Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
20 Artists Who Made History At The 2023 GRAMMYs Other Than Beyoncé: Taylor Swift, Kim Petras, Viola Davis & More
As Queen Bey takes her throne as the artist with the most GRAMMYs of all time, take a look at some of the other 2023 GRAMMY winners who joined her in celebrating momentous achievements.
In the win heard around the world, Beyoncé became the person with the most GRAMMYs of all time at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Her win for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album for RENAISSANCE put her at 32 golden gramophones — and in host Trevor Noah's eyes, that solidified her title as the GRAMMY GOAT.
But while Beyoncé's latest GRAMMY feat is unquestionably impressive, the "BREAK MY SOUL" singer wasn't the only artist who experienced a piece of GRAMMY history at the 65th GRAMMY Awards.
There were several special moments at the Premiere Ceremony, including the first-ever GRAMMY Awards for Songwriter Of The Year, Non-Classical (Tobias Jesso Jr.) and Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media ("Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Dawn Of Ragnarok"). At the Telecast, Kim Petras scored a major win for the transgender community with her Best Pop Duo/Group Performance victory, and Dr. Dre was the inaugural recipient of his namesake Dr. Dre Global Impact Award.
Below, take a look at some of the history-making feats from the 2023 GRAMMYs.
As Kim Petras and Sam Smith accepted the GRAMMY for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their risqué collaboration, "Unholy," Smith let Petras do the talking because of a very special feat: She was the first trans woman to win in the category.
Earlier at the Premiere Ceremony, Germaine Franco became the first woman of color to win Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media, which she won for composing the Disney animated film Encanto. (Notably, Encanto swept all three of the categories for which it was nominated, also winning Best Song Written For Visual Media for "We Don't Talk About Bruno" and Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media.)
Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde rang in a country first, as their win for Best Country Duo/Group Performance (for "Never Wanted to Be That Girl") marked the first female pairing to win the category — and the first GRAMMY win for both artists!
There were seven new awards given at the 2023 GRAMMYs, making those seven recipients the first to receive their respective honors. These were the first-time winners at the Premiere Ceremony: Tobias Jesso Jr. (Songwriter Of The Year, Non-Classical), "Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Dawn Of Ragnarok" (Best Score Soundtrack For Video Games And Other Interactive Media), Wet Leg (Best Alternative Music Performance for "Chaise Longue"), Bonnie Raitt (Best Americana Performance for "Made Up Mind") and J. Ivy (Best Spoken Word Poetry Album for The Poet Who Sat By The Door).
At the Telecast, Dr. Dre became the first recipient of the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award; shortly after, Iranian singer/songwriter Shervin Hajipour and his song "Baraye" received the first Special Merit Award for Best Song For Social Change.
There were a few other notable firsts at the Premiere Ceremony. Taylor Swift's Best Music Video win for "All Too Well: The Short Film" was the first time an artist won the category for a video directed by the artist themselves.
When jazz favorite Robert Glasper's Black Radio III won Best R&B Album, it marked his second win in the category — and an interesting one at that. His first win came in 2013 thanks to the original album in the trilogy, Black Radio, meaning his 2023 win was the first time an album and its sequel album have won in the category.
Elsewhere, two student groups celebrated some historic GRAMMY firsts: The Tennessee State University Marching Band became the first collegiate band to win a GRAMMY after receiving the golden gramophone for Best Roots Gospel Album, and the New York Youth Symphony became the first youth orchestra to win Best Orchestral Performance.
Viola Davis added a GRAMMY to her ever-impressive empire, which meant she is now officially an EGOT (Emmy, GRAMMY, Oscar, Tony) winner. Her GRAMMY win for Best Audio Book, Narration, and Storytelling Recording helped her become the third Black woman to earn an EGOT, and the first to secure the status at the GRAMMY Awards, following Whoopi Goldberg and Jennifer Hudson.
Last but certainly not least, "Into The Woods" joined elite ranks by winning the GRAMMY for Best Musical Theater Album. Stephen Sondheim's 1987 original won the category in 1989, making it only the fourth Broadway show to earn two Best Musical Theater Album GRAMMYs alongside "Gypsy," "Les Miserables" and "West Side Story." It's also the second year in a row a piece of GRAMMY history was born from the category, as "The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical" creators Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear became the youngest winners in 2022.
Essential Hip-Hop Releases From The 1990s: Snoop Dogg, Digable Planets, Jay-Z & More
In the '90s, hip-hop officially left the underground for full commercial fanfare. During hip-hop's golden age, rappers were multifaceted in their flow and lyrics, creating music that is now legendary.
Three decades ago, hip-hop made a turn from the underground to commercial fanfare. The eclectic sensibilities of the 1980s created space for artists of all stripes, leading to the golden age of hip-hop, and releases that are now considered an integral part of the genre's canon. By the 1990s hip-hop was a chart-topping entity and enterprise, where artists were popularized through streetwear campaigns and brand deals.
