meta-scriptMeet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Troye Sivan On "Rush," The Importance Of Dance-Pop & The Spirituality Of Partying | GRAMMY.com
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Troye Sivan

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Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Troye Sivan On "Rush," The Importance Of Dance-Pop & The Spirituality Of Partying

With two nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs, Troye Sivan's "Rush" is arguably the Australian pop star's magnum opus. But to Sivan, it's more than a smash hit — it's a creative and spiritual liberation.

GRAMMYs/Feb 1, 2024 - 04:11 pm

Troye Sivan didn't tell anyone about his alarm. But at 3 a.m. on Nov. 10, the pop star woke up to not just his alarm, but to dozens of notifications — he woke up a GRAMMY nominee.

"Normally with accolades, it doesn't actually make you feel any different. But this did," Sivan tells GRAMMY.com. "I was sort of floating for a few days and still kind of am… it's something that I've wanted in my entire life."

It's not every day that your love of partying earns you a GRAMMY nomination, but Sivan's passionate, party-starting single "Rush" scored him not one but two nods. At the 2024 GRAMMYs, the track is nominated in the new Best Pop Dance Recording Category, and its equally unapologetic music video is up for Best Music Video.

But despite its thumping beat and chanting chorus, "Rush" is more than an ode to late nights in Melbourne and acting on impulse; it's reverence for real connection. A euphoric representation of its parent album Something To Give Each Other, "Rush" is a catalyst as much as it is a release.

In its music video, striking choreography animates beautifully sweaty corners; "Rush" holds nothing back, spiritedly soundtracking everything from keg stands to glory holes. It ends with Sivan walking home on a bridge, with dawn as the backdrop of his widening, quiet smile to himself. As Berlin warmly unravels below Sivan, the video leaves viewers with the aftertaste of ecstasy — and reminds them of the gift of time and connection.

"Rush" marks a new era for Sivan, who has become dance-pop royalty since first building his fan base as a popular YouTube creator in the early 2010s. But while his latest music is a culmination of years of experimentation — from the darker indie pop of his 2015 debut album, Blue Neighborhood, to the crushing electropop of his 2020 EP In A Dream — the bliss of "Rush" unlocks a fearless part of Sivan's artistry that not only flaunts his creative genius, but his true self.

From his Melbourne home, Sivan sat down for a Zoom chat with GRAMMY.com about the thrill of his first-time GRAMMY nominations, the electricity that inspired "Rush," and how his art has unlocked a new sense of freedom.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Congrats on your nominations! How did you celebrate after hearing the news?

I didn't go back to sleep because I was too excited. I felt like I had taken this massive international flight and that the whole world was just sort of a big dream, and I just floated around Melbourne with my best friend, and we got our nails done, and I went for a walk, got food. It was a really, really surreal day for sure.

Let's talk about "Rush." Tell me about a moment when you were making that song and you knew you had something special.

I knew that there was a feeling that I had felt a lot over the last couple of years that I hadn't yet captured for the album. It was this feeling of electricity. It's this really kind of turbo feeling of being so hot and so sweaty — drenched in sweat on a dance floor — with hundreds of people that you don't know. 

When I close my eyes and really focus on the music, you can kind of feel the lights going by on your skin — that moment, it's so much more than just a party. It can actually be like a spiritual experience, and quite a meaningful one, especially coming out of these really intense COVID lockdowns. That feeling meant so much to me, and I just felt so connected to myself and to other people and to music and to sex and to dance music.

So I knew that I needed to capture that moment, and we tried so many times and never got that. Then finally, when "Rush" came, I sort of knew that that was it — when I listened to it, it felt like the feeling. It was one of the last songs that came together for the album, and then basically completed the album.

Who was the first person you showed "Rush" to?

I went away for the weekend with some friends… and I played it for my sister in the car. She was like, "Will you please, please, please play that song?" We had all been drinking and we were playing games and stuff like that, and they had a really good sound system, so I was like, "Okay, fine. Yes."

I played the song, which is really out of my character — I was definitely a few drinks in because I don't like listening to my own music. I remember I started playing it and everyone stood up and started dancing. We were already having a good time, so I didn't know what to make of that.

But by the end of the song, they were all kind of singing along with the chorus and it just created a feeling in the air in that room that I was like, Oh my God, I think maybe this is something really, really special. As soon as I got back to Melbourne, I went back like the next day and finished everything.

What was the first time you heard "Rush" in a club or at a party?

When it came out, we went out in West Hollywood and went for a walk down Santa Monica Boulevard where all the gay bars are. And I remember hearing it coming out of, like, four clubs as we were walking down the street. So that was also [when] I was like, I think this is working.

The first time I heard "Rush" at the club, I was in the Castro. Everyone was immediately up when it came on.

Really? I mean, really, it's written for the Castro, so I'm really glad to hear.

2024 GRAMMYs: Meet The Nominees

Your song captures a sense of liberation. When do you feel the most creatively free?

I think I feel the most creatively free when I am bored. I don't know if that's, like, the weirdest answer ever, sorry. [Laughs.]

But I just feel like I get reminded that I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing when I have more than, like, three days off. Immediately I'll start tinkering with a music video concept or graphic design project or working on music or editing a video or whatever. 

I think my baseline when I have some time on my hands is to be creating something, and it's the thing that I love most in the world. Simultaneously it feels like a holiday when I'm doing it, and that's crazy because it's my job, you know?

Creative freedom can also come from playing with genre. "Rush" is nominated for Best Pop Dance Recording, which is one of the three new award Categories this year. How do you feel that pop dance has evolved in the last few years?

Oh, my gosh, I mean pop dance is such an important Category to me, and especially with this album because that's really what I wanted exactly to make. I love pop dance and I have grown up on pop dance. 

Also, to be nominated alongside someone like Kylie Minogue — just thinking about a song like "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" or these songs that really shaped me as not just a songwriter but as like a human being — it's really important to me, and I also think, in general, to queer people. Because dance music has been so unbelievably important to queer people, and so has pop. So this combination of the two, it's really like it's for us.

