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The Vinyl Shortage, Explained: How Long Waits, Costly Materials & High Demand Are Changing What's On Your Turntable

Photo: Sina Schuldt/picture alliance via Getty Images

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The Vinyl Shortage, Explained: How Long Waits, Costly Materials & High Demand Are Changing What's On Your Turntable

In recent years vinyl records have become increasingly difficult to obtain. GRAMMY.com unpacks how supply shortages, long waits and soaring retail costs are impacting the music industry.

GRAMMYs/Jul 6, 2022 - 06:46 pm

When sales of compact discs overtook records in the late 1980s, it looked as if the era of the vinyl record was coming to an end. By the early 1990s, vinyl production had all but ceased. Plants either closed or made the transition to CD production.

But as the rise in digital formats – specifically downloads and streaming – began to take over from CDs, vinyl returned. Listeners who found something missing in the digital age once again turned to the tangible format of vinyl records. Sales have been on a steady incline ever since 2006: in 2021 vinyl LPs sold nearly 42 million units. That may seem insignificant when compared to a high of over 500 million units sold circa 1980, but it represents a significant portion of today's music retail sales.

Yet in recent years – even before the pandemic – vinyl records have become increasingly difficult to obtain. Despite the opening of new record pressing plants (as well as existing plants ramping up capacity), supply shortages and extremely long wait times for product delivery have become commonplace; vinyl pressing orders routinely have a lead time of 9-12 months. And retail costs for both stores and consumers have  skyrocketed. What are the factors causing bottlenecks, shortages and higher prices? GRAMMY.com takes a look into this timely issue.

What’s Behind The Long Lead Times In Vinyl Record Manufacturing?

In an ideal world, an artist's new album becomes available for purchase all at once in three formats: CD, digital download and vinyl. In the real world, however, vinyl records' supply vs. demand and other issues make simultaneous release unlikely — if not impossible.

"We are quoting five to six months right now," says Gar Ragland, founder and CEO of Citizen Vinyl, an Asheville, North Carolina manufacturer that began operations in 2020. And Citizen Vinyl's turnaround is better than the prevailing industry-wide wait time. "One of the things that's really helped us is that when we opened our doors, we had a whole blank slate of a calendar to fill," he explains. "So we were able to offer a much more competitive turn time than pressing plants who already had an existing book of business." He notes that other plants are quoting 9-12 months for vinyl pressing orders.

"We have a 20 week turn for clients who have locked in capacity chunks," says Dustin Blocker of Texas-based Hand Drawn Pressing. For new clients, he notes, "we are currently quoting April of next year to get any size of project." As recently as 2018, plants could deliver product within a four- to six-week window.

The vinyl production demands from major labels place a strain on the plants, and inevitably smaller, independent labels can find their orders receiving lower priority. In March, recording artist Jack White (owner of Third Man Records, a label with its own in-house pressing operation) wrote an open letter to the industry, urging the labels to do the same and build pressing plants of their own.

In one sense, the challenge is simple: The combined capacity of all domestic vinyl pressing plants simply can't keep pace with market demand. In practical terms, the delay in vinyl production means that artists and labels often face a stark choice: Hold back release of CD and digital versions until the vinyl is ready, or release the other formats now and hope that demand still exists months later when the vinyl record finally becomes available.

"Unfortunately, the standard is that the CD is going to be ready before the vinyl," says Mark Capon, co-owner of Asheville, North Carolina indie retailer Harvest Records. "But I do think there are plenty of artists and labels that really prioritize having it all at the same time." He suggests that smaller, independent record labels might be more reliant upon revenue from vinyl than some of their major-label counterparts.

The Apollo Masters fire of February 2020 would seem to have been a contributing factor to the vinyl bottleneck. The only plant in North America equipped to manufacture vinyl lacquer discs — a key step in the manufacturing process — Apollo sustained a three-alarm fire that completely destroyed its facility. But while Apollo rebuilds, most pressing plants have shifted their lacquer sourcing to MDC, a manufacturer in Tokyo, Japan. "Most of the mastering engineers I know were already set up with both Apollo and MDC," says Mark Michaels of North America's oldest and largest vinyl record manufacturer, United Record Pressing in Nashville, Tennessee.

What Are Manufacturers Doing To Ease Bottlenecks? 

The simplest solution to ease the vinyl record shortage would seem to be an increase in production. And that's happening. "Right now, we manufacture around 35-40,000 records a day," says Michaels. "And that number is going to go up rapidly over the next 12 to 18 months." He estimates that when fully upgraded, United's capacity will increase "by a factor of 2.5, maybe more."

But expanding plant capacity — and bringing new plants online — takes time. "Record presses are really scarce right now," Michaels says. He believes that the major builders of presses are quoting at least two years from order to delivery.

According to Bryan Ekus of the industry trade group Vinyl Record Manufacturers Association, by summer's end there will be 43 record pressing plants in the U.S., plus nine in Canada and three in Mexico. Dustin Blocker notes that those numbers illustrate the industry's commitment to servicing demand. "When we launched Hand Drawn as a broker in 2014," he says, "there were only 15 plants in all of North America."

"Everybody's in growth mode now," says Alex Cushing, Blocker's business partner and Hand Drawn co-founder. And he says that right now, the labels are focusing their production orders on new releases rather than older, or catalog, titles. "The quickest return is on the hottest records," he says. "You want to make sure that the current artists are finding the full return on their music investment."

