meta-scriptWhat Do Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Troye Sivan & Taylor Swift All Have In Common? Oscar Görres |
What Do Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Troye Sivan & Taylor Swift All Have In Common? Oscar Görres

Oscar Görres


Photo courtesy of Oscar Görres


What Do Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Troye Sivan & Taylor Swift All Have In Common? Oscar Görres

The Swedish producer, songwriter and Max Martin protégé opens up in his first-ever interview about helping craft hits for your favorite pop stars

GRAMMYs/Aug 29, 2020 - 05:40 pm

It’s late afternoon in Stockholm, but the songwriter and producer Oscar Görres is as animated as a fresh cup of coffee. Gesticulating to get his points across and making faces more colorful than the rust-colored studio walls that surround him, the 34-year-old Swedish star is flanked on all sides by guitars, keyboards, synthesizers and a couch—the very same couch that’s been graced by the likes of Troye Sivan, Allie X, Sabrina Carpenter and more artists looking to inject their songs with Görres’ trademark blend of magnetic pop magic and left-of-center touches. Though he’s worked professionally behind the scenes for 15 years now, Görres has spent much of the last six years steadily making notches in his pop music belt, including credits with Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Maroon 5, P!nk, and later this month, Katy Perry on her just-released sixth studio album, Smile.

Chalk up some of Görres’ recent career glow-up to a cosign from the godfather of modern pop, Max Martin, who (with Shellback) scouted the young producer and songwriter early in his career and invited him to join a collective known as Wolf Cousins, whose members also include Tove Lo, Peter Svensson (of The Cardigans fame), and Ali Payami. It’s almost too easy to quantify the success of Wolf Cousins' nine songwriters and producers properly. But listing some of their recent hits comes closest to giving you a sense of their combined clout: The Weeknd's "Can’t Feel My Face"; Ariana Grande’s "Love Me Harder"; Taylor Swift’s "Shake It Off"; Demi Lovato’s "Confident"; Selena Gomez’s "Hands to Myself"; Sam Smith’s "How Do You Sleep?"; Normani’s "Motivation"; and 5 Seconds of Summer’s "Wildflower"—they did those, just to name a few. In pop music, there’s the minor leagues, and there’s the big leagues. Then there’s Wolf Cousins.

In addition to Wolf Cousins’ bulletproof track record, Görres has carved out one of the most successful and singular lanes of any member of Max Martin’s lineage. This week, he continues his fruitful partnership with Troye Sivan on the Australian artist’s In A Dream EP, which follows the massive success of their Bloom collaborations "My My My!" and "Plum." And earlier this spring, Görres helped pop disruptor Allie X take us to Cape God with a 12-track album that plumbed new depths for both parties.

"As soon as I had made one song with Oscar, I knew he was very special," Allie tells "I felt that, for the first time, I had a producer who was taking what was special about me as an artist and really translating it into something. He brings a kindness, a knowledge of how to play every instrument prolifically, a sensitivity, a coolness and a confidence that was instrumental in me—for once!—taking a back seat in production. He is certainly one of the best."

"Oscar is the kindest, purest soul, and the control he takes in creative ideas and direction are like very few I’ve ever worked with," Sabrina Carpenter adds. "He makes me laugh—that’s half of what makes us working together feel like we’re not working at all. He trusted my vision, which is all I could ever ask for."

Here, over the course of an hours-long Zoom earlier this week, Gorres talks (in his first interview ever) about his humble beginnings, his goals for making music with and for other artists, writing for legends and studying under Max Martin’s tutelage.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity

How did you first get interested in music?

I grew up in a very musical home. My dad is a musician. I started to play instruments very young with my dad. He even took me out on the streets of Stockholm to perform when I was 5 or 6 years old.

I was signed to Warner Chappell [as a songwriter] when I was 19. That was because me and my friend did songs in my parents’ basement. I didn’t know if I was any good—I wanted a reality check! My girlfriend at the time knew someone who knew someone working at Warner Chappell, so I was lucky enough to have a meeting there and get to play some of our songs. I was signed off of that. Tthey saw something in me that they wanted to develop.

Simultaneously, I went to the Royal College of Music to study jazz piano, so I was still on the "I'm gonna be a musician" path. But there was something about creating, writing and recording music—producing music—that felt right. It’s something that lasts. Sweden is a small market for pop music, so you can imagine the jazz scene here. [Laughs.] It’s not like New York. And jazz as a genre is small as is. I wanted the music I worked on to be heard and experienced by more people.

When you signed with Warner Chappell, was the next step being put into sessions to figure out how you operated?

It was a little bit like that! Working with people and being good in those situations is something you need to practice. They put me together with songwriters on their roster. I think I jumped on and produced a song that was released in Germany first—small steps. Then I worked with Swedish artists. It was a few years of building up my skills, and learning the craft—learning to be a better producer and writer.

Did you have a song or a session where things, after years of building those skills, really clicked into place?

One of the clearest moments I can think of is: I started this idea eight years ago—not that long ago, weirdly enough—which felt good. I was almost embarrassed. It was a little funky. It had jazzy chords. I sent the idea to Shellback. At the moment, Wolf Cousins weren’t even formed, but we knew of each other, even though we’d never worked together. I sent it to him and he was just amazed. Two hours later, he had a melody on top of it. All of a sudden, a world opened up. Later, we recorded that song with Maroon 5 as "Feelings." It’s one of those moments where I was like, "Ok, this is something. Maybe I can do this."

Of course, the moment where I was signed was also the biggest, "This is something of worth" moment. You need to believe in yourself to create things. When you spend a lot of time on them, you don’t know if they’re even anything of use. Then someone tells you, "This is of use. We want to invest in you!" That’s amazing. I feel like I still don’t know what I’m doing. [Laughs.] But that’s also a healthy feeling. You don’t want to buy into your own mythology.  

When you had that Maroon 5 cut and started working with Shellback, is that what started opening doors to markets like America?

Having your songs released in the U.S., the biggest market… that’s always been my dream. The first time I went to L.A., I went there just to feel the energy. Ever since that first time, I felt something special—walking on Sunset, all the clichés. It’s the city of dreams, and broken dreams. "Feelings" and "I Wish" by Cher Lloyd were the two songs that felt like "This is gonna be a door-opener."

