meta-scriptThe Week In Music: Charo Leaves The Bull Behind |

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The Week In Music: Charo Leaves The Bull Behind

Latin singer's large pet forced out of the 90210

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

The original "cuchi, cuchi" girl, Charo, who appeared last November on the 11th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards, seems to have gotten into a little bulls*** — literally — at her Beverly Hills, Calif., home. Recently, it seems neighbors in her high-class ZIP code were complaining about the smell of a bull Charo had adopted after starring with it in an anti-bullfighting PETA commercial. After Bev Hills officials told Charo livestock wasn't permitted in the 90210, she moved the bovine, named Manolo, out to a Malibu, Calif., horse ranch, where she retains visitation rights. We salute Charo, whose new single is "Sexy Sexy," for doing the right thing for Manolo, and for Beverly Hills.

Despite our urge to include a few choice Charlie Sheen quotes in TWIM this week, we'll refrain. But we will go down the Muammar Gaddafi road. While the Libyan strongman tries to hold on to power, a satiric Israeli-made YouTube video is catching on with fans in Arab countries, according to its maker. The video, "Zenga Zenga" (meaning neighborhood and taken from a Gaddafi speech), was made by Noy Alooshe, a Tel Aviv music journalist, and shows Gaddafi banging his fist on a podium and his speech modified to the tune of "Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor)" by Pitbull and T-Pain. Now at a little more than 2.6 million views on YouTube, the video isn't quite a Lady Gaga-sized club smash, but if its maker is to be believed, it may be doing more to foster Israeli-Arab relations than years of peace talks.

In related news, a number of artists have been taking some flak since the Libyan uprising for having performed private events for the Gaddafi family over the last few years, though these engagements were legal since the United States normalized relations with Libya in 2006. Singer Nelly Furtado appears to be the first to give her fee to charity. In a Feb. 28 Twitter posting, Furtado said, "In 2007, I received 1 million$ from the Qaddafi clan to perform a 45 min. Show for guests at a hotel in Italy. I am going to donate the $." Furtado did not mention which charity the funds would go to. As of post time, it still appears to be her last Twitter post. Though there's nothing wrong with artists taking private engagements, and Furtado's move is a noble one, it does make us wonder if their reach would include such questionable employers if they could make a buck selling CDs.

When Esperanza Spalding won the Best New Artist GRAMMY last month, beating out Justin Bieber in addition to other nominees, the Bieberhood went a little ballistic, taking over Spalding's website and posting unflattering comments. Given that, all we can say is, watch out Selena Gomez! If your world revolves around Bieber, avert your eyes from this Huffington Post-run video of Bieber and Gomez sneaking a kiss at the Vanity Fair Oscar party. Given their surreptitious glances after the smooch, it's clear Bieber and Gomez know the potential fallout for locking lips, and that cameras are always watching these days. All we can say is, "baby baby baby."

Speaking of Bieber, the fans have spoken…and his hair has been sold. When we reported last week that a freshly cut lock of hair from the teen pop sensation was available for bid on eBay, bids had only reached $6,900. At the end of the auction, one lucky fan took home the clippings for a steep $40,668. But Bieber won't be using that cash for future haircuts. The proceeds are being donated to the Gentle Barn, a Southern California-based nonprofit that offers a safe haven for abused farm animals and children. Looks like Gomez isn't the only one less lonely girl this week.

Rumors have persisted for years that Elvis Presley is still alive, apparently pumping gas in Arizona or working as a Drug Enforcement Administration agent. Well, even if he's not exactly alive, he's still being named an honorary citizen of Budapest, Hungary. It seems as a fierce anti-communist who made passing reference to a short-lived anti-Soviet uprising in Hungary in 1956 on an episode of "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1957, Presley warrants the salute, which includes naming rights. On the city's website, visitors can pick one of 12 locations to be renamed after Elvis, including street crossings and a site at the foot of Margaret Bridge, which crosses the Danube River, although it all looks Hungarian to us. Voting closes March 15.

Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" is No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and iTunes singles chart.

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Last Week In Music

Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, and Selena Gomez
(L-R) Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, and Selena Gomez during the 2008 Teen Choice Awards.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/TCA 2008/WireImage/Getty Images


Disney's Golden Age Of Pop: Revisit 2000s Jams From Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez & More

As Disney Music Group celebrates its defining era of superstars and franchises, relive the magic of the 2000s with a playlist of hits from Hilary Duff, Jesse McCartney and more.

