryffin - Alive

Release date: Nov. 4

American DJ Gryffin is ready to soar to new heights with Alive, his second studio album dropping Nov. 4 — which comes just a month after his headlining set at the debut Bay Area edition of the Breakaway Music Festival.

Alive shifts from tropical house to future bass with ease, shaping his distinct electronic style with elements of pop and hip-hop. While Gryffin's sound has long been fluid — just listen to his collaborations with EDM legend Illenium, alt R&B singer Tinashe, and Carly Rae Jepsen — there's always some friction present in his multifaceted EDM. The album's brooding title track, which features friend Calle Lehmann confessing that "I'm nothing without our love alive," signals that Alive will be about beating hearts and chasing highs. — T.L.

Related: The Rise Of Underground House: How Artists Like Fisher & Acraze Have Taken Tech House, Other Electronic Genres From Indie To EDC

Bruce Springsteen - Only The Strong Survive

Release date: Nov. 11

As vital as ever at 73, Bruce Springsteen set out to challenge himself on his 21st album, Only The Strong Survive. After baring his soul on 2020's critically acclaimed Letter to You, the Boss set aside the pen and paper to focus on singing his heart out.

Conceived during COVID lockdown, Only The Strong Survive is a collection of 15 soul music classics. "I wanted to make an album where I just sang," the rock icon said in a statement. "And what better music to work with than the great American songbook of the Sixties and Seventies?"

Recorded in his native New Jersey, the album sees Springsteen belting out classics and some lesser-known gems from the catalogs of Motown, Gamble and Huff, Stax and more, including his take on Frank Wilson's "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)," released as the album's first single.

In a video announcing the project to fans, Springsteen called soul music "some of the most beautiful vocal music ever written and recorded", and marveled at the opportunity to stretch his voice outside his comfort zone. Who better than the Boss to try it? — J.T.

Read More: Bruce Springsteen Essentials: 15 Tracks That Show Why The Boss Is A Poetic Rock Icon

Run The Jewels - RTJ CU4TRO

Release date: Nov. 11

Beloved rap duo Run The Jewels enjoy defying expectations, and RTJ CU4TRO is one of their most intriguing swerves yet. Out Nov. 11, RTJ CU4TRO is a reimagining of the pair's 2020 album, RTJ4, through the lens of an all-Latin lineup.

El-P and Killer Mike were inspired to try the concept after hearing remixes of their material by two Mexican artists, Mexican Institute of Sound ("Ooh La La") and Toy Selectah ("JU$T"). To create an album's worth of interpretations from LATAM-based artists, the duo went to their longtime collaborator Nick Hook to co-produce the album and use his connections to build the guest list.

"We set out to make a remix album, but we consider the end result of RTJ CU4TRO to be more than that," El-P said in a statement. "It's a reimagining of RTJ4 through the lens of collaboration and a fusing of numerous musical cultures and influences." That melding of cultures is represented by Honduran-born producer TROOKO, Colombian band Bomba Estéreo, Mexican DJ and producer Danny Brasco, Canadian-Nicaraguan musician Mas Aya and more Latin American all-stars. — J.T.

Related: Run The Jewels Are Ready To Pierce Your Heart Again

Louis Tomlinson - Faith in the Future

Release date: Nov. 11

Louis Tomlinson is tearing down walls. Two years after the success of his debut album Walls, the former One Direction member announced Faith in the Future. Out Nov. 11, the release may be his most experimental and emotional yet.

His recent single "Out Of My System" shows a new side of the English singer-songwriter. Tomlinson balances edgy playfulness and emotional gravity as he cries out, "Demons, I'm takin' all of my demons/ Putting them where I won't see them. The single's disorienting video places Tomlinson among flashing red lights, slick guitar licks and harsh drums.

Tomlinson's desperation for catharsis indicates that Faith in the Future might explore  grittier, darker pop. However, based on the album title's suggestion of stable optimism, it seems Tomlinson might not stray too far from his saccharine pop roots. — T.L.

Related: 5 Takeaways From Harry Styles' New Album 'Harry's House'

Wizkid - More Love, Less Ego

Release date: Nov. 14

With four GRAMMY Award nominations and one win to his name, Lagos-born singer Wizkid is a true Nigerian superstar. The singer earned international acclaim with his GRAMMY-nominated 2020 album, Made In Lagos, which clocked up a billion streams and was certified Gold in the U.S.

Its single, "Essence," featuring Tems, blew up worldwide, introducing many to the Afrobeats genre. One of the song's biggest fans was none other than Justin Bieber, whose remixed version of "Essence" became the first African song to reach Top 10 on Billboard Hot 100.

