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Poll: From Lady Gaga, Lil Nas X, RuPaul, Sylvester & More, What's Your Favorite LGBTQIA Pride Anthem?
Joyful, upbeat music is an essential part of celebrating Pride, so GRAMMY.com would love to know what your favorite Pride anthem is
June—aka LGBTQIA Pride Month—is finally upon us! Joyful, upbeat music is an essential part of celebrating Pride, so GRAMMY.com would love to know what your favorite Pride anthem is. With music from gay disco icon Sylvester, drag queen superstar RuPaul, inclusivity advocate and Mother Monster Lady Gaga, young barrier-breaking cowboy Lil Nas X, and many more to choose from, we hope this list brings you joy as you contemplate your top rainbow bop.
Vote now in our poll below by Tuesday, June 15, and have a wonderful Pride!
Photos (clockwise, from top left): Dave Benett/Getty Images for Alexander McQueen; Image from TiVO; Mason Rose; Image from TiVO; Arturo Holmes/Getty Images; Image from TiVO; Prince Williams/WireImage; Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Here Are The Album Of The Year Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs
The 2024 GRAMMY nominees for Album Of The Year have arrived: Jon Batiste, boygenius, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey, Janelle Monáe, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, and SZA.
In a world dominated by singles and streaming, it's even more important for albums to be cherished and preserved. The Recording Academy celebrates albums as essential, beloved formats of artistic expression, especially in the coveted Album Of The Year Category.
From gutsy pop to psychedelic soul, the eight nominees for Album Of The Year at the 2024 GRAMMYs — which are notably dominated by women, people of color, and the queer community — are a reflection of the joyous diversity within the music community.
Below, take a deeper dive into who's in the running for Album Of The Year on Music's Biggest Night.
Jon Batiste — World Music Radio
On the opening track of World Music Radio, Jon Batiste importantly reminds listeners that music is not just a passive recreation, but an experience. Or, at least the interstellar radio host Billy Bob does.
Narrated by Billy Bob, Batiste's 21-song concept album is made to sound like it's an actual radio station; amid intermittent static and between-song messaging, the station welcomes a slew of high-profile musical guests, ranging from Lana Del Rey to NewJeans to Lil Wayne. Including everything from smooth DJ interludes to crystal-clear saxophone solos to sparkling piano riffs, World Music Radio has something for everyone within its one-hour runtime.
With five GRAMMYs under his belt — including one for Album Of The Year — Batiste understands the significance of pushing boundaries in music. Consequently, World Music Radio questions genre as much as it questions how we can make the world a more inclusive place.
According to an Instagram post, Batiste's album aims to "'re-examine and redefine terms like world music as they exist in the culture."' The "'re"' prefix is what music is all about: reliving memories, reinventing what's been done before, and redefining things we previously thought we understood. Riding the airwaves all the way to an Album Of The Year nomination, Batiste's latest visionary work reminds us to reconsider what we think we know — and then, dial in.
boygenius — the record
On the vinyl version of the record, a locked groove leaves listeners perpetually listening to a single word: "'waiting."' The lyric goes eternally unfinished.
But good things come to those who wait, and for boygenius, a year like 2023 has never made this more discernible. Less than a year after the group debuted at Coachella and embarked on not one but two tours, they're now in the running for the GRAMMY for Album Of The Year.
Skyrocketing to headliner fame this year, the indie rock supergroup composed of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus released their debut album back in spring. Preceded only by a singular, successful EP from five years prior, the record proves itself to be very much worth the wait: chock-full of dreams of arson, $20 bills, and calls to kill the bourgeois, it froths with charisma and jocular amity.
This marks boygenius' first collective GRAMMY nomination, as well as the first nominations for Baker and Dacus. Bridgers' Punisher made her a 4-time GRAMMY nominee at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards. But it's not the group's only nod at the 2024 show — boygenius earned six nominations in total, including Record Of The Year.
What makes the record so momentous is its testament to the trio's vibrant, long-standing friendship — specifically, a companionship rooted in queerness, as well as in opposition to the idea that women in the industry should be pitted against each other. the record intensely and unmistakably feels the gravity of their organic bond, and in this way, it stands for so much more than 12 songs.
Miley Cyrus — Endless Summer Vacation
It's time to give Miley Cyrus her flowers. The GRAMMY-nominated artist already struck gold earlier this year, with her liberating lead single "'Flowers"' breaking records left and right. The track blossoms with the sweet nectar of independence, and this embrace of freedom is the heart of Endless Summer Vacation.
