meta-scriptHow Skrillex & Fred Again.. Became Dance Music's Favorite Friendship: A Timeline | GRAMMY.com
How Skrillex & Fred Again.. Became Dance Music's Favorite Friendship: A Timeline
Fred Again (L) & Skrillex (R) in 2023

Photos: Kate Green/Getty Images & Venla Shalin/Redferns

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How Skrillex & Fred Again.. Became Dance Music's Favorite Friendship: A Timeline

Before they both play Ill Points in Miami this October, journey back through the highlights of Skrillex and Fred again..'s party-starting bromance.

GRAMMYs/Oct 9, 2023 - 07:13 pm

Few friendships in dance music have burned as brightly as the bromance between Fred Gibson, aka Fred again.., and Sonny Moore, a.k.a. Skrillex. In a few short years, the English phenom and Los Angeles-born bass don have forged a dynamic bond as DJ partners, co-producers, and mutual muses.

Brought together as fellow Ed Sheeran collaborators, their partnership went legit on "Rumble," an instant wobbly-bass classic featuring grime MC Flowdan, which Fred teased in his star-making 2022 Boiler Room set. Mere months after "Rumble" officially dropped that January, they closed Coachella with a historic set alongside their buddy and studio secret weapon Four Tet. 

Alongside all the music and viral moments, the friendship has clearly given Skrillex — a producer always looking for his next musical evolution — a new lease on life. 

After a pinch-yourself start to the year that also included a sold-out show with Four Tet at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Skrillex and Fred again.. will meet again this October at Ill Points in Miami. While billed separately, there’s no keeping these two apart. With much more expected from this superstar pairing, we’re taking a look back through their friendship so far. 

2019: Before his breakthrough as a solo artist, Fred again.. earned his stripes as a producer for U.K. grime acts like Headie One, Stormzy and AJ Tracey, and pop stadium-filler Ed Sheeran. While hailing from different sides of the Atlantic, he and Skrillex were destined to meet some day. 

Returning as a producer on Sheeran’s 2019 album, No.6 Collaborations Project, Fred again.. intersected with Skrillex (and producer/engineer Kenny Beats) on "Take Me Back to London," featuring Stormzy. Fusing pop hooks with grime swagger, the song hinted at the crisp basslines and drums to come from future Skrillex/Fred team-ups. 

In this period, Fred played Skrillex an early iteration of "Rumble," which he’d been trading back and forth with Flowdan. "The first time I ever met Sonny, I played him the first version we had," Fred recalled in an interview with BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders.

Skrillex requested the "stems" (the individual isolated parts of a recording) and made a version that he worried missed the mark. "I didn’t like it," he also told Saunders. "I thought I ruined the song." He and Fred tweaked the elements until it  clicked — and their friendship was born.

2021: With COVID-19 keeping artists grounded, Fred again.. released Actual Life (April 14 - December 17 2020), a collection of achingly personal electronic elegies that cemented his signature sound.

He followed it later that year with Actual Life 2 (February 2 - October 15 2021), which explored themes of grief and catharsis through a collage of electronic production, samples and audio clips from the producer’s "actual life." Skrillex, meanwhile, kicked off the year by releasing his collaboration with Four Tet and Starrah, "Butterflies," setting the stage for more transatlantic collaborations. 

June 2022: To kick off summer, fast friends Skrillex and Fred again.. rented a house in the idyllic English village of Pangbourne to work on new music. As Skrillex recalled on Instagram, he had an album to finish, while Fred again.. was finalising music for his then-imminent Boiler Room debut. Four Tet agreed to come and hang out for a bit, bringing his toothbrush just in case he was compelled to stay. As Skrillex put it on Instagram, "This moment marked the birth of the Pangbourne House Mafia."

July 2022: When Fred again.. rolled up to his Boiler Room debut in London, no one could’ve predicted the energy to come. Surrounded on all sides by sweaty, screaming admirers, the producer blazed through a hybrid DJ-live set that blended house, U.K. garage, grime, drum & bass, and pop.

He also used the set to preview a few of his collaborations with Skrillex, including "Rumble," which sent fans clamouring for clues online. The Boiler Room session blew up on YouTube (where it now has 22 million views), catapulting Fred again.. and his to-be-released collaborations to a whole new level. 

October 2022: While promoting his third album, Actual Life 3 (January 1 - September 9 2022), Fred again.. sat down for an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe at Skrillex’s house in Los Angeles. "We’ve done a home swap at the moment," the producer told Lowe, "so he’s staying at mine in London and I’m at his in L.A." Now, that’s true friendship.

