meta-scriptTOMORROW X TOGETHER On How Their New 'minisode1 : Blue Hour' EP Marks The Beginning Of A New Era | GRAMMY.com
TOMORROW X TOGETHER

TOMORROW X TOGETHER

Photo Courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment

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TOMORROW X TOGETHER On How Their New 'minisode1 : Blue Hour' EP Marks The Beginning Of A New Era

GRAMMY.com caught up with TXT to discuss how they've "changed and grown" on their new EP and what it means to them to be one of the leading K-pop acts of the next generation

GRAMMYs/Oct 26, 2020 - 06:38 pm

If there's any music act that can capture the multifaceted nature of youth, it's TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT). From the minds of Big Hit Entertainment, the parent company behind the international breakout success of BTS, TXT emerged last year as the first group to debut under the company since 2013. With such large shoes to fill, TXT have refreshingly forged a path distinctly their own, finding a unique voice along the way. 

The five-piece K-pop group, composed of members SOOBIN, YEONJUN, BEOMGYU, TAEHYUN and HUENINGKAI, has since emerged as one of the biggest and most promising acts in K-pop—all in less than two years. They've won several accolades in Korea and abroad, topped the iTunes World Albums chart in 50 regions, received nominations for Best K-Pop act at the 2019 and 2020 MTV Video Music Awards, featured on the July 2020 cover of Teen Vogue and clutched the Radio Disney 2020 Song of the Summer title for their single, "Can't You See Me?" 

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TXT debuted last year with The Dream Chapter series: The Dream Chapter: STAR, their debut EP, in March 2019; The Dream Chapter: Magic, their debut album, in October 2019; and the concluding The Dream Chapter: Eternity EP this past May. 

Their new five-track EP, minisode1 : Blue Hour, released today (Oct. 26), is the beginning of a new era for the group. A fitting next chapter, the EP dips into various genres new to TXT, including disco, dancehall, nu gaze, future R&B and pop-rock, while telling a story about boys who are forced to stand at the brink of the real world during the blue hour. 

Throughout Blue Hour, a sort of pitstop on their next journey, TXT expertly address the conflicts of reality and reflect on the current need for a pause in real life. The EP's title track, "Blue Hour," follows the footsteps of BTS' chart-topping disco hit, "Dynamite," colored with TXT's unique spin. The EP also includes the COVID-19 themed "We Lost The Summer," which has the creative touch of Charli XCX. The TXT boys also wrote lyrics for some of the songs on the EP, including "Ghosting" and "Wishlist," proving their artistic growth and telling an authentic story for teens facing the pandemic. The EP's last song, "Way Home," is a future R&B track showcasing the vocal ability of the group while emphasizing a need for companionship. 

GRAMMY.com caught up with TOMORROW X TOGETHER to discuss their new minisode1 : Blue Hour EP, how they created meaningful art despite the pandemic and what it means to them to be one of the leading K-pop acts of the next generation.

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You guys are a youth-oriented group. As Gen Z artists, how do you aim to connect with audiences in a meaningful way?

HUENINGKAI: We've always actively tried to incorporate the thoughts and emotions that youth have into our music and lyrics. For example, our track "We Lost The Summer," from our newest EP, is about the loss of our daily and routine lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Way Home" is about a boy's walk back home after school; the path feels off and even a little lonely in comparison to before, but he believes that as long as we remember one another, we will always be together no matter what. "Wishlist" is also quite relatable. It's about trying to figure out what gift to give to someone—someone very special. It can be a struggle if they don't let you know what it is they want. In such ways, we try to include a wide range of emotions and topics that are relevant for youths today, and we also try to stay connected with our fans by communicating these messages.

Blue Hour is the beginning of a new era now that you've closed off The Dream Chapter series, presenting the opportunity for new storylines and themes. What will stay consistent about TXT and what will change? What can we expect from this new era with Blue Hour?

SOOBIN: minisode1 : Blue Hour is our pitstop as we prepare to move onto our next series. It's about the feeling of unfamiliarity that can sometimes hit us all when our relationships with our friends undergo a change. What we've really tried to do through this EP was to deliver a story that only we can tell. It's our take on the experiences of unforeseen circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have tried to tell it through our own sound and fresh energy.