In this decade, rappers were multifaceted in their flow and lyrics — whether rugged and hard-spitting, or poetic and fervently expressive. Artists like psychedelic hip-hop group De La Soul, salacious femcee Lil' Kim and Atlanta heavy-hitters Outkast expanded rap’s palette. Beats ranged from synthetic to weighty 808 drum patterns, all which redefined the genre’s 20-year presence.
Hip-hop chronicled truth and fantasy, providing listeners both deeply resonant and vividly divergent soundtrack whose influence continues to be felt. Decades later, records released in the 1990s are legend, and many of them appeared on the 65th GRAMMY Awards stage in a massive tribute to hip-hop.Here are 10 signature albums that bridged the golden age and the digital era of hip-hop.
De La Soul - De La Soul Is Dead (1991)
By 1991, conscious hip-hop pioneers De La Soul were over the "D.A.I.S.Y. Age" introduced on their seminal debut album 3 Feet High and Rising. The Long Island trio, composed of Posdnuos, Maseo and the late Trugoy the Dove jazzed up their sound on sophomore effort De La Soul Is Dead, marking a radical transition from hip-hop "hippies" to earnest rhymesayers.
Posdnous and Trugoy melded simple production (courtesy of Prince Paul) with complex bars on "Pease Porridge," and also explored the traumas of sexual molestation through metaphor on "Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa." Although De La Soul Is Dead received mixed reviews, the LP was one of the first albums to earn a five-mic rating in hip-hop publication The Source. "Still progressing and proud of it, De La has successfully escaped being trapped in the sophomore jinx with grooves that are harder than a brick wall," the throwback review reads.
With De La Soul Is Dead, the group, whose back catalog just arrived on digital music services in March, evaded the dreaded sophomore slump and cemented their place in hip-hop history.
Snoop Dogg- Doggystyle (1993)
After Calvin Broadus — then performing under the moniker Snoop Doggy Dogg — released his breakthrough album Doggystyle, West Coast rap was never the same. Playing on inspirations from classic Blaxploitation films and early funk pioneers, Snoop kept his posture smooth while rhyming over beats from Dr. Dre (who also discovered the Long Beach native), and welcomed fellow then-newcomers like The Lady of Rage, Tha Dogg Pound, Warren G and RBX as features.
Giving listeners "just a small introduction to the G-Funk era," Snoop helped usher in a soul-laden gangsta rap sound that stood in distinct contrast to the East Coast’s grittiness and jazz influence. The iconic "Gin and Juice" and "Who Am I (What’s My Name?)" have long been summertime cookout staples, while the eerie "Murder Was the Case" preceded Snoop being acquitted of murder just three years later. Now a 16-time GRAMMY nominee, Doggystyle marked Snoop’s debut as a hip-hop elite.
A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders (1993)
Three albums into their career, A Tribe Called Quest didn’t let up on Midnight Marauders. The Queens-bred group, which included Q-Tip, the late Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad (and occasional member Jarobi White) flaunted their lyricism and expansive musical knowledge on the 1993 release, which was navigated by a robotic "tour guide."
Q-Tip and Phife’s wordplay is nimble throughout the album, but truly spotlighted on the Trugoy the Dove-assisted "Award Tour," the amorous "Electric Relaxation" and "The Chase, Pt. II." "8 Million Stories" and "Midnight" were solo moments for Phife Dawg and Q-Tip, respectively, each who had brushed up their penmanship since ATCQ’s 1991 reinvention on The Low End Theory. Both atmospheric and imaginative, Midnight Marauders showcased ATCQ’s range as a progressive hip-hop act.
Digable Planets - Blowout Comb (1994)
Jazz rap trio Digable Planets maintained their cool just one year after winning a GRAMMY Award for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group. In 1994, Ishmael "Butter Fly" Butler, Mariana "Ladybug Mecca" Vieira and Craig "Doodlebug" Irving followed with Blowout Comb, their second and final studio album. With a minimalist approach, Digable Planets trekked through urban and Afrocentric themes soundtracked by live instrumentation and spoken word.
Emotionally stirring and thematic, "Black Ego" saw Digable Planets tackling economic injustices and Black nationalism with nods to Blaxploitation films Cleopatra Jones and Superfly. The group asserted their refusal to go commercial on laidback earworm "Jettin." Seventies slang and references to New York City boroughs floated throughout Blowout Comb, and although singles "9th Wonder (Blackitolism)" and "Dial 7 (Axioms of Creamy Spies)" didn’t chart, the album reintroduced Digable Planets in their most authentic form and reached No. 32 on the Billboard 200.