Exactly. I think my connection with music helped me realize that I was queer, even.

Yeah, it's definitely a queer-coded Category.

Going back to "Rush," I wanted to talk about the nominated music video. What did the vision board for the video look like?

It started with me and Gordon von Steiner, the director of the video, working together and me explaining to him that "Rush" is this daytime hot sweaty party. We started with so many references of just, like, sweaty skin that was shot on 35 millimeter film, and it was like this sort of deep grimy green. But then also, this warm orange that was really important to me. The clothing was like this burgundy and yellow.

The more we spoke about it, it was super clear to us exactly what this video needed to look like, but more importantly, what the video needed to feel like. And Gordon loves Berlin and partying, and I love partying and I love Berlin… [but] this was sort of more serious than just like a party video. It needed to have that element of rawness and vulnerability that I think comes with those moments. It had to be real.

We went to Berlin and we shot it across two days. Honestly, once we got there, it was like just having a party and filming it… Once the camera was rolling, whatever was happening was happening, and it was such an incredible couple days. 

The cast all knew each other from being queer and cool in Berlin and from partying together. They welcomed me with open arms, and we ended up going out together for real afterwards. It was just a really beautiful couple of days. I feel like you can feel all of that in the video.

Absolutely. What was it like to learn the choreography for the video? And how do you think Timothée's "SNL" choreo stacked up against yours?

I think he slayed it. [Laughs.] It's not easy, so I think he did a good job.

But for me, choreo was something that I have been terrified of my entire life. It was a really big deal for me because growing up in the closet, I used to sort of like make these changes to myself or my desires or the way that I kind of carried myself throughout the world to kind of protect myself. And one thing that I never allowed myself was dancing.

For me to finally allow myself to express myself in that way, it felt just like a big moment for me personally — and really scary, but something that I wanted to do my entire life. So I had the best time.

It was one of the greatest gifts that this album has given me, to find a new sort of expression at 28 that I really, really, really enjoy has been a beautiful thing. It's something that I want to keep doing probably for the rest of my life. It feels incredible, and it kind of gave me the confidence to keep going and dance. Choreography ended up becoming such an important part of the visual identity of the whole album.

You mentioned earlier that the music video's warm orange was important to you. That made me think of the album cover. What was the process like for actualizing the cover?

The album cover is one of my favorite photos ever. I had been at a record store in L.A. and I found this really old record that I haven't been able to even find on Google or Spotify. I took a picture of it, of this guy smiling really big, and I thought that that was the coolest thing in the world. I don't know why. 

I think it was because, normally, vanity is such an important part of what influences these decisions that we make as pop artists — you know, Do I look hot or not? And I thought that there was something so badass about being like, No, that is the least of my priorities. I'm trying to convey a feeling here. I'm trying to convey something real and meaningful. I've been making this album that was all about this like unbridled joy and liberation.

So I knew that I wanted to smile on the album cover, and then I loved the idea of sitting between someone's legs. It just felt so intimate to me and kind of like this implied sexuality. But another thing that I love is that you don't see who it is [behind me], and you just see me and you realize that this moment is about connection with someone, but it's really about connection with yourself and allowing yourself to enjoy life and your body and your sexuality.

When it came time to shoot it — I'm really bad at smiling for photos, and I think you can always tell when a smile is real and when it's not. We spent the whole day shooting and I didn't smile once. Then for this one frame, the guy who was sitting behind me kneeled down, and he tickled my ribs, and I threw my head back and I laughed and it was one frame. And that was the album cover, and I love it so, so, so much.

**It's also very different from the blurriness of In A Dream, or on Bloom, where you can't see your face. How does this latest cover represent the evolution of your music or yourself?**

This album was really about communication with the world. I feel like I wanted to scream from the rooftops about the message of this album. I wanted it to be in every single layer of it, whether it's the album cover or one of the videos or one of the songs. I wanted to show people exactly how I was feeling.

In the past, I've felt comfortable being a bit more mysterious, or making people intrigued and then having them listen to the album and take what they want from there. Whereas this time, I just felt so loudly proud of myself and the experiences that I was having and everything that I really just wanted to be a little bit more bold with it.

You've had such a loyal fan base from a relatively early age. How does it feel to have a lot of your supporters grow up alongside you and still be connecting to your music now?

I really do feel like the luckiest guy when it comes to the people that listen to my music. I think a really important part of us connecting is that it feels like these are people that I would want to be friends with if I knew them in real life. They're really funny, they're really smart. Nothing gets past them if it's not genuine — like, they know when something is real, when it's not. It's like I'm speaking to a friend.

[Albums are] kind of like these time capsules for me in my life of different chapters of my life. But it's also kind of like an update to everyone being like, "Oh, hey guys, what's up? This is what's been going on for the last couple years." It's just a very special relationship and I'm so thankful for them.

That makes me very excited to tour, to go out and see some familiar faces… I started making YouTube videos when I was 12 and I still meet people on the street or whatever that will be like, "I remember when you made this video" and it's, like, from literally 14 years ago.

Not too long ago, I was reading this interview with boygenius where they said that queerness is inherently creative, and it also involves creating a different future for yourself. That really stuck with me. What are your thoughts on that, and what do you want your future to look like in terms of that?

I definitely think that my queerness and my creativity are inextricably linked. I think that me being closeted, not 100 percent feeling like the real world was somewhere where I felt completely comfortable or seen, made me retreat to my bedroom and to my creativity in a way that was sort of my education on how to do everything. It's where I learned what I liked creatively, and I don't think I would have felt that way if I was, like, the sort of cool sports star at my school or whatever. I would have been too busy doing other things.

I'm really grateful for that time of introspection, and sometimes kind of loneliness, and just all those big feelings — and that sensitivity that I think came from being a queer kid. I think that really informs who I am today and everything that I do. That's really beautiful, and something that we can be really proud of.