Wizkid returns this month with his fifth studio album, More Love, Less Ego, which has all the signs of another mega-hit. The singer began the rollout with back-to-back singles, "Bad To Me" and "Money & Love," each produced by his longtime studio partner P2J. Both singles capture Wizkid's laidback yet hyper-confident star power — how many others could pull off the shirtless lime green suit look from the "Bad To Me" video? — J.T.

Related: Love Burna Boy & Wizkid? Listen To These 5 African Genres

Brockhampton - The Family

Release date: Nov. 17

Hoping to redefine the term "boy band," the seven-member group is known for their DIY, dynamic hip-hop that often blurs into pop. After canceling dozens of tour dates and announcing an indefinite hiatus in January, Brockhampton is finally back.

The band first teased The Family — out via Question Everything and RCA Records — at the end of their 2022 Coachella performance, flashing the words "Final Album. 2022." onscreen after exiting the stage. The Family's colorful album cover zigzags between graphic cartoonish elements and eye-catching magazine cutouts — visually capturing Brockhampton's genre-blending, ambitious and unpredictable music. — T.L.

Related: How Queer Rappers Are Defining The Next Generation Of Chicago Hip-Hop

Weyes Blood - And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

Release date: Nov. 18

The title of Weyes Blood’s upcoming album captures the duality of the singer-songwriter’s music: haunting yet heartwarming. The artist describes And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow as a “dystopian romance novel," where  warmth and gloom mingle in her signature psychedelic folk and experimental rock landscape. Influenced by church music, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow is a sacred, safe space to reflect on "the sound of your soul."

The record is also the second of a trilogy, following Weyes Blood’s ethereal 2019 album, Titanic Rising. And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow arrives just in time for her In Holy Flux tour, which will kick off in Los Angeles on Dec. 8. — T.L.

Related: For The Record: Why Lana Del Rey's 'Born To Die' Is One Of Pop's Most Influential Albums In The Past Decade

Roddy Ricch - Feed Tha Streets III

Release date: Nov. 18

'Tis the season: on Oct. 22, Roddy Ricch posted an image of himself at a Thanksgiving feast. The on-theme scene celebrates the upcoming release of Feed Tha Streets III, the third collection in his mixtape series.

Glamour populates the video for Ricch's latest single, "Aston Martin Truck." Among swinging gold chains and popping champagne, Ricch looks rather at home as he rests on a private jet — it's clear he's confident that Feed Tha Streets III will allow him to feast from the good life buffet.

The Compton rapper, who's influenced by the likes of Lil Wayne, Future and Young Thug, is known for his Hot 100 No. 1 single "The Box." Feed Tha Streets III follows the Compton rapper's 2021 sophomore album, LIVE LIFE FAST, which thrilled with Ricch's signature unpredictable flows over bouncy beats. — T.L.

Related: 9 Revolutionary Rap Albums To Know: From Kendrick Lamar, Black Star, EarthGang & More

Honey Dijon - Black Girl Magic

Release date: Nov. 18

Honey Dijon has been doing her thing at the forefront of the Chicago house scene for decades, and now the world is quickly catching up. The DJ and producer releases her second studio album, Black Girl Magic, on Nov. 18, featuring a stacked roll call of her friends. In choosing her guests, the Chicagoan looked to a new generation of queer people and people of color, including Compton's own house sensation Channel Tres, Atlanta singer/songwriter Hadiya George, and regular vocal collaborator Ramona Renea.

In true Honey Dijon style, the songs on Black Girl Magic are brimming with dance-floor energy, heartfelt emotion and positive vibes. "This album is dedicated to love," Honey said in a statement announcing Black Girl Magic. "Love of music, community, but most of all the love of self. Being true to who you are in spite of everything else and having the courage to love fearlessly." — J.T.

Related: 5 Emerging Artists Pushing Electronic Music Forward: Moore Kismet, TSHA, Doechii & Others

Dolly Parton - Dolly Parton  — Diamonds & Rhinestones: The Greatest Hits Collection

Release date: Nov. 18

Dolly Parton's next album is sure to be a treasure. Titled Dolly Parton — Diamonds & Rhinestones: The Greatest Hits Collection, the record will feature a whopping 23 tracks from Parton's star-studded discography.

Featuring music released between 1971-2020, the album highlights Parton's extensive and extraordinary career. Although the icon is also known for her bluegrass and gospel ventures, Diamonds & Rhinestones primarily showcases Parton's deep country roots. However, some EDM finds its way onto the record via "Faith," Parton's 2020 collaboration with Swedish dance pop duo Galantis and Mr. Probz.

