Photo Courtesy Of Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift's Road To 'Folklore': How The Superstar Evolved From 'Diaristic' Country Tunes To Her Most Progressive Music Yet
With her enchanting eighth album, 'folklore,' Taylor Swift celebrates five GRAMMY nominations and a praiseworthy return to what she does best: storytelling
For Women's History Month 2021, GRAMMY.com is celebrating some of the women artists nominated at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show. Today, we honor Taylor Swift, who's currently nominated for six GRAMMYs.
When we met Taylor Swift in 2006, it was immediately apparent that her songwriting approach was like ripping a page out of her diary.
"Just a boy in a Chevy truck/ That had a tendency of gettin' stuck/ On backroads at night/ And I was right there beside him all summer long/ And then the time we woke up to find that summer gone," she lamented in the first verse of her debut single, "Tim McGraw." The way the then-16-year-old Swift could turn personal anecdotes into instantly memorable hooks mirrored the prowess of an industry veteran, appealing to more than just the teenage girls that could relate to a short-lived high school romance.
Now, nearly 15 years later, Swift has introduced another layer of intrigue with a foray into indie folk, unveiling a pair of albums, folklore and evermore, last year. Recorded entirely in isolation after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, folklore has been widely acclaimed as Swift's best album, touted for its intimate songwriting and cinematic dynamics; evermore has received similarly glowing reviews.
folklore was 2020's best-selling album and earned Swift five GRAMMY nominations at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show, including her fourth Album Of The Year nod. (evermore will be eligible for the 64th GRAMMY Awards in 2022.) As her 10 previous GRAMMY wins suggest, though, this new chapter isn't an abrupt departure for the star—it's a masterful continuation of her evolution as a singer/songwriter.
If there's one thing that Swift has proven throughout her career, it's that she refuses to be put in a box. Her ever-evolving sound took her from country darling to pop phenom to folk's newest raconteur—a transition that, on paper, seems arduous. But for Swift, it was seamless and resulted in perhaps her most defining work yet. And folklore’s radiance relies on three of Swift’s songwriting tools: heartfelt balladeering, autobiographical writing, and character-driven storytelling.
While there was always a crossover element to Swift's pop-leaning country tunes, her transition from country starlet to pop queen began with Red. The album’s lead single, the feisty breakup anthem "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," was Swift's first release to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and, ironically, scoffed "indie records much cooler than mine"). She declared a full pop makeover with 2014's 1989, but the response proved that her bold move was the right one: Along with spawning three more No. 1 hits, the project won Swift her second GRAMMY for Album of the Year.
From there, 2017’s Reputation, a response to media scrutiny, and 2019’s Lover, an often bubbly exploration of all facets of affection, followed. Although they shared similarly grandiose production, Lover featured a handful of poetic ballads, including "The Archer," a self-reflective love song that teased Swift's folk sensibilities through storybook lyrics and ambient textures.
Swift’s ballads are key in understanding the full essence of folklore. They’ve regularly marked standout moments on each of her albums, both thanks to her poignant vulnerability and rich tone. Fearless standout "White Horse" earned Swift two GRAMMYs in 2009; Red's painstaking "All Too Well" was an instant fan favorite; 1989's "This Love" and Reputation's "New Years Day" provided tenderness amid otherwise synth-heavy sounds.
The raw emotion she puts into her downtempo songs comes alive on folklore, introducing a new wave of neo-classical sonics that elevate her fanciful penmanship to an ethereal level. Whether or not Swifties saw a full indie-pop record coming—at least not yet—the shift isn't all that surprising. Folklore’s romanticized lyrics and relatively lo-fi production are arguably what many fans have been patiently waiting on.
Lyrically, the super-personal nature of Swift’s music has always captivated fans and naysayers alike; diehards and critics dissected each of her albums for its real-life subjects and hidden meanings. While she played into those conspiracies at the time—whether she was revealing names in titles like "Hey Stephen" and "Dear John" or scathing the other girl on "Better Than Revenge"—even Swift herself admits that her teenage method had an expiration date.
"There was a point that I got to as a writer who only wrote very diaristic songs that [it] felt unsustainable for my future moving forward," she told Apple Music's Zane Lowe in December of 2020. "It felt like too hot of a microscope ... On my bad days, I would feel like I was loading a cannon of clickbait when that's not what I want for my life."
That realization is what helped make folklore so memorable: Swift stripped away the drama to let her artful storytelling shine. Sure, there are occasional callbacks to personal happenings ("invisible string" references sending her exes baby gifts and "mad woman" alludes to her legal battle with Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun). Still, she largely shies away from her autobiographical narratives to make way for her imagination.
"I found myself not only writing my own stories, but also writing about or from the perspective of people I've never met, people I've known, or those I wish I hadn't," Swift wrote in a letter to fans on social media the day folklore arrived. "The lines between fantasy and reality blur and the boundaries between truth and fiction become almost indiscernible."
folklore might be her first full project dedicated to creating characters and projecting storylines, but Swift has shown a knack for fantasy from the start. Tracks like "Mary's Song (Oh My My)" on her self-titled debut and "Starlight" on Red saw Swift craft stories for real-life muses ("Mary's Song" was inspired by an old couple who lived next door to Swift in her childhood; "Starlight" was sparked from seeing a picture of Ethel and Bobby Kennedy as teens). Even when songs did pertain to her real life, Swift often had a way of flipping memories into whimsical metaphors, like the clever clap-back to a critic on Speak Now's "Mean" or the rebound relationship in Reputation's "Getaway Car."
To think that we wouldn't have folklore without a pandemic is almost surreal; it's already become such a fundamental piece of Swift’s artistic puzzle. There was no telling what may have come after the glittering "love letter to love itself” that was Lover, but it seems isolation made the singer rethink any plans she may have had.
"I just thought there are no rules anymore because I used to put all these parameters on myself, like, 'How will this song sound in a stadium? How will this song sound on radio?' If you take away all the parameters, what do you make?" she told Paul McCartney in a November Rolling Stone interview. "And I guess the answer is folklore."
Even if she hasn’t been making indie music herself, Swift has shown an affinity for the genre over the years through curated digital playlists. Those included four songs by The National including "Dark Side of the Gym," which she references on folklore single "betty," and "8 (Circle)" by Bon Iver, Swift's collaborator on folklore's gut-wrenching "exile" as well as evermore’s title track. (“Exile” is one of folklore’s GRAMMY-nominated cuts, up for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.)
