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7 Ways Taylor Swift's '1989' Primed Her For World Domination
With the arrival of '1989 (Taylor's Version),' take a look at seven ways the original album prepared the country-turned-pop star for a global takeover.
When Taylor Swift released "Shake It Off" — the lead single from her fifth studio album, 1989 — in August 2014, she couldn't have known just how apt the lyrics "I never miss a beat/ I'm lightning on my feet" would be to her career nine years later.
Since then, Swift has never missed a chance to shake up the industry, whether she's redefining artist and fan relationships or fighting for her masters. And Oct. 27 marks a special day in the Swift world, as it's not only the day her groundbreaking, genre-defying, and two-time GRAMMY-award-winning album arrived in 2014 — it also marks the day Swift takes it back with the release of 1989 (Taylor's Version).
At the time of the original's release, its name was inspired by the singer's birth year to mark a symbolic shift as she transitioned from a country singer to a pop star. She was tired of speculation around her love life, finding creative inspiration in other things, like a move from Nashville to New York and her friend's romances.
1989 sold over 1.2 million copies in its first week, making Swift the first artist ever to have three albums sell over one million copies in their first week. The album also helped Swift make history at the 2016 GRAMMYs, as its Album Of The Year win made Swift the first female solo artist to win the accolade twice. (She's since furthered her record with a third AOTY win for folklore in 2021.)
In the original liner notes, Swift touched on 1989 being an album about "coming into your own, and as a result... coming alive." In a way, she was prophesying everything she'd do in the subsequent nine years — from surprise albums to a larger-than-life tour to everything in between — by consistently reimagining and redefining what it means to be a pop artist today.
Now, the 1989 rerecording represents a different type of rebirth — one that, through the rerecording process, has given Swift a new perspective that has allowed her to come into her own all over again. "I was born in 1989, reinvented for the first time in 2014," Swift wrote in a note to fans on Instagram upon the (Taylor's Version) release, "and a part of me was reclaimed in 2023 with the re-release of this album I love so dearly."
As you blast 1989 (Taylor's Version), dig into seven ways the original recording helped pave the way for Swift to become a global superstar.
It Proved Swift A Successful Genre Shapeshifter
After Swift's Red saw pushback from the country community for blurring the lines between country and pop, 1989 would see the singer take a hairpin turn and go full-on pop. The catalyst for a full-length pop album was Red's loss for Album Of The Year at the 2014 GRAMMYs — something that Swift admitted caused her to cry "a little bit" and then decide it was time to make the leap.
Like Shania Twain before her, Swift's move from country to pop caused controversy both within the music industry and in her own team. Her record label at the time were skeptical of the change — even prompting to suggest she still record some country songs — and required a "dozen sit-downs" to better understand why she wanted to leave country music behind.
Realizing that if she "chased two rabbits" by pursuing both country and pop she would end up losing them both, Swift opted to fully embrace the new chapter of her life that came with moving to New York, cutting her hair, and shaking off the media by leaning into where her music was taking her.
With racing production and synthesized saxophones, 1989's lead single, "Shake It Off," was a reintroduction to Swift's artistry — and hinted at the true mainstream pop star she'd soon become.
She Took A Stand Against Naysayers
As part of the campaign for 1989, Swift spoke about the critiques she's received as a female singer/songwriter that her male counterparts don't often face. In particular, she touched on artists like Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars, who also write songs about their love lives, but don't get similar pushback. Due to the autobiographical nature of her songwriting, love is a constant theme in Swift's work. But on 1989 she looked at it differently — and did so by taking aim at the media.
Where Red's "Mean" was written for the critics who never have anything nice to say, the tongue-in-cheek "Blank Space" is pointed directly at all those who suggest she's a maneater. Almost like a B-side to "Shake It Off" — which reminds that "the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate" — "Blank Space" serves as a satirical version of herself that gives a slight nod to how warped the media's perception is of her, singing "Got a long list of ex-lovers/ They'll tell you I'm insane/ 'Cause you know I love the players/ And you love the game."
She Enlisted Powerful Pop Producers
After working with Max Martin and Shellback on two of Red's biggest hits, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "I Knew You Were Trouble," Swift recruited them again to bring their expertise and pop flair for her new era. (Martin co-wrote and co-produced seven of the 13 tracks, while Shellback worked on six of those seven; both were involved on two of the three deluxe tracks.) As a songwriter, Swift liked just how much writing with a pop mindset helped push her out of her own comfort zone, something she explored with Martin on Red.