Out Nov. 18, this greatest hits collection will prove that Parton's discography indeed shines like a gem. — T.L.

Related: 10 Songs You Didn't Know Dolly Parton Wrote: Hits By Whitney Houston, Kenny Rogers & More

Stormzy - This Is What I Mean

Release date: Nov. 25

UK grime trailblazer Stormzy returns this month with his third album, This Is What I Mean. The rapper has been on an incredible hot streak since 2019's celebrated Heavy Is The Head, collaborating with everyone from Ed Sheeran to Headie One and becoming the first black solo British artist to headline Glastonbury (wearing a stab-proof vest designed by Banksy, no less).

Now a household name in the UK, Stormzy got far from the spotlight to record his third album. This Is What I Mean mostly came together during a retreat on the privately-owned Osea Island in the UK county of Essex, where Stormzy surrounded himself with talented friends. The only plan was to hang out and make music when the moment took them. "We're all musicians, but we weren't always doing music," Stormzy said in a statement. “Some days we played football or walked around taking pictures. And the byproduct to that was very beautiful music."

Stormzy recently flexed his cachet in the music video for standalone single, "Mel Made Me Do It," which features cameos from Usain Bolt, Little Simz, Headie One and many more. With no featured rappers announced on This Is What I Mean, there's no distraction from Stormzy's shine. — J.T.

Related: For The Record: How Clipse’s 'Lord Willin'' Established Virginia’s Foothold In Rap

RM - TBD

Release date: Nov. 25

For the November issue of Rolling Stone, genre-crossing hitmaker Pharrell Williams sat down for a "musician-on-musician" chat with BTS' RM. Their chat covered many topics, from dealing with superstardom to finding purpose in a career, while also touching on some tantalizing details about RM's forthcoming solo album, rumored to be dropping on Nov. 25.

"Like 90 percent of the work is done," RM told Pharrell. "I've released some mixtapes as one of the members of the band, but it was just an experiment. I think this time it's maybe my official first solo album." Coming hot on the heels of solo releases from fellow members Jin ("The Astronaut") and j-hope (Jack In The Box), news of RM's solo album has sent the BTS ARMY into overdrive.

In the course of the Rolling Stone interview, Pharrell and RM casually made plans to work on something for RM's album — completing "that last 10 percent," as Pharrell put it. (BTS is already set to feature on Pharrell's upcoming collaborative album, Phriends.) Other rumors of possible guests on the RM album are already flying around the internet, including South Korean sensation BIBI and BTS member Jungkook.

Whoever makes the cut, RM's solo effort is feverishly anticipated by fans, and will ease the long wait for BTS to reconvene as a group "around 2025" after all members fulfill South Korea's mandatory national military service. — J.T.

Why Is BTS So Popular? 9 Questions About The K-Pop Phenoms Answered

Camila Cabello & Lil Nas X
Camila Cabello & Lil Nas X

Photo: Courtesy Camila Cabello & Lil Nas X

list

New Music Friday: Listen to Songs From Megan Thee Stallion, Camila Cabello & Lil Nas X, BTS' RM & More

May 10 is quite the stacked day of new music across all genres — from Post Malone & Morgan Wallen's country collab, to Stray Kids' team-up with Charlie Puth, to The Chainsmokers and Kings of Leon. Check out some fresh releases to enjoy this weekend here.

GRAMMYs/May 10, 2024 - 06:55 pm

As the summer quickly approaches, artists from every genre continue to unveil new music for warmer weather. Friday May 10 is particularly packed with anticipated and surprise releases from both emerging talents and established names.

The new albums alone prove just that: pop songsmith Alec Benjamin's 12 Notes, folk-rock band Judah & the Lion's The Process, regional Mexican stars Grupo Frontera's Jugando a Que No Pasa Nada, and GRAMMY-winning R&B singer Andra Day's Cassandra, to name a few.

Meanwhile, a big, cool glass of major rap releases is here to help wash down the piping hot Kendrick and Drake beef served up over the last week. Full album releases debuted from Gunna, Chief Keef, and Ghostface Killah — the latter featuring guest spots from Nas, Kanye West, Raekwon, Method Man and more. Hottie Megan Thee Stallion's powerful new single, "BOA", sets the stage for her Hot Girl Summer tour which officially starts on May 14. New songs from Ice Spice, Kodak Black, NLE Choppa, Coi Leray, G-Eazy, Yung Gravy, Ski Mask the Slump God set the playlist for a weekend full of slappers.