January 2023: After making fans wait, Skrillex and Fred again.. Kicked off the year with a bang and finally released "Rumble" via Skrillex’s OWSLA label. The pair also grabbed Four Tet for a surprise back-to-back-to-back DJ set at London’s Electric Ballroom, which featured a whirlwind of new and unreleased music. What started as a one-off show rolled into three extremely sold-out nights at different venues, with the trio of DJs clearly having the time of their lives.

February 2023: In a career-defining month, Skrillex released his much-anticipated album Quest for Fire, which featured collaborators like Porter Robinson, Missy Elliot, Mr Oizo, Bobby Raps, and — of course — Fred again.. and Four Tet. To celebrate the release, the "Pangbourne House Mafia" casually announced a show at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden, which sold out within three minutes. To warm up, the trio created pandemonium with an impromptu DJ set in Times Square, where they trialled some new edits ahead of the big show.

April 2023: After selling out Madison Square Garden without breaking a sweat, and releasing team-up track, "Baby again.." in March, the unlikely supergroup of Fred, Skrillex and Four Tet went looking for the next high.

As it happened, that opportunity came on the second weekend of Coachella. With Frank Ocean relinquishing his Sunday headlining spot after a divisive weekend performance, the festival left a tantalizing TBA in the final slot. Before long, the cat was out of the bag, and dance music’s new favorite trio were headed to the desert with memeable merch bearing the slogan, OMG TBA.

"I didn’t think I was gonna be back with my brothers like this for a longgggg time," Fred again.. wrote on Instagram. "Until last night. And here we are." 

Appearing on a circular stage deep in the crowd, the DJs closed down Coachella with the excitement of three friends who couldn’t quite believe their luck. 

June 2023: With the members of the "Pangbourne House Mafia" returning to life as solo artists after Coachella, Fred again.. announced a three-night run at New York’s Forest Hills Stadium in October, followed by Ill Points in Miami, and then eight shows at Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles. With LA being Skrillex’s hometown, the two producers are sure to cook up something new - after, this is one friendship with a lot more to give.

NEIL FRANCES Just Want To Have Fun & Get Fuzzy

17 Love Songs That Have Won GRAMMYs: "I Will Always Love You," "Drunk In Love" & More
(L-R) Usher and Alicia Keys during the Super Bowl LVIII halftime show.

Photo: L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

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

Over the GRAMMYs' 66-year history, artists from Frank Sinatra to Ed Sheeran have taken home golden gramophones for their heartfelt tunes. Take a look at some of the love songs that have won GRAMMYs.

GRAMMYs/Feb 14, 2024 - 09:42 pm

Editor's Note: This is an update to a story from 2017.

Without heart-bursting, world-shifting love songs, music wouldn't be the same. There are countless classic and chart-topping hits dedicated to love, and several of them have won GRAMMYs.

We're not looking at tunes that merely deal with shades of love or dwell in heartbreak. We're talking out-and-out, no-holds-barred musical expressions of affection — the kind of love that leaves you wobbly at the knees.

No matter how you're celebrating Valentine's Day (or not), take a look at 18 odes to that feel-good, mushy-gushy love that have taken home golden gramophones over the years.

Frank Sinatra, "Strangers In The Night"

Record Of The Year / Best Vocal Performance, Male, 1967

Ol' Blue Eyes offers but a glimmer of hope for the single crowd on Valentine's Day, gently ruminating about exchanging glances with a stranger and sharing love before the night is through.

Willie Nelson, "Always On My Mind"

Best Country Vocal Performance, Male, 1983

In this cover, Nelson sings to the woman in his life, lamenting over those small things he should have said and done, but never took the time. Don't find yourself in the same position this Valentine's Day.

Lionel Richie, "Truly"

Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, 1983

"Truly" embodies true dedication to a loved one, and it's delivered with sincerity from the king of '80s romantic pop — who gave life to the timeless love-song classics "Endless Love," "Still" and "Three Times A Lady."

Roy Orbison, "Oh, Pretty Woman"

Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, 1991

Orbison captures the essence of encountering a lovely woman for the first time, and offers helpful one-liners such as "No one could look as good as you" and "I couldn't help but see … you look as lovely as can be." Single men, take notes.

Whitney Houston, "I Will Always Love You"

Record Of The Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, 1994

Houston passionately delivers a message of love, remembrance and forgiveness on her version of this song, which was written by country sweetheart Dolly Parton and first nominated for a GRAMMY in 1982.

Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme From Titanic)"  

Record Of The Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, 1999

This omnipresent theme song from the 1997 film Titanic was propelled to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 as the story of Jack and Rose (played by Leonardo DiCaprio and GRAMMY winner Kate Winslet) swept the country.