Citizen Vinyl started operations during the pandemic, and manufactures 2,000-2,500 records a day. "We have a fully manual press and two automatic ones," says Gar Ragland. "We're pressing records 12 hours a day, seven days a week." Asked if additional shifts are being considered, Ragland says that the company's plan is to "increase volume by keeping the machines up and running as long as they can do so safely," but notes that training experienced press operators takes time. "The bottleneck now is personnel," he explains. "Machines don't get tired, but people do."

Read more: Can CDs Make A Comeback? Reevaluating The CD At 40

Inspired by the 2019 Making Vinyl conference, several industry leaders decided to create the Vinyl Record Manufacturers Association. Dustin Blocker recalls the conversation. "Quite a few of us from the supply chain – not just record manufacturers — were meeting in between the conferences, and we started ruminating about all the issues at the time: capacity constraints, supply chain issues, how to communicate with clients." The idea of the VRMA came out of those informal discussions. "We thought, ‘How about we take it a little deeper, put some action in place and help train the industry best practices,'" Blocker says.

After a pandemic-forced pause, the group is gearing up for a membership push at this year's Making Vinyl conference in Nashville. "We had 20 members at the early adopters meeting," says Bryan Ekus. "Our target is to have 50 members soon, and then widen the scope." A fundamental goal of the organization is to get the word out that while Europe has many plants, vinyl pressing is being done right here in North America as well, and it's growing.

How Is The Vinyl Shortage Affecting Record Stores?

Harvest Records' Capon says that at least half of his store's inventory is new vinyl, with about 30 percent used records and a mere 20 percent compact discs. Generally, stocking records isn't a problem. "Since the resurgence began, there are more records than ever being pressed," he observes. It's only when trying to stock specific titles that a problem arises.

"There don't seem to be any issues getting the new Harry Styles or Adele in whatever quantity you want," says Jim Henderson of California retailer Amoeba Music. "The problem affects particular titles," agrees Capon, adding that catalog albums are particularly affected by shortages."Say, Nirvana's Nevermind or The Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream is gone right now, but in their place is something that was unavailable before.'" 

But even when a certain title is ostensibly available, getting enough copies to meet consumer demand is not a given. Shipments to stores often include less than what was ordered. "We'll order 10 and get three," Capon says. When that happens enough times, a store buyer might decide to order more than he or she needs, just to get the desired number of records. "Sometimes that works out. But sometimes, ‘Oh, we got the full 25. Now what are we going to do?'" he continues.

Larger retailers face the same obstacles, albeit on a larger scale. Amoeba often schedules pre-orders for upcoming, high-demand titles. "We'll have a commitment to get a certain amount of titles in to be able to feed that and still have plenty for the store," says Amoeba's Henderson. "Then there's the reality: when we open up the box, we got a percentage of what we were expecting to get. It's challenging when you think you're getting 90 of something and get 14 [instead]. Pressing plants simply can't produce enough records quickly enough – and in sufficient numbers – to meet demand.

Major music retailers like Amoeba Music offer a more diversified range of products including CDs and other merchandise, so they're less affected by vinyl shortages. New vinyl represents about 20 percent of the California chain's inventory, which offers a significant selection of used records and CDs. But the store isn't completely immune from the negative effects of having to tell a customer they don't have a given title.

"It affects us the way it would affect any retailer trying to get what people want into their hands," Henderson explains. "One of the challenges we face is finding a way to articulate that it's not for a lack of effort." He says that if a customer comes up empty-handed when looking for a specific vinyl record, they might infer that "maybe we're not trying to get that title, or that it's bad buying." To counter that misapprehension, Henderson says that Amoeba makes a point of using social media to announce when titles come back into stock.

Why Are Vinyl Records So Expensive?

Some of the perceived high cost of vinyl records can be explained by a combination of inflationary pressures and the passage of time. During vinyl's heyday in the 1970s and ‘80s, customary list price for a single-disc LP ranged from $5.98 to $8.98. Adjusting only for inflation, that $8.98 record that sold in 1982 can be expected to sell for $26.63 today.

But inflation doesn't explain away the cost differential. "A standard new record for a major artist can cost $45," says Kevin Smokler, co-director of the new documentary film Vinyl Nation. "It probably shouldn't cost $45; we're basically paying people the same way we did in 1975." He believes the disparity between consumer wages and prices "creates an unequal system [in which] people without access to resources are second class citizens. And we don't like that at all."

Some consumers agree with that sentiment. "There is a backlash happening," observes Harvest Records co-owner Mark Capon. "People don't want to pay $40 for a new Harry Styles record. They'll say, ‘I'm just going to stream it.'" He believes that when the prices soar to excessive levels, neither the consumer, retailer or record company wins. "New vinyl prices have gotten prohibitively expensive; if you're a working person with limited expendable income, you're getting priced out."

Alex Cushing asks a rhetorical yet relevant question. "What's the ceiling for a record for the consumer?" He notes that when he sees a black vinyl record with a $35 price tag, he grimaces. "But we grew up in a world of $9.99," he says. Younger record buyers may have entered the marketplace when vinyl sold for $22. "For them, $30 isn't a major increase."

Cushing emphasizes that quality can make or ruin the experience of buying a record. "$30, and you open the record and it's not great — and it's eight months later than you wanted it — then I'm not sure [you're] buying a second record."

