Photo: Steve Jennings/WireImage
Outside Lands 2022: SZA Takes Control & Makes Waves In Nostalgic, Dance-Filled Performance
SZA closed the first night of the three-day festival with songs from her discography, leaning into the beloved songs of her debut 'Ctrl.'
As the fog rolled in, mist engulfed the seas of bundled festival goers pouring onto the western lawns of Golden Gate Park. A lighthouse structure beckoned at the Lands End stage and marine projections appeared on the stage's backdrop readying the crowd for Outside Lands 2022's Friday headliner, SZA.
The GRAMMY-winning artist born Solána Rowe closed the first night of the three-day festival with songs from throughout her discography, redesigning the way acclaimed works like Ctrl are perceived with every performance. SZA opened her solo set with the Black Panther epic track "All The Stars," sharing verses from her Kendrick Lamar collab under cityscape constellations.
Turning the clock back to 2017, SZA returned to her debut album Ctrl, which provided an escapist score for carefree summer days. Ctrl received five GRAMMY nominations and attendees were reliving the glory days of Ctrl all together in the frigid San Francisco air. SZA sang "Miles," "Love Galore (Alt Version)," and her unreleased single "Shirt" as fans sang their choruses back in unison.
A deluxe version of Ctrl was released on the five-year anniversary of the project this June, its nostalgic value contributing to why Ctrl has persisted as a beloved musical phenomenon since its debut.
SZA also revealed more sides of her performer persona, showcasing her experience in dance with group dance sequences to "The Weekend" and "Go Gina." At 32 years old, the genre-defiant poet known for her lyrical proficiency is becoming more comfortable in her skin and has become more confident in her moves.
With no guests appearing on stage, SZA’s attuned vocals and remarkable whistletones set the calming scene for the audience. With every verse, the crowd would recite words back, showcasing the weight of Ctrl.
As SZA monologued about the state of the world after wrapping up a gushing pop rendition of "Prom," she began "Normal Girl" by expressing how abnormal times feel and reminding the audience to take a break to settle with the tide.
The final moments of Outside Lands' first day concluded with SZA seated on a platform full of blooming sunflowers, swaying her legs back and forth as she sang "Good Days." She also nodded to Doja Cat, performing their 2021 track "Kiss Me More." Her starry-eyed fans banded together, swaying and reciting every optimistic lyric.
SZA ended her set by thanking the audience for carrying the legacy of Ctrl to where it is today. With firework projections glowing behind her, she then climbed up the lighthouse and plunged into the turquoise waters, resulting in a luminescent slosh of seawater. While audiences wait for SZA’s next album, SZA's Outside Lands performance should be an indicator that whatever she does next will undoubtedly make a splash.
Photo: Lorne Thomson / Contributor
Outside Lands 2022: Mitski Brings A Theatrical Loneliness To Thousands
Mitski's Outside Lands audience was rapt and excitable, yet it was hard to tell whether the singer had a good time or what she thought of the Sunday night crowd.
After touring heavily for five years, Mitski performed at SummerStage in New York City’s Central Park and crushed her fans by announcing that it would be her "last show indefinitely." Fast forward three years, and the 31-year-old singer-songwriter has been performing on major stages all summer, including England’s Glastonbury, Denmark’s Roskilde and San Francisco’s Outside Lands, where her Sunday night set ushered in the darkness and closed out the festival.
Lyric-knowing fans and curious onlookers taking Mitski in for the first time got an immediate glimpse of her conflicting feelings about herself with the opener, "Love Me More." From Outside Lands' Sutro stage she sang, "Every day I’m trying not to hate myself/But lately, it’s not hurting like it did before/Maybe I am learning how to love me more."
Mitski has spoken out against being unfairly pigeonholed as a fiercely private person and publicly struggled with anxiety and self-loathing as well as the pressures of fame, the music business and having an ardent fan following. Her work, filled with unrequited love, animates a lonely vibe that thrives in isolated listening situations, but it also clearly offers comfort to a festival crowd of thousands with minimal physical space between them, even as the pandemic is still taken seriously in San Francisco.