There's tons of collaborations, too, including the much-teased pairing of Post Malone and Morgan Wallen with "I Had Some Help," a track that showcases Malone's furtherance into country in a catchy, reflective anthem. But country music lovers also have more to enjoy this weekend: Orville Peck's duets project, Stampede Vol.1, features the likes of Willie Nelson and Elton John," while Scotty McCreery's Rise & Fall and Avery Anna's single "Blonde" fill the fuel tank for a rodeo-ready summer. 

BTS's RM delivers another solo track "Come Back to Me" and Stray Kids dropped a new collaboration with Charlie Puth, coming fresh off the K-pop group's appearance at the Met Gala earlier this week. And the electronic and rock scenes are not left behind, with A.G. Cook exploring a new twist on Britpop and Sebastian Bach's release of Child Within The Man.

Dive into today's releases from Megan Thee Stallion, The Chainsmokers, RM, Stray Kids with Charlie Puth, Camila Cabello with Lil Nas X, Post Malone and Morgan Wallen below. 

Megan Thee Stallion, "BOA"

Megan Thee Stallion's new single "BOA" continues to play up the themes of empowerment and self-realization that define her current musical phase and comes just days ahead of her Hot Girl Summer Tour starting on May 14. The song's cover art features Megan with a striking snake, a recurring symbol of rebirth that has been significant in her recent work, appearing in tracks like the Billboard Hot 100 hit "Hiss" and the 2023 song "Cobra." 

"BOA" is a continuation of Megan's snake-themed narrative, but serves as a saccharine homage to her favorite late-'90s and early 2000s anime and video game classics. The music video features references to Scott Pilgrim, One Piece, Dance Dance Revolution, and iconic 3D fighting games like Mortal Kombat, complete with visuals and Gantz-inspired outfits.

Speaking to Women's Health about her upcoming summer album, Megan discussed the personal growth and renewal she has experienced, inspiring this new era of music. "I was inspired to create this album about rebirth because I feel I am becoming a new person physically and mentally," she shared.

Camila Cabello & Lil Nas X, "HE KNOWS"

Camila Cabello teams up with Lil Nas X for the tantalizing new song "He Knows," delivering a radio-friendly track that's as catchy as it is lustful. The new music mirrors the infectious energy of their recent appearance at FKA Twigs' Met Gala afterparty, where they both were seen dancing the night away behind the DJ booth. 

"He Knows" serves as a precursor to Cabello's highly anticipated fourth solo album, C,XOXO, — set to drop on June 28 — and teases a glimpse of Cabello's evolving artistic direction. The single follows on the heels of her recent hit "I LUV IT" featuring Playboi Carti, part of the  reimagining of her sound and artistic brand.

RM, "Come Back To Me"

BTS member RM has released a new single, "Come Back To Me," accompanied by a music video. The relaxed track gives fans a taste of his upcoming second solo album, Right Place, Wrong Person, set to release on May 24. 

In the song, RM explores themes of right and wrong, capturing the complex emotions of wanting to explore new avenues while wishing to stay comfortable in the present. "Come Back To Me" features contributions from OHHYUK of the South Korean band HYUKOH, and Kuo of the Taiwanese band Sunset Rollercoaster. Additional credits include JNKYRD and San Yawn from Balming Tiger. RM first performed "Come Back To Me" during a surprise appearance at BTS bandmate Suga's concert in Seoul last summer, noting it as a favorite from his forthcoming album. 

The music video for "Come Back To Me" was written, directed, and produced by Lee Sung Jin, known for his work on the Netflix show "Beef." The video features actress Kim Minha from the Apple TV+ series "Pachinko" and faces themes of identity and self-reflection, showing RM confronting different versions of himself. Its cast includes notable Korean and American actors such as Joseph Lee, Lee Sukhyeong, and Kim A Hyun.

Post Malone & Morgan Wallen, "I Had Some Help"

Post Malone and Morgan Wallen blend their distinct musical styles in the much-anticipated release of their collaborative single "I Had Some Help." Merging Malone's versatile pop sensibilities while leaning into his country roots with Wallen's, well, help, the duet is a unique crossover that has had fans clamoring to hear more since the two first teased the song earlier this year. 

Finally premiering during Wallen's headlining performance at Stagecoach Festival on April 28, the uptempo song explores themes of mutual support and shared experiences, encapsulated by the lyric, "It ain't like I can make this kind of mess all by myself."

The collaboration has sparked significant buzz and showcases the duo's chemistry and shared knack for storytelling. This single highlights their individual talents as well as their ability to bridge genre divides, already promising to be a hit on the charts and a favorite among fans.

