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Adele holding GRAMMY Awards

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What's The Difference? GRAMMY Record Of The Year Vs. Song Of The Year

Ever wondered what distinguishes the GRAMMY categories of Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year? Find out once and for all here.

GRAMMYs/Dec 26, 2017 - 11:41 pm

Since the dawn of time, or at least since the 1st Annual GRAMMY Awards, casual music fans and uninitiated industry professionals alike have seemingly pondered the same GRAMMY question: What is the difference between Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year categories?

If you've wondered this yourself, fear not, for you have arrived at the answer.

Simply put, Record Of The Year deals with a specific recording of a song and recognizes the artists, producers and engineers who contribute to that recording, while Song Of The Year deals with the composition of a song and recognizes the songwriters who wrote the song. That's it in a nutshell!

To dig a little deeper, let's look at the definition of each category, who it includes, and some recent examples.

Record Of The Year, Explained

The Record Of The Year GRAMMY goes to the artist(s), producer(s), and engineer(s) involved in crafting the specific recording (hence "record") of a song. For example, the winner at the 57th GRAMMY Awards for Record Of The Year was "Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)" by Sam Smith. As the primary artist, Sam Smith received a GRAMMY, as did the three producers (including Rodney Jerkins a.k.a. "Darkchild) and the four engineers who worked on the recording, including those properly credited for recording, mixing, and mastering the record.

Song Of The Year, Explained

The Song Of The Year award, on the other hand, goes to the songwriter(s) (hence "song) of new material (not including sampled or interpolated material) of a song. For example, at the 44th GRAMMY Awards, the winner of Song Of The Year was "Fallin'" by Alicia Keys, and as the sole writer of the song, Keys received the GRAMMY. For this reason, Song Of The Year is referred to as a songwriter's award, one of several across the 84 categories that recognize the songwriter.

Does that clear things up a bit? Hopefully, it does.

The Recording Academy strives to award excellence in many facets of the music creation process, thus necessitating the distinction between the year's best recording and its best song composition.

For bonus points, let's look at one more example from the 59th GRAMMY Awards. The GRAMMY for Record Of The Year went to "Hello" by Adele, earning GRAMMY gold for Adele as the artist as well as producer Greg Kurstin and the eight engineers who worked on the record. The GRAMMY for Song Of The Year also went to "Hello" — however, only the songwriters, Adele and Greg Kurstin, received the Song Of The Year GRAMMY.

So now, when you're watching the 60th GRAMMY Awards live on CBS Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT, you'll be able to dazzle your friends with your insider knowledge. For a rundown of this year's nominees in both of these major categories, check out our Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year roundups.

Nxdia, Shamir, girli, King Princess, Zolita, Laura Les, Towa Bird in collage
(From left) Nxdia, Shamir, girli, King Princess, Zolita, Laura Les, Towa Bird

Photos: Dave Benett/Getty Images for Depop; Matthew James-Wilson; Claryn Chong; Burak Cingi/Redferns; Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Boston Calling; Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage; Courtesy Interscope Records

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Listen To GRAMMY.com's 2024 Pride Month Playlist Of Rising LGBTQIA+ Artists

From Laura Les and Nxdia to Alice Longyu Gao and Bambi Thug, a new class of LGBTQIA+ artists is commanding you to live out loud.

GRAMMYs/Jun 3, 2024 - 01:37 pm

LGBTQ+ artists have long shaped the music industry and culture at large, offering audiences a glimpse into their unique lives, shared experiences and so much more.

Queer artists are foundational to American music; Released in 1935, Lucille Bogan’s “B.D. Woman’s Blues” was one of the first lesbian blues songs — and wouldn’t be the last. Fellow blues singers Gladys Bently, Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith also sang about same-sex love (thinly veiled or otherwise). On opposite ends of the 1970s musical spectrum, disco (itself a queer artform) and punk musicians explored gender identity in song and performance —  defying conventional gender norms at the time. Gender fluidity became part of the culture during the '80s, with genre-bending artists such as David Bowie and Boy George leading the charge. 

In the decades since,  a spectrum of LGBTQIA+ artists is opening up —  and creating work about — their sexual and gender identities. Queer artists are also being recognized for their contributions to global culture. In 1999, six-time GRAMMY winner Elton John became the first gay man to receive the GRAMMY Legend Award. 