Swift further expanded her list of pop-superproducer collaborators by teaming with Ryan Tedder on two tracks, "I Know Places" and "Welcome To New York." While it's the only time the two have worked together, it checked another dream collab off of Swift's bucket list.
1989 was also the first album Swift worked on with Jack Antonoff, who has since become one of her biggest collaborators. Though he only co-wrote/co-produced three songs ("Out of the Woods," "I Wish You Would" and deluxe track "You Are In Love"), Antonoff's work soon proved majorly successful for Swift and several other pop stars, including Lorde and Lana Del Rey. Antonoff even credits Swift as the "first person who recognized" his talent as a producer.
It Expanded On Her Narrative-Driven Storytelling
As Swift was growing up and becoming reflective, her music was mirroring that maturity. This led her to explore themes and moments in her life that would weave their way through the album and become part of a larger story. The secret messages she placed throughout 1989 detail how different songs work together as a larger picture.
After the release of "Shake It Off" and the announcement that 1989 would be a pop-centric album, some fans and critics were fearful that Swift's storytelling would weaken when placed in a typical pop format. Instead, the ethos of 1989 is entirely shaped by Swift's love of autobiographical writing. After becoming irritated by the media's obsession with her love life and calling her promiscuous, she pulled from larger creative artistic inspiration.
On the synth-heavy "Welcome To New York," the album's opening track, she sings about finding freedom after moving to the place that once intimidated her, whereas "New Romantics" is a call-to-arms that references the very synth-pop cultural movement in music in the '80s — something that inspired 1989 as a whole (more on that soon).
Songs like "You Are In Love," which was inspired by Jack Antonoff's relationship with then-girlfriend Lena Dunham, exhibits her ability to write about her friends' relationships. Even if she found inspiration in her own romantic life, she looked at it from a changed perspective — like on "Out of the Woods" which sound mirrored the anxiety she felt due to a fragile relationship. By using pop music as her own personal playground, she took what she learned as a songwriter in country music and created a place where pop music could be both catchy and emotional.
It Incorporated '80s Synth-Pop Production
At the time of release, 1989 was lauded as the most cohesive out of all of Swift's albums, due in part to the fact that she, Shellback, and Martin used 1980s synth-pop as inspiration. Citing the '80s decade being a defining era for experimentation in pop music, Swift saw how it mimicked her own journey as a redefined pop artist.
Despite 1989's exploration of heartbreak and pain, Swift and her producers juxtaposed the heavier themes with sounds that are similar to the larger-than-life tracks of the '80s, yet still resonated with listeners. It's a pairing and influence that Swift has incorporated throughout the albums that followed, like on "Paper Rings" from Lover, "Getaway Car" from reputation, and "Long Story Short" from evermore.
It Marks The Beginning Of Swift's More Mature Songwriting
Since most of Swift's songs were, at that point, mostly autobiographical and focused on her own love life, many cynics claimed that Swift should reflect and figure out why all of her relationships end in heartbreak. On 1989, she looks back on the experiences that shaped her — like losing a friend as heard on "Bad Blood" or predicting just how badly a relationship will haunt you on "Wildest Dreams."
"Clean," the final song on 1989, demonstrates Swift's prowess at using bigger concepts to both touch on her own personal experiences and still make it universally relatable. On the final track of the standard edition, she explores a broken relationship by using vices as a metaphor for being addicted to someone. It's a track that, since its release, has become a fan-favorite because of its relatable topics, like grief and healing.
Although songs across 1989 are tied together by love and heartbreak, Swift approaches the themes in a more introspective and independent way. Where earlier tracks like Taylor Swift's "Should've Said No" and Speak Now's "Better Than Revenge" are bathed in anger, on 1989 Swift views love with more experience, understanding that not everything is black and white — as heard on "Style" ("He says, 'What you heard is true, but I/ Can't stop thinkin' 'bout you and I'/ I said, 'I've been there too a few times'") and "This Love" ("When you're young, you just run/ But you come back to what you need.")
She Took Artist-To-Fan Engagement To A New Level
What has always set Swift apart from other artists is her level of fan engagement, whether on social media or in person. With 1989, she doubled down on her relationship with fans, introducing the Secret Sessions.
In the lead-up to release week, Swift hand-selected 89 fans from across the US and invited them into her home. Swift personally entertained the crowd by playing them music from the album ahead of its release date and gave them bigger insight into the album-making process. She continued the Secret Sessions with 2017's reputation and 2019's Lover.