Shania Twain, "You're Still The One"

Best Female Country Vocal Performance, Best Country Song, 1999

Co-written with producer and then-husband Mutt Lange, Twain speaks of beating the odds with love and perseverance in lyrics such as, "I'm so glad we made it/Look how far we've come my baby," offering a fresh coat of optimism for couples of all ages.

Usher & Alicia Keys, "My Boo"

Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals, 2005

"There's always that one person that will always have your heart," sings Usher in this duet with Keys, taking the listener back to that special first love. The chemistry between the longtime friends makes this ode to “My Boo” even more heartfelt, and the love was still palpable even 20 years later when they performed it on the Super Bowl halftime show stage.

Bruno Mars, "Just The Way You Are"

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, 2011

Dating advice from Bruno Mars: If you think someone is beautiful, you should tell them every day. Whether or not it got Mars a date for Valentine's Day, it did get him a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

Cee Lo Green & Melanie Fiona, "Fool For You" 

Best Traditional R&B Performance, 2012

It's a far cry from his previous GRAMMY-winning song, "F*** You," but "Fool For You" had us yearning for "that deep, that burning/ That amazing unconditional, inseparable love."

Justin Timberlake, "Pusher Love Girl" 

Best R&B Song, 2014

Timberlake is so high on the love drug he's "on the ceiling, baby." Timberlake co-wrote the track with James Fauntleroy, Jerome Harmon and Timbaland, and it's featured on his 2013 album The 20/20 Experience, which flew high to No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

Beyoncé & Jay-Z, "Drunk In Love"

Best R&B Performance / Best R&B Song, 2015

While "Drunk In Love" wasn't the first love song that won Beyoncé and Jay-Z a GRAMMY — they won two GRAMMYs for "Crazy In Love" in 2004 — it is certainly the sexiest. This quintessential 2010s bop from one of music's most formidable couples captures why their alliance set the world's hearts aflame (and so did their steamy GRAMMYs performance of it).

Ed Sheeran, "Thinking Out Loud"

Song Of The Year / Best Pop Solo Performance, 2016

Along with his abundant talent, Sheeran's boy-next-door charm is what rocketed him to the top of the pop ranks. And with swooning lyrics and a waltzing melody, "Thinking Out Loud" is proof that he's a modern-day monarch of the love song.

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, "Shallow"

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance / Best Song Written For Visual Media, 2019

A Star is Born's cachet has gone up and down with its various remakes, but the 2018 iteration was a smash hit. Not only is that thanks to moving performances from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, but particularly thanks to their impassioned, belt-along duet "Shallow."

H.E.R. & Daniel Caesar, "Best Part"

Best R&B Performance, 2019

"If life is a movie/ Know you're the best part." Who among us besotted hasn't felt their emotions so widescreen, so thunderous? Clearly, H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar have — and they poured that feeling into the GRAMMY-winning ballad "Best Part."

Kacey Musgraves, "Butterflies"

Best Country Solo Performance, 2019

As Musgraves' Album Of The Year-winning LP Golden Hour shows, the country-pop star can zoom in or out at will, capturing numberless truths about the human experience. With its starry-eyed lyrics and swirling production, "Butterflies" perfectly encapsulates the flutter in your stomach that love can often spark.

Dan + Shay & Justin Bieber, "10,000 Hours"

Best Country Duo/Group Performance, 2021

When country hook-meisters Dan + Shay teamed up with pop phenom Justin Bieber, their love song powers were unstoppable. With more than 1 billion Spotify streams alone, "10,000 Hours" has become far more than an ode to just their respective wives; it's an anthem for any lover.

Lovesick Or Sick Of Love: Listen To GRAMMY.com's Valentine's Day Playlist Featuring Taylor Swift, Doja Cat, Playboi Carti, Olivia Rodrigo, FKA Twigs & More

6 Reasons Why Fred Again.. Was Dance Music's Rookie Of The Year
Fred again...

Photo: Photo by Kieran Frost / Redferns / GettyImages 

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6 Reasons Why Fred Again.. Was Dance Music's Rookie Of The Year

Arguably dance music's buzziest star in 2023, Fred again.. topped off a breakout year with four nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs, including Best New Artist. Take a look at some of the producer/songwriter's biggest feats that helped him get there.

GRAMMYs/Jan 30, 2024 - 05:06 pm

By any measure, 2023 was a remarkable year for electronic wunderkind Fred again.. Over 12 whirlwind months, the South Londoner born Fred Gibson accelerated himself from hyped producer to top-line artist, packing festival stages and selling out an eight-night Los Angeles residency.

While this explosive success seemed like it happened overnight, the Fred again.. phenomenon began building in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. As dance music continued its evolution away from the more-is-more EDM era, Fred again..'s earnest, deeply personal, yet still danceable productions struck a chord with fans craving connection in lockdown.