BEOMGYU: You'll be able to see how much we've changed and grown as TOMORROW X TOGETHER by taking a look at the EP as a whole, but our choreography in particular. Our choreography used to be group-centric the majority of the time, but our newest performance actually includes solo dance sections for each member. We also had chances to work with dancers this time round, so it's all very new, refreshing and different. This EP dives into many genres and shows new and different sides of ourselves. I hope our fans, MOA, will like it!

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The members actively wrote lyrics on this release, which was created during the pandemic. What were your thoughts and hopes while creating this album under such unique circumstances? How was your process different?

HUENINGKAI: We tried to reflect the sentiments of the current times in this album. Our goal was to make music that was relevant and relatable for many. For example, "We Lost The Summer" is about teenagers who are experiencing a completely changed world due to the pandemic. Everyone has lost the old norms of their lives, and as we were wondering how we could represent such a circumstance, our producer, Bang Si-Hyuk, was actually the one who came up with the idea from "Arcade" by Han's Band, a song that pictures Korea's financial crisis in the late 90s from a young [person's] perspective.

YEONJUN: We've been participating with the album's creatives by writing lyrics from the beginning of this EP's cycle. Not every idea was adopted, but the process allowed us to key in more ideas and lyrics for the accompanying tracks. We all put in a lot of effort; I worked on the pop-rock track, "Wishlist," with HUENINGKAI and TAEHYUN.

TAEHYUN: I worked on "Wishlist" and also "Ghosting" with SOOBIN. The lyrics for "Ghosting" reflect the disoriented emotional state of a boy who has been detached and cut off from the world. I think that the experience of working on this track has made me feel more hunger for future song- and lyric-writing opportunities.

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I noticed the lead single, "Blue Hour," is a disco-oriented track, and your labelmates BTS also released a successful disco-themed song, "Dynamite." What is the attraction to disco for TXT? Why do you think it is a fitting soundtrack for right now?

SOOBIN: Disco/retro is a universal trend right now, not just in music but in culture as a whole. The disco we interpreted through "Blue Hour" is very boyish and also refreshing, which makes it perfect for this album. We also think it'll be very easy to enjoy and relate to for a lot of people. 2020 is a different year for everyone. We think it's a time for bright and energetic music, and "Blue Hour" is hopefully the dose of joy and vigor we all need.

Read: SuperM Talk 'Super One' & Finding Unity In The Covid Era

The EP features five songs that include diverse genres such as dancehall, future R&B and pop-rock. Do you each have a favorite song on the EP? Which songs are you most excited to perform?

YEONJUN: "We Lost The Summer"!

SOOBIN: I would have to say our lead single, "Blue Hour."

BEOMGYU: My favorite is "Ghosting," but I am especially excited to perform "Blue Hour" because we get to utilize props and costumes, and we'll be working with many dancers.

TAEHYUN: We've worked on "Blue Hour" for a long time, so I am very attached to it. I can't wait!

HUENINGKAI: I've never tried disco before, so my choice is "Blue Hour." I am super excited to perform this song in particular because there are so many standout dance moves.

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What genres are you interested in trying in the future?

YEONJUN: I'd like to work on more future R&B as well as rap and hip-hop.

SOOBIN: I want to try a cappella.

BEOMGYU: I think it'd be amazing to do some acoustic tracks.

TAEHYUN: I would say soul.

HUENINGKAI: Piano rock! I think it would be really cool to play the piano at a concert someday. 

Read: BLACKPINK Talk 'The Album': "The Spotlight Shed On K-Pop Is Just The Beginning"

The visual elements of your music have always stood out, and this time we're seeing bright colors and homestyle photoshoots. What is the inspiration behind the styling for this comeback?

BEOMGYU: The goal for the visual aspects of this album was to reflect the development of the online space as our hub of communication and togetherness while physically being home. It's become much more natural now to meet people and spend time with one another online; it's a change in our culture and the definition of the "space" we share with our friends. The visual elements are intended to represent the happiness and joy that we can still feel when connected with one another through online and virtual spaces. The bright and vivid colors represent our personal spaces.