As she continues on the Eras Tour and releases 1989 (Taylor's Version), Swift also continues to redefine what it means to be a pop artist. Her era of pop stardom officially began with the release of 1989, and with its re-recorded counterpart, we get to relive that era all over again.
Photo: Adrián Monroy/Medios y Media/Getty Images
New Music Friday: Listen To Releases From Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, ATEEZ & More
December begins with a blast of new music from some of music's biggest stars. Press play on five new releases Jung Kook & Usher, Tyla and others, out on Dec. 1.
While 2023 may be coming to an end, the first releases of December prove that it's far from time to wind down.
From Taylor Swift — who released "You’re Losing Me," a song originally recorded for her 2022 smash album — to Dua Lipa’s extended edit of her single "Houdini," and Lana Del Rey's cover of "Take Me Home, Country Roads," listeners are being treated to new tracks from familiar favorites today.
Start off your month by listening to these tracks and albums from seven artists that will jumpstart your month.
Beyoncé - "MY HOUSE"
Queen Bey surprised fans with an early Christmas present by dropping "MY HOUSE," her first single since 2022’s Renaissance. This track was featured during the credits of her new Renaissance concert film.
Written and produced by The-Dream, this song showcases Beyoncé’s rapping skills, as she effortlessly weaves verses over a powerful horn melody. There's a vibe check in the song's second half, where the music becomes a smooth, electronic dance groove reminiscent of Renaissance’s ballroom vibe.
Jung Kook & Usher - "Standing Next To You (Remix)"
BTS' pop singer Jung Kook is back with a remix to his track "Standing Next To You," this time joined by an R&B sensation. The remix features a new verse from Usher, who adds a delicate touch to the vibrant, high-paced song.
The original track was released last month as a single on Jung Kook’s debut album, GOLDEN. This could be fans' last time hearing Jung Kook's music for a while — the "golden maknae" of BTS announced he’s enlisting for mandatory military service this month.
Tyla - "Truth or Dare"
GRAMMY-nominated Afrobeats star Tyla is closing the year with a sneak peek of her upcoming self-titled album. The hypotonic single "Truth or Dare," following the success of her GRAMMY-nominated song "Water" (the song is nominated for Best African Music Performance at the 2024 GRAMMYs alongside "Amapiano" by ASAKE & Olamide, "City Boys" by Burna Boy, Davido's "UNAVAILABLE" feat. Musa Keys, and "Rush" by Ayra Starr).
In this new song, Tyla revisits an old flame — this time with newfound wisdom and assurance that she won’t fall for his charm anymore: "So let's play truth or dare, dare you to forget / That you used to treat me just like anyone."
Tyla announced her upcoming self-titled album on social media, captioning, "African music is going global and I’m so blessed to be one of the artists pushing the culture. I’ve been working on my sound for 2 years now and I’m so ready for the world to hear it."
Lana Del Rey - "Take Me Home, Country Roads"
This cover might not come as a shock for fans after she referenced a line from Denver’s 1972 "Rocky Mountain High" on her track "The Grants" from GRAMMY-nominated album Did You Know There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd. (At the 2024 GRAMMYs, Did You Know is nominated for Album Of The Year alongside Jon Batiste's World Music Radio, Olivia Rodrigo's Guts, Swift's Midnights, Janelle Monae's The Age Of Pleasure, SZA's SOS, Miley Cyrus' Endless Summer Vacation and the record by boygenius. Did You Know is also nominated for Best Alternative Music Album alongside The Car by Arctic Monkeys, PJ Harvey's I Inside The Old Year Dying, Gorillaz's Cracker Island and boygenius' album.)
The track features Del Rey’s signature soothing vocals, as a Western-style melody balances the instrumentation. She brings her own sultry style to this '70s country classic, while continuing to show her musical versatility.
ATEEZ - The World EP:FIN:WILL
Five years after their debut album, K-pop group ATEEZ have returned with The World EP:FIN:WILL. The 12-track album is led by "Crazy Form," an Afrobeats/dancehall-influenced track, and also features many solo and unit tracks from the group.
Members Hong Joong and Seonghwa took the reins on "Matz," a dynamic hip-hop track, while Yeosang, San and Wooyoung collaborated for the R&B-influenced "It’s You."
During a Seoul press conference, Lead Hong Joong spoke about the group’s evolution and how fans should look forward to future releases.