Vinyl records are made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a petroleum-based plastic. And as Gar Ragland of Citizen Vinyl observes, petroleum-based products have been increasing in price. Since his plant opened in 2020, Ragland says that the price of PVC "has increased three times. We have had to pass that coast along, adjusting our price to our clients accordingly. And I imagine every other pressing plant has done the same." He notes that because of high demand, there has been relatively little resistance from record companies. "It's just the cost of doing business," he says.

In addition to the increasing cost of raw materials, "the real fluctuating cost is shipping and transportation," says Cushing. Acknowledging the current high price of petroleum (and derivative products like PVC), he emphasizes that "it's really nothing in relation to freight costs." Choosing his words carefully, he says, "that industry has seemed to allow itself the most leeway in supply-and-demand pricing."

Still, the issue is a complex one. While many manufacturing processes are partially or completely automated, the pressing of vinyl records remains a labor-intensive process with many manual steps. "The way we make records now is basically how we've been making records forever," says Vinyl Nation co-director Christopher Boone. "It hasn't really changed. It's focused on human beings at many different stages: cutting the lacquers, doing all the plating, actually pressing the records. And that costs money. Then, if you want really cool packaging, that too costs money."

What Does The Future Of Vinyl Look Like?

After a decade-plus without vinyl records, the resurgence that began in the early 21st century shows no sign of subsiding. "As we've spoken with our customers, there seems to be a lot of confidence that the reasons people are buying vinyl are real and sustainable," says United Record Pressing's Mark Michaels.

He notes that vinyl records are now seen as a complement to streaming and digital consumption, and the retail channels support that. "You're seeing a lot of titles sold in Target and Walmart," Michaels observes. "And they're having success. When those retailers get behind a title or category, the orders are enormous."

He acknowledges that the responsibility for filling those orders falls upon manufacturers like United. "If we're going to be a legitimate supply chain partner to the major labels, we better be able to turn large orders fast with service levels that are in line with what they need.

"I don't have a crystal ball," Michaels says. "But I'm a believer."

Alex Cushing acknowledges the challenges but expresses cautious optimism coupled with a sense of urgency. "We have a short window to fix the problems," he says. "And unfortunately, not all these problems are under our control, so I think there are some choppy waters out there. But I think the conditions look favorable."

Bryan Ekus makes note of market forces: "As long as [consumers] are willing to pay $30 for a black record, demand should continue." Amoeba's Henderson makes a similar observation from the retail perspective. "We are concerned that at a certain point, the price tag is going to be detrimental to the collectors," he says. "But the product is such a good product, and people are engaging with it in different ways, so I'd like to think that a few years from now, we'll see steadier fills and consistent access.

Mark Capon of Harvest Records emphasizes that vinyl records aren't a fad. "I think they'll be here for a long time," he says. "And I'm happy about that."

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Can CDs Make A Comeback? Reevaluating The CD At 40

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Can CDs Make A Comeback? Reevaluating The CD At 40

The CD was first commercially released 40 years ago and may be having a whole new coming-of-age. With sales on the rise and collectors showcasing their pride across social media, the format might rewind to its glory years.

GRAMMYs/Jun 13, 2022 - 04:10 pm

For decades, a CD was something you could hold in your hand or carry with you in a semi-sleek binder that might move from your home to your car. Once you got past the surprisingly difficult shrink wrap, you proudly displayed your collection with the spines facing out. And when your favorite CD got scratched, it was the worst day ever.

"I know you just ripped the packaging off your CD/If you like me, you reading the credits right now," says Jay-Z on "Hova Song," the intro from his 1999 album Vol. 3 The Life and Times of S. Carter. The activities Jay-Z refers to may be foreign to most music fans in 2022.

To think that there was a period of time where artists routinely sold millions of albums on compact disc is almost unbelievable in 2022. Today, No. 1 album sales are generally the result of streams, only a small portion of physical sales accounting for hits.

Although CDs have primarily been replaced by all-you-can-consume music streaming services, something interesting happened in 2021:  CD sales rose for the first time in almost two decades, driving over $580 million in revenue for the music industry. While that pales in comparison to the $12.3 billion earned from streaming, the figure is still significant.

"We've been pleasantly surprised to see there is still a CD customer at this store," says George Flanagan, who manages the popular New York City record store Rough Trade. “It's less than 10 percent of our business, but that's very much in line with the smaller selection we carry."

The music industry has its biggest stars to thank for last year's bump in CD sales. Notable releases by superstar artists such as BTS, Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo and Adele had passionate fans buying up CD versions of their new releases. Adele's 2021 album, 30, sold over 5 million copies worldwide in its first year — 880,000 of those sales were in the form of physical CDs.

But who is still buying CDs, spurring the format's first growth year since *NSYNC was still topping charts. The surprising answer is Gen Z — those born in the mid to late 1990s through early 2000s, when CD players were about to be rendered nearly obsolete with thedebut of Apple's iPod in October 2001.  That same generation has been gobbling up new releases in the CD format, taking TikTok todisplay their collections proudly.

And CDs aren’t the only physical music format from the past that are sparking renewed interest. In 2021, vinyl record sales grew for the 15th consecutive year to $1 billion in revenue. Cassette sales had their highest sales numbers since 2003, selling 200,000 units, a 20 percent increase over 2020.

