Why The Millennium Tour Matters in 2019


Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


Why The Millennium Tour Matters in 2019

BBMak, B2K, Avril Lavigne, Backstreet Boys—lately it feels like every turn-of-the-century act is hopping aboard the Y2K-nostalgia train

GRAMMYs/Feb 28, 2019 - 11:15 pm

No, your G-SHOCK isn't malfunctioning: We're smack dab in the middle of a turn-of-the-millennium nostalgia-fest.

You don't have to search high and low to find proof—just turn on your TV, where Chance the Rapper can be seen hamming it up with the Backstreet Boys while shilling for Doritos. Or look at the top of the pop charts, where the boy-now-man band recently resided with their ninth studio album, DNA, their first #1 on the Billboard 200 in nearly 20 years. Avril Lavigne's back too, with a new generation of indie scions claiming her as influence—and even pop artists who were barely in baby Jncos are toasting the time period. "1999," last year's retro-tastic single and video from Charli XCX (age: 26) and Troye Sivan (age: 22), was loaded with enough charmingly dated pop culture references to fill an entire bottle of Surge. 


#TheMillenniumTour #B2K #Omarion #Boog #Fizz #RazB

A post shared by B2K Official Page (@b2k) on

If there's one thing you can typically count on the music industry for, it's finding ways to monetize overarching societal trends relevant to popular culture. Beyond the third-gen legacy-relaunches of BSB and Lavigne's respective careers, the touring industry is starting to find a market in mining this nostalgic ore; music festivals have occasionally popped up to celebrate this era (as well as, somewhat alarmingly, more current eras), and even bands with just one or two hits in their entire careers are hitting the road with little else to promote. To wit: at the top of March, The Millennium Tour starts making its way through North America, a two-month jaunt toplined by R&B outfit B2K—marking their reunion after 15 years of inactivity—as well as support acts and '00s R&B and hip-hop fixtures ranging from Pretty Ricky and Chingy to Lloyd and Ying Yang Twins. 

The title of the tour itself contains multitudes; for one, it gestures towards the meaning behind the headliners' names, "B2K" standing as shorthand for "Boys of the millennium"—itself referencing the simple fact that the band was formed and at the peak of activity during the turn of the new millennium itself. But the word "Millennium," which most targeted consumers readily associated with the mega-successful 1999 Backstreet Boys album of the same name—is also meant to trigger a response in our collective frontal lobe bolstered by the other '00s-centric names on the bill: remember when this was the music of our lives?

Of course, the question of what "legacy" constitutes in situations like these—tour packages and, more broadly, pop-cultural events intended to reconstitute and re-canonize entire career arcs—is ever present. The original lifespan of B2K—specifically, Omarion, Lil' Fizz, Raz-B, and J-Boog—was shorter than most trampled-upon insects, with two albums released in the same year that eventually went platinum and a one-week stay at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with the Diddy-featuring "Bump, Bump, Bump." Since group Svengali and record producer Chris Stokes announced the group's split in 2004, he's addressed sexual molestation allegations from several of B2K's members; along with maintaining a solo career since the band breakup, Omarion appeared on several seasons of Love & Hip-Hop Hollywood in 2014, one of his plotlines centering around a potential B2K sorta-reunion with Boog that would've also welcomed Ray-J into the group's ranks.

As for the support acts: after spending most of the decade operating sporadically, St. Louis spitter Chingy recently re-signed under the Universal umbrella for the third time in his career, and Miami R&B group Pretty Ricky haven't released an album in 11 years. New Orleans crooner Lloyd returned last year with the Lil Wayne-featuring TRU LP, his first album in seven years; Jackson, Miss. singer/songwriter Bobby V (more widely known as Bobby Valentino) has kept a relatively low profile throughout the 2010s, and Atlanta rap duo Ying Yang Twins more or less dropped off the face of the earth save for the occasional mixtape appearance. In all of these acts' collective heyday, only B2K managed a chart-topping single. To the casual observer, the question might arise: Why is this tour even happening?

Again, nostalgia comes into play here. The Bush II era might've been bad, but many (rightly or not) consider the Trump era to be far worse, and it's impossibly easy to imagine potential ticket-buyers of a certain age immersing themselves in warm, fuzzy musical memories from either side of the 9/11 divide—regardless of how cherished those memories actually were in the moment—simply to forget about the present for a few hours. There are worse ways of doing so than spending a night out with your friends at a concert! 

The Bush II era might've been bad, but many (rightly or not) consider the Trump era to be far worse, and it's impossibly easy to imagine potential ticket-buyers of a certain age immersing themselves in warm, fuzzy musical memories from either side of the 9/11 divide.

The presumed audience for events like these weren't old enough to drink during these acts' salad days, but they sure are now, which makes for another revenue stream appealing to the concert industry at large. Also, tours like these (along with era-spanning compilations that are less common in the streaming era) have happened for decades, excavating aging hair-rockers and '90s alt-rockers alike for the sake of an easy profit; enough time simply has passed that it's the late-'90s-to-mid-'00s' turn now. This is simply how things work, and how they'll continue to work as long as the music industry itself exists. 

But there’s another, more genre-specific element of the nostalgia that surrounds the Millenium Tour, too. Of all the sounds and subgenres that make up mainstream pop as we know it, R&B and hip-hop are by far the most rapidly changing and trend-reliant. By the time you’ve heard the "new" sound, it’s likely already a little old, which means that the sounds of 10 or 20 years ago might as well been from the Stone Age. For some listeners, the chore of keeping up can be exhausting and create fonder memories towards the past by sheer virtue of familiarity. This is an undoubtable boon to the musicians from that past, especially if they’ve found themselves in a position unable to monetize the present. By the end of the night, everyone at least appears happy—just like the good old days. 

R&B Hitmakers B2K Are Set To Reunite in 2019


GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.

In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.


Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year


Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

 Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 and will be broadcast live on the Univision Television Network at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central. 

"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list. 

At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself  but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the album release of that concert, Juan Gabriel En Vivo Desde El Palacio De Bellas Artes, broke sales records and established his iconic status. 

After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.   

In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.   

Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized. 

For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or

Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Grizzled Mighty perform at Bumbershoot on Sept. 1

Photo: The Recording Academy


Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Alexa Zaske

This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.

The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.

Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."

Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.

Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed. 

Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.

My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.

For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.

(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)

Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images


Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 10:58 am

As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.

Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.

"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."

Full Winners List: 61st GRAMMY Awards