The Chainsmokers, No Hard Feelings

Maestros of mainstream emotion, The Chainsmokers continue to master the art of turning personal reflections into global anthems with their latest EP, No Hard Feelings. The six-song project see Alex Pall and Drew Taggart exploring the emotional highs and lows of modern relationships, weaving their signature dance beats with pop sensibilities as they have since 2015's "Roses." 

The duo's latest release serves as a soundtrack to both sun-kissed days and introspective nights. The collection includes the single "Friday," a collaboration with Haitian-American singer Fridayy, described by the duo as a direct descendant of "Roses." Other tracks, such as "Addicted," also underscore the Chainsmokers' knack for capturing the zeitgeist of contemporary love and loss.

Kings of Leon, Can We Please Have Fun

Kings of Leon return with their signature blend of rock and introspection on their ninth studio album, Can We Please Have Fun. The LP finds the band infusing their established sound with fresh, unbridled energy, reminiscent of their early days yet matured by years of experience. The album features standout tracks like "Mustang" and "Nothing To Do," which mix playful lyrics with serious musical chops, showcasing Kings of Leon's unique ability to combine rock's raw power with catchy, thoughtful songwriting.

The band is set to bring Can We Please Have Fun to life on their 2024 world tour, starting in Leeds, United Kingdom on June 20 and wrapping in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on Oct. 5. Fans can expect a high-energy series of performances that blend new tracks with beloved classics, all delivered with the Kings of Leon's legendary fervor.

Stray Kids & Charlie Puth, "Lose My Breath"

Stray Kids have teamed up with Charlie Puth for their latest release, "Lose My Breath," a track that blends K-pop dynamism with Western pop flair, written by Stray Kids' own producer team 3racha (Bang Chan, Changbin, and Han) along with Puth. The TK song details a whirlwind of emotions, describing symptoms of breathlessness and heart-palpitating moments encapsulated in the lyrics: "I lose my breath when you're walking in/ 'Cause when our eyes lock, it's like my heart stops." 

"Lose My Breath" is described as a "warm-up" for Stray Kids' forthcoming album, set for release this summer. The track further highlights the global appeal of Stray Kids ahead of their highly anticipated headlining set at Lollapalooza in August. It also continues Puth's engagement with K-pop, following his previous work with other K-pop acts including his collab with BTS' Jungkook, "Left and Right," and "Like That," a song he co-wrote for K-pop girl group BABYMONSTER

15 Must-Hear Albums In May 2024: Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Sia, Zayn & 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

J-Hope performing in 2022
J-Hope performs during the Times Square New Year's Eve 2023 Celebration in New York City.

Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

feature

J-Hope's Road To 'Hope On The Street Vol.1,' From Falling Back In Love With Dance To Tying Together His Global Influences

After 11 years in BTS, j-hope revisits the passion that started it all: dancing. Ahead of his new docuseries and special album, 'Hope on the Street Vol.1,' discover the full-circle journey that brought him back to his roots.

GRAMMYs/Mar 28, 2024 - 04:28 pm

"Just dance," j-hope commands on his 2018 BTS solo track.

For the international sensation, that's what it's always been about: expressing himself through movement. Now, 11 years after the launch of the seven-piece group, j-hope takes a U-turn to where it all began, before his K-pop idol days, street dancing between his hometown, Gwangju, and Seoul, South Korea.

Out March 29, j-hope's new special album, Hope on the Street Vol.1, is a musical ode to dancing that boasts a "vibrant collection of six tracks spanning a diverse array of sounds and moods that showcase j-hope's musical prowess and depth." Like j-hope's global perspective of dance, the EP expands borders and sounds, featuring appearances from HYBE labelmate HUH YUNJIN of LE SSERAFIM as well as American stars Nile Rodgers and Benny Blanco.

The mini-album will also be accompanied by a docuseries of the same name, premiering on Amazon Prime Video on March 28. According to a press statement, the six-part project will "highlight j-hope's story and love for dancing as he begins a new journey."

Ahead of Hope on the Street Vol.1's arrival, take a look at how j-hope's origins inspired the project — from his enrollment in a local dance academy to songwriting with J. Cole on their 2023 single, "on the street."

Finding Purpose In Dance

Long before becoming a global superstar, j-hope (born Jung Ho-seok) first discovered his love for dancing on the playground.

"The school I went to had a dance lesson for 30 minutes in the morning. They would play a dance video, and we would copy it as exercise," j-hope recalled in a 2013 interview for the BTS Japan Fanclub magazine. "My friends around me would praise me, saying, 'You're really good!'"

Eventually, those recess workouts turned into a passion. J-hope began practicing moves at home and freestyling at local talent shows. By the sixth grade, he told his parents he was serious about it, enrolling him in Gwangju's Joy Dance Academy.