All of a sudden, you have something of worth that you can get a work visa off of. I think you need the help of someone that can give you a hand and help you take those steps. It’s so hard when you’re not that well-connected and you don’t have the infrastructure. You need to know people. It’s not like back in the days when you could write a song in your basement and you send it to someone. Those things can happen, but now it’s more relationship-driven.

In Wolf Cousins, we were all scouted mainly from Warner Chappell and from some smaller publishing companies. Max and Shellback had this idea, and had their eyes on us for a couple of years. When they felt like it was time—"Ok, now we can try to pull this off!"—they formed this group of people. I think that song was my ticket in. I haven’t asked!

I have to imagine you were a fan of Max’s before meeting him.

It’s almost surreal. Even though he’s from Sweden, people don’t recognize him on the street here, really. You build this story, this legend of this man, where everything he touches becomes gold. But when I first met him, it was years before. He helped me with a song, because he just wanted to be nice because I worked with someone, Alexander Kronlund, on a track. Max swung by the studio and wanted to help. That was… super scary. But that’s more from my side, because he’s a very normal man—with great taste in music! [Laughs.]

I don’t know if I’m worthy. He is so much about the music, to put in the work, to leave no stone unturned. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You work hard, and it takes time. His passion for music was the most striking thing about him. To me, he is a warm, loving person that cares—a music nerd, essentially. Everything that you imagine, that you thought might be so scary, "Oh, how am I worthy"—all of a sudden you jump into this process where it’s all about the music, and there are no egos! He’ll say, "Maybe we should do this—what do you think?" [Feigns shock.] "What do… I think? Uhhhh..."

With Max, you switch focus to what you’re trying to achieve and what you’re trying to do. All of the other things fade away. But when you say it like that, it’s still surreal to actually be a part of this with him. Working with the people I literally saved articles about from Swedish newspapers—"Oh, Rami [Yacoub] programmed the drums for this Number One record with Britney Spears"—like, I still have that piece of paper cutout from the article! It’s very, very cool. Now they are my friends and my extended family.

But I guess it’s always like that: you build up ideas about people with great power and great knowledge and great success and achievements. Then you realize, they’re normal people that are just very passionate about something.

What other lessons have you taken away from working with Max?

He is very good at creating a safe environment in the room, so people become the best versions of themselves, so you can make all the mistakes, so you can try the crazy ideas and stumble over the happy accidents that can become the core of the song. That’s a very helpful lesson—you can use the accumulated energy in the room, in a way, to let people shine. Create a great environment. Write things. Make all the mistakes. And, maybe later, fix things! Then you can rework things and work on the arrangements. If you just stop the flow to fix things in the moment, the energy falters.

Max is great with people. He makes you feel great. The first time I was in a room with him, he made me feel like I could do something. There were no differences between us, essentially. He asked for my opinions. The thing with him that I think is so cool is that he has great taste. A lot of people talk about how our team has formulas, or steps to follow when we make songs. I don’t know who said that or came up with those things, because there are no structures or magic tricks. That’s totally made up. In his case, I think he follows his gut feeling.

As a young producer/songwriter, you’re very close to things. He is really good—which comes with experience—at taking a step back and seeing the whole thing. He paints with a bigger brush. "What’s the drama here? If this part is very crowded, maybe we need something to balance it here. The energy needs to come down. If you listen to this 20 times, you'll realize we need to work on this passage here."

He’s good at pulling back and looking at a song from a mile away.

Yeah! He’s very versatile, but watching him, I was like, "Oh, this is how the pros work." You can switch focus. You can be granular: "What’s wrong with the bass line? What’s wrong with the kick drum?" Then you can zoom back and say, "Ok, how does this feel? What’s the function of this part? How do we make this part as strong and as clear as possible?"

He also stresses the importance of vocals. That’s one of the big things he’s taught me: work hard on the vocals. Sit there. Do a lot of takes. Let the lead vocal flow naturally. Spend time on that. There are no shortcuts to that. You need to work hard on it. Back in the day, it was just a matter of doing more takes, more takes, more takes. Now we have tools so you can easily comp and make the best version of a vocal take. But essentially what you hear in a song, you hear the vocals, you hear a kick drum, and some music. If you don’t get that right, the rest of it doesn’t matter.

What intentions do you approach sessions with? How do you go in and leave with the best possible work?

I always have an idea of what it could be. "What if this artist did this? What do I wanna hear this artist do?" Most of the time, as a producer in the room, you’re responsible for getting the energy going. Everything comes from deep conversation. In terms of getting a vibe going, you as a producer need to bring something that sparks something else. I never come unprepared, but I like to start everything from scratch. Maybe that’s the benefit of playing instruments—you play something and it’s more like creating on the spot.

One thing I wanna be good at is tuning into the room. Like, "Oh, people are reacting to this!" You can feel when you’re doing something, playing certain chords, when people feel like it’s special—without even saying anything. You do it a lot of times, you have a lot of sessions, and you become good at feeling that energy and what people are reacting to.

With that said, it’s hard. You want to follow the energy, but you also have to steer it, but you don’t want to box anyone in. It doesn’t feel right to say that I help people do their thing and I’m not part of it, because I am, of course. Sometimes I do more than steering. Like when we did “Easy” on Troye’s EP, that morning I had that [sings the verse melody] on my synth. Troye came into the room, heard it, and that started something.

Let’s talk about that creative collaboration with Troye. He’s someone you’ve returned to work with on his new In A Dream EP. How did you two first meet, and why do you keep returning to that relationship?

Troye and I met as a booked session. He came to Sweden for a week or two in 2017, and was meant to work with a lot of people. The first day was nice, and the second day was a good session, but sometimes you need the release of, "Oh, we’ve got something." That came on day three. Day two was close, so he canceled his session the next day. We weren’t supposed to have the third day, but we had it and that’s when "My My My!" was written. He’s just a wonderful person to be around. He has that impact on people. Creatively, he’s very open. He’s very receptive. He always comes to the studio inspired by something: "There was this movie, or this novel, or this coffee shop where the vibe was cool!"

Somehow, he finds an angle. He’s very good at verbalizing and putting his feelings into words. That’s very inspiring to me—an artist who has visions and ideas and brings things to the table. It’s not like you’re meeting him and he’s like, "Ok, what’re we going to do today?" He’s not like any other artist to me. That’s why we keep coming back to each other, because we have a lot of fun together. We find common ground, where I get to be free and he gets to be free and we can create something together.