What do you hope fans gain from listening to this new album?

YEONJUN: Through our album, we wish to share with our fans hope and positive energy.

SOOBIN: Nothing but joy and happiness.

BEOMGYU: Above all, I want our fans to know that regardless of any distance that sets us apart, we are all connected heart-to-heart. I also hope that they'll be able to watch us and gain some energy.

TAEHYUN: It's about the times, so I hope they'll be able to listen to it and relate based on their own personal experiences. As for the title track, it's disco, so I hope they'll enjoy it.

HUENINGKAI: Everyone's going through a rough time, so I hope we can cheer up and uplift altogether. It's what I want most.

TOMORROW X TOGETHER | Photo Courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment

As a leading fourth-gen K-pop group in a world that is increasingly paying more attention to the genre, how do you think you stand out from others in the industry?

YEONJUN: We're always working very hard to show our best in every aspect. I think that our forte is that we work with a diverse range of genres and try to put on a perfect performance for each and every one. We also aim to show progress as artists with every project.

Dreams and youthful elements are fitting for right now as everyone would rather be in a dreamlike state. You guys have consistently incorporated these elements into your music and message. Why do you find these themes important for your music? 

YEONJUN: We are Gen Z artists, so we wanted to deal with emotions that our peers experience. "Dreams" and "youth" are key elements. Our Dream Chapter series dealt with stories of meeting friends for the first time, getting up to a bit of mischief together, as well as meeting conflicts with reality that tries to wedge apart our friendships. These stories are one continuous narrative of growth and change, which I hope has been and will continue to be relatable and comforting for fans and further audiences. It's what we strive for as artists: to grow and to be able to console and empathize.

TAEHYUN: We've always told our story in our albums. We've addressed concepts of dreams and youth in our albums because they're very important values and moments for anyone, including ourselves. We've told stories of being excited and making friends, dabbling together in a bit of teenage deviance and encountering a bit of discord within our friendships; thankfully, many people have let us know that they have had or were now undergoing similar situations. I think we've shown a lot of growth through our Dream Chapter series, and we really endeavor to grow further into artists who can provide understanding and consolation through music. Therefore, it was important for us to talk about the values that matter to us in our music. For us, that was dreams and youth.

Read: BTS Talk New Album 'Map Of The Soul: 7': "The Genre Is BTS"

How have you guys been coping with not being able to tour or promote like usual? What have you been doing to make life better?

BEOMGYU: We've been putting our all into rehearsals for this EP because we really want to deliver quality music and performances to our fans. We've also tried our best to consistently stay in touch with our fans through Weverse and Twitter.

TAEHYUN: We participated in various performance opportunities such as KCON. They were all very memorable moments.

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You guys debuted in 2019 and have since experienced success both in Korea and abroad. How have you grown as a group since your debut and how has your dynamic changed? What has been the most surprising thing about your journey so far? 

YEONJUN: I think I'm more relaxed and at ease on stage. I also like to think that I've matured a little in the way I think and carry myself.

SOOBIN: I can feel and recognize my own growth and can clearly see that our members are growing as well. It makes me proud.

BEOMGYU: I reckon the most surprising and amazing thing is that we have our fans, MOA: people who encourage and support us whenever, wherever.

TAEHYUN: The fact that we can share our music with and be loved by so many people in the world is something I'm still very thankful for and surprised at.

HUENINGKAI: Our lovely MOA have been so consistent with their love and support to us. I'm extremely grateful.

Read: K-Pop Superstar Baekhyun On His Sweet Solo Single "Candy" & Delightful Second Mini Album

What are your goals, both personally and professionally, for the future?

YEONJUN: Personally, I'd like to be able to share a mixtape or single that I've created from start to back. Professionally, I can't wait until the day we'll be able to host our own concert.

SOOBIN: I want to be someone whom my fans will be able to love and appreciate. As a person, I want to mature into a good adult.

BEOMGYU: I want to keep putting in my best efforts as I do now. I want to become an artist who can be a source of strength for somebody.

