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The Year In Music: The Top Trends Of 2011

Apple's iPhone, Jennifer Lopez and "American Idol" prove search-worthy, plus the TWIM Top 10

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

 With 2011 winding to a close, it's the perfect time to reflect on all the events of the past year. Among other happenings, the world lost a revolutionary technology marvel in Steve Jobs; teen star Justin Bieber was falsely accused of fathering a child; Adele became the first artist in more than a decade to top the Billboard 200 for 13 weeks with her GRAMMY-nominated 21; and digital music streaming services grew by leaps and bounds with the U.S. launch of Spotify and other cloud-based services such as Amazon's Cloud Drive, Apple's iCloud and Music Beta by Google.

But what was on your mind most this year? Yahoo has released its list of Top 10 Searches for 2011, with Apple's iPhone ranking No. 1. (For those proud iPhone 4S owners, ask Siri what she thinks about that.) Some familiar names in music also made the list, with Katy Perry at No. 4. What was so search-worthy about Perry this year? Possibly her switch from pink to blonde hair or the fact that she made history in tying Michael Jackson with her fifth No. 1 single from Teenage Dream. The remaining musical spots were filled by Jennifer Lopez (No. 5) and "American Idol" (No. 7) — the former likely due to Lopez's revival of sorts as a judge on "Idol" and a Billboard 200 Top 5 album. And why was "American Idol" so search-worthy? Duh, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler.

Here at TWIM, there have been quite a few events over the past year that got our search engines started. Below we present our list of 10 of the most memorable moments of 2011.

Jan. 7: In a new spin on social networking, Josh Groban previewed his new (read: fictitious) album on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" The album, titled The Best Tweets Of Kanye West, features, as its title suggests, Groban on piano singing quotes from West's Twitter commentary. Tweets such as "Do you know where to find marble conference tables? I'm looking to have a conference…not until I get a table though," and "Black is the new black," have been transformed from mere words to lilting pop/classical ballads the singer is known for. You can watch Groban's performance for yourself, but here are our favorite selections: "Classical music is tight yo"; "French fries are the devil"; and "I make awesome decisions in bike stores." Thinking of buying a bike? You may want to consult @kanyewest.

March 18: Did Steve Jobs and Apple's iTunes give music a bad name? Yes, if you ask Jon Bon Jovi. "Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business," said Bon Jovi in an interview with UK's The Sunday Times. "Kids today have missed the whole experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the jacket, closing their eyes and getting lost in an album," he reminisced. Bon Jovi thinks listeners will eventually share his nostalgic views and long for the time when they got lost in reading the liner notes for Slippery When Wet while spinning "Wanted Dead Or Alive." "I hate to sound like an old man now, but I am," he said. "And you mark my words, in a generation from now people are going to say: 'What happened?'" Unfortunately, Jobs did not publicly respond to JBJ's allegations before his passing on Oct. 5. But fans can still purchase all the Bon Jovi songs their hearts desire at the iTunes Store.

May 13: The city of Los Angeles was stunned as the Dallas Mavericks got out the brooms on their way to sweeping the defending world champion Los Angeles Lakers in four games in the second round of the NBA playoffs. While purple-and-gold flags were unceremoniously stripped from vehicles from Hollywood to Inglewood, Laker legends such as Magic Johnson and James Worthy took the team to task for their lackluster play. To help get over the heartbreak, fans (and foes) turned to Twitter to submit appropriate losing-themed songs for the Lakers' post-season playlist. Our top 10 favorites were R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts"; Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry"; 'N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye"; Lil Wayne's "I Feel Like Dying"; Boyz II Men's "End Of The Road"; the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want"; the Roots' "Swept Away"; Nirvana's "All Apologies"; Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust"; and our No. 1 pick, Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up." Yes, the Lakers can now say they've been MaveRick-rolled.

July 21: A Swedish heavy metal fan is battling an unusual form of addiction. Roger Tullgren, 42, has been medically diagnosed as being addicted to heavy metal, a non-substance compulsive disorder that impacts his social and working life. A team of psychologists officially diagnosed the condition, which means Tullgren will receive state benefits such as income support so that he can attend concerts and indulge other parts of the addiction. "I spoke to three psychologists and they finally agreed that I needed this to avoid being discriminated against," said Tullgren. Not all medical professionals are sold on the decision to feed Tullgren's addiction, however. "If somebody has a gambling addiction, we don't send them down to the racetrack," said an anonymous local psychologist. It would seem a healthy regular dosage of avant-garde jazz, disco, pop, and classical music would be the perfect prescription for any metal addiction. But Tullgren will not be buying into a 12-step program anytime soon. "Some might say that I should grow up and learn to listen to other types of music but I can't," he said. "Heavy metal is my lifestyle."

Aug. 12: Let's face it, trying to talk a parking officer out of giving you a parking ticket is akin to trying to solve a Rubik's Cube while blindfolded. The next time you're unceremoniously served with a parking ticket, instead of giving the officer a piece of your mind, you might try an alternate tactic: singing. While dining at Neely's Barbecue Parlor in New York, Aretha Franklin saw a meter maid writing a ticket and made a beeline outside and ultimately got out of the ticket by breaking into song and signing an autograph. While there's no word on which song the Queen of Soul serenaded the officer with, our money is on "Think." While this situation can be seen as the latest example of preferential treatment for celebrities, it nevertheless gives hope to those encountering similar parking predicaments in the future. Of course, singing Cee Lo Green's "F*** You" to an officer may get you a date in the slammer, so we advise you to choose your song carefully.