Her Outside Lands audience was rapt, eagerly and frequently erupting at each dramatic hand movement and pose. If she found that unnerving at all, she didn’t break character while singing popular songs like "I Bet on Losing Dogs," "Washing Machine Heart" and "Your Best American Girl."
"If you would just make one mistake/What a relief that would be," she sang on "The Only Heartbreaker." "But I think for as long as we’re together/I’ll be the only heartbreaker."
Mitski doesn’t use backup singers, and her music isn’t conducive to having dancers, but she employs choreographed dance movements throughout the performance. Whether she’s daringly patting her crotch in a sardonic Michael Jackson way, striking a powerful pose taken from Japanese Butoh dance theater or throwing herself hatefully on the ground, her body is a conduit for what her words can’t say. And it’s also an impenetrable wall that keeps us from getting too close.
Her 20-song set was free of concert conventions. There was no banter in between songs or fan interactions on or offstage, though either would have been an uncomfortable departure from where this performer seemingly prefers to be situated during a concert. It's hard to tell whether Mitski had a good time or what she thought of the Outside Lands crowd, which most other performers were happy to acknowledge. She left the pyro and the fireworks to Post Malone on the neighboring stage, though a portion of the glittering explosives were visible through the trees as her performance neared its end, adding a little bit of sparkle to the somberness.
Mitski concluded with 2018’s "A Pearl, building her wall even taller with an isolating refrain: "Sorry, I don’t want your touch/It’s not that I don’t want you/Sorry, I can’t take your touch."
Photo: Thaddaeus McAdams/WireImage.com
2018 GRAMMYs: Who's Performing?
Find out which of your favorite artists are performing on the 60th GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Jan. 28
The 60th GRAMMY Awards celebration in New York is quickly approaching. From rolling out the red carpet to tuning the guitars and adjusting the lights at Madison Square Garden, the Recording Academy is getting ready for the big milestone installment of Music's Biggest Night. But how about the performers?
Spanning multiple genres, including pop, rock, hip-hop, R&B, country, and more, this year's lineup of GRAMMY performers — many of them current nominees or past winners — will make for three-and-a-half hours of must-see television.
Without further ado, here is the list of performers for the 60th GRAMMYs.
- Alessia Cara, Khalid and Logic
- Brothers Osborne, Maren Morris and Eric Church (Route 91 Harvest Festival tribute)
- Childish Gambino
- Gary Clark Jr. and Jon Batiste (Chuck Berry and Fats Domino tribute)
- Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee with Zuleyka Rivera
- Emmylou Harris and Chris Stapleton
- Elton John and Miley Cyrus
- Lady Gaga
- Kendrick Lamar
- Little Big Town
- Patti LuPone and Ben Platt (Broadway tribute)
- Rihanna, DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller
- Bruno Mars and Cardi B
- Sam Smith
Hosted by James Corden, the 60th GRAMMY Awards will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York on Jan. 28, airing live on CBS from 7:30–11 p.m. ET/4:30–8 p.m. PT.
Photos (L-R): Joseph Okpako/WireImage; Tim Mosenfelder/FilmMagic; Prince Williams/Wireimage; Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Justin Combs Events; Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
15 Must-Hear New Albums Out This Month: SZA, Neil Young, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, NCT Dream & More
Rounding out the year, here are the can't-miss releases and massive new albums dropping in December 2022 from Weezer, Metro Boomin, NOFX, Jacquees, Ab-Soul, and many others.
And just like that, 2022 is almost done — but not before we get another round of must-hear albums. December's slate of releases is set to send the year out on a high note, with something for all tastes.
This month heralds much-anticipated returns from R&B innovator SZA, with S.O.S., and rap super-producer Metro Boomin, with the mysterious HEROES & VILLAINS. December's riches also include Bad MFs from West Coast hip-hop supergroup Mount Westmore, indie-rock lifers Weezer dropping SZNZ: Winter and a loaded, possibly final album from punk-rock misfits NOFX. There's also new-generation R&B (RINI’s Ultraviolet EP and Jacquees' Sincerely For You), dark techno (Terence Fixmer's Shifting Signals), soul-baring indie (Sophie Jamieson's Choosing), and much more.
Below, check out a guide to the 15 essential albums dropping just in time for the festive season. — Jack Tregoning
Contributed reporting by Ashlee Mitchell
SZA - S.O.S.