TAEHYUN: No matter how long it takes, I want TOMORROW X TOGETHER to become a great team that can mark down its name in K-pop history. Personally, I want to stay healthy and happy.

HUENINGKAI: Like YEONJUN, I'm also really eager for our first solo concert. In the future, I want to be able to go on a world tour and meet our MOA all over the world face-to-face.

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Backstreet Boys at the 1999 GRAMMYs
Backstreet Boys at the 1999 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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25 Years Of Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way": 10 Covers By Ed Sheeran, Lil Uzi Vert & More

To commemorate the anniversary of Backstreet Boys' biggest hit, take a look at 10 clever ways it's been covered and sampled — from Ed Sheeran's karaoke bit to a Weird Al special.

GRAMMYs/Apr 12, 2024 - 03:38 pm

When the Backstreet Boys released "I Want It That Way" on April 12, 1999, they likely had no idea how beloved their smash hit would still be a quarter-century later.

Written by the Swedish powerhouse team of Andreas Carlsson and Max Martin, "I Want It That Way" is undoubtedly BSB's signature hit, particularly thanks to its memorable undulating melody and its long-debated cryptic meaning. But perhaps the most surprising part of the song's legacy is how it has resonated across genres — from a TikTok cover by Korn to a hip-hop sampling by Lil Uzi Vert.

As the Backstreet Boys celebrate the 25th anniversary of "I Want It That Way," take a look at how the song has been diversely covered, lovingly lampooned and karaoke jammed by an array of voices in the business.

Weird Al Yankovic (2003)

When the king of parody songs selects one to skewer, you know it's an iconic song. Weird Al Yankovic paid tribute to the largeness of the Backstreet Boys classic when he used "I Want It That Way" as the basis of a song called "eBay" in 2003.

Yankovic's chorus replaces the original's with, "A used pink bathrobe/ A rare mint snow globe/ A Smurf TV tray/ I bought on eBay." The Backstreet Boys send up appears on Yankovic's album Poodle Hat, which won Best Comedy Album at the 2004 GRAMMYs.

One Direction (2013)

Three years One Direction formed on "The X Factor," the five lads — Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson — included a cover of "I Want It That Way" on their 2013 concert set lists, the young boy band paying homage to the ones that came before them. Though their English accents poked through at times, their version was loyal to the original, and got their crowds singing along.

"Glee" (2013)

Poking fun at the presumed rivalry between *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys, a medley of the former's "Bye Bye Bye" and "I Want It That Way" was featured in Season 4, Episode 16 of "Glee." In the episode — aptly titled "Feud" — choir director Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) and glee club heartthrob Finn (Cory Monteith) face off in an epic boy band battle, which ultimately proved the groups' respective music was more cohesive than divisive.

Brittany Howard and Jim James (2016)

The lead singers of Alabama Shakes and My Morning Jacket covering a boy band classic. It doesn't sound real, but Brittany Howard and Jim James did just that in 2016 when they recorded "I Want It That Way" for an animated short cartoon called "A Love Story."

Released by the fast food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill, the clip was part of a creative campaign to showcase the company's focus on natural ingredients. Howard and James highlight the poignancy and versatility of the song by adding lush string arrangements and dramatic beats.

Backstreet Boys x Jimmy Fallon and The Roots (2018)

The 2018 live performance of "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots for "The Tonight Show" is arguably the sweetest rendition of the song — and not just because they're using a mini xylophone, baby tambourine and other toy classroom instruments. It's even more endearing than the previous collaborations between Fallon and Backstreet Boys: a barbershop singing version of Sisqo's "Thong Song" and a "Bawkstreet Boys" version of "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)," with everyone dressed like fluffy birds.

The 1975 (2020)

British rockers The 1975 performed a fairly faithful cover of "I Want It That Way," hitting all the high notes at several of their 2023 world concert tour stops. But it's not the first time frontman Matty Healy has hinted at the Backstreet Boys' influence on his band: he told Pitchfork in 2020 that "College Dropout-era Kanye West meets Backstreet Boys" was part of their veritable moodboard at the time when working on their own song called "Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)."