Sept. 9: Madonna's still as sexy and controversial as ever at age 53, and we've got the proof. She started September promoting her new film, W.E., at a Venice film festival, where she dissed a gift-giving fan for presenting her with a hydrangea, a flower the material girl said she "loathes" into a live mic. But she ended the week on a possibly more positive note, depending on how you feel about cougars (not the large cat native to the Americas, but the saucy older women native to the Courtney Cox sitcom). Dating site Cougarlife.com offered Madonna $300,000 to write and record a song to help promote the service. The company said in the offer that Madge — who is currently dating 24-year-old Brahim Zaibat and formerly dated then-22-year-old Brazilian model Jesus Luz after splitting with Guy Ritchie — is "without a doubt the queen of cougars." To our knowledge, Madonna did not respond to the offer. And while it's likely it didn't necessarily make her feel like a virgin, at 53, we'd still take it as a compliment.

Sept. 23: As a show of loyalty to their favorite bands, some fans collect truckloads of memorabilia. Some get a back-covering tattoo. And some rack up frequent flyer miles following their favorite act from city to city. However, this kind of loyalty may now seem less impressive given that Missouri native George F. Blackburn took his musical devotion to a new level in officially changing his name to his favorite album, Led Zeppelin II. "[Led Zeppelin] changed my life, forever, and that's my whole reason for doing this," said the newly christened Led Zeppelin II. The 64-year-old is making a new start in his life following the divorce from his third wife and he says the name has already paid dividends. "I reinvented myself," said II. "Since I became Led Zeppelin, my life has improved a thousand fold." While Led Zeppelin II no doubt has a catchy ring to it, if you're inclined to follow suit and rename yourself after your favorite album we recommend thinking twice before considering the following: Chocolate Starfish And The Hotdog Flavored Water (Limp Bizkit), Back On My B.S. (Busta Rhymes), Evisceration Plague (Cannibal Corpse), You Can Tune A Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish (REO Speedwagon), and Untitled (the Byrds).

Sept. 2: When the calendar turns to September, carefree summer days unfortunately come to a halt. Most of us look to squeeze in one last bit of fun before we turn the page to autumn. Enter Sinéad O'Connor, who not only was looking for fun, but some, shall we say, action. In a posting to her website, the GRAMMY-winning songstress publically launched an official companion contest. "My s***-uation sexually/affectionately speaking is so dire that inanimate objects are starting to look good," wrote O'Connor. "I'm in desperate need of a very sweet sex-starved man." While a contest winner was declared on Aug. 24, O'Connor later announced that "sadly the chosen winner of the quest for [my] man has revealed [a] pregnant girlfriend." Thus, the search continued, and interested parties were still encouraged to apply. But before sending in an application, they had to make sure they could answer "no" to the following questions: Are you a male older than 44? Do you use a hair dryer? Do you shave? Do you hate your mother? Is your name Brian or Nigel? Are you unemployed? We're happy to report that this search has a storybook ending. O'Connor tied the knot on Dec. 8 in Las Vegas with Irishman Barry Herridge. We don't know much about Herridge other than he must be the "mindblowingly filthy freak" O'Connor was looking for.

Oct. 21: Despite all his rage, he is now just a wrestler in a cage. Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan announced he's starting his own professional wrestling company, Resistance Pro Wrestling. "I essentially got involved with some brothers who had a wrestling promotion," Corgan told Fox News Chicago. "We decided to form our own promotion and we're going to try to bring back the glory days." Corgan, who will serve as creative director for the company, hopes to take the sport back to its plot-driven days while raising awareness for concussions and other health issues. So will we see reincarnations of Brutus The Barber Beefcake, Hulk Hogan or the Undertaker? Or will this new class of wrestlers take on monikers inspired by Smashing Pumpkins albums such as Siamese Dream, Oceana or Zeitgeist? We'll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, the company is off and running with a few matches, and the Resistance Pro Heavyweight Champion is slated to be crowned Jan. 13, 2012.

Oct. 28: They will rock you, they will shock you, and sometimes they will scare you. As a further testament that some musicians are just scary being themselves, Billboard released the results of its top 10 scariest musicians poll in time for Halloween. Coming in at No. 10 was the Demon himself, Kiss' Gene Simmons. We don't know what's scarier about Simmons, his knack for spewing out gobs of blood from his mouth, or his relationship with his dog, Snippy. At No. 9 were Insane Clowne Posse, with their painted-on faces being enough reason to never hire a clown for your birthday party ever again. Metal group GWAR checked in at No. 8, even though they may qualify as more humorous than scary with their action-figure-looking ensembles. In an odd twist to the list, Odd Future's Tyler, The Creator made the list at No. 7. Why? Watch this, but be careful, it might drive you yonkers. King of horror rock Rob Zombie dug through the ditches to come in at No. 6; the boa constrictor-friendly Alice Cooper appeared at No. 5; the Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne owned the No. 4 spot; and metal's masked crusaders Slipknot screamed in at No. 3. So who battled it out for the top spot? The Fame Monster, Lady Gaga, and the Antichrist Superstar, Marilyn Manson. Who do you think is scariest? View the results here.

Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" is the No. 1 song of the year on the Billboard Hot 100 and the top-selling iTunes song for 2011.

What are your favorite music stories of 2011? Comment below.

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Last Week In Music. Click on "The Week In Music" tag below for links to other GRAMMY News stories in this series.

Jennifer Lopez Press Photo 2024
Jennifer Lopez

Photo: Norman Jean Roy

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Inside Jennifer Lopez's 'This Is Me... Now': The Superstar & Her Team Detail Why The New Album Is Unlike Anything She's Done Before

Ten years after Jennifer Lopez’s last album – and more than 20 after it's prequel — 'This Is Me... Now,' has finally arrived. Lopez and her team discuss the inspiration behind her deeply personal return to music.

GRAMMYs/Feb 16, 2024 - 03:50 pm

Since the 1999 launch of her unstoppable music career, Jennifer Lopez has released eight studio albums and over 60 singles that have racked up billions of streams worldwide. So it's hard to believe there's been a full decade between the multihyphenate's last album, 2014's A.K.A., and her ninth studio LP, This Is Me… Now.

