Photo: Steve Jennings/WireImage
Sting, Imagine Dragons, Martin Bandier To Be Feted At 2019 BMI Pop Awards
The performing rights organization reveals this year's group of special honorees for the upcoming ceremony in May to be held in Beverly Hills, Calif.
BMI have announced this year's honorees for their 67th annual Pop Awards: GRAMMY winning singer/songwriter Sting, GRAMMY-winning pop/rock outfit Imagine Dragons, and music publishing executive Martin Bandier.
Sting's stunning 17 GRAMMY wins and 45 nominations range from his first career GRAMMY for "Reggatta De Blanc" for Best Rock Instrumental Performance nearly 40 years ago to his recent win for 44/876 for Best Reggae Album earlier this year. His ubiquitous hit with the Police, “Every Breath You Take,” will be celebrated during the ceremony as BMI’s most performed song, ending the 22-year run at the top by “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.”
“We couldn’t be more excited for this year’s ceremony, which honors the best of the best in pop music and celebrates songwriting at its finest,” said BMI president and CEO Mike O’Neill. “For the first time in 22 years, BMI has a new top song in our repertoire with Sting’s timeless hit ‘Every Breath You Take,’ a remarkable achievement that solidifies its place in songwriting history. It’s a milestone that demands a special tribute.”
“We are also thrilled to celebrate the groundbreaking artistry and creative vision of Imagine Dragons," added O'Neill, "Who have become one of the most compelling rock bands of the last decade and a most deserving recipient of our President’s Award."
A notable champion for songwriters, Bandier will become the first-ever executive to recieve BMI's Icon Award. He currently serves as Chairman/CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing since 2007 following a lengthy and successful stint at EMI Music Publishing. Earlier this year, Bandier was honored by the Songwriter Hall Of Fame with the Visionary Leadership Award.
The 67th annual BMI Pop Awards will take place May 14 at The Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.
Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.
A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.
This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system.
"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."
He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.
"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.
To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood."
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes.
Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for iHeartRadio
9 Artists Who Advocate For The LGBTQIA+ Community: Troye Sivan, Taylor Swift, Madonna & More
From Big Freedia to Beyoncé, artists who identify as queer and allies alike celebrate love in all its forms.
"GAY RIGHTS!!!!!" Betty Who captioned a cheeky photo earlier this month. Yes, it was a well-known inside joke among the LGBTQIA+ community, but the all-caps message held some serious meaning. The queer pop star's photo was from the White House's 2023 Pride Celebration, where President Biden formally announced the New Actions to Protect the LGBTQIA+ Community plan — and Betty Who was the star performer.
Music has always been a safe haven for gay and trans people of all kinds — from the closeted kids in Middle America finding sanctuary in the songs of their favorite pop stars, to the out-and-proud artists forming the soundtrack for the next generation of LGBTQIA+ fans. And Pride has always been a special time of the year to celebrate visibility and inclusion in the music industry — a place where everyone deserves to show up and be seen (and heard!) as their authentic self, and where every proverbial note, melody and harmony make up a beautiful and unique soundtrack that can only be yours.
Recently, queer musicians and allies who use their platforms to stand up for the LGBTQIA+ community has felt more important than ever. A rash of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation has swept through state legislatures across the country, from so-called "Don't Say Gay" bills to blatant legal attacks on drag queens, trans kids and LGBTQIA+ history as a whole — but those who stand for the community are fighting even harder.
As Pride month carries on, GRAMMY.com has rounded up a list of nine LGBTQIA+ artists, allies and bonafide gay icons who've made advocating for the community a central tenet of their music, their words and their actions. Of course, there are dozens to highlight, but take a look at how queer artists like Kim Petras and Troye Sivan and allies like Taylor Swift and Madonna have helped fans shine as their authentic selves.
Petras cemented her place as a rising star in the pop music echelon in February, when she became the first trans woman to win the GRAMMY for Best Pop Duo/Group collaboration with Sam Smith for their subversive collaboration "Unholy." (Smith, who identifies as non-binary, also made history with the win, though they graciously ceded the floor for Petras to give her awestruck acceptance speech on the GRAMMYs stage.)
As the cover star of Out's 2023 Pride issue, the German pop princess spoke out about the rash of anti-trans rhetoric taking root in legislatures across the country and harming vulnerable trans youth. "I literally was very suicidal as a kid, and I just wouldn't still be here had my parents not believed me," she told the magazine. "I hate that another generation is going through this, and I hate that young kids are going through the same s–t I was going through, and that apparently just isn't changing. I think it's sad. I just never understood why people were so obsessed with what people do to be happy. Just focus on what you can do to be happy."
Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X has never been shy when it comes to sticking up for the queer community — and he usually does so with a healthy dose of snarky humor on social media. He's cheerfully clapped back about everything from the explicit queerness of his music videos to his place in the modern pantheon of hip-hop; mostly recently, he hopped on Twitter to hilariously take down conservative outrage over Pride-themed merchandise at Target.
"Can't believe target is supporting this nonsense, im never shopping there again, my son is not 'too cool for school' these shirts are ridiculous. He is going to school and he WILL learn," the GRAMMY winner wrote in a since-deleted tweet, mockingly referencing the anti-LGBTQIA+ crusaders upset with inclusive and trans-friendly apparel being sold at the popular retailer.
In another instance from late April, Montero made his stance hysterically clear when he tweeted, "I want to clear all the straight rumors. i have many straight friends and i support their community, but that is NOT me!"
Years before releasing his debut album Blue Neighborhood in 2015, Troye Sivan came out publicly via YouTube. Since then, he's been consistently outspoken about his experiences as a gay artist in the music industry.
The Australia native, who announced his long-awaited follow-up to 2018's Bloom earlier this month, has made a consistent point in his career to turn his visuals into unapologetic examples of queer art — from the lusty defiance of 2018's "My My My!" to the "gushy juicy doting adoring power b^tt^m gay ballad" perfection that was 2021's "Angel Baby."
Perhaps most powerful of all, though, was his video for early single "Heaven" featuring Betty Who, which depicted historic moments in the LGBTQIA+ rights movement including some of the earliest Pride parades on record. "We have always been here. we will always be here. this video is dedicated to all those who've come before me and fought for our cause and those who now continue the fight," he wrote in the video's description. "in dark and light times, let's love forever. love, troye x."
Speaking of Betty Who, the indie pop star received an invitation directly from President Biden to perform at the White House's official 2023 Pride Celebration, where the commander in chief formally announced his administration's plan titled New Actions to Protect the LGBTQIA+ Community. The three-point roll-out promises to focus on "Strengthening Physical Safety," "Addressing Civil Rights Violations" and "Strengthening Mental Health and other Support Resources."
"Today was the biggest pride celebration ever held at the white house and i got to be a part of it!!!!!!!!" Betty, who identifies as both queer and bisexual, wrote afterwards on social media. "So many things i want to say! What an honour it is, how proud i am to be part of the lgbtqia+ [community], how special today's event was and how grateful i am to @potus, @drbiden and the amazing white house staff for hosting us. queer joy spouting everywhere!!! very grateful for this incredible experience."
Earlier this year, Big Freedia was honored by PFLAG — the nation's longest-running LGBTQIA+ organization — with its first-ever National Breaking Barriers Award. The new honor, which she received at PGFLAG's 50th anniversary gala in March, is meant to shine the spotlight on "an individual who uses their platform to help remove obstacles to LGBTQIA+ and intersectional equality in pursuit of a more just, equitable and inclusive world."
Upon receiving the award, the bounce music trailblazer (and 2023 GRAMMY winner) took to Instagram with a determined message, writing, "There's still so much work to do to fight discrimination and I will continue to work on behalf of our whole community to spread love, acceptance, inclusion and everyone's right TO BE FREE."
While she'd slyly referenced her support for the LGBTQIA+ community in the past on songs like "Welcome to New York," Taylor Swift took a public stand in 2019 with her Lover era single "You Need to Calm Down." The gay anthem's celebratory music video issued a call to action for her fans to support the as-yet-unpassed Equality Act with her very own Change.org petition.
During her Eras Tour stop in Chicago earlier this month, the superstar spoke specifically to her LGBTQIA+ fans, promising them that her concerts would always be a "safe space" for them to celebrate who they are.
"I wish that every place was safe and beautiful for people in the LGBTQ community, I really wish that. We can't talk about Pride Month without talking about pain," she told the sold-out crowd of Swifties at Soldier Field. "There have been so many harmful pieces of legislation that have put people in the LGBTQ and queer community at risk. It's painful for everyone — every ally, every loved one, every person in these communities. And that's why I'm always posting, 'This is when the midterms are. This is when these important, key primaries are.'
"'Cause we can support as much as we want during Pride Month," the 12-time GRAMMY winner continued. "But if we're not doing our research on these elected officials — Are they advocates? Are they allies? Are they protectors of equality? Do I want to vote for them? — I love you guys so much and happy Pride Month."
What hasn't Madonna done in her iconic career to lift up the LGBTQIA+ community? In fact, there's an entire Wikipedia page dedicated solely to her status as a living gay icon.