In contrast to big-name DJs up high on faraway festival stages, the producer felt endearingly grounded, from the intimacy of his music to the enthusiasm of his social media posts. His polished, wide-ranging sound — which blends influences from pop, UK garage, house, trance, and the post-dubstep of his key influence, Burial — is also deeply rooted in online culture, incorporating snippets and samples taken from FaceTime, YouTube and voice notes.

Fred again..'s reputation as a dance music star for the internet era set the stage for his Boiler Room performance in the summer of 2022, which has racked up 29 million views and climbing. The Boiler Room takeoff was buoyed by his Swedish House Mafia and Future collab, "Turn on the Lights again..," and a host of unreleased heat that materialized on his third album, Actual Life 3.

Building on this powerful momentum, Fred again.. evolved from internet sensation to full-on superstardom in 2023. His year of highs peaked with four nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs, including the coveted Best New Artist Category — where he's the only dance act.

As Music's Biggest Night draws closer, here are six feats that made Fred again.. dance music's indisputable rookie of the year.

He Found GRAMMYs Glory On His Own Terms

Before breaking out as a solo artist, Fred again.. earned his stripes as a sought-after producer, working alongside everyone from grime luminaries Stormzy and Headie One to pop superstar Ed Sheeran. Fittingly, his first GRAMMY nominations were for work behind-the-scenes on Jayda G's luminescent house anthem "Both Of Us" (Best Dance/Electronic Recording in 2021) and Sheeran's global hit "Bad Habits" (Song Of The Year in 2022).

The 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards mark the first time he's been recognized for his own music. In addition to Best New Artist, the producer is nominated in Best Dance/Electronic Music Album, Actual Life 3 (January 1 – September 9 2022), and twice in Best Dance/Electronic Recordings for the '90s trance-channeling Romy collab, "Strong" and the bass-heavy "Rumble" with longtime collaborator Skrillex and Flowdan

The four nods are a crowning achievement for Fred again.. as a solo artist that recognizes his individual achievements while also celebrating his evergreen talents as a collaborator. 

He Built On Prior Success  

On his first solo album, 2021's Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020), Fred again.. reflected the isolation and strangeness of a COVID-19 lockdown by lacing audio clips of his "actual life" into a collage of electronic production. He followed it later that year with Actual Life 2, which used the same format to explore themes of grief and new beginnings with samples collected from his social feeds. 

"Social media is obviously capable of being a really negative thing," he later told NPR. "But it was also very clear to me that it is capable of being a very beautiful thing." 

That year, Fred again.. also released "Marea (We've Lost Dancing)," featuring musings via FaceTime from DJ-producer the Blessed Madonna on the loss of the dance floor community during the pandemic. Distilling the signature Fred again.. joy-meets-melancholy equation into a cathartic house package, the track became an unlikely lockdown anthem. In 2022, Fred again.. made his Coachella debut with a full live show, soundtracking sunset in the Mojave tent for a tightly packed crowd. 

Coming a few months after Coachella, Fred again..'s Boiler Room set — from his hometown of London, no less — was perfectly timed to send him stratospheric. Over a tight hour, his hybrid DJ-live set showcased his next-level skills on the Maschine+ drum machine/sampler and previews of new music that fans cut into clips and dissected online. Throughout it all, the producer projected a beaming, can't-quite-believe-it elation that was hard to resist. 

When Actual Life 3 arrived that October, complete with those Boiler Room highlights, its crowd-pleasing mix of emotion and jump-up energy already had a captive audience who were now desperate to catch Fred again.. live in 2023. 

He Formed An Instantly Iconic DJ Trio

Fred again..'s banner year was turbo-charged by his DJ bromance with brothers-in-bass Skrillex and Four Tet. Cheekily self-coined "the Pangbourne Mafia," a reference to the sleepy English village where they convened to make music, the trio kicked off 2023 with a surprise back-to-back-to-back set in London, and the fun snowballed from there. (As Fred again.. put it in 2022, "Other human beings are infinitely more inspiring than anything else in the world.") 

Following a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden in February 2023, the DJs were called in last-minute to close weekend two of Coachella. For fans who fell in love with Fred again..'s Boiler Room, it was a surreal thrill to hear "Danielle (smile on my face)" and "Delilah (pull me out of this)" ring out across an expansive sea of festival goers. 

He Ticked Major Goals Off His Bucket List

Instead of coasting on the goodwill of his breakout 2022, Fred again.. spent 2023 searching out new challenges and shades to his sound. In March, he teamed up with Irish singer/songwriter Dermot Kennedy (whose soulful croon appeared on the first Actual Life) and legendary lyricist The Streets on the track "Mike (desert island duvet)". 