Her album's title denotes a perpetual stretch into eternity, but if there's one thing Cyrus is known for, it's change. Whether it's radically altering her style or switching up her aesthetic, the longtime pop queen knows that creative adaptability is one of her many strengths.
Endless Summer Vacation spotlights this versatility, from Cyrus warmly soaking up "'Violet Chemistry"' to reflecting on when she "'Used To Be Young."' Her signature gravelly drawl suits the album's disco-infused, beachy production — a major shift from the unyielding, punk rock of predecessor Plastic Hearts (2020), or the power pop-trap spotlighted on her 2019 EP, SHE IS COMING.
Notably, this marks Cyrus' first Album Of The Year nomination for her own work (she received a nod for her feature on Lil Nas X's 2021 LP Montero). The honor praises not just Endless Summer Vacation as a salient career highlight, but also applauds the singer's resilience after years of musical shapeshifting — Cyrus was due for a well-deserved vacation.
Lana Del Rey — Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd
On her ninth studio album, Lana Del Rey honors kintsugi, or the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery pieces with gold. Now, with an Album Of The Year nomination, she could be taking home GRAMMY gold.
Del Rey's last nomination in this Big Four category was for Norman Fucking Rockwell! at the 2020 GRAMMYs. While NFR! freewheeled along the West Coast, paving a soft rock landscape inspired by '70s Americana, Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd leans away from Del Rey's habitual worldbuilding. Instead, the singer let spirituality guide her music-making process, dabbling in everything from gospel to trap.
Even though Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd is Del Rey's most natural album yet, the work still feels otherworldly. Throwing caution to the wind, she delves into the multifaceted nature of her identity, candidly examining personal matters relating to religion, mortality and family.
In the same way a pottery artist might delicately approach kintsugi, Del Rey approaches making music with a keen eye and open heart. She searches for ways to sculpt beauty from flaws and fractures — after all, that's how the light gets in.
Janelle Monáe — The Age Of Pleasure
The rush of a crush, the sigh from a single touch — euphoria comes in many beautiful forms, and on her latest album, Janelle Monáe wants you to experience all of them.
The Age Of Pleasure ushers in Monáe's vision of rapture, dreamily blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. The 10-time GRAMMY-nominated artist has long defied labels, whether it be regarding genre or their personal identity, and their latest album celebrates love in all its color and fluidity.
It's all smooth sailing in The Age Of Pleasure. Soulfully, the multihyphenate singer swims through romantic R&B, plunges into funky rap, and bathes in soft pop radiance — but above all, Monáe floats. She's untroubled and unbothered, and that's more than enough to warrant raising a glass.
Monáe's nomination for Album Of The Year acknowledges not just the thrill of living a life carefree, but also celebrates the divinity of all-encompassing love. The album is more than hips and lips galore: beyond giving into passion, it's about cherishing community and, most importantly, choosing joy for yourself.
Olivia Rodrigo — GUTS
Though she's the youngest nominee on the list, Olivia Rodrigo knows she has nothing to prove.
Already a 3-time GRAMMY winner before her 20th birthday, the "'drivers license"' singer/songwriter unsurprisingly resisted the sophomore slump. On her plucky second album GUTS, she leans a little more into punkish pent-up rage than the crying-on-the-bathroom-floor heartache of her 2021 debut, SOUR — and impressively, her determination earned her a second consecutive GRAMMY nomination for Album Of The Year.
Whether her self-reflection appears in the form of piano-led balladry or pop-rock headbangers, Rodrigo tackles wilted relationships, growing pains and everything in between with her characteristically refreshing charm. From the gritty, Joan Didion-inspired "'all american b—"' to the leave-him-to-rot breakup anthem "'vampire,"' GUTS knows how to make a statement without forgetting to have a bit of fun.
Rodrigo, who won the GRAMMY for Best New Artist at the 2022 ceremony, understands the resonant power of her pen, and the singer's swift ascent to fame mirrors her swelling talent. It's already been almost two years since the smash success of "'drivers license,"' but Rodrigo isn't taking her foot off the gas.
Taylor Swift — Midnights
Best believe Taylor Swift is still bejeweled.
Of the megastar's extensive discography, Midnights might just be its crowning jewel thus far. Swift's tenth studio album dives deeper into pop experimentalism, steering away from the indie folk journeys that folklore and evermore so calmly encompassed; Midnights silhouettes the life of a beloved, high-profile "'Anti-Hero"' and assertively offers some of Swift's most ambitious work yet.