Lil Uzi Vert (2020)

In 2020, Lil Uzi Vert released a rap song called "That Way" that includes a refrain of "I want it that way" sung to the tune of the Backstreet original, but with an AutoTune twist. From there, the lyrics become quite a bit naughtier than anything the BSB guys have uttered in any song.

"I don't know how [the idea of] Backstreet Boys got involved in this song, I really don't," the song's producer Supah Mario told Splice at the time. "I think it was all Uzi. But it was a game changer."

The interpolation was so good, in fact, that Nick Carter even invited Lil Uzi Vert to collaborate: "Now you're gonna have to be featured on our next album bud," he tweeted upon the song's release.

Korn (2022)

Fans of Korn know that the nu metal band has a sense of humor, but few could've expected that Jonathan Davis and crew would post a TikTok of themselves singing "I Want It That Way" in 2022.

"I never wanna hear you say… 'Worst Is On Its Way,'" reads the caption on the post, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Korn's 2022 song of the same name.

Backstreet Boys responded on the app via a hilarious Duet video with Nick Carter. In the video, Carter — who sports fabulous metal eye makeup and a long silver wig — doesn't actually say or sing anything, he just drops his jaw in amazement.

Backstreet Boys x Downy (2022)

Downy hired the Backstreet Boys to poke fun at "I Want It That Way" with the now-viral "Tell Me Why" commercial in 2022. All five members — Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean and Kevin Richardson — appear as a Backstreet Boys poster on the wall that comes to life, using the "tell me why" hook of their hit to engage a woman doing laundry in a conversation about washing her clothes.

As Saatchi group account director Jen Brotman told Muse at the time, the nostalgic ad also spawned some memories for the folks working on the ad campaign.

"The moment [BSB] stood in front of the camera, they rehearsed 'I Want It That Way' just to get the notes right, and we felt like we were getting serenaded on set," Brotman recalled. "We couldn't believe how emotional we all got — there may or may not have been tears in some eyes. The song has always been a karaoke favorite of the team, so we knew which 'tell me whys' we wanted them to hit, and we still can't get it out of our heads."

Ed Sheeran (2023)

When he fancies singing a bit of karaoke, Ed Sheeran loves leaning on "I Want It That Way," as the star showed at his favorite Nashville bar in July 2023. A patron caught him on camera and his happiness level is undeniable when belting out this enduring pop classic.

As Sheeran told CBS News a few months later, he grew up on the pop hits of everyone from Backstreet Boys to Britney Spears. But what he said about "I Want It That Way" specifically may be the best way to describe its long-lasting impact: "You can't be in a bar, a couple of beers in, and 'I Want It That Way' comes on and not be like, 'This is a good song.' You can't."

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Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift performs during "The Eras Tour"

Photo: Ashok Kumar/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

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Get Ready For Taylor Swift's ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Album Release: Everything You Need To Know

As we count down to Taylor Swift's 11th studio album release on April 19, feast on all the morsels GRAMMY.com has gathered about the Queen of Pop's upcoming "tortured poet" era.

GRAMMYs/Apr 12, 2024 - 03:19 pm

The dawn of Taylor Swift's "tortured poet" era is upon us. The reigning Queen of Pop is set to release her highly anticipated 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department, on Friday, April 19. 

Ever since she announced the new album during the 2024 GRAMMYs — while accepting her lucky 13th GRAMMY Award for Best Pop Vocal Album for Midnights —- Swifties have been meticulously analyzing every detail of her existence for clues about the release of The Tortured Poets Department.

Fortunately, Swift has been serving a lot of information to snack on. After revealing the cover art in an Instagram post before accepting her record breaking fourth win for Album Of The Year, she didn't stop the feast. From the full track list to a five-stage breakup playlist — and, of course, all the bonus tracks and special editions — here's all the breadcrumbs GRAMMY.com collected in preparation for The Tortured Poets Department

All The Art Is Black And White

The cover art for The Tortured Poets Department displays a black-and-white inset photo of Swift in repose on a stack of white pillows, with the album's title in uppercase white letters above her. The photography accompanying the album, including back covers and special editions, captures Swift in reflective solitude: standing before a body of water wearing an oversized white button-up, and in a pensive self-embrace against a stark black backdrop.