While at the Academy, j-hope also joined the underground dance crew, NEURON, building a reputation under the name "Smile Hoya." Though he hasn't participated in the troupe since his pre-BTS days, he still recognizes it as one of the most influential parts of his career.

He'll even honor the crew with Hope on the Street, which includes a track called "NEURON," featuring Gaeko and yoonmirae. He will also return to Gwangju in the closing chapter of the docuseries.

It's not the first time j-hope shouted out Gwangju, either. His 2019 collab with Becky G, "Chicken Noodle Soup," paid tribute to his beloved upbringing: "From Gwangju, one gang of you-know-what/ Geumnam Chungjang Street, that's my Harlem." (The same track also foreshadowed his latest release: "Hope on the street, now it's my own way.")

Forging A New Life In Music With BTS

J-hope continued to have a diligent mindset as a trainee at Big Hit Entertainment. But as revealed in BTS' 2018 docuseries, Burn the Stage, training and dieting became emotionally and physically tolling. At one point, j-hope even considered leaving the group.

"I couldn't do things I wanted to do," he revealed during a 2021 You Quiz on the Block segment. "To be honest, I wanted to play games. I want to go out and hang out. I wanted to stay with my family. I had to give up a lot of things from that perspective."

The stress became so intense that he bought a one-way ticket to Gwangju. But ultimately, the brotherhood and love of music he formed with BTS gave him the courage to return: "I came back because I trusted you," j-hope recounted.

And they trusted him, too: "I told [Big Hit] that we needed Jung Ho-seok. We couldn't debut without him," RM responded. Meanwhile, Jung Kook delivered a tearful speech to encourage him to stay with the band.

The longer he stayed, the more j-hope began to love other sides of music, like producing and songwriting. Now, he has become one of the main writers for the group's tracks, alongside RM and Suga, and has co-penned all of his solo projects, including Hope on the Street.

Spreading His Wings With Two Full-Length Solo Projects

After nearly 10 projects with BTS, j-hope delivered his debut mixtape, Hope World, in March 2018.

"My fantasy had always been making a music video and performing with the music I had created. I wanted to put my own story to music and share it with the world," he told Time magazine upon Hope World’s release.

It's an introduction to j-hope the artist, inviting listeners to step into Hope World, a colorful kaleidoscope of different cultures and styles — something that has also been a key part of his dance journey.

Though, j-hope still wanted to dig deeper into his artistry. He developed his sound, becoming more vulnerable in his lyricism on tracks like 2020's "Outro: Ego." By 2022, he was ready to drop his first studio album, Jack in the Box.

Where Hope World showcases j-hope's dance performance, Jack in the Box highlights "my artistry in music." But Hope on the Street paints the full image of the phenom — part musician, part dancer.

Laying The Groundwork With "On The Street," Featuring J. Cole

One of j-hope's earliest musical influences was J. Cole. The rapper inspired j-hope's stage name and the title of his mixtape, which pays homage to 2011's Cole World. In 2022, j-hope honored Cole with "Born Singer," the BTS re-write of Cole's "Born Sinner." So, a celebratory meeting was in order when they were both scheduled to perform at Lollapalooza (where j-hope made history as the first Korean soloist to headline).

"[He's] my idol," j-hope said to Variety in 2023. Since they met, he "couldn't stop thinking about how great it would be if we could make music together." He reached out to J. Cole, and "on the street" was born.

As j-hope told Variety, the "street" concept became a metaphor for life: "The street is a place where people can actually encounter and feel real lives of people: a child's innocent mind; first encounter with someone and falling in love; someone in an urgent moment;" and so much more. It's the place where he learned to love dance — and where he grew a love for music and artists like J. Cole, who called their collab "a blessing" in the behind-the-scenes footage.

And thus, "on the street" became the springboard for his forthcoming project, Hope on the Street.

Unveiling A Docuseries And A Multi-Part Project

By the tail end of 2023, each member of BTS had enlisted in mandatory military service. But even during the septet's hiatus, j-hope managed to serve up a surprise announcement of Hope on the Street on Feb. 17 with a fitting montage of dance videos.

The joint docuseries and album follows j-hope's journey of self-discovery, accompanying his former instructor, Boogaloo Kin, as they dance their way through the streets of Osaka, Seoul, Paris, New York, and his hometown while meeting other dancers.

"Hope on the Street, my roots, the most important part of my life. This is how j-hope danced. I wanted to share this story with you," he said in an interview for the documentary.

After years of breaking records and making history as a member of BTS, it was "a chance to look back on my life," he explained in another trailer. "I realized the answer was in song and dance."