Release date: TBD
Five years after her GRAMMY-nominated debut album, Ctrl, it's about to be SZA season all over again. While details are still pending, the alternative R&B star is expected to drop her second album, S.O.S., this month, following the single "Shirt" and its teaser follow-up, "PSA."
In a revealing Billboard cover story, SZA spoke frankly about the pressure she feels to release the album while navigating the music industry and her fans' expectations. As always with SZA, the music itself speaks volumes, and the darkly seductive "Shirt" (accompanied by a music video co-starring SZA and Academy Award nominee LaKeith Stanfield in a riff on Bonnie and Clyde) suggests S.O.S. will be something to savor. — J.T.
Metro Boomin - HEROES & VILLAINS
Release date: December 2
To prepare fans for his new album, HEROES & VILLAINS, sought-after rap producer Metro Boomin went all-out on a short film starring his collaborators Young Thug and Gunna alongside celebrated actors Morgan Freeman and LaKeith Stanfield. Following that flex, the artist's first solo LP in four years is set to feature a who's who of rap, with an exact tracklist still to be announced.
Metro Boomin's previous album, 2018's Not All Heroes Wear Capes, featured the likes of Travis Scott, 21 Savage and Gucci Mane rapping over the producer's dark, trap-centric beats. This time around, he's keeping his cards close to his chest, slyly sharing a video of the studio sessions on his Instagram with the caption, "When the sequel is even better than the first." All will be revealed on Dec. 2. — J.T.
Neil Young - Harvest (50th Anniversary Edition)
Release date: December 2
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Neil Young's seminal folk-rock album Harvest, released to great acclaim in 1972. Featuring indelible songs like "Heart of Gold," "Old Man" and "The Needle and The Damage Done," Harvest was the best-selling album of that year in the US.
To celebrate the milestone, Young is releasing a special anniversary edition, available in either CD or vinyl box-set. Extras include a new two-hour documentary called Harvest Time, an official release of Young's BBC In Concert performance, and a hardcover book featuring never-before-seen photos and notes by legendary rock photographer Joel Bernstein. Consider this the festive gift for the Neil Young completist in your life. — J.T.
RINI - UltraViolet
Release date: December 2
After breaking out with his 2021 debut album, Constellations, RINI returns this month with the seven-track EP, Ultraviolet. The Filipino-Australian R&B talent, who now calls Los Angeles home, pairs his indelible voice with slinky, late-night production that pulls the listener close.
Ahead of Ultraviolet, RINI has released the singles "Haunt Me" and "Selfish," featuring GRAMMY-winning rapper BEAM, which pair his themes of love and longing with gauzy, head-nodding beats. "I want to be able to show the world and myself that I'm growing, not just in music, but as a person," RINI told Uproxx in May. On Ultraviolet, which also features the slick bedroom jams "Something to Feel" and "Your Eyes," that evolution is evident. — J.T.
NOFX - Double Album
Release date: December 2
SoCal punk veterans NOFX have always kept up a prolific output, and this month the band returns with their 15th LP, Double Album. Following last year's Single Album, the conveniently titled Double Album features 10 new songs with perfectly NOFX titles like "Punk Rock Cliché" and "Is It Too Soon if Time Is Relative?" Lead single "Darby Crashing Your Party" showcases the band at their hard-riffing, rowdy best, with frontman Fat Mike clearly relishing lyrical volleys like, "A middle-class clown waging lower class war/A Beverly Hillbilly peeled off the floor."
In a statement announcing the new album, Fat Mike revealed the songs were recorded at the same time as Single Album, then finished off later. "I think it's a very enjoyable album, and maybe our funniest," he added. It could also be NOFX's parting gift — responding to a fan’s Instagram comment, Fat Mike announced that 2023 will be the band's "last year" after an "amazing run." — J.T.
Terence Fixmer - Shifting Signals
Release date: December 2
French producer Terence Fixmer has been one of the most intriguing figures in the electronic music scene for well over a decade. Over six past solo albums, numerous EPs and standalone releases, Fixmer has perfected a dark, gritty sound that melds techno with the looser industrial spirit of electronic body music (EBM).