Fred again.. appeared on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series in April, which he approached with his customary wide-eyed zeal. The performance of Actual Life cuts featured Fred again.. as a one-man band, jumping between keyboard, vibraphone, marimba, and microphone, while looping his vocals and beats to dazzling effect. 

In May, hot on the heels of that adrenalized Coachella closer, he switched up the pace and released an ambient album, Secret Life, with his musical mentor Brian Eno, who he first met at just 16 years old in Eno's a capella choir group.

He Played His Biggest Live Shows To Date 

Closing Coachella with your best DJ buddies is hard to top, but Fred again.. kept leveling up. In June, he and his onstage partner Tony Friend played to an expanse of revelers on shoulders and waving colorful flags at Glastonbury, which he later called "my favorite show we've ever played". 

From there, he took his well-honed live show across the U.S. and Europe, complete with precisely-cued visuals across a multi-screen setup with LED panels. Instead of jumping from city to city, the producer set up record-breaking residencies in Los Angeles and New York that allowed him to deliver the same highs over multiple nights. 

This summer, he's set to headline Sunday night at Bonnaroo — reportedly his only U.S. festival appearance scheduled for 2024 — followed by select festival dates across Europe and the UK, including the famed Reading and Leeds double-header. 

He Kicked Off A New Musical Era 

In August, Fred again.. released "adore u" with Nigerian artist Obongjayar, describing it on his Soundcloud as "the first song of a whole new world to me". Inspired by the pair's respective siblings, "adore u" arrived as the perfect synthesis of Fred again..'s earnest, open-hearted world view and club-ready instincts. The producer followed "adore u" with the aching house shuffle ''ten," featuring US rapper Jozzy, and the rowdier drum & bass-filled "leavemealone" alongside previous Best New Artist nominee Baby Keem

This trio of 2023 songs reflects a broadening of Fred again..'s sound and influences ahead of his next album project. Whatever highs are yet to come, 2023 will stand as the year that Fred again.. made his own. 

David Guetta Reveals The "Accidents Of Life" That Birthed Hits With Bebe Rexha, Nicki Minaj & More

2023 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined Dance Music
(From left) Dom Dolla, David Guetta, Charli XCX, Charlotte de Witte, Eliza Rose

Photos: Barry Brecheisen/WireImage, Karwai Tang/WireImage, Matthew Baker/Getty Images, Pablo Gallardo/Redferns, Kate Green/Getty Images

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2023 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined Dance Music

From nostalgia-tinged bangers and genre-blurring releases made by women, to massive tours and high-tech performances, dance music was expansive as ever in 2023.

GRAMMYs/Dec 29, 2023 - 05:03 pm

As any fan can attest, dance music is a broad church spanning myriad micro-genres, fan communities and city-specific scenes. The genre’s reach was as wide as ever in 2023, stretching from the biggest festival stages to the most intimate clubs, with variations in moods and beats-per-minute to suit all tastes. 

Nostalgia for rave’s ‘90s heyday was everywhere, fueling big-name releases and underground club sets alike. [Surprise supergroups](https://www.grammy.com/news/coachella-2023-weekend-2-recap-skrillex-four-tet-fred-again-gorillaz-bad-bunny-eric-pyrdz-performances-surprises-video) and [long-time collaborators](https://www.grammy.com/news/skrillex-fred-again-friendship-timeline-collaborations-videos) hit big in 2023, while albums from [James Blake](https://www.grammy.com/artists/james-blake/17760), [the Chemical Brothers](https://www.grammy.com/artists/chemical-brothers/7746), Disclosure and Everything But The Girl showed there’s still power in the electronic LP format. 

With festivals and DJ touring schedules back to a pre-COVID pace, dance music also enjoyed a busy year on the road. Across North America, [ILLENIUM](https://www.grammy.com/artists/Illenium/38165), G Jones, ZHU and ODESZA (not to mention Beyoncé’s house music-indebted Renaissance tour) sold out venues across the country. In a genre that can feel impossible to get your arms around, these five trends were undeniable in 2023. 

Everything Old Was New Again

Wherever you looked this year, DJ-producers were reaching back to the racing sounds of trance, rave and Eurodance that dominated dancefloors in the ‘90s and early 2000s. David Guetta and Calvin Harris spent 2023 memorably mining this past — the latter’s "Desire," featuring Sam Smith, could be ripped straight from a decades-old pop-trance compilation. 

Meanwhile, South Korean DJ-producer Peggy Gou released "(It Goes Like) Nanana," a dance-pop earworm with shades of ATB’s late ‘90s hit, "9PM (Till I Come)." Already a hugely popular draw as a DJ, Gou’s time-warping groover became her first Billboard chart entry and ignited buzz for her debut artist album, expected in 2024. 