"This year marks our fifth debut anniversary and so far, our greatest achievement has been establishing a strong relationship with our fans around the world. We hope to continue presenting music that can make our fans proud of us," he said.
Graphic Courtesy of the Recording Academy
SZA's Massive Year Continues, 'Barbie' Dominates & Big Firsts From The 2024 GRAMMYs Nominations
Who is the most nominated artist at the 66th GRAMMY Awards? Who could potentially make history? Take a look at five takeaways from the nominations for the 2024 GRAMMYs.
One of the biggest days in music has arrived: the nominations for the 2024 GRAMMYs.
With the excitement of the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations — which were announced on Nov. 10 — comes many big milestones. Whether it's first-time feats by this year's most nominated artist, SZA, or record-tying nominations by Taylor Swift, there's several intriguing takeaways from the 94 categories.
Below, check out five major outcomes of the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations.
SZA's Big Year Is Rewarded
There's no denying that SZA has been one of the year's most in-demand artists, and her GRAMMY nominations reflect that. With nine nominations, SZA is the most-nominated artist at the 2024 GRAMMYs — and she has a lot of new milestones to celebrate.
With 15 nominations and one win going into the 2024 GRAMMYs, SZA had already received nods in several major categories. But her most recent noms are particularly special because they're all for her own work.
SZA's ambitious second album, SOS, is the singer's first LP to receive an Album Of The Year nomination, while lead single "Kill Bill" is her first solo song to be nominated in the Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year categories. (She was previously nominated for AOTY as a featured artist on Doja Cat's Planet Her (Deluxe) in 2022, and for ROTY and SOTY with Kendrick Lamar for "All The Stars" in 2019 and with Doja Cat for "Kiss Me More" in 2022.)
Plus, the R&B star expands her nominations within her own genre: she's nominated in the Best Progressive R&B Album (SOS) and Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Love Language") categories for the first time.
Women Lead The Pack
Who run the 2024 GRAMMYs? Girls.
SZA is far from the only female artist with several GRAMMY nominations this year. Of the nine most-nominated artists, eight are women: SZA (9), Phoebe Bridgers (7), boygenius (6), Brandy Clark (6), Miley Cyrus (6), Olivia Rodrigo (6), Taylor Swift (6), and Victoria Monét (6). As Cyrus noted in a social media post celebrating her nominations, "Watching women win & rule the music industry makes me proud."
In fact, a majority of this year's leading nominees are women artists or groups. The Record Of The Year and Album Of The Year categories, as well as the Best Pop Solo Performance category, are all dominated by women.
'Barbie' Dominates Once Again
Another woman who took over the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations was Barbie — well, sort of.
The Barbie soundtrack and some of its hit songs received 11 nominations, four of which dominate the Best Song Written For Visual Media category: Nicki Minaj's and Ice Spice's "Barbie World," Dua Lipa's "Dance The Night," Ryan Gosling's "I'm Just Ken," and Billie Eilish's "What Was I Made For?" (They'll be competing against Rihanna's highly anticipated return to music, "Lift Me Up" from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.)
"Dance the Night" also earned a coveted Song Of The Year nomination, while "What Was I Made For?" scored nods in both Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year, as well as Best Pop Solo Performance. Additionally, "Barbie World" received a nomination for Best Rap Song.
Naturally, Barbie The Album is nominated for Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media nomination. Mark Ronson's genius was further rewarded with a nom for Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media, which he earned alongside his co-composer, Andrew Wyatt.
Artists Add Big Firsts
Like the 2023 GRAMMYs nominations, the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations resulted in many exciting firsts. While several artists are receiving their first GRAMMY nods — some of which will be highlighted in GRAMMY.com's Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee series in January — there are also several GRAMMY veterans with firsts to celebrate
Taylor Swift, for example, became the first songwriter to receive seven nominations in the Song Of The Year category. Along with her current nomination for "Anti-Hero," she was previously nominated for "All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (The Short Film)," "cardigan," "Lover," "Blank Space," "Shake It Off," and "You Belong With Me." And she could be making even more history at the 2024 GRAMMYs — but more on that later.