“What I've been struck with lately is that some younger customers seem to give the same reverence to CDs as they do with vinyl," notes Flanagan. "I think this stems from the fact that they've come of age in a world where music consumption is all digital, so any physical format potentially holds an equal level of mystique."

As younger generations rediscover compact discs, and sales of the format begin to generate notable revenue for the music industry, it begs the question: Can CDs make a real comeback?

A Love Affair With CDs

To answer this question, one must go back to what made CDs revolutionary in the first place. The compact disc was invented in 1979 and the first commercially released CD (Billy Joel's 52nd Street) was released in Japan on Oct. 1, 1982. Following the cassette tape era that debuted in the '60s and peaked in 1989, CDs brought significantly more convenience for the music consumer.  CDs allowed listeners to skip directly to songs with ease, held more data,  and allowed for additional creativity with customized artwork on the actual disk.

From the red lipstick kiss on Aerosmith’s Honkin on Bobo cover to the cartoon Vicodin pill on Eminem's groundbreaking debut, The Slim Shady LP, CDs became a canvas for artistic expression and allowed fans to delve into an entire body of work — which had arguably been missing since vinyl LPs went out of style.

Over 940 million CD units were shipped in the US in 2000  — an industry peak. That year's staggering sales numbers were a confluence of pop culture phenomenon, due in part to <em>NSYNC's No Strings Attached (which sold over 9 million units, highlighting the boy band craze) and Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP* (over 7 million units). MTV’s "Total Request Live" — a music video countdown show shot above New York City'’s Times Square — averaged 780,000 viewers per episode that year, and was a must-visit for the pop stars of the day to talk about their new releases, furthering album sales.

"The CD was a total boom for the music industry — people purchased 17,18, 19-track albums to listen to one or two songs repeatedly," says Brian Zisook, SVP Operations at music streaming service Audiomack. "[But] it wasn't ideal for the cash-strapped consumer."

At an average of $15 (or the equivalent of $25 today), the economics of purchasing an entire album on CD to hear a handful of songs was hard to justify in 2000. But the one thing the CD era offered, which is challenging in the streaming era, is tangible value.

There was something special about driving to the mall and going to your favorite record store, sometimes waiting excitedly in line for a hot new release on a Tuesday morning. Because of their relatively high cost, buying a CD was something special, and consumers had to be discriminatory with their album purchases, potentially giving them more sentimental value. Today, outlets like California's popular Amoeba Records carry significant new and used CD stock, while CDs remain the format of choice in Japan.

"CDs remain a core element of Amoeba's sales and identity, as our second most popular format behind only Vinyl LPs,"  Jim Henderson, co-owner of Amoeba Music, tells GRAMMY.com. "They travel well, and sound great, and the small booklets, though not as powerful or attractive as LP jacket liner notes and full scale artwork, are compelling, and easy to flip through and enjoy."

It's not just the physical attachment to the music that has been lost in the streaming era. In some ways, streaming has made the playlist more valuable than the music itself. Clicking like on a song provides significantly less emotional attachment for a consumer than buying and holding a CD, cassette or vinyl record. In the physical format era, fans invested in their favorite artists.

"I think because vinyl, CDs and cassettes are tangible products, die-hard fans will continue to buy them," says Navjosh Singh, GRAMMY member and Founder and Editor of HipHop-N-More.com. "If not to play, then more like a collectible item."

The Uphill Battle For The CD Comeback 

But challenges remain for the CD format to have a proper regeneration, including the fact that CD players are more difficult than ever to find.

A lack of new CD players on the market may stall the format's return, notes Zisook. "They have been removed from laptop computers and cars. In particular, I don't see record labels believing the juice is worth the squeeze," he continues. "Limited manufacturing is much more expensive and would likely only be a discussion among the highest-earning acts on a roster."

Even for artists from the golden era of CD sales, a return to the format's glory days seems unlikely. Buckshot, a legendary rap artist known for fronting groups like Black Moon and Boot Camp Clik, doesn't see a proper comeback as tech evolves.

"CDs had their moment," Buckshot tells GRAMMY.com. "Due to tech, we advance every two years. Somewhere a kid is thinking of new tech to give us a better user experience with music. Mp3s killed CDs, streaming killed the mp3, and now the blockchain will and is killing streaming due to ownership."

The impacts of blockchain and NFTs on the music industry remain to be seen, but one thing that can't be disputed is the convenience of streaming. Who can forget needing to carry CD booklets with you or in your car? Or the pain you felt when you lent your disc to a sibling who scratched it, rendering the album unplayable?  Or how about losing your CD booklet and a large portion of your collection? Streaming makes listening to music seamless and easy. And in a world where people are already stretched for time, that's tough to beat.

"It's tough to add value to a CD because ultimately, it's a lot of effort to put it to use," says Singh. "Versus streaming which you can have ready anytime, anywhere without other things to carry and worry about. It's millions of songs in your palm. "

Amoeba's Henderson remains hopeful that CDs will become embraced by the masses once again. "I can envision a time where the CD market rebounds to former glory and the merits of the format are once again widely celebrated," he continues. "Artists like Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean have released CDs long before or in lieu of vinyl, examples of contemporary powerhouses helping keep CDs relevant."

It seems unlikely that music will return to the days of trips to the mall for the latest CD releases and record store listening booths, but 2021 sales data shows us that music fans still hunger for an emotional and physical attachment to their favorite music and artists. Once the most widely consumed physical music artifact, CDs have returned to being something special, cherished and celebrated amongst the most passionate music fans.