For his new EP, he came here last year, and I don’t think he was ready for a new album. He didn’t have a plan for "a new big record!" Maybe that’s a sign of the times, too, that artists just want to make music and put it out as a quicker process. This project captured something that he’s been going through since last summer. We just started working.

The first song that felt like we were on to something was "Take Yourself Home." That’s one really cool thing as a songwriter and producer, to create these relationships with artists. You get to develop something together. You feel like you have your thing going. He knows that when we’re working, we have something special.

Plus I imagine there’s something fulfilling for both of you in the ability to return to a collaboration time and time again, because you each know how the other works, and the walls have already come down. It’s probably easy to get back into the swing of making art again much more quickly.

It’s less of the speed dating you have to do in this industry—which can be amazing. But I love that, too, when you just jump into something. Oftentimes that’s when you stumble upon an idea that becomes something. And since it’s the first time you meet, you’re doing a little extra. You want to be the best version of yourself. That versus all the things you were saying about being comfortable with someone… having that trust that I can have a bad day and it’s ok, we’ll come back tomorrow and do another song, a better song? That’s special.

Have you found that one-day magic with anyone recently?

One song in a day that turned out really fun and great was working with Sabrina Carpenter. We did a song called "Bad Time." We just jumped on it. As a producer from Sweden working with an American artist, you think, “Can I be here? What can I do? What can I contribute?” But you go in with that energy like, “OK, I’ve got one day. I have to do my best. I have to give it my all.” It’s that feeling! It becomes like sports. You have a limited time.

I was so hyped that day. It was all done in a day, I think. I worked so hard on that. I remember sending it to her and she was like, [shocked voice] "…. Did you do this already?" That was a really nice experience. Of course not every session goes like that. Maybe when you’ve proven yourself a little bit, in the industry, when you’ve gotten your name out and people want to work with you again, you can get more time. That’s always preferable—to make the mistakes and also to explore the more obscure stuff. To push boundaries a little bit. "This is your sound—but can it be this, too?" Maybe you don’t want to waste taking a wild chance, a leap of faith, when you just have one day. Maybe you end up doing more safe stuff when you have limited time.

One artist you did have the time with is Allie X, whose album Cape God you produced. How did that partnership come about?

We met by accident. I was working with Troye on Bloom in Los Angeles in 2017. I heard a song at the gym on my Discover Weekly playlist, and I said, "Oh, I like this, what is it?” It was Allie X’s "Paper Love." I mentioned that to Troye and he said, "Oh, that’s a friend of mine! I should bring her to the studio. Maybe she could come tomorrow." She came the day after and that was the day we wrote "Plum" [for Troye]. That was our first connection. I knew very little of her artist project and what her songs were like.

When she came to Sweden, we were supposed to work a week, kind of randomly. It was just writing—me, Allie, and James Ghaleb, who’s a friend of mine. No one knew if we were writing for her, or to pitch, or for someone else. And Allie is hilarious. She can go crazy and jump around the room and throw cushions and make weird noises, and she can be super deep in conversations. She’s super intelligent.

We had a guitar and we started jamming. She said something like, "I have a line: 'I want to be near fresh laundry / It’s been too many years of not folding.'" Me and James were like, "…right." But we found something! "Fresh Laundry" was the first song we did. It was a crazy week. We worked almost around the clock in six days. We ended up with "Fresh Laundry," "Rings a Bell" and "Regulars." We had a week in L.A. too, and after that, she asked me to do the whole thing.

Working with Allie has been very liberating, because she is so in favor of me being creative and trying weird, obscure stuff. She’s willing to stretch things and push a little bit, musically. I come from jazz, with chords and chord progressions and modulations between keys and songs. I felt that this was a way for me to stimulate that side of myself. Sometimes you can feel boxed in. Some pop artists just want to do their thing—and that’s great. Some artists are more open. There’s always a balance between that and what the music needs. I felt, working with Allie, there was more space to evolve these things musically.

My job is to make the music sound like their world. Sometimes they think they know what they want it to sound like. All of a sudden, you stumble over something they didn’t see coming. Then that becomes the core of it. Allie had no idea that the Cape God sound was going to be that. It’s something that happened when our worlds collided. I think in those cases, that’s the producer’s biggest role. You help the artist to create their vision, sonically.

You worked with Britney Spears on "Hard to Forget Ya" on Glory. Hers is one of the most iconic, singular voices in modern pop—you can’t ever unhear it. How do you even begin to produce those vocals?

Tell me about it. When I started making music, one of my main goals was to have a Britney Spears song. That was like the last boss in the video game. [Laughs.] The song was actually written during the first songwriting camp in Las Vegas for Warner Chappell. Justin Tranter, Julia Michaels, Mattman & Robin were all in the room next to us. Two of the songs—my song and "Do You Wanna Come Over?"—were written on the same day. Karen Kwak [the executive producer of Glory] was coming over the day after to listen to both of the demos. It was such a fast process.

For some reason, I had that rhythm [sings the melody of the song’s chorus] when I woke up that day. I brought that into the room. Both Chi and Blu, from [songwriting and production duo] Nova Wav, and Ian Kirkpatrick and Edward Drewett were all there. I knew Karen was coming over so I said, "Can we do something for Britney? Just for fun? She’s an icon, she’s amazing, let’s just do it." So we did.

Working on that song, there were a lot of things to fix. The foundation was great and felt really Britney, like something she could do. It felt great. But I took it home to Sweden and worked on it, and Ian worked on it too and sent me files. The Nova girls were out in the countryside and they sent me voice notes. It was a puzzle making that song, but we got it to work, so I sent it to Karen again. Then we didn’t hear anything. All of sudden, we heard: "Britney wants to record it. She loves it."

I couldn’t be there to record her. I was devastated. It was in a hurry too. I think it was one of the last songs she recorded for Glory. But I got the vocals in. One of the things I remember so strongly is her voice has this frequency, that tone that defined my teens. I couldn’t work on it for the first half hour, because I was literally shaking. I was shaking! I feel embarrassed to say this, but I was like, "It’s her. It’s her. It’s HER!" Working on that song and on the vocals… [shakes his head in disbelief]

I had to go back and ask her to re-sing some parts, and I sang a couple of ad libs and said, "Can you do that?" She did and then I felt like, "I can’t believe Britney Spears is singing my words and ad libs back to me." The younger version of myself and myself as a grownup were just over the moon and up in the clouds.

