7 Grammy Winners Worth Another Spin


I can hardly believe I’m saying this, but this year’s Grammys were … really good?

The performances were almost uniformly excellent. Tracy Chapman, radiating joy and in fine voice, sang “Fast Car” publicly for the first time in ages, alongside a visibly reverent Luke Combs. (I wrote more about that moment here.) A regal Joni Mitchell sang “Both Sides Now” and made everybody cry. Billie Eilish and her collaborator brother, Finneas, absolutely nailed their performance of “What Was I Made For?” and showed everyone watching why their subsequent win in the song of the year category was so deserved.

The wins were also pretty evenly spread. Yes, the universe’s current main character Taylor Swift took home the night’s top honor, album of the year, an award that she’s now won a record four times. But the person who took home the most Grammys this year (four) was someone who didn’t make it to the podium during the televised ceremony: Phoebe Bridgers, who during the preshow picked up three awards with her trio boygenius and one for a collaboration with SZA. The telecast also allowed some rising stars like Karol G, Lainey Wilson and Victoria Monét (who faithful Amplifier readers learned about in Friday’s rundown of the best new artist nominees) to make themselves known.

For today’s playlist, we’re going to hear from some more of those slightly-less-than-household-name artists who took home Grammys this year. I chose two selections of my own, and I also asked my fellow Times pop critics Jon Pareles and Jon Caramanica to send me a few of their picks — a mix of jazz, folk, pop, gospel and more. Listen below to tracks from Laufey, Peso Pluma and Samara Joy, and check out the Bonus Tracks for more of our Grammy coverage.

Don’t wash the cast iron skillet,


The Icelandic singer and songwriter Laufey (pronounced Lay-vay) won the traditional pop vocal album category with songs like “From the Start,” which she also performed on the preshow. It’s a bossa nova that confesses to “unrequited, terrifying love” with absolute poise. PARELES

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This aching, poetically rendered tune by the veteran Alabama singer-songwriter Jason Isbell — who you might recognize from his recent role in Martin Scorsese’s film “Killers of the Flower Moon” — won best American roots song this year, Isbell’s sixth Grammy. A highlight from his 2023 album with the 400 Unit, “Weathervanes,” “Cast Iron Skillet” uses lived-in detail to bring to life the stories of several everyday Southern tragedies. ZOLADZ

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The Mexican corridos tumbados star Peso Pluma had perhaps the biggest breakout of 2023, with woozy sing-rap songs about street life that became worldwide anthems. He won best música Mexicana album with “Génesis,” but check out “Siempre Pendientes,” a 2022 collaboration with Luis R Conriquez that showcases the softness that makes his voice such a draw. CARAMANICA

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“TQG” stands for “Te Quedó Grande,” roughly translated as “Too much for you to handle.” In this pop-reggaeton duet from Karol G’s “Mañana Será Bonito” (which won best música urbana album), she is joined by Shakira, her fellow superstar from Colombia, to sing about straying exes who want a second chance. The women have definitely moved on, and their cheerful contempt is both tuneful and stinging: “I don’t repeat mistakes,” Karol G taunts. PARELES

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During the telecast, SZA — the night’s most nominated artist — accepted the award for best R&B song, given to her sumptuous, sleep-smeared hit “Snooze.” But her other win came in best pop duo/group performance, for this deeper cut from her hit album “S.O.S.,” which features fellow multi-Grammy winner Bridgers and finds SZA alternately “craving humanity” while also envying machines: “Robot get sleep but I don’t power down.” ZOLADZ

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The long-running gospel star Tye Tribbett won best gospel album for “All Things New: Live in Orlando.” Tribbett also made some of the most dynamic gospel music of the 2000s, eccentric in arrangement and uncommonly energetic. Consider “I Want It All Back — Live,” from his 2006 album “Victory Live!,” which seems to be as mindful of Minneapolis funk and ’80s arena rock as of groups like Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers. CARAMANICA

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A whirlwind of a jazz song, “Tight” (best jazz performance) is two minutes of extreme acrobatics: a syncopated, octave-hopping melody that Samara Joy sings with dizzying shifts of tone and attack. Written by Betty Carter — who sang it even faster — it’s a tune few singers would dare to attempt, much less conquer. PARELES

Listen on Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube

“7 Grammy Winners Worth Another Spin” track list
Track 1: Laufey, “From the Start”
Track 2: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, “Cast Iron Skillet”
Track 3: Peso Pluma and Luis R Conriquez, “Siempre Pendientes”
Track 4: Karol G and Shakira, “TQG”
Track 5: SZA featuring Phoebe Bridgers, “Ghost in the Machine”
Track 6: Tye Tribbett & G.A., “I Want It All Back”
Track 7: Samara Joy, “Tight”

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