On the less commercial spectrum, European producers like DJ Heartstring, Narciss and Marlon Hoffstadt continued to contextualize vintage sounds for a new audience. Meanwhile, a cluster of Dutch DJs, most notably Job Jobse, Young Marco and KI/KI, played throwback anthem-fuelled sets on festival stages usually reserved for steely techno, including at Dekmantel and Time Warp. 

For some DJs, looking back to the past meant embracing the fast and furious tempos of hardstyle and hard dance, two subgenres with passionate niche followings but little mainstream crossover. Continuing a trend from 2022, speedier BPMs were very much in vogue, as DJs kept pace with fans demanding a harder, faster workout. 

Women Danced To The Front 

Many of the year’s most invigorating and genre-blurring releases were made by women. Having built a steady career as a producer and singer, Kenya Grace broke out in 2023 with "Strangers," which caught fire on TikTok and converted new fans via a sleek mix of pop, drum & bass and Grace’s hushed vocals. Peggy Gou’s aforementioned "(It Goes Like) Nanana," also captured the TikTok zeitgeist with a widely-viewed video of Gou teasing the single for a dancefloor in Morocco. 

Electronic chameleon [Charli XCX](https://www.grammy.com/artists/charli-xcx/18360) stayed squarely in the limelight, following 2022’s stellar *Crash* with the one-two punch of "In The City" featuring Sam Smith and "Speed Drive"(from *Barbie the Album*, which is nominated for Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media alongside *AURORA*, *Weird: The Al Yankovic Story*, *Black Panther: Wakanda Forever- Music From And Inspired By*, and *Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3: Awesome Mix*). Meanwhile, two of the year’s standout albums came from women coloring outside the lines of their best-known projects: the xx vocalist Romy’s *Mid Air* embraced her queerness through euphoric dance-pop, while Aluna (of electronic duo AlunaGeorge) blossomed as a solo artist and activist on her second album, *MYCELiUM*

While dance music’s ranks remained largely white and male in 2023, undeniable albums from the likes of Jayda G, PinkPanthress and Róisín Murphy were a welcome counterbalance. 

UK Bass Got Bombastic

Following the runaway success of Eliza Rose and Interplanetary Criminal’s 2022 UK garage-tinged house anthem "B.O.T.A. (Baddest of Them All)" the previous year, British bass music continued to shine in 2023. 

While still relatively niche in the U.S., the UK garage (UKG) and bassline subgenres that thrived in the Y2K era found a new generation of British converts, thanks to releases like Interplanetary Criminal’s *All Thru The Night* and Conducta’s *In Transit* EP. Elsewhere, acclaimed British singer/songwriter Jorja Smith tapped her UKG roots on the irresistible single "Little Things." 

Welsh duo Overmono weaved garage textures into their accomplished debut album, *Good Lies*, and rounded out the year with a powerful Boiler Room live set from Manchester’s Warehouse Project. The set and album cemented their bona fides as the UK’s next dance festival headliner. 

The many mutations of UK bass music shone bright all year in DJ sets from the likes of Anz, Nia Archives, Jyoty and Joy Anonymous. (The latter’s near-three-hour set with Austrian producer salute and New Jersey-born garage godfather Todd Edwards at Amsterdam Dance Event captured the jubilant mix of house and UKG that was dominant this year.) 

Bringing it full circle, Eliza Rose parlayed the success of "B.O.T.A." into a collaboration with Calvin Harris on this year’s housey "Body Moving," which started with the pair exchanging Instagram DMs. 

Technology Upped The Ante

In a year where artificial intelligence and rapid technological advancement were burning topics, a wave of dance music artists found new ways to embrace the future. 

The possibilities of technology to enhance live performance were on full display in two raved-about Coachella sets. Swedish veteran [Eric Prydz](https://www.grammy.com/artists/eric-prydz/5679) brought his HOLO show to the California festival, deploying cutting-edge tech to create giant holographic images that extend over the crowd. Meanwhile, inside the festival's Sahara Tent, melodic techno duo Tale Of Us completed their transition to EDM crowd-pleasers with a full-scale audiovisual spectacle that explored themes of robot-human connection. (One half of the duo, Matteo Milleri, is also all-in on NFTs.) 

Meanwhile, techno favorite Nicole Moudaber debuted an AV show in which her own movements control a towering digital avatar. The year also saw big-name DJs embracing the metaverse — from Carl Cox playing a set in the Sensorium Galaxy to Swedish House Mafia joining the Roblox platform — in a trend that’s sure to carry into 2024. 