It's this fearless ambition that makes Swift no stranger to the GRAMMYs. On top of nearly 50 nominations total, the 12-time GRAMMY winner is the first and only woman solo artist to win Album Of The Year three times for her solo recordings. As Swifties know, she loves to break her own records — and if Midnights takes home GRAMMY gold, Swift would become the artist with the most Album Of The Year wins of all time.
This Midnights nomination marks a climax for Swift's career, and even though the singer has collected countless milestones, this year might be her most colossal yet. As she continues to bring all of her musical eras to life, Swift isn't just reliving her musical past — she's writing her future.
SZA — SOS
SZA knows how to build anticipation. Keeping her fans in suspense for five years, the prolific GRAMMY winner released her 2022 sophomore album SOS to wide critical acclaim — and while its title suggests a sense of helplessness, SOS puts forth plenty of strength.
SZA understands the vast power of vulnerability, and she wields this power expertly, whether it be forcefully or delicately. During the album's wade through loneliness and insecurity, the singer occasionally employs features from friends like Don Toliver, Phoebe Bridgers, and Travis Scott, but above all, SZA's self-discovery remains in the spotlight.
The R&B star scored her first GRAMMY just two years ago, sharing the award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance with Doja Cat for their lovable collaboration "'Kiss Me More"' at the 2022 GRAMMYs. While the pop-rap collaboration bubbles with lost-in-the-moment delight, SOS looks at life with a wider lens; in her single "'Shirt,"' SZA admits that she's "'in the dark right now/ feeling lost but I like it,"' and it's these glimmers of self-assurance that show her a light at the end of the tunnel.
This Album Of The Year nomination nods to the singer's personal growth since her 2017 debut Ctrl. Although SZA sings about a fear of letting other people define her, SOS rejects other people's terms and soars as a bold reclamation: by defying others, she rediscovers herself.
The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.
The Recording Academy and GRAMMY.com do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy's Voting Membership.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage
10 Reasons Why 'ARTPOP' Is Lady Gaga’s Bravest Album
Released in 2013 and following the iconic 'Born This Way,' Lady Gaga's 'ARTPOP' was maligned and misunderstood. Yet the avant garde album took admirable leaps in genre, style and presentation — and deserves serious applause.
Universally deemed a misfit (even among Gaga’s off-kilter discography), it was all too easy to crack “artflop” jokes as the record’s reception paled in comparison to the thunder of 2011’s Born This Way. In addition to Billboard-charting bangers aside, Born This Way pledged to be a champion for LGBTQIA+ rights, employing the word “bravery” so frequently that the two are now inextricably bound. The album’s daring demeanor had created a tough spectacle to follow, even for the shock-pop maven.
But rebukes of ARTPOP’s avant-garde concepts and stylings, disregard the record’s brazen interweaving of music, fashion, technology, and digital art. Released after Gaga broke her hip and canceled the Born This Way Ball tour, ARTPOP was a canvas of earth-shattering bursts of pain and passion, and an electronic confessional.
For her efforts and vision, Gaga's maligned 2013 album would become a blueprint for contemporary alt-pop artists — not just with its experimental clash of genres, but through its winking subversion of industry expectations.
In honor of ARTPOP’s tenth anniversary this month, read on for 10 reasons why the overlooked outcast of Gaga’s catalog is actually the bravest album of them all.
It Prioritized Creativity Over Sales And Charts
When the public slams an artist for “only” selling one million copies of an album in a week, record sales lose their shine. After facing flack for her Born This Way numbers in 2011, Lady Gaga entered the ARTPOP era with clear intentions: creativity for creativity’s sake.
“Really, it’s about freeing yourself from the expectations of the music industry and the expectations of the status quo,” she explained during an interview at SXSW. And you know she meant it, because that same week she bucked those pressures by climbing atop a mechanical bull, where she served as the human canvas for the "creative output” of vomit artist Millie Brown.
“I write for the music not for the charts,” she tweeted, addressing a comparison between her lead single “Applause” and Katy Perry’s song “Roar,” which outperformed “Applause” on the Billboard charts. The singles were released days apart, stirring up a heated conversation about which singer was a more powerful pop star. Gaga was, of course, quick to crush the debate.
“Applause” peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and despite being released in mid-November, ARTPOP nabbed 2.3 million album sales worldwide by the end of 2013. In contrast, Born This Way sold 2.1 million copies between its May 2011 release and the end of its debut year in the United States alone.