The photography for the album was shot by Swift's photographer since 2020, Beth Garrabrant, who also shot the covers of Swift's folklore, evermore, Fearless (Taylor's Version), Red (Taylor's Version), Midnights, Speak Now (Taylor's Version), 1989 (Taylor's Version). She's known for using a medium-format film photography that evokes an emotional closeness to her subjects — especially fitting for an album titled The Tortured Poets Department.

The Album Features Two Notable Collaborations

On GRAMMY night, alongside the album announcement, Swift posted the complete track list on her Instagram. The post included a photo of the album's back cover, showing a close-up of Swift with her hand on her forehead, overlaid with the text "I love you, it's ruining my life" in all-caps. 

The 16-track release has been split into four sides and also features collaborations with Post Malone on Side A opener "Fortnight" as well as Florence + The Machine on Side B's "Florida!!!" 

Check out the full track list:

**Side A**
“Fortnight” (feat. Post Malone)
“The Tortured Poets Department”
“My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys”
“Down Bad”

**Side B**
“So Long, London”
“But Daddy I Love Him”
“Fresh Out the Slammer”
“Florida!!!” (feat. Florence + the Machine)

**Side C**
“Guilty As Sin?”
“Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?”
“I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)”
“loml”

**Side D**
“I Can Do It With a Broken Heart”
“The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived”
“The Alchemy”
“Clara Bow”


Bonus Tracks:

“The Manuscript”

“The Black Dog”

"The Albatross"

The Album Title Hints At Another Ex 

Mere moments after Swift dropped The Tortured Poets Department album name, the internet was ablaze with viral speculation that the title is derived from a play on ex Joe Alwyn's group chat, "The Tortured Man Club" with Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott. 

Alwyn and Mescal revealed their "club name" during an interview with Variety in December 2022 and it didn't take long for fans to connect the dots. Upon unearthing the tie-in, Swifties rushed to share memes and comment on the original interview across various social channels.

There Are Three Bonus Tracks (So Far)

Swift has revealed at least three bonus tracks for different editions of the album, each marked with its own "file name." The initial track list release, referred to as "The Manuscript," includes a bonus track sharing this name.  

On Feb. 23, Swift posted a slideshow on Instagram to promote a special edition named "The Albatross." It featured the bonus tracks and revealed the back cover, which presented a track list alongside a contemplative close-up of Swift overlaid with the question, "Am I allowed to cry?" 

Then, on March 3, she introduced the bonus track “The Black Dog” through a similar post that showcased new cover art, with the album's reverse side portraying Swift and the haunting text, "Old habits die screaming." 

Lyrics Have Already Been Shared

Unlike her previous album campaigns, Swift hasn't unveiled any music ahead of The Tortured Poets Department’s release — but she has dropped plenty of hints at the subject matter to come. Handwritten lyrics first appeared in the album announcement post, in a stack of papers inside a folder tabbed with a monogram of the album's name.

"And so I enter into evidence/ My tarnished coat of arms/ My muses, acquired like bruises/ My talismans and charms/ The tick, tick, tick of love bombs/ My veins of pitch black ink," is written above the sign-off, "All's fair in love and poetry… Sincerely, The Chairman of The Tortured Poets Department."

Then, in an Instagram story posted on April 8 — the date of the total solar eclipse — Swift shared an image of a typewriter loaded with a sheet of paper stamped with the words, "Crowd goes wild at her fingertips/ Half moonshine, Full eclipse." 

Swift Created Five Playlists To Mirror The Stages Of A Breakup

Gearing up for the release, Swift dropped a 5-part playlist series on Apple Music on April 5 featuring previously released work arranged in playlists that reflect the five stages of grief. The playlist for "Denial: I Love You, It’s Ruining My Life Songs," features hits including Midnight's "Lavender Haze," and Lover's "Cruel Summer" and "False God." 

The other playlists run through the emotional gamut with titles like "Anger: You Don’t Get to Tell Me About Sad Songs," the midpoint "Bargaining: Am I Allowed to Cry? Songs," "Depression: Old Habits Die Screaming Songs," and finally "Acceptance: I Can Do It With a Broken Heart Songs." Each one takes listeners on a Taylor Swift escapade through love won and lost, representing what many believe to be a musical voyage through Swift's stages of grief following the end of her relationship with ex Joe Alwyn. 