Fixmer's seventh album, Shifting Signals, continues in that vein while allowing for new textures to creep in. "On each album I aim for something different but I retain the core sound, which is always there and often dark and melancholic," the producer wrote in a statement. "Sometimes the balance tips slightly and on this album, I'm striving to be freer and open myself up more to melody."
That openness to different modes is showcased on the atmospheric, piano-led "Synthetic Minds," which evokes a John Carpenter film score, while fellow singles "Corne de Brume" and "No Latitude for Errors" are built for heady techno dance floors. — J.T.
Sophie Jamieson - Choosing
Release date: December 2
On her debut album, Choosing, London-based singer-songwriter Sophie Jamieson doesn't shy from difficult or uncomfortable emotions. Lead single, "Sink" lays bare her push-pull relationship with alcohol over a lulling bed of piano and drums. That theme of emotional vulnerability carries through the LP's 11 songs, which foreground Jamieson's enchanting voice and plain-spoken lyrics.
"The title of this album is so important," Jamieson wrote in a statement. "Without it, this might sound like another record about self-destruction and pain, but at heart, it's about hope, and finding strength. It's about finding the light at the end of the tunnel and crawling towards it." Choosing arrives via Bella Union, the tastemaking label led by Simon Raymonde, formerly of Scottish dream pop band Cocteau Twins. — J.T.
White Lung - Premonition
Release date: December 2
Canadian punk rockers White Lung weren't expecting to take six years to follow up 2016's celebrated Paradise. As the story goes, the band got together in their hometown of Vancouver in 2017, expecting to rip out their final album before parting ways. In the studio, frontwoman Mish Barber-Way discovered she was pregnant with her first child — which, along with a global pandemic and another child, put the album plans on ice.
Fast forward to 2022, and White Lung's fifth and final album, Premonition, is finally here. With all that extra time to marinate, Premonition is a thrilling return from the trio, mining deeper themes with the same raucous, kick-down-the-door energy that fans expect. The album opens furiously with "Hysteric", and also features the singles "Date Night" and "Tomorrow," which match Barber-Way's impassioned vocals with muscular punk-rock riffing.
"We felt like this record was the right endpoint and we are happy the songs will finally be released," the band wrote in a statement. — J.T.
A Boogie Wit da Hoodie - Me vs. Myself
Release date: December 9
New York's A Boogie wit da Hoodie has been steadily hyping the release of his fourth album, Me Vs Myself, throughout 2022. Originally scheduled for November, the album will drop this month, right in time for A Boogie's hometown album launch at the iconic Apollo Theater in Harlem.
Me Vs Myself was preceded by a pair of singles, "Take Shots," featuring Tory Lanez, and "Ballin," which both showcase the rapper's supremely confident flow and wavy beats. While the full tracklist is not yet confirmed, A Boogie's previous album, ARTIST 2.0, covered the R&B and rap spectrum with guests like Summer Walker, Khalid, Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert, without pulling focus from the main star. The rapper has already lined up dates for the Me Vs Myself tour stretching into 2023, so it's a great time to bet on A Boogie. — J.T.
Mount Westmore - Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort
Release date: December 9
When living legends Snoop Dogg, E-40, Too Short and Ice Cube formed the supergroup Mount Westmore, West Coast rap heads took notice. After several hints that a collaborative album was coming, Mount Westmore made the surprise decision to release their debut, Bad MFs, exclusively as an NFT via the blockchain-based platform Gala Music.
The album arrives on streaming services this month under a new title, Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort, featuring additional songs not included on the NFT version. A spirit of loose fun and ride-or-die friendship carries through all the singles released so far, including the swaggering "Bad MFs" and the bass-heavy, light-hearted "Big Subwoofer." As Snoop put it to HotNewHipHop, "You bring the legends of the West Coast together, something great will always happen." — J.T.
Leland Whitty - Anyhow
Release date: December 9
Best known as a member of Toronto-based jazz ensemble BADBADNOTGOOD, Leland Whitty is a true multi-instrumentalist. On his seven-track solo release, Anyhow, Whitty oversaw all production and composition, moving deftly between guitar, synthesizer, woodwinds and strings.