It Put Gaga In The Producer's Seat — Alone
By 2013, Lady Gaga boasted an impressive list of co-producing credits from working alongside collaborators like RedOne, DJ White Shadow, and Fernando Garibay. Yet ARTPOP marks the first time she slipped behind the soundboard by herself.
For "Venus," an intergalactic ode to lust that blossoms into starry-eyed infatuation, she saluted the titular goddess of love and pushed the men out of the room, folding a hybrid Sun Ra reference/Zombie Zombie sample into her sexually-emboldened EDM. Gaga cites "Venus" as the first song she ever self-produced, a major milestone for the multi-hyphenate and for women producers as a whole.
It Wasn't Afraid To Get Messy
One decade’s definition of "sloppy" is the next decade’s epitome of style. In 2013, the general consensus among critics was that ARTPOP’s sound was often too messy to take seriously. Their examples were copious; "Aura," for instance, dedicates 15 seconds to nothing but hysterical, autotuned laughter over an unraveling country western guitar riff. Manic deep cuts "MANiCURE" and "Jewels N’ Drugs" were labeled choppy and sonically inconsistent, as Gaga allegedly struggled to find common ground between rock, trap, and electronic music.
Compared to the streamlined pop sound of the time — including some of Gaga’s prior hits — ARTPOP’s frenetic mishmash of sounds felt totally alien. "I was desperate, in pain, and poured my heart into electronic music that slammed harder than any drug I could find," Gaga reflected, explaining her need for catharsis over catchiness (a choice that she was lambasted for at the time).
Ten years later, her avant garde approach to pop suddenly seems remarkably en vogue, as genre-hopping and highly-textured sonic palettes become the norm — especially in the alt-pop sphere. In hindsight, it’s apparent that ARTPOP was ridiculed so artists like SOPHIE, Charli XCX, and Dorian Electra could rave.
It Was, Literally, Designed To Be Out Of The World
ARTPOP prioritized pushing art into uncharted territory, and not just on Earth.In addition to a naked Jeff Koons sculpture of Gaga herself, the album’s release was feted with the debut of a flying dress named Volantis. The original creation from Gaga’s TechHaus (a branch of her Haus Labs team) is technically an "electric powered hover vehicle" that fits around Gaga’s body to hoist her into the air. Gaga offered a less technical term for it, calling the dress a metaphor. "I will be the vehicle of their voices," she said during a press conference, sharing her vision for representing young fans in the sky.
Volantis arrived alongside news that Gaga would become the first musician to perform in space aboard a Virgin Galactic ship. The flying dress successfully cleared its first flight; the Virgin ship unfortunately did not. After a fatal test flight, the plans for Gaga’s galactic debut were canceled.
It Crushed Tabloid Trash-Talking
It’s admittedly hard to recall ARTPOP’s ill-conceived R. Kelly collaboration "Do What U Want" without wincing. Beyond Kelly’s unnerving presence on the track, his lone sexually-charged verse ultimately skewed the true message of the song, transforming a kiss off to tabloid journalism into randy radio fodder.
Gaga scrubbed the song from streaming services in 2019, sparing the alternative version that instead features Christina Aguilera. Here, Gaga’s intended retaliation shines: "You can’t have my heart / and you won’t use my mind / but do what you want with my body," she taunts on the chorus, welcoming the public’s superficial — and therefore meaningless — judgments.
When unveiling the track in October of 2013, she took to X (then named Twitter) to trounce a litany of rumors and nitpicks about her weight, likeness to Madonna, and erroneous identity as a hermaphrodite. At its core, "Do What U Want" proved that the only gesture more pointed than a middle finger is cackling while inviting the world to do its worst.
It Invented A New Artistic Concept
Lady Gaga can’t take credit for the notion of art-pop, but she did coin a new phrase, calling the conceptual glue of ARTPOP a "reverse Waholian expedition." Translation: if Andy Warhol transformed mass-produced items like Campbell’s soup into high art, then Gaga wanted to flip the process, placing high art where it could be easily accessible to the public.
As a result, the visual aspects of ARTPOP present a mosaic of the most esteemed masterpieces of all time. The busy album cover fuses the brilliance of American sculptor Jeff Koons with fragments of Sandro Boticelli’s magnum opus "The Birth of Venus," while her outfits for public appearances nodded to greats like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali with brash makeup and fake mustaches. The concept opened her up to mockery — including from Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine — but introduced the basics of art history to millions of listeners worldwide.