The National’s guitarist Aaron Dessner co-wrote nine and produced 11 of folklore's 16 tracks, soundtracking Swift's imaginative tales with sweeping orchestration and delicate piano. Their partnership started with "cardigan," a melancholy take on teenage love that's up for Best Pop Solo Performance and the coveted Song of the Year. The team-up was a dream come true for Swift, a self-proclaimed National superfan and a career highlight for Dessner, who shared in an Instagram post about folklore that he's "rarely been so inspired by someone." He sees the album as a pivotal moment for both Swift's career and pop music.
"Taylor has opened the door for artists to not feel pressure to have 'the bop,'" Dessner shared with Billboard in September. "To make the record that she made, while running against what is programmed in radio at the highest levels of pop music—she has kind of made an anti-pop record. And to have it be one of the most, if not the most, successful commercial releases of the year that throws the playbook out.
"I hope it gives other artists, especially lesser-known or more independent artists, a chance at the mainstream," he continued. "Maybe radio will realize that music doesn't have to sound as pushed as it has. Nobody was trying to design anything to be a hit. Obviously, Taylor has the privilege of already having a very large and dedicated audience, but I do feel like it's having a resonance beyond that."
Swift's other primary folklore collaborator was Jack Antonoff. He has been her right-hand man since they first paired up on 2013's promotional single "Sweeter Than Fiction" (Swift referred to him as "musical family" in her folklore announcement). Even after years of creating stadium-ready pop smashes, Antonoff said in his own folklore Instagram post, "I've never heard Taylor sing better in my life / write better."
As Swift recognizes herself, folklore ushered in a new way of thinking for the superstar that not only brings out her best, but sets a promising precedent for what's to come. "What I felt after we put out folklore was, 'Oh wow, people are into this too, this thing that feels really good for my life and my creativity,'" Swift added in her interview with Lowe. "I saw a lane for my future that was a real breakthrough moment of excitement and happiness."
Her enthusiasm is tangible on both folklore and evermore. Dubbed folklore’s sister record, evermore further expands Swift’s newfound mystical atmosphere. Much to the delight of many Swifties, the follow-up also calls back to her country beginnings on tracks like the HAIM-assisted “no body, no crime,” as well as her pop expertise on more uptempo cuts like “long story short.”
Together, the albums are a momentous reminder that Swift is a singer/songwriter first. Her wordcraft is some of the most alluring of her generation, and that’s never been lost on her music, regardless of the genre she’s exploring. But now that Swift also feels she's at her best, it’s evident folklore was just the beginning of Taylor Swift in her finest form.
Photos (L-R): The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images, Jody Dominigue, Jack Bridgland, courtesy of the artist, Michael Tranafp, Rodin Eckenroth via Getty Images, Paras Griffin via Getty Images
15 Must-Hear Albums This October: Troye Sivan, Drake, Blink 182, NCT 127 & More
Don't let the falling leaves bring you down — read on for 15 albums dropping in October from Taylor Swift, Gucci Mane and Riley Green.
Fall has already begun, and 2023 enters its final act with the beginning of October. However, that doesn't mean the music has to slow down — this month offers plenty of new releases for everyone from rap fans to country aficionados.
The month starts with Sufjan Stevens and the release of Javelin, his first fully-written album in eight years. On the same day, after several postponements, Drake will finally put forth For All the Dogs. Later in the month, blink-182 will make a long-awaited return with One More Time…, their first album featuring the original members since 2011, and Migos rapper Offset will drop his sophomore record, Set It Off.
Don't let the falling leaves bring you down — below, GRAMMY.com compiled a guide with 15 must-hear albums dropping October 2023.
Sufjan Stevens - Javelin
Release date: Oct. 6
The last time Sufjan Stevens released an album fully written by himself was 2015's Carrie & Lowell. Javelin, his upcoming tenth studio album, will finally break this spell.
Mostly recorded at Stevens' home studio and featuring contributions from several friends (including the National's Bryce Dessner), the 10 tracks of Javelin bring back sounds of "70s Los Angeles' studio opulence" and vibes of a "detailed yet plain" self-portrait, according to a press release.
The album also features a cover of Neil Young's "There's a World" and an ambitious, 48-page art book with collages and essays written by Stevens. Javelin is preceded by the soothing single "So You Are Tired" and the spaced-out "Will Anybody Ever Love Me?"
NCT 127 - Fact Check
Release date: Oct. 6
Within the NCT constellation, NCT 127 is the subgroup anchored in South Korea's buzzing capital, Seoul. Since debuting in 2016, the nine-member ensemble has been infusing the city's vibrancy with innovative EDM and hip hop mixes.
On Oct. 6, NCT 127 will return with their fifth studio album, Fact Check, bringing in another round of their experimental K-pop sound. Consisting of nine songs, including lead single "Fact
Check (Mysterious; 不可思議)," the album expresses 127's confidence.
So far, they released a wealth of teasers that are linked to NCT's overall "dream" concept, video contents, and a highlight medley of the album tracks. After the recent ronclusion of NCT Nation, NCT's first full-group concert in South Korea and Japan, fans are expecting 127 to announce tour dates.
BoyWithUke - Lucid Dreams
Release date: Oct. 6
Mysterious masked singer and TikTok phenomenon BoyWithUke will continue his dream-themed saga with the release of Lucid Dreams, his fourth studio album.
According to a statement by the Korean American star, Lucid Dreams is meant to express "my desires, my fears, my past, and my dreams." He also adds that the each song on the album is "like a different step on the path. I'm facing past traumas, making the music I want to make, and figuring out who I am."
That development can be seen on pre-releases "Migraine" and "Trauma," where he opens up about mental health and childhood struggles over signature ukulele strings. In his own words, this album is truly "BoyWithUke blossoming, spreading his wings, and finding himself."
Drake - For All the Dogs
Release date: Oct. 6
The album's tracklist is still a mystery, but it will reportedly feature names like Nicki Minaj, Bad Bunny, and Yeat, with production credits from 40, Bnyx, and Lil Yachty, among others. For All the Dogs is also linked to the Canadian rapper's debut poetry book, Titles Ruin Everything: A Stream of Consciousness — a 168-page collection written in partnership with longtime friend and songwriter Kenza Samir.