Released on Feb. 16 and described as "an intimate, fantastical and narrative-driven reflection of Lopez's journey to find love," This Is Me… Now is the highly anticipated sequel to Lopez's now-iconic This Is Me… Then. The 2002 project spawned megahits "Jenny From the Block" and "All I Have," but it's the hidden gems like "The One," "Again" and "I've Been Thinkin'" that perfectly capture a special moment in time for Lopez, whose then-budding romance with Oscar-winning actor and filmmaker Ben Affleck was beginning to take the world by storm.

Though their widely beloved (and broadcasted) romance fizzled in the early 2000s, "Bennifer" is back together two decades later — and in classic J.Lo fashion, love is inspiring her more than anything else. The 20-year span between losing each other and reconnecting is chronicled in This Is Me… Now, Lopez's self-proclaimed magnum opus.

"In a strange magical twist of fate, I wound up back together with Ben, and it inspired me again to go back in the studio in the same way I did with This Is Me… Then," Lopez tells GRAMMY.com. "I believe true love exists, I believe that some things are forever.

"If you've ever wondered about that, I'm sharing that with you: Don't give up," she continues. "That was a worthy message to put out into the world because I know I needed that a lot in my life. I wasn't sure and it led me down some very questionable roads. What I think a lot of people do is look for love outside themselves instead of inward, so that more than anything was the inspiration for the new album."

The 13-track LP is accompanied by a musical film, This Is Me…Now: A Love Story, which is available on Prime Video now. Self-funded by Lopez and directed by Dave Myers, the film drives home Lopez's journey of self-love, discovery and awareness while finding her happily ever after.

Lopez, along with BMG's A&R Brandon Riester and the album's executive producer Rogét Chahayed, reflected about her career-defining LP and how it all came together.

The Goals

From the start, Lopez was relentless about making the album sound incredible, even converting part of her Los Angeles home into a studio and shutting down everything — including stepping back from making movies in order to maintain focus on the recording sessions for This Is Me… Now. She also shared private love letters from Affleck with the songwriters and producers to convey the narrative she wanted to translate into the music. 

"She said to me, 'Let's make an album that I'm excited about because I'm in love and that's when I make my best music,'" Riester says. "Jennifer is very much an integral part of the vision and the production and the songwriting on this album. This is her story."

Lopez recruited Chahayed after hearing Jack Harlow's GRAMMY-nominated No. 1 hit "First Class," which he co-produced in 2022. Their initial conversations about musical influences led to Lopez giving Chahayed the rundown of her and Affleck's history together, along with the concept for the album itself.

"She actually wanted to start making music the next day," Chahayed recalls. "But I definitely needed a few days to process everything because I had been manifesting for a while to be able to work with an artist that has a legacy and decades of success, and my prayers were answered."

This Is Me… Now sees Lopez fully leaning into being a hopeless romantic — something she's been heavily scrutinized over for decades. In the extravagant film of the same name, she makes light of her three failed marriages, but it's with the intention of inspiring others that true love exists, which has always been at the core of Lopez's music.

"We're living in a society where the value of relationships and marriage has been sort of lost," Chahayed suggests. "Her album will not only give people a new perspective on her music in general, but also give them a chance to believe in love again — and feel like there's someone out there for you, even if it's someone that you broke up with 10, 20 years ago."

This Is Me… Now picks up right where 2002's twice platinum-selling This Is Me… Then left off with some obvious nods to the prequel; the most blatant is "Dear Ben Pt. II," a follow up to "Dear Ben," on which Lopez describes Affleck as "my lust, my love, my man, my child, my friend, and my king." Still, the 54-year-old global icon didn't want to get caught up in trying to chase hits or recreate the past.

"We never listened to This Is Me... Then in the studio, not one time. That record is always going to have such a special place in my heart, but the sequel is just like another level," Lopez says. "People who have been on this journey with me and who have seen me fall down and get back up and make mistakes and get divorced — that journey got me to a place where I can now go, 'I've figured some things out about myself.'"

As much as the 13-track LP seizes the fairytale-like rekindling of Lopez and Affleck's relationship, it's also about something much bigger: how self-love, or lack thereof, plays a role in the relationships we have with others. "Hearts and Flowers" is a testament to Lopez's inner strength, as evidenced by the defiant chorus. ("It ain't all hearts and flowers/ So many nights and hours/ Every day of my life, in the grind faithfully/ Superpowers, we all got superpowers," she sings.)

"I'm a more evolved, healed person. I'm not saying I'm completely healed, or that I got it all figured out. I don't. But This Is Me... Now represents where I am in my journey right now," Lopez says.

"It's me embracing all of it, even the bad decisions," she adds. "I had to learn to be loving and forgiving of yourself, because then you can be loving and forgiving of other people. You can be empathetic toward other people and great for the world. But until you can give that to yourself, you can't do anything for anybody."

The Moments

Celebratory songs like lead single "Can't Get Enough," "This Time Around" and penultimate track "Midnight Trip to Vegas" have the same giddiness heard in 2002's "I'm Glad" and "Baby I Love U!" — the final two singles off This Is Me… Then. The autobiographical title track is a culmination of a lifetime, merging Lopez's working-class upbringing in The Bronx with the feeling of gratitude for a second chance at true love with Affleck. 

"I watched my mother miss out on her life/ All those could-have-beens became her sacrifice/ But here in the darkness, it's not the future nor the past/ And 'cause it's meant to be with you, boy, it will last," she sings in the opening verse. 