It Openly Examined Gaga's Relationship With Drugs And Alcohol
Many of ARTPOP’s most exuberant moments orbit high or drunken states, such as Gaga sneaking around Amersterdam while stoned and incognito on "Mary Jane Holland." Trap outlier "Jewels N’ Drugs," which collects verses from T.I., Twista, and Too $hort, packs the same giddy punch despite its somewhat awkward execution. Yet the party pauses on "Dope," ARTPOP’s sole piano ballad.
The sobering single gazes inward, where Gaga finds a startling void, her spirit gutted after years of addiction. While the song’s lyrics vow to prioritize loved ones over drugs and liquor, Gaga revealed the most personal promise during her album release show.
"I do not have to be high to be creative," she professed from behind her piano, hand raised in the air as if taking an oath. "I do not need to be drunk to have a good idea. I can sit with my thoughts and not feel crazy." On an album bursting with innovation, "Dope" is her firmest pledge to self-improvement, delivered with aching sincerity.
It Ventured Into The Tech World
Designing mind-bending art? There’s an app for that. Or there was, anyways. ARTPOP arrived with a supplemental app, designed to enhance Gaga’s multimedia approach to the album’s release. As a way to empower fans to dabble in digital art, one of the app’s main features was a gif and still image generator that allowed users to choose from a rainbow of gyrating geometric shapes and backgrounds. Most creations straddled the line between optical illusion and Tumblr-ready art. The app also offered fans the ability to stream the album and chat with each other.
It was an entertaining endeavor, albeit ultimately a short-lived one. Despite an in-app countdown for other features, including a stream of new behind the scenes videos and a digital audio workshop called TrakStar, neither element came to fruition. Due to Gaga’s shift in management, the project was never developed further.
Still, the ARTPOP app remains a unique addition to pop’s first brushes with modern tech, long predating crossovers like Charli XCX performances on Roblox and AI-created music.
It Refused To Shy Away From Themes Of Sexual Assault
When ARTPOP hit shelves, the world was still three years away from the awareness about pervasive sexual assault revealed by the #MeToo movement. But a hush around the topic didn’t stop Gaga from eeking out a screech or two about her own experiences with abuse in 2013. While Gaga has since divulged more information about her unfortunate experiences with predators as a fledgling popstar, the ARTPOP track "Swine" dropped some of the first angsty breadcrumbs about her survival story.
"I know you want me / You’re just a pig inside a human body / Squealer, squealer, squealer, you’re so dis-GUS-ting," she practically spits with revulsion on the chorus. The deep cut is an exorcism dressed up as a rave, revealing a gut-churning snapshot of a woman publicly processing her own violation years before the act was deemed acceptable.
It Was Her First Record After Canceling The Born This Way Ball
Scrapping a major tour over an injury shouldn’t warrant a comeback, but that’s what the world demanded of Lady Gaga when her Born This Way Ball hit the brakes. Gaga was forced to end the tour early in February 2013 when she broke her hip, thwarting her ability to walk, let alone dance. As she underwent surgery and paparazzi vied for photos of her in a Louis Vuitton wheelchair, the public largely viewed the truncated Born This Way Ball as a personal failure on Gaga’s part.
By the time ARTPOP arrived, the expectations for her next move couldn’t have been higher — which made Gaga’s spasmic, genre-jumping, vomit-covered return to pop all the more daring.
© Paisley Park Enterprises | Photographer: Randee St. Nicholas
Behind 'Diamonds and Pearls' Super Deluxe Edition: A Fresh Look At Prince & The New Power Generation’s Creative Process
With unreleased songs and a concert, a new series of box sets broadens the understanding of Prince's 'Diamonds and Pearls.' GRAMMY.com spoke with the New Power Generation's Tony Mosley about creating the 1991 release.
When Prince released Diamonds and Pearls in October 1991, it represented both a sea change and return to form.
The 13th album since his 1978 debut, Diamonds and Pearls was Prince's first release with the New Power Generation — a band formed with several musicians who toured with him in the years since the Revolution. Where the Revolution, which disbanded in 1986, was synth-heavy, NPG were more guitar and percussion-centric. The new group was anchored by Rosie Gaines, a powerhouse vocalist and songwriter from the Bay Area, and rapper Tony M.
Aesthetically, the holographic album cover — which depicts Prince in close contact with two new faux girlfriends named Diamond and Pearl — reflected the sensuality and excess long associated with the Purple One.
Fans devoured saucy singles such as the title track, "Gett Off," "Insatiable" and the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1, hit "Cream." The title track was nominated for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal at the 35th GRAMMY Awards; "Gett Off" was nominated for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal the previous year.