Troye Sivan's Road To 'Something To Give Each Other': How Transparency & Exploration Led To His Most Euphoric Album Yet

Amaarae performing in London in 2024
Amaarae performs in London in March 2024.

Photo: Burak Cingi/Redferns

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10 Can't-Miss Acts At Primavera Sound Barcelona 2024: Amaarae, Ethel Cain, Troye Sivan & More

Barcelona's Primavera Sound shines as a star-studded spectacle every year, but the famed international festival's 2024 lineup is especially lively. Get to know 10 acts you won't want to miss at Parc del Fòrum from May 29 to June 2.

GRAMMYs/May 22, 2024 - 08:43 pm

Since 2001, Primavera Sound has served as Barcelona's kickoff to summer. And with a stacked lineup chock full of effervescent acts for its 2024 iteration, this year's fest will certainly get the feel-good, warm-weather vibes rolling.

Phoenix starts the party with pop rock and new wave on May 29, setting the stage for fellow headliners Pulp, Vampire Weekend, and Justice on May 30. Lana Del Rey, The National, and Disclosure will make everyone's Friday night on May 31. Then, SZA, PJ Harvey, Mitski, and Charli XCX will ring in June on Saturday, before house/electronic acts ANOTR, The Blessed Madonna, Chloé Caillet, and Mochakk close things out on June 2.

But the headliners are just the beginning of what makes this year's Primavera Sound Barcelona exciting. Peggy Gou, L'Imperatrice, or Omar Apollo will likely tease new tunes, as they all gear up for June album releases. And just a month ago, Faye Webster, The Last Dinner Party, and Eartheater all had their respective Coachella debuts, proving they're more than ready to tackle the Primavera stage.

In the festival's jam-packed five-day lineup, hundreds of acts are primed to kick-start summer with a bang. Below, GRAMMY.com highlights 10 sets you won't want to miss in Barcelona — from Deftones' alt-metal bash to Amaarae's soulful hip-hop.

yeule

Performing: May 30, Plenitude Stage

Singaporean musician yeule is pioneering the ambient and glitch pop genres one song at a time. Born Nat Ćmiel, their stage name is based on a video game character, Paddra Nsu-Yeul, which speaks to their artistic steps in and out of reality. yeule's musical (and fashion) aesthetic is defined by the cyberworld, marked by futuristic, alternative styles that bewitchingly break norms.

Though they started out as a bedroom producer, yeule's more recent creative endeavors — like their invigorating 2022 album, softscars — have been more collaborative, adding a new layer of inspiration and beauty to their work. With influences ranging from Avril Lavigne to Radiohead, yeule's Primavera set will be ideal for living out all of your emo nostalgic fantasies.

Deftones

Performing: May 30, Amazon Music Stage

Get ready to scream with Deftones at Primavera. Winning their first GRAMMY back in 2001, the alternative metal band is still rocking out 20-plus years later — and making waves in this festival lineup. While Primavera tends to be led by various electronic and pop acts, Deftones is uniquely ushering punk to the festival's frontlines.

Banding together in 1988 in Sacramento, Deftones is known for their progressive experimentation within metal and rock, often dipping into psychedelia, post-punk, trip hop. Headed by lead vocalist Chino Moreno, the band's hardcore sound is unabashedly raw, original and heavy, continuing to evolve expansively with the metal genre.

Paving the way for contemporary heavy metal over the years, Deftones is a defiant act you won't want to miss at a major stage at Primavera Sound.

Troye Sivan

Performing: May 31, Santander Stage

Ready to feel the rush? Troye Sivan certainly is.

The Australian pop star is making Primavera an early stop in his tour for Something To Give Each Other, his latest album featuring jubilant singles like "Rush" and "Got Me Started." Once his European tour wraps in Birmingham, England at the tail end of June, he'll be headlining the Sweat Tour with fellow headliner Charli XCX — who coincidentally will be performing at Primavera the next day on June 1.

From the electropop seedlings on his 2015 debut, Blue Neighborhood, to the full-fledged forlorn beauty of his 2020 EP, In A Dream, Sivan's artistry has evolved significantly in the last decade. Today, his music is its most freeing yet, and there's no doubt it'll be glorious (and sweaty) on the Primavera stage.

Obongjayar

Performing: May 31, Plentitude Stage

UK-based Nigerian artist Obongjayar's musical style is nearly indescribable. Interlacing Afrobeat, spoken word, and EDM, all of his songs are distinctly tinged with a signature, soulful vibrance, and it'll be sensational to see how Obongjayar takes his pensive profundity to fill the Primavera stage.

Though he might be best known for the Fred again.. collaboration "adore u" (which samples his track "I Wish It Was Me"), Obongjayar's special sound effortlessly meshes with everyone he works with. From "If You Say" with Sarz, to "Point and Kill" with Little Simz, to "Protein" with Jeshi, it would be fair to call Obongjayar a chameleon — except instead of blending in, he's standing out.

Ethel Cain

Performing: May 31, Santander Stage

There's no better word to describe Ethel Cain's music than transcendent.

A master of gothic indie rock, Cain stitches together uncanny Americana and lovelorn nostalgia into a radiant, sensory experience. Her debut album, 2022's Preacher's Daughter, is divine and sometimes disturbing, but its ambience live sends audiences into an impossibly satisfying trance.

Whether you're listening to the enchanting slow burn of "A House In Nebraska" or the eerie roar of "American Teenager," both Cain's storytelling and live performance are infallibly spine-chilling — do yourself a favor and don't miss Cain's hauntingly beautiful set at Primavera.

BADBADNOTGOOD

Performing: May 31, Cupra Stage

Looking for a band that combines jazz styles with hip-hop production? Look no further than BADBADNOTGOOD, an innovative Canadian instrumental band.