Stripped-down ballad "Broken Like Me" unflinchingly stands as Lopez's most personal work to date, as she deconstructs her J.Lo persona into diaristic lyrics that are bound to surprise even longtime fans. "Two babies at home/ Mama had to be strong/ In a battle for love/ In a war of my own/ And I tried to be honest/ But it made me feel weak/ And when I think about it/ It brings me to my knees/ Couldn't look in the mirror/ Afraid what I'd see/ 'Cause I still loved you/ Loved you more than me," Lopez confesses midway through the track, which moved Affleck to tears after hearing it for the first time.

"Ben would come in the studio and spend hours with us and tell us stories to help set the tone," Riester says. "I remember one moment where he said, 'Where's the pain that I went through of not being with the one that I love for so long?' That's how some of the darker songs like 'Rebound' and 'Broken Like Me' were born. It takes the dark to get to the light, and that's a really big theme of this album."

But there were plenty of fun, lighthearted moments, too; like how an Incredible Hulk-themed guitar autographed by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was used for "Mad in Love," a lullaby-esque anthem for soulmates everywhere. Or the night before "Midnight Trip to Vegas" was written, which pretty much sums up everything we love about Bennifer 2.0.

"Jennifer texted me and said, 'Hey, what are you doing today?'" Riester recalls. "I responded and then I didn't hear from her. The next thing I notice is all these news alerts that Jen got married, so I'm texting management like, 'Yo, what's going on? Did you guys not want to tell me about this?' They were like, 'We had no idea.'" 

He continued, "The whole team had been with her every single day for months, but we found out about it the way everybody else did. But it was an amazing story, because Ben was like, 'Everyone's so worried about all the different elements of this wedding. Let's just put it all aside.' I think that just shows you how much they love each other, because it wasn't about the wedding that's for everybody else. This is about their love for each other."

The Outcome

Whether you've been bumping J.Lo since her 1999 debut, On the 6, or simply admire her work ethic, This Is Me… Now defies expectations as she reaches the pinnacle of creative freedom.

"This is truly an artist's project because it is her heart and her soul all pushed into a pen and written out for the world to see," Riester says. "I was telling someone the other day, 'When will an album rollout be like this again?' The story really is well-crafted and the music is incredible. Everyone can pull something from it because we've all been through those moments of heartbreak or finding what you think is your true love."

Days before announcing her first tour in five years, Lopez hinted that her ninth studio album, This Is Me... Now, may be her last ("I really feel very fulfilled," she recently told ET). Whatever her musical future looks like, baring her soul and creating a cinematic experience with This Is Me…Now forced her to grow artistically in ways she never expected — which has brought an entirely new purpose to her remarkable career. 

"I've never done anything like this with a record in my life, or felt inspired to do anything like this with an album. This is the most honest record I've ever made," Lopez asserts. "I was able to do that because I was more mature and had done more work on myself to be really open and vulnerable in ways that I've never been. Everything about me is all in here. This is the album that I've been trying to make all my life — and I finally made it."

Jennifer Lopez's Biggest Hits, From Her Best Hip-Hop Collaborations To The Dance Floor Classics

Lana Del Rey, Tyler The Creator, Doja Cat
Lana Del Rey, Tyler, The Creator, and Doja Cat will headline the 2024 Coachella festival.

Photos (L to R): Kristy Sparow/Getty Images; Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Coachella; Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella

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Official Coachella 2024 Lineup: Headliners Lana Del Rey, Tyler, The Creator And Doja Cat To Lead A Pack of Performers Including No Doubt & Others

GRAMMY.com digs into the official Coachella 2024 lineup — featuring Doja Cat’s return at the top of the bill with other California natives and more international acts than ever before heading to the Southern California desert April 12-14 and April 19-21.

GRAMMYs/Jan 17, 2024 - 12:32 am

The much-anticipated lineup for Coachella’s waitlisted 2024 festival was officially announced by producers Goldenvoice on Jan. 16. Festival headliners include GRAMMY-winning rapper and record producer Tyler, the Creator, GRAMMY-winning pop and hip-hop artist Doja Cat, and GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Lana Del Rey. These beloved acts lead a pack of top-tier talent sure to resonate well with a global audience. 

Coachella, which kicks off the 2024 festival season, will take place April 12-14 and April 19-21, returning to Indio’s Empire Polo Club in Southern California’s Colorado Desert. Let the good times roll.

Other notable performers include No Doubt, and 2024 GRAMMY nominees Jon Batiste, Ice Spice and Dom Dolla. Best Rap Song nominee Lil Uzi Vert also received top-billing among a plethora of rappers and hip-hop artists including Coi Leray and Lil Yachty.

A welcome sign of growing diversity among the acts, more international musicians than ever have appeared on the roster, including corridos tumbados musicians Peso Pluma, 2024 GRAMMY nominees for Best Música Mexicana Album, who also recently performed at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs. K-pop acts are also getting shine at Coachella 2024, with ATEEZ and LE SSARAFIM on the bill.

Since its inception in 1999, Coachella has evolved from a simple music festival to a cultural touchstone that encapsulates evolving trends in music, arts, fashion, and social expression. Coachella's lineup has become a barometer of pop culture — marking current and future music trends as well as the tone of the industry. 

Across multiple stages and tents, the festival is a sandbox showcase for experimental work. It’s a place for artists to debut new music, collaborate with other musicians during surprise guest performances and reunions, and make a statement. Beyonce’s culturally significant 2018 performance and celebration of Black college culture that inspired her Netflix documentary “Homecoming” and the unforgettable virtual resurrection of Tupac Shakur in 2012 via hologram serve as prime examples of this phenomena.

Catch the official line-up below and stay tuned for our takeaways from this year’s lineup announcement coming soon.

2024 Coachella Festival Lineup

California Love Is On Full Display

Californians dominate the 2024 Coachella lineup. Major headliners Tyler, the Creator and Doja Cat both hail from the Golden State and although Lana Del Rey (Friday, April 12 and 19) was born in Lake Placid, New York, she calls California her home and source of inspiration. Lana Del Rey is currently nominated in five categories at the 2024 GRAMMY Awards including Album Of The Year and Song Of The Year; Doja Cat is nominated in three categories including Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Rap Song.  