You also netted a song with Taylor Swift on Reputation, "So It Goes…" Did that connection come through Max?

I’d just become a father. I was not in the room when the melody and the lyrics were written. Max and Shellback did half of the album with her in L.A., and I had done this [instrumental] track—which is weird too, because I don’t do tracks. No one really does tracks on our team now. But I’d started that idea. Shellback was looking through things on his computer, listened to that track, and Taylor reacted to it. "Oh, what’s that? That’s special. I haven’t done anything like that. Can we do that?"

So they were vibing and doing melodies, and Taylor had the lyrics. She wrote everything quickly. I woke up—this is the funny part of the story—and someone is FaceTiming me at 6:30 in the morning. I’ve just had a child. I was up all night and my eyes were bloodshot and my hair was crazy. I saw it was Shellback and I ignored the call, put my phone away, and jumped into the shower. My girlfriend is like, "Can you answer your phone? Someone’s calling you constantly, it’s Johan [Shellback]! Can you just take it?" I got out of the shower with a towel wrapped around me and I texted Shellback like, "Ok, it’s 6:30 a.m., I am so tired, I’ve been up all night, and I just got out of the shower. Can I call you back later?" He said, "No. Call me. Now." [Laughs.]

I called him back and saw this girl on his couch. She goes, "Hi! It’s Taylor! How are you?" And I’m presenting myself [in a towel] after a shower… it was a very unpleasant picture for her. She goes, "We just heard the track. We had the melody. The lyrics are like this. I can read you the lyrics! I had this idea. What do you think about that?" And I was like, "…yes!" It was a very strange songwriting session for me, but I’m very thankful for that. It’s the one FaceTime call I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

You've also produced two songs on Katy Perry's new record, Smile—"Teary Eyes" and "Not the End of the World." How did you get those cuts?

JKash [Jacob Kasher] brought me onto this project. This was in April. Everything was shut down and I couldn’t travel. He said, "We have this song, ‘Teary Eyes,’ maybe you could help with the production? We’d like something extra." I don’t remember what it sounded like or what I was supposed to do, but I was sent all the files and then I basically did my thing, together with the other producer, Andrew Goldstein, finding the balance and the final sound. Once we had that done, and it turned out really good, we did the same with the other song. In those cases, it’s more like enhancing things. All the parts are there. All the chords are there. The melody’s there! It’s the exciting part—and a little bit the scary part—of being a producer. It’s not like you go to school and you have this diploma or certificate that says, "Now you’re a producer. Go out into the world and produce!" Everybody has their own ways and learns it by just doing. How do you make your song sound great? It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you end up with a great product.

What you do in those cases is, you get files and then you do it the way you wanna do it. It’s hard to collaborate because there are no rules! I was happy to play a small part on those.

You mentioned that landing a Britney song was one of your goals. Do you have other similar career achievements you’re dreaming of?

When it comes to fascination with vocalists, those tones that resonate in the body, I definitely want to have a Rihanna record. [Laughs.] I love the music she’s been doing lately. It’s so amazing. Bruno Mars is one of those too, someone who wows me. He’s doing his thing. It’s so fantastic to watch him in his element, and I think we’d have a fun day jamming in the studio.

To me, success is being able to do this at all. The next song you’re doing and working on, the feeling it gives you when it hits you right, when you get it to sound right or when you nail it—"Oh, there it is!"—and you can blast it and it feels good in your body… that’s success to me. Every time that happens, it’s success. If I can get to feel that, hopefully someone else in the world can feel that way too.

I’m still pinching myself, like, “Wow, I can do this. I can support my family by making music.” How cool is that? If I can do this in five years, that is true success. I’m 34 now. I’ve actually been in this industry for 15 years, but I haven’t been on this level for 15 years. Things take time. A lot of people fall off along the way. It’s not a fair industry at all. So I’m very humbled and very thankful and grateful that I can be doing this… but a Rihanna record would be nice. [Laughs.]

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The Woman In Me

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One of the most highly anticipated books of the year, Spears' memoir has been a blockbuster in the weeks since its release. When it was announced that the singer was writing a book, fans and observers braced themselves for what she would reveal when it comes to her tumultuous life and career. The result is a no-holds-barred look at how an innocent girl from Louisiana became swept up in the tsunami of fame, as well as the resulting wake. 

The Woman in Me details Spears' halcyon younger years as part of the "New Mickey Mouse Club," her explosive career, the blossoming and collapse of her relationship with Justin Timberlake, and the punishing conservatorship concocted by her father. Spears doesn’t hold back, but also shouts out the figures who provided solace and kindness: Madonna, Elton John, Mariah Carey, and former Jive Records president Clive Calder. The Woman In Me proves to be an unflinching, eye-opening look at the swirling tornado of music, fame, love and family, for better or for worse. 

My Name is Barbra

By Barbra Streisand

Since her early '60s breakout to her current status as a bona fide living legend, Barbra Streisand has lived a lot of life. Streisand's 992-page tome breaks down her humble beginnings growing up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and her subsequent stratospheric life during which she received a whopping 46 GRAMMY nominations and released many timeless songs. Along the way, she also became the first female in the history of moviemaking to write, produce, direct and star in a major motion picture (Yentl). 

It’s all a long time coming, considering Jackie Onassis first approached Streisand to chronicle her triumphant life in 1984 (at the time, the former first lady was editor of Doubleday and Streisand was a mere 20 years into her iconic career). "Frankly, I thought at 42 I was too young, with much more work still to come," Striesand recently told Vanity Fair. It’s an understatement considering all that’s happened since.

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One of the most celebrated artists of all time, McCartney's genius songwriting is on full, glimmering display in THE LYRICS. Newly released in a one volume paperback edition, the book puts the Beatles' way with words front and center while offering popcorn-worthy backstory. 

Originally published to acclaim in 2021, the updated version includes additional material and insight from Macca himself on the creation of some of the most indelible hits in music history, including the 1965 Beatles hit "Daytripper." 

"The riff became one of our most well-known and you still often hear it played when you walk into guitar shops," wrote McCartney of the track. "It’s one of those songs that revolves around the riff. Some songs are hung onto a chord progression. Others, like this, are driven by the riff." 

Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones

By Dolly Parton 

"It costs a lot of money to look this cheap!" So says luminary Dolly Parton, in a self-deprecating and witty and also patently untrue famous turn of phrase. While Parton’s life story has been recounted numerous times on the page and on screen, Behind the Seams zeros in on not just her trials and tribulations, but her unmistakable style. 

Packed with nearly 500 photographs, the book traces Parton’s looks from the sacks she used to dress in as a child in poverty to the flamboyant visuals associated with her stardom. "I’ve been at this so long, I’ve worn some of the most bizarre things," Parton recently told the Guardian. "My hairdos have always been so out there. At the time you think you look good, then you look back on it, like, what was I thinking?"

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

By Sly Stone

The 80-year-old reclusive frontman of Sly and the Family Stone has certainly lived a lot of life. From his early days as part of the gospel vocal group the Stewart Four, Stone and his family band later became fixtures of the charts from the late '60s into the mid-'70s; a journey traced in the new book Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), named after their 1969 song of the same name.  

Known for funky, soulful and earworm signature hits including "Dance to the Music" and "Everyday People," the band won over the hearts of America, influencing legions of fans (including Herbie Hanckock and Miles Davis) and gaining a few enemies (the Black Panther Party). The book chronicles those ups and downs (including drug abuse), tracking Stone up to the modern era, which includes receiving the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Special Merit Award in 2017. 

Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song

By Judith Tick

Ella Fitzgerald is one of America’s most iconic voices and the full breadth of her story will be told in the first major biography since her death in 1996. Known as the First Lady of Song, the 13-time GRAMMY winner is known for her swingin’ standards, sultry ballads, scat and everything in between.

Out Nov. 21, the vocalist’s historic career is recounted by musicologist Judith Tick, who reflects on her legend using new research, fresh interviews and rare recordings. The result is a portrait of an undeniable talent and the obstacles she was up against, from her early days at the Apollo Theater to her passionate zeal for recording and performing up until her later years. 

"Ella was two people," her longtime drummer Gregg Field told in 2020. "She was very humble, very shy and generous. But when she walked on stage she was hardcore and didn’t know how to sing unless it was coming from her heart."

World Within a Song: Music That Changed My Life and Life That Changed My Music

By Jeff Tweedy

Aside from his extensive discography with Wilco and beyond, Jeff Tweedy is the author of three books: his memoir  Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back), a meditation on creativity called How to Write One Song, and his latest, World Within a Song. The latter expertly examines a variety of songs by a disparate spate of artists, from Rosalía to Billie Eilish with Tweedy’s singular take on what makes each song stand out along with what he dubs "Rememories," short blurbs that recount moments from his own life and times. 

Much like his songwriting prowess, it’s a book where Tweedy’s way with words shine with shimmering eloquence. "My experience of my own emotions is that they all interact," Tweedy told last year. "They aren't individual, isolated things that you experience one at a time, and I think that's a really beautiful thing about being alive."

Tupac Shakur: The Authorized Biography

By Staci Robinson

One of the giants of hip-hop finally gets his due with an official recounting of his life and times. Here his legend is told by the authoritative Staci Robinson, an expert on the star who previously wrote Tupac Remembered: Bearing Witness to a Life and Legacy and served as executive producer of the FX documentary series "Dear Mama: The Saga of Afeni and Tupac Shakur."

Here, Robinson reflects on Tupac’s legacy from a modern perspective, and tracks the history of race in America alongside the rapper’s life and times, from the turbulent '60s to the Rodney King riots. Along the way are the stories behind the songs including "Brenda’s Got a Baby." 

"In between shots (of filming the movie Juice) I wrote it," Shakur is quoted saying in Robinson’s book. "I was crying too. That’s how I knew everybody else would cry, ’cause I was crying.’" 

10 Music Books To Dig Into This Summer: A Kate Bush Bio, A First-Hand Account Of The Grunge Scene & Feminist Punk Histories

Here Are The Nominees For Best Pop Dance Recording At The 2024 GRAMMYs
{From Left To Right] Bebe Rexha, Calvin Harris, Kylie Minogue, David Guetta, and Troye Sivan


Here Are The Nominees For Best Pop Dance Recording At The 2024 GRAMMYs

Take a look at the inaugural list of nominees for Best Pop Dance Recording — one of three new categories at the 2024 GRAMMYs — which features hits from dance legends and pop superstars.

GRAMMYs/Nov 12, 2023 - 05:31 pm

One of three new categories debuting at the 2024 GRAMMYs, Best Pop Dance Recording will be hotly contested in its first year.

The inaugural round of Best Pop Dance Recording nominees features not one, but two David Guetta collaborations ("Baby Don’t Hurt Me" with Anne-Marie and Coi Leray, and "One In A Million" with Bebe Rexha), and the long-awaited reunion of Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding on "Miracle." The new category also features two earworms from Australian pop dance exports: Kylie Minogue’s "Padam Padam" and Troye Sivan’s "Rush." 

Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs on Feb. 4, 2024, get to know the five nominees in this newly minted category.

David Guetta, Anne-Marie & Coi Leray -"Baby Don't Hurt Me"

In a year defined by dance producers putting a modern spin on dance music’s past, David Guetta reached back to 1993 to interpolate Haddaway’s dance-pop hit, "What Is Love," for "Baby Don’t Hurt Me." The song is a fitting follow-up to Guetta and Bebe Rexha’s 2022 hit, "I’m Good (Blue)", which winkingly rekindled Eiffel 65’s Eurodance anthem, "Blue (Da Ba Dee)".

"Baby Don’t Hurt Me" brings Haddaway’s irresistible hook into 2023 with distinctive verses from British vocalist Anne-Marie (who memorably joined Marshmello on 2018’s smash  "Friends") and fast-rising Boston rapper Coi Leray. 

Paired with a video that references ‘90s clubbing and cult movie A Night at the Roxbury, "Baby Don’t Hurt Me" is a familiar sugar rush that plays to the individual strengths of its perhaps unlikely trio. 

Calvin Harris featuring Ellie Goulding - "Miracle"

Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding are a dance music dream team, having previously released "I Need Your Love" (2012) and "Outside" (2014). After waiting almost a full decade to reunite, the pair returned in 2023 with their third collaboration, "Miracle."