Read more: The Evolution Of The Queer Anthem: From Judy Garland To Lady Gaga & Lil Nas X

The GRAMMY Awards have become more inclusive of the queer community. In 2012, the Music's Biggest Night became the first major awards show to remove gendered categories. In 2014, Queen Latifah officiated a mass wedding of straight and gay couples during Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” performance, which included gay icon Madonna performing her “Open Your Heart.” In 2022, Brazilian singer/songwriter Liniker became the first trans artist to win a Latin GRAMMY. Just three months later, Sam Smith and Kim Petras became the first nonbinary and trans artists, respectively, to win a GRAMMY Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performances for their collaboration, “Unholy.” The 2024 GRAMMYs marked a record high for queer women winning major awards: Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Victoria Monét, and boygenuis all took home golden gramophones in the Big Six Categories. 

As queer artists continue to command attention across genres and get their flowers on the global stage, a new class of LGBTQIA+ artists is emerging into the scene. These artists are both following in the steps of established acts by sharing their experiences through their music, and creating work that is unique to their lives and time. 

In celebration of Pride Month 2024, GRAMMY.com has put together a playlist of rising artists across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, whose sound commands you to live out loud. 

PRIDE & Black Music Month: Celebrating LGBTQIA+ & Black Voices

Anitta performs in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Photo: Mauricio Santana/Getty Images

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Enter Anitta's Brazilian 'Funk Generation': 5 Takeaways From Her New Album

Anitta brand-new album 'Funk Generation' is the culmination of a long-held dream to bring Brazilian funk to the world. Read on for five ways Anitta's genre-bending album showcases an "energy that's very unique to Brazil."

GRAMMYs/Apr 26, 2024 - 01:31 pm

After establishing herself as a global pop star, Brazilian singer Anitta is bringing the music of her country to the forefront. On the just-released Funk Generation, the Latin GRAMMY nominee puts a spotlight on funk carioca — Brazilian funk.

On the 15-track album, Anitta sings in Portuguese, Spanish, and English over funk carioca beats, which are Brazil’s aggressive and hyper spin on genres like hip-hop and Miami bass. As with her previous releases, Funk Generation has elements of EDM, reggaeton, and pop, but the rhythms also known as baile funk are the star. The album represents a new era for Anitta, which she first kicked off in June with "Funk Rave," a single and video that captures the spirit of Brazil's favelas where funk carioca was born. 

Anitta later introduced Brazil's melodic funk subgenre to her global audience with the dreamy "Mil Veces." Now Anitta is expanding her funky world by bringing artists like Sam Smith, Brray, and Bad Gyal into her funky world.

"I'm going to accomplish making a lot of artists and people like funk," Anitta tells GRAMMY.com, adding that she hopes listeners "start embracing this rhythm that's very good, that invites you to dance, and that has an energy that's very unique to Brazil."

Funk Generation follows Anitta's rise to international stardom. Following a decade of making her mark in Brazil and later Latin America, Anitta went fully international with her 2022 album Versions of Me and the viral hit "Envolver." The album helped Anitta garner a GRAMMY nomination for Best New Artist in 2023 and a Latin GRAMMY nomination for Record Of The Year. She later told GRAMMY.com that "dreamed" of putting out a Brazilian funk album.

Anitta has made that dream come true with Funk Generation. Here are five takeaways from her genre-bending album, including insight from the Brazilian superstar herself.   

Anitta Said Making A Funk Carioca Album Was A "Challenge"

In March 2023, Anitta revealed that she was trying to get out of her contract with Warner Music, alleging a lack of support from the label. After parting ways with Warner in April, she signed a new deal with Republic Records and Universal Latin shortly after. It seems that her new label home offered the support she was looking for: She released "Funk Rave" in June 2023. 

"This funk album has been a challenge for me because it's not a rhythm that people are doing out there," she says. "It's something that’s very new that I'm going to introduce to people so they like it, listen to it, and try to do it as well."

She Wants to Continue To Breaking The Divide Between Latin America & Brazil

While Brazil is a part of Latin America, there still exists a bit of a cultural divide with Spanish-speaking Latin American countries because of language differences. On Funk Generation, Anitta aims to bridge that gap by featuring Latin music acts who embrace her  Brazilian funk vibes. 