Surprise act No Doubt, which includes vocalist Gwen Stefani, guitarist Tom Dumont, bassist Tony Kanal, and drummer Adrian Young also count Southern California as their original home base. The group formed in 1986 in Anaheim and, over three decades, have netted two GRAMMY Awards and nine nominations. 

Rock Reunions Take Center Stage

Perhaps the biggest surprise act on the bill, No Doubt will reunite for their first major show in almost a decade since their last live performances together in 2015 — much to the delight of the band and Gwen Stefani’s dedicated fanbase. 

Other surprise reunions include new millennium rock band Blur, best known for punchy vocals and kick snare-emboldened tracks. The Britpop act will perform their first U.S. shows in nine years, receiving top billing for both Saturdays. Sublime, who have been performing live for years as Sublime with Rome will also perform on Saturday, though the singular billing begs the question of whether late founding band member Bradley Knowell will appear holographically á la Tupac in 2012. 

The 2024 Lineup Is An International Showcase

Global acts are taking over for one of the most diverse bills in Coachella history, filled with acts from Korea, Japan, Latin America, Africa, France and more.  

Furthering a breakout year in U.S. popularity, K-Pop boy band ATEEZ will perform on Friday. Girl group Atarashii Gakko! alongside superduo Yaosobi will represent Japan. A plethora of artists representing Latin America will perform both weekends: Coachella's lineup includes J Balvin (Columbia), Cimafunk (Cuba) and a roster of Mexican artists including Peso Pluma, Santa Fe Klan, Latin Mafia, Son Rompe Pera and Carin León. Nigerian natives Burna Boy and Tyla, both nominated for Best African Music Performance (one of three brand new categories at the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards) are billed along with fellow Nigerian, Tems.

Electronic Music Makes A House Call

Highlighting a shift in the sands of music festival lineups over the last few years, electronic, dance, EDM, and trance artists account for a majority of the acts performing at Coachella in 2024. 

Legendary French performer Gesaffelstein, whose work has intertwined with artists like The Weeknd, adds a layer of dark, magnetic allure to the lineup while Justice, known for their GRAMMY-winning electronic beats, round out an electrifying experience. 

Celebrated acts like techno queen Charlotte de Witte and up-and-comers like Dom Dolla — a first-time GRAMMY nominee currently nominated for his remix of the Gorillaz track "New Gold" featuring Tame Impala — represent a nod to electronic music's recent and significant impact within the U.S.

Multiple Acts Return To The Desert

Coachella Valley is set to welcome back multiple seasoned acts in a return to the desert, including inventive linguist Tyler, the Creator, who surprised attendees with an impromptu appearance during Kali Uchis' set on the main stage in 2022. Doja Cat is also making a comeback, ascending to the top of the bill as a headliner after two years. 

J Balvin will bring the reggaeton party back to paradise following his Coachella premiere in 2019. Meanwhile, DJ Snake — the GRAMMY-nominated maestro of trap and electronic fusion will stage a return after first performing in 2016. Techno/house DJ and producer John Summitt will keep the beat alive after his house sound and pulsing rhythms created an electrifying performance 2022. The ever-transcendent and avant garde Grimes will stage a cosmic return to the Coachella stage after last performing in 2016. 

Ariana Grande on The Voice set in 2021
Ariana Grande on 'The Voice' set in 2021.

Photo: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

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New Music Friday: Listen To Songs From Ariana Grande, Lil Nas X, Jay-Z & More

The year is already off to a massive start, with Jan. 12 spawning new releases from 21 Savage, ITZY, Jennifer Lopez and many more. Check out some of the hotly anticipated tracks here.

GRAMMYs/Jan 12, 2024 - 04:50 pm

January always marks fresh starts and clean slates as the world collectively turns the page from one year to the next. The world of music is no exception: the second week of 2024 is filled with artists embarking on new eras and album cycles.

On the full-length front, 21 Savage unveiled his third solo LP, american dream, with guest assists from the likes of Summer Walker ("Prove It"), Doja Cat ("N.H.I.E."), Young Thug and Metro Boomin ("Pop Ur S–t") and more while Kali Uchis celebrates her just-announced first pregnancy with longtime boyfriend Don Toliver by delivering her second Spanish-language studio set Orchídeas.

Meanwhile, Reneé Rapp brings the new Mean Girls musical movie to life as Gen Z's Regina George, with a soundtrack that also features Megan Thee Stallion, Auli'i Cravalho, Angourie Rice and more, and K-pop act ITZY makes a statement on their sophomore Korean-language album, Born To Be, which gives all five members a chance to shine with individual solo tracks on top of swaggering bangers like "Untouchable" and the title track.  

In addition to star-studded album drops, Jan. 12 sees several big single releases too. Press play on hotly anticipated musical resets from Ariana Grande and Lil Nas X, lead singles from Jennifer Lopez and Sheryl Crow, and a monumental collaboration between D'Angelo and Jay-Z for the new movie The Book of Clarence below.

Ariana Grande — "yes, and?"

Ariana Grande is officially back and ready to own everything. For "yes, and?" — her first new musical offering since 2020's Positions — the superstar is doling out heavy-hitting words to live by, disguised as a glossy pop confection that takes an irresistible cue from Madonna's "Vogue."

Both an exercise in self-affirmation and a runway-ready Pride anthem, "yes, and?" finds Grande unapologetically sharing her truth in a way she hasn't since 2018's "thank u, next." Her voice dripping with honey, the soon-to-be Wicked star slyly addresses the recent tabloid fodder surrounding her personal life. 