An out-and-out trance-meets-Eurodance throwback (think inspirations like Robert Miles' "Children"), "Miracle" aims straight for the nostalgic pleasure centers. Harris told Apple Music that he needed Goulding's "angelic" vocal talents, and the British singer skillfully plays off the song's maximal production. Working alongside his longtime studio partner Burns, Harris packs the rave euphoria into a crisp three minutes, right through to the unexpected breakbeat outro. 

The non-album single signaled a new phase for Harris, and follows 2022's Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 as well as his ravier experiments as Love Regenerator. In July, Harris returned to the trance sounds of his teen years with "Desire" featuring Sam Smith, proving these faster tempos are not just a passing phase. 

Kylie Minogue - "Padam Padam" 

Now 16 albums into a glittering career, Kylie Minogue is a true icon of international pop. However, not even the most ardent Kylie fans could've predicted her 2023 glow-up, courtesy of viral sensation "Padam Padam." 

The song first came to Minogue in a demo version by Norwegian singer/songwriter Ina Wroldsen and UK producer Lostboy, which immediately caught her ear. "Straightaway, I was in," she recalled to, noting that she knew it was "perfect for me."

The first single from the Australian singer's latest album, Tension, the instantly danceable beat and one-word hook of "Padam Padam" inspired countless TikTok videos and memes. "I finally get TikTok. Yes, I've been slow but I finally am there," Minogue admitted upon Tension's release.

Minogue also celebrated the queer community and Gen Z's embrace of her runaway hit. "I hope to continue having fun with that," she added. "It was really organic. I don't think you can force that. It happened and I loved every second of it."

Bebe Rexha & David Guetta - "One In A Million"

Ever since co-writing Eminem and Rihanna's "The Monster" in 2013, Brooklyn-born Bebe Rexha has mastered the art of collaboration. Over a prolific decade, including three albums of her own, the pop singer/songwriter has teamed up with a diverse range of artists, including Nicki Minaj, Doja Cat, Florida Georgia Line and Dolly Parton, to feature on her songs.

In the pop dance world, French hitmaker David Guetta is Rexha's most reliable collaborator. After striking gold on 2022's "I'm Good (Blue)" — which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 at the top of 2023 — the pair returned with a new standalone single, "One In A Million."

With a piano line that evokes Guetta's own "When Love Takes Over," "One In A Million" channels the giddy feeling of new love over a racing beat. The song arrived in a typically whirlwind year of collaborations for Guetta, who also mined the past alongside Jason Derulo, Oliver Tree and Zara Larsson. 

Troye Sivan - "Rush"

After a long wait between solo releases, Australian pop chameleon Troye Sivan boldly announced a new era with "Rush." Released at the height of summer as the lead single from Sivan's third album, Something To Give Each Other, "Rush" instantly hit its mark as a celebration of queer pleasure-seeking. In a statement, Sivan described the single as an accumulation of "all of my experiences from a chapter where I feel confident, free and liberated."

The song's lusty bassline, exultant piano-house keys and chanted chorus perfectly play off Sivan's falsetto, creating a heady mood of dance floor abandon. (Fittingly, the Berlin-shot music video is a parade of sweaty bodies in motion.) A ready-made anthem, "Rush" set the stage perfectly for the assured and life-affirming Something To Give Each Other, leaving no doubt that Sivan is thriving in 2023. 

The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Arena on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.

The Recording Academy and do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy's Voting Membership.

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Winners & Nominees List

SZA's Massive Year Continues, 'Barbie' Dominates & Big Firsts From The 2024 GRAMMYs Nominations
The 2024 GRAMMYs will air live on Sunday, Feb. 4, on CBS and Paramount+.

Graphic Courtesy of the Recording Academy


SZA's Massive Year Continues, 'Barbie' Dominates & Big Firsts From The 2024 GRAMMYs Nominations

Who is the most nominated artist at the 66th GRAMMY Awards? Who could potentially make history? Take a look at five takeaways from the nominations for the 2024 GRAMMYs.

GRAMMYs/Nov 10, 2023 - 07:51 pm

One of the biggest days in music has arrived: the nominations for the 2024 GRAMMYs.

With the excitement of the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations — which were announced on Nov. 10 — comes many big milestones. Whether it's first-time feats by this year's most nominated artist, SZA, or record-tying nominations by Taylor Swift, there's several intriguing takeaways from the 94 categories.  

Below, check out five major outcomes of the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations.

SZA's Big Year Is Rewarded

There's no denying that SZA has been one of the year's most in-demand artists, and her GRAMMY nominations reflect that. With nine nominations, SZA is the most-nominated artist at the 2024 GRAMMYs — and she has a lot of new milestones to celebrate.

With 15 nominations and one win going into the 2024 GRAMMYs, SZA had already received nods in several major categories. But her most recent noms are particularly special because they're all for her own work.

SZA's ambitious second album, SOS, is the singer's first LP to receive an Album Of The Year nomination, while lead single "Kill Bill" is her first solo song to be nominated in the Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year categories. (She was previously nominated for AOTY as a featured artist on Doja Cat's Planet Her (Deluxe) in 2022, and for ROTY and SOTY with Kendrick Lamar for "All The Stars" in 2019 and with Doja Cat for "Kiss Me More" in 2022.)

Plus, the R&B star expands her nominations within her own genre: she's nominated in the Best Progressive R&B Album (SOS) and Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Love Language") categories for the first time.

Women Lead The Pack

Who run the 2024 GRAMMYs? Girls.

SZA is far from the only female artist with several GRAMMY nominations this year. Of the nine most-nominated artists, eight are women: SZA (9), Phoebe Bridgers (7), boygenius (6), Brandy Clark (6), Miley Cyrus (6), Olivia Rodrigo (6), Taylor Swift (6), and Victoria Monét (6). As Cyrus noted in a social media post celebrating her nominations, "Watching women win & rule the music industry makes me proud."

In fact, a majority of this year's leading nominees are women artists or groups. The Record Of The Year and Album Of The Year categories, as well as the Best Pop Solo Performance category, are all dominated by women.

What's more, four of five nominees in the Best R&B Song and Best R&B Album are women — the latter of which features Babyface's Girls Night Out, an album of collaborations with female artists.

'Barbie' Dominates Once Again

Another woman who took over the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations was Barbie — well, sort of.