Miley Cyrus also achieved new GRAMMY feats, as her acclaimed eighth album, Endless Summer Vacation, is the pop star's first project to receive an Album Of The Year nomination. (She received an AOTY nod in 2022 as a featured artist on Lil Nas X's MONTERO.) The LP's smash lead single, "Flowers," helped Cyrus earn her first nominations in the Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Pop Solo Performance categories as well, and her collab with Brandi Carlile, "Thousand Miles," earned her first nod for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
R&B singer Victoria Monét isn't celebrating her first GRAMMY nominations this year, but she is celebrating her first as an artist. Monét had previously received three nominations: two in 2020 for her work as a songwriter/producer on Ariana Grande's "7 rings" (Record Of The Year) and thank u, next (Album Of The Year), and one in 2021 for Chloe x Halle's "Do It" (Best R&B Song). All six of her 2024 GRAMMY nominations recognize her work as an artist herself, including the esteemed honor of Best New Artist. Her other nods are for her debut album, JAGUAR II: Record Of The Year ("On My Mama"), Best R&B Performance ("How Does It Make You Feel"), Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Hollywood"), Best R&B Song ("On My Mama"), and Best R&B Album.
This also isn't the first time Phoebe Bridgers has received GRAMMY nominations — but it is for her supergroup boygenius, as well as for her bandmates Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker. With their six nods (including Album Of The Year for the record and Record Of The Year for "Not Strong Enough"), they became the first group to receive six or more GRAMMY nominations in a single year since 2012, when fun. and Mumford & Sons received six nominations each at the 2013 GRAMMYs.
A handful of other previously GRAMMY-nominated artists received their first nominations in new categories this year. 2022's Best New Artist, Olivia Rodrigo, earned her first in a Rock category for "ballad of a homeschooled girl" (Best Rock Song); 2022's Album Of The Year winner, Jon Batiste, has his first in the Song Of The Year ("Butterfly") and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance ("Candy Necklace" with Lana Del Rey) categories; Brandy Clark collected her first in the Best Americana Performance ("Dear Insecurity" with Brandi Carlile), Best American Roots Song ("Dear Insecurity") and Best Americana Album (Brandy Clark) categories, as well as her first in the Best Musical Theater Album category for "Shucked."
It's actually the first time a few artists are nominated for contributions to film and theater: Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna are all first-time Best Song Written For Visual Media nominees, and Josh Groban earned his first nod in the Best Musical Theater Album category, for his role as principal vocalist in "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street."
Last but certainly not least, in the Best African Music Performance category — one of three new categories for the 2024 GRAMMYs — four of the five artists or groups are first-time GRAMMY nominees: ASAKE & Olamide ("Amapiano"), Davido Featuring Musa Keys ("UNAVAILABLE"), Ayra Starr ("Rush"), and Tyla ("Water").
Taylor Swift Aims For More GRAMMY History
As Swifties know, Taylor Swift is no stranger to making GRAMMY history. In 2021, she made history as the first female artist to win Album Of The Year three times — but in 2024, she could become the artist with the most wins in the category ever.
That's right: If Swift's Midnights takes home the golden gramophone for Album Of The Year, she'll have a record-breaking four wins in the category, passing Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder.
Even if she doesn't win, Swift has already tied a GRAMMY record. With her nomination for Midnights, Swift now ties Barbra Streisand for most nominations by a female artist for Album Of The Year, with six nominations in the category each.
Will Taylor Swift make more GRAMMY history? Will SZA cap off her unstoppable year with a GRAMMY win? Will Miley Cyrus get her "Flowers"? Tune into CBS on Feb. 4, 2024 to find out!
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Here Are The Song Of The Year Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs
The eight nominees for Song Of The Year at the 2024 GRAMMYs are hits from some of music’s biggest names: Lana Del Rey, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, Jon Batiste, Taylor Swift, SZA and Dua Lipa.
The Song Of The Year GRAMMY Award honors the best releases in the music business, and the eight nominees for the golden gramophone at the 2024 GRAMMYs come from a variety of established singer/songwriters. From dance anthems to pop bops, ballads and R&B smashes, the nominees for Song Of The Year showcase the breadth of emotions of the past year.
Before tuning into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, learn more about this year's Song Of The Year nominees below.
"A&W" - Lana Del Rey
Songwriters: Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey & Sam Dew
The second single from her ninth studio album, Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, "A&W" is a refreshing addition to Lana Del Rey’s expansive discography.
Another shattered portrait of the American Dream, the seven-minute epic, oscillates from madness to exhaustion, as Del Rey described feeling burned out by being objectified and perceived as an "American whore." What begins as a psychedelic folk ballad erupts into a defiant trap number interpolated with a doo-wop standard by the four-minute mark of the chaotic number.