Culminating j-hope's skills in both art forms, Hope on the Street is a love letter to everything that's made him who he is today — and proof he'll never forget it.

6 Takeaways From 'BTS Monuments: Beyond The Star'

Megan Thee Stallion (Center) and (from L to R:) J-Hope, Jin, Jungkook, V, RM, Suga, and Jimin of BTS attend the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 03, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Megan Thee Stallion (Center) and (from L to R:) J-Hope, Jin, Jungkook, V, RM, Suga, and Jimin of BTS attend the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 03, 2022.

Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

news

9 Essential K-Pop/Western Collabs: From BTS And Megan Thee Stallion, To IVE And Saweetie

From Jungkook and Usher's tribute to their shared musical idol, to BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez' sugary sweet collab, K-pop and Western artists of all genres are joining forces to create killer hits.

GRAMMYs/Feb 27, 2024 - 02:12 pm

It’s impossible to ignore the growing global popularity of K-pop. Although Korean pop has been around for decades, the genre's meteoric worldwide success over the past 10 years is reminiscent of Beatlemania and the early 2000s American boy band craze. With a steady increase year-over-year in album sales and K-pop groups touring the U.S. and Europe, interest in K-pop shows no signs of slowing down.

Initially launched in South Korea as a music subgenre with Western pop, R&B and hip-hop influences in the '90s, the K-pop industry is valued at around $10 billion.

Given the worldwide appetite for K-pop, several Western musicians are keen to partner with K-pop acts crossing over into more international markets, often with songs sung partially or entirely in English. While K-pop artists do not need Western artists to be successful — BTS sold out London’s Wembley stadium in under 90 minutes back in 2019, and BLACKPINK made Coachella history twice with performances in 2019 and 2023 — K-pop's massive fanbase and multi-genre influence make it an ideal collaboration for everyone from rappers and singers to electronic DJs.

But don’t take our word for it. Here are nine of the most iconic K-Pop/Western collaborations (not in any order; they are all great songs!).

Usher and Jungkook - "Standing Next to You (Usher Remix)" (2024)

The maknae (the youngest member of the group) of global K-pop superstars BTS and the King of R&B are both having banner years: Jungkook released his debut solo album, and Usher just performed at the Super Bowl

The Bangtan Boys have cited Usher as a significant influence (even singing a callback to his 2001 hit "U Got It Bad" in their No. 1 song, "Butter"), so BTS fans were delighted when the Jungkook tapped Usher for a remix of "Standing Next to You." The song marks the fourth single from his Billboard 200 chart-topping debut album, Golden

Both singers count Michael Jackson as a major influence. In their collaboration video, Usher and Jungkook pay tribute to the King of Pop as they slide, pop, and lock across the slick floor of an abandoned warehouse. 

John Legend and Wendy of Red Velvet - "Written in the Stars" (2018)

R&B singer/pianist John Legend was the perfect choice for an R&B ballad with Wendy, the main vocalist of K-pop quintet Red Velvet. The final song on the five-track SM Station x 0, a digital music project, "Written in the Stars," is a beautiful, mid-tempo love song. A bit of a departure from K-pop’s typical upbeat sound, Wendy and Legend are in perfect harmony over a warm yet melancholic rhythm.

As Red Velvet’s main vocalist, Wendy was the ideal voice for this collaboration. Additionally, she split her childhood between Canada and the U.S., and has been comfortable singing in English since Red Velvet debuted in 2014. This wasn't her first collab with a Western artist: In 2017, she released an English-language version of the pop ballad "Vente Pa’Ca" with Ricky Martin

BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez - "Ice Cream" (2020)

A powerhouse debut single, BLACKPINK collaborated with pop royalty Selena Gomez on the massive 2020 hit "Ice Cream."

An electropop-bubblegum fusion filled with dairy double entendres, "Ice Cream" was an enormous success for both Gomez and the BLACKPINK girls. The track peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has racked up nearly 900 million YouTube views to date. 

Written by a consortium of hitmakers, including Ariana Grande and BLACKPINK’s longtime songwriter and producer Teddy Park (a former K-pop idol himself), "Ice Cream" shows that YG Entertainment’s golden foursome and Gomez were the correct partnership for this track. The pop-trap bop marked the first time a K-pop girl group broke the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and immediately solidified BLACKPINK as global superstars. 