"Now I'm so done with caring/ What you think, no, I won't hide/ Underneath your own projections/ Or change my most authentic life," she vows in between spine-tingling harmonies and plenty of vocal fireworks. Ari only gets more blunt from there, clapping back with her whole chest about the obsession with her body, relationship status, sex life and more. In her words, "Yes…and?" 

Jennifer Lopez — "Can't Get Enough"

Jennifer Lopez's ninth studio album, This Is Me… Now, has been a long time coming. But if lead single "Can't Get Enough" is any indication, the sequel to 2002's This Is Me… Then will be well worth the wait when it arrives Feb. 16. The track, which samples the late Alton Ellis' 1967 release "Still in Love," is a fizzy, funky delight that pops like a blast of champagne straight out the bottle.

On the song's chorus, the multi-hyphenate superstar giddily professes just how much she loves being in love (and back in love with now-husband Ben Affleck). And while the accompanying music video pokes fun at her trio of past marriages, fans can rest assured she's singing the lovestruck lyrics to the same Dunkin'-lovin' guy she was serenading 21 years ago on This Is Me… Then.

Jeymes Samuel x D'Angelo x Jay-Z — "I Want You Forever"

A new D'Angelo single would be a major event. So would a new Jay-Z single. After all, it's quickly coming up on 10 years since the neo-soul star released his last album, 2014's Black Messiah and the rap mogul's last solo single was the title track off 2017's 4:44.

However, director Jeymes Samuel managed to coax both men back into the studio to join forces for the soundtrack of his new biblical film The Book of Clarence starring Lakeith Stanfield. On "I Want You Forever," D'Angelo holds court with a hypnotic, repetitive hook before ceding the mic to Hov for the song's lone, pleading verse. 

Lil Nas X — "J CHRIST"

Nearly three years after giving the devil a lap dance in the hellish music video for his No. 1 hit "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)," Lil Nas X is flipping the script and ascending to heaven on his new single "J CHRIST." Well, not for too long — turns out a giant stripper pole connects the celestial realm with the fires of purgatory, and Lil Nas X is equally at home in each.

The track's high-concept, cinematic music video has it all: angelic doppelgängers of everyone from Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey and Oprah to Michael Jackson and Barack Obama; Lil Nas cooking up a cauldron filled with human limbs; and yes, even the rapper pinned to a cross in a visual sure to enrage the critics who were already up in arms before the track was even released. But by song's end, as Lil Nas X takes on the role of Noah emerging from a worldwide flood, the GRAMMY winner makes clear the hip-hop banger isn't just religious cosplay — it's a new beginning.

Sheryl Crow — "Evolution"

Sheryl Crow is uncharacteristically on edge on "Evolution," the lead single and title track of her forthcoming 11th studio album. The queen of bright singer/songwriter jams like "All I Wanna Do" and "Soak Up the Sun" (and newly inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Famer) takes aim at the encroaching threat of artificial intelligence to the music industry and creativity at large on the spacey track. 

To top it all off, she even recruited Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine to concoct a supercharged guitar solo that ratchets the uneasiness up to 11 as Crow warns, "Where are we headed in this paradise?/ We are passengers and there's no one at the wheel."

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Stephen Sondheim in 1997
Stephen Sondheim at the Fairchild Theater in East Lansing, Michigan, in February 1997.

Photo: Douglas Elbinger/Getty Images

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Songbook: A Guide To Stephen Sondheim's Essential Works & Classic Tributes

With his name appearing in three categories at the 2024 GRAMMYs, musical theater icon Stephen Sondheim's legacy continues to thrive. Take a deep dive into the masterful works of the late composer/lyricist, from "Company" to "Sweeney Todd."

GRAMMYs/Jan 11, 2024 - 05:41 pm

Stephen Sondheim had three rules when speaking about his own writing: Less is more,  God is in the details, and content dictates form. While the first two are rather self-explanatory, when it comes to a career as storied as Sondheim's, the third begs the question, how can you possibly describe this content?

Over his lifetime, Sondheim — who lived to be 91 years old, dying of cardiovascular disease in 2021 — was first and foremost a composer and lyricist of the musical theater. He wrote music and lyrics for 16 shows, counting the posthumously produced "Here We Are," and lyrics solely for three (or four, depending on how you count) more, two of which — "West Side Story" and "Gypsy" — are among the most famous and highly-regarded productions of all time. 

Even two years since his passing, his influence is still being honored. At the 2024 GRAMMYs, Sondheim's likeness appears twice in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category: for Vol. 3 of the popular Broadway concert series, Sondheim Unplugged (The NYC Sessions), and for Liz Callaway's tribute project, To Steve With Love: Liz Callaway Celebrates Sondheim. What's more, the 2023 Josh Groban-starring Broadway revival of Sondheim's famed musical "Sweeney Todd" earned a nod for Best Musical Theater Album. ("Sweeney Todd" won Sondheim a GRAMMY in 1980 for Best Cast Show Album, one of seven GRAMMYs he won in his lifetime.)

All of that barely begins to describe his accomplishments. Sondheim, a protégé of lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, revolutionized the art form that his mentor helped to invent. Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers created "Oklahoma!," considered one of the first examples of the "integrated musical," a show where the music, the lyrics, the book, and the dances all work together to tell a story. Sondheim would take those lessons to heart, simultaneously expanding and blowing apart the structure. 

Take his 1970 show "Company," for example, which has no real plot at all, and is often referred to as a "concept musical." It's a series of vignettes, and it's unclear whether they happen consecutively or are months or years apart. 

That was only the beginning of his experimentation. He did a show featuring ghosts ("Follies"), a show about cannibalism ("Sweeney Todd"), a show about geopolitics ("Pacific Overtures"), a show about historical pariahs ("Assassins"), even a show where time goes backwards ("Merrily We Roll Along"). But no matter how far out he got, there was always coherence and heart at play. Everything about the songs his characters sang — the harmonic language, the musical style, the delivery, the melody, the vocabulary, the rhyme choices — was determined by the character and the story. 