On the sultry "Double Team," she is joined by Puerto Rican singer and rapper Brray and Barcelona-based artist Bad Gyal, who performed with Anitta for the first time at awards ceremony Premio Lo Nuestro in February. They get into the groove in Spanish with no problem alongside Anitta.

"It's been many years since Brazil has gotten to this international level, that a lot of people are listening to Brazilian songs, and I know I've worked a lot for this to happen," Anitta says. "More Latin artists coming to Brazil, who are curious and interested in making a career there.

"It's been very important for me to create this cultural exchange because the Latino countries and Brazil are side-by-side, but it's like there's a big barrier between them because of language," she continues. "With music, we can break through."

Sam Smith Embraces Funk Carioca For The First Time 

It’s not only Latin music acts who are getting in on funk carioca with Anitta. British superstar Sam Smith joins Anitta for the freaky "Ahi," and Smith's soulful voice soars over the sleek Brazilian funk rhythms. The collaboration shows how determined Anitta is to push the music of her country into the mainstream with Smith being one of most prominent pop artists from the UK to embrace the genre. 

The song also marks an important moment for LGBTQIA+ representation with Anitta, who is bisexual, teaming up with the non-binary GRAMMY winner.

Funk Generation Spotlights Brazilian Talent 

Anitta shares her platform with more Brazilian acts in the alluring "Joga Pra Lua," an EDM-infused funk banger that invites the listener to a block party where they get lost in the music. 

Translated to "play for the moon," the track is produced by fellow Brazilian DENNIS (who recently scored a global hit with the remix of "Tá OK" featuring Kevin o Chris, Karol G, and Maluma). Anitta is also joined on the track by Brazilian hitmaker Pedro Sampaio, who sings in Portuguese.

Anitta Is Looking Toward The Future Of Funk Carioca

Despite the few features, Funk Generation is an album where Anitta largely shines solo. She not only puts a spotlight on the Brazilian genre with this LP, but pushes it to new places. One of the standouts is the frenetic "Grip" where Anitta blends Brazilian funk with elements of Miami bass music that’s reminiscent of the ‘90s. She sings in Portuguese, English and Spanish throughout the song.

Whereas funk carioca played second fiddle to many other genres in her previous album, now the tables are turned in Funk Generation. She seamlessly blends pop with funk carioca in the fully English track "Love in Common" that could sneak those rhythms onto Top 40 radio. Anitta also finds a common thread between Brazilian funk, reggaeton, and Afrobeat in the multicultural banger "Aceita."

 The future of baile funk looks bright in Anitta’s hands.

Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Anitta On The "Insane" Success Of "Envolver," Representing Brazil & Reshaping Global Pop

“The Outsiders” Broadway cast.
“The Outsiders” Broadway cast.

Photo: Miller Mobley

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New Broadway Musicals To See This Spring: "Hell's Kitchen," "The Wiz" & More

Broadway’s newest musicals have something for everyone, from works by GRAMMY-winning artists, to highly-anticipated revivals. Read on for everything you need to know about the new musicals appearing on Broadway.

GRAMMYs/Apr 3, 2024 - 01:27 pm

It’s a busy spring season on Broadway, with 11 musicals opening by April 25 — the cutoff for this year’s Tony Award eligibility.

Spring 2024 musicals span a wide range of styles and genres, from adaptations of literary classics and histories, to timeless revivals and jukebox musicals from GRAMMY winners Huey Lewis and Alicia Keys. The season also features some recognizable singers including Deborah Cox, Jeremy Jordan, Shoshana Bean, and Brandon Victor Dixon.

Here’s a breakdown (in alphabetical order) of what’s playing; unless listed, all of the following musicals have open run dates.

"Cabaret"

August Wilson Theatre

Set within the seedy Kit Kat Club in 1930s Berlin as the Nazi regime was beginning to take over,  "Cabaret" premiered on Broadway in 1966. The hit play starred Joel Grey as the Emcee and Jill Haworth. Sally Bowles, with music and lyrics by the legendary John Kander and the late Fred Ebb. In 1972, the musical was turned into a movie starring Gray and Liza Minnelli; it subsequently won eight Academy Awards, including Best Actor and Actress for Grey and Minnelli. 

The 2024 revival stars Eddie Redmayne as the Emcee, who will perform in the round on an  immersive set. While the stage may be different, fans can still expect unique renditions of iconic songs such as "Willkommen," "Cabaret" and "Don’t Tell Mama." 