GRAMMYs/Apr 23, 2024 - 06:41 pm

"...and you're watching Disney Channel!" For anyone who grew up in the 2000s, those five words likely trigger some pretty vivid imagery: a glowing neon wand, an outline of Mickey Mouse's ears, and every Disney star from Hilary Duff to the Jonas Brothers

Nearly 20 years later, many of those child stars remain instantly recognizable — and often mononymous — to the millions of fans who grew up with them: Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. Nick, Kevin and Joe

Each of those names has equally memorable music attached to it — tunes that often wrap any given millennial in a blanket of nostalgia for a time that was, for better or for worse, "So Yesterday." And all of those hits, and the careers that go with them, have the same starting point in Hollywood Records, Disney Music Group's pop-oriented record label.

This time in Disney's history — the core of which can be traced from roughly 2003 to 2010 — was impactful on multiple fronts. With its music-oriented programming and multi-platform marketing strategies, the network launched a procession of teen idols whose music would come to define the soundtrack to millennials' lives, simultaneously breaking records with its Disney Channel Original Movies, TV shows and soundtracks.

Now, two decades later, Disney Music Group launched the Disney 2000s campaign, honoring the pivotal, star-making era that gave fans a generation of unforgettable pop music. The campaign will last through August and lead directly into D23 2024: The Ultimate Fan Event with special vinyl releases of landmark LPs and nostalgic social media activations occurring all summer long. April's campaign activation was Disney 2000s Weekend at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, which featured special screenings of 2008's Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert and 2009's Hannah Montana: The Movie and Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience.

But before Miley and the JoBros, Hollywood Records' formula for creating relatable (and bankable) teen pop stars began with just one name: Hilary Duff. At the time, the bubbly blonde girl next door was essentially the face of the network thanks to her starring role in "Lizzie McGuire," and she'd just made the leap to the big screen in the summer of 2003 with The Lizzie McGuire Movie. In her years with Disney, Duff had dabbled in recording songs for Radio Disney, and even released a Christmas album under Buena Vista Records. However, her first album with Hollywood Records had the potential to catapult her from charming tween ingénue to bonafide teen pop star — and that's exactly what it did.

Released on August 26, 2003, Duff's Metamorphosis sold more than 200,000 copies in its first week and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. The following week, the bubblegum studio set performed the rare feat of rising from No. 2 to No. 1, making the then-16-year-old Duff the first solo artist under 18 to earn a No. 1 album since Britney Spears.

The album's immediate success was no fluke: Within a matter of months, Metamorphosis had sold 2.6 million copies. Music videos for its radio-friendly singles "So Yesterday" and "Come Clean" received constant airplay between programming on the Disney Channel. (The latter was eventually licensed as the theme song for MTV's pioneering teen reality series "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County," giving it an additional boost as a cultural touchstone of the early '00s.) A 33-date North American tour soon followed, and Hollywood Records officially had a sensation on their hands. 

Naturally, the label went to work replicating Duff's recipe for success, and even looked outside the pool of Disney Channel stars to develop new talent. Another early signee was Jesse McCartney. With a soulful croon and blonde mop, the former Dream Street member notched the label another big win with his 2004 breakout hit "Beautiful Soul."

"When 'Beautiful Soul' became the label's first No. 1 hit at radio, I think that's when they really knew they had something," McCartney tells "Miley [Cyrus] and the Jonas Brothers were signed shortly after that success and the rest is history.

"The thing that Disney really excelled at was using the synergy of the channel with promoting songs at pop," he continues. "I did appearances on 'Hannah Montana' and 'The Suite Life of Zack & Cody' and my music videos were pushed to Disney Channel. The marketing was incredibly brilliant and I don't think there has been anything as connected with an entire generation like that since then."

By 2006, Disney had nearly perfected its synergistic formula, continually launching wildly popular tentpole franchises like High School Musical and The Cheetah Girls, and then giving stars like Vanessa Hudgens and Corbin Bleu recording contracts of their own. (Curiously, the pair's HSM co-star Ashley Tisdale was never signed to Hollywood Records, instead releasing her first two solo albums with Warner.) 

Aly Michalka showed off her vocal chops as sunny girl next door Keely Teslow on "Phil of the Future," and fans could find her off-screen as one half of sibling duo Aly & AJ. In between their 2005 debut album Into the Rush and its electro-pop-charged follow-up, 2007's Insomniatic, Aly and her equally talented younger sister, AJ, also headlined their own Disney Channel Original Movie, Cow Belles. (Duff also helped trailblaze this strategy with her own early DCOM, the ever-charming Cadet Kelly, in 2002, while she was simultaneously starring in "Lizzie McGuire.")