The album follows Drake's two 2022 studio albums: Honestly, Nevermind and Her Loss, in collaboration with 21 Savage. Currently, Drake is finishing up his It's All A Blur North American tour — one of the reasons why the album has been postponed before.
Troye Sivan - Something to Give Each Other
Release date: Oct. 13
On an Instagram post, Australian singer Troye Sivan stated: "This album is my something to give you — a kiss on a dancefloor, a date turned into a weekend, a crush, a winter, a summer. Party after party, after party after after party. Heartbreak, freedom. Community, sisterhood, friendship. All that."
Something to Give Each Other is Sivan's first full-length album in five years, following 2018's Bloom. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he revealed many of the inspirations behind this work, including partying, movies like Lost in Translation and Before Sunrise, and simple, ice-cold glasses of beer.
The trippy atmosphere of the album can be felt through pre-release singles "Rush" and "Got Me Started" — which features a sample of Bag Raider's omnipresent 2011 hit, "Shooting Stars."
Offset - Set It Off
Release date: Oct. 13
Migos rapper Offset said in a statement that his sophomore album, Set It Off, took over two years to finalize. "This season is personal for me. It marks a new chapter in my life," he added.
A follow-up to his 2019 debut LP, Father of 4, the album will feature appearances by stellar names such as rapper Future, Travis Scott, Chloe Bailey, and Latto, as well as Offset's wife Cardi B, who appears on single "Jealousy."
Later in the statement, Offset said he feels "like Michael Jackson coming from a successful group breaking records to superstardom on my own. This body of work is healing for me and a letter to my fans and supporters." Lead single "Fan" brings back that comparison through many Michael Jackson references in the music video — a clever choice for the rapper's keen self-awareness.
Metric - Formentera II
Release date: Oct. 13
Exactly one year after the release of Formentera, indie royalty Metric took to social media to announce their ninth studio album, Formentera II. "Sometimes I feel like I'm in a damn maze and maybe you do too, or maybe you have it totally together, or maybe you feel like you're always floating somewhere in between," they wrote. "Wherever you're at right now, I am here to guide you to the rocking️ conclusion of our Formentera I & II odyssey."
The Canadian band also shared lead single "Just the Once," which was described by vocalist Emily Haines as a "regret disco" song in a press statement. "It's a song for when you need to dance yourself clean," she added. "Beneath the sparkling surface, there's a lyrical exploration of a simple word with many meanings. Once is a word that plays a game of opposites."
In support of the release, Metric revealed another single, "Who Would You Be For Me," and will be playing special concerts in NYC, L.A., Toronto, London, Paris, Berlin, Mexico City, Monterrey, and Santiago starting Oct. 10. The concerts will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut LP, Old World Underground, Where Are You?
Riley Green - Ain't My Last Rodeo
Release date: Oct. 13
Alabama country star Riley Green has a moving story behind his second full-length album. Echoing the 2019 hit "I Wish Grandpas Never Died," Ain't My Last Rodeo came from one of the last conversations the singer shared with his late grandfather, Buford Green, who was an essential figure shaping his love for music and nature.
"I was fortunate enough to grow up within about three miles of my grandparents, so they were a huge part of my growing up and who I am — and this album is a lot of who I am," Green said in a press release. "This is really the first time I was able to really take my time, write and record songs that really felt like a cohesive album."
Ain't My Last Rodeo features 12 tracks (including a cover of Tim McGraw's "Damn Country Music") and collaborations with Jelly Roll and Luke Combs. In February 2024, Green will embark on a 34-stop tour throughout the U.S.
The Drums - Jonny
Release date: Oct. 13
As its title suggests, the Drums' upcoming sixth studio album, Jonny, dives deep into current solo member Jonny Pierce's life. According to a press release, the album mainly explores "the deep-rooted childhood trauma Pierce experienced growing up in a cult-like religious community in upstate New York."
The singer explains further: "When I finished Jonny, I listened to it, and I heard my soul reflected back at me. It is devastating and triumphant, it is lost and found, it is confused and certain, it is wise and foolish. It is male and female, it is hard and gentle.
"To encapsulate one's whole self in an album, to honor each and every part of you, even the parts that feel at odds with each other, is to make something deeply human, and because my religion is humanism, the album becomes a sacred place for me to worship. Each feeling a different pew, each song a hymn to the human heart."
In the past few months, Pierce gave insight into the 16-track, indie-pop collection through singles "I Want It All," "Plastic Envelope," "Protect Him Always," "Obvious," and "Better." Jonny is the band's first full release since 2019's Brutalism.
Gucci Mane - A Breath of Fresh Air
Release date: Oct. 17
Following 2016's Ice Daddy, Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane's sixteenth studio album will be named A Breath of Fresh Air.
In it, Mane is likely in his most vulnerable, relatable state yet. "I kind of wanted to let people know that I go through pain," he stated in an interview for Apple Music (via Revolt). "Like I said, I didn't want to have so much just superficial topics. I hit people and let them know, 'Hey, this was going on,' but it ain't a bad thing. It's okay to be happy. You know what I'm saying?"
According to iTunes, the album is set to have two discs and 24 songs, including singles "Bluffin" featuring Lil Baby, "Pissy" featuring Roddy Ricch and Nardo Wick, "King Snipe" with Kodak Black, and "06 Gucci" with DaBaby and 21 Savage.
blink-182 - One More Time…
Release date: Oct. 20
blink-182's newest single, "One More Time," is a hard-earned reflection about what really matters in life. The punk rock trio, which hadn't been reunited since 2011's Neighborhoods, now realizes how personal struggles impacted their friendship, and how they hope to make it different in the future.
"I wish they told us, it shouldn't take a sickness/ or airplanes falling out of the sky," they sing, referencing Travis Barker's 2008 plane crash and Mark Hoppus' 2021 cancer diagnosis. "I miss you, took time, but I admit it/ It still hurts even after all these years."
A proof of maturity since they stepped into music in 1992, the heartfelt single is also the title track off upcoming LP One More Time... Featuring 2022's "Edging" and "More Than You Know" as well, the album was recorded mostly during their reunion tour this year, and boasts 17 tracks in total.
Sampha - Lahai
Release date: Oct. 20
Lahai is Sampha's grandfather's name and his own middle name. Now, it will become part of his musical history — the singer's sophomore studio album and follow up to 2017's acclaimed Process is due Oct. 20.