"Hell's Kitchen"

Shubert Theater 

Sixteen-time GRAMMY winner Alicia Keys brings her artistry from the Super Bowl to the Broadway stage in the jukebox musical "Hell’s Kitchen." Loosely based on Keys' life growing up in the Manhattan neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, the story centers around 17-year-old Ali, played by newcomer Maleah Joi Moon, as she navigates her teenage years through love and loss.

Written by Pulitzer Prize-finalist playwright Kristoffer Diaz, "Hell's Kitchen" features songs by Keys with new arrangements, as well as the recently debuted "Kaleidoscope."  Shoshana Bean and two-time GRAMMY nominee Brandon Victor Dixon co-star in the musical, all reprising their roles from its premiere at the Public Theatre last fall.

"Illinoise"

St. James Theatre 

April 24 - Aug. 10

This new, dance-centered musical was the last show to announce its arrival on Broadway this season, and is moving from the New York’s Upper East Side Park Avenue Armory after a sold out run in order to meet the Tony Award eligibility deadline.

"Illinoise" features music by GRAMMY-nominated musician Sufjan Stevens and is based on his beloved 2005 concept album Illinois. The album features stories, people and places from the state. The show is conceived and choreographed by Justin Peck, of the New York City Ballet, who also choreographed Maestro and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. "‘Illinoise’ is a coming-of-age story that takes the audience on a journey through the American heartland — from campfire storytelling to the edges of the cosmos — all told in through a unique blend of music, dance, and theater," Peck said in a statement.

Dancers featured in the show include Yesenia Ayala, Gaby Diaz, Jeanette Delgado and  Ben Cook, who also were in West Side Story.

"Lempicka"

Longacre Theatre

"Lempicka" is a brand new, original musical with a "pop infused sound" with a script and lyrics by Carson Kreitzer and book and music by Matt Gould.

The musical tells the tale of real Polish painter Tamara de Lempicka, who was famous for her art deco portraits of aristocrats and highly stylized nude paintings. While Lempicka changed art and culture in the late 1800s, she struggled with decades of political and personal turmoil. Eden Espinosa stars in the title role, and previously played Elphaba in "Wicked." Amber Iman, the first woman to perform on Broadway after the Coronavirus shutdown and Tony Award winner Beth Leavel also star in the show.

"The Great Gatsby"

Broadway Theatre

First it was a book, turned into a movie, and now a Broadway musical. "The Great Gatsby" is based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary classic, and has all the glitz and jazz-aged glam of the 1925 novel.

Starring Jeremy Jordan as Long Island millionaire Jay Gatsby and Eva Noblezada as Daisy Buchanan, the Broadway adaptation features all new music with a modern jazz and pop score by Jason Howland with lyrics by Nathan Tysen. As in the book, "Gatsby" tells the story of how Gatsby is after his long lost love Daisy and all the stops to bring her back into his life.

"The Heart of Rock and Roll"

James Earl Jones Theatre

Songs by GRAMMY winners Huey Lewis & the News appear in two new musicals this season. "The Power of Love" is featured in "Back to the Future" (which opened last summer) and the new jukebox musical, "The Heart of Rock and Roll." 

Set in 1987 and featuring many hits from the time, the story centers on the young couple, played by Cory Cottand McKenzie Kurtz, who work at the same company and eventually fall in love. Bobby, a rock and roller, trades his guitar for the corporate ladder and his boss Cassandra is always putting the family business first. The musical is jam packed with Huey Lewis megahits like "Do You Believe in Love", "Hip to Be Square," and "If This Is It." 

"The Notebook"

Schoenfeld Theatre

Singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelon wrote the music and lyrics for this tear-jerker musical adapted from Nicholas Sparks’ best-selling novel and the classic romantic movie starring Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. Michaelson admits she’s best at the "weepy and romantic" songs.

The musical tells the story of how leads Allie and Noah shared a lifetime of love despite growing up in opposite socioeconomic classes. And if you’re wondering: yes, the famous rain scene from the movie makes a big splash with audiences on Broadway. 

"The Outsiders"

Bernard B. Jacobs Theater

"The Outsiders" transforms S.E. Hinton's novel — perhaps most famous for the 1983 movie starring Matt Damon, Patrick Swayze and Tom Cruise — into a Broadway musical. One of its co-producers is Angelina Jolie, who saw the show with her family when it debuted out-of-town in California. 