"The one thing they offered was the ability to play music without a need for the internet," says Buckshot. "It's never bad to keep a stash because you never know."

Long live the disc, man. 

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Remembering Christine McVie Of Fleetwood Mac Through Her GRAMMY Triumphs, From 'Rumours' Onward
Christine McVie in 1969

Photo: Evening Standard / Stringer via Getty Images

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Remembering Christine McVie Of Fleetwood Mac Through Her GRAMMY Triumphs, From 'Rumours' Onward

Unflashy and undramatic, McVie's contributions to Fleetwood Mac led to some of their greatest contributions to popular song — with two GRAMMY wins to boot.

GRAMMYs/Dec 2, 2022 - 08:32 pm

In an acclaimed career that spanned more than half a century, Christine McVie staked her claim as one of the most potent singer-songwriters of her generation. A beloved original member of the seminal rock group Fleetwood Mac, with whom she sang, wrote and played keyboard, she and her bandmates catapulted to fame in the early '70s, scoring GRAMMY gold and influencing generations of musicians.

"As a GRAMMY Award winner and 2018 Person of the Year honoree, the Recording Academy has been honored to celebrate Christine McVie and her work with Fleetwood Mac throughout her legendary career," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. stated. In an announcement of her death, the remaining members of Fleetwood Mac mourned her passing by saying "She was truly one-of-a-kind, special, and talented beyond measure."

McVie, who passed away Nov. 30 at 79 after a brief illness, may have not been as flashy, or as dramatic, as fellow Fleetwood Mac members Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. But McVie's contributions to the band led to some of their greatest contributions to popular song, with two GRAMMY wins among seven nominations.

The tour de force that is Rumours is one of the most acclaimed and best-selling albums of all time and an inductee into GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. The masterpiece earned McVie her first GRAMMY (for Album of the Year no less) at the 20th Annual Ceremony in 1978, also earning a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Group.

Fleetwood Mac's 11th studio album, Rumours was actually McVie's 7th album with the band after making her name in the English blues scene, rising through the ranks as part of the band Chicken Shack, and even releasing a solo album.

In 1971, McVie joined Fleetwood Mac alongside her then-husband John McVie. The potent combination of the McVies, along with Mick Fleetwood, Buckingham and Nicks, catalyzed and detonated into the stratospheric Rumours.

"It's hard to say (what it was like) because we were looking at it from the inside," McVie said about the iconic album earlier this year.  "We were having a blast and it felt incredible to us that we were writing those songs. That's all I can say about it, really."

McVie's coyness may stem from the fact that prior to its production, Christine and John divorced after eight years of marriage. Meanwhile, Buckingham and Nicks were having a tumultuous relationship themselves. 

McVie is credited as sole songwriter on a handful of instant-classic Rumours tracks, all written during a perilous moment. "I thought I was drying up," explained McVie. "I was practically panicking because every time I sat down at a piano, nothing came out. Then, one day,  I just sat down and wrote in the studio, and the four-and-a-half songs of mine on the album are a result of that."

That includes "Don't Stop," an ironically peppy ode considering the turmoil McVie and her bandmates were grappling with at the time. With lyrics that staunchly proclaim "Yesterday's gone!," the song was reportedly written as a plea from Christine to John to move on from their relationship.

"I dare say, if I hadn't joined Fleetwood Mac, we might still be together. I just think it's impossible to work in the band with your spouse," McVie later said. John, meanwhile, was oblivious to the song's message during its production and early acclaim. He revealed in 2015: "I've been playing it for years and it wasn't until somebody told me, 'Chris wrote that about you.' Oh really?"

John was also equally ignorant to the source inspiration of "You Make Loving Fun"; McVie told him the joyful song ("Sweet wonderful you/ You make me happy with the things you do") was about her dog. In reality, it was about an affair with the band's lighting designer.

"It was a therapeutic move," McVie later mused of her lyrical penchant for hiding brutal honesty in plain sight. "The only way we could get this stuff out was to say it, and it came out in a way that was difficult. Imagine trying to sing those songs onstage with the people you're singing them about."

When McVie was asked earlier this year what song she written she was most proud of, it was an easy answer: the Rumours track "Songbird."

"For some peculiar reason, I wrote "Songbird" in half an hour; I've never been able to figure out how I did that," she told People. "I woke up in the middle of the night and the song was there in my brain, chords, lyrics, melody, everything. I played it in my bedroom and didn't have anything to tape it on. So I had to stay awake all night so I wouldn't forget it and I came in the next morning to the studio and had (producer) Ken Callait put it on a 2-track. That was how the song ended up being. I don't know where that came from."

McVie's most recent GRAMMY nominations were for her contributions to The Dance, Fleetwood Mac's 1997 live album that featured her stand-outs from Rumours along with the McVie penned-tracks "Say You Love Me" and "Everywhere."

The album earned McVie and the band GRAMMY nominations for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (for the Lindsay Buckingham-written "The Chain") and  Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (for "Silver Springs," penned by Stevie Nicks). It also landed a nomination for Best Pop Album. It was her final album with the band before a 15-year self-imposed retirement.

In her final years, McVie was a vital member of Fleetwood Mac, including in 2018 when they became the first band honored as MusicCare's Person of the Year.