Even after years of proven success, the next class of stars became Disney's biggest and brightest, with Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers all joining the network — and record label — around the same time. "Hannah Montana" found Cyrus playing a spunky middle schooler by day and world-famous pop star by night, and the network leveraged the sitcom's conceit to give the Tennessee native (and daughter of '90s country heartthrob Billy Ray Cyrus) the best of both worlds. 

After establishing Hannah as a persona, the series' sophomore soundtrack introduced Miley as a pop star in her own right thanks to a clever double album that was one-half Hannah's music and one-half Miley's. It's literally there in the title: Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus.

From there, Cyrus' stardom took off like a rocket as she scored back-to-back No.1 albums and a parade of Top 10 hits like "See You Again," "7 Things," "The Climb," "Can't Be Tamed," and the ever-so-timeless anthem "Party in the U.S.A."

At the same time, Gomez had top billing on her own Disney Channel series, the magical (but less musical) "Wizards of Waverly Place." That hardly stopped her from launching her own music career, though, first by fronting Selena Gomez & the Scene from 2008 to 2012, then eventually going solo with the release of 2013's Stars Dance after the "Wizards" finale aired.

For her part, Lovato — Gomez's childhood bestie and "Barney & Friends" costar — got her big break playing Mitchie Torres in Camp Rock alongside the Jonas Brothers as fictional boy band Connect 3, led by Joe Jonas as the swaggering and floppy-haired Shane Gray. Much like Duff had five years prior in the wake of The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Lovato released her debut solo album, 2008's Don't Forget, just three months after her DCOM broke records for the Disney Channel. 

Building off their chemistry from the movie musical, nearly the entirety of Don't Forget was co-written with the Jonas Brothers, who released two of their own albums on Hollywood Records — 2007's Jonas Brothers and 2008's A Little Bit Longer — before getting their own short-lived, goofily meta Disney series, "Jonas," which wrapped weeks after the inevitable Camp Rock sequel arrived in September 2010.

As the 2000s gave way to the 2010s, the Disney machine began slowing down as its cavalcade of stars graduated to more grown-up acting roles, music and careers. But from Duff's Metamorphosis through Lovato's 2017 LP, Tell Me You Love Me, Hollywood Records caught lightning in a bottle again and again and again, giving millennials an entire generation of talent that has carried them through adulthood and into the 2020s.

To commemorate the Disney 2000s campaign, crafted a playlist to look back on Disney's golden age of pop with favorite tracks from Hilary Duff, Vanessa Hudgens, the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus and more. Listen and reminisce below.

Usher and Alicia Keys at Super Bowl 2024
(L-R) Usher and Alicia Keys during the Super Bowl LVIII halftime show.

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


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

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

GRAMMYs/Feb 14, 2024 - 09:42 pm

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

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

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

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

Frank Sinatra, "Strangers In The Night"

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

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

Willie Nelson, "Always On My Mind"

Best Country Vocal Performance, Male, 1983

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

Lionel Richie, "Truly"

Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, 1983

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

Roy Orbison, "Oh, Pretty Woman"

Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, 1991

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

Whitney Houston, "I Will Always Love You"

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

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

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

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

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

Shania Twain, "You're Still The One"

Best Female Country Vocal Performance, Best Country Song, 1999

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

Usher & Alicia Keys, "My Boo"

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

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

Bruno Mars, "Just The Way You Are"

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, 2011

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

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

Best Traditional R&B Performance, 2012

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

Justin Timberlake, "Pusher Love Girl" 

Best R&B Song, 2014

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

Beyoncé & Jay-Z, "Drunk In Love"

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

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

Ed Sheeran, "Thinking Out Loud"

Song Of The Year / Best Pop Solo Performance, 2016

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

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, "Shallow"

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

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

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

Best R&B Performance, 2019

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

Kacey Musgraves, "Butterflies"

Best Country Solo Performance, 2019

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

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

Best Country Duo/Group Performance, 2021

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

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

Dance DJ/Producer Dom Dolla
Dom Dolla performs at Lollapalooza in 2023

Photo: Barry Brecheisen / WireImage / GettyImages


How Rising Dance Star Dom Dolla Remixed The Gorillaz & Brought Nelly Furtado Back To The Dance Floor

Dom Dolla had a massive 2023, culminating in his first GRAMMY nomination. The first-time GRAMMY nominee discusses his nominated remix of the Gorillaz’s "New Gold," finding pop-spiration from Nelly Furtado and performing his dream B2B set.