Thirty-two years later, on Oct. 27, Paisley Park Enterprises, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Records will release remastered standard, deluxe and "super deluxe" versions of the album in digital and various physical formats on Sony’s Legacy Recordings. The latest of several posthumous album reissues, this new suite of Diamonds and Pearls releases include a variety of fresh amenities.
For example, the super deluxe edition includes 33 unreleased studio recordings, 14 live songs, 15 remastered singles (which include remixes and edits) and three hours of video, including a full live performance of the album at Glam Slam, Prince’s former Minneapolis nightclub. The album wasn’t accompanied by a tour in America, so it’s a show that Stateside fans never got to see.
"Prince collectors are excited about every release, though mileage varies," says Scott Woods, author of Prince and Little Weird Black Boy Gods. "The gold for collectors is really in unreleased material…. Even if you don't like Diamonds and Pearls, you have to love the dozens of unreleased tracks that come with it.
"I don't know most of the unreleased tracks, so it's about to be Christmas in October for me," Woods adds.
The unreleased songs provide a gift of insight into some of Prince’s musical interests that he explored in the early '90s, including hard guitar-driven rock, house, hip-hop and New Jack Swing. Yet the original release of Diamonds and Pearls showcases Prince's experimental nature.
"He took some chances — especially on me, to bring me into the fold," admits Tony M, a.k.a. Tony Mosley, the New Power Generation’s rapper who was also a dancer and appeared in Purple Rain. The pop community felt like Prince had ditched them and his fan base didn't want to hear rap, Mosley shared. "So how are we going to bridge this gap? There were plenty of times I felt like I was swinging at both sides."
Mosley co-wrote and/or appeared on several songs on Diamonds and Pearls, including "Gett Off," and he contributed heavily to several of the previously unreleased songs on the super deluxe edition. Many of the previously unreleased songs contain riffs and iterations of ideas that appear on the original album track listing, so listeners can get a notion of how he refined the known songs along the way.
Since Prince was notoriously guarded about all of the unreleased material in his vaunted Paisley Park vault, he may not have wanted his fans to hear some of the works in progress that are included in the super deluxe edition. But they offer a much-welcomed window into his creative processes that will strengthen a fan’s ardor for the artist.
"[Prince] was so protective and so reclusive on a lot of this stuff," Mosley says.
"Some of [the tracks], we were like, ‘Man, this is it, you need to drop this now!’ But it would never see the light of day. I’m glad, in the same breath, that some of these things are coming out, because you see a different side to him… it gives the fans an opportunity to see how he progressed and began to put songs together."
While none of the tracks were finished, the foundation was there, Mosley explained. "Once he brought in the musicians to expand upon the original idea, you start to see it flourish and grow and bloom into something totally different."
"I remember being fascinated with the rapper on the album, Tony M," Public Enemy frontman Chuck D wrote in an essay that accompanies the super deluxe edition called "He Taught Everyone You Can Never Make Too Much Music." "I thought he was just dope, thought what they were doing was funkier and more on point than anything that was going on in the rap circles and R&B at that moment, and they were on it.
"Prince definitely used rap as an instrument. He kept the tempos up and strong, and the music was giving it air and space, and I don’t think a lot of rap records were doing that," he continued.
The beyond-prolific Prince didn’t exactly have patience for the long album cycles that were typical from major labels of the era. While he was touring the Diamonds and Pearls album, he was writing songs that would appear on 1992’s Love Symbol.
"By the time [Diamonds and Pearls] came out, we had three more albums in the can and he was ready for the next project," Mosley recalls, "and I just remember listening to the argument over and over and over again. You know, Warner Brothers looks at it from a business perspective — they’re, like, ‘Dude, there’s five more singles on this album, we need to work this.’ And Prince was like, ‘I’m done, I’m ready to drop the next one.’"
Remembered for its nakedly brazen jams (and the accompanying assless outfits) as well as its super sweet ballads, Diamonds and Pearls remains a highly listenable effort among Prince’s vast discography.
"It holds its value," Mosley says of hearing the album today. "We were moving so fast at the time and we were just constantly recording and you didn’t really have time to sit back and reflect on what you had just created because he had moved on. So you had to move at that pace. When I go back and I start to listen to a lot of that stuff, I say, man, we really did some different things, some creative things.