Following his scores for indie films Disappearance at Clifton Hill and Learn to Swim, Whitty was inspired to combine cinematic composition with rock and jazz instrumentation in his own project. Lead single "Awake" perfectly strikes that balance with twinkling keys, mournful strings and an insistent drum beat, while follow-up "Glass Moon" conjures a similarly beguiling mood. Members of BADBADNOTGOOD and Whitty's musician brother also joined the studio sessions, making Anyhow a family affair. — J.T.
Jacquees - Sincerely For You
Release date: December 16
On "Say Yea", the sultry bedroom anthem he dropped back in May, Jacquees croons, "Girl, you overdue for some romantic s—." That simple line is something of a mission statement for the R&B casanova, whose third album, Sincerely For You, drops this month.
The LP features "Say Yea" alongside 16 more R&B jams, including singles "Tipsy," which captures the singer's blurry plea to a lover, and the smoothly boastful "Still That." Elsewhere, Sincerely For You offers up guest turns from Future (who also executive produced the album), 21 Savage and Tory Lanez, plus the R&B dream team of 6lack and Summer Walker on "Tell Me It's Over." On his socials, Jacquees dedicated the album to "everybody who been there for me along the way" and promised to deliver only "real R&B." — J.T.
Ab-Soul - Herbert
Release date: December 16
Six hard-won years after his last album, the divisive, conspiracy theory-heavy Do What Thou Wilt., Ab-Soul has found his drive again. The rapper from Carson, California returns this month with a deeply personal album that shares his birth name, Herbert.
Ab-Soul's new outlook was previewed in lead single "Do Better," which reckons with the scars of his past and looks to the future with powerful clarity. The next single, "Gang'Nem," featuring Houston rapper FRE$H and produced by fellow Top Dawg Entertainment mainstay Sounwave, also revisits his upbringing and pays respect to L.A. street culture over a woozy, hard-hitting beat.
For fans of Ab-Soul's dense lyrical style and gravelly flow, Herbert is an eagerly-anticipated return to the rap limelight. — J.T.
NCT DREAM - Candy
Release date: December 19
NCT Dream, the youngest sub-group of Neo Culture Technology (NCT), has seen exponential growth since they rebranded as a fixed unit in 2020. The septet is set to release a winter special EP called Candy on Dec. 19. The mini-album's six tracks, include lead single "Candy," which was originally performed by H.O.T. in 1996. The album will be the first holiday release for any NCT sub-group, following a slew of successful releases from NCT Dream this year.
The group released their second studio album, Glitch, in March 2022, followed by their repackaged Beatbox in May. Their first feature film, NCT Dream The Movie: In a Dream, released worldwide on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 and documents the opening days of their tour in Seoul. The group will finish their tour in Japan by February 2023. — Ashlee Mitchell
Weezer - SZNZ: Winter
Release date: December 21
This has been a remarkably good year to be a Weezer fan. Always pleasingly prolific, in 2022 the band decided to release a four-EP series under the name SZNZ, each timed to coincide with a new season.
Following Spring, Summer and Autumn editions, SZNZ: Winter arrives just in time for peak coziness. While the complete tracklist is not yet known, Weezer performed the EP in full for an intimate crowd at the Troubadour in Los Angeles (using their favored alias Goat Punishment), with new highlights including "I Want A Dog" and "The One That Got Away."
While frontman Rivers Cuomo has described SZNZ: Winter as having a sad vibe that suits snowed-in days, you can always count on Weezer to cut the melancholy with some power-pop verve. — J.T.
Who Wore It Best On The 2018 GRAMMYs Red Carpet?
From Lady Gaga, SZA and Kesha to Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd, Imagine Dragons, Portugal. The Man, and more, vote on who you think took their fashion to the next level on the red carpet
Music's Biggest Night brought some of the most fashion-forward looks to the red carpet, especially for this special installment at the milestone 60th GRAMMY Awards in New York City.
From Lady Gaga, SZA and Kesha's hot looks, Portugal. The Man's trendy sneakers, Cardi B's amazing white gown, Pink's colorful feathers, Childish Gambino's all-white suit, Khalid in lilac, and Sam Smith in green, sound off on who you think work it best on the red carpet.