GRAMMYs/Jan 17, 2024 - 02:07 pm

Dom Dolla rang in 2024 on a creative high. 

Last year, the 32-year-old Australian DJ and producer worked with his long-time idol Nelly Furtado, collaborating on her first new music in six years, including multiple unreleased tracks. Their bossy dance floor banger "Eat Your Man" lit up clubs and festival stages in summer 2023 — including several where the artists performed the track together live. But this wasn't the only mountain Dom Dolla climbed in 2023. His latest tune as a solo artist, a euphoric, Euro disco-inspired bop called "Saving Up," was released in October.

To top off a productive year, the artist born Dominic Matheson earned his first GRAMMY nomination, for Best Remixed Recording for his stellar remix of Gorillaz's "New Gold" featuring Tame Impala and Bootie Brown. It was the only remix that Gorillaz commissioned for Cracker Island, which is nominated for Best Alternative Music Album,  and the Aussie DJ felt a lot of pressure to make it a great one. The Dom Dolla remix brings a sense of urgency and electricity to the star-studded tune, picking  up the tempo to 127 BPM, then speeding up and looping Brown's raps.

After years of DJing and rising in his hometown Melbourne's vibrant club scene, Dom Dolla broke onto the U.S. dance scene with two tech house heaters, "Take It" and "San Frandisco," in 2018 and 2019, respectively. He was supposed to play Coachella 2020, which due to the pandemic, didn't take place until 2022. There, he debuted the big tunes he'd release later that year: the deep and moody "Strangers," with Mansionair, and the '90s house-infused "Miracle Maker," with Clementine Douglas. Since then, he's been on an ever-evolving upward trajectory. caught up with the "Miracle Maker" producer to learn more about working with Nelly Furtado and the Gorillaz, how a bad bout of tinnitus taught him a helpful studio trick, and where spaceship Dom is headed next. 

This interview has been edited for clarity.

What was your initial response when you found out you were nominated for a GRAMMY?

A lot of yelling. My manager is a very funny guy. He called me up [after the nominations were announced] and immediately started talking about something else. I challenged myself to write a song a day for a week. So he's all, "Day three, how's it going? You need to punch out a really good one today." I was like, What? And he's like, "A f—ing GRAMMY!" and started laughing. He really bait-and-switched me. I was on a high all morning. Then I flew from L.A. to Miami to play at [Club] Space and later that day I had EDC Orlando. I kept running into members of my team and just heard yelling.

Everyone brought signs to Space. Someone held up this enormous sign, "Congratulations on your GRAMMY" and people [held up messages] on their phones. It was quite a lovely, emotional moment, at such a debaucherous place.

What does it mean to you to be acknowledged in this way by your music industry peers?

It's really special. I started touring America in 2016. When you start touring in a new country, particularly when you're quite green, which I was back then, it's quite lonely. You don't really know anyone. But over the years, as I released more music and was running into people, I really felt like I was kind of gaining people's respect the more music that I put out.

The best thing about the music industry in America, at least in dance music, is if other DJs are playing your records, you're adding value to their DJ set and they respect you for it. That was happening more and more [for me over the years]. So [the nomination] feels like the antithesis of when I first started touring in the U.S.; it's being acknowledged by my peers and being respected and knowing that they genuinely like my music.

Did you ever imagine you'd be where you are today as a DJ/producer?

No way. My goal when I first started uploading music was to hit 10,000 plays on a song on SoundCloud. I think on the third track I'd released, I ended up hitting like 30,000 streams. I screenshotted it and printed it out. And I was like, I've made it. That's it.

It was the same with touring. My goal when I first started producing was to headline the venue called Prince Bandroom in St. Kilda in Melbourne, my hometown. Now we're doing the stupidest venues. [Laughs.] Each year, my manager asks me to write down what my new goals and aspirations are. A GRAMMY nomination wasn't even on the list because I didn't think it would ever be achievable. So now that that's happened, I have to write a new list.

How did you get connected with the Gorillaz for the remix?