"It was frustrating at times. But, he had his vision, and one thing he always schooled me to do and taught me along the way, he said, ‘Tony, I don’t write for everybody else, I write for me and what I’m feeling," Mosley recalls. "So when you write, don’t write to impress a certain demographic or community, write what comes from you.’"
10 Ways Cher's "Believe" Changed Pop Music
As Cher's GRAMMY-winning hit celebrates its 25th anniversary, blast "Believe" and dig into the many ways it became one of pop's all-time classics.
The incomparable Cher had already achieved iconic status long before she dropped the title track from her 22nd studio effort, Believe, at the tail end of 1998. After all, this was an artist who'd forged one of the most successful pop duos of the '60s, scored a record-breaking trio of number ones in the '70s, and reinvented herself as an MTV goddess in the '80s. Not to mention her contributions outside of music: the hit variety shows, Broadway runs, and Hollywood moonlighting — the latter of which saw her win an Oscar.
But the success of "Believe" was still unlike anything else Cher had achieved during her illustrious 35 years in the business. It reached No. 1 in 21 different countries across the globe (including a four-week stint at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.), sold 11 million copies, and cleaned up at everything from the International Dance Music Awards to the Ivor Novellos. For a good 12 months, it was practically impossible to avoid hearing its dance-pop beats, lovelorn lyrics and, of course, that famous robotic vocal effect.
But "Believe" didn't just significantly impact Cher's already glittering career — it also changed the face of pop music as we know it. From inspiring other divas to get their groove on to pioneering a piece of now-ubiquitous studio technique, take a look at 10 ways "Believe" impacted pop.
It Smashed Multiple Chart Records
It would almost be quicker to list which chart records "Believe" didn't completely obliterate. The song spent 21 weeks atop Billboard's Hot Dance Singles Sales, and was still in the Top 10 a full year later. It was also crowned the year-end No. 1 on both the Dance Club Songs and Hot 100 charts. And it produced the longest-ever gap between chart-toppers on the latter — 33 years and seven months, to be exact — as Cher's first No. 1 on the chart came in 1965 with her Sonny Bono duet "I Got You Babe."
"Believe" was just as successful across the pond, beating George Michael, U2, Culture Club, and Alanis Morisette in a famous five-way battle for No. 1. And with 1.8 million copies sold, it's still the U.K.'s highest-selling single by a female performer.
It Inspired Several Divas To Dance
Cher had initially resisted Warner UK label boss Rob Dickins' idea to pursue a dance direction, reportedly arguing that the genre wasn't conducive to "real songs." It's unlikely many of her peers took much persuading, however, after witnessing the monumental success of "Believe."
In fact, pretty much every pop diva on the other side of 50 seemed to take to the dance floor over the following 12 months: see Diana Ross' "Not Over You Yet," Tina Turner's "When the Heartache Is Over," and Donna Summer's "I Will Go With You (Con Te Partiro)." Madonna (Confessions on a Dancefloor), Kylie Minogue (Tension), and Cyndi Lauper (Bring Ya to the Brink) have all since proved middle age and dance music needn't be mutually exclusive terms with entire albums tailor-made for the clubs.
It Finally Gave Cher A Grammy
It seems hard to believe that Cher had to wait until the turn of the millennium to pick up her first GRAMMY. The pop veteran had previously been nominated alongside then-husband Sonny Bono in the Best New Artist category in 1966. The pair also received a nod in the Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group in 1972 for "All I Ever Need Is You," the same year Cher was recognized as a solo artist with a Best Female Pop Vocal Performance nomination for "Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves." But on all three occasions, Cher went home empty-handed.
The star finally emerged victorious in 2000, however, when "Believe" won Best Dance Recording. (The song and same-named parent LP had picked up nods for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album, respectively, too). Peter Rauhofer was also crowned Best Remixer of the Year for his work on the track under the guise of Club 69.
It Paved The Way For An Exciting '00s Hit Factory
Nine different people, including Cher herself, are given songwriting/production credits on "Believe." But the most interesting behind-the-scenes name is Brian Higgins, the man who penned an early version of the track a full eight years before it was released. A virtual unknown when the finished product finally arrived, Higgins would go on to shape the following decade of British pop music thanks to his pioneering work as part of the production powerhouse known as Xenomania.
Best-known for guiding the career of their ultimate muses, Girls Aloud, the team also carved out weird and wonderful singles for Sugababes, The Saturdays, and Alesha Dixon.Pet Shop Boys, Kylie Minogue, and Saint Etienne were just a few of the more established names who turned to Xenomania for hit-making assistance, too.