"I’m a princess, I’m divisive/Ask me why I’m like this/Maybe I just kinda like this," Del Rey anxiously warbles. Later, she expresses her resignation surrounding rape culture: "If I told you that I was raped/ Do you really think that anybody would think/ I didn't ask for it? I didn't ask for it/ I won't testify, I already f—ed up my story."
"Anti-Hero" - Taylor Swift
Songwriters: Jack Antonoff & Taylor Swift
"Anti-Hero" showcased a new side of Taylor Swift — a rare moment where the 33-year-old pop star confronted her flaws in the public eye.
"I really don’t think I’ve delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before," Swift said of the track in an Instagram video. "Not to sound too dark, but, like, I just struggle with the idea of not feeling like a person."
The self-loathing synth-pop anthem — with its cheeky chorus — catapulted "Anti Hero" into virality. With its ubiquitous meaning, the song topped charts and became a staple of pop radio. Now, it’s enjoying the highest praise as a contender for Song Of The Year.
"Butterfly" - Jon Batiste
Songwriters: Jon Batiste & Dan Wilson
Beyond its sound, what makes Jon Batiste’s "Butterfly" so stunning is the story behind it. The touching jazz-soul fusion track is an iteration of the lullabies Batiste penned while his wife Suleika Jaouad was hospitalized during her cancer treatment.
"It’s just such a personal narrative song in relation to my life and what my family has gone through and my wife and all of the things she’s been able to overcome," the 36-year-old GRAMMY winner told PEOPLE.
"Butterfly" is featured on Batiste's latest album, World Music Radio. Like much of his discography, "Butterfly" is inherently uplifting but there’s an underlying yearning for freedom. "Butterfly in the air/ Where you can fly anywhere/ A sight beyond compare," Batiste croons over stripped-down keys.
"Dance The Night" (From Barbie The Album) - Dua Lipa
Songwriters: Caroline Ailin, Dua Lipa, Mark Ronson & Andrew Wyatt
With the release of her pop-funk epic Future Nostalgia during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dua Lipa proved she could master the art of escapism. On "Dance The Night," a thrilling dance-pop number from the star-studded Barbie soundtrack, she channels that same inspiration with a side of glitter and glam.
"Greta said that the whole film was inspired by disco. There’s a lot of very glittery and pop moments in it," the 28-year-old singer said of how the track fits into the movie in an interview with Dazed.
Over a sleek synth, the pop star reflects the unwavering joy Barbie outwardly emanates while she’s crumbling inside: "Even when the tears are flowin' like diamonds on my face/I'll still keep the party goin', not one hair out of place (yes, I can)."
"Flowers" - Miley Cyrus
Songwriters: Miley Cyrus, Gregory Aldae Hein & Michael Pollack
Miley Cyrus has perfected the art of reinventing herself. With the post-breakup number "Flowers," she reclaimed her independence and took a hard turn from gritty rock back into pop music. "I can take myself dancing, yeah/ I can hold my own hand/ Yeah, I can love me better than you can," she belts over a disco-pop beat.
While the 30-year-old musician wouldn’t share if "Flowers" was indeed about her ex-husband Liam Hemsworth, the song became an empowering earworm from a more refined version of the longtime musician.
"The song is a little fake it till you make it," she said of "Flowers" in an interview with British Vogue. "Which I’m a big fan of." It turns out she made it with a nomination for Song Of The Year at the 2024 GRAMMY Awards.
"Kill Bill" - SZA
Songwriters: Rob Bisel, Carter Lang & Solána Rowe
On the psychedelic R&B groove of "Kill Bill," which references the legendary Quentin Tarantino film, SZA dreams up her own unfiltered revenge fantasy. "I might kill my ex / Not the best idea / His new girlfriend's next / How'd I get here?" she ponders over an airy melody.
The song stands out on the R&B singer’s latest album, SOS, for not only its cheeky wordplay but for how visceral she portrayed the devastation of a breakup.
Despite its popularity, the 34-year-old singer initially thought one of the other songs on her 23-track album would have topped the charts. "It's always a song that I don't give a f— about that's just super easy, not the s— that I put so much heart and energy into. 'Kill Bill' was super easy — one take, one night," the singer told Billboard of "Kill Bill’s" success.
"Vampire" - Olivia Rodrigo
Songwriters: Daniel Nigro & Olivia Rodrigo
Like her explosive debut "Drivers License," Olivia Rodrigo opted for a swelling power ballad for the lead single of her sophomore album Guts. On "Vampire," the singer/songwriter recalls a parasitic relationship with a swelling power ballad that erupts into a booming guitar breakdown. "Bloodsucker, famef—er/ Bleedin' me dry, like a goddamn vampire," she sings with a bitter lilt.