After meeting at a Toronto jazz program in 2010, the three-piece band bonded over their hip-hop music appreciation, and the rest is history. Since then, BADBADNOTGOOD (which now features Leland Whitty in place of original member Matthew Tavares) has released five studio albums — fittingly, including covers of hip-hop songs with jazz interpretations. The group has also worked with Kendrick Lamar, Tyler, The Creator, Thundercat, and many more notable artists.

The band's collaborative production and remixing has earned them two GRAMMY wins and five total nominations, and there's no question BADBADNOTGOOD's set will put a spell on Barcelona.

Arca

Performing: May 31, Amazon Music Stage

Electronica is Arca's playground, and the pioneering producer's set at Primavera is sure to craft a whole new world. Dynamism defines the Venezuelan musician's shape-shifting art; through its avant-garde fusion of reggaeton, ambient techno, and dark electronica, her music is bursting with vigor.

Arca's music often discusses themes of gender identity and sexuality, and her views of queerness center around harmony and inclusion, which reflect in her pristine tracks "Nonbinary" and "Machote" on her GRAMMY-nominated album KiCk i. Having released 10 albums since 2006; worked with artists like Rosalía, Björk, and the late SOPHIE; and even opened for Beyoncé's Renaissance World Tour, Arca brings immeasurable experience to Barcelona.

The producer's music naturally begs to be heard live — it's meant to sweat to and be danced to, and Arca's Primavera set will embody true electronic extravagance.

ATARASHII GAKKO!

Performing: June 1, Cupra Stage

This rising Japanese girl group's powerful sound easily warrants a stage name in all caps and with an exclamation point.

Fresh off their U.S. television debut on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," ATARASHII GAKKO! is ready to tackle the Primavera Sound stage with their engaging J-pop that integrates elements of hip-hop, rock, and jazz. Intrepid and commanding, their live performance features synchronized dancing, matching sailor school uniforms, and occasionally a marching band.

The quartet's upcoming world tour has a handful of sold-out dates. They've already conquered crowds at Coachella and Head in the Clouds — and there's no doubt that ATARASHII GAKKO! will bring their best to Barcelona.

Amaarae

Performing: June 1, Amazon Music Stage

Ama Serwah Genfi — better known as Amaarae — is an alté trailblazer. Raised between Atlanta and Accra, Ghana, the singer crafts mercurial music that is both introspective and stylish, and destined to be performed for vast audiences.

From her 2017 EP, Passionfruit Summers, to her 2023 album, Fountain Baby, it's easy to be mesmerized by her distinct, eccentric soprano and overflowing confidence. Her critically acclaimed "Sad Girlz Luv Money" (featuring Molly and Kali Uchis) charted globally in 2021, and just last year, she became the first Ghanaian American to perform an NPR Tiny Desk Concert. Amaarae's live performances bring her blend of R&B, pop, and afrobeats to a new level, and she's ready to introduce her infectious global beats to Primavera.

Bikini Kill

Performing: June 1, Pull&Bear Stage

Famed pioneers of the riot grrrl movement in the '90s, Bikini Kill is bringing punk fun (and rage) to the Primavera stage.

Influencing alternative stars like Sleater-Kinney, Pussy Riot, and The Linda Lindas, it's no question that the iconic American band has inspired the next generation, whether that be through their music or activism. From "Rebel Girl" to "Feels Blind" to "I Like F—ing," Bikini Kill's beautifully irate music calls for female solidarity and empowerment still resonate with listeners today.

Though the band broke up in 1997, they reunited in 2019 and have since been touring together — and now, Primavera offers a special chance to see another inspiring moment from the revolutionary rockers.

​​Leap Into AAPI Month 2024 With A Playlist Featuring Laufey, Diljit Dosanjh, & Peggy Gou

Photo of a gold GRAMMY trophy against a black background with white lights.
GRAMMY Award statue

Photo: Jathan Campbell

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How Much Is A GRAMMY Worth? 7 Facts To Know About The GRAMMY Award Trophy

Here are seven facts to know about the actual cost and worth of a GRAMMY trophy, presented once a year by the Recording Academy at the GRAMMY Awards.

GRAMMYs/May 1, 2024 - 04:23 pm

Since 1959, the GRAMMY Award has been music’s most coveted honor. Each year at the annual GRAMMY Awards, GRAMMY-winning and -nominated artists are recognized for their musical excellence by their peers. Their lives are forever changed — so are their career trajectories. And when you have questions about the GRAMMYs, we have answers.

Here are seven facts to know about the value of the GRAMMY trophy.

How Much Does A GRAMMY Trophy Cost To Make?

The cost to produce a GRAMMY Award trophy, including labor and materials, is nearly $800. Bob Graves, who cast the original GRAMMY mold inside his garage in 1958, passed on his legacy to John Billings, his neighbor, in 1983. Billings, also known as "The GRAMMY Man," designed the current model in use, which debuted in 1991.

How Long Does It Take To Make A GRAMMY Trophy?

Billings and his crew work on making GRAMMY trophies throughout the year. Each GRAMMY is handmade, and each GRAMMY Award trophy takes 15 hours to produce. 

Where Are The GRAMMY Trophies Made?

While Los Angeles is the headquarters of the Recording Academy and the GRAMMYs, and regularly the home of the annual GRAMMY Awards, GRAMMY trophies are produced at Billings Artworks in Ridgway, Colorado, about 800 miles away from L.A.

Is The GRAMMY Award Made Of Real Gold?

GRAMMY Awards are made of a trademarked alloy called "Grammium" — a secret zinc alloy — and are plated with 24-karat gold.

How Many GRAMMY Trophies Are Made Per Year?

Approximately 600-800 GRAMMY Award trophies are produced per year. This includes both GRAMMY Awards and Latin GRAMMY Awards for the two Academies; the number of GRAMMYs manufactured each year always depends on the number of winners and Categories we award across both award shows.