"The Outsiders" features a book by Adam Rapp with Justin Levine, along with music and lyrics by Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay & Zach Chance) and Justin Levine. Set in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1967, Ponyboy Curtis and Johnny Cade along with their fellow Outsiders  battle their rivals, the Socs.

"The Who’s Tommy"

Nederlander Theatre

Perhaps the most famous song from 1975 rock opera The Who’s Tommy is "Pinball Wizard" written by guitarist Pete Townshend. The musician won a GRAMMY for Best Musical Show Album in 1993 for the musical’s original cast recording. 

Des McAnuff — who co-wrote the musical's script with Townshend and also directed the original musical 30 years ago — is back in the director’s chair for this revival. The musical, about a boy who finds a knack for playing pinball, is based on the Who’s 1969 album, Tommy. It was also turned into a 1975 film called Tommy, which starred Elton John, Tina Turner, Ann Margaret and Roger Daltry as Tommy. On Broadway, Ali Louis Bourzgui stars in the title role. 

"The Wiz"

Marquis Theatre

Ease on down the road to the Marquis Theatre! "The Wiz" returns to Broadway for the first time since it premiered back in 1974 for a limited run followed by subsequent shows around the country. The show is based on The Wizard of Oz and, in 1978, was turned into a film starring Diana Ross as Dorothy and Michael Jackson as the Tinman. 

The revival features music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls, and book by William F. Brown with script updates by Amber Ruffin (whose Some Like It Hot won Best Musical Theater Album at the 2024 GRAMMYs). JaQuel Knight, who choreographed Beyoncé’s "Single Ladies," choreographed "The Wiz."

Newcomer Nichelle Lewis plays Dorothy along with Wayne Brady as The Wiz and Deborah Cox as Glinda. Look out for Avery Wilson as the Scarecrow; the R&B singer appeared on "The Voice" and their single "Kiss The Sky" cracked the Top 20 on Billboard’s R&B chart. 

"Suffs"

Music Box Theatre

On the heels of "Hamilton" is a historic musical called "Suffs." It’s 1913 and the women’s suffrage movement is heating up in America. The suffragists, or "Suffs," are relentless in their pursuit of the right to vote. 

Shaina Taub stars as Alice Paul, one of the leaders of the National Women’s Party. Taub also wrote the book, music and lyrics (She’s also collabing with five-time GRAMMY winner Elton John on the "Devil Wears Prada" musical). "Suffs" is produced by Hillary Clinton, tying the suffrage movement to contemporary politics in a tangible way.

"Water for Elephants"   

Imperial Theatre

Sara Gruen’s novel and 2011 film adaptation has now turned into a musical with music/lyrics by PigPen Theatre Co. 

Rick Elice (known for writing the book for "Jersey Boys") puts his stamp on this show about Jacob Jankowski, who jumps on a train finding a new home with a traveling circus. 

Like "The Notebook," this "memory musical" is told from his point of view as an old man and goes back and forth between the present and the past when he worked for the circus. Audiences will love the aerial tricks and impressive elephant puppetry. "

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Usher performs in 2023
Usher at iHeartRadio’s Living Black 2023 Block Party.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

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9 Reasons Why Usher's 'Confessions' Is R&B's Definitive Blockbuster Album

Just before Usher kicks off his extensive world tour, the R&B superstar celebrates the 20th anniversary of his magnum opus, 'Confessions.' Here's a look at the ways the album changed the genre — and cemented Usher as an icon.

GRAMMYs/Mar 22, 2024 - 02:29 pm

"All of us have our Pandora's boxes or skeletons in our closets," Usher told MTV News while promoting his 2004 album, Confessions. "I've got a lot of things and stuff built in me that I just want to let go of."

He sure wasn't kidding. The concept album, and loosely based around his relationship with TLC's Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas — essentially played out like a prime-time soap opera set to music. But its brutally honest narrative and earworm hooks connected like no other contemporary R&B record before or since, solidifying Usher as one of music's modern greats.

In fact, Confessions was the second-best selling album of the 2000s (only behind *NSYNC's 2000 juggernaut, No Strings Attached), thanks in part to four consecutive Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers and a string of attention-grabbing videos that allowed Usher to showcase his skills as a singer, dancer, actor, and all-round loverman.