While many speculated the song was about a toxic relationship, Rodrigo claimed it’s more nuanced than that. "It’s more about my regret and kind of beating myself up for doing something that I knew wasn’t gonna turn out great and kind of just taking ownership of that and dealing with those feelings," she told Sirius XM Hits 1.
Regardless, the 20-year-old artist turned something bitter into something sweet by landing a Song Of The Year nomination.
"What Was I Made For?" [From The Motion Picture "Barbie"] - Billie Eilish
Songwriters: Billie Eilish O'Connell & Finneas O'Connell
Not only was the Barbie movie a massive hit, its soundtrack was, too, thanks to a slew of chart-topping artists including Dua Lipa, HAIM and Sam Smith. So it’s no surprise that Billie Eilish made that list as well, and delivered a gutting ballad that soundtracked one of the most heartbreaking moments of the film.
The wistful single, which arrives at the devastating realization that you’re not real and are instead meant to be consumed, aptly embodies the narrative arc of the box office smash. "Looked so alive, turns out I'm not real/ Just something you paid for/ What was I made for," the 21-year-old musician sings with a heartbreaking lilt.
While writing the sobering number, Eilish tried to embody the essence of the life-sized doll herself. "I was purely inspired by this movie and this character and the way I thought she would feel, and wrote about that," she told Zane Lowe of Apple Music.
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.
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Here Are The Record Of The Year Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs
The 2024 Record Of The Year nominees at the 2024 GRAMMYs are hits from some of music’s biggest names Jon Batiste, boygenius, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish & FINNEAS, Victoria Monét, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift and SZA.
Throughout the past year, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift delivered inescapable pop anthems, while Victoria Monét and SZA proved that R&B deserves a place in the spotlight. Jon Batiste continued to evolve his artistry, while indie supergroup boygenius made an anticipated comeback.
With so many standout moments, the golden gramophone Record Of The Year — which is awarded to the artist and the producer(s), recording engineer(s) and/or mixer(s) and mastering engineer(s) — is shaping up to be a thrilling contest at the 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards.
Before tuning into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Feb. 4, 2024, learn more about this year's Record Of The Year nominees below.
Jon Batiste - "Worship"
Album highlight "Worship" encapsulates the LP’s message of unification and community by fusing various global sounds. The song is quite the joyride, beginning with bellowing organs before a choir joins with a glorious harmony and finally explodes with a Latin samba party. "We are born the same / Return to that place" Batiste repeats throughout the song, driving home his inclusive mission.
"Worship" is a joyous anthem and, following his Album Of The Year win at the 2023 GRAMMYs for We Are, it’s clear the five-time GRAMMY winner is keeping the celebration going.
boygenius -"Not Strong Enough"
The LP beautifully captured just how well the women rockers work together, and their chemistry is best seen in "Not Strong Enough." The single’s lush harmonies and feather-light guitars are a contrast to the candid lyricism, which attempts to juggle insecurities and having a God complex.
"The two wolves inside us can be self-hatred and self-aggrandizing," Bridgers explained to Rolling Stone. "Being like, ‘I’m not strong enough to show up for you. I can’t be the partner that you want me to be.’ But also being like, ‘I’m too f—ed up. I’m unknowable in some deep way!’"
"Not Strong Enough" marks a career milestone for boygenius, as it's the group’s first nomination for Record Of The Year.
Miley Cyrus - "Flowers"
A truly great pop star knows how to make a break-up anthem for the ages. Miley Cyrus already had a few under her belt, but she kicked off the year with her strongest offering to date.
"Flowers" was suggested to be inspired by Cyrus’ divorce from Liam Hemsworth, but the song’s messaging goes well beyond the singer’s personal life. Many can relate to having to pick up the pieces of a broken heart, but Cyrus’ confident vocals paired with the soaring disco-inspired melody reassure that self-love is the ultimate healer.
"The chorus was originally: ‘I can buy myself flowers, write my name in the sand, but I can’t love me better than you can,’" the singer told British Vogue of the song’s original lyrics. "It used to be more, like, 1950s. The saddest song. Like: ‘Sure, I can be my own lover, but you’re so much better.’"