Each playlist also includes a description from Swift. For "Denial," it says, "This is a list of songs about getting so caught up in the idea of something that you have a hard time seeing the red flags, possibly resulting in moments of denial and maybe a little bit of delusion. Results may vary.”

As April 19 nears closer, take a deep dive into everything Swift has unleashed so far — and get ready for a lot more divulging once The Tortured Poets Department arrives.

All Things Taylor Swift

Dua Lipa
Dua Lipa performs at the 2024 GRAMMYs

Photo: John Shearer/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Dua Lipa's New Song "Illusion" Is Here: Listen & Watch The Video

Dua Lipa's 'Radical Optimism' era is in full swing — and now, we have a new song, "Illusion," with an aquatic-themed video. Check out the new banger, and its aqueous video, below.

GRAMMYs/Apr 11, 2024 - 10:00 pm

Now that we've absorbed "Houdini" and "Training Season," it's time for a third scoop of pop goodness from Dua Lipa.

On April 11, the three-time GRAMMY winner released "Illusion," the third single from her hotly anticipated new album, Radical Optimism, due out May 3. The percolating, endlessly catchy track arrived with a video where Lipa dances on a pool deck in Barcelona, with swimmers and surfers joining the party — a playful homage to the shark-infested waters of the album's cover.

Lipa first kicked off her Radical Optimism era in November with "Houdini," which she performed alongside the debut of "Training Season" in a head-spinning show opener at the 2024 GRAMMYs. The album follows her GRAMMY-winning second LP, 2020's Future Nostalgia.

"[Releasing the album] feels good. It feels, for lack of a better word, radically optimistic," Lipa told Billboard in March, when she also explained the inspiration for the shark fin cover art. "Throughout the whole record, there's this idea of chaos happening around and me trying to push through it in a way that feels authentic and honest to me."

Now, adding "Illusion" to the mix, Lipa has made it very clear the only way she knows how to cope with chaos is to dance — and Radical Optimism will continue the party that Future Nostalgia ignited. 

Check out the video for "Illusion" above, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more news about Dua Lipa and Radical Optimism!

Everything We Know About Dua Lipa's New Album Radical Optimism

YOASOBI kneel in a pose for a portrait
YOASOBI

Photo: Kato Shumpei

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From Tokyo To Coachella: YOASOBI's Journey To Validate J-Pop And Vocaloid As Art Forms

YOASOBI, blending J-pop and Vocaloid with narrative-driven songs, is capturing a global audience through their performances at major festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza, marking a significant moment for Japanese music on the international stage.

GRAMMYs/Apr 9, 2024 - 04:37 pm

For decades, Japanese music has been one of the hardest to access as a foreigner. Even with the popularization of cultural exports like anime and the emergence of streaming platforms, it is still considered a niche, and fans often have to dig deep in order to find albums, translations, or any kind of content at all.

"There weren’t many opportunities for Japanese music to go out into the world until now," says YOASOBI’s producer and songwriter, Ayase, over a Sunday morning Zoom from Tokyo. "If we were to break into the mainstream, I think there’s a lot more work to do. Being a part of Coachella is one of them."

The duo, composed of Ayase, 30, and vocalist Ikura, 23, is gearing up for their first performance at the mighty Californian festival next weekend, plus two sold out headline shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In August, they are set to play at Lollapalooza in Chicago, IL. 

"Performing at festivals like Coachella was one of our goals when we put our live team together, so I believe that it will be a place for us to grow further,” says Ikura, who lived in Chicago as a kid and considers these opportunities a "full circle" moment.

Read more: 10 Must-See Artists At Coachella 2024: Skepta, The Last Dinner Party, Mdou Moctar, Cimafunk & More

Formed in 2019, YOASOBI found overnight success with their debut single "Yoru ni Kakeru," a bright-sounding but harrowing tale that topped Billboard’s Japan Hot 100 chart for six non-consecutive weeks. They continued to rise further, recording five EPs (three in Japanese, two in English), the opening theme to Netflix’s anime series "Beastars," 2021’s "Kaibutsu," and their magnum opus so far: "Idol."