It was pretty cool. Jahan [Karimaghayi] is on my marketing team and he's also on the Gorillaz's marketing team. He's a big fan of my remixes and he's always like, "I feel like you'd smash a Gorillaz remix." Apparently, he brought it up and they were like, "Hell yeah, let's do it." He thought he was introducing them to my music but I think someone already knew my stuff. I got sent the parts and it was ultimately up to me not to f— it up, really. [Chuckles.] That's why I put so much pressure on myself to nail it, knowing that it would be the only remix [from their album].

When did you know that the remix was ready?

It was actually a sort of visceral, emotional reaction in the studio. Every producer or songwriter will know there's two modes. One is, I'm terrible. How did I ever succeed in this as a career? I'm probably going to quit after I walk out of the studio. That was the first three days of me working on it. On the fourth day, the mood was, I'm a fing genius. I can't believe I doubted myself before. This s is fire

When you hit that feeling in the studio, it actually doesn't matter if the song comes out or the remix gets approved or if your team likes it. If I have that feeling, I've done it for myself, and I'm happy. The best thing was, I sent it to my team who said, "This is really great." And then I sent it to the Gorillaz and they loved it, so that was some nice external validation.

How did you bring the Dom Dolla touch to that track, which already had three different iconic, quite eclectic artists on it?

For me, it was picking the stems or the vocal sections or the synth elements of that record that I felt I related to the most. That's the way that I always do it: Which parts of this vocal would sound best on a Dom Dolla record?

The reason I don't do more remixes is because it's hard to come across those moments. I suppose the headline would be "finding moments in an existing record that you wish you'd written." If I'm being pitched a remix, are there enough bits in this that I can then rearrange or twist into something that I wish I'd done myself?

How was working with Nelly Furtado on "Eat Your Man," and what was your initial response when you found out she wanted to work with you? 

We were both going to play [Beyond the Valley] festival in Australia and she listened to my music. [Nelly's management] reached out and said she'd been listening to a bunch of my records on repeat. She wanted me to produce some stuff for her comeback, basically.

I'm sure she had a buttload of potential producers sending her demos. So I recorded this little selfie video that was like, "Hey, Nelly, what's happening?" just to prove I wasn't a psychopath. She said I didn't need the video but I was very memorable from that point on. We started messaging back and forth on WhatsApp and writing a bunch of stuff before we even met in person. 

She sent me her ad-libbing over one of my demos, and I quickly changed the subject because I wasn't actually a fan of what she'd sent me initially. I [was worried] I ruined the relationship. She said that was the reason she wanted to work with me, because I'm not a "yes man." I loved the second one she sent me. From then on, we hit it off and she trusted my taste.

We met in person three months later when we performed at Beyond the Valley. After that, I flew to Philadelphia and we got in the studio and started writing a bunch of stuff for her upcoming releases — none of that music has been released yet. That's more like her pop stuff. Halfway through the sessions, she turned to me, she's like, "I'd love to feature on a Dom Dolla record." "Eat Your Man" was written in the space of a few hours; it all came together quite naturally, which was fun.

What was it like for you working in the studio with Nelly, versus what I'm assuming is usually you and your computer? What did you take away from working in this way?

A lot of the time for the Dom Dolla project, I tried to do everything myself. I'd write all the top lines and basically bring in a session singer. I have a very specific vision. [With Nelly,] it was really a collaboration. For me, it was really learning how a lot of these pop sessions happen.  

[Nelly] had one of her best friends, Anjulie [Persaud], who's a brilliant pop singer and writer. The three of us were handing a microphone around that we had plugged into my Ableton. Each of us sang adlibs over this looped beat. I then went through the session and picked all of the little melodic adlib moments that I thought were really catchy. 

It taught me a lot about communicating tastes and being patient. It was exciting for me because I feel like that's the way the pop world works. It's great because it's more creative and more collaborative. "Eat Your Man" we did more my way. It was like, "This is what I can hear. What do you think?" That's why it happened quite quickly. But with her pop stuff, we did it more the traditional way.

Has that inspired you to do more in-studio collabs with vocalists?

Yeah, I've been doing a lot of writing with other people since then. Now I really can see myself doing a lot more production for other people and pop artists or even for bands. I'm confident in my executive production, production and engineering abilities. It's a new muscle that I'd like to develop. It's just hard for me because I'm touring so much and you've got to be in the room. Touring [non-stop] doesn't really leave much in the way for collaborative pop production. I think that time will come but it's not right now.

You brought out Nelly Furtado during your set at Portola Fest and performed with her a few times this year. What has it felt like getting to perform with her on stage?

