Music News

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At the end of this dramatic week, let's just take a moment to listen to T-Pain.

T-PAIN: The bad times make the good times seem so much better.

Last year, the book Rednecks, Queers & Country Music — a significant, if overlooked work by scholar Nadine Hubbs — drove home just how powerful and pervasive outsider assumptions about the backwardness of rural identities and downhome music can be.

1990s revivalism may be entering its dwarf-star phase without ever having shed proper light on itself. Last week, the 22-year-old rapper Vince Staples argued that for his generation, hip-hop's official Golden Age matters less than the viral onset of 21st-century stars like Soulja Boy.

It looks like Kalu James is living the life as a musician. He's standing under a neon sign, ready to play guitar at Austin's famous Continental Club. And when he's not here, he's hustling to pay his bills.

"Being a full-time musician means you have three other side jobs, you know?" he says.

Back in 1986, Allen Toussaint told All Things Considered that he could write a song from the scraps of a joke, or from snippets of conversations. If the occasion called for it, he could even fashion writer's block into verse.

"Well, how do you write a song?" he offered, playfully. "Do you make it short? Do you make it long? Is there any right? Is there any wrong? Just how do you write a song?"

Over the course of a career that lasted some sixty years, pianist, producer and songwriter Allen Toussaint's music and sound became a hugely influential force for artists working in many different genres. Toussaint died on Monday night in Madrid, at the age of 77.

As the news has spread, artists and other luminaries have been pouring out their grief on social media. Here's a selection of their tributes.

If you listen to music on the radio, chances are you'll hear a lot of lyrics that don't match the ones on the original album recordings. When songs get profanity, obscenity or references to drugs or sex removed for broadcast, it's a process known as clean editing. Joel Mullis is one of the masters of the art.

If you think it's too early for Christmas ads, you're not alone. But the new seasonal spot from British retailer John Lewis is something of a sensation, with nearly 12 million people having watched the tear-jerking video since Thursday.

Ever have a great run of great ideas — one after another?

The Techno Feminists Next Door

Nov 6, 2015

"We're Discwoman."

Drake's song "Hotline Bling" — and its related memes — reached an artistic culmination over the weekend, in a video mashup that pairs the catchy song with scenes of a gung-ho drama teacher performing a suite of interpretive dances for his class.

We'll discuss the video more below, but you should just go ahead and watch it for yourself.

"Hotline Bling" quickly became a cultural force last week, inspiring memes, jokes, and conversations with its off-kilter video.

Getting "Hotline Bling" to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 was something that Drake really, really wanted. He said so, very publicly, last week on Instagram:

The "Hotline Bling" video, which was originally only posted on Apple Music, proved to be endlessly remixable, with Drake seeming to be in on the joke — or at the very least, more or less cheerfully resigned to its destiny.

Same-sex marriage has been very much in the news lately, with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing it and a Kentucky clerk's much-publicized refusal to abide by that ruling. Earlier this year, the traditionally Catholic nation of Ireland became the first country in the world to vote to legalize marriage equality for its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.

Every October, when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announces the nominees for next year's inductions, there's a phrase that seems to come up organically in discussions of the shortlist.

Drake is not meme-worthy: He's a living, breathing, dancing meme. Ever since social media got a hold of the album cover for 2011's Take Care, the rapper's every move has been a subject for scrutiny, parody, think pieces, GIFs.

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This next story is about a flute riff.


JAY Z: It's big pimping, Baby.

It sings; it dances; it shines — all with the help of thousands of lights and some scarily infectious music. Known for their holiday light shows, the owners of a Maryland house are using lights to create animated jack-o-lanterns that sing along to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and other hits.

Updated at 6:02 p.m. ET with analysts' comments and additional details

The rumor that YouTube would once and for all put some of its endless content behind the paywall has perpetuated for quite a while, and finally the plan is the real deal.

Google, YouTube's parent, on Wednesday revealed the new subscription service, ambiguously called "Red," which will give people a way to watch videos without those buzzkill commercials — for $9.99 a month.

There's a lot of mediocrity to sort through when you hop from one club to another during a festival like the CMJ Music Marathon, five days during which bands flock to New York. So when I find stuff that stands out, that pushes the inevitable evolutionary boundaries of rock, I get really happy.

"Some guys have sports cars — I have this."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Death And The Iron Maiden

Oct 5, 2015

Bruce Dickinson isn't through just yet. It is the end of a 12-hour press day where the Iron Maiden vocalist has been answering a multitude of questions, most concerning the iconic heavy metal band's 16th full-length album, The Book of Souls. It is a task that requires a kind of Zen-like patience, yet the 57-year-old is noticeably unfazed, excited to spend the better part of an hour talking about his passion for music — and for life.