2Pac - Me Against the World (1995)
With an awareness unrivaled by his contemporaries, Tupac Shakur's penultimate album, Me Against the World, exploredhis complexities. By March 1995, the rapper had served one month in prison on sexual abuse charges, and had used his previous year of freedom to record arguably the most poignant LP of his lifetime.
On the titular track, Shakur examined impoverished Black communities and morbid thoughts of mortality. A sample of Stevie Wonder’s "That Girl" textures "So Many Tears," where 2Pac vocalizes music industry woes, his depression and even predicts an early death. "Dear Mama," (which inspired the FX docuseries of the same name), was 2Pac’s dedication to mother and former Black Panther Party member Afeni Shakur; it became the third song by a rap act to be placed in the Library of Congress.
The latter song and Me Against the World would both earn Shakur his first GRAMMY nominations. While he didn't win, both are masterpieces that signaled the rapper’s coming-of-age.
Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt (1996)
Jay-Z gave a solid lyrical offering on his 1996 debut. A landmark album on the now-defunct Roc-A-Fella Records, the 14-track Reasonable Doubt brought mafioso and luxury rap into the ring, as Jay-Z gave semi-autobiographical tales of street life.
On "Feelin’ It," the Brooklyn rapper boasts his riches and opulent lifestyle, while the Issac Hayes-sampling "Can I Live" explores the close calls that the hustle brings. Hov’s stream-of-conscious flow highlighted production from the likes of Ski Beatz, DJ Premier and Clark Kent.
Reasonable Doubt predicted Jay-Z’s thriving future without a doubt, as he’s since taken hip-hop’s throne as a coveted 24-time GRAMMY-winning artist (in addition to 88 nominations).
Lil’ Kim - Hard Core (1996)
Brooklynite Lil’ Kim carved out space for risque rap on her 1996 solo breakout Hard Core. Less than six months after the murder of her mentor the Notorious B.I.G., the former Junior M.A.F.I.A. member achieved solo commercial success for her provocative lyricism and appearance. Whereas many of her contemporaries adopted a more androgynous style, Lil’ Kim played up her sex appeal onstage and on record.
The raunchy "Big Momma Thang," which samples 1978 Sylvester deep cut "Was It Something That I Said," shows Lil Kim’s allyship with queer listeners. Lil’ Kim asserted her hood dominance on "No Time," while flaunting her affection for being classily "draped in diamonds and pearls." Although Hard Core was Moderately received, Lil’ Kim’s rap successors —Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B — would later speak highly of the Queen Bee’s NSFW magnetism. Nearly 30 years later, contemporary women in hip-hop continue to strive for Lil’ Kim’s unapologetic influence.
Missy Elliott - Supa Dupa Fly (1997)
Hip-hop hadn’t witnessed fly until Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott stepped onto the scene. The Virginia-born rapper and singer/songwriter had once been a part of R&B group Sista before partnering with producer Timbaland. The two both wrote and produced almost the entirety of Aaliyah’s 1996 album One In A Million. By the late ‘90s, Elliott’s pen was in demand, giving her the confidence to share her unconventional sound and look as a solo act.
Her 1997 debut, Supa Dupa Fly, redefined what it meant to be a woman in rap. Over Timbaland's bass-thumping production, Elliott went full-on futuristic. She humorously teased her sexuality on the audacious "Sock It 2 Me," while the bouncy "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" sampled Memphis soul vocalist Ann Peebles with peculiar lyrics like "my finger waves these days, they fall like Humpty."
Two decades before being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and receiving the Black Music Collective's Recording Academy Honors award, Elliott took the rap world by storm. Ahead of its time yet heralded, Supa Dupa Fly and Elliott’s one of a kind style showed the artist’s peers and successors how to be creative anomalies.
Outkast - Aquemini (1998)
The South had something to say on Outkast’s third album Aquemini. The duo of André 3000 and Big Boi asserted their southern charm and immaculate rhyme schemes on the 16-track album that catapulted them to stardom. As the two rappers perfected their individualism, Aquemini also showed 3000 and Big Boi seamlessly meshing their styles together.
More spacey than their sophomore album ATLiens, Outkast doubled up on their down home twang on the funky (but controversial) "Rosa Parks." The two questioned reality from dystopian technology on the surreal "Synthesizer" with P-Funk legend George Clinton. Listeners can visualize a juke joint scene on the reggae-tinged "SpottieOttieDopaliscious," where 3000 and Big Boi intertwine tales of a violent nightclub encounter and a cursed romance.
Aquemini ushered a turn in Dirty South hip-hop, where the region gained national respect for its storytelling, realism and unique flow.
Dr. Dre - 2001 (1999)
Super producer and rapper Dr. Dre brought out the all-stars on his 1999 sophomore solo album 2001. The LP reunited the now seven-time GRAMMY-winner with his prodigies Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Xzibit, Nate Dogg and Kurupt, while ushering in a new age of West Coast rap. Seven years after his groundbreaking debut album The Chronic, the former N.W.A. member was "Still D.R.E."