And what wonderful characters and stories they were. While his shows appeal to all ages, Sondheim's best work is mostly for adults. His characters have known disappointment, love unattainable people, are not where they saw themselves in life, and have hard choices to make in complicated situations. Sometimes they make the challenging but necessary decision to "Move On"...and sometimes they kill a President. To take those complexities and make them sing, well, that's the root of his genius.

Because Sondheim wrote both music and lyrics (and lived to his nineties), there are a nearly infinite amount of ways to experience his work. The best, of course, is to go out and see a show in person. Three of his shows are playing in New York right now ("Sweeney Todd," "Merrily We Roll Along," and "Here We Are"), and "Company" is currently on tour.

Aside from live theater, there are countless other ways to delve into the work of musical theater's Shakespeare. Below, Sondheim's career is broken down by seven categories, each of which include a mix of canonical classics and personal favorites. This is in no way comprehensive or definitive, so apologies for missing your favorite Gypsy revival cast album or Sondheim birthday concert. And away we go!

Cabaret Albums

Hearing Sondheim songs without the context of a show can be surprising at first. After all, everything about the material is meant for a particular moment in a specific story. And yet, hearing one singer interpret a range of numbers can be a revelatory experience. You can find different meanings (and in at least one case we'll examine shortly, different lyrics!), and hear new interpretations. 

The most famous interpreter of Sondheim is arguably Barbra Streisand, who recorded eight of his songs on her massively successful LP The Broadway Album (and three more on Back To Broadway). Her singing is (unsurprisingly) stunning, but what's most notable is that she actually got Sondheim to write new material — to rework "Putting It Together" to make it about a singer instead of a painter, and to write a new bridge for "Send In The Clowns." 

English singer and actress Cleo Laine released Cleo Sings Sondheim in 1988, and she smartly got Sondheim's longtime orchestrator Jonathan Tunick to conduct. So you can not only hear songs Tunick orchestrated in their original stage productions, you can also hear his arrangements of songs from before he and Sondheim started working together in 1970. Curious what a Tunick-orchestrated "Anyone Can Whistle" or "Evening Primrose" might have sounded like? You can get a taste here.

Several actors who have been in Sondheim shows have further honored his greatness by interpreting his material. Three quick examples: Bernadette Peters' superb Sondheim, Etc.: Live At Carnegie Hall; Mandy Patinkin's Mandy Patinkin Sings Sondheim; and Liz Callaway's GRAMMY-nominated To Steve With Love (which includes a great version of a nearly-forgotten comic song from "Do I Hear A Waltz?"). Patinkin's deserves special note because his only accompanist is the living musical theater jukebox pianist Paul Ford.

Books

The gold standard for books on Sondheim are the ones he wrote himself: the two-volume memoir/book of lyrics Finishing the Hat and Look, I Made a Hat. But if you're not ready for that investment yet, there are other alternatives. 

Meryle Seacrest's Stephen Sondheim: A Life is a comprehensive and extremely readable single-volume biography. It manages to reveal some aspects of Sondheim's life without feeling exploitative, and gives tremendous insight into both his work and the personal and professional relationships that informed it.

There are also a number of excellent books about the process of making individual shows; the two best come from opposite ends of the production spectrum. James Lapine, the book writer and original director of "Sunday In the Park With George," created an oral history of the making of that show called Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim And I Created Sunday In The Park With George. All the way on the other side of the power structure, Ted Chapin, a gofer during the rehearsal process for Follies, turned his detailed journal entries into Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical Follies

On the more scholarly end, check out Joanne Gordon's Art Isn't Easy: The Achievement of Stephen Sondheim. If you really want to go all the way down the rabbit hole (and have a piano handy to play the musical examples), there's Stephen Banfield's extremely thorough Sondheim's Broadway Musicals.

Movies

Turning a stage musical into a movie can be a tricky business; some of the greatest shows have been turned into middling films. The less said about the movie versions of "Sweeney Todd" or "Into the Woods," the better (though it should be noted, in its defense, that Sondheim himself actually liked the former). The movie version of "A Little Night Music" is so forgotten that it's basically impossible to find.

But there are some marvelous Sondheim-related films. Most famous, of course, is West Side Story, the 1961 movie of which was so popular — and acclaimed, winning a whopping 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, in 1962 — that it turned a successful but risky Broadway show into an immortal classic. It also inspired several remakes: not just the Oscar-nominated, Spielberg-directed one from 2021, but even a late-'70s Egyptian adaptation. The 1990 movie Dick Tracy contained five Sondheim songs, three of which were sung by Madonna, successfully introducing countless '80s babies to his work.

The Last of Sheila contains no music, so it's a bit of an oddity here. But Sondheim turned his lifelong obsession with games and puzzles into a fun murder mystery movie, co-written with Anthony Perkins. When you watch this 1973 gem, you might recognize some themes and ideas that would later show up in the Knives Out series, in particular Glass Onion (director/writer Rian Johnson has been very open about this).

Speaking of Perkins, he is the star of one of Sondheim's great filmed musicals, the disturbing "Evening Primrose." He plays a young poet who sneaks into a department store after hours so that he can have some privacy to write. What he discovers there is funny, heartbreaking, and ultimately horrifying. Think The Twilight Zone with songs written by a genius. 

Finally, no mention of Sondheim and movies would be complete without D.A. Pennebaker's 1970 documentary Original Cast Album: "Company." It is, at root, Pennebaker and crew filming the recording of "Company"'s cast album. But it's so much more than that. It's about how, as Sondheim once said, "Art isn't easy," and how the actors and musicians are trying — under several very watchful sets of eyes, including the composer/lyricist's — to do the near-impossible in a very limited time. The film has become so iconic that the satirical series Documentary Now! did a hysterical 25-minute-long parody, complete with original songs that are loving send-ups of "Company" numbers.