Just after delivering a career-defining Super Bowl halftime show performance, Usher celebrates  20 years of Confessions on March 23. To commemorate the anniversary, here's a look at why Confessions remains the R&B scene's definitive blockbuster.

It Saved The Record Industry 

Thanks to the rise in illegal downloads and decline of "Total Request Live"-friendly blockbusters, the music industry began 2004 staring down a fourth consecutive year of declining sales. Step forward their savior, Usher Raymond IV.

Confessions shifted a colossal 1.1. million copies in its first week, the highest number since Eminem's The Eminem Show in 2002, and didn't stop selling. By the end of December, its total had ballooned to nearly eight million — double its closest competitor, Norah Jones' Feels Like Home, to become the year's biggest commercial smash.

Usher's magnum opus was widely credited with getting the American public back into record stores again, resulting in a 1.6 percent increase in overall album sales. But Confessions' journey wasn't done there. In 2012, it was awarded diamond status, joining TLC's CrazySexyCool and Boyz II Men's II as the only R&B representatives in the exclusive club, with its current tally now reportedly standing at 18 million!

It Invented Crunk&B 

Crunk, an energetic form of southern hip-hop defined by its 808 basslines, kick drums, and general party-starting vibes, originated in the mid-1990s. But it took nearly a decade for the sound to crossover from the Miami underground to the top of the charts. And then the lead single from Confessions took the scene to another level.

With its high-pitched synth hook, emphatic beats, and hype man chants from the subgenre's self-proclaimed king Lil Jon, "Yeah!" had all the hallmarks of a crunk classic. But Usher's smooth, soulful tones and Ludacris' playful rhymes gave the dance floor anthem a much stronger melodic edge, prompting critics to coin a new term, Crunk&B.

Several artists took note of the crunk and contemporary R&B crossover, with both Ciara's "Goodies" and Chris Brown's "Run It" also topping the Hot 100. But "Yeah!" remains the sound's crowning glory, as proven by the diamond status it achieved right before Usher's Super Bowl halftime show (Usher is also now only the third ever Black artist to have a diamond-certified single and album, alongside Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston).

It Further Bridged The Gap Between R&B And Hip-Hop 

While previous albums Usher, My Way, and 8701 had all been grounded in slick, soulful R&B, Confessions was a concerted attempt to bridge the gap between his signature sound and the grittier world of hip-hop. The man himself admits that he took just as much inspiration from Eminem and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony as his usual suspects, like Michael Jackson and James Brown, to create an album that was aimed equally at the bedroom and the clubs.

Alongside the famous guest appearances from Lil Jon and Ludacris, the LP also drew upon the production talents of Roc-A-Fella regular Just Blaze. Meanwhile, on the special edition, Jadakiss laid down some bars on "Throwback," while the remix of "Confessions Part II" boasted rhymes from Shyne, Twista, and Kanye West.

That's not to say thatNot that Usher forgot his roots, though., Has proven by his collab with Keys ("My Boo"), recruitment of legendary producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and contributions from long-time collaborators Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox all helped remind of his R&B prowess. "I feel like it is the base of everything," Usherhe said about his love of R&B at the time. "I want to make it more prominent."

It Was A GRAMMY Favorite 

Although Ray Charles posthumously won the most awards of the night, the 2005 GRAMMYs undoubtedly still belonged to Usher. The R&B star not only took home three golden gramophones, but he also brought the house down thanks to a spellbinding duet with the Godfather of Soul.

A sharp-suited Usher first took to the stage for an epically choreographed performance of Confessions' fifth single "Caught Up," before James Brown — who even at the age of 71 still had several moves of his own — popped up for a joint rendition of his classic, "Sex Machine."

Usher was no doubt in a celebratory mood. By this point, he'd picked up three of the eight categories he'd been nominated in: Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Yeah!," and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal alongsideAlicia Keys for "My Boo." (As of press time, Usher has won eight GRAMMYs and received 23 GRAMMY nominations.)

It Brought A Confessional Side Back To R&B 

From Marvin Gaye's Here, My Dear to D'Angelo's Brown Sugar, some of the greatest R&B records of the 20th century resulted from artists baring their souls as if their lives depended on it. This was an approach that had largely fallen by the wayside as time went on, with some suggesting that the genre gradually became more emotionally stunted.