Speaking to the Recording Academy before the ceremony, Nicks expressed that her initial goal upon joining the group was a humble one: "Christine and I made a pact. We said we will never, ever be treated as a second-class citizen amongst our peers."

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15 Must-Hear New Albums Out This Month: SZA, Neil Young, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, NCT Dream & More
(L-R): A Boogie wit da Hoodie, SZA, Jacquees, Metro Boomin, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer

Photos (L-R): Joseph Okpako/WireImage; Tim Mosenfelder/FilmMagic; Prince Williams/Wireimage; Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Justin Combs Events; Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

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Rounding out the year, here are the can't-miss releases and massive new albums dropping in December 2022 from Weezer, Metro Boomin, NOFX, Jacquees, Ab-Soul, and many others.

GRAMMYs/Dec 2, 2022 - 07:20 pm

And just like that, 2022 is almost done — but not before we get another round of must-hear albums. December's slate of releases is set to send the year out on a high note, with something for all tastes.

This month heralds much-anticipated returns from R&B innovator SZA, with S.O.S., and rap super-producer Metro Boomin, with the mysterious HEROES & VILLAINS. December's riches also include Bad MFs from West Coast hip-hop supergroup Mount Westmore, indie-rock lifers Weezer dropping SZNZ: Winter and a loaded, possibly final album from punk-rock misfits NOFX. There's also new-generation R&B (RINI’s Ultraviolet EP and Jacquees' Sincerely For You), dark techno (Terence Fixmer's Shifting Signals), soul-baring indie (Sophie Jamieson's Choosing), and much more.

Below, check out a guide to the 15 essential albums dropping just in time for the festive season. — Jack Tregoning

Contributed reporting by Ashlee Mitchell

SZA - S.O.S.

Release date: TBD

Five years after her GRAMMY-nominated debut album, Ctrl, it's about to be SZA season all over again. While details are still pending, the alternative R&B star is expected to drop her second album, S.O.S., this month, following the single "Shirt" and its teaser follow-up, "PSA."

In a revealing Billboard cover story, SZA spoke frankly about the pressure she feels to release the album while navigating the music industry and her fans' expectations. As always with SZA, the music itself speaks volumes, and the darkly seductive "Shirt" (accompanied by a music video co-starring SZA and Academy Award nominee LaKeith Stanfield in a riff on Bonnie and Clyde) suggests S.O.S. will be something to savor. — J.T.

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Metro Boomin - HEROES & VILLAINS

Release date: December 2

To prepare fans for his new album, HEROES & VILLAINS, sought-after rap producer Metro Boomin went all-out on a short film starring his collaborators Young Thug and Gunna alongside celebrated actors Morgan Freeman and LaKeith Stanfield. Following that flex, the artist's first solo LP in four years is set to feature a who's who of rap, with an exact tracklist still to be announced.

Metro Boomin's previous album, 2018's Not All Heroes Wear Capes, featured the likes of Travis Scott, 21 Savage and Gucci Mane rapping over the producer's dark, trap-centric beats. This time around, he's keeping his cards close to his chest, slyly sharing a video of the studio sessions on his Instagram with the caption, "When the sequel is even better than the first." All will be revealed on Dec. 2. — J.T.

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Neil Young - Harvest (50th Anniversary Edition)

Release date: December 2

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Neil Young's seminal folk-rock album Harvest, released to great acclaim in 1972. Featuring indelible songs like "Heart of Gold," "Old Man" and "The Needle and The Damage Done," Harvest was the best-selling album of that year in the US.

To celebrate the milestone, Young is releasing a special anniversary edition, available in either CD or vinyl box-set. Extras include a new two-hour documentary called Harvest Time, an official release of Young's BBC In Concert performance, and a hardcover book featuring never-before-seen photos and notes by legendary rock photographer Joel Bernstein. Consider this the festive gift for the Neil Young completist in your life. — J.T.

After breaking out with his 2021 debut album, Constellations, RINI returns this month with the seven-track EP, Ultraviolet. The Filipino-Australian R&B talent, who now calls Los Angeles home, pairs his indelible voice with slinky, late-night production that pulls the listener close.

Ahead of Ultraviolet, RINI has released the singles "Haunt Me" and "Selfish," featuring GRAMMY-winning rapper BEAM, which pair his themes of love and longing with gauzy, head-nodding beats. "I want to be able to show the world and myself that I'm growing, not just in music, but as a person," RINI told Uproxx in May. On Ultraviolet, which also features the slick bedroom jams "Something to Feel" and "Your Eyes," that evolution is evident. — J.T.

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NOFX - Double Album

Release date: December 2

SoCal punk veterans NOFX have always kept up a prolific output, and this month the band returns with their 15th LP, Double Album. Following last year's Single Album, the conveniently titled Double Album features 10 new songs with perfectly NOFX titles like "Punk Rock Cliché" and "Is It Too Soon if Time Is Relative?" Lead single "Darby Crashing Your Party" showcases the band at their hard-riffing, rowdy best, with frontman Fat Mike clearly relishing lyrical volleys like, "A middle-class clown waging lower class war/A Beverly Hillbilly peeled off the floor."

In a statement announcing the new album, Fat Mike revealed the songs were recorded at the same time as Single Album, then finished off later. "I think it's a very enjoyable album, and maybe our funniest," he added. It could also be NOFX's parting gift — responding to a fan’s Instagram comment, Fat Mike announced that 2023 will be the band's "last year" after an "amazing run." — J.T.