On the aforementioned track, written entirely by Jay-Z, Dr. Dre flexed his near 15-year impact in hip-hop. "The Watcher" detailed the Compton native reaching music industry plateaus despite paranoia of "a new era of gangstas." Strip club anthem "The Next Episode" harkened back to Dre and Snoop’s "Nuthin’ But A 'G' Thang," while "Let’s Get High" captured a raunchy house party. On 2001, now certified 6x platinum, Dr. Dre was at his most carefree while setting the bar high for a new generation of hip-hop.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for the Recording Academy
The 2023 GRAMMYs Nominated For Three Emmys: See The Categories Below
In an awards show crossover to remember, the 2023 GRAMMYs telecast has been nominated in three prestigious categories at the 2023 Emmy Awards.
An Emmy for the GRAMMYs? It's happened before, and it could happen again.
The 2023 Emmys nominations list has been revealed, and Music's Biggest Night is well represented.
The 2023 GRAMMYs have been nominated for Emmy Awards in the Outstanding Production Design For A Variety Special, Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction For A Variety Special and Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Variety Series Or Special categories.
In the first category, the 2023 GRAMMYs compete with "The Oscars," "Encanto At The Hollywood Bowl," "Carol Burnett: 90 Years Of Laughter + Love," and "The Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show Starring Rihanna."
The second category also contains "Encanto At The Hollywood Bowl," as well as "2022 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony," "75th Annual Tony Awards," and "The Weeknd Live At SoFi Stadium."
Also nominated in the third category are "Bono & The Edge: A Sort Of Homecoming With Dave Letterman," "Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium," "Saturday Night Live • Co-Hosts: Steve Martin & Martin Short," and "Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert."
Check out the complete list here, and watch this space to see if the GRAMMYs will take home the world's most prestigious TV award!
Photos (L-R): Natasha Moustache, Natasha Moustache, Scott Eisen, Octavio Jones, Octavio Jones; all photos TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management
Behind The Scenes Of The Eras Tour: Taylor Swift's Opening Acts Unveil The Magic Of The Sensational Concert
Everyone's obsessed with Taylor Swift's massive stadium tour — including her opening acts. From indie pop star Gracie Abrams to GRAMMY nominee GAYLE, hear backstage memories and reflections from the people who take stage right before the superstar.
Distilling a 17-year discography as iconic as Swift's into one show sounds impossible, but the star has proven that no task is too daunting for her. And while she has conquered stadiums with ease before, The Eras Tour transcends her foregoing concerts with its all-encompassing three-hour setlist, high-level production and powerful pathos: its worldwide magnificence is pure magic.
Enchanting hundreds of thousands since March, Swift's latest tour is as delightful as it is influential, providing a perfectly satisfying mix of nostalgia and surprises in true Swift fashion. Even though the musician is technically in her Midnights era, the celebration of her remarkable career is undoubtedly historic — and she's determined to share the moment with other artists during her trek across the globe.
The Eras Tour has featured a cohort of rising and established stars, from 2000s rock staples Paramore to indie rockers like beabadoobee and Phoebe Bridgers. They all have that same sparkle of charm and creativity that made Swift a sensation, and they also share a passion for her beloved discography. To understand what it's like playing a part in such a historic tour, GRAMMY.com spoke with some of Swift's opening acts about performing for sold-out stadiums.
"I shed a tear because I knew that it meant Taylor really believed in me," OWENN, who was a backup dancer on Swift's 1989 Tour, said of his invitation to open for the tour.
From special epiphanies to hilarious backstage moments, OWENN and his fellow openers Gracie Abrams, beabadoobee, girl in red, and GAYLE take us along their Eras Tour journeys — all the way back to the very first night.
These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Tell us about the moment you were offered an opening slot for The Eras Tour. What did the invitation mean to you?
Gracie Abrams: Prior to ever dreaming about my own shows I dreamt about going on tour with Taylor… The invitation to join the Eras Tour felt like the biggest prank of all time. I was like, "this can't be right…"
It made my world stop and I just couldn't believe the scale of the honor. I still can't believe it, two months into playing the tour. It's the best for every reason and in every way.
OWENN: I was offered The Eras slot while I was on tour choreographing for Lil Nas X. It was definitely [a] moment that I will never forget… It meant that Taylor really believed in me and that my life was going to be forever changed.
beabadoobee: A serious pinch me moment! It was the end of last year, around the time I was doing "Jimmy Fallon" in December, and I was speaking with my manager about joining Taylor's tour as the main support. Funny because years ago I did an interview and mentioned how she would be my dream artist to go on tour with. I was thrilled to be a part of her Eras Tour.
girl in red: I was so stoked when I was offered to be opening act on the Eras Tour! I had never been to a stadium show, let alone play one, and the fact that my favorite artist invited me is just the coolest thing.