Usher, on the other hand, had no qualms whatsoever about laying it all on the line, namely the ups and downs of his relationship with Thomas. On the falsetto-voiced "Burn," he willingly displays devastation over his breakup ("I'm twisted 'cause one side of me's telling me that I need to move on/ On the other side I wanna break down and cry"). And even by the penultimate track, "Take Your Hand," he still seems to be in a state of torment ("In your loving, every time I feel your touch/ Second thoughts, more doubts started building up").

Usher's confessional approach continued in 2008 with Here I Stand's love letter to then-wife Tameka Foster and then again in 2010 with the divorce-themed Raymond vs. Raymond. And many other R&B artists, including Janelle Monae and Beyoncé, have since made career bests by delving similarly deep into their personal lives.

It Inspired A Generation Of R&B Lotharios 

Think of any R&B lothario who's emerged in the last 20 years and chances are they've been heavily inspired by Confessions. Jason Derulo has said as much, describing it as a "classic album" and "just start to finish awesome"; Ne-Yo echoed that sentiment to BBC Radio 1, calling it "flawless top to bottom." While Bryson Tiller explicitly told Fuse he wanted to make a record in the same vein. And you can hear its influence in everything from Drake's more romantic offerings to August Alsina's intimate revelations.

And 10 years after Robin Thicke co-penned and co-produced Confessions' sensuous bedroom jam, "Can U Handle It," he released his own breakup tale with 2014's Paula.  Though he hasn't ever explicitly cited Confessions as an influence, Paula is a concept album about Thicke's real-life marriage breakdown, which essentially doubled up as a begging letter to his estranged wife.

It's A Storytelling Masterclass 

In 2023, it was announced that an untitled drama series inspired by Usher's back catalog was in the works. No doubt that the project, said to be "about Black love in Atlanta and individuals looking to find a place to call home," will draw heavily upon the storytelling masterclass that is Confessions.

Take "Truth Hurts," for example, the relationship tale in which Usher initially presents himself as the wounded party before revealing that he was, in fact, the one being adulterous ("I've been blaming you when I'm the one that's doing wrong/ I'ma go on/ My guilty conscience is the real reason I wrote this song").

Usher also appeared to enjoy keeping audiences guessing about whether his confessions were truly autobiographical or borrowed from the album's male-centric production team. See the two title tracks, which suggested the lothario had himself become a father following a one-night stand, when in reality, the paternity drama was all Dupri's.

"We wanted the media to ask us questions," the latteradmitted to Vibe in 2014, citingMichael Jackson as a key attention-grabbing influence. "Nobody knows who the f— Billie Jean is. We're still looking for her."

It Helped Breathe New Life Into Several Soul Classics 

While much of Confessions was interested in pushing R&B forward, it wasn't entirely averse to getting a little nostalgic. The record is filled with cleverly chosen samples from the soul of yesteryear, from Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' "Is There a Place for Me" on "Take Your Hand" to Willie Hutch's Mack's Stroll on "Superstar" and Preston Love's "Chili Mac" on "Whatever I Want."

And nearly 20 years before Doja Cat repurposed a Dionne Warwick classic to chart-topping effect on 2023's "Paint the Town Red," Usher brought the Motown legend into the contemporary R&B world by borrowing from "You're Gonna Need Me" on the aptly titled "Throwback."

It Broke Multiple Chart Records  

You know an artist has reached true greatness when they start being mentioned in the same breath as The Beatles. In 2004, Usher became the first act since the Fab Four to have both the biggest and second biggest-selling singles of Billboard's year-end chart with "Yeah!" and "Burn," respectively. And this was far from the only major milestone Confessions achieved. 

Until Taylor Swift's Fearless spent an additional fortnight in the top spot in 2009, the album's nine weeks atop the Billboard 200 was the longest run of the millennium. And with "Confessions Part II" also reaching No. 1 on the Hot 100 (ironically, replacing "Burn"), Usher not only became the first artist in  history to achieve three consecutive chart toppers, but also the first act to spend more than half a calendar year atop the Hot 100 at 28 combined weeks. 

Twenty years on, Confessions is still the highest-selling record by a Black artist this century. And further exemplifying his staying power and impact across the globe, Usher will soon embark on a lengthy world tour that has sold out from Brooklyn to Berlin — a momentous way to honor the album that changed the R&B game.

24 Songs Turning 20: Listen To 2004's Bangers, From "Yeah!" To "Since U Been Gone"