Music News

The well-established soundscape at Burning Man is an audio layer cake of dubstep and techno. More than 60,000 people will gather in the Nevada desert next week for the annual arts festival — and many of them will spend their nights at post-apocalyptic raves, spinning fiery hula hoops and passing ChapStick around the dance floor.

"Eat, sleep, rave, repeat. Eat, sleep, rave, repeat," was the refrain of one song played all over the playa last year.

Both the song and its video fit many people's idea of Canada: clever and smiling. But the man who wrote lyrics telling Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, "It's time for you to go," has been put on leave from his job as a federal scientist at Canada's environmental agency.

News about the stock market's ups and downs hardly comes as music to the ears — unless you happen to be experimental musician Jace Clayton.

Clayton, who also performs and records as DJ /rupture, is working on a new composition called Gbadu And The Moirai Index, which uses an algorithm to translate the market's movements into a piece for four voices. Each singer plays a mythological character — the Moirai are the three Greek goddesses of fate, and Gbadu is a dual-gendered West African fate deity.

NPR's David Greene talks to members of the rock band Yo La Tengo at the end of their stint as Morning Edition's in-house band for a day, and throws it to them for a song.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Lots of magazines do big lists, but few rely on them as heavily as Rolling Stone does. The magazine cranks out a list for just about every aspect of popular music. All promise authoritative, canonical overviews of various elements of the art; at their best, these offer context and critical insight, helping readers fill gaps in their knowledge.

It was known as the "Swankiest Night Spot in the South" and considered one of the most famous clubs in the network of black cabarets known as the "Chitlin' Circuit." During the era of segregation, it was the cultural mecca of black New Orleans — what the Savoy Ballroom was to Harlem. Little Richard, a frequent performer there, even composed a song about the place.

Billboard magazine used to be known as "the bible of the music business," a trade publication trusted for its straightforward analysis of industry trends. But an anonymous questionnaire that leaked online last Thursday has some readers questioning Billboard's journalistic skills and integrity.

When listeners aren't writing to NPR to comment on a story, they mostly just want to know what music was played between segments. We call those buttons or breaks or deadrolls, and they give a breath after reporting a tragedy, lighten the mood after you most definitely cried during StoryCorps, or seize a moment to be ridiculously cheeky. How could you not play Katy Perry's "Hot N Cold" following a story about why women shiver in the office?

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

At the launch party of his band's first album in a crowded Beirut café, singer Anas Maghrebi steps up to the microphone in front of a crowd of hip guys and women in vintage glasses, sipping icy drinks in the sultry evening.

The songs swell; the audience cheers and sings along. Maghrebi is 26 years old, tall and thin with a beard and cap, soaking up the adulation. He's not, perhaps, a typical Syrian refugee, but his journey to realize a dream of making a rock record has been fraught with hardship.

This past Friday, Aug. 14, the record producer Bob Johnston died in hospice care near his home in Nashville, Tenn. He was 83 years old.

Straight Outta Compton, the provocative biopic on the late-'80s hip-hop group N.W.A, reportedly brought in more than $60 million last weekend. Among other things, it pays homage to a cultural reference made famous by its member Ice Cube in the 1995 film Friday -- one that later became shorthand to dismiss trolls on Twitter with the hashtag #ByeFelicia.

But writer Allison Davis didn't find the joke in Straight Outta Compton funny.

The list of its faculty and students is a who's who of 20th-century music: Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, John Adams, Augusta Read Thomas.

In the late 1980s, Los Angeles hip-hop group N.W.A created a sensation and controversy with their music, which was labeled gangsta rap. Like the group's story, the making of their much-anticipated biopic, Straight Outta Compton, is filled with drama.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The party's over for Columbia House, the music and movie subscription company that has been called "the Spotify of the '80s."

Filmed Entertainment Inc., which owns Columbia House, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday in a Manhattan court after more than two decades of declining revenues, according to a company statement.

Charlie McCoy has been a fixture in the Nashville studio scene for nearly half a century. He's best known as a country virtuoso on harmonica, but he's also done a whole lot else: rock 'n' roll, R&B, pop, even Celtic music. And he was part of a pivotal moment in the city's history, when the counter-cultural folk-rock of the late 1960s came to town.

A machine with superhuman intelligence is a staple of science fiction. But what about a machine with just ordinary human intelligence? A machine that's so humanlike in its behavior that you can't tell if it's a computer acting like a human, or a real human?

In the isolated regions of Central Appalachia, music was once the only form of entertainment. It's still alive today thanks to The Crooked Road, a driving trail that connects music venues in Southwest Virginia. It stretches from the Blue Ridge to the Cumberland Mountains for 333 miles, crossing some of the poorest areas in the country.

Making a living in those areas has never been easy, as guitarist Greg Ward knows. He's a native of Floyd, Va. — population: 432.

"You know, it was a rough life," he says. "It was a hard life."

The first weekend of August saw the coronation of a new King of Hip-Hop. Like all transitions of power, it had been years in the making and orchestrated by powers both seen and unseen.

It's a story that could have been taken from a breaking news report: A soldier, gravely wounded in a brutal battle, flees the fighting to try and make his way home. Only this story is set during the Civil War.

The Metropolitan Opera is poised to make a big change.

When the fall production of Verdi's Otello opens next month, its lead character will not be wearing the traditional blackface-style makeup.

The Met tells NPR by email that its upcoming production of Otello will be the first without dark makeup since the company first produced the opera in 1891.

"They want to know if he's still got it..."

When the renowned radio personality and Grand Ole Opry fixture Bill Cody walked onto the stage at the Ryman Auditorioum to welcome Dolly Parton there for the first time in twelve years, he called her "the most beloved artist of all time." Then he quickly, almost imperceptibly, corrected himself, adding a qualifier: female artist." Who knows what flashed in Cody's mind in that moment — perhaps the face of Johnny Cash, the patron

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