Famously, Her Madgesty's love for the gay community started with her early mentor and dance teacher Christopher Flynn. Early in her career, she became one of the first artists to speak out about the HIV/AIDS crisis and decry the stigmatization of gay people at the time.
She's been recognized by the GLAAD Media Awards multiple times, including in 1991 with the Raising Gay Awareness award and in 2019 with the Advocate for Change award. (At the latter ceremony, GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis stated, "Madonna always has and always will be the LGBTQ community's greatest ally.")
More recently, Madge added multiple dates to her upcoming Celebration Tour, including a special stop in Nashville to stand in solidarity with the state's queer, trans and drag communities as they've been bombarded by a string of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation from the state's Capitol.
"The oppression of the LGBTQIA+ is not only unacceptable and inhumane; it's creating an unsafe environment; making America a dangerous place for our most vulnerable citizens, especially trans women of color," she wrote on Instagram alongside the announcement. "Also, these so-called laws to protect our children are unfounded and pathetic. Anyone with half a brain knows not to f— with a drag queen. Bob and I will see you from the stage in Nashville where we will celebrate the beauty that is the queer community!"
Long considered a gay icon in her own right, Beyoncé paid reverential honor to the LGBTQIA+ community and her late uncle Johnny with 2022's Renaissance, an undulating magnum opus inspired by the underground ballroom scene sparked by Black, trans and gay pioneers of the 1970s, '80s, '90s, and beyond.
Queen Bey also holds space for queer artists throughout Renaissance's sprawling, hour-long track list, collaborating with TS Madison and Big Freedia, sampling Kevin Aviance and late drag star Moi Renee, working with Honey Dijon behind the boards and more. "Thank you to all of the pioneers who originate culture, to all of the fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognized for far too long," the living legend wrote in a note posted to her personal website upon the album's release. "This is a celebration for you."
Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons
Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds has emerged as a powerful advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community through his nonprofit organization Loveloud and its popular Utah festival, which he launched in 2017 to support LGBTQIA+ teens in the state's overwhelmingly conservative (and outspokenly anti-LGBTQIA+) Mormon community.
This year, though, Reynolds and the Loveloud board — which includes out and proud musicians like Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees, Vincint, Wrabel and Parson James — have expanded Loveloud's mission beyond the Mormonism of the Wasatch front. In early March, Loveloud announced it would be transforming into a traveling festival for its sixth year with stops in Austin, Texas, where dozens of anti-LGBTQIA+ laws have been pursued by the state legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott, and Washington D.C.
Photo: Paul Natkin/Getty Images
Why The Police’s 'Synchronicity' — Their Final, Fraught Masterpiece — Still Resonates After 40 Years
Released on June 17, 1983, 'Synchronicity' became the band’s biggest commercial success. It was also the Police's final album. Forty years since its release, the "dream-like musical tour" remains a culturally significant sonic exploration.
Flash back to December 1982: A band on the brink of breakup arrives on the volcanic island of Montserrat for six weeks to record what would become their final album.
This six-week sojourn was bittersweet for the Police, whose days and nights spent holed up in George Martin’s AIR Studios resulted in Synchronicity. The British rock trio's fifth album took its title from a word coined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who speculated that paranormal events had a basis in physical nature; its themes nodded to Arthur Koestler’s 1972 book The Roots of Confidence.
This Caribbean retreat proved to be a reflective, if not fortuitous setting — while the volcano was inactive during their sessions, there certainly were a lot of eruptions and hot heads between members. By the time the band arrived on Montserrat, frontman and chief songwriter Sting had outgrown the Police in stature; the trio had also taken a sabbatical to pursue solo projects following the release of 1981's Ghost in the Machine. While recording "Every Breath You Take," Sting and drummer Stewart Copeland came to fisticuffs. No one doubted the end was nigh.
This underlying tension shapes the mood of Synchronicity, and its songs are like a weed in your garden. Even after you pull it out, it always returns to remind you that the struggle is real. Despite these conflicts and the unraveling of the band in real-time, the resulting record was well-received by critics and the public.
Released on June 17, 1983, Synchronicity became the band’s biggest commercial success. The record hit No. 1 on both the U.S. and the U.K. Billboard 200 charts and spent 17 nonconsecutive weeks in the top spot — selling more than eight million copies in the U.S. alone. At the 26th GRAMMY awards, Synchronicity received five nominations and took home three golden gramophones: Best Rock Performance by a Group or Duo with Vocal for "Synchronicity II"; Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "Every Breath You Take"; Sting also took home a GRAMMY for Song of the Year for composing this megahit.
This success vaulted the trio to "biggest band in the world" status. But, due to infighting, their domination did not last long. After a world tour throughout 1984 to promote Synchronicity, Sting officially left the band.