Fun fact: The two GRAMMY trophies have different-colored bases. The GRAMMY Award has a black base, while the Latin GRAMMY Award has a burgundy base.

Photos: Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images; Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

How Much Does A GRAMMY Weigh?

The GRAMMY trophy weighs approximately 5 pounds. The trophy's height is 9-and-a-half inches. The trophy's width is nearly 6 inches by 6 inches.

What Is The True Value Of A GRAMMY?

Winning a GRAMMY, and even just being nominated for a GRAMMY, has an immeasurable positive impact on the nominated and winning artists. It opens up new career avenues, builds global awareness of artists, and ultimately solidifies a creator’s place in history. Since the GRAMMY Award is the only peer-voted award in music, this means artists are recognized, awarded and celebrated by those in their fields and industries, ultimately making the value of a GRAMMY truly priceless and immeasurable.

In an interview featured in the 2024 GRAMMYs program book, two-time GRAMMY winner Lauren Daigle spoke of the value and impact of a GRAMMY Award. "Time has passed since I got my [first] GRAMMYs, but the rooms that I am now able to sit in, with some of the most incredible writers, producers and performers on the planet, is truly the greatest gift of all." 

"Once you have that credential, it's a different certification. It definitely holds weight," two-time GRAMMY winner Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter of the Roots added. "It's a huge stamp as far as branding, businesswise, achievement-wise and in every regard. What the GRAMMY means to people, fans and artists is ever-evolving." 

As Billboard explains, artists will often see significant boosts in album sales and streaming numbers after winning a GRAMMY or performing on the GRAMMY stage. This is known as the "GRAMMY Effect," an industry phenomenon in which a GRAMMY accolade directly influences the music biz and the wider popular culture. 

For new artists in particular, the "GRAMMY Effect" has immensely helped rising creators reach new professional heights. Samara Joy, who won the GRAMMY for Best New Artist at the 2023 GRAMMYs, saw a 989% boost in sales and a 670% increase in on-demand streams for her album Linger Awhile, which won the GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Album that same night. H.E.R., a former Best New Artist nominee, saw a massive 6,771% increase in song sales for her hit “I Can’t Breathe” on the day it won the GRAMMY for Song Of The Year at the 2021 GRAMMYs, compared to the day before, Rolling Stone reports

Throughout the decades, past Best New Artist winners have continued to dominate the music industry and charts since taking home the GRAMMY gold — and continue to do so to this day. Recently, Best New Artist winners dominated the music industry and charts in 2023: Billie Eilish (2020 winner) sold 2 million equivalent album units, Olivia Rodrigo (2022 winner) sold 2.1 million equivalent album units, and Adele (2009 winner) sold 1.3 million equivalent album units. Elsewhere, past Best New Artist winners have gone on to star in major Hollywood blockbusters (Dua Lipa); headline arena tours and sign major brand deals (Megan Thee Stallion); become LGBTIA+ icons (Sam Smith); and reach multiplatinum status (John Legend).

Most recently, several winners, nominees and performers at the 2024 GRAMMYs saw significant bumps in U.S. streams and sales: Tracy Chapman's classic, GRAMMY-winning single "Fast Car," which she performed alongside Luke Combs, returned to the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first time since 1988, when the song was originally released, according to Billboard. Fellow icon Joni Mitchell saw her ‘60s classic “Both Sides, Now,” hit the top 10 on the Digital Song Sales chart, Billboard reports.

In addition to financial gains, artists also experience significant professional wins as a result of their GRAMMY accolades. For instance, after she won the GRAMMY for Best Reggae Album for Rapture at the 2020 GRAMMYs, Koffee signed a U.S. record deal; after his first GRAMMYs in 2014, Kendrick Lamar saw a 349% increase in his Instagram following, Billboard reports. 

Visit our interactive GRAMMY Awards Journey page to learn more about the GRAMMY Awards and the voting process behind the annual ceremony.

2024 GRAMMYs: See The Full Winners & Nominees List

Billy Joel Freddy Wexler
Photo: Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

(L-R) Billy Joel, Freddy Wexler

interview

Freddy Wexler On Helping Billy Joel "Turn The Lights Back On" — At The 2024 GRAMMYs And Beyond

"Part of what was so beautiful for me to see on GRAMMY night was the respect and adoration that people of all ages and from all genres have for Billy Joel," Wexler says of Joel's 2024 GRAMMYs performance of their co-written "Turn The Lights Back On."

GRAMMYs/Feb 26, 2024 - 09:11 pm

They say to not meet your heroes. But when Freddy Wexler — a lifelong Billy Joel fan — did just that, it was as if Joel walked straight out of his record collection.

"I think the truth is none of it is that surprising," the 37-year-old songwriter and producer tells GRAMMY.com. "That's the best part. From his music, I would've thought this is a humble, brilliant everyman who probably walks around with a very grounded perspective, and that's exactly who he is."

That groundedness made possible "Turn the Lights Back On" — the hit comeback single they co-wrote, and Wexler co-produced; Joel performed a resplendent version at the 2024 GRAMMYs with Laufey. Joel hadn't released a pop album since 1993's River of Dreams; for him to return to the throne would take an awfully demonstrative song, true to his life.

"I think it's a very raw, honest, real perspective that is true to Billy," Wexler explains. "I think it's the first time we've heard him acknowledge mistakes and regret in quite this way."

Specifically, Joel's return highlights his regret over spending three decades mostly on the bench, largely absent from the pop scene. As Joel wonders aloud in the stirring, arpeggiated chorus, "Is there still time for forgiveness?"

"Forgiveness" is a curious word. Why would the five-time GRAMMY winner and 23-time nominee possibly need to seek forgiveness? Regardless — as the song goes — he's "tryin' to find the magic/ That we lost somehow." The song's message — an attempt to recapture a lost essence — transcends Joel's personal headspace, connecting with a universal longing and nostalgia.