Over social media, Sampha described the record through a series of words as intriguing as his music: "Fever Dreams. Continuums. Dancing. Generations. Syncopation. Bridges. Grief. Motherlands. Love. Spirit. Fear. Flesh. Flight." Featuring contributions from singers like Yaeji, El Guincho and Yussef Dayes, it will feature 14 tracks that seemingly take a more positive tone than his previous work.
In a statement about lead single "Spirit 2.0," the south London singer said "it's about the importance of connection to both myself and others, and the beauty and harsh realities of just existing. It's about acknowledging those moments when you need help — that requires real strength."
Starting Oct. 12 in his hometown, Sampha will play a string of concerts throughout the U.K., Europe, and North America, wrapping it up on December 4 in Berlin, Germany.
Poolside - Blame It All On Love
Release date: Oct. 20
"I've spent 15 years being like, 'f—your rules,' and I finally feel like I'm not trying to prove anything or anyone wrong," says Jeffrey Paradise, the man behind "daytime disco" project Poolside, in a statement about his upcoming album, Blame It All On Love.
"It's just pure, unfiltered expression, and that's why I'm really excited about this record," he adds. The album bears 11 tracks described as "funky, soulful, laidback, and full of hooks" — as can be seen in singles like "Float Away," "Each Night" featuring Mazy, and "Back To Life" with Panama. According to the same statement, "the production marks a return to his live music roots and finds ease in simple and radiant layers of sound, even as it comes face-to-face with the complex reality of one's dreams come true."
Blame It All On Love is the follow-up to 2020 and 2021's duo Low Season and High Season. Poolside is on tour across the U.S. until Oct. 14.
Black Pumas - Chronicles of a Diamond
Release date: Oct. 27
Black Pumas' long-awaited second studio album, Chronicles of a Diamond, is "wilder and weirder" than its predecessor, according to an official statement. It is also the Austin-based duo's "fullest expression" of "frenetic creativity and limitless vision."
The album contains 10 tracks that expand on their trademark psychedelic soul sounds, as it can be seen in singles "More Than a Love Song" and "Mrs. Postman." "I wanted to make something we'd be thrilled to play live 200 days a year," says singer/songwriter Eric Burton in the same statement. "I wanted to be able to laugh, cry, bob my head, do the thing: it was all very much a selfish endeavor."
After the release, the Black Pumas will embark on a U.S. tour starting Dec. 4 in Austin, Texas, and follow into an European tour starting March 15 in Paris.
Taylor Swift - 1989 (Taylor's Version)
Release date: Oct. 27
Just three months after the release of Speak Now (Taylor's Version), Swifties will be treated to the singer's fourth re-recorded album this month: 2014's 1989. "To be perfectly honest, this is my most FAVORITE re-record I've ever done because the five From The Vault tracks are so insane," she revealed over social media.
As usual with Swift, the announcement of the album was marked by a slew of hints, starting with the news' date — Aug. 9, or 8/9 — during the final U.S. stop of her Eras Tour at Los Angeles' SoFi Stadium. On that day, she also debuted new, blue outfits that alluded to 1989's assigned color. Afterwards, the discovery continued through a partnership with Google Search for fans to solve word puzzles in order to discover the titles of the five "From the Vault" tracks.
The album, which Swift said "changed my life in countless ways" will be available in digital, cassette, CD, and vinyl. She will also release deluxe versions in four different colors: crystal skies blue, rose garden pink, aquamarine green, and sunrise boulevard yellow.
Photo: Courtesy of Alé Araya
ReImagined: Alé Araya Puts An Atmospheric Spin On Bon Iver's "Holocene"
Chilean artist Alé Araya uses her laptop, synthesizer and a well-worn piano to create an enchanting new version of Bon Iver's GRAMMY-nominated hit "Holocene."
Bon Iver's breakout moment came in 2011 with the release of "Holocene," the second single off the indie rock act's sophomore album Bon Iver, Bon Iver.
"And at once, I knew I was not magnificent/ Strayed above the highway aisle/ Jagged vacance, thick with ice/ But I could see for miles, miles, miles," frontman and founder Justin Vernon sang in floating falsetto on the song's chorus, over the strum of acoustic guitar and gentle percussion.
In this episode of ReImagined, Chilean artist Alé Araya turns the delicate track into a wistful piano ballad. She shows off her many musical talents as well, pivoting between her laptop, synthesizer and a well-worn upright piano as her crystalline vocals tie everything together.
Bon Iver earned dual GRAMMY nominations for both Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year for "Holocene" the following year. While both of those awards went to Adele's "Rolling in the Deep," Vernon and co. ultimately took home two other trophies — for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album.
Araya is having a breakout year of her own in 2023, recently releasing her debut EP, in pieces, which featured collaborations with greek ("Endless Sky"), aisu ("Citrine") and Joseph Chilliams ("Midnight Gospel"). She also joined forces with honey and Vrdnyn on the collaborative 2023 single "Prada Princess."
Press play on the video above to watch Araya interpretation of Bon Iver's fan-favorite single, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of ReImagined.
Photos: Antoine Antonio/Getty Images; Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for NARAS; Kevin Winter/Getty Images For MTV; Denise Truscello/Getty Images for iHeartMedia; Don Arnold/Getty Images; Harry Durrant/Getty Images
Behind Mark Ronson's Hits: How 'Boogie Nights,' Five-Hour Jams & Advice From Paul McCartney Inspired His Biggest Singles & Collabs
GRAMMY-winning multihyphenate Mark Ronson details the stories behind 11 of his favorite releases, from "Valerie" and "Uptown Funk" to 'Barbie The Album.'
Mark Ronson's fingerprints are everywhere in pop music.
Whether he's behind the board as a producer, penning earwormy hooks for some music's biggest names, or employing a crate digger's mindset to create his own records, you'd be hard-pressed to find something on your playlist that Ronson hasn't touched. The seven-time GRAMMY winner might as well be considered the industry’s Kevin Bacon — he's worthy of his own "six degrees" game.
Today, Ronson is on his way back to New York City from some time spent in the Hudson Valley — a much-need reprieve after a blockbuster summer that saw his Barbie movie soundtrack top charts around the world.
"I love this film so much and I did something I've never done before by executive producing and overseeing [its music]," he tells GRAMMY.com.