GAYLE: My manager and I — Kristina Russo, who has been my manager since I was 14 — were in my hotel room when she got a call and had a formal offer with all of the dates. We cried, jumped around, and hugged.
My manager and I then surprised [my bandmates] by screaming "We're opening for Taylor Swift!" and they were shocked! We all hugged and cried, and I got two ice cream cakes from Uber Eats delivered to my hotel room, and we all ate them with plastic forks on the ground. It was truly one of the best days ever!
It was such an honor to be invited onto this tour. I know that's not a decision she takes lightly, so to be a part of that is the best thing ever.
Walk me through your first night on the tour. What was going through your mind? What was the energy like?
Abrams: The first day of tour I just remember walking into the stadium for soundcheck and crying laughing as soon as I heard my voice on the PA. It felt insane, to be honest, I felt crazy.
But then walking on stage, it was all of a sudden just about the community of people, the beyond dedicated die-hard fans who looked gorgeous and sparkly and committed to their outfits — it was about celebrating Taylor's legacy. It was like everyone in the room could feel the weight of it. I felt the most amount of gratitude, and I was also just internally bubbling with anticipation to watch her show on this tour for the first time.
OWENN: The first night on tour was insane! I rehearsed so much and trained really hard, but nothing could have prepared me for that level of energy and intensity ... from my vocals to me dancing in front of all of those people. It was definitely a surreal moment. Electrifying!
beabadoobee: Honestly every emotion. I would go through being extremely excited to terrified, to wanting to throw up all over myself and then back to being just so pumped to get out there.
The energy was incredible — the stadiums, the stage, the crew, and the fans were all so supportive too. I always caught some fans singing and dancing to my songs; that really surprised me!
girl in red: The first day we were playing I remember walking up on stage for soundcheck and getting really nervous about playing later cause it was so big. I was worried I'd mess up the words and make a fool out of myself, but luckily it went well!
GAYLE: Opening up for the first night on the Eras tour was such a high honor and I was so scared. I practiced a million times in my hotel room because I was so anxious that I was going to forget the setlist. I made my whole family and my best friend's family go to the first two shows in Arizona. I also randomly really, really, really wanted my brother to think I did a good job.
Everyone in the crowd was so excited to kick off the tour, and so many people hadn't seen Taylor live in so long! It was such a kind crowd, and there was so much excitement and energy. It will forever be a memory I keep very close to my heart.
How does this tour compare to other tours you've been part of? What makes it unique?
Abrams: Every single inch of this tour is unlike any other I've been a part of in the past. This is only my second year touring ever, and to have had the opportunity to see the inner workings of the biggest tour in the world so intimately is just the luckiest thing.
Everyone that I've gotten to know on the crew of the Eras Tour is an exceptional person. Everyone is so hard working and so passionate about their role in the tour, and that alone is inspiring, even more so to realize it is a direct result of Taylor's energy and attitude as a person and as a leader. I think everybody feels as proud and lucky as I do to be involved in any capacity.
OWENN: I feel like every tour is unique in its own way, but this one for sure is different for me because I'm singing instead of dancing in the background. A completely different experience!
beabadoobee: The sheer size of everything, how professional Taylor is, and of course how it felt like we entered her world. She played for three plus hours and she looked like she didn't break a sweat. She's a superstar through and through and one of the nicest people on top. Really inspiring to see her perform to like 100,000 people yet still make you feel like she's playing and singing to just you.
girl in red: I think the biggest difference is the scale of the venue and that people might not know who you are. People are there to see Taylor, so the crowd chemistry is a little different and you have to adapt to that!
GAYLE: Well, Taylor was my first stadium tour ever — which is the craziest thing to say ever. With other tours I've been on, I can distantly remember at what age I heard their songs and fell in love with their music. I fell in love with AJR when I was 12. I fell in love with P!nk when I was 10, thanks to my mother. I got obsessed with My Chemical Romance when I was 14, and I heard Tate McRae when I was about 15 and I loved her music. I've heard of Taylor Swift my whole entire life and there was never a point in my life where I didn't know and love her.
Share a special backstage moment — anything fun, silly, memorable that happened.
Abrams: I honestly just feel so lucky to be going through this tour with my crew and band, every one of whom are my second family now, the people I love more than anything and trust so deeply and laugh so hard with. I think for all of us having the opportunity to lean on each other as we've gone through these milestone firsts has been really formative.