She's so experienced and has been doing this for so long. I've learned a lot. In pop music performances, there's timecoding and synchronized dancing. DJ culture is like, I'm feeling like this needs to go here now, so I'm gonna full 180 and just throw this on the audience. You don't have to check in with anyone or plan anything. [Nelly] needs to know exactly when this is going to happen because she needs to know when she has to start singing and how much time she's got to dance before she has to start singing again. It's given me a real appreciation for pop live performance and how the pop world does it.

Planning for those sets [with Nelly] has been awesome; she asked me to send her the files from the mashups I did of her records and my records. I went to watch her [Portola] set, which is just her, I had nothing to do with it, and she performed the mashups. I was like, This is so sick. Her manager turned to me, "She's actually been doing this in every one of her shows." I'm over the moon. The dance music influence is kind of rubbing off on her hip-hop, R&B world, which is really cool.

In your DJ Mag cover article, you shared how an experience with hearing loss and tinnitus led you to produce music quieter. How did that change the way you think about production and dance music?

I really had to retrain my ears in how to produce music, but it added a bunch of longevity to my career. Now I can write and perform for years, because I'm always wearing earplugs or writing music quietly. It taught me that if the song's got to be really loud to be exciting, it sucks. People always crank stuff up in the studio. If it's exciting when it's quiet, you want to turn it up because you want to hear it. I think that's a testament to the kind of record that's being written. I always challenge myself to write the most exciting record humanly possible at the quietest level possible, [where you're] itching to turn it up.

It's also a mixing thing as well, because you've got to be able to hear all the key elements of the record quietly too. No matter where it's translating, whether it's on someone's laptop, their phone, their headphones, or cranked up to 120 on their home speaker system, that mix is right. 

How would you describe the evolution or your sound, production-wise and in your DJ sets?

I get so bored so easily. I just want to keep moving [on to new sounds]. The best thing about that is it keeps your audience excited. My last record, "Saving Up," is a completely original record that I want to sound like a throwback sampled disco tune. I've never released anything that's disco before, but I love disco. It's almost like Euro disco, a really fast offbeat baseline. It's jacked up, it's not a traditional disco record, but the elements are still there. Even the stuff I've been writing for Nelly, her pop stuff, I think people will be able to tell that I wrote it and produced it because it sounds like me somehow.

On "Saving Up," did you use any samples or did you just make it sound like it was sampled?

Everything in that record is completely original. I wanted it to sound like a sampled record, so the vocals are pitched up. It's a friend of mine, Clementine Douglas [who is featured on Dom's "Miracle Maker"]. I wrote it with her and some other friends, Toby Scott and Caitlin Stubbs, down in Brighton Beach in the UK. I've always been really obsessed with writing music on my own, doing everything myself from start to finish, and I feel like I've proven that to myself. After working with Nelly Furtado, I was really open to the idea of sitting in a room with a bunch of talented people and writing songs as a group 

As soon as I got to Brighton Beach, I remembered that Big Beach Boutique massive rave that Fatboy Slim hosted there 20 years ago. I wanted to write something that sounded super U.K., something that sounds sampled. We actually wrote the song really, really slow, at like 95 BPM or something. It was just chords and hooky vocals and we wrote the lyrics after. To make it sound sampled, we sped it up to 130 BPM and pitched the vocal up six semitones and made it bouncy as f—. 

What's next for you?

I actually have no idea what I'm doing. I'm just kind of hanging on for dear life. I know what I'm doing in the studio and I know what a great DJ set is made of. For me, it's about building upon that each and every time — giving a better DJ performance, creating a better set and writing better music.

I think that's the only thing that's really changing, the shows are getting bigger and more people are discovering the music. Honestly, it's quite shocking. The audience is literally compounding but I'm not really changing anything that I'm doing. I'm sort of doing more of it and trying to up the frequency and learning from the mistakes I've made before. 

Any big goals you're trying to hit, or anything where you're like, Okay, that would fing blow my mind if that happened?

Honestly, I recently did a dream B2B with Solomun in Ibiza. That was really cool. He reached out and I was like, No fng way. I have a good feeling about the next few years, so it's gonna be exciting. 

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Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber performs on day three of Sziget Festival 2022 in Budapest, Hungary.

Photo: Joseph Okpako / WireImage / Getty Images


Justin Bieber's Biggest Hits: 12 Songs That Showcase His Pop Prowess And R&B Sensibilities

As Justin Bieber's cult favorite album 'Journals' turns 10, listen to a dozen of the superstar's best songs from his storied career.