That Ronson still has things to check off his professional bucket list is something of a surprise. The stepson of Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones, Ronson got his start DJing in New York in the '90s, bridging his twin loves of funk and hip-hop. In the latter part of the decade, Diddy hired Ronson to DJ several parties, thus opening up the then-twentysomething to a world of A-list talent. Ronson's elite status only grew over decades — from DJing Paul McCartney's wedding in 2011 (for which he refused to accept payment), to creating the ubiquitous hit "Uptown Funk," and curating the final night of the iconic 2023 Montreux Jazz Festival.
Ronson has released five of his own albums — beginning with 2003's Here Comes The Fuzz and up to 2019's Late Night Feelings — each of which is a star-studded affair, featuring everyone from Miley Cryus and Camilla Cabello to Bruno Mars and Mary J. Blige (as well as the occasional lawsuit over interpolation and sampling). Over the years, he's developed a cadre of session musicians and production collaborators, creating an incredibly pop savvy sound often built on horn-driven funk and soul.
At the bedrock of Ronson's production — and among his best-known works — is Amy Winehouse's GRAMMY-winning album Back To Black. Since that 2006 release, Ronson has collaborated with an ever-increasing number of major acts, composing, arranging, producing, writing or playing on (and sometimes all of the above) works by Lady Gaga, Duran Duran, Dua Lipa, Adele, Queens of the Stone Age, and even Sir Paul himself.
Ronson will add another first to his list: author. A hybrid memoir and cultural history, the still-in-progress 93 'Til Infinity will cover the New York downtown club scene of Ronson's salad days.
"It's really fun to revisit that era, and it was a very specific time in DJing where DJs weren't really famous," he recalls. "There was no stage; sometimes the turntables were shoved in the corner at the end of the bar and you would have to crane your neck to even see the crowd. I sound like Grandpa Simpson, but I loved it."
Ronson is en route to a DJ gig as we speak, though the new dad says he'll be "kicking back into high gear on the book" soon. "[Writing it] requires really falling off for seven hours in the basement, like Stephen King says in his book. But I like that," he says.
Ahead of a celebration of Barbie The Album at the GRAMMY Museum on Sept. 27, Mark Ronson shared the stories behind some of his favorite productions – including the song that makes people "stupidly happy."
"Ooh Wee," Here Comes The Fuzz feat. Ghostface Killah, Nate Dogg, Trife and Saigon (2003)
I went to see Boogie Nights in the theater and I remember this scene where Mark Wahlberg's a busboy on roller skates and in the background there was this song playing that had just this string thing that just hit me so hard. I bought the Boogie Nights soundtrack and it wasn't on there — obviously this is 20 years before Shazam — then I figured out it was the song called "Sunny" by Boney M.
When I was making my first record, I was sort of locked up by myself in the studio on 54th Street just experimenting, making tracks all the time. That string line, I could never figure out what to do with the sample. I tried 80 different tempos and drum beats over it, and it wasn't until I just put that drum break behind it, the drums from the song, and it just all sort of gelled together.
Because that was an era in hip-hop where people weren't really using drum loops or drum breaks anymore. It was about chopping and having hard kicks and snares, like DJ Premiere and Timbaland. The DJ in me was like, f— it, let me just try putting a drum break under it. It all gelled and felt good.
I was a huge Wu-Tang fan, and at that point Ghostface was my favorite out of the group and I loved his solo records. I've never been more nervous in some weird way to talk to somebody — nervous and giddy, and what if I just sound so dorky?
I remember he was like, "Yeah, I get it. I think it's dope. It's like some Saturday Night Fever with Tony Manero s—." I guess because of the strings and it was so disco, and Ghost always had this pension for those disco kind of uptempo beats.
The album had to be handed in and I didn't have a hook that I liked on this song yet. Sylvia Rhone was the head of Elektra and she said, "I could try and get Nate Dogg on it." Of course that was the dream. I sent him the track, and it was probably two days before I had to master the album, on a Sunday. He sent me the files back, and all the waveforms were blank.
I had to call Nate Dogg at like 10 a.m. at home on a Sunday. While he's on the phone, he goes back in the studio and turns all his equipment on, trying to do the session.
The fanboy thing is still very real because I still work with people all the time that I'm a fan of. At that age, being in the studio with M.O.P., Mos Def, Q-Tip, Jack White, Freeway, Nate. I was just trying to keep it together some of the time.
"Rehab" - Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (2006)
"Rehab" just came about in general because Amy was telling me an anecdote. She was really together when we worked — she might not have been sober, but she got her whole life together. She was telling me about this time in her life that was difficult and she was in a really bad place. She said, "And my dad and manager came over and they tried to make me go to rehab and I was like, 'No, no, no.'"
I remember that it instantly sounded like a chorus to me, so we went back to my studio and we made the demo. That was when the Strokes and the Libertines were really big. I remember [the drums] sounded much more like an indie beat, even though it came from soul and Motown and the original rock 'n' roll. She would tease me; she's like, "You trying to make me sound like the bloody Libertines."
When [studio group] the Dap-Kings played it, they just brought it to life. I didn't really know anything about analog recording at that point. I only knew how to make s— sound analog by sampling records, so to hear them all play in the original Daptone studio, all the drums bleeding into the piano…. I felt like I was floating because I couldn't believe that anybody could still make that drum sound in 2006.
Amy couldn't be there for the recording, so I was taking a CD-J into the studio with me and I had her demo vocals on a cappella. I was playing it live with the band so that they could keep pace with the arrangement. I loved it so much.
"Valerie," feat. Amy Winehouse,Version (2007)
Amy had never met the Dap-Kings, even though they had been the band for all the songs that I had done on Back to Black. There was this really lovely day in Brooklyn where I took her to the studio to meet all the guys. The album was already out; there was a very good feeling about it [and] they obviously made something really special together. Amy loved the way the record sounded so much, she was so grateful. They loved her.
While we're all having this love-in in Bushwick, I was finishing my album Version and I said, "Maybe we could just cut a song for my record?" The whole theme of the record had sort of been taking more guitar indie bands like the Smiths, the Jam, the Kaiser Chiefs, and turning those into R&B or soul arrangements. I asked Amy if she knew any songs like that. She's like, "Yeah, they play this one song down at my local. It's called 'Valerie,'" and she played us all the Zutons' version. I didn't really hear it at first.