Tributes/Anthologies

This category combines two similar types of projects. First is the tribute concert, where a bunch of notable singers come together on a single night and each do one or a few songs. Then there are anthologies, where a small group of performers put together a show using songs originally meant for other purposes. Sometimes they have plots, and sometimes they're revues. 

Among the best of the latter category is "Side by Side by Sondheim," the 1976 revue in which three English singers strung together an extremely well-chosen and well-sequenced collection of songs. This was the show that really cemented Sondheim's reputation in England, and justly so. 

In the big one-night-only category, 1992's Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall is right up there at the top of the list. The array of talent at that one show is simply unbelievable, and will never be duplicated. Sondheim regulars like Betty Buckley and Bernadette Peters were there, but so were Liza Minelli and Billy Stritch; Patti LuPone; ballet legend Robert LaFosse; Glenn Close; Karen Ziemba; and even the Boys Choir of Harlem, all roped in to perform some of the finest songs in the musical theater canon.

Sondheim's 90th birthday celebration is also noteworthy. Because it was in the early days of the pandemic, it was all done remotely. The actual live broadcast was a bit of a mess, with false starts and tech snafus (hey, who knew how to work Zoom in April 2020?). Luckily, Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration has been edited down and archived on Broadway.com's YouTube page, and is well worth your time.

Revivals/Concert Productions

Another convenient bridging of categories here. Revivals are versions of shows done after the original production has stopped running. Concert productions are exactly that: people perform all the songs, with minimal (or sometimes no) staging or costumes. The amount of dialogue performed can vary wildly as well. 

Among concert productions, the 1985 New York Philharmonic concert cast recording of "Follies" is justly the most well-known. This is in part because, due to budget restrictions, the original cast recording of "Follies" doesn't contain most of the show's music. So to finally have a full recording of all the material — performed by a who's who of actors including Mandy Patinkin, Barbara Cook, Lee Remick, George Hearn, Elaine Stritch, Jim Walton, and even the legendary writing team of Comden and Green — well, it's as magnificent as it sounds. There's even a documentary to go along with it. 

Another of the top concert recordings arrived a decade later: the 1995 concert version of "Anyone Can Whistle." Angela Lansbury, who starred in the original Broadway production for all of the nine performances it lasted, comes back as the narrator. Bernadette Peters and Madeline Kahn are absolutely incredible, and have an all-time-great duet in the usually cut song "There's Always a Woman," gloriously restored for this production. If you really want to get deep into "…Whistle" (a flop at the time, but a fascinating show), there's also a complete recording released in 2020 that is the closest thing to what you might have experienced in the theater in 1964 — it even restores all the dance music.

Revivals…well, where to start? A good place would be one you can see right now, "Merrily We Roll Along." There is a superb cast recording of the production currently playing on Broadway with Jonathan Groff, Lindsay Mendez, and Daniel Radcliffe

There have been a handful of major reimaginings of "Company" over the years. The best were a stripped-down version where the cast plays its own instruments, and a gender-swapped one where inveterate bachelor Bobby is portrayed as perpetually single woman Bobbie. 

Points also go to the 2004 Broadway cast recording of "Assassins," and not just because Neil Patrick Harris does such a great job. The whole album captures the project's challenging beauty.

Original Cast Recordings

An original cast album of a Sondheim show will reveal countless treasures if you dig into it. It is often the best way to hear a show, since the actors are the ones who originated the roles, whether it's Ethel Merman as the obsessed stage mother Mama Rose in "Gypsy" or Donna Murphy as the tortured Fosca in "Passion." 

The 1970s have a surfeit of treasures. To take a few not yet mentioned, there's "Sweeney Todd," with timeless performances by Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou; and "A Little Night Music," perhaps Sondheim's ultimate example of writing music for character. It's nearly impossible to hear the show's two main female characters as anyone else but the late Glynis Johns as the actress Desiree Armfeldt and Hermione Gingold as her mother.

If you haven't already heard the original cast recordings of "Gypsy" and "West Side Story," do so immediately. Both are iconic pieces of 20th century art. (Music for the former is by Jule Styne, and for the latter by Leonard Bernstein).

Proshots

Luckily, productions — many featuring the original casts — of many of Sondheim's shows have been captured on tape, so you can see and hear them in their entirety. They are often referred to as "proshots," a portmanteau of "professionally shot." 

"Pacific Overtures" works well as an album, but it really comes alive when you can see the gorgeous staging. "Sweeney Todd" gains extra comedy and menace in its proshot. There's a New York City Opera version of "A Little Night Music" that is masterful. You can't really understand "Passion" without seeing Donna Murphy. "Merrily We Roll Along"'s complicated story becomes comprehensible when viewing the filmed revival.

But the most unmissable are two of the 1980s productions. There's "Sunday In the Park With George," a classic meditation on the life of the artist Georges Seurat starring Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters; it was filmed for TV in 1986. Because this is a show largely about a painter and the creation of his most famous painting, actually seeing the show — literally seeing the painting come to life — is essential.

Arguably the most important of all, though, is the filmed play that introduced generations of children to Sondheim's work. His fairy tale show "Into the Woods" was taped in 1989 (though not aired until 1991), and its frequent TV showings have made it a gateway drug for theatergoers ever since. 

The show is not just a collection of children's tales and songs. It uses the background of those stories to really delve into uncomfortable truths about parents and children, growing up, consequences, and what it really means to be good. Its themes, music, and sophistication, all while still being absolutely appropriate for, and speaking to, children, make it, as scholar Stephen Banfield wrote in 1993, "Sondheim's finest achievement yet."

That "yet" is a lot sadder now than it was when Banfield wrote it. But the show still stands as the epitome of a legendary writer and genius composer — one whose legacy and songs are already proving to live on past his lifetime. 

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