Editor’s Letter: How Music Helped Us Stay Connected This Year

Bad Bunny wears a Louis Vuitton Men’s jacket, shirt, skirt, and tie; rings: (from top) Vitaly, Jewels by Dunn; stylist’s own earrings. Photographed by Martine Syms and styled by Storm Pablo. Sittings Editor: Allia Alliata di Montereale.

Saweetie wears a Celine by Hedi Slimane dress; Khiry earrings; stylist’s own gloves. Photographed by John Edmonds and styled by Zerina Akers.

In the Editor’s Letter of last year’s Music Issue, I talked about how music had been one of the few joys we’d had during the worst of the pandemic. Many of us had been dancing in our homes to Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion, both of whom were on our cover, and went on to break records and win Grammys. Months later, we are still living as much on Zoom as we are in the real world, but now we can see a light at the end of the tunnel—and music remains a source of happiness and togetherness, and a way to stay connected with friends all over the world.

When we started to plan this issue, I looked—as always—to the amazing team at W. Someone who came up over and over again—and who is conquering the world in more ways than one—was Bad Bunny. The Puerto Rican superstar was photographed for our cover by artist Martine Syms, whose images were as creative, unique, and unexpected as her subject. Bad Bunny’s story, beautifully told by Abby Aguirre, is all about optimism and the power that comes with breaking boundaries (“Is There Anything Bad Bunny Can’t Do?”).

Our second cover star, the sensational Saweetie, was captured by photographer John Edmonds, who wanted to portray the singer as the most glamorous version of herself (“Saweetie Goes Her Own Way”). Stylist Zerina Akers, who has worked extensively with Beyoncé and who founded Black Owned Everything, the luxury market hub for Black entrepreneurs, dressed Saweetie in sequined Celine by Hedi Slimane, showstopping Valentino Haute Couture, and a certain Gucci dress that’s guaranteed to make you look twice. (Saweetie described that particular look as “icy”—her term for anything confident, strong, and independent.) In Editor at Large Lynn Hirschberg’s story, we learn about Saweetie’s determination to conquer the world, and her rowdy ride to fame, which is full of unexpected twists and turns—some of which actually took place during our shoot.

The rest of the issue is jam-packed with musicians from all over the world. We talk to Olivia Rodrigo about her overnight stardom (“Olivia Rodrigo Crashes Into Adulthood”). We meet the new face of Saint Laurent, Rosé, from Blackpink, who is already a massive star, and whom Saint Laurent’s creative director, Anthony Vaccarello, describes as part of the next generation of creative muses for the historic house (“Blackpink’s Rosé Is Saint Laurent’s Modern-Day Muse”). In “God Save the Beat,” Maxine Wally introduces us to a group of rising rappers from the U.K., who were brilliantly photographed by Tim Walker. And our annual music portfolio highlights everyone who’s inspiring us right now, from those who need no introduction, like J Balvin, to new favorite Chika, to K-pop idols Seventeen (“This Is Music”).

The issue ends with a goddess: the legendary Chaka Khan (“The Originals”), interviewed by a goddess-in-the-making, Jazmine Sullivan. Chaka has been dazzling us for decades, and Sullivan has only just begun to take our breath away. Their candid dialogue was the perfect endnote to an issue celebrating the best of the best.

We hope you will discover new talents and revisit old favorites, then stream their music and dance your way into a happy and healthy summer!


Sara Moonves