The first version we did was this very Curtis Mayfield kind of sweet soul. Part of me was just like, This is really good, but I feel like there's a hit version as well. I don't have that kind of crass thing where everything needs to be a hit, but…
Everybody was already packing up their instruments and I didn't know the guys that well yet, so it was kind of a pain in the ass to be like, "Hey, I know everybody just wants to go onto the f—ing bar and get a beer right now, but can we just do one more version where we speed it up a little?" Everybody flips open their guitar cases and we do like two more takes, and that's the version on my album.
"Alligator" - Paul McCartney, NEW (2013)
We've done other things together, but I've only really [worked on] three songs on his album, NEW. "New" I just loved as soon as he sent me the demo, because as a McCartney fan, it gives you the same feeling as "We Can Work It Out"; it just has that amazing uplifting feel. That's just his genius. I love "Alligator" maybe a little more because it's more weird.
He definitely gives you a day to f— up and be an idiot because you're just so nervous to be in the studio with McCartney. By the second day it's like, okay, get your s— together.
I remember running around just like, What sound can I find for Paul McCartney that every other amazing producer who ever recorded him [hasn't found already]? He was like, "Anybody can record a pristine acoustic guitar. Give me something with some characteristic that's iconic. That feels like someone just put the needle down on track one on an album."
That's something I always try to remember: don't just make it sound like a guitar, make it sound like a record.
"Uptown Funk" feat. Bruno Mars, Uptown Special (2015)
My enjoyment of the song is now gauged by the people that I'm playing it for. I was playing at this party at Public Records [in Brooklyn] on Sunday. I knew that I wasn't going to play that song on that night; it wasn't right for that crowd or something. And then an hour into my set, the vibe is really good, and I was just like, f— it and I dropped it, and people went crazy.
I'm a little extra critical sometimes on the more commercial songs, thinking nobody wants to hear this or this doesn't really have a place in this space. I think it's just a song that makes people stupidly happy, and that's cool.
The lyrics [to "Uptown Funk"] came really quick. We had the jam: Bruno was on drums, I was playing bass, Jeff Bhasker was on keys, and then Phil Lawrence was there and we jammed for five hours. We just chopped up our favorite parts of the instrumental jam, and then just started writing lyrics almost like a cipher. Bruno had been playing the Trinidad James song ["All Gold Everything"] in his live sets and playing it over a sort of uptempo, funky James Brown, "Get Up Off That Thing" groove.
We were just throwing about lyrics, throwing a little bit of the cadence of the Trinidad James song. Then when Jeff Bhasker said, "This s—, that ice cold/That Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold." It was like a great rap line. Then everything started to elevate a little bit from there on up.
That first day, we had the whole first verse and it felt great. Every time we went back in the studio, a lot of the times it would feel labored and not as good as that first verse. So it really took a long time to get in. Sometimes we'd go in the studio for three days and then at the end of the whole session we realized, we actually only liked these four bars.
So we kept building on it, and luckily Bruno didn't really let it die. Bruno was touring Unorthodox Jukebox; I was just flying around the country with a five string bass just to get the song done.
"Uptown Funk" still ended at Daptone…to do the horns last with Dave [Guy] and Neil [Sugarman], me. It's almost like you've always got to go through Daptone to finish something.
Bruno came up with that horn line. He was like, "I know you're going to kill me because you're trying to get away from being the horn guy, but I have this horn line and I think it's kind of killer." He demoed it from whatever backstage room on tour and I was like, Okay, here we go.
"Shallow" - Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born Soundtrack (2018)
It's very rare that I write on a song that I don't have to produce as well. We wrote that song in the middle of sessions for [2016's] Joanne, and then Gaga produced the whole Star is Born soundtrack herself. I remember we all had some tingly feelings when we were writing it.
It wasn't meant to be a duet ever. Then Bradley wrote it into the film; it becomes the beginning of their love story. Bradley showed [me a rough cut] at his house, I remember just being like, he's taking this special song [and] made it put its hooks into you. This film, and the story, and the way this song is unfolding is so special.
Then also shout to Lukas Nelson, because that guitar that he came up with that opens the song was not in our demo, and that is such an iconic, memorable part of the song.
The film and the script was really powerful, and I think that me, [co-writers] Andrew [Wyatt], Anthony [Rossomando], Gaga were all in this sort of heartbreak place. We're all just going through our own dramas in the song. The juju was really good and a little spooky in the studio that night.
"Electricity" - Dua Lipa & Silk City feat. Diplo, Mark Ronson, Electricity (2018)
That song just always makes me happy. I don't have a lot of other songs [that sound] like that. I'm always psyched to play that in a set or to go see Diplo play it live.
When I came up DJing in the mid-'90s in New York, if you're a hip-hop DJ you had to be versed in dancehall, old R&B dance classics, and a little bit of house. So I knew 12 house records, but I love those records.
It came out of a fun jam, just me and Diplo — who I'd known probably at that point for 10, 15 years, but we never got in the studio together. He's just firing up drum s— and I'm just playing on this old tack piano that was in the studio I just moved into. But it also sounded quite housey.
We came up with those chords and [singer/songwriter] Diana Gordon came over. I never met her before and she just started freestyling some melodies, and it was just so soulful instantly.
We'd moved the key a little bit lower for Dua — she has this amazing husky voice — but we still left Diana's demo vocal in. She's singing these mumble, non-word melodies that sound like a sample.
We had that old studio where we did Version and all the Amy demos. It has an old-school elevator that was sort of manual and it would always break down. There were people that were just too afraid, like Cathy Dennis — the brilliant songwriter who wrote "Toxic" and "Can't Get You Out of My Head" — she would just always be like, "I'm taking the stairs." We were on the fifth floor and it was a steep, steep walk up. [Editor's note: The music video for "Electricity" features Ronson and Diplo stuck in an elevator. He notes that he's gotten stuck several times in real life.]
"Nothing Breaks Like a Heart" feat. Miley Cyrus, Late Night Feelings (2019)
I was in L.A. working in Sound Factory [Studios], and I had seen Miley a couple years back sing "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" on the "SNL" 40th anniversary; I had never heard her perform with that stripped-down arrangement. I was just so in love with her voice and the tone. I remember hounding my manager, because usually somebody who knows somebody, but Miley Cyrus was completely unreachable and just in another stratosphere.
I was in the studio with [Dap-King] Tommy Brenneck; he's just such a wonderful player, such a soulful touch. We got this thing going, and then Ilsey [Juber] was saying, like, "What about all these things that break, but nothing breaks like a heart?"