Read on for an interview with Wexler about the impact of "Turn the Lights Back On," why he thinks Joel took such an extended sabbatical, the prospect of more new music, and much more.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

**You did a great interview with Rolling Stone ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs. Now, we're on the other side of it; you got to see how it went down on the telecast, and resonated with the audience and world. What was that like?**

It's why I make music — to hopefully make people feel something. This song has really resonated in such a big way. More than looking at its commercial success on the charts or on radio, which has been awesome to see, the comments on Instagram and YouTube have been the most rewarding part of it.

Why do you think it resonated? Beyond the king picking up his crown again?

I don't think the song is trying to be anything it's not. I think it's a very raw, honest, real perspective that is true to Billy. I think it's the first time we've heard him acknowledge mistakes and regret in quite this way. And to hear him do it in a hopeful way where he's asking, "Is it too late for forgiveness?" is just very moving, I think.

Forgiveness? That's interesting. What would any of us need to forgive him?

He has said in other interviews, "Sometimes people say they have no regrets at the end of their life." And he said, "I don't think that's possible. If you've lived a full life, of course you have regrets." He has said that he has many things he wishes he would've done differently. This is an opportunity to express that.

I think what's interesting about the song is it has found meaning in various ways with various people and listeners. Some people imagine Billy is singing to former lovers or friends. Other people imagine Billy is singing to his fans asking, "Did I wait too long to record again?" Other people wonder if Billy is singing to the songwriting Gods and muses. Did I wait too long to write again?

In Israel, where the song was number one — or is number one, I haven't checked today — I think the song's taken on the meaning of just wanting things to be normal, wanting hostages to come home and turn the lights back on. So, you never know where a song is going to resonate, but I think that Billy just found his own meaning with it.

You know the discography front to back. What lines can you draw from "Turn the Lights Back On" to past works?

I think it draws on various pieces of his catalog, right? "She's Always a Woman" has a sort of piano arpeggio in the chorus. To me, it feels like a natural progression. It feels like, on the one hand, it's a new song. On the other, it could have come out right after River of Dreams. To me, it just kind of feels natural.

**Back when you spoke with Rolling Stone, you said you couldn't wait to hear "Turn the Lights Back On" at Madison Square Garden. How'd it sound?**

Amazing. Billy is a consummate live performer. I think he's one of the few artists where everything is better live, and everything is always a little bit different each time it's played live.

It's been really cool to watch Billy and the band continue to change and improve the song and the song's dynamics for the show. He told me tonight that tomorrow night in Tampa, I think they're going to try to play with the key of the song, potentially — try it a half a step higher.

Those are the sort of things I think great artists do, right? It's different from being on a certain type of tour where every single song is the same, the set list is the same, the key is the same, the arrangements are the same.

With Billy, there's a lot of feeling and, "Hey, why don't we try it this way? Let's play it a little faster. Let's play it a little slower. Let's try it in a different key." I just think that's super cool. You have to be a really good musician to just do that on the fly.

What have you learned from him that applies to your music making, writ large?

I've learned so much from him. As Olivia Rodrigo said to us at GRAMMY rehearsals, "He's the blueprint when it comes to songwriting."

He has helped raise the bar for me when it comes to melodies and lyrics, but the thing I keep coming back to is he's reminded me that even the greatest artists and songwriters ever sometimes forget how great they are. I think we need to be careful not to give that inner voice and inner critic too much power.

Can you talk about how the music video came to be?

Well, I had a dream that Billy was singing the opening two lines of the song, but it was a 25-year-old version of Billy. It was arresting.

When I woke up, I sort of had the vision for the video, which was one set, an empty venue of some kind, and four Billy Joels. The Billy Joel that really exists today, but then three Billys from three iconic eras where each Billy would seamlessly pick up the song where the other left off.

The idea behind that was to sort of accentuate the question of the song — did I wait too long to turn the lights back on?

And so, to kind of take us through time and through all these years, I teamed up with an amazing co-director, Warren Fu, who's done everything from Dua Lipa to Daft Punk, and an artificial intelligence company called Deep Voodoo to make that vision possible.

What I'm driven by is the opportunity to create conversations, cultural moments, things that make people feel something. What was cool here is as scary as AI is — and I think it is scary in many ways — we were able to give an example of how you can use it in a positive way to execute a creative artistic vision that previously would've been impossible to execute.

Yeah, so I'm pleased with it and I'm thankful that Billy did a video. He didn't have to do one, but he liked the idea of it. He felt it was different, and I think he was moved by it as well.

What do you think is the next step here?

It's been a really rewarding process. And Billy is open-minded, which is really cool for an artist of that level, who's not a new artist by any stretch. To actually be described as being in a place in his life where he's open-minded, means anything is possible. I could tell you that I would love there to be more music.

I'd love to get your honest appraisal. And I know you're not him. But his last pop album was released 31 years ago. In that long interim, what do you think was going on with him, creatively?

Look, I'm not Billy Joel, but I think there were a number of factors going on with him. Somewhere along the way, I think he stopped having fun with music, which is the reason he got into it, or which is a big part of the reason he got into it. When it stopped being fun, I don't think he really wanted to do it anymore.

Another piece to it is that Billy is a perfectionist, and that perfectionism is evident in the caliber of his songwriting. Having always written 100 percent of his songs, Billy at some point probably found that process to be painstaking, to try to hit that bar where he's probably wondering in his head, What would Beethoven think of this? What would Leonard Bernstein think of this?

I think part of what was different here was that, perhaps, there was something liberating about "Turn the Lights Back On" being a seed that was brought to Billy. In this way, he could be a little disconnected from it, where maybe he didn't have to have the self-imposed pressure that he would if it was an idea that he'd been trying to finish for a while.

Ironically, he still made it. Well, there's no "ironically," but I think that's it. There's something to that.