OWENN: A very special backstage moment for me is when myself, my band and team all join hands in a circle and say a prayer. It's a beautiful moment for me as we're all connected and about to go on stage.
beabadoobee: We got to hang out backstage and just have fun, have a laugh and speak about our cats and whatever was on our minds. She's the loveliest person and even that she made the time meant a lot.
girl in red: I think the most memorable part of the tour, aside from playing my show, is getting to see Taylor play her show. After my show, I get ready to see her put on the performance of a lifetime and it feels like I'm in a very special time in my life. Very happy to be here.
GAYLE: I get very nauseous before and after I'm on stage and once, I walked off stage and started vomiting everywhere. The trash can was unfortunately right where Phoebe Bridgers was walking on stage, so I wished her and her band good luck as I was vomiting.
What have you learned from watching Taylor's show? What's been your favorite song to hear live or a memorable onstage moment?
Abrams: Watching Taylor's show is like watching an Olympian. Watching Taylor's show is also like sitting in a tiny room and sharing secrets with your best friend. There's a strength and a sensitivity to her show that is unlike anything I have ever seen or heard of in my entire life, with the exception of knowing her as a friend.
She is as rare a person as she is an artist and performer. I think the most popular opinion in the world right now is that Taylor's show is the best in the history of time. To watch and study the ways in which she's able to hold herself fully, while also carrying these stadiums of so many tens of thousands as they sob and dance and laugh and scream, is just unimaginable until you're lucky enough to see it for yourself.
OWENN: I actually have a couple of favorite things. When Taylor goes through the 1989 and reputation eras, I have flashbacks of those tours from the memories with her and the dancers to the actual choreography, it's so nostalgic!
And the opening of The Eras Tour! "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" is actually one of my favorite songs from Taylor so that's always a treat.
beabadoobee: I think the biggest take away is hearing her amazing songwriting. She really has a knack for making incredible songs and storytelling, being so direct with her words and lyric choices, I personally love that!
It was mind-blowing watching her go through each era and nail everything — all the costume changes, the acting theatrical elements to the show, and of course her insane stamina to go for more than three hours every night. I've never seen anything like that.
My favorite moment has to be when she dedicated "Our Song" to me and then played it on the first night. That song means so much to me and I mentioned in an interview a while back how it was my ringtone when I was younger and shaped my childhood. It was awesome!
girl in red: I've learned so much from seeing her performance, but I think what sticks out the most to me is how perfected the show is and how that truly just reflects Taylor as an artist. She has created all this beautiful and fantastic music and now she's made the most entertaining show. I'm so inspired by her work ethic and she really puts the work in – and that's why she is the best.
GAYLE: "Cruel Summer" is a hit and the best thing ever! Also "my tears ricochet" kills me, but also "champagne problems, " but also "Bejeweled." Also, watching Ice Spice and Taylor play "Karma" together was iconic!
I've learned that Taylor Swift is a beast and can do the impossible — sing for three and a half hours for three days straight, and for multiple weekends in a row. She paces herself beautifully and the way she paces her setlist is amazing. [She] is captivating from beginning to end.
Photos: Andrew White
What To Expect At Beyoncé's Renaissance World Tour In The U.S.: Rhinestones, Samples & An Incredible Supporting Cast
Beyoncé recently wrapped the European leg of her soul-stirring Renaissance World Tour. Ahead of her American run, which begins in Philadelphia on July 12, read on for a play-by-play from Spain that will hint at what's to come in the U.S.
According to the Spanish press, Beyoncé is a goddess, which, at this point in her 30 years career, is a rather irrefutable claim. Yet the artist is proving her status once again via her 56-date Renaissance World Tour, which arrives in the U.S. on July 12.
"Beyoncé isn't a human, isn't divine, she's something much more powerful," Spanish publication El Confidencial proclaimed after her June 8 date in Barcelona, her eighth tour stop.
I can't really argue with these claims, likely scribbled furiously by some of the men sitting near me inside Barcelona's Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium. There, the pop diva brought her GRAMMY-winning RENAISSANCE album — which celebrates queer Black culture, house music and disco — to life in a show that also samples from her rich catalog.
Yet the humanity behind the most-decorated GRAMMY winner could be felt acutely throughout: when she'd shout out to the audience, or when she gave the floor to her daughter Blue Ivy or her incredible dance crew, and in the simple act of hearing her unparalleled voice in person.
It's impossible to attend this stellar show — a two-and-a-half-hour work of art — and not attempt to calculate all the work and care that Beyoncé and her team put into executing a live celebration of RENAISSANCE and her wider catalog. One of the writers in my midst looked like he was performing calculus to determine how the hell Queen Bey brought so much magic on stage.
Beyoncé will launch the North American leg of her tour in July in Toronto. If you are lucky enough to score a ticket, you’re in for a treat; the performance features a runway show of iconic looks (which change nightly), an energetic setlist brought to life by a large, stellar live band, and a ballroom performance. The show has been executed flawlessly of course, but by the time Queen Bey and her crew bring it to the U.S., they’ll have put in hours and hours of practice for what will undoubtedly make for a heavenly event.