Techno & Techno-House Go Center Stage

Continuing a trend from 2022, big room techno and tech-house muscled onto U.S. festival stages usually reserved for EDM anthems. In particular, tech-house — which in 2023 sounds a world away from the raw UK club records that birthed the subgenre — cemented its place in the mainstream with Fisher and Chris Lake’s back-to-back set at Coachella’s Outdoor Theatre. (Later in the year, the pair shut down Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles for an epic street party.) 

Both coming off a star-making 2022, tech-house mischief-makers John Summit and Dom Dolla leveled up with bigger shows and feverish fan followings. Meanwhile, Belgian sensation Charlotte de Witte became the techno artist booked on the Ultra Miami main stage, scheduled incongruously alongside the likes of Zedd and Afrojack, while in Europe, techno specialists Amelie Lens and Nina Kraviz were given the same honor (and challenge) for a sprawling crowd at Tomorrowland. 

Whether mining the past or accelerating into the future, the dance/electronic genre never stood still this year, setting the stage for a thrilling 2024.  

[2023 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined Pop Music](https://www.grammy.com/news/pop-music-trends-2023-year-in-review-taylor-swift-sza)

2023 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined Pop Music
(L-R): Taylor Swift, Tate McRae, *NSYNC, Olivia Rodrigo, Ed Sheeran

Photos (L-R): Buda Mendes/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management, Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images, Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for MTV, Mike Coppola/Getty Images for MTV, Theo Wargo/Getty Images

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2023 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined Pop Music

From massive world stages to hilarious TikTok trends, pop music was all about the fun in 2023 — which led to huge hits and pop culture moments alike.

GRAMMYs/Dec 22, 2023 - 04:15 pm

There's arguably only one way to sum up pop music in 2023: it belonged to the women.

Whether SZA or Olivia Rodrigo were revealing the cracks in their relationships through catchy hooks, or Taylor Swift was taking over stadiums around the globe, female artists dominated genre charts and trends. And even a fictional female figure helped spawn some of the year's biggest pop tracks.  

It was also a big year for legends and classic hits; pop mainstays showed just why they became superstars in the first place, and TikTok helped resurface some pop songs of old.

Below, take a deeper dive into some of 2023's biggest moments in pop.

Ex-Lovers Were Called Out

Nothing burns more than a woman scorned. This year, pop stars and rising artists were both shameless in calling out their exes for their wrongdoings.

One of the biggest moments came courtesy of SZA. The artist is known for wearing her heart on her sleeve, and SOS album highlight "Kill Bill" was a buffet of toxic "what if" scenarios. The singer let jealousy overcome her emotions as she couldn't stand to see her ex-lover move on: "I might kill my ex, I still love him though/ Rather be in jail than alone." On a similar note, Olivia Rodrigo's "vampire" finds the pop star tapping into a new level of fury. The lead single from her sophomore album, GUTS, "vampire" shoots bloody daggers at a manipulative boyfriend.

But it wasn't all about vengeance. In Miley Cyrus' case, her best form of revenge came in the form of forgiveness. Her "Flowers" anthem was thought to be inspired by Cyrus' divorce from Liam Hemsworth, but its messaging is relatable to anyone who had to learn how to move on from a broken heart. "I can take myself dancing and I can hold my own hand/ I can love me better than you can," Cyrus assures.

All three singles topped the Billboard Hot 100 this year, marking SZA's first solo No. 1, Cyrus' first in a decade and Rodrigo's first from her new album era. The singles also all earned 2024 GRAMMY nominations for both Song Of The Year (alongside Billie Eilish's "What Was I Made For?", Dua Lipa's "Dance the Night", Jon Batiste's "Butterfly", Lana Del Rey's "A&W" and Taylor Swift's "Anti-Hero") and Record Of The Year (next to Billie Eilish's What Was I Made For?", Boygenius' "Not Strong Enough", Jon Batiste's "Worship", Taylor Swift's "Anti-Hero" and Victoria Monét's "On My Mama"). 

Rising stars also joined in on the fun. After Tate McRae scored her biggest hit to date with the playful “greedy,” she delivered a fiery kiss-off anthem with “exes.” Elsewhere, Benee called her ex a "waste of f—king time" on the rowdy "Green Honda," British singer Mae Stephens contemplated all of her options on "If We Ever Broke Up," RAYE brooded over "dumb decisions" and booze on "Escapism," and Los Angeles alt-pop singer Leah Kate's jam-packed her debut album Super Over with advice on cutting off toxic relationships.

Classic Songs Made A TikTok Resurgence

TikTok has proved its social media dominance over the past few years. But aside from pop's new generation enjoying viral success, the genre's OGs also found their classic hits reborn.