Adding to the growing tension, both lead vocalist Sting and guitarist Andy Summers' marriages were collapsing during this period. Betrayal and suffering hang heavy throughout Synchronicity. This is best illustrated in "King of Pain," the final single released from the album, where the imagery of "a little black spot on the sun today" captures Sting’s temporal malaise but remains resonant.
Lyrically, Synchronicity is a final document, even a legacy, made amid creative conflicts and tumultuous times. Yet what makes the record still resonate after four decades is its dense sonic layers and the trio’s musical experimentation that influenced future artists and recordings.
Synchronicity also endures for the way it stands apart from other 1980s modern rock albums. It mingles musical styles — new wave, post-punk, reggae, jazz-fusion, rock, and what, at the time, was labeled world music. The Police had a firm grasp on melodic theory, harmony and were well-versed in the history of the popular song book; these influences all appear and fuse on their collective coda.
Synchronicity is a culmination of all the musical styles that the Police had previously experimented with, plus the addition of many new textures. While their first four studio records fused their reggae and jazz influences with a new wave sound, Synchronicity saw the band generally moving beyond these staccato rhythms, off-beats and improvisations.
Side one opens with the title track and sets the tone for what follows: a musical journey marked by fractured friendships playing out in the atmospheric melodies and the diverse soundscapes that the album travels over a relatively tight 39.5 minutes. Drop the needle on side two, and the first song you hear is the wistful "Every Breath You Take" — one of the most played in radio history, with more than 15 million plays. Many still consider this Sting composition as one of the greatest pop songs ever written.
Lyrically, Sting’s songs are the most cerebral; they are filled with rich imagery and references to literature from past and present. "Tea in the Sahara '' includes nods to American expat Paul Bowles’ "The Sheltering Sky" while "Wrapped Around Your Finger" alludes to Greek mythological creatures. Irish poet William Butler Yeats finds his way on the record too; "Synchronicity II" that closes Side One was inspired by his famous modernist poem "The Second Coming." The mood of the melodies in these tracks reflects the band’s sonic shift. In other songs, the influence of diverse musical styles from world regions beyond North America are also apparent — a territory Sting continued to explore in his career as a solo artist after the Police disbanded.
Synchronicity was also one of the first to see the other two band members contribute a composition — a parting gift of sorts from Sting to his bandmates; a chance to show their songwriting chops.
Summers’ "Mother," — written in 7/4 time signature that is more common in classical music — is not a great song lyrically or musically, but the short and repetitive track somehow fits. Although the guitarist is singing about the troubled relationship he had with his mum, the song’s frenzied pace and his manic screams match the anger and growing animosity between him and Sting, while also alluding to the end of his marriage. Copeland’s "Miss Gradenko" is slightly better than Summers’ song. Lyrically, the two-minute track speaks to Russian repression during the Cold War; musically it features some fine guitar work.
While Copeland and Summers' participation created a bit of inconsistency, particularly when compared to previous releases, their unique approaches and more direct lyrics make the album even more interesting.
Despite these two songs, which beyond adding to the music publishing coffers of Sting’s bandmates, are forgettable, the album is a reverie deserving of repeated listens to uncover all the subtle soundscapes. The National Recording Registry described Synchronicity as "a dream-like musical tour" and the band's sound as "represented, not a pastiche, but a stylistic ethos."
The album was also musically groundbreaking in terms of the tools and toys used in the studio. Just like the addition of keyboards and horns on Ghost in the Machine, this time around it was the first time Sting had used a sequencer ("Walking in Your Footsteps" and "Synchronicity II"). In Stephen Holden’s 4.5 star Rolling Stone review of the album upon its release, the critic summarized the cohesiveness of the record and its songs like this, "each cut on Synchronicity is not simply a song but a miniature, discrete soundtrack," and "Synchronicity is work of dazzling surfaces and glacial shadows." In a RS reader poll later that same year of the greatest records of 1983, the album topped the list.
Synchronicity also captured the zeitgeist. In 1983, unemployment was at a record high and the Cold War lingered, causing global worries of what these superpowers might do next. For many Gen Xers, this LP was one of the first records they purchased at their local shop. And, for many musicians, it meant "everything." The record remains a masterwork and meaningful document.
In 2009, Synchronicity was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. And, in 2023, the Library of Congress selected the album as one of the newest to be included in the United States National Recording Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
Photo: Rachel Kupfer
A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea
James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.
It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.
Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.
Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.
In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.
Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.
There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out GRAMMY.com's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.
Say She She
Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.
While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."
Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.
Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.
Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.
Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.
L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.
During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.
Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.
Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.