The Barbie soundtrack and some of its hit songs received 11 nominations, four of which dominate the Best Song Written For Visual Media category: Nicki Minaj's and Ice Spice's "Barbie World," Dua Lipa's "Dance The Night," Ryan Gosling's "I'm Just Ken," and Billie Eilish's "What Was I Made For?" (They'll be competing against Rihanna's highly anticipated return to music, "Lift Me Up" from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.)

"Dance the Night" also earned a coveted Song Of The Year nomination, while "What Was I Made For?" scored nods in both Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year, as well as Best Pop Solo Performance. Additionally, "Barbie World" received a nomination for Best Rap Song.

Naturally, Barbie The Album is nominated for Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media nomination. Mark Ronson's genius was further rewarded with a nom for Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media, which he earned alongside his co-composer, Andrew Wyatt.

Artists Add Big Firsts

Like the 2023 GRAMMYs nominations, the 2024 GRAMMYs nominations resulted in many exciting firsts. While several artists are receiving their first GRAMMY nods — some of which will be highlighted in's Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee series in January — there are also several GRAMMY veterans with firsts to celebrate

Taylor Swift, for example, became the first songwriter to receive seven nominations in the Song Of The Year category. Along with her current nomination for "Anti-Hero," she was previously nominated for "All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (The Short Film)," "cardigan," "Lover," "Blank Space," "Shake It Off," and "You Belong With Me." And she could be making even more history at the 2024 GRAMMYs — but more on that later.

Miley Cyrus also achieved new GRAMMY feats, as her acclaimed eighth album, Endless Summer Vacation, is the pop star's first project to receive an Album Of The Year nomination. (She received an AOTY nod in 2022 as a featured artist on Lil Nas X's MONTERO.) The LP's smash lead single, "Flowers," helped Cyrus earn her first nominations in the Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Pop Solo Performance categories as well, and her collab with Brandi Carlile, "Thousand Miles," earned her first nod for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

R&B singer Victoria Monét isn't celebrating her first GRAMMY nominations this year, but she is celebrating her first as an artist. Monét had previously received three nominations: two in 2020 for her work as a songwriter/producer on Ariana Grande's "7 rings" (Record Of The Year) and thank u, next (Album Of The Year), and one in 2021 for Chloe x Halle's "Do It" (Best R&B Song). All six of her 2024 GRAMMY nominations recognize her work as an artist herself, including the esteemed honor of Best New Artist. Her other nods are for her debut album, JAGUAR II: Record Of The Year ("On My Mama"), Best R&B Performance ("How Does It Make You Feel"), Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Hollywood"), Best R&B Song ("On My Mama"), and Best R&B Album.

This also isn't the first time Phoebe Bridgers has received GRAMMY nominations — but it is for her supergroup boygenius, as well as for her bandmates Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker. With their six nods (including Album Of The Year for the record and Record Of The Year for "Not Strong Enough"), they became the first group to receive six or more GRAMMY nominations in a single year since 2012, when fun. and Mumford & Sons received six nominations each at the 2013 GRAMMYs.

A handful of other previously GRAMMY-nominated artists received their first nominations in new categories this year. 2022's Best New Artist, Olivia Rodrigo, earned her first in a Rock category for "ballad of a homeschooled girl" (Best Rock Song); 2022's Album Of The Year winner, Jon Batiste, has his first in the Song Of The Year ("Butterfly") and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance ("Candy Necklace" with Lana Del Rey) categories; Brandy Clark collected her first in the Best Americana Performance ("Dear Insecurity" with Brandi Carlile), Best American Roots Song ("Dear Insecurity") and Best Americana Album (Brandy Clark) categories, as well as her first in the Best Musical Theater Album category for "Shucked."

It's actually the first time a few artists are nominated for contributions to film and theater: Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna are all first-time Best Song Written For Visual Media nominees, and Josh Groban earned his first nod in the Best Musical Theater Album category, for his role as principal vocalist in "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street."

Last but certainly not least, in the Best African Music Performance category — one of three new categories for the 2024 GRAMMYs — four of the five artists or groups are first-time GRAMMY nominees: ASAKE & Olamide ("Amapiano"), Davido Featuring Musa Keys ("UNAVAILABLE"), Ayra Starr ("Rush"), and Tyla ("Water").

Taylor Swift Aims For More GRAMMY History

As Swifties know, Taylor Swift is no stranger to making GRAMMY history. In 2021, she made history as the first female artist to win Album Of The Year three times — but in 2024, she could become the artist with the most wins in the category ever.

That's right: If Swift's Midnights takes home the golden gramophone for Album Of The Year, she'll have a record-breaking four wins in the category, passing Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder.

Even if she doesn't win, Swift has already tied a GRAMMY record. With her nomination for Midnights, Swift now ties Barbra Streisand for most nominations by a female artist for Album Of The Year, with six nominations in the category each. 

Will Taylor Swift make more GRAMMY history? Will SZA cap off her unstoppable year with a GRAMMY win? Will Miley Cyrus get her "Flowers"? Tune into CBS on Feb. 4, 2024 to find out!

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List

Here Are The Song Of The Year Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs
(Clockwise) Lana Del Rey, Jon Batiste, SZA, Dua Lipa, Miley Cyrus, Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift

Photos: Image from TiVO; Dave Benett/Getty Images for Alexander McQueen; Prince Williams/WireImage; SAMIR HUSSEIN/WIREIMAGE; Arturo Holmes/Getty Images; Image from TiVO; Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images; Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic


Here Are The Song Of The Year Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs

The eight nominees for Song Of The Year at the 2024 GRAMMYs are hits from some of music’s biggest names: Lana Del Rey, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, Jon Batiste, Taylor Swift, SZA and Dua Lipa.

GRAMMYs/Nov 10, 2023 - 04:24 pm

The Song Of The Year GRAMMY Award honors the best releases in the music business, and the eight nominees for the golden gramophone at the 2024 GRAMMYs come from a variety of established singer/songwriters. From dance anthems to pop bops, ballads and R&B smashes, the nominees for Song Of The Year showcase the breadth of emotions of the past year.

Before tuning into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, learn more about this year's Song Of The Year nominees below.

"A&W" - Lana Del Rey

Songwriters: Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey & Sam Dew

The second single from her ninth studio album, Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, "A&W" is a refreshing addition to Lana Del Rey’s expansive discography.