Billy Joel's Biggest Songs: 15 Tracks That Best Showcase The Piano Man's Storytelling And Pop Hooks

GRAMMY U Reps at GRAMMY Week
GRAMMY U Reps and staff walk the red carpet at the 2024 GRAMMYs

Photo: Andrew Sankovich

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GRAMMY U Reps Experience GRAMMY Week Like Never Before Thanks To The Recording Academy & United Airlines

United Airlines flew the GRAMMY U Representatives out to L.A. for an unforgettable 2024 GRAMMY Week. The trip provided significant professional development in music, and the Reps savored every moment. Take a look at the GRAMMY U Reps’ inspirational week.

GRAMMYs/Feb 22, 2024 - 10:38 pm

Thanks to United Airlines' partnership with the Recording Academy, the students traveled from all over the country to Los Angeles and met in person for the first time. In past years, GRAMMY U Reps have only been able to attend a few select events in addition to the GRAMMY Awards on Sunday. But because of United Airlines, these National and Chapter Reps were able to experience the music industry’s most exhilarating week.

Come with the GRAMMY U Reps as they experience Music’s Biggest Night, behind-the-scenes tours, and events highlighting various initiatives within the music industry during GRAMMY Week 2024. Learn how to apply to GRAMMY U here.

Tuesday: Travel Day

The GRAMMY U group chat was exploding with excited messages as we arrived at the airport early Tuesday morning. Each Rep was about to meet their co-workers — many of whom had only connected virtually — and gain the experience of a lifetime. 

United flew all 14 Reps to Los Angeles with exceptional timing, service, and care — even though we were traveling to work at GRAMMY Week, it felt like we were getting celebrity treatment. Once we touched down in L.A., we ran to the United baggage claim to hug our friends and capture the experience to share with fellow GRAMMY U members.

Philly Rep Tamara Tondreau and Nashville Rep Della Anderson┃GRAMMY U

Philly Rep Tamara Tondreau and Nashville Rep Della Anderson┃GRAMMY U

After grabbing lunch near our hotel in downtown L.A., we made it to the Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter Office in Santa Monica for our first in-person team meeting. Sporting new custom GRAMMY U jackets, T-shirts, and hats, we prepared for our signature GRAMMY Week event, a Masterclass with actress/GRAMMY-nominated R&B artist Halle Bailey

Reps were briefed on plans for the week, then took an office tour where we spotted multiple golden gramophones. Since we work remotely year-round, this was our first time getting to see where all the magic happens.

Wednesday: Behind-The-Scenes & Behind The Music

On Wednesday, we were up bright and early to explore the Crypto.com Arena and learn about the behind-the-scenes preparation it takes to host the GRAMMY Awards each year. 

Jody Kolozsvari, Associate Producer of the GRAMMYs and a GRAMMY U alum, guided us around the arena. He also introduced us to the incredible audio, mixing, communications, and production teams as well as Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr

"Walking intoCrypto.com Arena and seeing the GRAMMY stage being built was a very surreal moment," said Sara Hudson, GRAMMY U's New York Chapter Rep. "Meeting so many of the people behind the show and witnessing the hard work that is put into producing the GRAMMY Awards made my passion for working in live music grow even more."

Later that night, Philadelphia Chapter Rep Tamara Tondreau and Los Angeles Chapter Rep Jade Bacon worked as GRAMMY U press at the A Celebration of Craft event, a collaboration between the Recording Academy Producers and Engineers Wing and Songwriters and Composers Wing. This was the very first time GRAMMY U Reps were invited to this exclusive event; Tamara, a songwriter herself, called this event "unforgettable."

"Since songwriting sparked my interest in the music industry, it was inspiring to be in the room with so many talented creatives," Tamara says. "Networking with professionals who hold multiple roles in the industry encouraged me and reaffirmed my goal of maintaining both business and creative aspects in my career."

Thursday: Fostering Community & Culture

Hosted at GRAMMY House, Thursday morning started with a beautiful luncheon at the inaugural A Celebration of Women in the Mix. This event made space for women in the music industry to gather and support one another, recognizing all of the strides made in a male-dominated field. 

Twelve of the 14 Reps identify as women, and this was a special moment to meet some of the industry leaders that we look up to as role models. Networking with female artists, managers, and producers who are laying the groundwork for our generation was a powerful moment we will never forget.

After delivering the keynote speech, Ty Stiklorius, the founder of management company Friends at Work, spoke with some of the GRAMMY U Reps.

"Having a conversation with such an established female in the music industry was incredibly inspiring," says Memphis Rep. Shannon Conte. "After this moment of mentorship and encouragement, I left the event feeling much more confident in my ability to one day succeed in becoming an artist manager."

Dressing up in our finest suits and gowns, we hit the town to attend the exclusive Black Music Collective’s 2024 Recording Academy Honors event, where legends Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz accepted Global Impact Awards. Sitting in the same room as these superstars was awe-inspiring, and it was an honor to see how the Black community was celebrated during GRAMMY Week.

GRAMMY U Reps Shaneel Young, Jade Bacon, and Chloe Sarmiento hosted interviews for our social media, highlighting the fashion of dozens of high-profile attendees including Adam Blackstone, Jordin Sparks, Flavor Flav, and Erica Campbell as they walked the signature black carpet. The excitement of the press line on the black carpet provided Reps with first-hand experience of what a career in press and publicity could look like. 

GRAMMY U DC Rep Shaneel Young aspires to work in music marketing. "Interviewing some of the most influential people in the industry about my passions: music, fashion, and culture, will be a moment I remember for the rest of my career," she reflects.

Reps at Black Music Collective’s Recording Academy Honors┃GRAMMY U

Reps at Black Music Collective’s Recording Academy Honors┃GRAMMY U

These two spectacular events immersed us in the initiatives the Recording Academy has implemented to celebrate diversity and representation in music, and we are so honored to be a part of the company’s continued mission.