Related: 5 Women Essential To Punk: Exene Cervenka, Poly Styrene, Alice Bag, Kathleen Hanna & The Linda Lindas

Terence Fixmer - Shifting Signals

Release date: December 2

French producer Terence Fixmer has been one of the most intriguing figures in the electronic music scene for well over a decade. Over six past solo albums, numerous EPs and standalone releases, Fixmer has perfected a dark, gritty sound that melds techno with the looser industrial spirit of electronic body music (EBM).

Fixmer's seventh album, Shifting Signals, continues in that vein while allowing for new textures to creep in. "On each album I aim for something different but I retain the core sound, which is always there and often dark and melancholic," the producer wrote in a statement. "Sometimes the balance tips slightly and on this album, I'm striving to be freer and open myself up more to melody."

That openness to different modes is showcased on the atmospheric, piano-led "Synthetic Minds," which evokes a John Carpenter film score, while fellow singles "Corne de Brume" and "No Latitude for Errors" are built for heady techno dance floors. — J.T.

Related: Going Underground: House DJ Claude VonStroke On Making Soul Decisions & Keeping Electronic Music Grimy

Sophie Jamieson - Choosing

Release date: December 2

On her debut album, Choosing, London-based singer-songwriter Sophie Jamieson doesn't shy from difficult or uncomfortable emotions. Lead single, "Sink" lays bare her push-pull relationship with alcohol over a lulling bed of piano and drums. That theme of emotional vulnerability carries through the LP's 11 songs, which foreground Jamieson's enchanting voice and plain-spoken lyrics.

"The title of this album is so important," Jamieson wrote in a statement. "Without it, this might sound like another record about self-destruction and pain, but at heart, it's about hope, and finding strength. It's about finding the light at the end of the tunnel and crawling towards it." Choosing arrives via Bella Union, the tastemaking label led by Simon Raymonde, formerly of Scottish dream pop band Cocteau Twins. — J.T.

Related: Hear The 2022 Nominees For Best Alternative Music Performance At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

White Lung - Premonition

Release date: December 2

Canadian punk rockers White Lung weren't expecting to take six years to follow up 2016's celebrated Paradise. As the story goes, the band got together in their hometown of Vancouver in 2017, expecting to rip out their final album before parting ways. In the studio, frontwoman Mish Barber-Way discovered she was pregnant with her first child — which, along with a global pandemic and another child, put the album plans on ice.

Fast forward to 2022, and White Lung's fifth and final album, Premonition, is finally here. With all that extra time to marinate, Premonition is a thrilling return from the trio, mining deeper themes with the same raucous, kick-down-the-door energy that fans expect. The album opens furiously with "Hysteric", and also features the singles "Date Night" and "Tomorrow," which match Barber-Way's impassioned vocals with muscular punk-rock riffing.

"We felt like this record was the right endpoint and we are happy the songs will finally be released," the band wrote in a statement. — J.T.

Related: Like Turnstile And Code Orange? 10 More Bands Expanding The Boundaries Of Hardcore

A Boogie Wit da Hoodie - Me vs. Myself

Release date: December 9

New York's A Boogie wit da Hoodie has been steadily hyping the release of his fourth album, Me Vs Myself, throughout 2022. Originally scheduled for November, the album will drop this month, right in time for A Boogie's hometown album launch at the iconic Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Me Vs Myself was preceded by a pair of singles, "Take Shots," featuring Tory Lanez, and "Ballin," which both showcase the rapper's supremely confident flow and wavy beats. While the full tracklist is not yet confirmed, A Boogie's previous album, ARTIST 2.0, covered the R&B and rap spectrum with guests like Summer Walker, Khalid, Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert, without pulling focus from the main star. The rapper has already lined up dates for the Me Vs Myself tour stretching into 2023, so it's a great time to bet on A Boogie. — J.T.

Related: Meet The 2022 Nominees For Best Rap Album At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

Mount Westmore - Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort

Release date: December 9

When living legends Snoop Dogg, E-40, Too Short and Ice Cube formed the supergroup Mount Westmore, West Coast rap heads took notice. After several hints that a collaborative album was coming, Mount Westmore made the surprise decision to release their debut, Bad MFs, exclusively as an NFT via the blockchain-based platform Gala Music.

The album arrives on streaming services this month under a new title, Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort, featuring additional songs not included on the NFT version. A spirit of loose fun and ride-or-die friendship carries through all the singles released so far, including the swaggering "Bad MFs" and the bass-heavy, light-hearted "Big Subwoofer." As Snoop put it to HotNewHipHop, "You bring the legends of the West Coast together, something great will always happen." — J.T.

Related: Take The Power Back: How Rage Against The Machine's Debut LP Created Rap-Rock With A Message

Leland Whitty - Anyhow

Release date: December 9

Best known as a member of Toronto-based jazz ensemble BADBADNOTGOOD, Leland Whitty is a true multi-instrumentalist. On his seven-track solo release, Anyhow, Whitty oversaw all production and composition, moving deftly between guitar, synthesizer, woodwinds and strings.

Following his scores for indie films Disappearance at Clifton Hill and Learn to Swim, Whitty was inspired to combine cinematic composition with rock and jazz instrumentation in his own project. Lead single "Awake" perfectly strikes that balance with twinkling keys, mournful strings and an insistent drum beat, while follow-up "Glass Moon" conjures a similarly beguiling mood. Members of BADBADNOTGOOD and Whitty's musician brother also joined the studio sessions, making Anyhow a family affair. — J.T.