Another shattered portrait of the American Dream, the seven-minute epic, oscillates from madness to exhaustion, as Del Rey described feeling burned out by being objectified and perceived as an "American whore." What begins as a psychedelic folk ballad erupts into a defiant trap number interpolated with a doo-wop standard by the four-minute mark of the chaotic number.

"I’m a princess, I’m divisive/Ask me why I’m like this/Maybe I just kinda like this," Del Rey anxiously warbles. Later, she expresses her resignation surrounding rape culture: "If I told you that I was raped/ Do you really think that anybody would think/ I didn't ask for it? I didn't ask for it/ I won't testify, I already f—ed up my story."

"Anti-Hero" - Taylor Swift

Songwriters: Jack Antonoff & Taylor Swift

"Anti-Hero" showcased a new side of Taylor Swift — a rare moment where the 33-year-old pop star confronted her flaws in the public eye.

"I really don’t think I’ve delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before," Swift said of the track in an Instagram video. "Not to sound too dark, but, like, I just struggle with the idea of not feeling like a person."

The self-loathing synth-pop anthem — with its cheeky chorus — catapulted "Anti Hero" into virality. With its ubiquitous meaning, the song topped charts and became a staple of pop radio. Now, it’s enjoying the highest praise as a contender for Song Of The Year. 

"Butterfly" - Jon Batiste

Songwriters: Jon Batiste & Dan Wilson

Beyond its sound, what makes Jon Batiste’s "Butterfly" so stunning is the story behind it. The touching jazz-soul fusion track is an iteration of the lullabies Batiste penned while his wife Suleika Jaouad was hospitalized during her cancer treatment.

"It’s just such a personal narrative song in relation to my life and what my family has gone through and my wife and all of the things she’s been able to overcome," the 36-year-old GRAMMY winner told PEOPLE.

"Butterfly" is featured on Batiste's latest album, World Music Radio. Like much of his discography, "Butterfly" is inherently uplifting but there’s an underlying yearning for freedom. "Butterfly in the air/ Where you can fly anywhere/ A sight beyond compare," Batiste croons over stripped-down keys.

"Dance The Night" (From Barbie The Album) - Dua Lipa 

Songwriters: Caroline Ailin, Dua Lipa, Mark Ronson & Andrew Wyatt

With the release of her pop-funk epic Future Nostalgia during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dua Lipa proved she could master the art of escapism. On "Dance The Night," a thrilling dance-pop number from the star-studded Barbie soundtrack, she channels that same inspiration with a side of glitter and glam.

"Greta said that the whole film was inspired by disco. There’s a lot of very glittery and pop moments in it," the 28-year-old singer said of how the track fits into the movie in an interview with Dazed.

Over a sleek synth, the pop star reflects the unwavering joy Barbie outwardly emanates while she’s crumbling inside: "Even when the tears are flowin' like diamonds on my face/I'll still keep the party goin', not one hair out of place (yes, I can)."

"Flowers" - Miley Cyrus

Songwriters: Miley Cyrus, Gregory Aldae Hein & Michael Pollack

Miley Cyrus has perfected the art of reinventing herself. With the post-breakup number "Flowers," she reclaimed her independence and took a hard turn from gritty rock back into pop music. "I can take myself dancing, yeah/ I can hold my own hand/ Yeah, I can love me better than you can," she belts over a disco-pop beat.

While the 30-year-old musician wouldn’t share if "Flowers" was indeed about her ex-husband Liam Hemsworth, the song became an empowering earworm from a more refined version of the longtime musician.

"The song is a little fake it till you make it," she said of "Flowers" in an interview with British Vogue. "Which I’m a big fan of." It turns out she made it with a nomination for Song Of The Year at the 2024 GRAMMY Awards.

"Kill Bill" - SZA

Songwriters: Rob Bisel, Carter Lang & Solána Rowe

On the psychedelic R&B groove of "Kill Bill," which references the legendary Quentin Tarantino film, SZA dreams up her own unfiltered revenge fantasy. "I might kill my ex / Not the best idea / His new girlfriend's next / How'd I get here?" she ponders over an airy melody.

The song stands out on the R&B singer’s latest album, SOS, for not only its cheeky wordplay but for how visceral she portrayed the devastation of a breakup. 

Despite its popularity, the 34-year-old singer initially thought one of the other songs on her 23-track album would have topped the charts. "It's always a song that I don't give a f— about that's just super easy, not the s— that I put so much heart and energy into. 'Kill Bill' was super easy — one take, one night," the singer told Billboard of "Kill Bill’s" success.

"Vampire" - Olivia Rodrigo

Songwriters: Daniel Nigro & Olivia Rodrigo

Like her explosive debut "Drivers License," Olivia Rodrigo opted for a swelling power ballad for the lead single of her sophomore album Guts. On "Vampire," the singer/songwriter recalls a parasitic relationship with a swelling power ballad that erupts into a booming guitar breakdown. "Bloodsucker, famef—er/ Bleedin' me dry, like a goddamn vampire," she sings with a bitter lilt.

While many speculated the song was about a toxic relationship, Rodrigo claimed it’s more nuanced than that. "It’s more about my regret and kind of beating myself up for doing something that I knew wasn’t gonna turn out great and kind of just taking ownership of that and dealing with those feelings," she told Sirius XM Hits 1.

Regardless, the 20-year-old artist turned something bitter into something sweet by landing a Song Of The Year nomination.

"What Was I Made For?" [From The Motion Picture "Barbie"] - Billie Eilish

Songwriters: Billie Eilish O'Connell & Finneas O'Connell

Not only was the Barbie movie a massive hit, its soundtrack was, too, thanks to a slew of chart-topping artists including Dua Lipa, HAIM and Sam Smith. So it’s no surprise that Billie Eilish made that list as well, and delivered a gutting ballad that soundtracked one of the most heartbreaking moments of the film.

The wistful single, which arrives at the devastating realization that you’re not real and are instead meant to be consumed, aptly embodies the narrative arc of the box office smash. "Looked so alive, turns out I'm not real/ Just something you paid for/ What was I made for," the 21-year-old musician sings with a heartbreaking lilt. 

While writing the sobering number, Eilish tried to embody the essence of the life-sized doll herself. "I was purely inspired by this movie and this character and the way I thought she would feel, and wrote about that," she told Zane Lowe of Apple Music

The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Arena on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.

The Recording Academy and do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy’s Voting Membership.

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List