[I thought], You know what? I've been trying to hit this girl up for years and nothing ever happened, but let me just try it one more time. I sent it off to Miley, and I guess she was just in a really motivated part of life. She's like, "This is cool. Where are you guys? I'll be there Monday." She came down Monday to the studio, and then her and Illsey wrote the whole rest of the song.
"Break Up Twice" - Lizzo, Special (2022)
[I produced a few other songs on Special], but they didn't make the cut. There's one that I really love called "Are You Mad" that might hopefully see the light of day once.
We spent a lot of time together and I love working with her because she has a really eccentric/ avant garde music taste. Like, the Mars Volta is her favorite-ever band; she's a conservatoire flute player; then she has a strong Prince heritage because she spent time in Minneapolis and she's been to Paisley Park.
The thing that I really love about her is, even at the status that she was at when we were working, there was never anything too silly or too left field to try. It's really freeing when you're with a big artist who isn't afraid to just f— around and jam and make some s— that you know might not be the thing.
"Break Up Twice" was actually an instrumental that we had done at Diamond Mine with [Daptone family] Tommy [Brenneck], Leon [Michels], Victor [Axelrod] and Nick [Movshon]. I just played that, and it instantly spoke to her and she just started freestyling, adding the harmonies and the sax and the vocal arrangements. I just didn't quite know how versatile and talented that she was when we first went in the studio. I just remember constantly being impressed and amazed.
Barbie: The Album (2023)
I'm really proud of the Dom Fike song ["Hey Blondie"], the Sam Smith song ["Man I Am"], [Dua Lipa's] "Dance and Night," of course. Even the Billie [Eilish] song that we did the string arrangement for. I played the tiniest bit of synths on the Nicki [Minaj]i/Ice [Spice] song.
I love this film so much and I did something I've never done before by executive producing and overseeing it. There's so many songs that I had nothing to do with creatively; sometimes I was just doing admin, hounding Tame Impala to send in a demo.
I'm really proud of "I'm Just Ken." Of course Ryan Gosling is a superstar in a different kind of way, but the fact that he's not some superstar pop artist, and the fact that that song has managed to do what it's done….Obviously it's so much to do with the film and his performance, but I'm really proud of that song. I was so inspired by the script. I just instantly had the idea for that line.
There was never anything in the script that said Ryan was going to sing a song. It was just something where Greta [Gerwig] and him really loved the demo, and she loved it enough to write it into the film, which was just so exciting. It was happening in a way that felt wonderful and organic, and to then get Josh Freese and Slash, and Wolf Van Halen to play on it and even bring it to even this next level of sonic fullness.
On TikTok and Instagram, I've seen people singing it; [even] in Spanish, really intense, really earnest covers. We were never trying to write a parody song or anything that wasn't earnest, because there's nothing parody about the film. I guess the chords have a bit of heartbreak in them, a little melancholy, and Ryan's performance is really lovely.
Barbie score (2023)
We worked equally hard or harder [on the score]. It doesn't have quite the same shine because obviously it's not Billie Eilish, Lizzo, and Dua Lipa, but it's something Andrew [Wyatt] and I did. A piece called "You Failed Me" — that's during both Barbie and Ken's meltdown in the middle of the film — I'm quite proud of that. I really love the "Meeting Ruth" orchestral interpolation of the Billie tune as well.
I've contributed music to other films and little cues and things like that, but this is the first time that Andrew and I really did a whole movie from start to finish while also doing the soundtrack.
It's incredibly humbling, too, because when you make a song for someone's album, you're working. It's certainly the most important thing that's happening. In a film, it could be the second most important thing. You could sometimes say it's the third most important thing after dialogue and the sound effects. All that's programmed into your mind about hooks and things like that it's like, No, actually sometimes get the f— out of the way and just provide a lovely emotional texture for things to sit under things.
The thing that I guess is universal is you're reacting to an emotion. Especially if it's a film that you really feel emotionally partial to, you're watching this wonderful performance on screen and how could you not be inspired by that? We're so spoiled to have this as our first film where we're reacting to the emotional heart of this film, which is so rich.
Graphic Courtesy of the Latin Recording Academy
Latin GRAMMYs 2023: Hear The Album Of The Year Nominees
Here are the nominees for Album Of The Year at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, which will air Thursday, Nov. 16 from Sevilla, Spain.
The Latin GRAMMYs Album Of The Year category honors the work of both the established leaders and hottest rising stars in Latin music. The 2023 Latin GRAMMYs nominees for Album Of The Year include recordings by reggaeton and pop artists who are breaking down barriers in the music industry, alongside some of the most well-known and beloved singer/songwriters in Spanish.
These 10 albums were chosen to represent the most significant voices in Latin music for 2023: La Cu4rta Hoja (Pablo Alborán), A Ciegas (Paula Arenas), De Adentro Pa Afuera (Camilo), Décimo Cuarto (Andrés Cepeda), Vida Cotidiana (Juanes), Mañana Será Bonito (Karol G), De Todas Las Flores (Natalia Lafourcade), Play (Ricky Martín), Eadda9223 (Fito Páez), and Escalona Nunca Se Había Grabado Así (Carlos Vives).
Ahead of the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, officially known as the 24th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards — which will be held on Thursday, Nov. 16, in Sevilla, Spain — learn about the nominees for this prestigious category. Don’t miss the broadcast on Univision at 8 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. CT).
La Cu4rta Hoja – Pablo Alborán
Pop singer/songwriter Pablo Alborán closed out 2022 with an explosion of optimism and carefree experimentation titled La Cu4rta Hoja.
Throwing off the isolation of the pandemic, the Spanish chart-topper found himself ready to collaborate. The album features bold duets with música Mexicana star Carín León and Argentinian singer María Becerra, providing Alborán with the opportunity to branch out into genres, such as flamenco, that he’d never flirted with before.
Evidently, he also felt like dancing as the normally ballad oriented artist stacked his album with breezy, playa-ready dance beats. Alborán has already been nominated for 24 Latin GRAMMYs, including a nomination for Best New Artist. He was nominated for Album Of The Year in 2013 for his sophomore album Tanto, making this his second Album Of The Year nomination.