GRAMMYs/Dec 21, 2023 - 06:53 pm

When Usher first introduced the world to a young Canadian teen named Justin Bieber in 2009, no one knew the gravity of the moment. With a catchy debut single, the young Bieber clearly had talent, but it was hard to predict just how big he would become.

In the nearly 15 years since the release of that first hit, "One Time," Bieber has become one of the biggest pop stars of his generation. He first captured hearts and ears as a teen heartthrob with infectious pop hits, then expertly folded in his R&B influences; he's also experimented with dance, hip-hop, and even an acclaimed holiday album. The results speak for themselves: 23 GRAMMY nominations with two wins, eight No.1 albums, eight No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits, and 89 million monthly Spotify listeners with multiple billion-stream tracks. 

This month celebrates the ten-year anniversary of Journals, an album with an interesting spot in Bieber's discography. By his lofty standards, it was one of Bieber's more modest commercial successes. That hasn't stopped it from becoming a cult favorite amongst his fans, beloved for representing Beiber's first full commitment to R&B in his music.

In celebration of Journals and Bieber's career as a whole, is looking back at some of the singer's most important and most captivating tracks. 

"One Time" (2009)

"One Time" was Bieber's very first single, and it conveys many of what would become signature traits throughout his career. It's a complete earworm, with dance-pop production from Tricky Stewart bolstering a strong melody. It finds Bieber already exploring romance, a topic he would come to revisit throughout his career. And while it peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, it stuck around on the charts for almost all the rest of 2009 after its release that May. 

Perhaps most notably, it showed early on that Bieber had a natural charm that was infectious and impossible not to like. The music video for "One Time," in which Bieber uses his mentor Usher's house for a party, is goofy fun and a vehicle to Bieber's personality. That magnetism continues to play a key part in Bieber's career — and it was there from the start.

"Baby" (2010)

xIf there is one song that has become synonymous with Bieber's initial rise to fame, it's "Baby." While not his first single, "Baby" was his first major success in both charts and reception. "Baby" debuted at No. 5 on the Hot 100, But it almost instantly became a cultural moment; it was almost impossible to not hear Bieber croon that catchy hook everywhere — and even more impossible to not sing along.. 

"Baby" was also proof that Bieber had star potential. Not only did he have a writing credit on the song, but within three years, it was certified 12x platinum by the RIAA.

"Mistletoe" (2011)

Bieber followed his star-making My World 2.0 with a Christmas album, 2011's Under The Mistletoe. It's a storied tradition for pop stars to tackle the holiday season, and Bieber did so with incredible success. A snap-along, guitar-plucked ballad, "Mistletoe" is another early ballad from Bieber, a peek at how thoughtful and sensitive he can be given room to explore his feelings.

"Mistletoe" also helped Bieber earn more historic accolades early in his career. Off the strength of its lead single, Under The Mistletoe made Bieber the only male artist to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with a Christmas album.

"Right Here" (2012)

After Under the Mistletoe hinted at his R&B sensibilities, Bieber continued to show his genre-spanning prowess with his next album, 2012's Believe. While the smoky lead single "Boyfriend" served as his biggest hit until that point,the silky smooth track "Right Here" is one of his best album cuts. Perhaps most notably, it serves as the first (and to date, only) musical collaboration between Bieber and Drake — and though it wasn't a single, it was an important team-up in pop music history. 

Drake was coming off of 2011's Take Care that solidified him a superstar, and Believe was doing the same thing for Bieber at the time. Both would go on to have hugely successful and influential careers, making "Right Here" a special monument to the rise of these two men.

"Recovery" (2013)

For the follow-up to Believe, Bieber embraced the rising popularity of streaming and digital releases. The compilation album Journals was initially released song by song, once a week over the fall and early winter of 2013. Leaning further into an R&B sound, Journals also saw Bieber step into an executive producer role, taking more control over the direction of his music. "Recovery" exemplifies his fine-tuning of R&B and pop together, with yet another winning hook and a lyrical focus on forgiveness and growth.

For all of the great production Bieber employs, his songs have always had a strong core that shine just as bright acoustically. "Recovery" is a good example of this, with Bieber's voice and the acoustic guitar threaded throughout is an easily trackable core for the production to build on.

"Confident" (2013)

"Confident" is perhaps the peak of Journals, a perfecting of the sound Bieber had been building towards over the previous two years. For "Confident," he enlisted an R&B specialist in producer Soundz, who previously worked with Ciara, Usher, and Rihanna. 