Snoop Dogg and Monsta X - "How We Do" (2022)

West Coast rap godfather Snoop Dogg has quietly become one of the go-to Western acts for K-pop collabs, working with Psy, BTS, Girls’ Generation and 2NE1. K-pop is the Dogg Father's "guilty pleasure," and he performed at the Mnet Asian Music Awards with Dr. Dre in 2011. Without Snoop's love of K-pop, the world might not have gotten this fun and energetic collaboration with Snoop and Monsta X, a five-member boy group under Starship Entertainment.

The song appears in The Spongebob Movie: Sponge On The Run in a dance segment where Snoop, decked out in a pink and purple Western suit, is accompanied by zombie dancers. Though we do not see the members of Monsta X, their harmonious crooning is the perfect accent to Snoop Dogg’s trademark casual West Coast flow.

BTS and Steven Aoki - "MIC Drop (Steve Aoki remix)" (2017)

No K-pop list is complete with a nod to the magnificent seven, and "MIC Drop" is one of their catchiest Western collabs to date. 

"Mic Drop" is quintessential BTS: a nod to hip-hop with a heavy bass line and fun choreography. While the original version of "MIC Drop" is excellent, the remix with EDM superstar DJ Steve Aoki and rapper Desiigner cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 — the first of many hits for the Bulletproof Boy Scouts. 

Released at a time when BTS were just starting their ascent to chart-topping Western dominance, the track's boastful lyrics and tension-building electro-trap production offered an excellent introduction to the group that would soon become international superstars. 

JYJ, Kanye West and Malik Yusef - "Ayyy Girl" (2010)

A truly deep K-pop cut, you’d be hard-pressed to find many people who know that Kanye West collaborated with a first-generation K-pop group over 13 years ago. Released as the lead single on JYJ’s English-language album The Beginning, West’s signature bravado and wordplay are on full display over a track that sounds like the Neptunes produced it.

The song garnered attention in the U.S., but after a string of bad luck (including a severely delayed U.S. visa process and issues with their management company, SM Entertainment), JYJ could not capitalize on their American success. The group continued to see success in Korea and Japan in the early 2010s but never made a splash in the Western market again.

IVE and Saweetie - "All Night" (2024)

A reimagining of Icona Pop’s 2013 song of the same name, "All Night," sees fourth-generation K-pop girl group IVE partner with rap’s resident glamor girl Saweetie for a funky, electronic-infused pop song that’s perfect for dancing from dusk till dawn. 

"All Night" is the first English song for the Starship Entertainment-backed group. Interestingly, none of the members of IVE have individual lines in the song, choosing instead to sing the lyrics in a six-part harmony. This choice is exciting but fun, giving listeners the feeling that they are more than welcome to sing along. 

The girl group embarked on their first 24-date world tour in January 2024, with stops in the U.S., Asia, Europe and South America. Given their quest for global dominance, there’s a good chance "All Night" won’t be IVE's last English-language release.

BTS and Megan Thee Stallion - "Butter (Remix)" (2021)

BTS’ "Butter" had already spent three weeks atop the Billboard charts and was declared the "song of the summer" when the group’s label announced Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion as the guest star for the song’s remix in late August 2021. The GRAMMY-nominated septet is no stranger to collaborating with Western musicians, having worked with Halsey, Jason Derulo, and Coldplay

Though only slightly altered from the original (Megan’s verse was added in place of the song’s second original verse, along with several ad-libs), the remix was praised by both fans and critics alike, catapulting the song’s return back to the No. 1. Although the collaborators did not release a new music video featuring the group and the self-proclaimed "Hot Girl Coach," three members of BTS’ "dance line" (members J-Hope, Jungkook and Jimin) released a specially choreographed dance video. Additionally, Megan was a surprise guest during BTS’ record-breaking Permission to Dance LA concert in November of the same year.

LE SSERAFIM and Niles Rodgers - "Unforgiven" (2023)

GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Nile Rodgers' first foray into K-pop was a partnership with LE SSERAFIM, a fourth-gen girl group from the same parent company behind BTS. "Unforgiven" was released earlier this year as the lead single from the group’s debut album of the same name. 

A darker take on the familiar K-pop formula with A Western feel and look (the young quintuplet dons cowboy hats, boots and bolo ties in the song’s accompanying music video), "Unforgiven" is about rebellion and being a fierce, strong and independent risk taker. That riskiness drew Rodgers' ear. 

"It seems like a lot of the K-pop that I'm hearing lately, the…chord changes are a lot more interesting than what's been happening [in other music fields] over the last few years," he told GRAMMY.com in 2023. "I come from a jazz background, so to hear chord changes like that is really cool. They’re not afraid, which is great to me."

15 K-Pop Songs That Took 2023 By Storm: From Seventeen’s "Super (손오공)" to NewJeans' "Super Shy"