Colbie Caillat's "Bubbly" single warmed our hearts when it debuted in 2007, and in true Gen Z fashion, it reemerged thanks to a meme trend. TikTok users placed the song over high-energy performance videos like those of Travis Scott, Justin Bieber and Tyler, The Creator which made for a hilarious juxtaposition. Caillat kept the momentum by making TikTok duets and even sharing an acoustic version of the song on her YouTube page.

Bridgit Mendler's 2013 single "Hurricane" also got a second wind for its 10th anniversary where female users placed it over humorous self-deprecating videos about being delusional over men. Jessie J's 2011 "Price Tag" hit sparked a dance trend with a sped-up version of the song and Lana Del Rey's "Radio" (a deep cut from 2012's Born To Die debut) inspired users to make videos that showcased how "sweet like cinnamon" their lives are.

Career-Spanning Tours Took Over The World

What better way to celebrate a decorated career than with a massive tour? Pop stars from all corners of the genre commemorated their many years (or in some cases, decades) in the music industry by going down memory lane with their fans worldwide.

The most notable trek was, of course, Taylor Swift's Eras Tour, which kicked off on March 17 and will conclude on Dec. 8, 2024. The pop star — who is arguably bigger than she's ever been, nearly 20 years into her career — used the stadium tour to pay homage to her extensive discography with a nonstop three-hour spectacle. Swift's impact quickly made history: the Eras Tour surpassed $1 billion in revenue in early December, already making it the highest-grossing music tour of all time, according to Guinness World Records. Its accompanying concert film, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, also became the highest-grossing concert film of all time with $250 million earned globally as of press time.

But Swift wasn't the only star celebrating their music milestones on the road. After a thrilling reunion in 2019, the Jonas Brothers continued to shock fans with what's possibly the most challenging tour of their career. Titled "Five Albums. One Night. The World Tour," the trio featured their entire discography in a set list that included over 60 songs. 

Another artist who rode the ambitious train was Madonna. The pop icon's Celebration Tour was, well, a celebration of a genre-defining career spanning over four decades. Kicking off in October in London, the tour features a retrospective setlist that is a treat for diehard fans, featuring singles she hasn't performed live in decades including 1990's "Justify My Love," 1998's "Nothing Really Matters" and 2002's "Die Another Day."

On the pop-rock end, The Maine's "Sweet Sixteen Tour" highlighted the band's growth over the past 16 years through nine albums, while Boys Like Girls' anchored their comeback after an 11-year hiatus with the North American Speaking Our Language Tour.

Movies Had Major Music Moments

While music has long been a driving force in films, this year saw the pairing excitedly take over pop culture. Greta Gerwig's Barbie movie notably had the world seeing pink, with the iconic doll infiltrating everything from fashion to real estate.

Not surprisingly, the accompanying soundtrack was a pop-filled joyride. Featuring production from pop mastermind Mark Ronson, the 17-song Barbie: The Album featured the likes of Lizzo, Charli XCX, PinkPantheress, Sam Smith, GAYLE and FIFTY FIFTY. But perhaps most notably, the album dominated the Best Song Written For Visual Media category at the 2024 GRAMMYs: Dua Lipa's disco-laced "Dance The Night," Ryan Gosling's TikTok-trending "I'm Just Ken," Ice Spice's and Nicki Minaj's sparkly collaboration "Barbie World," and Billie Eilish's gripping ballad "What Was I Made For?" compete with Rihanna's Black Panther hit "Lift Me Up."

The year also called for reunions and revivals, with the biggest shock arguably belonging to NSYNC. Many fans were impatiently waiting for the boys to make a return, and they did so with "Better Place." The Trolls soundtrack highlight marked the boy band's first song after a two-decade-long music hiatus (which was accompanied by an appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards, where they presented with Best Pop Video). Under the sea, Halle Bailey refreshed a Disney classic with The Little Mermaid live-action reimagining, while the nostalgia train continued with movie musicals Wonka and Mean Girls (out in January).

Pop Titans Were Inescapable

Thanks to social media, it may seem like Gen Z artists have overthrown their elder pop counterparts. But make no mistake, the veterans are showing they aren't so easily shakeable.

This year, many preserved their legacies through various mediums. Taylor Swift wasn't the only superstar proving her staying power on the road (and in stadiums); Beyoncé's Renaissance World Tour cemented her legendary status as the highest-grossing tour by a Black artist, while Ed Sheeran's The Mathematics Tour broke attendance records worldwide.

Adele and Usher ruled Sin City with their Las Vegas residencies, with the latter set to perform at the 2024 Super Bowl halftime show. The pop titans even showed their dominance on television, with Kelly Clarkson (who also had a Vegas stint) and Jennifer Hudson gaining a new audience with their respective talk shows.

After a year filled with viral moments and comebacks, we're eager to see how artists will continue to uplift pop music in 2024.

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