Related: Robert Glasper & Terrace Martin On Removing Their Egos And Creating Their GRAMMY-Nominated Collaboration Dinner Party: Dessert

Jacquees - Sincerely For You

Release date: December 16

On "Say Yea", the sultry bedroom anthem he dropped back in May, Jacquees croons, "Girl, you overdue for some romantic s—." That simple line is something of a mission statement for the R&B casanova, whose third album, Sincerely For You, drops this month.

The LP features "Say Yea" alongside 16 more R&B jams, including singles "Tipsy," which captures the singer's blurry plea to a lover, and the smoothly boastful "Still That." Elsewhere, Sincerely For You offers up guest turns from Future (who also executive produced the album), 21 Savage and Tory Lanez, plus the R&B dream team of 6lack and Summer Walker on "Tell Me It's Over." On his socials, Jacquees dedicated the album to "everybody who been there for me along the way" and promised to deliver only "real R&B." — J.T.

Related: Durand Bernarr's 'Wanderlust': The R&B Singer Explains Why He's "Constantly In A State Of Arriving"

Ab-Soul - Herbert

Release date: December 16

Six hard-won years after his last album, the divisive, conspiracy theory-heavy Do What Thou Wilt., Ab-Soul has found his drive again. The rapper from Carson, California returns this month with a deeply personal album that shares his birth name, Herbert.

Ab-Soul's new outlook was previewed in lead single "Do Better," which reckons with the scars of his past and looks to the future with powerful clarity. The next single, "Gang'Nem," featuring Houston rapper FRE$H and produced by fellow Top Dawg Entertainment mainstay Sounwave, also revisits his upbringing and pays respect to L.A. street culture over a woozy, hard-hitting beat.

For fans of Ab-Soul's dense lyrical style and gravelly flow, Herbert is an eagerly-anticipated return to the rap limelight. — J.T.

Related: From "Rap Sh!t" To "Pistol" And "Treme": 8 Must-See TV Series For Music Lovers

NCT DREAM - Candy

Release date: December 19

NCT Dream, the youngest sub-group of Neo Culture Technology (NCT), has seen exponential growth since they rebranded as a fixed unit in 2020. The septet is set to release a winter special EP called Candy on Dec. 19. The mini-album's six tracks, include lead single "Candy," which was originally performed by H.O.T. in 1996. The album will be the first holiday release for any NCT sub-group, following a slew of successful releases from NCT Dream this year.

The group released their second studio album, Glitch, in March 2022, followed by their repackaged Beatbox in May. Their first feature film, NCT Dream The Movie: In a Dream, released worldwide on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 and documents the opening days of their tour in Seoul. The group will finish their tour in Japan by February 2023. — Ashlee Mitchell

Related: K-Pop Icon B.I Isn't Afraid To Explore Growth And Freedom On 'Love Or Loved Pt. 1'

Weezer - SZNZ: Winter

Release date: December 21

This has been a remarkably good year to be a Weezer fan. Always pleasingly prolific, in 2022 the band decided to release a four-EP series under the name SZNZ, each timed to coincide with a new season.

Following Spring, Summer and Autumn editions, SZNZ: Winter arrives just in time for peak coziness. While the complete tracklist is not yet known, Weezer performed the EP in full for an intimate crowd at the Troubadour in Los Angeles (using their favored alias Goat Punishment), with new highlights including "I Want A Dog" and "The One That Got Away."

While frontman Rivers Cuomo has described SZNZ: Winter as having a sad vibe that suits snowed-in days, you can always count on Weezer to cut the melancholy with some power-pop verve. — J.T.

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GRAMMY Rewind: Dua Lipa Champions Happiness As She Accepts Her GRAMMY For Best Pop Vocal Album In 2021
Dua Lipa at the 2021 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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GRAMMY Rewind: Dua Lipa Champions Happiness As She Accepts Her GRAMMY For Best Pop Vocal Album In 2021

As Dua Lipa held her new GRAMMY, she reflected on how "jaded" she felt before putting out 'Future Nostalgia' — and how the album taught her the importance of happiness.

GRAMMYs/Dec 2, 2022 - 06:00 pm

Three-time GRAMMY-winner Dua Lipa already had two golden gramophones to her name going into the 2021 GRAMMYs. But her third win — and her first for Best Pop Vocal Album — may have been the happiest of them all.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit the special moment when Dua Lipa took the stage to claim her trophy for her album, Future Nostalgia. The second studio album of the singer's career, Future Nostalgia earned her six nominations, including the coveted Album Of The Year as well as Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year for lead single "Don't Start Now."

As she held her new trophy, Lipa reflected on what she's learned through the process of making Future Nostalgia, making special mention of the power of happiness, and putting out happy music.

"I felt really jaded at the end of my last album, where I felt like I only had to make sad music to feel like it mattered," she explained. "And I'm just so grateful and so honored, because happiness is something that we all deserve, and it's something that we all need in our lives."

The singer also threw a spotlight on her fans, team and co-writers during her time onstage. "This means so much," she concluded, adding a shout-out to her family and friends who were watching from home. "I love you, thank you."

Press play on the video above to watch Dua Lipa's complete acceptance speech at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com every Friday for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind. 

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