The song incorporates more hip-hop adjacent beats as well, another sign of Bieber refusing to stay complacent. He also brought in Chance The Rapper months after Acid Rap made Chance one of the hottest names in hip-hop — a smart choice professionally, but also personally, as the two have teamed on several songs since.

"Sorry" (2015)

If Journals was Bieber finding more of himself as an artist, 2015's Purpose is the moment he fully came into his own. That was immediately apparent upon the release of lead single "What Do You Mean?," which shot to the top of the Hot 100 — Bieber's first No. 1, but certainly not his last. 

Second single "Sorry" not only continued that success, also hitting No. 1, but it became one of his biggest hits to date. It remains one of Bieber's danciest hits, both thanks to its EDM-driven production and its wildly popular music video that now tallies more than 3.7 billion views as of press time.

On the whole, Purpose is Bieber having some of the most fun he's had in his entire catalog, with a whole track list of songs that fans will hum for days on end — with "Sorry" likely at the forefront.

"Love Yourself" (2015)

Besides being another artistic step forward, Purpose also garnered Bieber more recognition from the GRAMMYs. After a win in 2016 for Best Dance/Electronic Recording for his work on Jack Ü's "Where Are Ü Now," Purpose was nominated for Album Of The Year in 2017 — a first for Bieber. Alongside that nomination came another first, a Song Of The Year nod for "Love Yourself," the album's third single and a breakup song to end all breakup songs. 

The epitome of "kill them with kindness," Bieber sings this just like a love song. But don't let the sweet acoustic melody fool you — the lyrics are blistering (for one, "My mama don't like you and she likes everyone.") As his third consecutive No. 1 single, "Love Yourself" elevated Bieber even further as a pop star.

"All Around Me" (2020)

A lot changed for Bieber in the five years between Purpose and its aptly titled follow-up, Changes — perhaps the biggest of those changes was his 2018 marriage to Hailey Baldwin. While the singer had plenty of great love ballads in his catalog by then, marriage took Bieber to the next level in his romantic writing. 

Case in point, Changes opens with "All Around Me," an ode to Hailey. With a light touch on production from Poo Bear, the track gives Bieber room to show off vocally. 

Bieber has always been earnest in his work, and "All Around Me" is especially open. When he sings of finally being able to fully open himself up to someone, it's easy to believe. As an opening track, it serves as a perfect introduction to the older, more mature Bieber after his five-year album hiatus. 

"Yummy" (2020)

While Changes is undoubtedly a more subdued, grounded thematic work for Bieber, some of his best work has always come from him having fun. Changes doesn't entirely abandon that, with lead single "Yummy" a welcome sign Bieber still knows how to let loose. The track is silky smooth, letting Bieber flex his R&B prowess to the fullest extent. 

"Yummy" also reaffirmed Bieber's staying power after his long hiatus. It peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, along with his foray into country music with 2019's Dan + Shay collaboration "10,000 Hours" (which Bieber won his second GRAMMY), it showed that he had much more to give musically.

"Lifetime" (2021)

Bieber wasted no time once getting back in the studio after Changes, with his most recent album Justice dropping just a year later. It's his most collaborative work to date, with a plethora of guest stars, writers and producers lending a hand on the massive 25-song project — which makes a track like "Lifetime," with no guest appearance and minimal production, stand out even more. 

In a career full of love songs, "Lifetime" is perhaps the most touching. Again inspired by his wife, it's an ode to real commitment and dedication.

Besides being incredibly sweet, "Lifetime" is one of Bieber's most powerful vocal performances. The emotion and range he displays is breathtaking, and there's a sincerity that comes through more than any other Bieber track. Over a decade into his career, Bieber continues to grow and surprise with his artistry. 

"Peaches" (2021)

It's not a Justin Bieber album without a megahit, and Justice's offering in that regard is "Peaches." The track blends the R&B elements Bieber has embraced over the years with the pop sensibilities he first broke out with, creating a track that epitomizes both styles. It's a celebration of the good things in life, and that's reflected in both the wavy melody and its playful lyrics.

"Peaches" became yet another No. 1 track for Bieber, his first solo Hot 100 hit since "Love Yourself."  It also earned him four GRAMMY Nominations in 2022 — Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, Best R&B Performance, and Best Music Video — alongside an Album Of The Year nomination for Justice. Between the positive vibes of the song and its widespread acclaim, "Peaches" is a testament to how far Bieber has come, and how much more he has to give.

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