A Ciegas – Paula Arenas
Colombian singer/songwriter Paula Arenas’ career has been defined by an independent spirit since its beginning. The unconventional pop artist sang covers in nightclubs until she scored a hit single with "Lo Que El Tiempo Dejó" (featuring alt-pop legend Esteman) from her self-released debut EP, and except for a brief period with Sony Music Colombia, when she released her debut album Visceral, all her other releases have been with smaller labels.
The indie darling’s roots are still showing on the clever, intimate A Ciegas, which finds her exploring a more stripped down version of her piano driven sound. Lead single "Puro Sentimiento," featuring fellow Colombian Manuel Medrano, shines with quirky-cool, ’80s inspired glamor. Being just a little different doesn’t seem to be holding her back: The video for "Puro Sentimiento" has more than 1 million streams on YouTube and counting.
De Adentro Pa Afuera – Camilo
Iconic, stylish, unforgettable — and we’re not just talking about Camilo's mustache. The mononymous pop singer with the disarming soprano already has a few Latin GRAMMYs to his name, notably album of the year for 2021’s Mis Manos. He’s written hits for Becky G and Bad Bunny, but solo work is where Camilo really lets his creativity off the leash.
The songs on his third studio album, De Adentro Pa Afuera, range from scruffy, loosely slung takes on reggaeton to bouncy folk pop jams that showcase his romantic side. It also hosts such diverse musical guests as Camila Cabello, Myke Towers and Grupo Firme. In the hands of a lesser artist it might be disjointed, but with Camilo at the controls it’s a masterclass in joyful chaos.
Décimo Cuarto – Andrés Cepeda
A master of the devastating love song made an exuberant return this year with help from a few equally formidable friends. Colombia’s Andrés Cepeda corralled the talents of such artists as Ximena Sariñana and Gusi for a delicately tropical, massively emotional album titled simply Décimo Cuarto.
Gentle danzón and milonga rhythms ("Le Viene Bien") and lyrics about love that defies time, space and reality ("En Otra Vida") are just a couple of the elements that make up the album's restrained, yet robust mix. Décimo Cuarto also includes sweeping power ballads with Reik and Joss Favela ("Tu Despertador" and "Si Todo Se Acaba," respectively). Cepeda previously won a Latin GRAMMY in 2013 for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Lo Mejor Que Hay En Mi Vida.
Vida Cotidiana – Juanes
Loyal fans of Juanes’ rock side were rewarded for their patience when the Colombian superstar released Vida Cotidiana, an epic return to form complete with psychedelic flourishes and a healthy dose of funk and varied Caribbean influences.
Early pandemic quarantine found the artist with a lot of time at home with his family, which provided some of the inspiration for the album. He used the unanticipated pause to study poetry, take voice and guitar lessons, and record the numerous demos that would, in time, become Vida Cotidiana. Juanes said he considers it his best album, and the time and passion he put into it is obvious.
The legendary singer and songwriter has brought home 26 Latin GRAMMYs over the years and, with his 10th solo album he’s made a strong case for a 27th.
Mañana Será Bonito – Karol G
Musical powerhouse, reggaetonera and general bichota, Karol G is one major reason why all eyes are on Colombia. After establishing herself as a hit-making star in the adjoining worlds of reggaeton and Latin trap is clearly enjoying her success and savoring the moment.
As you might be able to guess from the sunshine and rainbows doodled on the album cover, Mañana Será Bonito was one of 2023' most fun albums, bubbling over with sass and unapologetic sexuality. Everyone is invited to the party: Mañana Será Bonito has features with Romeo Santos, Shakira, Carla Morrison and Sean Paul. It debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 200 making it the first all-Spanish language album by a female artist with that distinction.
De Todas Las Flores – Natalia Lafourcade
De Todas Las Flores is the first collection of completely original material from Mexican singer/songwriter Natalia Lafourcade since 2015’s critically acclaimed Hasta La Raiz (for which she received two Latin GRAMMYs).
Both Lafourcade and producer Adán Jodorowsky took a less-is-more approach on this new offering, which allowed for a subtle play of emotion on songs such as the aching title track. Famously a fan of Mexico’s rich musical heritage, De Todas Las Flores finds Lafourcade experimenting with stripped down cumbia and son, while also branching out into other regions of Latin America with bossa nova, samba and bolero. The understated arrangements perfectly complement the profound and profoundly personal tracks, which Lafourcade has described as "a musical diary."
Play – Ricky Martín
After winning a Latin GRAMMY for his 2020 EP Pausa, Ricky Martín returned in 2022 with the logical bookend: a second EP titled Play. The Puerto Rican icon made the first recording in response to the cumulative challenges in his home island, ranging from Hurricane Maria to the pandemic. It also tackled heavy issues and served as a kind of therapy for Martín, who had started suffering from panic attacks.
If Pausa was a held breath, Play is the satisfying exhale. More upbeat and even decidedly danceable in the case of the songs "Ácido Sabor" and "Paris in Love," it represents a return to life, if not a return to normal, and a focus on the romance and sensuality for which Martín has long been world famous.
Eadda9223 – Fito Páez
The Argentinian rocker’s latest full-length is a revisiting of his epochal El Amor Después del Amor, this time letting a few more folks in on the caper. Besides the aforementioned co-conspirators, Páez is joined by Ca7riel and many other Argentinian iconoclasts who no doubt owe something to the trailblazing rock en español singer/songwriter. Each track on Eadda9223 is reimagined: The new version of "Sasha, Sissí Y El Círculo De Baba" with Mon Laferte crackles with Tex-Mex electricity that bears no connection to the original, but is a perfect vehicle for Laferte’s vocal range and flair for drama.
Escalona Nunca Se Había Grabado Así – Carlos Vives
What happens when a legend offers a tribute to a legend? Escalona Nunca Se Había Grabado Así, the Carlos Vives album celebrating the music of vallenato composer Rafael Escalona answers that question with moving clarity.
Vives has brought the tropical sounds of Colombian vallenato to the world mixing them with pop and rock music, becoming a major star in the process. His deepest debt is to Escalona, who is remembered in Colombia as a storyteller and legendary personality.
Escalona Nunca Se Había Grabado Así updates the Escalona’s famous compositions while striving to preserve their inherent spirit. The album is also a celebration of Vives’ own career, which now spans three decades. In addition to his innovation and longevity, Vives is an extremely prolific artist whose many releases have brought him two GRAMMYs and 15 Latin GRAMMYs.