The subtle decision to flip the "can’t" into a "can" showcases the brilliance of Cyrus’ songwriting, which ultimately makes the meaning of "Flowers" that much more empowering.
Billie Eilish & FINNEAS - "What Was I Made For?"
The Barbie movie was arguably this year’s biggest pop culture phenomenon, so of course the soundtrack had equally big names. But among the midst of fast-paced and glittery pop songs, Billie Eilish’s contribution tugged at heartstrings. The seven-time GRAMMY winner teamed with her brother and go-to collaborator FINNEAS for "What Was I Made For?"
It’s a tender, melancholic ballad that ties in the movie’s themes of autonomy and balancing feminism in a patriarchal world, with Eilish still holding on to hope: "I don’t know how to feel / But someday I might." The song reflects a universal experience for many women, including Eilish herself — although she didn’t realize it at first.
"I was purely inspired by this movie and this character and the way I thought she would feel and wrote about that," Eilish told Zane Lowe for Apple Music 1. "Over the next couple days, I was listening and [realized] I was writing for myself and I don’t even know it." That relatability is one of the beauties of music, for listeners and artists alike.
Victoria Monét - "On My Mama"
Victoria Monét has a long songwriting history, penning hits for the likes of Brandy, BLACKPINK, Chloe x Halle and longtime friend Ariana Grande. And while she’s released solo music in the past, her debut album Jaguar II cements her place within R&B’s new crop of stars. Third single "On My Mama" took the scene by storm, bringing together millennials and Gen Z’s shared love of ‘00s nostalgia.
Sampling Chalie Boy’s 2009 song "I Look Good" and lined with Monét’s signature horns, the song is a celebration of Black southern culture. As Monét described it on "The Ebro Show" on Apple Music 1, "It’s an anthem for affirmations, positive self-talk, manifestations, living in abundance, [and] speaking things into existence."
Olivia Rodrigo - "Vampire"
What makes Olivia Rodrigo a captivating artist is her honesty. Her ability to capture her generation’s emotional nature is why 2021’s debut album Sour took pop music by storm (and also made her a three-time GRAMMY winner). And she’s continued the movement with "Vampire", the lead single from her sophomore album, Guts.
The song is a red herring of sorts, beginning with melancholic piano keys that often kickstart the singer’s tunes. But rather than shed tears, she unleashes the fury of a woman scorned, dishing out insults to a manipulative ex-lover that ripped her heart out. "Bloodsucker, famef—er / Bleedin' me dry, like a goddamn vampire" she seethes on the chorus. The best revenge is always served cold.
Taylor Swift - "Anti-Hero"
Taylor Swift has grown to be even more self-aware as her status ascends. She knows being a pop superstar comes with its challenges, and “Anti-Hero” reveals the woman behind the glitzy veil. Inspired by her nightmares, the chart-topping smash from tTaylor Swift has become even more self aware as her status ascends. She knows being a pop superstar comes with its challenges, and "Anti-Hero" reveals the woman behind the glitzy veil.
Inspired by her nightmares, the chart-topping smash from the 12-time GRAMMY winner’s tenth album Midnights is a personal journal into feelings of self-doubt and anxiety. But in natural Swift fashion, the dark lyricism is anchored by hopeful pop synths courtesy of longtime collaborator and co-producer Jack Antonoff. The video heightens the song’s themes, as Swift confronts various versions of her former selves.
"We all hate things about ourselves, and it's all of those aspects of the things we dislike and like about ourselves that we have to come to terms with if we're going to be this person," Swift shared with fans on Instagram. That refreshing honesty is what makes "Anti-Hero" one of the singer’s most successful songs to date.
SZA - "Kill Bill"
Leave it to SZA to make murder sound so sweet. On SOS standout single "Kill Bill," the singer takes a page from director Quentin Tarantino by nodding to his 2003 film, as she lives out her vengeful fantasies.
The GRAMMY winner’s raging jealousy landed "Kill Bill" atop the Billboard Hot 100, making it her first-ever solo No.1 hit. SZA brought the fatal single to life with a cinematic music video, which pays homage to Kill Bill with fierce action scenes and an appearance from Vivica A. Fox, who starred as a Deadly Viper and Thurman's enemy Vernita Green in the film.
"I've never raged the way that I should have. This is my villain era, and I'm very comfortable with that," the singer shared with Glamour about her album’s themes. "It is in the way I say no. It's in the f–ked up things that I don't apologize for." And with lyrics like "I did all of this sober" on "Kill Bill," you have no choice but to believe her.