Read on for a lowdown of what Beyoncé served up at her record-breaking Barcelona show (the sold-out crowd of 53,000 was the largest audience for a solo female artist in Spanish history) to get a taste of what you can anticipate when she brings the energy, glitz and glam to a city near you.
Expect Uninterrupted Dance Floor Ecstasy
"My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom," Bey wrote in her announcement of the RENAISSANCE album last summer. "I hope it inspires you to release the wiggle. Ha! And to feel as unique, strong, and sexy as you are."
She’s brought that intention fully to life with the Renaissance tour, creating collective moments to stadiums full of dancing, euphoric bodies.
The expert curation of seemingly endless looks, incredible choreography and seamless setlist filled with "remix" moments made it hard to sit down. The show is so action-packed, you'll be catching your breath if you try to track every single sample and gravity-defying dance move. Even when the queen left the stage for a costume change, her incredible dancers continued the energy and kept the eye-catching show going.
Just as the album plays like a DJ set, with each track leading directly into a juicy teaser of the next track, the stacked setlist of 40 songs is just as lively, energetic and flowing. "Samples" from across her catalog and her influences were woven into every song, offering fresh renditions of her music and a non-stop delivery of groove.
Beyoncé's voice was impeccable; her vocal range shined through the expansive set list. On tracks like "Heated," Beyoncé reminded us she’s a badass rapper who can throw down bars.
The Custom Designer Looks Are A Show In Itself
The show’s plentiful fashion moments channeled the sparkle and glam of the disco era through a Afrofuturistic, space age lens, to eye-catching effect. Expect more fresh variations of her Renaissance lookbook stateside to be revealed each night.
In Europe, Bey rotated her looks for each show, an extra special treat for fans (and surely for the fashionista herself) as she debuted new ones. Her European tour was filled with outfits from established and smaller designers — including some local brands — with Balmain, David Koma and Loewe designs aplenty. To commemorate Juneteenth at her Amsterdam show, she exclusively wore outfits by Black designers. The coordinating accessories were on-point as well; apparently, the singer brought 41 pairs of custom Jimmy Choos on the trek.
In a rather legendary moment in Barcelona, Ms. Carter returned from a costume change lounging on a gigantic golden shell as she sang "Plastic Off The Sofa." In her peak shimmery moment of the evening, she soon revealed her head-turning golden custom Loewe catsuit, covered in sparkling red-fingernailed hands. She rocked sparkly black red finger-nailed gloves and gold rhinestone booties to match. The dancers wore matte, mesh catsuits, each with their "hands" in different positions.
Other stunning ‘fits from her Barcelona show included a colorful psychedelic mesh dress by David Koma paired with rimless bedazzled space-age sunglasses. She donned a silver, red and black leather space suit from Fendi with matching thigh-high boots, silver gloves and an upcycled fur stole she added on later.
During the jaw-dropping "Mind Control" act featuring "America Has A Problem," Queen Bey channeled her nickname in a futuristic killer queen space bee look from Mugler with thigh high patent high-heeled boots and antennaed helmet. She’s served up an artsy, buzz-worthy selection of bee-inspired couture during this segment (near the end) of the show.
The BeyHive also adorned themselves in rhinestones, sequins, silver-everything, and cowboy hats and boots to pay tribute to their queen.
It’s Not Just Glitz & Glam, There’s Plenty Of Feels
Beyoncé’s 11-year-old daughter Blue Ivy also made headlines during the European tour. During the impactful The Lion King: The Gift cut "My Power," Blue stole the show and spotlight. She rocked the same red suit as the dancers, but stood out as she danced next to her mom, deftly hitting every move with power.
Kendrick Lamar's social justice anthem "Alright" was powerfully woven in with "My Power" and brought into the sonic, visual conversation, expanding the two tracks to new heights. This led to Bey’s inspiring Juneteenth 2020 track, "Black Parade" and ended with everyone on stage holding up their fists in the Black power symbol as the stadium cheered.
It's been almost a year since RENAISSANCE lead single "Break My Soul" dropped, and much has gone on in the world since. The refrain "you won't break my soul" remains a pertinent mantra, a cold glass of lemonade when things feel unbearable. And hearing the echoes of tens of thousands of voices singing it in unison felt like we could harness at least a little of Beyoncé's history-making, era-defining superpowers.
During 4 opener, "Love On Top," Beyoncé turned her mic to the crowd to amplify their voices. It felt as if the entire, 53,000-person audience — probably some of the staff too — was singing along in a moment of collective love and unity.