It Made Cher Relevant Again
Cher looked to have been consigned to heritage act status before "Believe" came to the rescue. She'd only scored one U.S. Top 10 hit in the 1990s ("Just Like Jesse James") and that was at the very start of the decade; her last studio effort, covers album It's A Man's World, had peaked at a lowly No. 64 on the Billboard 200. But Cher isn't known as a comeback queen for nothing. The Believe campaign not only saved her from the musical wilderness, but it also kickstarted the most consistent, if undoubtedly sporadic, chapter of her career.
Indeed, although "Strong Enough" and "Song for the Lonely" are her only Hot 100 entries since (No. 57 and 85, respectively), 2001's Living Proof, 2013's Closer to the Truth, and 2018's ABBA tribute Dancing Queen have all reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200. And while Cher was always a powerful live draw, the Believe era took things to new heights: 2002's long-running (and misleadingly-named) The Farewell Tour, grossed $200 million across a whopping 325 dates to become the highest-grossing concert series by a female artist at the time.
It Proved Age Ain't Nothin' But A Number
Bette Midler, Aretha Franklin, and Tina Turner had all previously reached the top of the Hot 100 in their forties. But no female artist had ever achieved such a feat until "Believe" came along. Cher was aged 52 years and nine months when the dance-pop anthem took her number one tally to four in March 1999. And while the annual return of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" saw a 53-year-old Mariah Carey surpass this milestone in 2022, Cher can still lay claim to being the oldest chart-topping woman with a newly released song.
The star will have to score a fifth, however, if she's to break the all-time record: Louis Armstrong was three months shy of his 63rd birthday when he knocked The Beatles off pole position with 1963's "Hello Dolly."
It Introduced The World To Auto-Tune
According to Pitchfork, a remarkable 99 percent of all contemporary pop music utilizes the pitch-altering recording technique known as Auto-Tune. And that's pretty much all down to The Cher Effect. Although designed to subtly correct a wayward vocal, the producers of "Believe" decided to make it blatantly obvious that studio trickery had been at play, transforming one of pop's most easily identifiable voices into that of a wobbly android.
Cher had to fight to keep the song's unique selling point, telling unconvinced label bosses they'd have to remove it "over my dead body." And her instinct proved to be right. The pioneering use of Auto-Tune was undoubtedly the catalyst for the song's phenomenal success, ultimately paving the way for everyone fromLil Wayne andT-Pain toDaft Punk andBlack Eyed Peas.
It Became A Pop Culture Fixture
You know a song has entered the nation's consciousness when it's been parodied by Matt Stone and Trey Parker. But South Park's incomprehensible version of "Believe," which appeared in season 3 episode "Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub," isn't the only way in which the chart-topper has permeated pop culture over the past 25 years.
It was also given the spoof treatment by MADtv, has become a lip-sync battle regular, and featured in the star-studded medley in Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga. More recently, it was mashed up with "The Muffin Man" by Adam Lambert for a That's My Jam performance that went viral.
It Brought Back Crying At The Disco
Cher had asked many questions through the medium of pop during her illustrious career: "Am I Blue?" "Does Anybody Really Fall in Love Anymore?" "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" But it was undoubtedly "Believe" on which she posed her most pressing. "Do you believe in life after love?," she sings in the famously Auto-Tuned chorus, a clever turn of phrase which set the song up as the '90s answer to "I Will Survive"; follow-up single "Strong Enough" would go even further by essentially borrowing its string section.
The "crying at the disco" anthem had largely fallen out of favor since Gloria Gaynor's heyday. But "Believe" proved once again it was possible to pour your heart out and throw some shapes at the same time. Robyn ("Dancing On My Own"), Pussycat Dolls ("Hush, Hush"), and Madonna ("Sorry") are just a few of the artists who appeared to be taking note.
It's Become A Part Of The Modern American Songbook
What do tween collective Kidz Bop, punk rock supergroup Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and Swedish synth-pop songstress Anna of the North all have in common? They've all put their own spin on the dance-pop masterpiece that is Cher's "Believe." And they're not the only ones, either.
In 2023, DMA's rendition wascrowned the all-time best cover to emerge from Aussie radio station Triple J's feature Like a Version.Manchester Orchestra,Lucy Dacus, and Jessie Ware have all interpreted the smash hit in their own distinctive ways over the past 18 months, too. And it's become a talent show staple thanks to ballad versions by the likes ofAdam Lambert,Jeffery Austin, andSheldon Riley. Should the Great American Songbook ever get modernized, then "Believe" is a shoo-in.