Released in 2023, "Idol" became a massive hit, placing No.1 at Billboard's Japan Hot 100 chart for 22 weeks and counting — an all-time record break. It was also the nineteenth best-selling song of 2023 worldwide, according to the IFPI. With these accolades, it’s easy to understand why the duo is fully booked, but what makes their music so enticing to global audiences? 

Listening to YOASOBI is like entering a rabbit hole. First, you get hypnotized by the glistening synths, bursting like fireworks, and the rock riffs taking melodies to full-speed. Then, you discover their adage is "novel into music," and all songs are based on fictional stories written by various authors. There’s also the animated music videos, each with a different style, giving their sounds another layer for interpretation. And finally, there are Ayase’s and Ikura’s (under the name Lilas Ikuta) own solo careers — treasure troves ready to be unearthed.

"I don't know, to be honest," says Ayase when asked about their growing popularity. "I guess the fact that a lot of Japanese [exports] have been prevalent around the world had to do with it. But also, maybe it's because people are experiencing this combination of music with storytelling that is interesting to them." Ikura agrees, adding that YOASOBI allows fans to "enjoy this bigger world that we are part of in a more three-dimensional way."

The experience is similar to how they create their music: mining, collecting, mixing, and transforming different threads into a new fabric. From fictional stories, Ayase transmutes his feelings into beats on his laptop with Logic Pro, then inputs melodies and lyrics through Vocaloid softwares like Hatsune Miku. Ikura listens to the Vocaloid demos, and then adds her own feelings and flair into the interpretations. For English-language tracks, they work with translator Konnie Aoki, who is "very mindful of phonetic sounds," and Ikura listens to the Japanese versions up until it’s time to record, so that she can have "the right emotions set."

It’s such a natural process for them that Ayase is surprised to know that there are still people who don’t consider Vocaloid as "real" music. “Those people probably don’t know what music is,” he says with a laugh. “Do they think that instrumental music, where there's no human singing, isn’t real music? There’s really great Vocaloid music out there, and it’s basically [voices] created through synthesizing softwares. It's very different from AI, which is auto-generated music. Vocaloid is humans creating music using these softwares. That's the only difference from a human singing a song.”

To Ikura, who maintains her burgeoning solo career in tandem with YOASOBI’s busy schedule, Vocaloid allowed her to broaden her talents. "It is my first time singing songs that somebody else wrote, so it was an opportunity to challenge myself with things that I wouldn't necessarily write, or sing in a tone or voice that I wouldn't come up with myself." She says that these experiences influence her solo works all the time, in a "synergy" that allows her to "have more colors to work with in my palette."

"I started producing music through Vocaloids,” adds Ayase. “And it truly broadened my ideas and imagination when it comes to creating music. It allows creators to come up with melodies that a human singer may not come up with. It's a fascinating culture. The possibility I feel is infinite, and it really makes the impossible possible, in a way.”

Read more: It Goes To 11: How One Piece Of Technology Makes YOASOBI's Musical Vision Come To Life

Endless possibilities are also a big allure in AI technologies, but Ayase doesn’t see this as a threat. With the right boundaries, it’s just a tool — like Vocaloid, Logic Pro, and the internet — that can be used positively. "However, as a creator myself, I really hope that creative works come out of the imagination and ideas of the human mind. In that sense, [AI] may not be 100% a positive thing for us," he shares.

But that’s something for the future. Now, YOASOBI is focusing on their very real, very tangible events ahead. "Finally, we have this opportunity where people around the world are discovering our music. So, performing at festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, or doing our solo shows, I think it's important that we communicate with the audiences and maximize this opportunity as much as possible," says Ikura.

And it’s not just YOASOBI getting all the attention: according to data and research company Luminate, J-pop in general is on the rise. "I’m very proud, as a Japanese person, for that situation. For us, it’s really about taking it one step at a time," says Ayase. “Our ultimate wish is to have our music or reach as many people around the world as possible, and so we will continue to work hard every day."

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