Bey Shares The Stage With A Collective Of Powerhouse Dancers & Musicians
Just as she brought in an impressive team of co-producers collaborators to craft RENAISSANCE, she assembled a stellar cast of dancers, singers and musicians to help bring it to life on stage. Yes, everyone doled out the big bucks to see Beyoncé perform, but she clearly and beautifully made space for everyone to shine.
According to her website, there are 23 dancers, including Blue Ivy and Les Twins — a twin brother duo and regular Bey guests who can contort into gravity-defying shapes. In addition to sharing the credits online, she also made sure to shout everyone out during her final song.
"Pure/Honey" featured a full-on ballroom moment where the dancers with real-life ball experience, including Honey Balenciaga, wowed the audience. Together, they offered full-on, tens-across-the-board-worthy ball with dips, duckwalks and so much more.
During an epic rendition of Bey and Jay-Z’s "Crazy in Love," her band got a chance to shine. The horn players came out front for their moment, and the female saxophonist got down for her solo. During the show, they served up world-class sound from an elevated silver platform.
When the star left to change after "Crazy in Love," her backup singers flawlessly sang Diana Ross' 1976 disco classic, "Love Hangover." They were serving futuristic Supremes in matching holographic silver dresses and gloves as a giant disco ball moved towards them, as if magnetized by their disco realness.
Patron Saint Beyoncé Took Us To Church
Beyoncé and her angelic voice were raised in the church, and during the show, the "Annointed" act brought her vision of worship to life, where all are welcome.
To announce the segment, lasers spelled out "Annointed" on the screen, followed by a gold and green church. In yet another breath-taking style moment (one that’s seemingly consistent throughout the tour) Queen Bey appeared in a long all-white robe-like dress. As she held her arms out in cross-form under the UV light, it was transformed into stained glass rainbow print. Japanese fashion brand Anrealage made that miracle possible.
As if her mind-blowing technicolor dreamcoat wasn't enough, Bey threw it off to reveal a shimmering Balmain silver sequin and pearl bodysuit, complete with a silver rhinestone-encrusted church hat. Her choir’s robes were also transformed by the light, but they also revealed black mesh outfits (presumably much easier to twerk in).
This extravaganza led into "Church Girl," albeit a slowed down version, which added drama and showcased her heavenly vocals. When she went into "drop it like a thotty," the music sped up and the dancers started twerking. In a similar contrast of party-heater and soulful ballad, the 2007 Swizz Beatz-co-produced heater "Get Me Bodied" led to a stunning rendition of "Before I Let Go." The act ended with an a cappella moment where one of the dancers adorably looked at the real-life goddess with pure admiration.
On "Church Girl," Beyoncé preaches her vision of spirituality — you can be sexy and have fun as a child of God. And perhaps it's exactly the dancing with abandon, shaking your troubles away, that supports your path towards righteousness.
The Flawless Production Will Leave Your Head Spinning – In A Good Way
A massive, high-definition screen that ran the width of the stage with an archway in the middle provided extra context and visuals during the show, announcing each act and adding to the set with images of disco balls, robot legs, dancers, and more. The lighting and lasers were also amazing and added a dance club energy to the stadium.
The stage itself was also large and unique, with an additional catwalk jutting from it, and a circle surrounding it. The stage brought Beyoncé closer to the lucky fans at ground level, and allowed plenty of space to slay.
Stage props included a silver space tanker and disco horse, both of which Beyoncé rides on, along with robot arms that fan her off during "Heated." During that song — which she revealed is her favorite from RENAISSANCE — a towering circle of mics surrounded her.
While it's quite hard to measure fabulous against fabulous, the Virgo queen progressively one-upped herself throughout the show. She saved the best for last, though, opening the jaw-dropping final act with Jim Morrison quote "Whoever controls the media controls the mind" flashed on screen, between "MIND" and "CONTROL," with Bey's face in the middle. It felt like a playful nod to the conspiracy theory that Bey and Jay are part of the Illuminati, as well as to the very real overload of information (and misinformation) we experience 24/7. The screen flashed images of fire, clocks, reCAPTCHA prompts, and more to a medley of Destiny's Child's songs.
This organized chaos set the tone for "America Has A Problem" during which a fake stock market ticker — with symbols like "HNY" that alluded to her song titles — inched along the edges of the screen. The supposed master puppeteer sat at an "on air" news desk, a la her RENAISSANCE photo shoot.
And for the final moments of magic on stage, Beyoncé took us to heaven. She rode out on a disco horse a la the RENAISSANCE cover (and Bianca Jagger at Studio 54) to Donna Summers' disco hit "I Feel Love." She wore an impossibly long, blindingly shimmering disco cape, and wrapped the show with the "I Feel Love"-sampling track and RENAISSANCE closer, "Summer Renaissance." As silver confetti burst into the audience, she flew through the air high above the stage, her regal cape fluttering like angel wings.