Friday: Work Hard, Play Hard

After months spent planning our signature GRAMMY Week event, the GRAMMY U Masterclass with Halle Bailey, presented by Mastercard, we finally saw the fruits of our labor come to life. This year, we welcomed over 500 attendees in person, with members from every Chapter flying in to experience the event together at GRAMMY House.

GRAMMY U PNW Rep Chloe Sarmiento worked as talent lead and interacted directly with Halle Bailey and her team. "It was incredibly fulfilling to see the event come together on-site in Los Angeles after weeks of working on it from home," Chloe says. "Halle and her team were so great to work with, and I couldn’t have asked for a better speaker for the Masterclass!"

Working with experienced Recording Academy staff onsite further enlightened us about all things event production. From talent handling and partnerships to working radios and managing the stage, we were excited to execute a large-scale event with all of the Reps at GRAMMY House.

After a successful Masterclass, the Reps split up for the evening to conquer even more GRAMMY Week events. Half the group went to the #GRAMMYsNextGen party to spread the word about membership, host a photobooth, and interact with influencers and emerging performers. We met hip-hop duo Flyana Boss, and some of our other celebrity sightings included Laura Marano and Milo Manheim. It was inspiring to see other young professionals who have established themselves in the entertainment industry so early in their careers.

Mastercard surprised us with an entire seated table at the exclusive MusiCares Person Of The Year Gala honoring Jon Bon Jovi. It was an outstanding evening honoring the rock icon and the many ways he has given back to the music community. Following a live auction, Brandy Clark, Lainey Wilson, Jelly Roll, Shania Twain, and others performed some of Bon Jovi’s biggest hits — Bon Jovi even graced the stage with Bruce Springsteen for a special rendition of "Who Says You Can’t Go Home." 

The Reps were incredibly grateful to United and Mastercard for granting us the opportunity to witness these exclusive live performances. To see the music community come together to honor a legend while giving back and furthering the mission of MusiCares is a heartwarming aspect of the music industry we don’t get to witness every day.

Reps with Sabrina Carpenter at the Person of the Year Gala┃GRAMMY U

Reps with Sabrina Carpenter at the Person of the Year Gala┃GRAMMY U

GRAMMY U Chicago Rep Rachel Owen was one of the lucky attendees able to watch the thrilling performances while mingling in the crowd with other musicians like Sabrina Carpenter and David Archuleta.

"To even be in the same room as Shania Twain is an honor, she’s timeless and more exquisite than I could've even imagined," Owen says. "To see her perform live to Jon Bon Jovi is the type of moment you just never take for granted."

Saturday: Divide & Conquer

Saturday was jam-packed with events. Back again at GRAMMY House, a group of Reps attended the Best New Artist Spotlight, where nominees discussed their breakthrough years and what it means to be considered a "new artist." From upstarts Ice Spice and Gracie Abrams to the long musical journey of Victoria Monét, The War and Treaty, and Jelly Roll, these diverse perspectives all stressed that each person has a unique career timeline and reminded us as students to practice perseverance and patience as we navigate this industry. 

Various Reps continued at GRAMMY House, some working as press at the #GRAMMYsNextGen Ambassador Power Brunch and the first-ever Academy Proud event, celebrating LGBTQIA+ voices.

A handful of us worked as GRAMMY U press at the Special Merit Awards ceremony and subsequent celebration. Being a part of these exclusive events and witnessing historic moments like the presentation of Lifetime Achievement Awards was truly impactful. We interviewed nominees at the celebration, including boygenius engineer Owen Lantz (the supergroup would win their first three GRAMMYs the very next day.)

Hundreds of nominees attended the Special Merit Awards and Celebration, proudly displaying their blue medallions and glowing as they took their official GRAMMY nominee photos; the hopeful and energetic spirit of the event fueled our drive to succeed in this industry even more.

Sunday: And The GRAMMY Goes To…

Sunday morning was the day everyone had all been waiting for: the 66th GRAMMY Awards! After getting our glam on, the GRAMMY U Reps got to walk the red carpet for the first time ever. We took tons of photos and videos to commemorate this special moment and share our experience with friends and family.

While most of the Reps were posing on the carpet, Pierson, Jasmine, Rachel, and Chloe had the honor of being trophy presenters during the GRAMMY Premiere Ceremony. This was the first time GRAMMY U Reps from across the country were given the honor of being up close and personal during artists' career-defining moments.

Reps on the GRAMMYs Red Carpet┃Andrew Sankovich

Reps on the GRAMMYs Red Carpet┃Andrew Sankovich 

Moving into Crypto.com Arena to be seated for the telecast portion of the evening, the GRAMMY U Reps were ecstatic to watch the ceremony in person. As legends like Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Tracy Chapman, and Stevie Wonder blazed on stage, all the Reps were singing and dancing along, thrilled to be a part of Music’s Biggest Night. Phenomenal performances from nominees SZA, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, Dua Lipa, Miley Cyrus, and Luke Combs were equally captivating. 

Witnessing the live telecast after experiencing so much behind-the-scenes production exemplified how rewarding the music industry can be, and how prestigious winning a GRAMMY truly is. The quiet suspense before a winner was announced and the roars that followed created a rollercoaster of emotions that took our breath away.

Immediately afterward, we were off to enjoy the official GRAMMYs After-Party  — and not even the constant showers could not rain on our parade. The Reps hit the dancefloor as soon as NE-YO took the stage, and hearing "Time of Our Lives" felt especially relatable. 

As we headed back home on our United flights, we reflected on an exhilarating GRAMMY Week. Not only were we able to be part of exclusive events, but we also interacted with artists, learned from experts, and grew exponentially. Experiencing these moments with the other Reps brought our team closer, while meeting members and peers showed the expansive community GRAMMY U is cultivating. 

Because of United, we witnessed all the Recording Academy does for the music industry. After GRAMMY Week, we feel more inspired and empowered than ever to lead the next generation of the music industry.

With additional reporting from Pierson Livingston.

2024 GRAMMYs: See The Full Winners & Nominees List